Bitcoin Has A Fundamental Flaw – The System Can Be Exploited For Personal Use

Bitcoin crypto currency

Bitcoin digital currency is based on a system that can be exploited for personal use, says a new study from Cornell University. A large enough group of users could retrieve the value of the entire system, according to the researchers.

Described by Prof. Emin Surer, destabilizing the economy of Bitcoin relies on a group of users who could exploit the system, which normally has an anchor of stability based on the honesty of all participants.

At the moment, one Bitcoin is worth nearly $800, and digital currency economy exceeds the total value of $370 million, with over 10 million users.

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Google Image Search Redesign and How This Affects Webmasters

Google image search redesign

As a owner of multiple websites it happens to have an image-based site too. Like most of the webmasters – photographers or design artists that publish their images on their site, my site depended for most of its traffic from the Google image search engine. On the 24th-25th January I saw high decrease in traffic for that particular site and also its AdSense revenue more than halved.

I first believed it has to be that the weekend is close, and during weekends the traffic is reduced by 20% in some cases, but I was wrong…

The thing that really happened is Google redesigned their image search engine, keeping most of the traffic for themselves by using a good tactic. The new design now shows bigger images downsized from the original full-sized image on our sites, which previous to this update they could not be seen, thus leaving the opportunity for the user to download the image right from inside the Google image search, and ending in not even visiting our site.

Google backed up this update by stating the new design greatly improves speed and usability for the users.

Many upset webmasters and artists started raging forum threads and blog posts after the update, many considering this is a copyright infringement, while the other part says you should block Google bot to visiting your site if you don’t like it. In my opinion, Google has gone too far with this update and this is why I’m writing this post too.

I’m not that moved because my AdSense revenue on that site is down to 80%, because luckily I have other stable streams of revenue, but because the images I spend months to edit and upload now can be downloaded without users even knowing who made them, Google leaving just a small door for the users to visit your site.

This is how the new image search look, you can see that puppy right at Google and save the relatively bigger image in your computer, without even visiting the originating site (or you have the option to view just the original size image). Now most of the users will not be motivated enough to click on the picture or on the “visit page” button to land at your site:

Google image search redesign

While me and other webmasters can’t do too much in making Google considering to rollback the changes, in the past days I searched for various methods of redirecting visitors to my site before they will be able to download the bigger sized images directly from Google. Thus directing most of the traffic where it should land – at the owner gallery, and not on the new Google’s one.

I found a few redirect methods that implies some lines of PHP code and modifications at the .htaccess file in the domain root, but I’m still to find a viable solution for this particular site of mine, which is pure html, lacking a database. In the next days I’ll update this pot with the solution I found (for WordPress too), so others can direct most of the visitors to their site.

I have a feeling this was a bad step for Google.

UPDATE 16 February 2013:

I’m back with some new data and a positive experience. After days of researching and trying various redirect and watermark methods with my site I finally got something good put in place: A no-hotlink script that places a watermark on my images only on requests from other sites. So while my full resolution images remains intact if accessed from my domain, if any site is hot linking my images, the script will automatically add a layer over the image, with whatever transparency watermark file (saved as transparency png) you want to add.

Here is a screenshot of the adsense income before and after the Google image update, as my traffic increased back (half of January – half of February):

Adsense earnings recovery

And here is the code and the instructions on how to place it on your site (please pay attention when playing with the .htaccess file on your domain and always have a backup of it, so you can place the original file if something fails – your domain can become inaccessible)

The method will add a (transparent) watermark over the images embedded by Google, the watermark should contain a text instructing visitors to click on the image (so you get back most of the traffic if the user wants to get rid of the watermark and also see the full size resolution of the image). Credits for the code goes to this site: Brandintellect.in – Prevent Image Hotling

Step 1:

Add the following lines of code into your .htaccess file from the root directory of the site you want to modify, make sure to replace yoursite with your domain name, and the .com with your domain termination:

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://www\.yoursite\.com/ [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} !Googlebot [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} !Googlebot-Image [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} !Mediapartners-Google [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} !Mediapartners [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} !Googlebot-Mobile [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} !Googlebot-Video [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} !Googlebot-News [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} !msnbot [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} !slurp [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} !Bingbot [NC]
RewriteRule (^.*\.(bmp|gif|jpe?g)$) /watermark.php?src=$1 [L]
</IfModule>

Step 2:

Create a watermark.php file and add it to the root directory of the site, the file should contain the following code (exactly):

<?php

header(‘content-type: image/jpeg’);

$image = imagecreatefromjpeg($_GET[‘src’]);

$watermark = imagecreatefrompng(‘watermark.png’);

$watermark_width = imagesx($watermark);
$watermark_height = imagesy($watermark);

$dest_x = imagesx($image) – $watermark_width;
$dest_y = imagesy($image) – $watermark_height;

imagecopymerge($image, $watermark, $dest_x – 25, 25, 0, 0, $watermark_width, $watermark_height, 80);

imagejpeg($image, NULL, 85);

imagedestroy($image);
imagedestroy($watermark);

?>

Step 3:

Create a transparent .png image (I do it in Photoshop) with a text instructing visitors to click and visit your site, and also place it in the root directory too.

How to create a transparent .png image in Photoshop: You can create a new image with the background set as transparent, (make the size of the image like 800×600 pixels, or whatever size fits you after checking the Google image search on how the watermark looks, at first you can start with any reasonable size) and then add a text of your choice, then use the “save for web” option and select png from the dropdown menu in the right upper corner before saving, make sure you check the transparency box.

