Google revoked the certificates for users of its Chrome browser last Saturday after a four-day investigation. Microsoft, Mozilla and Opera Software followed suit on Monday.
In a security advisory, Microsoft said it had released an update to most versions of Windows — including Windows Phone 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 — that revoked the pertinent certificates. Unlike other browser makers, Microsoft records trusted digital certificates in Windows, not in its Internet Explorer (IE) browser.
However, the third of Windows PC owners still running the 12-year-old Windows XP have been left out in the cold. “No update is available at this time for customers running Windows XP and Windows Server 2003,” Microsoft said in its advisory.
Google’s discovery also prompted Mozilla to annul the rogue certificates. The revocations will be included with Firefox 26, according to a blog post by Mozilla.
Opera Software blacklisted the certificates in older versions of its Opera browser. The Norwegian company’s newest, Opera 12, did not require an update because that version did not automatically trust ANSSI (Agence nationale de la sécurité des systèmes d’information), the French Network and Information Security Agency whose intermediate CA issued the original unauthorized certificate.
According to ANSSI, the certificates were signed by DGTrésor, France’s Department of the Treasury. ANSSI described the gaffe as “human error … during a process aimed at strengthening the overall IT security of the French Ministry of Finance.”
According to Google and Mozilla, ANSSI found that a secondary certificate was installed on a network monitoring device, and able to sniff local traffic to and from third-party sites. Microsoft warned that, “An attacker could use these certificates to spoof content, perform phishing attacks, or perform man-in-the-middle attacks” against a large number of Google-owned domains, includinggoogle.com and youtube.com.
The browser makers’ fast response was in contrast to similar incidents in the past, when certificate invalidation took longer. An intermediate certificate issued by Turkish CA Turktrust in mid-2011 and installed on a firewall appliance in December 2012 was not revoked by Microsoft and others until early January 2013.
The C720P Touchscreen Chromebook has an 11.6-inch touchscreen, which displays images at a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. The lightweight laptop offers roughly seven-and-a-half hours of battery life and runs on an Intel Celeron 2955U processor based on the Haswell microarchitecture.
Chromebooks are laptops for those who do most of their computing on the Web. Chrome OS is mostly adapted for keyboards, but the touchscreen could ease selection of options in menus and improve interaction in browsers and other applications.
A new wave of Chromebooks running the latest version of Chrome OS started shipping in October.
The laptop will be available in early December through Amazon.com, Best Buy and Acer’s online store. The laptop will be available in the U.S., Switzerland, Germany, U.K., France, Netherlands, Russia, Sweden and Finland.
Other Chromebooks include Acer Chromebook C720-2848, which has an Intel processor and is priced at $199.99, and Hewlett-Packard and Google’s Chromebook 11, which has an ARM processor and is priced at $279. HP’s Chromebook 14 has a 14-inch screen, an Intel processor and is priced at $299 in Office Depot.
The C720P weighs 1.35 kilograms and boots in seven seconds. Other features include 32GB of solid-state storage, 2GB of DDR3 memory, USB 3.0 ports, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and an HDMI slot. Users will get 100GB of free Google Drive storage for two years with the laptop.
China has held onto its lead in the twice-yearly ranking of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, with the Chinese National University of Defense Technology’s Tianhe-2 system bringing 33.86 petaflop/s (quadrillions of calculations per second) to the contest, almost twice the calculations offered by the runner up, the Titan Cray system run by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Measured by the number of systems on the Top 500 list, the U.S. still leads the pack with 265 systems, up from 253 systems in the last ranking released in June. Tianhe-2 topped that list, with Titan following, and both had the same performance numbers as the new rankings released Monday.
Asia has 115 systems on the list, which is down from 118 in June, and Europe has 102 systems. China has 63 systems and Japan has 28 on the list. In Europe, the U.K. has 23 systems, France has 22 and Germany has 20.
The Top 500 list of supercomputers was started in June 1993 to compare the performance of the most powerful computers and show supercomputing growth. Participation is voluntary and requires entrants to run the Linpack benchmark, which measures how quickly a system can solve a dense series of linear equations.
Overall, the latest ranking, which is the 42nd, shows little change from June. There is only one new system in the top 10, the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre’s Piz Daint, a Cray XC30 system that clocked 6.27 Pflop/s on the Linpack benchmark.
