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Linda Manly

Linda Manly

Remember when it was considered weird to use a Bluetooth device in public? Back then, the last thing people wanted was for others to think they were ranting to themselves on the street. Today, using voice search on a mobile phone in public can still have some of the same stigma attached to it, especially in certain settings (like the restroom—more on that later), but that stigma is disappearing rapidly.

At Stone Temple Consulting, we recently surveyed more than 900 mobile phone users to find out how they use voice search, and the results give us insight into the way that digital marketing and SEO are changing.

Google Ramps Up for Voice Search

Google has been preparing for voice search for quite some time. The rise in mobile usage and voice commands, in fact, have led to some pretty significant changes in how Google’s search engine interprets queries.

In 2016, Google officially stated that 20 percent of mobile queries had become voice searches, and in an interview, we did here at Stone Temple Consulting with Google’s Gary Illyes the same year, he mentioned the search engine gets “30 times as many actions queries by voice as by typing.”

The percentage of voice search queries is expected to rise, especially as the younger generations continue to adopt voice search.

How People Use Voice Search

Until mass adoption, trying to understand why people do and don’t use voice search can enlighten our marketing strategies and help us understand how voice commands impact how search engines work to produce the most relevant results. We recently conducted a study of more than 900 users to see how they use voice search. You can see a video on the results from this survey here:

The results were fascinating. For example, did you know that more than two-thirds of people feel comfortable using voice search at home alone? That number drops to 54 percent when using it at home with people they know.

This is in line with findings of the 2016 Internet Trends Report by KPCB, where most of the voice searches were occurring in the home.

Then there are the pioneers of public voice search adoption—those who felt comfortable conducting voice searches no matter who was around. More than one-fifth of those surveyed were fine using voice commands in more public situations, like amongst coworkers, in a restaurant, on public transportation, or at a party.

A smaller amount of people were okay using voice commands in places like the gym or in the bathroom (which, understandably, could be awkward, to be muttering commands from the toilet), where 13 percent of people seem comfortable with speaking searches to their phone.

Men were much more willing than women to take risks in places like the bathroom, with men twice as likely to use the phone for a voice search in the restroom than women! Men were also three times as likely to use voice search in a theater than women.

Age plays a factor in public voice search adoption, too. Our survey found that folks in the Generation Z category (under age 24) were 33 percent more likely to use voice commands in some of those more “taboo” public settings than those older than 24.

Voice Search Will Grow Even More

Because we see comfort levels using voice commands on mobile devices are significantly higher among the younger generation, it’s reasonable to expect that voice command usage will increase over time. Other reasons for growing adoption will likely include improved technology, as outlined in the Internet Trends Report:

Different folks prefer different technologies when performing their voice searches. If you have an iPhone and know that Siri can take care of what you need, then you’ll likely ask Siri and not bother opening up a dedicated app or browser.

In fact, the Internet Trends Report showed Siri processed more than one billion voice commands per week by June 2015.

Also of interest in that data are the forecasts for continued growth of voice search. For example, Baidu chief scientist Andrew Ng believes that at least 50 percent of search queries by 2020 will be performed as a voice or image search.

How to Prepare

Search boxes and browsers will remain with us for the foreseeable future, but their importance is going to decline significantly over the next decade. In fact, a forecast from Strategy Analytics shows that by the year 2020, less than 25 percent of internet-connected devices will be a PC, tablet, or smartphone.

What will those other devices be? They’ll be watches, thermostats, TVs, refrigerators, cars, game consoles, and many other types of devices. Most of these will not have a browser, and the main interface will be via voice.

Digital personal assistants may be the main connecting tissue that binds all these things together. Those are tools like Google Assistant, Cortana, Amazon Alexa, and Siri. This then will become the new key focus of your optimization efforts. When someone tells a personal assistant, “Find an Italian restaurant near me,” you’ll need to have taken the right steps to be included in those results.

Some of these new steps will have a lot in common with those needed to show up in today’s search results, but not all will be that simple. For example, if the query is, “How do I change a tire?”, the personal assistant may only return one single response. This may come from what Google calls a   “featured snippet,” the direct answer the search engine gives to queries above the regular search results. It’s the first of three ideas I have for you on how to prepare for this new world:

  1. Learn how to get featured snippets for your site.  The great thing about this is that it both prepares you for the future, and it also will help you drive a traffic increase to your site right now.
  2. Learn the most common questions prospective customers have about products and services like yours. Get out there and learn what they want to know, and then start building content to answer those questions proactively. Being one of the best information sources in your market space will be critical to surviving and thriving.
  3. Start experimenting with conversational interfaces. These are different than traditional web interfaces. For example, on a website, users often navigate to what they want in a step-by-step process. If I want a running shoe, I might navigate in steps like this:
  • Pick sneakers in the menu
  • Pick running sneakers on the menu
  • Pick a brand
  • Pick a size and color
  • Pick a specific product

Imagine a world where I simply say what I want, starting with, “Give me a list of Nike Air running shoes for men, size 10.” In this world, I skip many steps in the process and get to what I want much faster. We won’t get to this world overnight, but we will get there, and the time to start learning is now. You can do this by experimenting with the Amazon Echo (learn how to build an Amazon Skill here) and Google Home (learn how to build an Action on Google here).

