“We like big, ambitious goals at Facebook,” said Chris Daniels, head of Internet.org in a discussion with several reporters at Mobile World Congress (MWC).
Facebook and several partners founded Internet.org two years ago; it is already serving 7 million customers in Colombia, Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, India and Zambia. Many of those who were originally connected for free are now paying some fee for more advanced data services.
Daniels, a vice president at Facebook in charge of Internet.org, said the conversion of free Internet users to paying customers is critical to the carriers who provide the Internet infrastructure that makes the service possible.
He sounded the same refrain that Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg offered on Monday in a keynote presentation at MWC with three onstage carriers, including Airtel Africa, which has offered Internet.org in Ghana, Kenya and Zambia. Millicom, another partner, saw a 30% increase in data users when free data data was launched in Paraguay.
While the goal of 100 countries in a year is ambitious, Daniels said it is achievable, partly because Internet.org has figured out how to work with carriers to offer online services for free that don’t cannibalize the paid services that are the lifeblood of many carriers.
“It’s ambitious to say 100 countries, but our focus is less on the number and to focus more on spreading Internet.org to added companies,” he said. “We’ve had early partners and have brought more [users] online and more are paying for data and buying voice and SMS.”
Once more countries are on board, Daniels said the free basic service model should continue. “We’d like to see it ongoing. We’d like to see free basic services always available. Operators will leave it on only if it continues to benefit their business.”
“Today we’re happy to announce … 64-bit builds for Firefox Developer Edition are now available on Windows, adding to the already supported platforms of OS X and Linux,” wrote Dave Camp, director of developer tools, and Jason Weathersby, a technical evangelist, in a post to a company blog.
Firefox 38′s Developer Edition, formerly called “Aurora,” now comes in both 32- and 64-bit version for Windows. Currently, Mozilla’s schedule, which launches a newly-numbered edition every six weeks, has Firefox 38 progressing through “Beta” and “Central” builds, with the latter — the most polished edition — releasing May 12.
Cook and Weathersby touted the 64-bit Firefox as faster and more secure, the latter due to efficiency improvements in Windows’ anti-exploit ASLR (address space layout randomization) technology in 64-bit.
The biggest advantage of a 64-bit browser on a 64-bit operating system is that it can address more than the 4GB of memory available to a 32-bit application, letting users keep open hundreds of tabs without crashing the browser, or as Cook and Weathersby pointed out, run larger, more sophisticated Web apps, notably games.
Mozilla is the last 32-bit holdout among the top five providers of browsers.
Google shipped a Windows 64-bit Chrome in August 2014 and one for OS X in November, while Apple’s Safari and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) have had 64-bit editions on OS X and Windows since 2009 and 2006, respectively. Opera Software, the Norwegian browser maker known for its same-named desktop flagship, also offers a 64-bit edition on Windows.
AT&T Inc will link its connected car and smart home technologies to expand its reach in the fast-growing market for Internet-connected devices, a new battleground for the telecom giant and its rivals.
The wireless company’s home security and automation service “Digital Life” and connected car service “Drive” will be integrated so users can control their homes from a dashboard in their vehicles, Glenn Lurie, chief executive of AT&T Mobility told Reuters last week ahead of the company’s announcement at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
“Once you’ve told your home when the car is (for instance)within 20 feet of the house to please open the garage door, put the lights on, turn the alarm off, move the thermostat up, you can have those inanimate objects, the home and your car, really taking care of you,” Lurie said.
With the two services linked up, a “Drive” car can control devices in the home, including security cameras, air-conditioners, coffee makers, stereo systems, door locks, alarm sensors on windows and sensors that detect leaks from water pipes.
Most Americans own a mobile phone, and the $1.7 trillion U.S. wireless industry is turning for growth to connected devices.
AT&T said it had about 20 million connected devices from cars to cargo ship container sensors in 2014, up 21 percent from the year earlier. It has not yet revealed its revenue from its “Internet of Things” business.
Technology companies including Apple and Google are making their own plays. Mercedes-Benz has an application that lets drivers control thermostats from Nest, a company acquired by Google.
