Google cracking down on annoying mobile popup ads by penalizing search rankings

The mobile web is growing quickly as consumers turn to their smartphones, but some of the bad practices of web advertisers on the desktop are starting to show up on mobile as well. Google is having none of it, and has announced that it may start penalizing developers who employ such practices starting next year.

Google will continue to give precedence to sites with design that are optimal for mobile use, but will remove the “mobile-friendly” label it used to highlight such sites. 85 percent of all sites now are usable on mobile devices, so Google no longer saw this as necessary.

New to its ranking criteria is a check for what is called an “interstitial.” A good example are the ads that appear before you’re given access to the content, or appear “over” the content. Developers have even gotten good enough that Google still can index the content below the interstitial, even though you can’t see it.

Related: Google is including ads in image search results for the first time

Google will check for interstitials after January 10, 2017. “Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible,” product manager Doantam Phan said. “This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller.”

Phan does say there are some interstitials which wouldn’t be affected by the new policy, including those that alert about cookie usage or ask a user to verify their age, or ones that take up a “reasonable” amount of screen space. Phan pointed to the installation of banners as an example of a reasonable use of space.

Despite the new rules, relevance of content is still a very strong ranking signal, so there still could be cases where sites that use interstitials in a way that Google now frowns upon still rank high in results. “The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content,” Phan explained.

via Digital Trends

Malicious QuadRooter Apps Discovered in Google Play Store

Malicious QuadRooter Apps Discovered in Google Play Store

The recent disclosure of a set of vulnerabilities in the Android operating system that could potentially put over 900 million devices at risk may have been patched, but its threat remains.

The QuadRooter flaw, discovered by Check Point, could potentially give cyber attackers complete control over an Android device. The vulnerability was discovered in Qualcomm chips, which are used in smartphones and tablets made by Blackberry, LG, Google and more. This put up to 900 million devices at risk. The flaw was dubbed QuadRooter because there are four interconnected flaws which can be used to gain access to the “root” of the phone, the Guardian said.

Patches to fix the flaw were made available quickly, and Check Point released an app called QuadRooter Scanner on the Google Play store which checked whether a device was at risk.

However, new research has revealed that QuadRooter’s threat is still alive. Researchers at RiskIQ have found a number of malicious apps available for download on various app stores that claim to offer a fix for the flaw, but of course do nothing of the sort.

One of these, called Fix Patch QuadRooter by KiwiApps Ltd was found in the official Google Play store. Although it was removed from there it popped up in a number of unofficial app stores, along with a number of others. In total, 27 malicious apps related to QuadRooter have so far been found.

These have been found available for download in the official Google Play store, as well as others such as BingAPK, SameAPK, AppBrain, and AppChina. All these unofficial sources carry big risks to users and their devices.

These unofficial, third-party app stores are a dangerous place; a lack of quality control means many applications are malicious, containing malware that can steal personal data. While these app stores may seem convenient for users, especially in countries where official apps may not be available, users should stick with the official Google Play Store wherever possible.

Photo © ymgerman/


Windows 10 Anniversary Update is incompatible with Kobo e-Readers

Microsoft has just released their Anniversary Update for Windows 10 and it basically patches every aspect of the operating system. Arguably the biggest update is Cortana. Microsoft continues to expand on what Cortana can do, clearly trying to make it the most powerful assistant in an increasingly growing pool of competition, such as Siri, Google […]

via Good E-Reader Blog – ebook Reader and Tablet PC News

Little Tree Air Freshener Company Sues Non-Profit For Making Tree Shaped Ornaments

You know those stupid and annoying "tree shaped" car air fresheners you see every damn where? Of course you do. The company behind those "Little Trees" is called Car-Freshner Corporation, and it’s notoriously overprotective of whatever trademark it thinks it has. Way back in 2009, we wrote about the company and an absolutely ridiculous ad it had taken out in Photoshop User Magazine:

At the time, we noted how odd it was to take out a full page ad warning people against supposed trademark infringement, and over-claiming its own rights at the same time (e.g., "no matter how you use it."). So it comes as little surprise that Car-Freshener corporation is a bit of a trademark bully in court. Though, perhaps it’s met its match — and it may result in it losing some trademarks.

Trademark lawyer Marty Schwimmer, who runs the excellent Trademark Blog, is representing a non-profit organization, Sun Cedar, that has been sued by Car-Freshener for daring to create tree-shaped blocks of wood (cedar!) that smell good. The answers and counterclaims from Sun Cedar is worth the read in full, but we’ll hit a few high points here. Sun Cedar is not just a non-profit, but an organization that tries to train and to employ "at risk" individuals, including those who are homeless, ex-felons and substance abusers to help them get back on their feet. The organization creates objects out of wood, including tree shaped ornaments. It even ran a very successful Kickstarter project last year.