The world is changing fast, and we’re approaching a point of major disruption in our industry once again. While this can be frightening, it can also be exciting. One thing is for sure: It’s a time of great opportunity. Start exploring the right ways to set yourself up for success now, and you’ll be in a much better position to do well as the events of the next year unfold.

 Source: This article was published convinceandconvert.com By Chris Stobing

Friday, 02 March 2018 02:21

5 signs you may be talking to a bot

The social media platform Twitter has a bot problem. Twitter has been under increased scrutiny lately for hosting hundreds of thousands of accounts that seem to be legitimately owned by real people, but in fact are just “bots,” or automated accounts, that are created en masse to flood the platform – usually to espouse political beliefs.

There are plenty of allegations that the English-speaking Twitter world was flooded with bots from nation-states like Russia to support Brexit in the UK and to promote or denigrate presidential candidates in the United States. Just this week, many high-profile, right wing Twitter users have noted that their accounts have been getting frozen and their follower counts plummeting in what they have termed #TwitterLockOut, though other Twitter users have argued that this was a long overdue purge of fake accounts.

These bots are easy to deploy and effective at plastering propaganda to influence discussion and divide populations, and they’re not a small presence: One study last year estimated that bots make up nearly 15% of Twitter users in total – about 30 million – double Twitter’s own estimate of bots on their platform.

Bots are by no means limited to supporting American right-wingers on Twitter, they are becoming an issue on all major social media platforms, especially Facebook and Instagram, across almost all countries and languages. If you’re on social media at all, it’s worth asking yourself: Can you tell when you’re talking to a bot?

Even if you’re smarter than the average bear, it’s not always easy to tell the bot accounts from real ones. (Bot creators are getting better by the day.)

  • If the account claims to be representing a major politician or celebrity, check to verify that this account isn’t an impersonator. There’s a blue “verified” checkmark that Twitter bestows on accounts that have been proven to be owned by who they claim to be. That said, the check doesn’t exist for all official accounts, so this method isn’t fool-proof. Still, when possible, look for the blue check.
  • Any account that has a generic blank user profile photo (previously it was the Twitter “egg”) and a username that is a noun followed by a bunch of random numbers is very likely a bot.
  • Even a supposedly genuine looking profile photo can be deceptive. Many bots pull photos from public social media profiles or even stock imagery to give their profile photos an authentic veneer. Try doing a reverse Google Image search on a profile photo for a profile you suspect might not be real – chances are it may belong to someone with a completely different name.
  • One of the latest ploys Twitter bots use is generating biographies (the descriptive text underneath your name) with random nouns and descriptors to make the profile look somewhat genuine. If the biography looks disjointed and doesn’t make much sense – e.g. the profile photo is of a young girl in a bikini, and the profile says “grandmother of 5, devoted husband,” that’s a big red flag.
  • Does this user engage with people in conversation in a meaningful way, or does it just spit out statements, hashtags and links without any real interaction with other users? Yes, more sophisticated bots can have something resembling a back-and-forth conversation, but most of the basic ones flooding Twitter are rather spammy, and one-note – don’t expect a meaningful response if you ever Tweet at them.

There are also tools and websites that claim to track bot activity on Twitter and say they can even check if an account is a bot for you. These tools can be handy to confirm suspicions, but keep in mind that any tool is ultimately an extension of its creator – a bot checker tool could be completely reputable and trustworthy, or it may have its own political agenda.

In the end, trust your gut if something feels off with the account you’re talking to, and if you feel so inclined, report any suspicious accounts or bots to the social media platform to help keep interactions online genuine and as bot-free as possible.

Source: This article was nakedsecurity.sophos.com By Maria Varmazis

If you've read any 2018 SEO-trend articles, you know that voice search is the wave of the future. Though it may not completely eradicate screen-based searches, it will change the way users interact with content and the way search engines crawl, index, and retrieve website information.

When a user interacts with his or her voice assistant, the device reads back a single, definitive answer to the query. The equivalent for a screen-based search is the featured snippet—the answer box at the top of the search engine results page (SERP)—which shows up for about 30% of searches, according to a 2017 study. And to be the single result for a voice search, your content has to be the featured snippet result.

Note: If you work in marketing, I highly recommend tuning into our Pro Webinar series, where we often go over tips, tools, and examples of how to use data to inform your marketing strategy.

What Is a Featured Snippet?

Also referred to as an "answer box," a featured snippet is the box at the top of a SERP with an answer to the searcher's question. That answer is pulled from the organic listings of Google's first-page results, extracting the summary from the site's content. Google cites the source by linking to that site and displaying the title of the page from which the information was pulled:

Gaining and retaining a query's featured snippet builds credibility. It not only increases visibility and exposure but also inspires a sense of authority and trust as Google's chosen source of information.

