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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

United Nations Urge Online Anti-Terrorism Strategy

A recent report conducted by United Nations is urging governments to discuss and implement surveillance regulations in order to prevent terrorists communicating online.

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The United Nations claimed that although everyone recognizes the threat posed by terrorists use of the web, there is still no strategy to address this problem. It is said that the web can be used in many ways to support terrorism, for example to post propaganda, to train, to finance, and to plan. The United Nations even mentioned the platforms used by terrorists to arrange the acts, among which there were Facebook and YouTube.

In the meantime, the Internet should help fight terrorism rather than support it – for instance, to collect intelligence to prevent acts of terrorism, or to build a case for their prosecution. The UN report also acknowledges that too stringent anti-terrorism measures can cause problems with privacy and human rights, like tighter controls on Internet service providers to restrict access to content.

The UN suggests that member states should agree over retention of information by broadband provider, while policies vary across the world. The suggested strategy can involve developing a universal regulatory framework for regulations on all broadband providers.

At the same time, the report calls for greater use of surveillance in order to gather more data about the suspects and recommends for the governments to create clearer guidance on how private sectors ISPs help undertake electronic monitoring and surveillance on public communications.

The privacy and civil liberties campaign outfits agree that the web is a global entity, and such must be the action to address terrorism. Nevertheless, the report of the United Nations conflicts with the approach the UK’s Home Office currently employs. The privacy groups point out that preserving the data once someone is alleged of being involved in crime is a more proportionate measure than retaining data on everyone in the web just in case. In addition, the UN report recognized the role of judicial authorizations which lack from the UK’s policy at all.

The industry experts believe that this report is just a part of a complex debate, and while China is sitting on the security council of the United Nations, it can hardly have balanced civil liberties on the web.

Java Bug Fixed in 30 Minutes

One of the security experts is blaming Oracle for inactivity for Java’s problems. Adam Gowdiak, a security specialist, was angry that the company has been doing nothing to develop fixes for some important software vulnerabilities. For example, one of the flaws, dubbed Issue 50, is only scheduled to be fixed next February.

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Adam Gowdiak claimed that the software developer was doing wrong thing by stupidly sticking to a quarterly patch release cycle which wasn’t even understandable. The security expert wrote in Full Disclosure that the response of the software giant was that its Critical Patch Updates usually pass an extensive integration testing with a number of other products like Weblogic Server, JRockit, and E-Business Suite, which takes time, of course. For example, if it fixed the bug in question (Issue 50), this would delay almost 140 fixes for the apps integrating Java SE.

Nevertheless, Adam Gowdiak proved that it wouldn’t take 4 months to fix the bug. The security expert decided to conduct a small bug fix experiment in order to see how hard it will be to fix Issue 50 and how long it will take him. It turned out that he only needed 30 minutes to write the code which would fix the vulnerability. Actually, the code had only 25 characters to be changed and, apparently, the fix didn’t even require to be tested for integration with other Oracle software. The matter is that the code logic suffered no changes, but only minor changes were made to the code itself.

Gowdiak hopes that his quick experiment will challenge Oracle and will result in the verification of the company’s stance, in particular the one relying on a need for 4 months to implement.

Facebook Profits from Mobile Adverts

Wall Street was shocked when Facebook made an outstanding amount of money from its mobile advertising. The social network confirmed that its mobile advertising revenue increased several times within the 3rd quarter. Facebook share values grew 13% following the news.

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According to the statistics, Facebook has 14% of its advertising revenue coming from mobile advertisement. Hopefully, these figures will be able to reassure the potential and current investors that Facebook is starting to realize how to make money off smartphone and tablet users.

Nevertheless, the actual cash still remains quite small. As for the mobile advertisement revenues, they totaled to around $150 million, up from an estimated $40 million to $50 million in the 2nd quarter and almost nothing in the first. In other words, it is quite good, but nothing outstanding.

Media reports claim that the statistics disproves the most bearish opinion that the social network wasn’t able to profit from smartphones or tablets. However, it is still unclear if this is really the case. Despite the fact that Facebook already managed to generate impressive profit from their mobile apps, it will still take a lot of time to have mobile advertisement command the same rates as the traditional one.

Many financial experts still argue that Facebook isn’t worth anything when it comes to marketing. However, mobile ads have always been among the key investor concerns about the social networking giant which led to losing over $40 billion off its market value since its IPO 6 months ago. It adds to the fact that Facebook was hugely over valued – even taking the recent gains into account, you could still pick up a Facebook share for less than $22.

Still, the company’s other figures also look promising. For example, advertising revenue grew 36% to $1.09 billion, which is 8% more than in the 2nd quarter. However, the proceeds from Facebook payments and other businesses gained only 13% to reach $176 million.

In other words, the statistics are already better than the experts predicted, but the social network’s share price is still hugely overvalued. This is why it could fall further when shareholders get the permission to sell their shares one day later this year. The most popular estimation of a share price remains $13 to $14 a share.

Android Apps Open System to Malware

According to the researchers from Germany’s Leibniz University of Hannover and Philips University of Marburg, Android apps which the security experts failed to properly test are now opening the OS up to malware. They have found out that over 40 apps in Google’s Play Market leak personal details while travelling between handsets that run Android and webservers for banks and other online services.
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When you connect Android devices to a local area network which used a wide range of well-known exploits, some of which are found on the Internet, it is very easy to defeat the security protocols used by the above mentioned applications. All of them are quite popular and have been downloaded from up to 185 million times, which means that there is an outstanding number of vulnerable Android devices out there.

According to the researchers, they managed to collect bank account data, payment credentials for PayPal, American Express and so on. In addition, Facebook, email and cloud storage credentials and messages also easily leaked. Moreover, it took almost no time to access the IP cameras! Another reason for the devices to become vulnerable is the fragility of both the SSL and TLS protocols which built the basis for encryption between websites and users.

