Twitter Automates Link Shortening for Its Web App

Twitter has announced that links shared on will be automatically shortened using the service’s URL shortener.

Links of any length will be cut down to a tidy number of characters — 19, to be precise — and an ellipsis when the sender clicks the Tweet button.

Although each link is assigned a unique link ID, the links will appear on Twitter as abbreviated versions of their originals so users always have some idea of where their next click will take them — a smart move on Twitter’s part given the number of URL-shortened spam or scam linksthat have made the rounds on the microblogging platform over the past year or so.

Still, you can expect to see plenty of other URL shorteners floating around Twitter — especially ones like Hootsuite that give their users a full analytics rundown for each link. Twitter said users can still use any third-party link-shortening services on

Here’s what the automated URL shortening will look like on the web app:

Kogan launches world’s first Chromebook for £269

Australian IT company Kogan has launched the world’s first computer based on Google’s new Chromium OS, stealing a march on PC giants Acer and Samsung, Google Chromebook products won’t launch until 15th June.

Tech pundits have been eagerly awaiting machines based on Google’s Chromium open-source operating system, which was first announced in July 2009. Linux-based Chromium is a browser-based OS designed to work on relatively low-spec computers by utilising cloud-based computing resources.

Details of Kogan’s device, which begins shipping tomorrow in the UK and Australia, come after the company’s CEO, Ruslan Kogan, hinted at the company’s plans to launch a Chromebook computer in an exclusive interview last month with thinq_.

The budget Agora 12in ultra-portable laptop sells for a very pocket-friendly £269, and while its 1.3GHz Intel Celeron processor is more budget-conscious than high-performance, the machine packs in a surprisingly high spec for the price.

Read more:

iCloud, cloud computing services promise to change the way we use computers

Apple founder Steve Jobs announced a free service Monday that allows consumers to store vast amounts of music, video, photos and documents on the Web, one of several emerging “cloud” computing offerings that are diminishing the need for a computer.

Once a pioneer of the personal computer, Jobs forecast that his new iCloud service would replace the PC as the hub for people’s multimedia needs, making it far easier for them to gain access to their digital libraries on phones, tablets and a multitude of other devices that have an Internet connection. more


Apple had some big announcements yesterday. Among them was the introduction of iCloud. iCloud is a new computing service which not only offers online storage, but streaming of movies, TV shows and music to computers and mobile devices. Today’s graphic is an illustrated flow chart explaining cloud computing, features of Apple’s iCloud service and a chart detailing percentages of recording licenses held by Apple with major music publishers. Do you plan on using iCloud?

Watch the WWDC keynote.


SSCC 62 – Sony, Apple malware and cloud security

Sophos Security Chet Chat logo

Paul Ducklin of Sophos Australia joined me for the Chet Chat this week to talk about the weeks news. We also made some time at the end for the C-word (C-L-O-U-D).

First we talked about the large quantity of recent data breaches, primarily Sony. Paul had some rather good advice to those who think this might be a fun way to make a political statement… Don’t do it.

We also discussed whether the recent barrage of Mac malware has been a call for OS X users to take their heads out of the sand when it comes to securing their computers.

We had some feedback last week about a post Paul had made about a talk he was about to give on cloud security and our reader was disappointed that they weren’t in Sydney and would not be able to attend. This week we spent a few minutes discussing the cloud and ways it introduces risk and how you might use it more safely.

If you prefer a news summary for the week in text format, visit the Sophos Security News and Trends for the latest selected hot topics or subscribe to our weekly newsletter, Sophos eNews.

Gift card from your friend? Beware spammed out malware attack

Cybercriminals are attempting to infect email users by spamming out a malware attack, posing as a gift card from a friend.

SophosLabs has intercepted a malicious spam campaign that has hit inboxes around the world, with a Trojan horse attached as a .PIF file.

Gift card for you malicious email

Subject: GIFT-CARD FOR YOU [number]
Attached file: gift-card.pif

Message body:
Hello! You Received GiftCard From your Friend,
Check it in Attached

With Best Regards,

Another version, with slight wording and typographical differences, reads:

Subject: GIFT-CARD From Your Friend [number]
Attached file: gift-card.pif

Message body:
Hi! You Received GiftCard From your Friend,

Check it in Attached
With Best Wishes,

Many Windows users may not realise that just because a file has a .PIF extension doesn’t make it any less executable, or any less of a risk to their computer. Opening the file will infect unprotected Windows computers with the Troj/Agent-RNY Trojan horse.

The only defence for users is an up-to-date anti-virus product and a healthy skepticism about unsolicited emails which arrive out of the blue in their inbox.

Facebook changes privacy settings for millions of users – facial recognition is enabled

Unhappy face

When Facebook revealed last year it was introducing facial recognition technology to help users tag their friends in photographs, they gave the functionality to North American users only.

Most of the rest of us found the option in our privacy settings was “not yet available”, which meant we could neither enable or disable it. We simply had to wait until Facebook decided to roll it out to our account.

Well, now might be a good time to check your Facebook privacy settings as many Facebook users are reporting that the site has enabled the option in the last few days without giving users any notice.

There are billions of photographs on Facebook’s servers. As your Facebook friends upload their albums, Facebook will try to determine if any of the pictures look like you. And if they find what they believe to be a match, they may well urge one of your Facebook friends to tag it with your name.

The tagging is still done by your friends, not by Facebook, but rather creepily Facebook is now pushing your friends to go ahead and tag you.

Remember, Facebook does not give you any right to pre-approve tags. Instead the onus is on you to untag yourself in any photo a friend has tagged you in. After the fact.

If this is something you’re uncomfortable with, disable “Suggest photos of me to friends” now.

Here’s how you do it.

* Go to your Facebook account’s privacy settings.

* Click on “Customise settings”.

* Under “Things others share” you should see an option titled “Suggest photos of me to friends. When photos look like me, suggest my name”.

* Unfortunately at this point you can’t tell whether Facebook has enabled the setting or not, you have to dig deeper..

* Click on “Edit settings”.

Facebook privacy setting

* If Facebook has enabled auto-suggestion of photo tags you will find the option says “Enabled”.

Facebook privacy setting

* Change it to “Disabled” if you don’t want Facebook to work that way.

* Press “OK”.

Earlier this year, Sophos wrote an open letter to Facebook. Amongst other things, we asked for “privacy by default” – meaning that there should be no more sharing of information without users’ express agreement (OPT-IN).

Unfortunately, once again, Facebook seems to be sharing personal information by default. Many people feel distinctly uncomfortable about a site like Facebook learning what they look like, and using that information without their permission.

Most Facebook users still don’t know how to set their privacy options safely, finding the whole system confusing. It’s even harder though to keep control when Facebook changes the settings without your knowledge.

The onus should not be on Facebook users having to “opt-out” of the facial recognition feature, but instead on users having to “opt-in”.

Yet again, it feels like Facebook is eroding the online privacy of its users by stealth.

If you are on Facebook and want to keep yourself informed about the latest news from the world of internet security and privacy you could do a lot worse than join the Sophos Facebook page where we regularly discuss these issues and best practice.