Facebook admits that a “temporary” configuration allowed spammers to impersonate users

In case you missed this story, Facebook admitted last month that spammers are able to use data fraudulently obtained from its social network site to pose as users’ friends and family, and trick them into clicking on dangerous links.

Reporting to Forbes, Facebook said it had “discovered a single isolated campaign that was using compromised email accounts to gain information scraped from Friend Lists due to a temporary misconfiguration on our site.”

This is a variation of a practice known as “spear-phishing” in which emails appear to be sent by a close friend or family member, address the victim by name in the subject or body of the message, and include a link to a external website controlled by spammers. They rely on the fact that people are likely to open or click on a link if it comes from someone they trust.

Facebook has since outlined several measures to prevent future attacks. Let’s see how it goes…

Related: See Mashable’s 5 tips to keep spear phishers out of your inbox.


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Global Web Index reveals that Web remains an untapped resource

Last week, the World Wide Web Foundation released their Web Index assessing the global impact of the Web. The index covers 61 developed and developing countries. Countries are ranked on the basis of 80 indicators that assess the political, economic and social impact of the Web, as well as indicators covering infrastructure and connectivity.

The study focused attention on the fact that the Web remains a largely untapped resource in much of the world:  only 1 in 3 people use it around the world and in Africa, it is fewer than 1 in 6.

In the 2012 ranking, Sweden is in first place, followed by the US, UK and Canada. At the bottom of the list is Yemen, Zimbabwe and Burkina Faso.

Read more about the index on the Web Index website.

Web Index Top 10

  1. Sweden
  2. United States
  3. United Kingdom
  4. Canada
  5. Finland
  6. Switzerland
  7. New Zealand
  8. Australia
  9. Norway
  10. Ireland

Web Index Bottom 10

  1. Nepal
  2. Cameroon
  3. Mali
  4. Bangladesh
  5. Namibia
  6. Ethiopia
  7. Benin
  8. Burkino Faso
  9. Zimbabwe
  10. Yemen
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Switzerland tops the Global Innovation Index for 2012

Switzerland, Sweden, and Singapore have topped the Global Innovation Index (published by INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organization).  For the second year running!

The Global Innovation Index 2012 (GII): Stronger Innovation Linkages for Global Growth ranks 141 economies on the basis of the capacity of innovate and on tangible innovation results.  The study takes a broad-based view of innovation and addresses the innovation divide. It underlines the importance of linkages and of supporting optimal infrastructure for “innovation ecosystems”, which have over time become increasingly complex, internationalized and collaborative.

The top ten innovation leaders for 2012 are:

  1. Switzerland
  2. Sweden
  3. Singapore
  4. Finland
  5. United Kingdom
  6. Netherlands
  7. Denmark
  8. Hong Kong (China)
  9. Ireland
  10. United States of America

Read more here.



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Wearable Vision Tech: Augmenting the Human?

Posted on 15th April 2012 in digital identity, gadgets and apps, media, philosophy

The Pentagon just put in an order for prototype dual-focus contact lenses that increase the field of vision of the wearers.  The technology could, for instance, help troops in the battlefield be more aware of their environment. The lenses enable the user to focus on two things at once, through the use of two different filters. Some point to the possible side-effect of motion sickness.

For its part, Google just announced that it will begin testing its new augmented reality glasses. Speaking of motion sickness, check out the video below.

It is indeed science fiction getting closer to science fact. It is called augmented reality. But I wonder to what extent these tools augment our human experience and enhance our human capacity – and to what extent they reduce the amount of effort our brain has to put in on a daily basis to remember things, to navigate, to problem solve. What might be the longer term effects? On the one hand, we may be using our brain in more diverse and effective ways, but on the other hand, we are certainly underusing its power in ways that might make us ever more dependent on the tools we have created.


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Texting and Walking: A Road More Travelled

Posted on 15th April 2012 in gadgets and apps, philosophy, technology and society


This week, a man in La Crescenta, California, reminded us of the perils of texting and walking.

As he strolled down the street in his neighbourhood, while texting his boss, he literally came face to face with a bear who had gone astray. It reminded me of a similar incident last year, when a woman fell into a fountain in a shopping mall, because she was too busy texting to look up from her phone.

Perhaps there is something to be said for doing one thing at a time. Have we lost the art?

Texting and the Fountain:
Texting and the Bear:

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What do young students actually know about Europe’s policies for a “digital single market”?


Ever wonder what young students actually know about Europe’s Digital Single Market? I asked one of my 2nd year media students, Alexandra Rodriguez to ask her classmates about it.

I presented Alexandra’s video when moderating the 2012 EU High-Level Conference on the Digital Single Market.

Check it out below:




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Europe’s path towards the Digital Single Market by 2015

Last week, I had the pleasure and privilege of moderating the 2012 EU High-Level Conference on the Digital Single Market in Copenhagen.

If you missed the conference, you can watch videos of the conference online.

The overall aim of the conference was to address the barriers we face in achieving a European Single Market for Digital Services in Europe and to identify the steps needed to achieve this goal. The conference focused on how we might establish a fully functioning internal market for e-commerce and digital services and thereby stimulate economic growth and create jobs.