Piz Daint also proved to be the most energy efficient machine on the list, a metric the Top 500 started charting. While Piz Daint consumes an average of 2.33 megawatts, it produces 2.7 gigaflops (or 2.7 billion floating-point operations per second) for each watt used.
Taken together, all 500 systems on the list would produce 250 Pflop/s, half of which was supplied by the top 17 entrants on the list. Over 31 systems were able to produce at least a petaflop/s.
Both of the top systems use coprocessors to speed calculations. Tianhe-2 uses Intel Xeon Phi processors and Titan uses Nvidia GPUs. Overall, 53 systems on the list use accelerator/coprocessor technologies.
The Top 500 list is compiled by supercomputing experts at the University of Mannheim, Germany; the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; and the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
The security vendor said it counted more than 200,000 new infections from July through September, the highest number it has recorded in a three-month period in 11 years. Between April and June, Trend counted 146,000 infections.
The infections were less concentrated in Europe and the Americas and were more distributed throughout the globe, indicating that cybercriminals are diversifying the banking customers they target.
The most affected countries were the U.S., which made up 23 percent of the new infections, followed by Brazil at 16 percent and Japan at 12 percent.
Other top countries affected included India, Australia, France, Germany, Vietnam, Taiwan and Mexico, Trend Micro’s report said.
The malware found was usually ZeuS, also known as Zbot, which dates back to 2006.
Cybercriminals plant ZeuS on websites that will then attack visitors and install the malware if the computer has a software vulnerability. It can then steal online banking credentials and send the details to a remote server, among many other malicious functions.
Trend Micro noted that it also saw KINS, a malicious software program modeled after ZeuS, along with Citadel, a banking credential stealer widely seen in Japan and elsewhere.
The Lumia 1320 and Lumia 1520, revealed at the Nokia World event in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, both have 6-inch screens. The 1520 is the high-end model, with a full HD screen, LTE and a quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor. The device has 32GB of storage, which can be expanded by another 64GB using a microSD card slot, something that has been missing from recent Nokia smartphones.
Nokia is leaning on its camera technology to differentiate its products from rivals. The Lumia 1520 has a 20-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization. Nokia has also developed a new app called Camera that lets users access settings more easily, the company said.
The Lumia 1520 will start shipping this quarter in Hong Kong, Singapore, the U.S., China, the U.K., France, Germany and Finland. The price will be $749 before taxes and subsidies.
The Lumia 1320 will be cheaper at $339 before taxes and subsidies, but only has a dual-core processor and 720p screen resolution. It also has a simpler 5-megapixel camera, but users can still access the Internet using LTE. Nokia expects to start shipping it in the first quarter of 2014 in China and Vietnam, followed by other Asian markets, India and Europe.
The lower price will make the smartphone a good fit for the Chinese market, according to Pete Cunningham, principal analyst at Canalys.
Both devices will run a new version of Windows Phone 8 called General Distribution Release 3, to which Nokia has added enhancements such as its Camera app. The software will also be offered to users of existing Lumia devices via an update called Black.
Instagram and Vine will soon be available on Lumia devices too, Nokia announced. App availability is still Windows Phone’s Achilles heel, but the availability of those two third-party apps is a step in the right direction.
Google Inc plans to roll out new product-endorsement ads incorporating photos, comments and names of its users, in a move to match the “social” ads pioneered by rival Facebook Inc that is raising some privacy concerns.
The changes, which Google announced in a revised terms of service policy on Friday, set the stage for Google to introduce “shared endorsements” ads on its sites as well as millions of other websites that are part of Google’s display advertising network.
The new types of ads would use personal information of the members of Google+, the social network launched by the company in 2011.
If a Google+ user has publicly endorsed a particular brand or product by clicking on the +1 button, that person’s image might appear in an ad. Reviews and ratings of restaurants or music that Google+ users share on other Google services, such as in the Google Play online store, would also become fair game for advertisers.
The ads are similar to the social ads on Facebook, the world’s No. 1 social network, which has 1.15 billion users.
Those ads are attractive to marketers, but they unfairly commercialize Internet users’ images, said Marc Rotenberg, the director of online privacy group EPIC.