Analysts expect fast growth from the “Internet of Things”, or web-connected machines and gadgets. Connected car revenue is expected to be $20 billion annually by 2018 from $3 billion in 2013, and smart homes revenue is estimated to touch $71 billion by 2018, according to Juniper Research.
AT&T has deals with eight automakers from General Motors to Ford on connected car services. Lurie said it was still signing deals.
On the home front, it has partnered with home appliance makers such as Samsung and LG Electronics.
Customers will pay for the new service through AT&T’s Mobile Share Value plan. A user can add $10 to the monthly phone bill to share data across multiple connected devices such as wearables and cars, Lurie said. Or customers can opt for plans provided by their car manufacturer.
Qualcomm has unveiled what it claims is the world’s first ‘ultrasonic’ fingerprint scanner, in a bid to improve mobile security and further boost Android’s chances in the enterprise space.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon Sense ID 3D Fingerprint technology debuted during the chipmaker’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) press conference on Monday.
The firm claimed that the new feature will outperform the fingerprint scanners found on smartphones such as the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6.
Qualcomm also claimed that, as well as “better protecting user data”, the 3D ultrasonic imaging technology is much more accurate than capacitive solutions currently available, and is not hindered by greasy or sweaty fingers.
Sense ID offers a more “innovative and elegant” design for manufacturers, the firm said, owing to its ability to scan fingerprints through any material, be it glass, metal or sapphire.
This means, in theory, that future fingerprint sensors could be included directly into a smartphone’s display.
Derek Aberle, Qualcomm president, said: “This is another industry first for Qualcomm and has the potential to revolutionise mobile security.
“It’s also another step towards the end of the password, and could mean that you’ll never have to type in a password on your smartphone again.”
No specific details or partners have yet been announced, but Qualcomm said that the Sense ID technology will arrive in devices in the second half of 2015, when the firm’s next-generation Snapdragon 820 processor is also tipped to debut.
The firm didn’t reveal many details about this chip, except that it will feature Kryo 64-bit CPU tech and a new machine learning feature dubbed Zeroth.
Qualcomm also revealed more details about LTE-U during Monday’s press conference, confirming plans to extend LTE to unused spectrum using technology integrated in its latest small-cell solutions and RF transceivers for mobile devices.
“We face many challenges as demand for data constantly grows, and we think the best way to fix this is by taking advantage of unused spectrum,” said Aberle.
Finally, the chipmaker released details about a new a partnership with Cyanogen, the open-source outfit responsible for the CyanogenMod operating system.
Qualcomm said that it will provide support for the best features and UI enhancements of CyanogenMod on Snapdragon processors, which will be available for the release of Qualcomm Reference Design in April.
The MWC announcements follow the launch of the ARM Cortex-based Snapdragon 620 and 618 chips last month, which promise to improve connectivity and user experience on high-end smartphones and tablets.
Aberle said that these chips will begin to show up in devices in mid to late 2015.
China’s Lenovo Group Ltd announced that it will offer free subscriptions to Intel Corp’s security software to customers who purchased laptops that were shipped with a program known as “Superfish,” which made PCs vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Lenovo, the world’s biggest personal computer maker, last week advised customers to uninstall the Superfish program.
Security experts and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommended the program be removed because it made users vulnerable to what are known as SSL spoofing techniques that can enable remote attackers to read encrypted web traffic, steal credentials and perform other attacks.
Lenovo announced the offer to provide six-month subscriptions to Intel’s McAfee LiveSafe on Friday as it also disclosed plans to “significantly” reduce the amount of software that it ships with new computers.
Pre-loaded programs will include Microsoft Corp’s Windows operating system, security products, Lenovo applications and programs “required” to make unique hardware such as 3D cameras work well, Lenovo said.
“This should eliminate what our industry calls ‘adware’ and ‘bloatware,’” the Lenovo statement said.
Adi Pinhas, chief executive of Palo Alto, California-based Superfish, said in a statement last week that his company’s software helps users achieve more relevant search results based on images of products viewed.
He said the vulnerability was “inadvertently” introduced by Israel-based Komodia, which built the application that Lenovo advised customers to uninstall.