Although the technology itself is quite secure, its protection is undermined when certificate authorities fail to secure their infrastructure. In frames of the experiment, the researchers downloaded 13,500 free applications from Google Play in order to find out whether their SSL implementations were vulnerable to the exploits. In result, it turned out that 8% of the sample (more than one thousand applications) contained SSL code and therefore were potentially vulnerable to the attacks. Out of those apps, a hundred was picked by the researchers to crack. 41% of them appeared really vulnerable.

Surprisingly enough, the researchers didn’t compare the results with Apple apps. Instead, the researchers admitted that it was due to the openness of the Google platform that they could perform static analysis of vulnerability, while it’s hard to do the same for Apple software. Anyway, it might appear that the vulnerability to applications is universal for the pocket devices in general. In this case, the companies would have to prohibit do-it-yourself policies on that basis.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Top 10 Hardware Companies By Revenue


A Booz & Company report assessed how well Information Communication Technology (ICT) providers are doing under various categories. Here’s a look at the top hardware and infrastructure companies by revenue that are striving to build more differentiated businesses, while retaining their core.

Source: The Global ICT 50, The Supply Side of Digitization/Booz & Company


Top 10 hardware companies by revenue

Hewlett-Packard, a company founded in a garage in Palo Alto by William Hewlett and Dave Packard tops the list, with a revenue of$127.2 billion. Its major product lines include personal computing devices, enterprise, and industry standard servers, related storage devices, networking products, software and a diverse range of printers, and other imaging products.

Top 10 hardware companies by revenue

Apple, best-known for its hardware products such as the Mac line of computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad comes next with a revenue of $108.2 billion. It is the world's third-largest mobile phone maker after Samsung and Nokia.

Top 10 hardware companies by revenue

Samsung with a revenue of $99.8 billion is a South Korean company and the group has numerous subsidiaries and businesses. The company also produces around a fifth of South Korea's total exports and has a powerful influence on South Korea's economic development, politics, media and culture

Top 10 hardware companies by revenue

Dell is another American multinational company which features in this list with a revenue of $61.5 billion. The company develops, sells and supports computers and related products and services and is the third largest PC vendor in the world after HP and Lenovo.

Top 10 hardware companies by revenue

Fujitsu, a Japanese multinational information technology equipment and services company headquartered in Tokyo, has a revenue of$55.5 billion. The company mainly makes computing products, but its subsidiaries also offer a diversity of products and services in the areas of personal computing, telecommunications and advanced microelectronics.

Top 10 hardware companies by revenue

Cisco Systems designs, manufactures, and sells networking equipment and its current portfolio of products and services is focused upon three market segments – Enterprise and Service Provider, Small Business and the Home. Its revenue is $43.2 billion.

Top 10 hardware companies by revenue

NEC, which was known as the Nippon Electric Company, Limited rebranded itself in 1983. It is a Japanese multinational provider of IT services and products, with its headquarters in Minato, Tokyo. It also sells semiconductors and has a revenue of $38.2 billion.

Top 10 hardware companies by revenue

Sweden’s Ericsson is a provider of telecommunications equipment and data communication systems, and related services, covering a range of technologies, especially mobile networks. Ericsson was also the inventor of Bluetooth. It has a revenue of$30.4 billion.

Top 10 hardware companies by revenue

Xerox, which is commonly used to substitute as a synonym for photocopy has a revenue of$21.6 billion. It sells a range of color and black-and-white printers, multifunction systems, photo copiers, digital production printing presses, and related consulting services and supplies.

Top 10 hardware companies by revenue

A global telecommunications equipment corporation, Alcatel-Lucent is the last on the list with a revenue of $21.4 billion. It provides telecommunications solutions to service providers, enterprises, and governments around the world, enabling these customers to deliver voice, data, and video services


Another BitTorrent Mass Lawsuit Rejected

Around 1,000 subpoenas within a mass BitTorrent lawsuit have been rejected by the American District Judge Faith S. Hochberg. The case involved a lot of Internet users who were accused of illegal downloading of the latest album Dark Adrenaline by Italian metal band Lacuna Coil.
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A few months ago, the label named Nuclear Blast Records, which signed metal band All Shall Perish, was trying to pursue eighty BitTorrent users alleged of having downloaded the latest album of All Shall Perish through BitTorrent websites. Today a similar lawsuit is filed by Century Media Records – the record label of Italian Lacuna Coil.

Faith S. Hochberg, the judge ruling in the lawsuit, decided that the lawsuit wrongly joined too many defendants together. As such, he has voided all of their claims, except one, saying that there must be some kind of a connection between the defendants aside from the shared content and method of distribution. In other words, the judge thinks that the defendants must be simultaneously involved in the same transaction with the same downloader.

The lawsuit in question had been launched by a New Jersey attorney representing Century Media Records. Like in most of the largest file-sharing cases, the attorney chose to hire a law firm which specialized in tracking the IP addresses alleged of being involved in illegal distribution of the content. Then, they would have subpoenas issued for each respective IP address in order to force ISPs to find their subscribers and threaten them with an enormous copyright trial. This is how people are usually forced to settle the case and agree to pay a few thousand dollars to get rid of the problem. However, users who are ready to fight back can hire a lawyer and give it a try.

UK Music Outfit Blacklisted BitTorrent Portals

The British Phonographic Industry is trying to force major British Internet service providers prevent their subscribers from accessing a number of BitTorrent portals, including Kickass Torrents, Fenopy, and H33t.

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The list of broadband providers which have received letters with such a request includes TalkTalk, BT, Sky, Virgin Media, and O2 – basically, all major Internet providers of the country. All of them have agreed to enforce this new anti-piracy measure, but only when a new court order is passed.

The Executive Director for the Open Rights Group, Jim Killock, has claimed that going against unauthorized file-sharing like this is not the most efficient and beneficial strategy to fight piracy. Killock added that such blocking orders are usually indefinite and open ended, which often results in blocking legitimate portals as well. Both the British Phonographic Industry and the courts are recommended to slow down and reconsider the methods of fighting piracy. At least, this approach must be used very carefully, because in this case censorship is not the best idea. It will only lead to more censorship instead of solving the problem it is supposed to address.