There are three types of featured snippets:

  1. Paragraphs. This type of featured snippet most often appears in question-based queries and it is the most common of snippets. To ensure that this type of snippet doesn't diminish your clickthrough rate (CTR), answer the question within the first paragraph of the page and include information that entices the user to click through to learn more.
  2. Lists. List snippets often feature results such as how-to content, recipes, ranked lists (e.g., top schools in an area), or unordered lists (e.g., things to do in a specific destination). The plus side to this type of snippet is that users must click through to see all of the information.
  3. Tables. Table snippets are more popular than you might think. They often appear in search results for lists, pricing, rates, and data. With tables, Google gives itself the freedom to format the table by pulling only the specific information the user is searching for. To rank for this featured snippet, bigger is better: By having more than four rows to your table, you'll increase the likelihood of clickthroughs. Table data is harder to extract for voice search, however.

Optimizing for Voice Search and Featured Snippets

According to Google estimates, by 2020 fully half of the searches will be voice-based. The widespread acceptance of Amazon Echo, Google Home, and the like has increased massively over the past two years as homes become more automated and voice search becomes more fine-tuned. In fact, it's estimated that smart speakers will be in 55% of US households by 2022.

The rise of voice search means that marketers need to place a high priority on long-tail keywords and focus on natural, spoken language and a conversational approach.

Although Moz's Dr. Pete recommends that SEOs and content marketers not focus on voice search alone or throw in the towel on their other efforts, he also explains that focusing on writing content for the kind of questions users ask in your industry can benefit both voice- and screen-based searches.

Focus on Long-Tail Searches and Q&A

Many featured snippets come from question-based searches, and most voice searches are being phrased in the form of a question. For your new content to rank well enough for a featured snippet, focusing on writing content for long-tail keywords can bring the best results.

Often, long-tail keywords bring in less traffic, so marketers shy away from them. However, the traffic they do generate is in pursuit of something very specific; if you have the exact answer the user is looking for, he or she is more likely to convert.

So focus on answering the specific questions that people ask about your product, service, business, or industry. To figure out what people are asking, think about the FAQs that you get from both potential and current customers that could be answered in long-form content on your website.

You can research what people ask online through Answer the Public, listen to call recordings to determine what questions aren't currently being answered by your website, and check your Search Console to determine what queries you have impressions for but not clicks.

Writing content to answer those questions can help you be the "answer zero" in SERPs. For example, a fitness center could write a series on how to do various types of exercises:

It's Not About You! Write Tangential Content

Another beneficial tactic is what Moz calls tangential content. By playing down the direct promotion of your own products or services, you'll reach a wider audience, and the content will have a higher chance of getting inbound links, Moz has shown.

If a pool company writes a blog post on summer pool safety tips, more people are likely to share that with their friends and family than a post about how great the pool servicing prices are. People searching for pool safety information are also more likely to come across this blog post in voice search and featured snippet results because it's not about the company as much as it is an answer to an important question.

To learn about new ways to research potential long-tail keywords and tangential content ideas, check out this keyword research article on Marketing Profs.

Remember the Skyscraper Technique: Revamp Existing Content

If you already have content created in hopes of having it featured, but it's remained stagnant, it may be time revisit and revise that content. Most marketers refer to that method as the skyscraper technique, but because I was raised as an artist I refer to it as a Picasso technique: Steve Jobs attributed the quote "good artists copy, great artists steal," to Pablo Picasso.

I don't mean disrespecting copyright, of course. When good content creators copy, they make sure the reader is reminded of the original work and can easily trace the work back its origin. Though that approach may have success, it lacks original thought. Great artists, however, steal: They take the information, but they breathe new life into it—making it their own.

Because the skyscraper/Picasso technique means adding to old content and making the new content better than the original, it makes that contains the authoritative word on the matter.

If you're revamping existing content, ask yourself the following:

  • Do you answer the key question quickly and concisely within the content?
  • Are your statistics current?
  • Are your images current?
  • Are there new and relevant articles on your site that can link to the older piece of content?
  • Are you thinking evergreen?
  • Is your content the most thorough answer to the user's question?

When aiming for featured snippets, circle back to your understanding of core practices: Continue a methodical practice of technical SEO, create shareworthy content, and monitor metrics for success.

With keyword research that's based on an understanding of user queries and voice search nuances, you can get planning and create content that's worthy of "position zero" down to a science—and reach your target audience.

Source: This article was published marketingprofs.com By Melissa Garner

"The world is kind of a nightmare right now" —ClickHole editor Matt Powers on the role of satire in the age of Trump.

“It's really hard to satirize something that's already insane,” Matt Powers told me, “but if it’s being given legitimacy, then we have no choice.”

Powers is the editor-in-chief of ClickHole, a satirical website that parodies clickbait web culture. In May, the site temporarily — and unexpectedly — rebranded itself as PatriotHole.

Inspired by far-right sites like Breitbart, the Blaze, Drudge Report, and InfoWars, PatriotHole unleashed a torrent of spoof articles mocking the ethnic resentments and cultural anxieties percolating on the right.

It also mocked the exploitative business model of online media, openly admitting that it was chasing “millions of dollars of untapped web traffic.”

Sadly, the PatriotHole experiment only lasted two days (though they’re still posting content on Twitter). But they were a glorious two weeks, with headlines like “An Abortion Doctor So Sexual That Your Daughter Gets Horny For a Third -Term Procedure? Believe it. His Name Is Ahmed” and “Hell Yes, Baby, It Is the Special Choo-Choo Medicine Called Coal! The Patriotic Vegetable That Comes From Mountains!!!”