“It’s a huge privacy problem,” said Rotenberg. He said the U.S. Federal Trade Commission should review the policy change to determine whether it violates a 2011 consent order Google entered into which prohibits the company from retroactively changing users’ privacy settings.
Users under 18 will be exempt from the ads and Google+ users will have the ability to opt out. But Rotenberg said users “shouldn’t have to go back and restore their privacy defaults every time Google makes a change.”
Information Google+ users have previously shared with a limited “circle” of friends will remain viewable only to that group, as will any shared endorsement ads that incorporate the information, Google said in a posting on its website explaining the new terms of service.
Google, which makes the vast majority of its revenue from advertising, operates the world’s most popular Web search engine as well as other online services such as maps, email and video website YouTube.
Google’s latest terms of service change will go live on November 11.
According to Reuters, Saudi regulators blocked the service because it was too difficult to monitor and because it sucked revenue from telecom outfits. The fact that Viber was created by an Israeli probably didn’t help much, either.
Earlier this year the Saudi Ministry of Interior complained that Islamist militants were taking advantage of social media to encourage unrest, but it did not recommend imposing stricter controls. In the end it might have a bit more to do with the three Saudi telecoms wanting to squash competition than militants or personal freedoms.
But it is a good example of how tech is bringing the world together – Islamist militants using an Israeli app to bring down the Wahabi House of Saud, what more could you ask for?
IBM’s CEO Virginia Rometty has taken to her web cam to blast her be-suited staff who are “too slow.” Rometty sent off a five-minute internal video message which was so grumpy they did her the favour of sending it to the Wall Street Journal. She moaned at the company’s sales staff for failing to get ink on the page for a number of potential deals.
“As the quarter ended, hundreds of millions of dollars of software and mainframe opportunities, they didn’t close and that was because we didn’t move fast enough,” she snarled.
Rometty said that in at least one case IBM was too slow to understand the value and then engage on the approval and the sign-off process and it didn’t get done. If a client were to have any requests or questions in the future, IBM had better have a response ready within a day.
“And if anything slows you down, call it out. Engage management, engage leadership and let’s deal with it,” she growled. She has already given her “under-performing” storage crew a dressing down and said she will be taking “substantial actions” to sort out that area of its business and Rometty has also switched the head of corporate strategy with the head of systems and technology in a bid to shake things up.
But on the plus side, she confessed that her strategy was “the right one” and “fundamentals are strong”. So in other words she is right and those lazy suits are wrong. Big Blue missed its first quarter targets after expected income from mainframe systems and related software deals, along with patent licences, had to be rolled over into the second quarter.
IBM, a bellwether for the IT industry, is in the midst of a drive to boost profits by 2015 against an uncertain global economic backdrop.
Local management has yet to officially outline whether there will be a formal job-cuts plan approved by U.S. headquarters, the union representatives said, but said the numbers had already been communicated.
“Management is set to present a plan to cut between 1,200 and 1,400 staff over the next two years,” said Pierry Poquet, secretary general of the UNSA union, who said a meeting was planned for April 25.
“For now it is only a target…we’ve heard such announcements before but they don’t always come to pass.”
The CFE-CGC union’s representative, Evelyne Heurtaux, confirmed the figures. “We’ve been told a figure of around 1,300 jobs cut over two years,” she said.
IBM currently employs around 8,000 people in France, Heurtaux said.
An IBM spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.
According to the company’s Chinese e-store, the Surface Pro will go on sale April 2 at 9 p.m. local time.
The Chinese debut will be the tablet’s first market expansion since its U.S. and Canadian launch on Feb. 9. Microsoft first announced the Surface Pro’s availability on the Chinese-language Weibo social networking service.
LiveSino.net reported earlier in the day that Microsoft was introducing the tablet in China on Tuesday.
It’s been no secret that China was on the short list for the Surface Pro. Three weeks ago, Microsoft said the Windows 8 Pro-powered device would go on sale in several more markets in the second quarter, including Australia, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, New Zealand and the U.K.
The Microsoft Store does not show prices for the Surface Pro, but another Chinese website,WPDang, said the 64GB model would cost 6,588 yuan, equivalent to $1,061. The higher-priced 128GB Surface Pro, meanwhile, will be priced at 7,388 yuan ($1,190).