The Open Rights Group also stressed that the flourishing of the digital music industry is ensured by its efforts towards innovation, which is definitely more effective approach than copyright lawsuits or blocking measures.

In the meantime, the results of the study conducted by the IFPI (the outfit that represents the world recording industry) have made digital piracy look less awful than it had long been portrayed by the music industry. It revealed that digital album sales in the United Kingdom have actually increased by 27% in 2011.

Amazon Stealing Cash from UK Citizens

Online seller Amazon has been making profits from its UK customers by making them pay 20% VAT on electronic book sales, while the seller has to pay only 3% VAT. The difference is simply pocketed by Amazon.

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Newspapers claim that the Luxembourg-based bookseller is making money from a European tax anomaly, trousering the difference between what it forces customers to pay and what it really pays itself.

Although the publishers know about this, they are too afraid of doing anything, because the service might stop selling their products. Entities like Amazon are supposed to collect the VAT levy from their consumers before passing it on to the government. In our case, Amazon only has to pass 3% from ebook sales to Luxembourg government, but if it was based in the United Kingdom it would have to pass 20%.

The online book seller is starting negotiations with its publishers on the basis that the British VAT rate of 20% must be knocked off the cost price, which gives it profit of 13.8% from ebook price in the rip-off UK. The company is negotiating further discounts on top of the VAT subsidy. However, these might result in publishers receiving less than 10% of what the online customer actually paid.

Of course, the publishers are not happy about that. One of the senior publishing executives admitted that the online service was not nice to deal with. The matter is that Amazon could easily shut down the buy button on their portal on titles of any publisher who would step out of line.

Actually, in one case the company went as far as to seek a deal which would have resulted in a 92% discount. The addressed publisher refused the terms, because they would have received only 80p on an ebook selling for £10 on the seller’s British website. Of those 80p, the author would have received only 3p per each sold copy at that rate. In the meantime, Amazon bars the publisher from offering a more profitable deal to another retailer if they don’t provide the same discount to Amazon.

According to Security and Exchange Commission, the statistics say that within the past 3 years, the online retailer has generated sales of over £7.6 billion in the United Kingdom, but didn’t attract any corporation tax on these profits. This, as you can understand, is just another source of profit for the company.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Windows 7 Becoming More Infected

According to official Microsoft statistics, Windows 7’s malware infection rate has increased by no less than 182% in 2012, but the operating system is still recognized to be 3 times safer than its predecessor Windows XP. 

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Although the figure of 182% is obviously staggering, it is still 3 times better than that of XP, which is blamed to be as insecure as letting the Anonymous hacker group look after a Greek government portal dedicated to the visit of Germany’s Angela Merkel.

According to the company’s 6 most recent monthly security reports, in the 2nd quarter of this year, Windows 7 was between 33% and 182% more likely to be infected by viruses compared to the Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1). The latter, shipped in February 2011, saw the following infection increases: 172% for x86, 182% for x64.

Microsoft insecurity specialists explained that the reason for such a considerable increase was a boost in successful hacker attacks. In addition, the statistics says that the Internet users tend to become less savvy and therefore their machines are more vulnerable to malware infection. In the meantime, when a new version of operating system enters the market, it is normally technology enthusiasts who purchase it. Only a few months later the software is bought by those users who can eagerly click on any link promising a free green card.

Media reports also suggest that this increase in malware infection rate is also due to the fact that Windows 7 is more popular than other operating systems. Indeed, this piece of Microsoft software was the first to be adopted by both corporations and individual users, with its usage being reported to grow 45%.

The Pirate Bay Founder Kept in Solitary Confinement

One of The Pirate Bay founders, Gottfrid Svartholm, is currently locked up in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day. Gottfrid is only allowed to speak to his guards.

He was arrested by Cambodian police in Phnom Penh and immediately deported to Sweden because its government wanted him as much as to sign an aid package with Cambodia. Although he was supposed to go back to Sweden to serve his one year’s jail sentence for copyright violation, he is apparently getting some unusual treatment.

His mother, Kristina, admitted that The Pirate Bay prison term was being used to hold Svartholm for a more serious crime of conducting a hacker attack on the Swedish taxman. This case is known as the “Logica case”, for which a couple of other people were arrested earlier in 2012. Nevertheless, as far as Kristina knows, those people aren’t even in custody, which means that the case might not even come to a trial. Kristina adds that nobody in this case has been charged, nor there is prosecution, so Gottfrid is probably being kept in custody because of the government’s fear that he might destroy evidence and disturb the investigation.

In response, the prosecutors claim that Svartholm could continue with criminal activities if they let him go free. But since the court decided that such reason was really dumb, the prosecutors had to use The Pirate Bay charge to keep him locked up. Kristina confirmed that her son is at least kept under restrictions as the prosecutor, which includes a TV in the cell. Gottfrid can also buy cigarettes and sweets from a kiosk twice a week and go out for one hour a day in the yard with high concrete walls. However, he isn’t allowed to meet other people except for the guards.

Google Shares Fell after Earnings Leak

The international company has seen its share prices plummet with its Chief Executive Officer being ruthlessly parodied after he somehow managed to accidentally leak the company’s 3rd-quarter earnings to the web a few days ago.

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Local media suggest that the company’s financial printer has accidentally published a draft version of its third-quarter earnings online. The search giant was expected to publish its financial report only after the markets closed.

An incomplete press release saying “PENDING LARRY QUOTE” featured comments from CEO Larry Page, who admitted that at just 14 years old, Google has cleared its first $14 billion revenue quarter. Page sounded really excited about the progress the company was making in developing a single Google experience across various devices. The report featured net profit of $2.18 billion, which is not as good as $2.73 billion in the same period in 2011. Although the final version which was released just a few hours later showed the same numbers, it also had a CEO comment in place of the above quoted line on the draft. Moreover, the results were not as good as his comment suggested. As a result, the financial analysts weren’t impressed, though, fairly speaking, most of the industry experts hadn’t factored in the purchase of Motorola Mobility. In fact, Google reported that its 3rd-quarter earnings missed the expectations of the Wall Street, and that was the main reason for its shares falling 9% before trading was temporarily halted.