Now that PatriotHole’s brief run is over, I reached out to Powers by phone to talk about the conceit of the site and what they hoped to accomplish with it. We talked about the role of satire in the age of Trump and why the legitimization of partisan media compelled them to launch PatriotHole.

Below is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation.

Sean Illing

Be honest: What sites or publications were your inspirations? Breitbart? Drudge Report? What?

Matt Powers

Yeah, but I think a lot of the stuff that we do — especially on ClickHole in general — makes fun of the left as well. Both sides are ripe for parody. We try to be nonpartisan in part because lots of comedians do the “Fox news is stupid” thing. We’re not super interested in that. We definitely want to make fun of Fox and Trump and all of that, but we also want to make fun of the left and really the entire political culture.

Sean Illing

It’s also about exposing the truly cynical business model animating all of this noise, right?

Matt Powers

That’s exactly right. What’s actually happening is that these sites have found a way to cut through the noise of Facebook and really manipulate people’s emotions and fears, their paranoia. We see a performance-based spreading of ideology, which is cynical and dangerous, and we’re going to make fun of it.

Sean Illing

It’s interesting that you use the phrase “performance-based.” Is that how you see all this polarized online discourse, just profit-driven performance art?

Matt Powers

I maybe wouldn't go as far as that, but I do think it's a huge component of it. You can see how a lot of websites have altered their content or reformatted their content to make it more social media–friendly. I think it's sort of the latest version of that. Sites are just more ballsy now with their headlines and their click chasing, and that’s something we play with at ClickHole and PatriotHole.

Sean Illing

How so?

Matt Powers

We play with those same emotions. We just say openly, "Shut the internet down, this is the best thing ever," or, "This is going to make you cry," or, "This is going to make your day,” or, “This is going to make you smile." Now, a lot of websites play this headline game earnestly, but we do it to tell jokes. But also to point out the negative implications of it all.

Sean Illing

What are the negative costs?

Matt Powers

Everyone is pissed off and misinformed all the time. We’ve got fake news being pumped out of content farms in Eastern Europe, spreading bullshit all over the place. But it’s not pointless bullshit — there’s a goal. For example, in the election, a lot of it was to disparage Hillary [Clinton] and to build up Donald Trump. Which is a crazy thing in and of itself.

So there's certainly an aim here. The people behind this weren’t saying, "Oh, we want ad impressions." They were using the mechanisms of the system to game it. But they’re also manipulating people in dangerous ways with false stories and conspiracy theories.

Sean Illing

The conspiratorial angle is interesting to me. I'm always fascinated by the psychology of that. And you all play into that pretty humorously with PatriotHole. How do you think about conspiracy theorizing? Is it just about tapping into people’s anxieties, or is it more about empowering people, making them believe they’re it-getters and everyone else is oblivious to what’s really going on?

Matt Powers

Yeah. I think it's always attractive to feel like you're on the inside, that you really get it and almost everyone else doesn’t. It's just a cool place to be. Like, everyone else wake up, this is what's happening! There's so many conspiracies that are just so attractive, and I kind of understand why. It's like there's something happening here and no one knows but you and a small group of people. And the more people that tell you no, the more it's like, "Well, then it's definitely true." So I totally understand why that's attractive. It's just weird that it's been weaponized by the internet.

Sean Illing

That’s been weaponized, and the underlying fears propelling all of this stuff have been weaponized as well, and that’s something PatriotHole relentlessly parodies. I’m thinking of the Muslim abortion doctor piece in particular. I mean, every festering fear on the reactionary right is crammed into that one article!

Matt Powers

Right. That's every fear if you’re a certain kind of person. Your precious baby girl is in love with this sexy Middle Eastern abortion doctor. It's obviously ridiculous, but we were trying to call out how fearmongering a lot of these sites can be. Especially jamming it up against fear of the other and anything that's not white-picket-fence America.

Sean Illing

Do you find it difficult to satirize our strange present?

Matt Powers

Well,it’s really hard to satirize something that's already insane, but if it's being given legitimacy, then we have no choice. We get asked all the time, "How do you satirize Donald Trump? How do you satirize something that’s already so crazy?” And my answer to that is always: If it's being treated as legitimate and people are earnestly listening to it and engaging with these things, that just raises the bar for us to satirize them.

Sean Illing

Have current events changed how you think about the role of satire in society? I realize that’s an outrageously big question, so feel free to answer however you like.

Matt Powers

No, it's a good question. I think the word "satire" has so many definitions at this point — people think of it differently. In my mind, it's using a recognizable format to uncover and expose the truths about the format or the content you're satirizing. So it's like we use clickbait language to make jokes about what clickbait does.

In our most satirical versions, we hope to point out the lurking fanaticism and how it uses that inspiring language or that heartwarming language. And we like to use broken versions of that to show how ridiculous and manipulative that can be.

Sean Illing

That’s sort of the beauty of satire: On its face it’s complete bullshit, but you find more truth in it than you do anywhere else.