Komodia declined comment.
China has removed some of the world’s most popular technology brands from its approved state purchase lists, while approving thousands more home grown products, in what some say is a response to revelations of widespread Western cybersurveillance.
Others put the shift down to a protectionist impulse to shield China’s domestic technology industry from competition.
Chief casualty is U.S. network equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc, which in 2012 counted 60 products on the Central Government Procurement Center’s (CGPC) list, but by late 2014 had none, a Reuters analysis of official data shows.
Smartphone and PC maker Apple Inc has also been dropped over the period, along with Intel Corp’s security software firm McAfee and network and server software firm Citrix Systems .
The number of products on the list, which covers regular spending by central ministries, jumped by more than 2,000 in two years to just under 5,000, but the increase is almost entirely due to local makers.
The number of approved foreign tech brands fell by a third, while less than half of those with security-related products survived the cull.
An official at the procurement agency said there were many reasons why local makers might be preferred, including sheer weight of numbers and the fact that domestic security technology firms offered more product guarantees than overseas rivals.
China’s change of tack coincided with leaks by former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden in mid-2013 that exposed several global surveillance programs, many of them run by the NSA with the cooperation of telecom companies and European governments.
Ezchip is planning to put 100 ARM-based 64-bit cores into a processor which it thinks will fill a hole in the networking market.
Dubbed the Tile-Mx, the multi-core processors are in development, but won’t be sampling until the second half of 2016.
Company officials said the chips high core count, mesh connectivity and hardware accelerators will fix the demands on data centre and carrier networks brought on by such trends as mobility, big data, social media, the Internet of things (IoT) and the cloud.
Ezchip thinks that it will all work well with software-defined networking (SDN) and network-functions virtualization (NFV) and open switches and white boxes.
The Tile-Mx chip family is EZchip’s first go with ARM architecture and means it is moving away from the proprietary designs Tilera used in building out its multi-core portfolio.
Tile-Mx will be based around Cortex-A53 cores and will be targeted at white-box networking vendors, servers that run high-performance networking applications and software vendors.
The new chip family also will include smaller versions of the chip armed with 36 and 64 ARM cores, officials said.
The new chips also will include a mesh core interconnect architecture to provide a lot of bandwidth, low latency and high linear scalability.
The chips will offer 200G-bit throughput and will be able to take advantage of the growing ARM ecosystem of open-source software vendors, officials said.
Chinese PC and mobile phone maker Lenovo Group Ltd acknowledged that its website was hacked, its second security blemish days after the U.S. government advised consumers to remove software called “Superfish” pre-installed on its laptops.
Hacking group Lizard Squad claimed credit for the attacks on microblogging service Twitter. Lenovo said attackers breached the domain name system associated with Lenovo and redirected visitors to lenovo.com to another address, while also intercepting internal company emails.
Lizard Squad posted an email exchange between Lenovo employees discussing Superfish. The software was at the center of public uproar in the United States last week when security researchers said they found it allowed hackers to impersonate banking websites and steal users’ credit card information.
In a statement issued in the United States on Wednesday night, Lenovo, the world’s biggest maker of personal computers, said it had restored its site to normal operations after several hours.
“We regret any inconvenience that our users may have if they are not able to access parts of our site at this time,” the company said. “We are actively reviewing our network security and will take appropriate steps to bolster our site and to protect the integrity of our users’ information.”
Lizard Squad has taken credit for several high-profile outages, including attacks that took down Sony Corp’s PlayStation Network and Microsoft Corp’s Xbox Live network last month. Members of the group have not been identified.
Starting 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, visitors to the Lenovo website saw a slideshow of young people looking into webcams and the song “Breaking Free” from the movie “High School Musical” playing in the background, according to technology publication The Verge, which first reported the breach.
Although consumer data was not likely compromised by the Lizard Squad attack, the breach was the second security-related black eye for Lenovo in a matter of days.
Lenovo and adware maker Superfish were subjected to more legal action as two new lawsuits were filed in California federal courts taking the firms to task for putting consumers at risk of hacker spying and information theft.