The independent tech analysts were telling the press that the soft results were only “a hiccup in Google’s climb” and that the company was still “on the growth side of the wave”. In addition, a number of parody websites emerged online after the incident. For instance, “PendingLarry” on Twitter became quite popular, with over 1200 followers thus far.

Australia Will Censor Abusive Portals

The Australian police confirmed it would prosecute Facebook hate page owners. A top copper from Victoria’s Police e-crime squad is reported to be looking at way he could catch and prosecute people who created a Facebook page which denigrated Jill Meagher. The latter was abducted, raped and killed this September.

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In most cases, the police can do nothing about online crime, but Greg Dever, Detective Senior Sergeant, is studying the laws and believes he might have grounds to arrest the creators of the online pages on incitement grounds. In the meantime, there has been a backlash against hate pages in Australia after Jill Meagher case. There were also calls for the creators to be extradited to somewhere unpleasant, like the United Kingdom.

Susan McLean, the country’s cyber-safety campaigner and former Victoria Police officer recently claimed that the police weren’t taking sufficient actions to pursue individuals behind such pages. For example, Dever claimed during the interview that Facebook was reasonably liable for requests in case it was inciting violence or encouraging unauthorized acts.

Greg Dever pointed out that over the past few months the police had had a number of pages closed down. They included the ones that flogged guns and drugs, as well as the page containing dead-baby jokes, and even a page featuring hateful and hurtful comments inciting murder directed at coppers.

Nevertheless, thus far there have been almost no prosecutions launched from social media crimes. According to Detective Dever, today the situation had reached a tipping point, so it is inevitable that there will be more prosecutions.

US ISP Will Start Sending Infringement Warnings

According to media reports, one of the largest US broadband providers, AT&T, is ready to start sending anti-piracy warnings next month. The company’s management has already decided how and when they will act. 

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Apparently, AT&T had come up with a plan to apply the “six-strikes” graduated response system. In means that the users who often visit “notorious sites” won’t be able to access them any longer, until they pass an online copyright education. The “six-strikes” regime was the idea of the entertainment industry and involved 5 largest American ISPs – together they made up the Center for Copyright Information.

Although AT&T made no official statements about a launch date, some of the documents leaked from the ISP proved what the company was planning to start soon. The papers informed the ISP’s employees about the upcoming changes, saying that in an attempt to help the rights holders fight online piracy, they should send warnings to the customers who are found to be downloading illegal material.

The copyright holders issue reports containing IP-addresses associated with the infringing activities. The Internet service provider promised not to share any personally identifiable data about its subscribers with rights holders until authorized by the subscriber or required to do so by the court. The leaked papers specify a launch date as of 4 weeks from now. According to other information, the remaining ISPs (which are Verizon, Cablevision, Comcast, and TWC) will also join action the same day.

The document also reveals details on how the ISP will punish its users after the 6th strike. In this event, repeated copyright infringers that access “rogue websites” will be redirected to an educational page and have to complete an online course on copyright before they get access to the web again. However, after the 5th notification, the copyright holder has the right to pursue legal action against the subscriber and may seek a court order that requires an ISP to hand over personal details.

Although these measures don’t mean suspending an account, the broadband providers still have to collect the IP addresses of users they send notifications to. Afterwards, the MPAA and the RIAA could use them for further investigation. Well, we’ll see if their efforts ever prove to be worth all the trouble.

Netflix Illegally Used Illegal Subtitles

As a matter of fact, it turned out that content being used in Finland by Netflix was illegally using subtitles stolen from some enthusiast group.
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The Finnish subscribers using Netflix last week discovered that the content was provided along with the subtitles that had been created by some movies and TV-series enthusiast amateur outfit called DivX Finland. The group in question shares the subtitles on the Internet for free, but specifies in the license terms that the use of the texts for commercial purposes is not allowed.

Surprisingly enough, it turned out that the subtitles were illegally used by the outfit which had legal content but couldn’t understand the language the film is in, just like pirates. According to Jarmo Hakala from DivX Finland, the group was pleased that their subtitles were accepted by a large content provider, but pointed out that Netflix really should have asked for their permission first. Hakala admitted he was mostly amused and confirmed that he would undoubtedly have given permission if the company had asked. However, there are others in the content industry who are miffed and believe that Netflix owes them money for using the illegal subtitles.

Antti Kotilainen, the executive director of Copyright Information and Control of Finland, claimed that the whole situation didn’t matter, because the efforts of the enthusiasts were themselves illegal. In other words, it was just a matter of entertainment industry stealing from a thief.

In the meantime, Copyright Information and Control reminded that the local Copyright Act allows the translation for private use, but not for open online distribution.

White House Cleared Chinese Tech Firm of Spying Allegations

Finally, the US White House has cleared Huawei of all spying allegations. Just a week ago, the American congressional report has warned against allowing Huawei and ZTE, both based in China, to supply critical telecom infrastructure. The fears were that the use of Chinese software posed a security risk to American companies, since Huawei could transfer over sensitive information to its government.

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Nevertheless, the White House reviewed the security risks posed by Huawei and ZTE to American telecommunications firms and found no evidence that they had spied for their government. It was said that there was risk about the gear of Huawei, the 2nd largest manufacturer of networking equipment throughout the globe, but that was because of several vulnerabilities. Nevertheless, this is perfectly normal for the tech equipment and doesn’t mean that the manufacturer is spying for a foreign government.

Undoubtedly, the American press won’t let things go. Some already started discussion whether or not the security flaws found in Huawei gear appeared there deliberately. The others say that it gives an opt out for Apple or Microsoft when vulnerabilities are discovered in their products.

In the meanwhile, the White House inquiry was not the same that the senators conducted. First of all, it was helped by intelligence agencies and studied the reports of suspicious activity. The investigators also asked detailed questions of almost a thousand telecom gear buyers. As for Huawei, the company claimed that it spent one year collecting evidence and then was ignoring whatever didn’t fit into the spying idea.