Matt Powers

Yeah, I totally agree. And I think that the Onion and ClickHole and The Daily Show and Colbert’s old show are all stronger and funnier when you have already consumed the news through an actual news source. I think they all become more enjoyable once you already understand the news. I truly hope no one gets their news from ClickHole, because they are being incredibly misinformed.

Good satire allows people to think about something they already know in a different way. That’s why we use the news media format against the news media. If you already understand the thing we’re parodying, then what we’re doing is both funnier and more honest. We’re exposing what’s actually happening, and that’s what effective satire can do.

Sean Illing

Do you think the people you’re making fun of get it?

Matt Powers

I'm not sure. We've certainly had content that's been shared by people on Twitter who represent very far-right viewpoints. Which is always interesting because, again, once our content's out there, anyone can share it, even people we don't agree with or we vehemently disagree with. But we also make fun of the left, so that stuff might get picked up by more far-right media people.

I think what we want is to make sure we're saying the right things with our satire. Things that we can stand behind, and things that we feel make a good point. And at the end of the day, what’s funny and true is funny and true. And once it goes out into the world, if we feel good about it, whoever shares it is certainly welcome to.

Sean Illing

Is there a point at which things get so bad, so dark, that it’s just not funny anymore?

Matt Powers

The world is kind of a nightmare right now — we get that. A lot of unprecedented things that would've been unthinkable a year ago or two years ago are happening. Again, the role of satire and comedy is [to] respond to what’s entering our discourse and consciousness and then raise the bar, call it out in a way that is true and resonates.

We want to reflect the cultural zeitgeist. Whatever is happening in the world, no matter how bad or ugly, we have to talk about it. I think it’s our job to comment on the world as it is.

Sean Illing

The world doesn’t get much stranger than this...

Matt Powers

Yeah, and it’s crazy how quickly things can become normalized. The idea of a billionaire who has no experience and who has these horrible sexual assault allegations and horrible for-profit scam universities can become president was a farce last summer. But now it's like, "Oh, yeah, of course we have a president who started a for-profit university and stole a bunch of money from people who were just trying to get ahead in life." Like, that's almost taken for granted. I guess that’s what presidents do now.

If we can make some jokes and expose the insanity of all this, then we’re doing our part.

Source: This article was published vox.com By Sean Illing

A clever email phishing attack spread like wildfire across the internet on Wednesday afternoon. But this was no typical phishing attack — so don't feel bad if you were fooled.

The email looked innocuous enough: an invitation, supposedly from a friend or past contact, to view a file on Google Docs. There were some giveaways that it was fake if you knew what to look for, but it was constructed in a way that even tech savvy users who clicked through might not have noticed something was wrong.

If you just opened the email, but didn't actually click the Google Docs link, your account is probably fine. But what if you did click the link?


Don't just change your password

Unlike other phishing attempts, which try to fool users by directing them to a fake Google login page, this attack directed users to a real Google account page. In other words, the URL in your browser wouldn't suggest anything out of the ordinary. It was legit. 

However, some users quickly realized that even though the login page was real, the "Google Docs" app that was prompting users was not. Instead, someone created a malicious app with the name "Google Docs" to try and fool people into giving it access to their account — specifically, their contact lists and emails.

Once the fake "Google Docs" app had access to an account, it appears to have sent new phishing messages to all the contacts in the victim's address book, which is how the fake emails managed to spread so far so fast.

If alarm bells went off when you saw that "Google Docs" wanted access to your account and closed the page without giving it access, your account is probably fine.

If you granted the fake Google Docs app access to your Gmail account, changing your password is a good first step — but not the only one. You'll have to revoke the fake app's access to your account, too. 

You can do this by looking at the list of Connected Apps & Sites under your Google account's security settings. It might also be a good time to see what other apps you've granted access over the years, and revoke any that you don't recognize.

Google Account apps connected to your account gmail

This is what Google's settings page for connected apps and sites looks like. It's where you can revoke the malicious "Google Docs" app's access to your account. (Matthew Braga/CBC News)

OK, so who did it?

It's still not clear who is behind the attack, or what their fake app hoped to achieve. In a statement, Google said that while contact information was accessed and used, "our investigations show that no other data was exposed."

Fewer than 0.1 per cent of users were affected, according to the company — and although that might seem small, it could mean that as many as one million users received the message, considering Gmail has one billion monthly active users. 

Motherboard reported that some journalists and researchers found an email address with the name Eugene Pupov linked to the phishing scheme, and that a Twitter account by the same name is claiming the scheme was an act of academic research gone wrong. But reporter Joseph Cox is skeptical of the claim.

"Coventry University, apparently the institution Pupov attended, told Motherboard in an email that there is no current or former student at the university by the name Eugene Pupov," Cox wrote.

Source: This article was published cbc.ca By Matthew Braga

Over a million devices have already been affected by an Android malware named Gooligan, which compromises Google account data on these devices, giving the attacker access to user’s Gmail, Google Photos, Google Docs, Google Play, Google Drive and other Google related applications.

According to researchers from Check Point Software Technologies, an Israel-based security firm, this malware has been found in 86 apps on the third party marketplaces.

Gooligan malware has infected more than a million devices in the past few months and 13,000 new devices are being infected every single day.