If my instructions were too short you’ll find plenty of info on the Internet on how to create a transparent .png image and add text over it in Photoshop.

This is just one of the methods to recover some of the traffic from the Google images search. I hope this will help some of you.

Layers of Protection For Your Online Privacy

Online privacy

When visiting any website on the Internet, in one way or another, information will be exchanged between your computer and the site, this may seem like a normal thing, the site stores a cookie in your computer to recognize you the next time you visit again, or for other statistical/login data information.

This is not much of a big deal for regular users that don’t care what data are being pulled out of their system, but for some taking things more serious, this is a very important aspect.

I’m not going to expand on why it is important for you to safeguard your online privacy, because this should be a obvious thing, but in a short phrase: You don’t want unknown people looking over your door’s keyhole – this applies exactly to online activities.

But to open the eyes of some of the novices, I will simply list below what other parties (sites) have access to when you’re accessing their services:

Online privacy

Here you can find the differences between  the Chrome browser from Google and the Iron browser, which is kept open source for obvious reasons (security transparent):

Chrome vs SRWare Iron browser, in therms of security and online privacy

– Another example of what websites can track from your computer and online activity behavior is found in the protection features of the NotScripts addon

Here is what the developer states:

NotScripts gives you a high degree of “NoScript” like control over what javascript, iframes, and plugins runs in your browser to increase security and lower the CPU usage. It is useful to help mitigate some attacks like certain cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities and drive by downloads by blocking the third-party content before it even runs with it’s default deny policy.

You can whitelist the sites you want through an easy to use url bar icon and drop down menu.

NotScripts uses a unique and novel method to provide this “NoScript” like functionality in Google Chrome that was not previously possible. It introduces a break through technique of intelligent HTML5 storage caching to over come the limitations in Google Chrome that prevented an extension like this from being made before. NotScripts blocks third-party content BEFORE they load and it does this while also having a whitelist. This is one of the key extensions that many people have been waiting for since Google Chrome came out.

This addon can help you in blocking various sites and 3rd party services that wants access to some of your computer and browsing data. Many, including I, believe that the data stored during our online activity is a sensitive information that should rest in our computer only, and not get out of it without even knowing, by simply accessing a site. But hey, those sites have a Terms of Use page don’t they? So you just have to read a few pages before proceeding to any of those sites, in their opinion. Of course, a quicker alternative, and also a great layer of protection, is installing an addon like the one mentioned above, to shut off their secret “data channels”.

This site is also using WordPress, Google adsense, social plugins and maybe some other 3rd party services, that probably will get some data when you visit my blog, you can block what you wish. By publishing this article, I hope more people will be concerned about their online privacy, and take the necessary steps to protect it.

High Anonymity Proxies:

High anonymity proxy like SSLPrivateProxy allow you to surf in private and protect your identity online. They offer dedicated proxies and Virtual Private Networks for anonymity and security on Internet. Your IP will be hidden from people and websites who might want to geographically locate your city, country and real Internet Service Provider information.

Other dedicated proxy providers I recommend:

MyPrivateProxy – Anonymous proxies that support both HTTP and HTTPS protocol. Can be used with Twitter and Facebook marketing tools, Scrapebox, Bookmarkwiz, Senuke, Sick submitter and many more.

Alternative traffic channels you can use for your site without needing Google’s organic traffic.

Alternative traffic sources

You may be happy with your actual organic traffic, you receive lots of visitors daily so your site and online income is doing well. Well, you must think twice. Why? Because that ranking position you have today, might not be there tomorrow, and here is why:

Organic traffic is something you don’t really control, if Google decide to launch a new algo update, or to penalize your site for whatever reason, your income based on that traffic will simply dissapear overnight, and getting that traffic back is not an easy task, especially for those with smaller SEO budgets.

The only good thing you can do for your site or business today, is to consider alternative traffic sources, step into them and build a base of traffic and clients that will remain, regardless Google’s moves – which many are afraid of.

You can look at this in this way: If Google would be gone tomorrow, your site would still have visitors, and your business new clients? If the answer is no, then you are in a very sensitive position. But fortunately you can solve this issue in different ways, Google is not the only source of traffic that exists.

You can take into consideration the following traffic sources, that can help improve and maximize your traffic / clients and ultimately your online profit:

 

Social marketing: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, etc. Use these to reach your target audience;

Forums are a great source of traffic if you know how to participate in the discussion, by helping others, you’ll gather trust. Find forums related with your industry;

– You can use PPC traffic from other networks except AdWords;

Email marketing is still a BIG one, build your list slowly, send your worthy newsletters, and market your site and products;

– You can also approach cold calling or spreading flyers, this is a powerful tactic of gathering new clients;

Amazon is a nice place to be if you have a good product, make sure to focus on quality so you can gain positive reviews;

Video marketing is not something you should neglect, as video traffic is growing day by day, ensure you take your steak from it;

– Setup an affiliate program for yur product or service, this will increase your client base, even if you give commissions;

– Run various contests and giveways on your site, people love receiving free stuff, and you can go viral with this approach;

– Try to get some good links on quality niche directories, for getting referral traffic, not just link juice;

 

Remember that Google traffic is good to acquire because of the great targeted traffic is offering, as people are searching for particular keywords before landing on your pages.

However, you must also keep in mind that organic traffic is not a reliable source, and if you want to succeed no matter what happens, you must build on other traffic channels before the bad things happen with search engine rankings.