Actually, the truth is that the White House was hoping that its research would prove that Huawei had indeed been spying. It was said that someone from the government really wanted evidence of spying, so the research would definitely have found it, if it were there.

Huawei representatives claimed that although the company didn’t see the review, it wasn’t surprised that it revealed no evidence of Huawei espionage. In the meantime, the allegations were based on the assumption that the company’s CEO founded Huawei 25 years ago after being laid off by the Chinese army. This is quite a weird basis for accusing of spying, though.

The Pirate Bay Moved to the Cloud

The largest BitTorrent tracker has been operating for almost a decade now. Within these years, The Pirate Bay faced endless line of problems and copyright owners were doing their best to make it disappear. However, the tracker managed to not just surpass them, but also to thrive. Now The Pirate Bay has moved from physical servers to the cloud.

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Earlier in October, Swedish authorities have raided PRQ – a company that used to host the servers of The Pirate Bay – and seized a few of them. Although it is still unclear who exactly had suffered after this move, it is known that the TPB wasn’t amongst them. However, the portal wasn’t so lucky 6 years ago, when Swedish authorities seized some of its servers and kept the site offline for 3 days. From now on, it won’t happen any more. This move came as no surprise, taking into account that earlier this year the portal started a project based on flying drones. Industry observers made a conclusion that the file-sharing service was planning to go into the air soon.

The representatives of the tracker explain that their information now flows around in many clouds, encrypted and ready to be used any time. So, any efforts to attack the tracker will now be “an attack on everything and nothing”. From now on, The Pirate Bay’s new infrastructure will be hosted by a few cloud-based providers that don’t even know who their client is. So, if one of the providers cuts the website off, the TPB can just use new virtual servers from another one. All they will have to do is upload the VM-images and reconfigure the load-balancer in order to resurrect the portal.

The tracker also ensured that the location of its cloud providers is secure and all traffic is encrypted. The operators of The Pirate Bay are completely confident with their decision. In the meantime, the news about the tracker moving to the cloud led to various debates, both optimistic and less positive. The positive ones approve of the decision, because using several cloud hosting firms is very beneficial. But some believe that taking the tracker offline is still possible, since the load balancer will be hosted with a major Internet service provider, who can usually be easily dealt with for the government. Anyway, all experts agree that moving to the cloud makes The Pirate Bay more reliable than ever.

Wireless Charging and Data Transfer

Isis Innovation has recently introduced a simple, safe and inexpensive way to power and charge various electrical devices, at the same time exchanging information without any cables.

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This technology was created in Oxford and is claimed to allow people to wirelessly power and exchange information over distance through very simple and inexpensive engineering. The technology relates to magneto-inductive waves and is said to allow the rapid transfer of both power and data between devices without any wires.

The advantages of this technology include no wires combined with a cheap and unsophisticated manufacturing process. According to the researchers, there can be unlimited number of connected devices without any vulnerable connectors to disconnect.

The developers assure that the technology in question is entirely weatherproof and can be woven into flexible materials or integrated into furniture. It can be incorporated behind the screen of a PC monitor to allow the user transfer digital files, pictures and music to and from a flash drive by tapping it against the relevant on-screen icon. They also point out that laptops, mobiles, and other electronic devices like cameras and printers can all charge and communicate from a table top integrated with the technology.

Due to its limitless operation, the technology is claimed to prove very efficient in offices, homes, medical devices and even social outlets. The idea is that the architecture of PCs and other electrical devices that operate on microprocessors and circuit boards can be re engineered with interchangeable parts made as self-contained units. As such, the product life will increase while the cost will decrease.

At the moment, Isis Innovation is considering the idea of licensing the technology.

Facebook Revealed Users’ “Likes” to Advertisers

Once again, the world’s largest social network has sailed into a new privacy storm, because it became known that Facebook was providing some of its advertisers with the information on members’ “likes”.

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Local media confirmed that Facebook allowed its favored advertisers to use an internal instrument which shows them what other pages their own fans like. In other words, the “priority” advertising companies now know what films their fans like, which products they buy and what music they listen to. This was discovered by AdWeek which made it public that extra special business partners of the social network were allowed to access the instrument in question for now.

In response, Facebook claimed that this instrument can help marketers create better advertising campaigns. The representatives of the company admit that Facebook does offer aggregated insights to some advertisers which can allow them understand trends about their fan bases. However, the social network doesn’t give away all the personal details of its users: the instrument doesn’t provide the advertisers with any information about their rivals’ fan bases. Still, the tool allows them to gather collective data. Today, the company demands that the marketers should come to their offices to access this data.

Facebook explains that in the event that the instrument goes mainstream it will just help the advertisers decide which film to advertise on or which music to use in a commercial. The company didn’t reveal its plans over the tool – whether it is going to offer it to all its clients or only favored ones. Anyway, this tool could prove to be just another valuable source of revenue for Facebook if it did.

America Looking for a Cyber Reason to Invade Iran

Desperate to find a reason to get involved, the military establishment of the United States decided to use its latest bugbear of cyber warfare as its latest pretext. The country is now claiming that Iran is going to fire cyber weapons of mass distraction.

A week ago, the American military issued the warning, saying that they might have to take an action to stop a cyber war. In the meantime, the Defense Secretary also claimed that the country faced a risk of a so-called “cyber-Pearl Harbor”. These claims were made after the last year mutterings that cyber war might be countered with conventional weaponry.

According to the press reports of the last week, the United States has claimed that Iran has launched a serious wave of hacker attacks which crippled the machines throughout the Saudi oil industry along with some financial institutions in America.

It seems that the United States chose another tactics and has focused on a cybercorps created by Iran last year instead of paying attention to weapons of mass destruction. Perhaps, this was done in response to the US and Israeli hacker attacks on the local nuclear enrichment plant.

Although the cyber attacks originating from Iran have actually been modest and the country is definitely much weaker than, for instance, China or Russia, the United States doesn’t want desperately to go to war with those countries.

