Hola is Basically a Botnet, Congress Redirected to Nude Photos, & More… [Tech News Digest]
Also: Google offers unlimited photo storage, how you can pretend to be a destructive cat, and YouTube celebrates its 10th anniversary.
Hola Is Using Your Bandwidth to Create a Mercenary Botnet
Remember Hola? It’s a simple browser extension most tech blogs have recommended for watching geoblocked content – and apparently it’s been selling bandwidth to the highest bidder. I myself mentioned it’s an easy way to access region-blocked content back in 2013 – most tech sites pointed it out.
It’s always been known that the free version of Hola routes traffic through other users. This means that if you’re an American Hola user, there’s a good chance that a German or British user is using your connection to watch American sites like Hulu.
What wasn’t widely known is that Hola was also actually selling the idle bandwidth of free users, via a separate brand called Luminate. 8chan founder Fredrick Brennan is claiming Hola users’ computers were used to attack his controversial image board.
“An attacker used the Luminati network to send thousands of legitimate-looking POST requests to 8chan’s post.php in 30 seconds, representing a 100x spike over peak traffic and crashing PHP-FPM.” Fredrick Brennan, founder of Chan
The board implemented a site-wide captcha in response to the DDoS. As TorrentFreak reports, Hola founder Ofer Vilenski doesn’t deny his service was involved, and also says the account behind the attack has been cut off from the Luminati service. Still, we’re certain many Hola users would be surprised to learn their bandwidth is being sold off. Some might not care, some
It’s been said many times: if you’re not paying for something you’re not the customer but the product being sold. This logic especially applies to VPNs, so make sure you do your research before routing all of your web traffic through a given service.
Websites Re-Direct Congress to Nude Photos
No, really: to protest state surveillance of individuals , thousands of websites are re-directing anyone browing the web from a Congressional IP address to BlackOutCongress.org. This site includes photos of citizens who “feel naked” because of NSA and other state surveillance.
Why? The site explains:
You have presented Americans with the false dichotomy of reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act or passing the USA Freedom Act. The real answer is to end all authorities used to conduct mass surveillance. Until you do, thousands of web sites have blocked your access, and more are joining every day.
If you work on Capitol Hill and are reading this article, there are workarounds to such blocks, but I highly recommend you not use Hola.
Google’s New Unlimited Photo Storage
Speaking of photos: Google spun the photo sharing service from Google+ into its own service: Google Photos. Users can head to photos.google.com right now to see all photos tied to their Google account, all in one place, without having to acknowledge that Google+ ever existed.
To quote Google’s announcement:
Google Photos gives you a single, private place to keep a lifetime of memories, and access them from any device. They’re automatically backed up and synced, so you can have peace of mind that your photos are safe, available across all your devices.
The most exciting point: unlimited storage (though individual photos will be capped at 16 MP). Give it a shot.
Pretend To Be a Cat; Destroy Everything
Cats are the best, but man: they love knocking things over. It’s frustrating to watch, sure, but also looks like a lot of fun to participate in. If you’ve ever thought this you’re a psychopath, forbidden to visit my home. You’re also the target audience for Catlateral Damage. Let this not-at-all cheesy trailer explain:
The cat simulator, which raised $62,000 on Kickstarter, is out now for nine of your human dollars. If you’d prefer something free, and 8-bit, though, check out the autobiographical My Garbage Cat Wakes Me Up At 3AM Every Day by Will Herring. Extra points if you can destroy the laptop without knocking over the lamp.
YouTube Celebrates 10 Years
Say what you will about YouTube – and people have – but it’s inspired an impressive array of creativity over the last 10 years. Entire artfroms, and countless communities, have arisen on the video sharing platform. Many of the best are pointed out in this video.
How many videos do you recognize? Point out your favorites in the comments below. I could personally have done without the Rickroll, but reasonable people can disagree.
Your Thoughts On Today’s Tech News
Are you surprised by how Hola is monetizing its users? Is denying Congress access to certain web pages a good strategy for activists? Do you plan to use Google’s new photo service? Are you secretly a cat, only pretending to be a human online, who doesn’t understand the appeal of a cat simulator? What’s your favorite YouTube community? I’m around to talk about all this and more, and you should also feel free to let us know which tech news stories we should cover next.