There were quite a number of excellent speakers from different organizations (public and private) with differing views but also common visions.  Key messages from the conference as summarized by the Danish Presidency of the EU are available on the EU Conference website.

Here’s what I took away from the discussions:


What we should EMBRACE:

  • Openness
  • Courage
  • Risk-Taking
  • Leadership
  • Pragmatism
  • Global Awareness
  • Digital Thinking

What we should USE:

  • The “Power” of the Economic Crisis
  • The Richness of our Diversity
  • Our United Political Will
  • Public-Private Engagement

What we could DO:

  • Start Now and Start Somewhere. 
  • Be Bold and Embrace a Common Vision.
  • Do the Analytics and Embrace Big Data. 
  • Foster Interoperability. 
  • Push Life Blood Back into unused Spectrum. 
  • Focus on the Technology-Using Economy. 
  • Create Benefits not for the Few in the Short-Term but for the Many in the Longer Term. 
  • Distinguish Trust from Confidence and work them into Design. 
  • Train our Innovators.


Featured in the photo below is the session I moderated with eLab INSEAD’s Executive Director Bruno Lanvin, Chairman of IBM Europe Harry van Dorenmalen, Disney’s VP Public Policy Thomas Spiller, Google’s Public Policy Director Simon Hampton, and Nokia’s VP Corporate Relations & Responsibility Esko Aho (former Prime Minister of Finland). For more information on my services as moderator and facilitator see moderate2innovate.com.



Lara Srivastava on the Digital Economy and Growth with Nokia's Esko Aho, Disney's Thomas Spiller, Google's Simon Hampton, IBM's Harry Van Dorenmalen and INSEAD's Bruno Lanvin






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On the Internet, no one knows you’re human

Posted on 18th February 2012 in digital identity, media, philosophy, technology and society

Our digital identity crisis never ceases to astound me.

Remember that old cartoon with the caption: “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog”?
Nowadays just substitute: “On the Internet, no one knows you’re human”.

We are constantly mistaken for robots, for machines.
Or rather, we are presumed machine until proven human.
It seems everytime we click these days, we have to squint our eyes to decipher alphanumeric characters often too cryptic even for human retinae.

Please confirm your password: you must include at least one number, one non-alphanumeric character, one capital letter, one ancient greek alphabet, and one ounce of memory loss… where will it end? Good thing my password is the same for everything:

     2 ∞ & →



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In time for the holidays: A drier, Nordic Mulled Wine… fit for Vikings

Posted on 17th December 2011 in Uncategorized

In the spirit of the festive season, a change from digital limericks to something slightly more tangible and tasty…

A tried and true recipe for “Glogg” courtesy of my good Norwegian friend Vikedal.

This Nordic “Glogg” has more alcohol and a less fruity taste than its German/Swiss cousin, the Gluhwein, but is still sweeter and more caramelized than zee French “vin chaud”.

Ideally to be enjoyed with interesting company and even more interesting cheeses…
Note: Of particular interest to pyromaniacs.

So here we go! What you’ll need:

2 bottles of dry red wine (get something nice – it’s christmas!)
1 bottle of aquavit (Danish, Swedish, Norwegian will all do…)
A small handful of cinnamon sticks
2 Tablespoons cardamom seeds
2 Tablespoons whole cloves
Peel of one orange
1 cup raisins or diced figs (go for the figs if you can!)
1 cup blanched almonds (if you can’t find “blanched” almonds, just boil almonds for 5-10 minutes and the peels come off very easily when cooled)
2 cups of sugar cubes

- Pour the wine and the aquavit into a deep saucepan.
- Add the figs and blanched almonds.
- Place the spices into a cheese cloth or a cloth bag (to contain them) and add the bag to the pan
- Simmer the whole mixture over low heat for about 10-15 minutes
- Meanwhile (come on you can multi-task!), separate the sugar cubes into 3 small bowls
- Take out the spice bag from the hot mixture and put aside.
- Remove the almonds and raisins/figs and put aside (for later).


And now, here comes my favourite part:

Burn the sugar into the mixture, like this:
- Have a wire mesh strainer and metal ladle on hand
- Move the saucepan to a safe and solid location. If it’s dark out and there’s not much wind, do this outside under the stars for maximum effect (I am a romantic…).
- Set the alcoholized mixture on fire (using a long match or lighter) in the saucepan.
- While the mixture is burning with its poetically blue flame, put 1/3rd of the sugar cubes in the strainer and hold the strainer over the burning liquid.
- Using the ladle, pour the mixture over the sugar. This will enable the caramelizing sugar to drip down into the magic mixture. Repeat with the rest of the sugar (the remaining 2/3rds).

So now, find your favourite Internet radio station, turn up the volume, have a snowball fight (if not feeling combative, snow angels are a good substitute), put a few soaked almonds/figs into little (demi-tasse) cups and pour the hot mixture over them…

Glad Jul!  Glædelig jul!
And Skol!



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Digital Delirium?

There once was a boy on Twitter
Whose keyboard was all aflutter
His mind was idle
Though writing vital
And the Web had to suffer the clutter!

Mind over clutter?  What do you think? Check out our podcast on the “digital delirium”

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