Nevertheless, the United States believes that it should get involved anytime that oil is mentioned. It turned out that the biggest attack was that of Saudi Aramco, the largest oil company in the world. Everyone knows that the War on Iraq was started against the Saudi’s enemies and an oil rival, and it is clear now that the Saudis don’t like Iran either.

Britain Failed to Catch up with FTTH Broadband Plan

The United Kingdom appeared to have the worst FTTH Broadband, according to a recent report. According to the FTTH Council Europe, there are 22 countries having over 1% of households with access to FTTH broadband, while Europe in a whole featured a 16% increase in subscribers. At the moment, there are over 32,000,000 homes in the region with FTTH, featuring 5,950,000 subscribers.

However, the United Kingdom wasn’t in the rankings because of its low FTTH penetration. The statistics say that the country only has 0.05% of subscribers with access to FTTH, despite the government assurance to ensure the fastest broadband in the region by 2015.

In the meantime, along with increases to speed, FTTH also ensures a more stable connection, because radio interference isn’t a problem anymore. Latency is also less of a problem – this is very beneficial for cloud services and content creators, because the uploading times improve.

FTTH Council Europe claims that key countries not mentioned in the ranking may simply fail to use their chance to create a sustainable future, so they have to make a decision to invest in FTTH right now. Industry experts agree that the United Kingdom is definitely “late to the party", but point out that the country isn’t totally off the radar with its FTTH 175,000 homes and 13,000 subscriptions.

The matter is that most developments so far are small scale, so although they are high in numbers, they still have little impact on the overall picture. Another problem of the United Kingdom is that ISPs like BT Openreach focus on getting fibre to offices rather than to the premise or house. They have been discussing the idea of getting the FTTP service to around 10% of British homes, but thus far most areas are only partially ready, so they focus on the headline-grabbing figures of 11,000,000 homes able to get the FTTC service.

The industry observers are assured that this figure remains a goal, while priorities in the roll-out have changed. The British government has been slowed by the intention to provide more comprehensive FTTH coverage than the other countries offer. The United Kingdom has also concentrated on ubiquity of access, while there are EU members with better FTTH deployments that now face the same kind of digital divide.

Kaspersky Discovered New Espionage Software

Kapersky Lab has recently uncovered new malware and called it “miniFlame”, because it linked directly to Flame. This piece of software, also known as SPE, was originally found by insecurity experts 4 months ago when they were analyzing the Flame virus – an application responsible for espionage attacks on the PCs running Windows in the Middle East. This July Kaspersky Lab recognized the Flame virus as the most sophisticated malware yet discovered. However, today’s discovery proves that the scale of the operation appears larger than anyone could imagine.

According to the security experts’ findings, miniFlame shares the same architecture with Flame, but can also operate by itself as a malicious program or as a plug-in for Flame and Gauss. The malware is used as a cyber espionage instrument, working as a backdoor for information theft, which allows the intruders to access the infected machine.

However, the number of machines infected by miniFlame is no more than sixty at the moment, and Kaspersky Lab believes that all of them were already infected with the Flame virus, which has simply formed another wave of an espionage attack to steal data. Security experts found out that miniFlame was first designed in 2010, with further editions being created in 2011 and 2012. At the moment, 6 versions of the malware are still considered active. Perhaps, its creators have started to develop it as far back as 2007.

The experts believe that it works the following way: first, Flame or Gauss infect as many machines as they can in order to steal tons of data. After the information is reviewed by the hackers, they define a certain victim and infect it with miniFlame for more in-depth cyber-espionage. The process might involve taking screenshots of the affected machines or using a controlled USB drive to store information gathered from infected computers offline.

As you can see, the structure of miniFlame revealed the cooperation between the developers of Flame malware and another virus – Gauss, because miniFlame is able to work with both applications. Moreover, some insecurity experts suggest that since the links were already established between Flame and Stuxnet applications, they all might have originated from the same source. They were also linked with the government of the United States, with Stuxnet being responsible for attacks on Iranian infrastructure and nuclear facilities.

Germany Spying on Its Citizens

Everyone knows that Germans are a bit sensitive about digital privacy, but now it appears the German government has no problems with spying on its citizens. Many Germans were very surprised to know that they are being constantly monitored.

Recently the German authorities admitted that the police monitor such communication services as Skype and Facebook chat, along with major mail services, including Yahoo Mail, Google Mail, and MSN Hotmail. According to the government, the services are monitored “as and when necessary”, but still very precisely.

The information about such activity of the police force was released in frames of a move towards financial transparency of the government. The matter is that the authorities had to release figures of expenses incurred by the Federal Ministry of the Interior under a parliamentary inquiry.

The expenses for spying were hiding in pile of the facts and figures provided by the government. The annalist blog found them, which decided that investigating a shedloads of financial data was better than everything else on German TV. They were digging through the financial reports, when they ran into the page where cost for decoding software for the mail services, including Google Mail, MSN Hotmail, and Yahoo Mail, was listed. The purpose of the expenses on software said “for prevention and investigation”.

It was later that a mention of monitoring system for Skype was found. It turned out that the Ministry of the Interior has spent a lot of money on Trojan viruses and IMSI catchers. This kind of software is being used for “man-in-the-middle” attacks on cell phones widely employed by German police. In other words, the belief that the police are constantly monitoring people is quite real.

UK Hacker Extradition Blocked

UK’s Home Secretary has finally announced that Gary McKinnon won’t be extradited to the United States to face charges for hacking into their military system. Speaking at the House of Commons, Theresa May announced that the hacker should stay in the United Kingdom to face charges for hacking the US computers more than a decade ago.

Janis Sharp, Gary’s mother, has been trying to argue for the last 10 years that her son, Asperger’s sufferer, would be at a very high risk of him ending his life in case of extradition. Theresa May has heard her words and said that after careful consideration she had come to a conclusion that extradition could have really caused such a high risk of suicide that extradition would be incompatible with his human rights. As a result, Home Secretary has withdrawn the extradition order against Gary McKinnon.