U.S. prices for the Surface Pro are $899 (64GB) and $999 (128GB).
Microsoft has to hope that the Surface Pro does better in China than the lower-priced Surface RT predecessor: Research firm IDC pegged shipments — which are different, usually higher, than sales — of the latter in China at just 30,000 units during the last two months of 2012′s fourth quarter. Worldwide, Microsoft shipped approximately 900,000 Surface RTs in the same period, IDC said.
Microsoft’s Chinese move hints that stock shortages have been solved. While the Surface Pro is now ready to ship from Microsoft’s U.S. e-store, last month the 128GB configuration’s availability was spotty for several weeks following the tablet’s launch.
Yahoo Inc is in discussions to purchase a controlling interest in Dailymotion, one of the world’s most popular online video websites, in what would be Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s largest deal since taking the reins in July, the Wall Street Journal is reporting.
Yahoo could acquire as much as 75 percent of Dailymotion, which is owned by French telecommunications firm France Telecom-Orange, according to the newspaper report, which cited anonymous sources.
Dailymotion could be valued at roughly $300 million, according to the report, which noted that the deal is not imminent and could fall apart.
“We are unable to confirm, deny or comment on speculation regarding potential talks between Yahoo and Orange at this time,” Dailymotion Managing Director Roland Hamilton said in an emailed statement.
Yahoo and France-Telecom Orange declined to comment.
France Telecom-Orange acquired Dailymotion for $170 million through a two-phase deal, with the most recent transaction closing in January. Dailymotion’s editorial and executive management operate independently of France Telecom-Orange.
Dailymotion is the No. 12 ranked online video Web property in the world, according to industry research firm comScore. It says Dailymotion has 116 million unique monthly visitors and more than 2 billion videos viewed. Google Inc, which owns YouTube, is the world’s No. 1 Web video property while Yahoo’s various websites ranked 10th on the list.
The transaction for Dailymotion would represent Yahoo’s largest deal since Mayer, a former Google executive, took charge last year. Yahoo has acquired several small mobile and web start-up companies since Mayer became chief executive last year.
The money will be paid to 37 states and the District of Columbia, which had pursued Google after it admitted that its Street View cars had collected the data inadvertently between 2008 and 2010.
As well as photographing their surroundings, the Street View cars collect data about the location of Wi-Fi access points to help with Google’s navigation services. It was during that process that the company’s cars collected personal information sent over those networks.
As part of the settlement, Google said it would destroy the personal data it collected.
It has also removed the equipment and software used to collect the data from its Street View vehicles and will not collect additional information without prior notice and consent, the Attorney General of New York said in a statement.
It’s a relatively small sum for a company of Google’s size. To put the settlement in context, it’s a little more than the $6 million bonus that Google will pay Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt for his work at the company in 2012, according to a regulatory filing Tuesday.
Google will also provide a training program to its employees for 10 years about privacy and the confidentiality of user data, and will launch a public-service advertising campaign to educate consumers about keeping their personal information secure on Wi-Fi networks.
The disclosure by Google that it collected the information drew attention worldwide. Google paid a $130,000 fine to France’s National Commission on Computing and Liberty, while a public prosecutor in Germany declined to launch a criminal investigation.
Google also paid a $25,000 fine to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission for delaying an investigation into the issue.
Amazon.com Inc said on Wednesday it has dropped the price of its largest Kindle Fire tablet, part of an effort by the world’s biggest Internet retailer to get the device into the hands of as many consumers as possible.
The Kindle Fire HD 8.9 inch Wi-Fi tablet will now be priced at $269 in the United States, down from $299. The 4G wireless version now starts at $399, compared with $499 before, Amazon said.
Amazon is launching its larger tablet in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Japan. Dave Limp, president of Amazon’s Kindle business, said the company has increased production of the devices in conjunction with the overseas launch. The cost of making the tablets has fallen with greater economies of scale, letting Amazon cut prices, he said.
“Whenever we are able to create cost efficiencies like this, we want to pass the savings along to our customers,” Limp said in a statement.
Amazon launched its first Kindle Fire tablet in 2011 to compete with Apple Inc’s dominant iPad and other tablets from companies such as Samsung that run on Google Inc’s Android operating system.
