The Syrian authorities targeting the opposition with malware and computer viruses. An American teenager accuses a toy manufacturer of sexism. And web users encouraged to make holiday donations to victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Malicious programs used to target the Syrian opposition
With the Internet down across Syria last week, some networks did manage to stay online. Servers that, according to American company Renesys, were being used to target the Syrian opposition with malicious programs.
And it would seem that the attacks have stepped up a notch since Internet services were restored to the country on Saturday. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an NGO that fights for online freedoms, claims that a new computer virus has emerged this week. It is hidden in documents appearing to be lists of people wanted by the Syrian authorities and is sent to opposition activists via Skype or social networks. But it is in fact a Trojan horse that enables third party control of the infected computer.
Syrian cyber-activists have been regularly targeted by spyware right from the start of the uprising against the Bashar al-Assad regime. Computer traps that may sometimes appear in the form of fake Facebook pages or YouTube accounts, aimed at stealing passwords from opposition activists.
And whilst locked in combat with armed rebels on the ground, the Damascus regime, with the Syrian Electronic Army, is also fighting for survival in cyberspace. The Internet savvy group of hackers has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks on opposition and foreign media websites.
USA: teenager accuses toy manufacturer of sexism
Mckenna Pope from New Jersey in the US is no ordinary13 year old high school student. She has accused toy manufacturer Hasbro, of gender stereotyping in its advertising and is carrying out her campaign essentially via the web.
She has gone directly to the management of Hasbro with this online petition calling for the company to stop associating certain types of toy with one particular sex, like with this Easy Bake Oven Box, marketed exclusively to little girls. She feels this approach is outdated and sends a very negative message to future generations.
And to back up her argument, Mckenna has also posted this short video online featuring her four year old brother who says he would love one of these Easy Bake Ovens but he can’t have one because only girls play with it. She blames Hasbro for making him feel that way, saying he has been influenced by Hasbro’s sexist advertising campaigns that never feature boys in packaging or promotional material for these toy ovens.
Whether or not her campaign will help change the way companies market certain products and ranges remains to be seen, but the petition is enjoying great success online. In less than a week it has gathered over 28 000 signatures from web users who hope their contribution will convince Hasbro to rethink its marketing practice and the way it promotes its products.
Make holiday donations to hurricane victims with "Secret Sandy"
Over one month on from the passage of Hurricane Sandy, some Americans are having trouble getting back on their feet. And so with Christmas just around the corner, a newly launched website called “Secret Sandy” is hoping to give them a helping hand. Those affected by the Superstorm can draw up a list of objects that will help them return to normal life. Objects web users can then buy for these families in need.
Now trending on social networks
The "Save your Pint" Twitter campaign has been launched in Great Britain to fight back against spiraling beer tax in the UK. The beer duty escalator was introduced back in 2008, and not only it is hugely unpopular with consumers, it is also thought to have brought about the loss of thousands of jobs and the closing down of numerous pubs across the country. Over 100,000 web users have already signed this petition urging the government to rethink the legislation with a mass lobby of parliament being planned for the 12th of December.
Video of the day
Fascinated by the astounding global success of « Gangnam Style » and the countless remakes it inspired, film maker Patrick Peris decided to put together the ultimate video mash-up of the 2012 mega hit, by compiling extracts from just some of the many tributes and parodies that have been doing the rounds online; with pretty impressive results, giving the phenomenon started by Korean performer Psy, a new lease of life…