Theresa May has referred to McKinnon’s case as exceptional, explaining that since she had come into office the sole issue to make a decision on was whether the hacker’s extradition to the US would violate his human rights. She told MPs that although McKinnon was accused of serious crimes, it should also be taken into consideration that he was seriously ill with Asperger's syndrome.

The hacker spent 10 years waiting to know his fate. The media reports were saying that he could face up to sixty years in prison. His mother said that she was really overwhelmed at the May’s decision, and was very grateful to the Home Secretary for standing up to the US.

Janis Sharp was leading a campaign to halt the extradition of Gary over the past few years. She has gone as far as to appeal directly to the Prime Minister. In the meantime, MPs also joined in the debate to discuss a one-sided extradition treaty between the two countries.

UK Watchdog Fined Police for Data Breach

The UK watchdog Information Commissioners Office has recently slapped the police authorities with a $200,000 penalty after they were found guilty of a serious data breach. This is how it happened.

Greater Manchester Police was called to account after an investigation carried out by the Information Commissioners Office. The investigation was prompted by the theft of a memory stick which contained sensitive personal information from an officer’s home. It turned out that the memory stick had no password protection and was carrying the information about over a thousand people, as well as the links to serious crime investigations.

During the investigation, the ICO found out that some of the police officers were using unencrypted memory sticks on a regular basis. The watchdog came to a conclusion that these memory sticks might also have been used to copy data from police machines to access away from the office.

Information Commissioners Office claimed it was time for the police to learn its lessons, because this case wasn’t the first one. There was a similar security breach two years ago, when the police was found to have neglected to either put restrictions on downloading data or provide a sufficient training to the employees in information protection. As a result, the watchdog imposed a fine of $250,000, but the police force paid it right away and got a 20% early payment discount, which made it $200,000.

According to the ICO Director of Data Protection, it should be obvious to the police authorities that the type of data stored on its machines means that they need proper information security. But the force failed to realize this and caused a serious data breach instead.

ACTA to Resurrect in Europe

Entertainment industry and politicians have repackaged the controversial law to sell it as a new one. It seems that the EC thinks its elected politicians and public are all stupid. The international treaty known as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has been negotiated for a long time, eventually causing outrage of much of the world. After this, the politicians had to drop their support and people believed that was the end of the treaty.

The European Parliament was even reported cheering that the agreement didn't pass, lauding it as a win for democracy. Nevertheless, it seemed that the European Commission decided to make another attempt and please the content industry with recycling ACTA and introducing it as an entirely new bill.

The human rights outfits pointed out that the Canada-EU Union and Trade Agreement (CETA) has cut and pasted all the controversial issues from ACTA that made everyone upset. Its leaked copy reveals that the bill features some similar controversial provisions, especially those related to criminal enforcement, private enforcement by ISPs, and harsh damages.

The reasons why the EU rejected the treaty were announced to the public, but since CETA was negotiated secretly, nobody knew about them. According to both Canada and European Union, the draft text of CETA is now secret, so nobody in the European Parliament can complain this time.

The new treaty is supposed to strengthen economic relationship between Canada and Europe via “free” trade and increased investment. However, it is unclear why agenda of the entertainment industry on copyright should be included in it.

In the meantime, the European Commission negotiator isn’t ashamed of the attempts to clamp down on the human freedom in the name of protecting the content industry. Instead, he bragged that criminal sanctions from ACTA treaty resurrected in the CETA draft. Perhaps, he forgot that 92% of the EU Parliament voted against the trade agreement in 2012.

The industry observers hope that he just might have bragged a bit too soon. It seems that after the public knew about the plans there’s a ground-swell of action moving against the bill. For instance, the Dutch authorities have already announced that they wouldn’t accept the treaty if it contained such provisions. At the same time, Poland and several other countries are calling on their people to demand copyright provisions be removed from the bill during the upcoming negotiations.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Inside Apple's Biggest Flagship Store In Asia!


Apple store in Beijing's Wangfujing shopping district is Apple's fifth in mainland China, as is being promoted as the largest in Asia.


Security staff watch over a crowd gathered for the opening of a new Apple store in Beijing's Wangfujing shopping district

Security staff watch over a crowd gathered for the opening of a new Apple store in Beijing's Wangfujing shopping district October 20, 2012. The store is Apple's fifth in mainland China, as is being promoted as the largest in Asia

Apple's Biggest Flagship Store In Asia Opens In Beijing

Chinese customers walk along the spiral steps of the newly opened Apple Store. 

Apple's Biggest Flagship Store In Asia Opens In Beijing

Apple’s best-known hardware products are the Mac line of computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Its software includes the OS X and iOS operating systems, the iTunes media browser, and the iLife and iWork creativity and production suites

Apple's Biggest Flagship Store In Asia Opens In Beijing

A Chinese customer and his son look at the iPad in the newly opened Apple Store in Wangfujing shopping district on October 20, 2012 in Beijing,

Apple's Biggest Flagship Store In Asia Opens In Beijing

Apple staff members celebrate as customers coming into the Wangfujing store

Apple's Biggest Flagship Store In Asia Opens In Beijing

Chinese customers look at iPad HD in the newly opened Apple Store in Wangfujing shopping district. Apple is the world's third-largest mobile phone maker after Samsung and Nokia

Apple's Biggest Flagship Store In Asia Opens In Beijing

Chinese fans of Apple await the new Apple Store's opening

Apple's Biggest Flagship Store In Asia Opens In Beijing

As of August 2012, Apple has 393 retail stores in fourteen countries as well as the online Apple Store and iTunes Store

Apple's Biggest Flagship Store In Asia Opens In Beijing

Apple Inc., originally Apple Computer, Inc., is an American multinational corporation headquartered in Curpertino, California that designs, develops, and sells consumer electronics, computer software, and personal 

Apple's Biggest Flagship Store In Asia Opens In Beijing

Chinese customers look at the iPad in the newly opened Apple Store

Apple's Biggest Flagship Store In Asia Opens In Beijing

A Chinese woman holds a sign which reads "My husband is not reliable, he doesn't buy me an iPhone 5, I'm looking for a rich man" outside a newly opened Apple Store in Wangfujing shopping district on October 20