Amazon sells its devices at cost, undercutting Apple prices. Amazon aims to make money when customers use its tablets to buy physical and digital products from the company, such as movies, music, games and apps.
However, Amazon’s strategy rests on selling a lot of tablets. This may not be working well yet for its larger 8.9 inch Kindle Fires, according to recent research by Chad Bartley, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities.
Amazon does not disclose device sales numbers. But Bartley said in a research report last month that demand for the larger Kindle Fire tablet was weak, citing checks with contacts in the device supply chain.
Amazon’s price reductions on Wednesday may be designed to try to maintain sales during the early part of the year, which is typically a slow period for retail sales, said Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Partners.
Amazon may also be cutting prices before it comes out with new versions of its tablets later this year, when sales normally increase during the back-to-school shopping season and the holidays, Gillis added.
An Amazon spokeswoman said the price cuts were not driven by weak demand, but rather the cost benefits of increasing production for overseas sales.
Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablet will be offered for sale Europe in the second quarter priced approximately at $1,170, while a local telco is now reselling the latest editions of its Office 365 hosted productivity suite, the company announced ahead of the Cebit trade show on Monday.
Microsoft Germany’s CEO Christian Illek didn’t give the Surface Pro’s exact price in euros, but the number will be around the same as the U.S. price in dollars, he said in a news conference at the company’s booth on the show floor in Hanover.
While an $1170 price tag appears significantly higher that the Surface Pro’s U.S. price of $899, a 30% mark-up is not unusual for electronics devices in Europe, where prices are typically displayed inclusive of value-added tax at around 20%. U.S. prices typically exclude local sales taxes. When setting international prices, vendors also tend to allow an additional margin in case exchange rates shift unfavorably.
In addition to Germany, Surface Pro will also go on sale in Australia, China, France, Hong Kong, New Zealand and the U.K. in the coming months, Microsoft said.
Illek also announced a new sales channel for two recent editions of Office 365: Deutsche Telekom.
Office 365 Small Business Premium and Office 365 Midsize Business are now on sale through Deutsche Telekom’s Business Marketplace online app store, said the German telecommunications operator’s head of marketing, Michael Hagspihl.
The Small Business Premium edition, with 25GB of storage, shared calendars, Office Web Apps, Office Professional Plus Desktop Version and support from Deutsche Telekom will sell for $14.90 per user per month for up to 25 users.
The companies announced the distribution deal on the show floor at Cebit, where their sprawling booths face one another across the main aisle of Hall 4. Stands there are still under construction: The show opens Tuesday, and runs through Saturday.
U.S. companies tend to be far less concerned with the brand of mobile devices in the workplace and more worried about which employees have access to company data, according to a Dell survey of 1,500 senior IT managers in 10 countries. The survey looked at bring-your-own-device (BYPD) trends and plans.
In the survey, employees from Singapore said their companies are the most proactive in using digital rights management rather than device-level access management to control the flow of potentially sensitive company information.The nations included in the survey were the U.S., France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the U.K., Australia, Singapore, India and the Beijing region of China.
Among the questions, Dell asked IT managers: “Should companies focus on users or devices when developing a BYOD strategy?”
Thirty percent of managers in the U.S. said their companies are more likely to focus on users over devices. In Singapore, that number was more than twice as high, with 63% of managers saying they would focus more on users. Forty-one percent of those surveyed in Germany said their companies put users ahead of devices, while 56% said the same thing in the U.K.
Dell’s survey results are supported by past surveys from service providers and research firms such as PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
A 2012 global survey of CIOs by PwC found that 28% said their workforce was using personal devices for work-related tasks. That percentage is expected to rise to 35% by mid-2013.
In a survey last year, PwC said U.S. IT managers indicated BYOD is on their radar, yet most businesses have not yet developed appropriate policies. According to PwC, just 43% of respondents said that their organization has implemented a security strategy for the use of employee-owned devices. And only 27% of U.S. respondents believed their mobile security was adequate to pass an audit.
Typically, companies with BYOD policies focus on specific mobile phones, tablets and their OSes, attempting to add each new model into their mobile device management schemes. Instead, a more effective approach is to control data access through digital rights — regardless of the hardware, according to Carol Fawcett, CIO of Dell Software Group.