Once a user downloads any of these apps, the malware roots the device and gains system access to the device, allowing the attacker to phish credentials of the user’s Google accounts.

Devices running on Google’s Android 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich, Jellybean and KitKat) and Android 5 (Lollipop), which account for 74 percent of total Android users, are in threat of being affected by Gooligan.

“We’ve revoked affected users’ Google Account tokens, providing them with clear instructions to sign back in securely, removing apps related to this issue from affected devices, deploying enduring Verify Apps improvements to protect users from these apps in the future and collaborating with ISPs to eliminate this malware altogether,” Adrian Ludwig, Google’s director of Android security stated in a post.

Check if Your Device is Infected

If you’ve been downloading apps from outside the official Google Play Store, then you should access Check Point Software Technologies gateway. It’s easy, just enter your email ID that’s linked with your Android device and it’ll instantly give you a feedback.


57% of the total infected devices are located in Asia, 19% in Americas, 15% in Africa and 9% in Europe.

If you wish to personally identify if you haven’t downloaded any app infected by Gooligan, check out the list of apps that carry the malware and delete them as soon as possible to avoid further damage.

If your device is infected, it’ll require ‘flashing’ — a clean installation of the operating system.

This is a complex process and it is recommended that you switch off your device and take it to a qualified technician and request your device to be ‘re-flashed.

After the ‘re-flashing’ is done, you’ll need to change your Google account passwords. It is recommended that you don’t use third-party marketplaces to download Android app as any such app can be a potential threat to your device.

How Gooligan Affects Your Device

As per the findings of Check Point Software Technology’s researchers, “after achieving root access, Gooligan downloads a new, malicious module from the C&C server and installs it on the infected device. This module injects code into running Google Play or GMS (Google Mobile Services) to mimic user behaviour so Gooligan can avoid detection. ”

The module allows Gooligan to:

  • Steal a user’s Google email account and authentication token information
  • Install apps from Google Play and rate them to raise their reputation
  • Install adware to generate revenue


“Nicknamed ‘Gooligan’, this variant used Google credentials on older versions of Android to generate fraudulent install of other apps,” Adrian Ludwig added.

Basically, the attacker can access and use an infected device’s Google accounts after gaining root access to the device using Gooligan malware. Beware of third party marketplaces as they aren’t verified by Google before you download it, as it happens on Google Play, and might carry some other malware if not Gooligan.

Source: This article was published guidingtech.com

Always short on time and behind on tasks? Is your productivity getting affected since there are only 24 hours in a day? Then what you need are effective time management skills perfected by the biggies of the corporate and celebrity world. For these are the people who manage to do so much more, in the same amount of time as everybody else.

One View Successful People Commonly Share — Time Is the Most Valuable Commodity

Successful people know that time is as essential and valuable a commodity as is money – so they use it wisely and well. Time that is wasted can never come back – each minute should be utilized wisely for that makes all the difference in you having an excellently productive day or not.1

Time management is essential if you want to finish the day’s work and chores in an orderly manner, not have any guilt over “wastage” and even have enough free time left over to spend with family, friends or even with yourself.

8 Time Management Rules That Successful People Follow

Maintain a Time Log

When you embark on a fitness of weight loss regime, nutritionists and dieticians often advise that you keep a food and workout log – to note down all that you ate in a day, the quantity of what you ate and even the fitness regime for that day. Similarly, successful businesspersons often advise that you start a time management program by maintaining a time log – this will tell you how you used your time and where all are you wasting it – it may make you feel a bit like a slacker, but it will ultimately help you give your work day proper direction and help you answer that nagging question “where is my time going?”2

Get Some Workout in the Morning

Richard Branson, the super famous, filthy rich celebrity-cum-corporate honcho gets up at 5 am to work out and claims that his morning fitness regime helps him have a super-productive day. And he’s not wrong – working out in the morning keeps you mentally sharp and physically active through the day – and you also get the feel good of the exercise high since the endorphins aka happy hormones flood your system and also are on a high since you did something positive for yourself early in the morning! 3

Decide on a Must-Do List

Entrepreneur and CNBC’s The Profit star Marcus Lemonis has another great tip to offer his audience – he makes a must-do list every morning – though he calls it his knockout list. And he of course has card in his basement closet specially made for this, and after he has done his five things of the day that simply cannot be put off, if he has the time, he does more. And the card of the day is turned into a paper plane once the tasks are all done… So the gist for you remains the same, though you don’t need custom-made cards – a simply notebook, planner or even diary would suffice, and you don’t have to make paper planes out if it either – do your own quirk instead. 4

Do Difficult Tasks in the Morning

There are things – call them tasks, call them chores or call them bores – that we all tend to groan and moan about and put off till the very last minute. These are the tasks that you should tackle the first thing in the morning itself when you are fresh, sharp and not jaded by what the day has brought you. Do what you find boring and uninterested first, the rest of the day is likely to be much more interesting and fun for you to go through – if you keep putting off those tasks they are likely to take up a lot of time when you finally get around to doing them. Morning is the time your willpower is at your highest – so a good time to tackle what would normally take you a lot of dithering to finish.5