Apple's Biggest Flagship Store In Asia Opens In Beijing

Chinese Apple staff members greet customers as they enter the new Apple Store in Wangfujing shopping district on October 20, 2012 in Beijing, China. Apple Inc. opened its sixth retail store on the Chinese mainland 

Apple's Biggest Flagship Store In Asia Opens In Beijing

Chinese fans line up outside the new Apple Store in Wangfujing shopping district on October 20, 2012 in Beijing, China. Apple Inc. opened its sixth retail store on the Chinese mainland Saturday. The new Wangfujing 

Apple's Biggest Flagship Store In Asia Opens In Beijing

Chinese Apple staff members cheer in the new Apple Store before it opens in Wangfujing shopping district


Chinese customers enter the newly opened Apple Store in Wangfujing shopping district on October 20, 2012 in Beijing, China. Apple Inc. opened its sixth retail store on the Chinese mainland Saturday. The new Wangfujing store is Apple's largest retail store in Asia.


Hacker Will Hear His Extradition Verdict

Gary McKinnon is expected to hear a verdict from the Home Office on his extradition to the United States this week, after 10 years wait. His lawyer confirmed that a ruling would finally be handed down over extraditing the UK citizen to face charges for hacking into American government networks.

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Janis Sharp, the mother of the UK resident, has spent the last decade fighting the efforts to extradite McKinnon, who was alleged of breaking into US military and NASA PCs. She has repeatedly claimed that her son, Asperger’s sufferer, would be at severe risk of suicide if extradited to another country. Industry experts believe that he might face a sentence of up to sixty years for hacking. Although McKinnon’s mother contends that he should indeed stand trial for what he had done, her son should face a judgement in the United Kingdom.

This case has drawn the backing of prominent British MPs and has even led to an appeal to the Prime Minister to discuss the matter directly with Barack Obama. Indeed, this lawsuit has been lively discussed by MPs who question the existing extradition treaties between the United Kingdom and the United States. The observers claim that the current rules are one sided in favor of the United States, with the Americans being considered very unlikely to be extradited to the United Kingdom.

Successive Home Secretaries faced the issue of McKinnon’s extradition. In the meantime, the authorities of the United States have been standing their ground: the hacker should be extradited to their country, and now Conservative Theresa May has to make a final decision over whether to satisfy those demands.

Theresa May has already delivered a number of extradition rulings within the past few weeks: for example, in the high profile case of radical cleric Abu Hamza she decided the defendant should be extradited, while in another contentious case (of Abu Qatada) she for some reason decided that the defendant could be allowed to stay in the United Kingdom.

In the meantime, Theresa May is also expected to announce her decision verdict on demands from the American Justice Department to extradite the British resident Richard O’Dwyer for piracy offences. A verdict on McKinnon’s case is expected to be delivered this week.

Microsoft Launched Its Own Music Service

Microsoft started to bring into action its cunning plan to copy Apple’s iTunes. As a result, the company recently announced the launch of its own music service.


This isn’t the first time that the software giant has had a crack at copying Apple’s music service. The first attempt has failed dismally: Microsoft’s Zune entertainment system has got the thumbs down by the Tame Apple press. Now the company has decided to take advantage of Xbox console’s success as its selling point, and announced that Xbox Music, a new digital music service, is now available for its consoles. Moreover, the company promised to expand the service next week to Windows software-based PCs and tablets, including the upcoming Surface tablet, after its new Windows 8 OS is released. Finally, the service will also be rolled out to phones.

It looks like the software giant has just realized that its efforts to turn the Xbox console into an entertainment hub are able to help give Apple a run for its money. Over 67,000,000 consoles have been sold within the last 7 years, while Microsoft reasons that they could provide the potential users for the new service.

Nevertheless, the company has been slow off the mark. The company first noticed that Xbox users were spending almost twice less time on entertainment services compared to video gaming last year.

The Xbox is streaming Netflix, ESPN and a few other channels. In addition it is also bolstering its service with music and video material. The plan is that the company will offer a free ad-supported music streaming service, alongside with a premium $9.99 per month subscription service for unlimited and ad-free streaming.

Xbox users can download music from the online store offering more than 30 million tracks in its global catalog. This actually is more than iTunes’ library of 26 million songs. In addition, Microsoft’s service also carries more than 70,000 music videos, which can only be available on the Xbox console.

It is known that the software giant is providing cloud-storage features, just like iTunes and Amazon Cloud Player. Microsoft also offers an artist-based radio function, such as well-known music streaming services Pandora and Spotify. Xbox Music is announced to be launched across 22 countries.

New Video Game Leaked to BitTorrent

The last few days were happy time for the gamers all over the world: they had really good reasons to become excited, because someone has shared their newly released Halo 4 through torrent portals.

The image posted on the websites and recently confirmed by the publisher revealed the two discs included in Halo 4 video game. The first disk has the full game on it, while the second one contains the install files. Despite the fact the there is almost three weeks left before the official launch of Halo 4, the 343 industries-developed Xbox 360 exclusive game has already been leaked onto peer-to-peer file-sharing portals.

The industry observers confirmed that the game is travelling around the web: some of the peer-to-peer networks offer single ISOs of each disc – the first one for the campaign and the second one for the multiplayer component – while the other services offered a combined two-disc download for free.

Of course, the software giant Microsoft was very disappointed with the news, particularly when it knew that the number of downloads and seeds are rocketing. The representatives of the company claimed that they have seen the reports of the video game content being leaked on the Internet. Microsoft promised to work closely with its security teams and law enforcement in order to somehow address the situation, but it’s unclear what it can do at the moment. Thus far, Microsoft has tried to take some preventive measures against the aggravating issue, but it doesn’t seem to be enough to stop piracy. The company has managed to remove gameplay footage of the shooter from YouTube, as well as the videos that pertain to the opening cinematic and the title’s ending segment.