The two complaints — the second and third since the China-based computer OEM (original equipment manufacturer) admitted it had pre-loaded adware on its consumer PCs in the second half of 2014 — named both Lenovo and Superfish, and each lawsuit requested class-action status so that others could join the case.
Last week’s first lawsuit covered much of the same ground as the two lodged Monday.
David Hunter of North Carolina, the plaintiff in one of the lawsuits, alleged that Lenovo and Superfish violated the U.S. Electronic Communications Privacy Act and other laws, and asked that the court force the firms to surrender any revenue generated by the sale of consumers’ browsing data and monies earned from the advertising produced by the adware.
Hunter said he bought a Lenovo Y50 laptop — one of dozens of models Lenovo said it had pre-installed Superfish on from September through December 2014 — via the OEM’s website in October.
In the second complaint, filed by Sterling International Consulting Group (SICG) of Statesville, NC, Lenovo and Superfish were charged with breaking the U.S. Wiretapping Act, state and federal anti-fraud regulations and other laws.
Of the two new complaints, Hunter’s was the more interesting as it relied not only on press reports about Superfish’s vulnerability and Lenovo’s actions both before and after last week’s explosion of information, but also dug a bit deeper and offered insights into the adware’s operation.
Lenovo today declined to respond to the new lawsuits, with its head of corporate communications, Brion Tingler, saying, “We do not comment on pending legal matters,” in an email.
Superfish also declined comment on the lawsuits’ specifics, like Lenovo citing the pending litigation. But in a statement, company CEO Adi Pinhas said, “Superfish takes these matters seriously and is reviewing the allegations in the complaints.”
Nearly half of all security breaches come from vulnerabilities that are between two and four years old, according to this year’s HP Cyber Risk Report entitled The Past Is Prologue.
The annual report found that the most prevalent problems came as a result of server misconfiguration, and that the primary causes of commonly exploited software vulnerabilities are defects, bugs and logic flaws.
But perhaps most disturbing of all was the news that Internet of Things (IoT) devices and mobile malware have introduced a significant extra security risk.
The entire top 10 vulnerabilities exposed in 2014 came from code written years, and in some cases decades, previously.
The news comes in the same week that HP took a swipe at rival Lenovo for knowingly putting Superfish adware into its machines.
“Many of the biggest security risks are issues we’ve known about for decades, leaving organisations unnecessarily exposed,” said Art Gilliland, senior vice president and general manager for enterprise security products at HP.
“We can’t lose sight of defending against these known vulnerabilities by entrusting security to the next silver bullet technology. Rather, organisations must employ fundamental security tactics to address known vulnerabilities and, in turn, eliminate significant amounts of risk.”
The main recommendations of report are that network administrators should employ a comprehensive and timely patching strategy, perform regular penetration testing and variation of configurations, keep equipment up to date to mitigate risk, share collaboration and threat intelligence, and use complementary protection strategies.
The threat to security from the IoT is already well documented by HP, which released a study last summer revealing that 90 percent of IoT devices take at least one item of personal data and 60 percent are vulnerable to common security breaches.
The new alert pops up in Chrome when a user aims the browser at a suspect site but before the domain is displayed. “The site ahead contains harmful programs,” the warning states.
Google emphasized tricksters that “harm your browsing experience,” and cited those that silently change the home page or drop unwanted ads onto pages in the warning’s text.
The company has long focused on those categories, and for obvious, if unstated, reasons. It would prefer that people — much less, shifty software — not alter the Chrome home page, which features the Google search engine, the Mountain View, Calif. firm’s primary revenue generator. Likewise, the last thing Google wants is to have adware, especially the most irritating, turn off everyone to all online advertising.
The new alert is only the latest in a line of warnings and more draconian moves Google has made since mid-2011, when the browser began blocking malware downloads. Google has gradually enhanced Chrome’s alert feature by expanding the download warnings to detect a wider range of malicious or deceitful programs, and using more assertive language in the alerts.
In January 2014, for example, Chrome 32 added threats that posed as legitimate software and tweaked with the browser’s settings to the unwanted list.