So, yeah, both organizations make tree shaped objects that smell nice. But that’s about the extent of it. To argue that only the Little Trees trademark extends that far is a huge reach. In comparing the two, Sun Cedar’s response points out that the only real similarities are the idea of a pine tree — and that’s not protectable.

Sun Cedar does not use any distinctive element that Plaintiffs could arguably claim as a mark (such as the saturated green field or block base in its Tree Design). It is questionable whether Plaintiffs can assert rights in either a blank silhouette of a tree or a blank configuration of a pine tree, because Plaintiffs (1) chose the pine tree outline for functional reasons (to the point of patenting the shape); and (2) have abandoned the blank silhouette registrations, as they do not use blank silhouettes as trademarks in commerce. Finally, Sun Cedar’s $10, thick, wooden ornaments are sold on its website, through Kickstarter, and in “green” retail stores, as opposed to in the gas stations and car washes that sell Plaintiffs’ approximately $1.00 cardboard-thin cellulose car fresheners. The two products never have and never will be offered for sale side by side in any retail setting.

Now, if you follow the law around trademarks and patents there are a couple of eyebrow raising statements in that paragraph above, beyond just the "hey, our trees are nothing like your trees and there’s no chance of confusion." That’s the standard "no likelihood of confusion" defense to trademark claims. And it’s a good one here, because, really, those are pretty different. And it’s ridiculous to argue that any tree shaped thing that smells nice infringes — especially since there are lots of other such products:

So, yeah.

But, as mentioned above, there are other serious problems here called out in the response and counterclaims that could mean that Car-Freshener is going to lose some of the trademark protections it likes to claim it has. First up: the patent issue. What’s that got to do with anything? Well, you see Car-Freshener apparently also got itself a patent on its design, patent 3,065,915, granted back in November of 1962. As you’re probably aware, that patent is now long expired. But what does that have to do with the trademark? Well, the patent — which is technically on the system for removing the car freshener from the packaging over a period of time to release the smell, claims that the tree-shaped design is actually functional to make all this work:

Upon information and belief, this diagram illustrates the system claimed by the ’915 Patent. Specifically, the diagram consists of seven images, each showing the body of the air freshener in different stages of removal from the cellophane package over a seven week period. A notch is cut in the center of the cellophane. The first week, the packaging is pulled down to the first branch and only the top of the tree is exposed. The second week, the packaging is pulled down to the second branch, exposing more of the tree, and the cellophane is tucked under the corresponding branches. This continues until the seventh week, when the tree is removed completely from the packaging.

This matters to trademark law because you can’t trademark functional design. That’s what patent law is for. So Sun Cedar is arguing that the entire trademark here is invalid because it tried to trademark a functional design, and the fact that it’s functional is proven by Car-Freshener’s own patent. That’s a neat legal judo move.

In short, upon information and belief, the shape of the Tree Design is essential to the use or purpose of the article for which it is registered, namely air fresheners. As such, the Tree Design is functional and is not entitled to registration, pursuant to Section 14(3) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1064(3).

The filing also argues that the rectangular block base of Little Trees fresheners is also functional since it’s used to display names or the type of scent or other information.

The other interesting argument is that Car-Freshener actually abandoned the actual design in the trademarks that it holds on Little Trees. It gives a few examples of this, but we’ll show one here to demonstrate. In arguing that Car-Freshener has abandoned trademarks like US Reg. No 1,781,016, the filing points out that the actual trademark is for a silhouette of the tree shape:

But that the products it’s offering, which it claims show the use in commerce, are not of the silhouette, but quite different:

I will admit that this part — claiming abandonment — feels like more of a stretch to me. Frankly, it seems the case should be won solely on the lack of any likelihood of confusion. But the patent argument saying that the tree-shaped design is functional and therefore cannot be covered by trademark sure is a fun one. It will be interesting to see how this goes in court — and whether or not Car-Freshener’s trademark bullying over its Little Trees products results in the company actually losing some or all of its trademarks…

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via Techdirt.

‘What I Did Was Wrong’: Lochte Apologizes for Rio Scandal (Elizabeth Chuck/NBC News)

Elizabeth Chuck / NBC News:
‘What I Did Was Wrong’: Lochte Apologizes for Rio Scandal  —  Watch Matt Lauer’s Interview with Ryan Lochte 6:23  —  Twelve-time medalist Ryan Lochte took “full responsibility” Saturday for the incident in Rio that landed him and three other American swimmers in hot water …


New Trojan Turns Linux Devices into Botnet

New Linux Trojan turns infected Linux Device and websites into P2P botnets and threatens users with DDoS and ransom! — This Trojan is one of its kind!

Linux is considered as one of the most secure operating systems but things seem to be changing as cyber criminals are equipping themselves with latest tools. That’s why recently, researchers at Doctor Web have discovered a Linux trojan that can turn an infected Linux device and websites into a P2P botnets.