Make Work Interesting

Jack Groetzinger, co-founder and CEO of SeatGeek makes his tasks fun by gamifying them. He has written a software that calculates how much time it takes him to do something – say writing an e-mail and maintains a daily log of the same. Each day, he tries to break his own record by doing the same thing faster, even if it’s just by a few seconds. And while not all of us are tech-inclined enough to do the same, there are not plenty of apps available that literally map your time, and help you finish your work faster – by using regular reminders, or even screen alarms.6

Concentrate on Core Competencies

What you don’t know well, will take you time to do. We are all are great at a few things, but not-so-great or inclined at others. Make sure that when it comes to time management skills, you tackle the work that falls within your core competencies the most, instead of doing stuff that you first have to learn, err or that is simply not up your alley. This is not to say that you shouldn’t learn something new or try something that you haven’t before, but keep that restricted to your free or leisure time. Bill Smith, founder and CEO of Shipt says that as much as he’d like to do everything by himself, he’s much rather delegate stuff to competent employees so that he is free to do what he is best at – oversee and direct.7

Use Your Free Time, Plan Your Breaks

Arianna Huffington, author and entrepreneur takes breaks during the day, especially for meals and believes that taking “pauses” boosts productivity and decreases stress. Similarly, Daymond John, founder and CEO of FUBU and entrepreneur tries to maximize him time – if he’s travelling, he doesn’t snooze away his time. Instead he’ll do his e-mails… So when you get free time, use that to your advantage instead of whiling it away. And your breaks need to be planned as well – you can use a bit of free time to plan ahead and take some deliberate breaks to refresh yourself at work as well.8

Plan a Good Weekend

Nick Huzar, the founder and CEO of OfferUp, prioritizes some alone time on Sundays to refocus himself and his work. His breaks are planned and used to plan his week ahead. On the flip side, planning a good weekend also works and will help you stave off that I-have-wasted-my-free-time depressing feeling. Plan three to five anchor events that give you the positive feeling that the weekend was spent well, instead that a weekend merely happened. Go for a run, or a weekend trip, or a movie or even a family picnic. Spend your free time constructively instead of being just a boring homebody.9

So basically, learn from the experts as to how they manage to accomplish a lot more than others, in the same amount of time. The day is the same 24 hours for everyone – but time management makes all the difference in what all you are able to do in it… 10

Source: This article was published lifehack.org By Rima Pundir

Source: R. Douglas Fields

The rate of lethal violence is 7 times higher than the average for all mammals

A new study of 1,024 mammal species has determined which animals are the most vicious killers of their own kind.  Killer whales perhaps?  Pit bulls maybe? For the answer, just look in the mirror.

Gary Reyes/ Bay Area News Group

Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, concludes his keynote address at the annual Google I/O developer conference in Mountain View, Calif., on Wednesday, May 17, 2017. Google is working to make more user information, such as credit card purchases, available to retailers as part of its efforts to show online ad campaigns lead to purchases in retail stores.

Top of the Order:  

Google Going Ga Ga: We already know that Google is everywhere. And whether you like it or not, Google knows a lot about you. That’s because the world’s biggest internet search engine is the first place where millions — if not billions — of people around the world go to get information online, and it’s a conduit for many of those people putting in their credit card numbers to buy stuff.

And now, Google wants to use all that information to prove that people still buy things at traditional retailers.

On Tuesday, Google said it will start taking the information it gleans from credit cardtransactions to show retailers just how their digital ad programs turned into actual purchases in stores. For Google, the goal is pretty simple: prove to advertisers that their money is well-spent online, and that they should spend more of it with Google, and less on other ad outlets such as television.

That may be fine and dandy for Google, but you can bet that more than a few eyebrows will be raised over the company knowing even more about people and the footprints they leave online. For now, Google is saying all the right things about how its data-gathering formulas are so intricate and secure that there will be no way for the company to know who bought what in the real world, only that a person made a purchase.

The program may also get people to actually start reading the consent forms that come with their credit cards, and wherever they purchase anything online. Sure, Google once liked to say, “Don’t be evil,” but between its new information-sharing plans and reports about an in-house security team that goes after employees who leak information to the press, it may be hard for many people to think of Google as just that search engine with the clever doodles on its home page.

Middle Innings:

It’s “P” vs. “PP”: PayPal, the popular electronic-payments and services company, thinks there’s only room enough in this world for two “P’s” and that Pandora had better just step aside. PayPal has sued Pandora over its new logo, claiming that Pandora’s “P” mirrors PayPal’s “PP” too closely for its liking, and is causing way too much confusion among consumers who can’t tell the difference between one “P” or two.

Does a Bag of Fritos Come With That?: Before too long, if you are 21 or older, you will be able to legally buy marijuana in California. And you can expect all the late-night drive-thru windows at Taco Bell and Jack in the Box to start doing a booming business among the weed burners of the Golden State, too.

But, just because you’re baked doesn’t mean you should get behind the wheel, no matter how good a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Tacos sound. And, even stone-cold sober, they do sound good.

Well, maybe you should raise a bong in salute of Oakland-based Hound Labs? The company has raised $8.1 million and begun clinical trials of its portable marijuana breathalyzer test. If it makes it to market, the device would be the first of its kind for sale. And the gadget already went through roadside tests with law-enforcement officials last fall.

