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A fun, brief overview of the History of the Internet

The History of the Internet is fascinating when you take a bird’s eye view of the timeline – here’s an extremely concise view to give you some insight.

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history of the internet

A history of the internet

My, doesn’t time fly? It seems like only yesterday that we dialed-up to access the World Wide Web, hoping to hear that familiar “you’ve got mail” jingle. Since its early days, the internet, and how it’s used, have transformed tremendously. The Pew Research Center has put together a pretty cool timeline of major moments in the history of the internet. Let’s look at a few highlights:

1989: it was CERN before it was WWW

The internet was first conceived in 1989 as a project of the British scientist Tim Berners-Lee of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). At the time, less than half of American adults had ever even used a computer. CERN considered calling the internet “The Information Mesh” or “The Mine of Information” before settling on “The World Wide Web.”

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The web wasn’t made publicly available until 1993, when CERN essentially donated it to the world. By that time, AOL had established chat rooms and email, and that same year, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications released Mosaic 1.0, which became the first popular web browser. Said Wired magazine, “the web as we know it begins to flourish.”

1996: first phone with web capabilities

The web wasn’t around long before people realized it could be profitable. In 1994 was one of the first known internet purchases – an extra cheese with mushrooms ordered from Pizza Hut’s website, PizzaNet. That same year, the White House under Bill Clinton got its own website, Yahoo was launched, and spam and banner ads became a thing.

In 1995 we begin seeing many sites that are still around today, including the first dating site, Match.com, as well as Amazon, Craigslist, eBay, and GeoCities. Internet Explorer became standard with Microsoft’s Windows packages. The mid-nineties saw a huge upsurge in internet usage, with 77% of online users exchanging emails regularly by 1996 – the same year the Dancing Baby video went viral. That was also the year that Nokia released the first phone with internet capabilities. By 2013, over half of Americans would own a smartphone with internet access.

1999: consumers still use the web mostly for weather updates

But let’s review a few more highlights from the late 90’s, when citizens could watch the Mars lander, Sojourner, rove the red planet (’97), Google launched (also ’97), and Napster sparked an ongoing controversy about internet piracy (’98). Despite the influx of information on the web, by 1999 the 41% of American adults who are online were still mostly using the web to read the weather report.

2005: YouTube’s first video posted was of an elephant

The aughts brought about more ecommerce, more interactivity, and more of the sites we still use today, with Wikipedia launching in 2001, Xbox Live in 2002, and the iTunes music store, Skype, LinkedIn, MySpace, and WordPress all hitting the web in 2003. Facebook and World of Warcraft joined the ranks in ’05. By 2000 nearly half of internet users had made purchases online, and by 2002, 44 percent of people with internet access were using it for work. In 2005 we freed up our phone lines as broadband surpassed dial up, and YouTube posted its first video on co-founder Jawed Karim talking about elephants.

2007: internet used for voting in Estonian elections

The mid-aughts to the modern day was the age of internet access by cell phone, and more of our now-familiar sites began with Twitter in ’06, Groupon in ’08, and Pinterest and Instagram in ‘10. The internet also became a hotbed of political activity. Estonia was the first country to use the internet for voting in its 2007 parliamentary election. In 2010 Wikileaks exposed U.S. diplomatic cables, and in 2013 Edward Snowden made waves by uncovering a massive government data surveillance program. Egyptian revolutionaries promoted their cause via hashtags online in 2011, prompting the government to shut down the internet.

Dive deeper

Check out the full timeline at The Pew Research Center, which calls their timeline a “living document” and welcomes user contributions. Not only will you be wiser, you’ll rock it at your next trivia night!

#InternetHistory

Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

Tech News

Want to know how your passwords could get hacked?

(TECH NEWS) While we all know that passwords can be hacked, it is rare that we know how they’re hacked.

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Ever wonder how passwords get stolen? I like to imagine a team of hackers like The Lone Gunmen from The X-Files, all crowded in some hideout conducting illegal computer business based on tips from rogue FBI Agents.

Turns out there’s a little more to hacking than waiting for Fox Mulder to show up with hints.

Most of the common tactics involve guessing passwords utilizing online and offline techniques to acquire entry. One of the main methods is a dictionary attack.

This method automatically tries everything listed in a small file, the “dictionary,” which is populated with common passwords, like 123456 or qwerty. If your password is something tragically simple, you’re out of luck in a dictionary attack.

To protect yourself, use strong single-use passwords for each individual account. You can keep track of these with a password manager, because no one is expecting you to remember a string of nonsensical numbers, letters, and characters that make up a strong password.

Of course, there are still ways for hackers to figure out even complex passwords.

In a brute force attack, every possible character combination is tried. For example, if the password is required to have at least one uppercase letter and one number, a brute force attack will meet these specifications when generating potential passwords.

Brute force attacks also include the most commonly used alphanumeric combinations, like a dictionary attack. Your best bet against this type of attack is using extra symbols like & or $ if the password allows, or including a variety of variables whenever possible.

Spidering is another online method similar to a dictionary attack. Hackers may target a specific business, and try a series of passwords related to the company. This usually involves using a search “spider” to collate a series of related terms into a custom word list.

While spidering can be devastating if successful, this kind of attack is diverted with strong network security and single-use passwords that don’t tie in easily searchable personal information.

Malware opens up some more fun options for hackers, especially if it features a keylogger, which monitors and records everything you type. With a keylogger, all your accounts could potentially be hacked, leaving you SOL. There are thousands of malware variants, and they can go undetected for a while.

Fortunately, malware is relatively easy to avoid by regularly updating your antivirus and antimalware software. Oh, and don’t click on sketchy links or installation packages containing bundleware. You can also use script blocking tools.

