Israel Bombarded by Millions of Hack Attempts
Today in international tech news: Israel announces that it has been hit with millions of attempted system hacks since the start of the recent conflict in Gaza. Also: A British group is fighting a porn studio that is seeking info on porn pirates, and China's huge e-commerce sales aren't yet translating to huge profits.
More than 44 million hacking attempts have been made on Israel's government websites since last week, when it unleashed 20 air strikes and killed Hamas' top military commander, the Israeli government announced Sunday.
According to Reuters, Israel's finance minister, Yuval Steinitz, said that only one hack was successful, although the affected site was reportedly back online after 10 minutes. While withholding some details, Israel did disclose that defense-related sites had been the prime hacking target, while the sites of the Israeli president (10 million hacking attempts), Foreign Ministry (7 million) and prime minister (3 million) were also being bombarded.
Israel said that it generally experiences a few hundred hacking attempts per day.
The attacks are reportedly coming from around the world, but the majority, according to a spokesman, are coming from Israel and the occupied territories.
Hacker group Anonymous announced that it supports Palestine and that it, too, had taken to hacking Israel.
Israel's chief information officer, Carmela Avner, said that the current war was taking place on three fronts: physical confrontations, social networks and cyberattacks.
Group Wants Porn Pirates Left Alone
Britain's Open Rights Group is trying to thwart an adult filmmaker's attempt to obtain personal details of British citizens who are suspected of pirating porn films.
According to the BBC, adult film company Golden Eye took legal action last year to try to make telecom and Internet service provider O2 divulge roughly 9,000 names of people suspected of pirating porn. Golden Eye was subsequently awarded details to only about 2,800 people because the remaining 6,000 or so porn pirates were suspected of pirating films to which Golden Eye didn't hold rights.
The Open Rights Group has applied to stop the release of the customers' information, claiming that Golden Eye has no mandate to act on behalf of the 12 other porn studios whose work is also believed to have been pirated. According to an Open Rights Group statement, Golden Eye would divvy up 25 percent of the money it recovered from pirates among porn makers and then pocket the rest.
Chinese E-Commerce: Huge Sales, Little Profit
China's annual "Singles Sunday," a Valentine's Day-esque affair where lonely hearts buy gifts for their crush each Nov. 11, spurred 19 billion yuan worth of spending for China's top e-commerce provider, Alibaba.
That's more than double what America spent on Cyber Monday last year, but as The Economist explains, the e-tailers aren't cashing like you might expect.
The problem, according to the Economist article, is that the pressure on margins is worse for Chinese e-commerce than in the U.S. Numerous companies have cut prices drastically or are swallowing losses to garner market share in the increasingly competitive -- if increasingly lucrative -- Chinese e-commerce market.
Another problem: Brick-and-mortar shops are fighting back. One expert quoted by The Economist estimates that in 2011, computers and handsets were 12 percent cheaper online than in stores. This year, the margin is 7 percent, a likely sign that stores, too, are trimming margins to increase sales .