Usually, a malware is designed to infect devices in order to steal financial and personal data but ”Linux.Rex.1” malware has the ability to perform DDoS attacks from the infected device, send malicious messages and distribute itself to others networks.

Must Read: Hackers Compromise the Download Link for Linux Mint with Backdoor

The Linux.Rex.1 malware was first discussed on kernel mode forum where users took it as “Drupal ransomware” but with a passage of time Dr. Web found out the malware can do much more than targeting Drupal-based platforms.

Botnet, spamming, DDoS and ransom:

Once the device is infected, the malware setups botnet and takes instruction from unknown cyber criminals using command and control (C&C) servers. It then distributes itself onto other networks using the same infected device that’s why Dr. Web labeled it as peer-to-peer (P2P) botnet.

A botnet is a network of private computers infected with malicious software and controlled as a group without the owners’ knowledge, e.g. to send spam.

The malware program receives instructions over the HTTPS protocol and sends them to other botnet nodes, if necessary. When commanded by cyber criminals, Linux.Rex.1 starts or stops a DDoS attack on a specified IP address. Other than aforementioned functions this malware also sends spam messages to website owners threatening them with DDoS attacks and pay ransom in Bitcoin in order to avoid attacks, as cited by Dr. Web.

That’s not all, Linux.Rex.1 also carries a  special module within, allowing it to run scans on the infected network for websites based on Drupal, Magento, JetSpeed and WordPress CMS. Dr. Web also noticed that Drupal based websites are a special target of this malware since it has the ability to perform vulnerability scan and using SQL injection to hack websites, upon hacking, the malware makes a clone of the site and distributes itself on further networks.

Dr. Web has labeled the Linux.Rex.1 a serious that for Linux and website users – so watch out for this one folk!

Related: New Linux Malware Installs Bitcoin Mining Software on Infected Device

Remember, in last one month, researchers have discovered an increase in malware solely developed to infect Linux devices. Adwind RAT is already out there in the world targeting not only Linux but also Windows, OS X and Android Devices.

via HackRead

Apple Watch ‘architect’ opens up about what developing the Apple Watch was really like

The Apple Watch hasn’t yet become the groundbreaking and culturally transformative device many initially assumed it would be, but one would be hard-pressed to call the device a flop just yet. As we highlighted last week, the Apple Watch 2 will introduce a number of compelling new features that may transform it into an unequivocal and mainstream hit product as opposed to a device worn by a niche and passionate group of users.

With the Apple Watch nearly 18 months old, Fast Company recently sat down with former Apple employee Bob Messerschmidt, an integral member of the team that helped bring the Apple Watch to market. Specifically, Messerschmidt helped develop the heart rate sensor on the Apple Watch, one of the devices more widely used and important features. Indeed, there have even been instances where the Apple Watch’s heart sensor has helped save lives.

DON’T MISS: iPhone 8 concept shows the major design overhaul everyone wanted on the iPhone 7

In a wide-ranging interview with Fast Company, Messerschmidt talked about some of the work that went into bringing the original Apple Watch to market while also touching on what it was like to work closely with Apple design group.

One of the more interesting — though not surprising — takeaways from the piece was how big a role Apple’s vaunted design team played in the implementation of the Apple Watch’s underlying technology. For instance, Messerschmidt recalls telling Jony Ive’s design team that he wanted to put a heart rate sensor on the watch band underneath the wrist as this yields better readings. This, however, was a no-go because Apple was planning to introduce interchangeable bands. When Messerschmidt conceded and instead lobbied for a tight-fitting sensor atop the wrist, Apple’s design team once again pushed back, ultimately forcing Messerschmidt and his team to come up with some clever engineering solutions.

Then at the next meeting I would go “we can do it here (on top of the wrist) but it’s going to have to be kind of a tight band because we want really good contact between the sensors and the skin.” The answer from the design studio would be “No, that’s not how people wear watches; they wear them like really floppy on their wrist.” That creates a set of requirements that drives you toward new engineering solutions.

Another interesting excerpt centers on Apple’s unique obsession with product secrecy. Interestingly, Messerschmidt believes that not only has Apple’s obsession gone too far, but he explains that some people use product secrecy as a shield designed to magnify the importance of their own products and contributions.

There is really a contingent at Apple that has resorted to the tools of secrecy. SJ wanted secrecy for very specific reasons. He wanted to be able to make the big splash at the product announcement. And that’s almost as far as it went. There’s definitely a contingent at Apple that wants secrecy because it helps them maintain an empire, in a sense. It helps them create a sense that they’re doing more important things that they really are.

For a company as notoriously secretive as Apple, it’s always fascinating when someone with first-hand experience at the company pulls back the curtain even just a little bit. That said, the full story is well worth checking out in its entirety via the source link below.

via BGR