The delightfully named (but in actuality awful) rainbow table method is typically an offline attack where hackers acquire an encrypted list of passwords. The passwords will be hashed, meaning it looks completely different from what you would type to log in.

However, attackers can run plaintext passwords through a hashtag algorithm and compare the results to their file with encrypted passwords. To save time, hackers can use or purchase a “rainbow table”, which is a set of precomputed algorithms with specific values and potential combinations.

The downside here is rainbow tables take up a lot of space, and hackers are limited to the values listed in the table. Although rainbow tables open up a nightmare storm of hacking potential, you can protect yourself by avoiding sites that limit you to very short passwords, or use SHA1 or MD5 as their password algorithms.

There’s also phishing, which isn’t technically hacking, but is one of the more common ways passwords are stolen. In a phishing attempt, a spoof email requiring immediate attention links to a fake login landing page, where users are prompted to input their login credentials.

The credentials are then stolen, sold, used for shady purposes, or an unfortunate combination of all the above. Although spam distribution has greatly increased over the past year, you can protect yourself with spam filters, link checkers, and generally not trusting anything requesting a ton of personal information tied to a threat of your account being shut down.

Last but certainly not least, there’s social engineering. This is a masterpiece of human manipulation, and involves an attacker posing as someone who needs login, or password, building access information. For example, posing as a plumbing company needing access to a secure building, or a tech support team requiring passwords.

This con is avoidable with education and awareness of security protocol company wide. And also you know, not providing sensitive information to anyone who asks. Even if they seem like a very trustworthy electrician, or promise they definitely aren’t Count Olaf.

Moral of the story? Your passwords will never be completely safe, but you can take steps to prevent some avoidable hacking methods.

Always have a single-use password for each account, use a password manager to store complex passwords, update malware, keep your eye out for phishing attempts, and don’t you dare make your password “passoword.”

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Tech News

Should social networks fear Jumbo, the new privacy app?

(TECHNOLOGY) Although iOS only (for now), Jumbo has launched and could put a dent in some of the nefariousness of social media networks…

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Like virtually every other online outlet, we’ve both talked about web and app privacy and complained bitterly about the invariable fall of online rights. However, while we’ve been talking the talk, a company called Jumbo has been cyber-walking the cybersecurity walk.

Jumbo – an iPhone app focused on keeping your online trails as private as possible – has a simple premise: allowing social media users to manage their online privacy with a few taps rather than having to navigate each individual service’s infuriatingly complex labyrinth of privacy settings. Instead of having to visit each individual app you want to clean up, you can simply open Jumbo, select your preferences, and wait for the magic to happen.

Jumbo’s features range from cleaning up social media timelines and old posts to erasing entire searches or resetting privacy information; while it currently varies depending on the social media service in question, Jumbo’s one commonality is its simplicity.

The star of Jumbo’s presentation is its aptly-named Cleaning Mode—a feature which allows users to wipe anything from tweets to old Google searches. Jumbo’s developers also assure users that the ability to remove things like Facebook photos is in the works, making Jumbo’s efforts to clean up your digital life that much more ubiquitous.

It is worth noting that some users have encountered limitations on the number of tweets they can delete, so you may have to batch-remove information until this bug is resolved.

When using Jumbo, you’ll also find an encrypted back-up feature that allows you to download—or use cloud storage for—old photos and files. It isn’t as dramatic as Jumbo’s primary functions, but anyone looking to make a dent in purging their online footprints will surely benefit from being able to encrypt and save their information for a rainy day through one interface.

At the time of this writing, Jumbo is prepared to assist with privacy options related to Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Amazon Alexa, but the app’s developers intend to incorporate support for platforms such as Tinder and Instagram in the future.

While Jumbo is currently restricted to iPhones, Jumbo’s maker Pierre Valade has mentioned that an Android version is “on [their] list”. In the meantime, iPhone users should strongly consider taking Jumbo for a spin.

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How to opt out of Google’s robots calling your business phone

(TECH) Google’s robots now call businesses to set appointments, but not all companies are okay with talking to an artificial intelligence tool like a person. Here’s how to opt out.

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You know what’s not hard? Calling a restaurant and making a reservation. You know what’s even easier? Making that reservation though OpenTable. You know what we really don’t need, but it’s here so we have to deal with it? Google Duplex.

Falling under “just because we can do it, doesn’t mean we should do it,” Duplex, Google’s eerily human-sounding AI chat agent that can arrange appointments for Pixel users via Google Assistant has rolled out in several cities including New York, Atlanta, Phoenix, and San Francisco which now means you can have a robot do menial tasks for you.

There’s even a demo video of someone using Google Duplex to find an area restaurant and make a reservation and in the time it took him to tell the robot what to do, he could’ve called and booked a reservation himself.

Aside from booking the reservation for you, Duplex can also offer you updates on your reservation or even cancel it. Big whoop. What’s difficult to understand is the need or even demand for Duplex. If you’re already asking Google Assistant to make the reservation, what’s stopping you from making it yourself? And the most unsettling thing about Duplex? It’s too human.

It’s unethical to imply human interaction. We should feel squeamish about a robo-middleman making our calls and setting our appointments when we’re perfectly capable of doing these things.

However, there is hope. Google Duplex is here, but you don’t have to get used to it.

Your company can opt out of accepting calls by changing the setting in your Google My Business accounts. If robots are already calling restaurants and businesses in your city, give your staff a heads-up. While they may receive reservations via Duplex, at least they’ll be prepared to talk to a robot.

And if you plan on not opting out, at least train your staff on what to do when the Google robots call.

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