Bottom of the Lineup:

The leading U.S. stock market gauges were able to claim a victory, albeit a mild one. The day was also highlighted by reaction to President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 federal budget, which some referred to as cruel. Others doubted the likelihood of it stimulating large-scale economic growth.

The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite Index  edged up by 0.1 percent to 6,138.71.

The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.2 percent to end the day at 20,937.91.

And the broad-based Standard & Poor’s 500 Index also gained 0.2 percent to reach 2,398.42.

Quote of the Day: “Life is easier on iPhone.” — Apple (who else?). The company made the claim about life improving with the iPhone on a new web page that Apple put up as part of an effort to attract Android users. As part of the campaign, Apple is offering a trade-in of up to $260 in credit for anyone who switches from an Android phone to an iPhone.

Source: This article was published on mercurynews.com By 

Ever been stuck with trying to get to a solution, but not getting anywhere? If you nod affirmatively, you may be lacking in critical thinking. What you have to remember about critical thinking though, is that you will not get from 0 to 100 in just a second. There are many skills that you need to learn and understand before you can get to use your brain this way : you inquire into and enquire about all the facets of a problem, before actually getting to solve it, keeping your “judgment” well out of the way.

Why Is Critical Thinking So Hard To Achieve?

The toughest thing about critical thinking is the fact that you need to suspend your judgment while you do so, keeping your very open to the thought that the belief you have about something, can in the next instant, proven to be wrong or incorrect. Also, as a critical thinker, you are in a way deviating from the norm, which means all the things that your peers believe and even want you to believe, can, in fact, be incorrect. The very basis of critical thinking is an almost continuous back and forth between making theories or beliefs, and then trying to accept or eliminate what works and what doesn’t.

Are You On The Right Path To Critical Thinking?

Despite the difficulty of critical thinking, it is becoming more and more of a valued tool in the professional field – perhaps because there is a dearth of critical thinkers. So to see whether you are the next best thing since sliced bread when it comes to critical thinking, you should try to take The California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory – a psychological test that can be used to measure whether people are disposed to think critically or not, by measuring seven different thinking habits, or essential skills.

  1. Truth-seeking: Are you a flame carrier for truth, and nothing but? Do you try and understand how things actually are instead of believing hearsay?
  2. Open-mindedness: Is new information acceptable, good or just bad to you? Do you give new ideas, even if they “sound” weird or wrong, a fair chance? Or are you closed to modernity?
  3. Analyticity: Do you try and find and understand the reasons behind things? Are your decisions gut-based or do they have pros and cons behind them?
  4. Systematicity: Are you orderly in your approach of problem-solving? Do you break down a problem into parts and then tackle them one by one?
  5. Confidence in Reasoning: Do you always defer to other people or is your own belief more important to you? Are you confident in your own judgment and do you think that you have reasons for your confidence? Do you like to evaluate your own thinking?
  6. Inquisitiveness: Do you question, and question often? Are you full of curiosity?
  7. The Maturity of Judgment: Do you take time in reaching a conclusion or do you jump to conclusions? Do you try and analyze things from different perspectives and take other people’s experiences into account, instead of just valuing yourself above it all?

So the essential skills needed in critical thinking are analyzing, applying the standards, classifying, seeking further information, logical deduction, predictions and finally and most importantly: “transforming” the conclusions into knowledge.

The Tools Used In Critical Thinking

Frankly, critical thinking is basically a series of tos and fros between theories or beliefs and their elimination or acceptance. From the birth of a belief to its eventual binning or acceptance, there are many a tool one can use that keep the judgment suspended till the scales of justice, science and logic list on one side.

  • A Sound Argument: Much like a pros and cons list, an argument is when we present a list of whys and why nots for a belief and then reach a sound conclusion: the statement about what should be done or believed. Arguments, however, need to be proven.
  • Deductive Reasoning: Deductive reasoning often follows a set of conclusions after a sound argument; you can then, following logic, “deduce” what those conclusions now state in their entirety. Sometimes though, deductive reasoning is unable to prove something by mere logic.
  • Inductive Reasoning: So when arguments and deductive reasoning refuse to provide a solution, this is where inductive reasoning steps in. Starting with eliminative and enumerative reasoning and then moving onto abductive reasoning: a logical happening that happens by “chance” but basically can be traced back to the very problem we are trying to solve. Not quite gut, but somewhere close.

How To Put Critical Thinking To Use

What have been stated above are beliefs. Now for you to put critical thinking to use, you need to internalize and channelize these theoretical principles and apply them to your daily thought processes. Be unafraid – state your opinions, ask your questions, admit to being wrong, own up to thinking that you are right, be ready to be questioned in return and lastly: know that your belief system is not infallible.

Once you start to apply critical thinking, you may end up discovering that what you believed in is actually a falsification. Chin up, cheer up and be critical. The ultimate goal or aim of critical thinking is not to break something but to build something even more awesome in place.

Don’t be wary of being in the wrong. If all the great minds thought like that and refused to question their own theories or the one of the greats before them, the world would still be thought of as flat, with the sun revolving around it…

Source: This article was published on lifehack.org by 

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