The browser’s malware blocking and suspect site warnings come from Google’s Safe Browsing API (application programming interface) and service; Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox also access parts of the API to warn their users of potentially dangerous websites.
Chrome 40, the browser’s current most-polished version, can be downloaded for Windows, OS X and Linux from Google’s website.
A proposed class-action lawsuit was filed late last week against Lenovo and Superfish, charging both companies with “fraudulent” business practices and of making Lenovo PCs vulnerable to malware and malicious attacks by pre-loading the adware.
Plaintiff Jessica Bennett said her laptop was damaged as a result of Superfish, which was called “spyware” in court documents. She also accused Lenovo and Superfish of invading her privacy and making money by studying her Internet browsing habits.
The lawsuit was filed after Lenovo admitted to pre-loading Superfish on some consumer PCs. The laptops affected by Superfish include non-ThinkPad models such as G Series, U Series, Y Series, Z Series, S Series, Flex, Miix, Yoga and E Series.
Lenovo has since issued fixes to remove Superfish applications and certificates from PCs. Microsoft’s Windows Defender and McAfee’s security application also remove Superfish since Friday.
Lenovo earlier admitted it “messed up” by preloading Superfish on computers. The software plugs product recommendations into search results, but can hijack connections and open major security holes, thus leaving computers vulnerable to malicious attacks.
The first complaints of Superfish on Lenovo’s laptops emerged in September last year, but it became a real security issue when a hacker Marc Rogers pointed it out in a blog post.
Bennett, a blogger, purchased a Yoga 2 laptop to conduct business and communicate with clients. She noticed “spam advertisements involving scantily clad women” appearing on her client’s website when writing a blog post for the customer. After seeing pop-ups on other websites, she assumed her computer had spyware or had been hacked, but then scoured the forums to notice similar behavior on other Lenovo laptops. She then rooted out the problem to be Superfish, which could intercept secure communication and leave computers vulnerable.
Superfish also used memory resources and took up Internet bandwidth, according to the court document.
Damages from Lenovo and Superfish are being sought as part of the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.
Microsoft will double the per-PC price of support for enterprises still holding onto Windows XP systems when the anniversary of the aged OS’s retirement rolls around in April, according to a licensing expert familiar with the situation.
The per-PC price for what Microsoft calls “custom support agreements” (CSAs) will increase to $400, the expert said after requesting anonymity.
CSAs provide critical security updates for an operating system that’s been officially retired, as Windows XP was on April 8, 2014. CSAs are negotiated on a company-by-company basis and also require that an organization has adopted a top-tier support plan, dubbed Premier Support, offered by Microsoft.
The CSA failsafe lets companies pay for security patches beyond the normal support lifespan while they finish their migrations to newer editions of Windows. Most enterprises have shifted — and are continuing to do so — to Windows 7 rather than adopt Windows 8.1.
Last year, just days before Microsoft retired Windows XP, the company slashed the price of CSAs to $200-per-device with a cap of $250,000.
Because a CSA is an annual-only program — and Microsoft limits each organization to just three years of post-retirement support — agreements must be renewed each year. The first renewals come due in less than two months.
Ideally, companies that signed up for a CSA last year will have retired large numbers of Windows XP machines in the interim. If a firm reduced the number of Windows XP PCs by half, it will pay the same as last year if it renews the agreement at the higher per-device price.
It’s difficult to gauge the persistence of Windows XP in commercial settings, but the operating system, which debuted in 2001, continues to appear in analytics firms’ tracking.
According to U.S.-based Net Applications, for example, the global user share of XP stood at 20.7% of all Windows-powered PCs in January, representing more than 300 million machines. Meanwhile, Irish metrics company StatCounter pegged XP’s usage share at 12% for January.
Today the company is hosting its first-ever mobile developer conference. The daylong event in San Francisco shows the company wants to develop lucrative relationships with developers and put mobile at the center of its turnaround effort.
The event will feature talks by top Yahoo executives, including CEO Marissa Mayer, and deep dives into Yahoo’s technology services for mobile apps. A critical part of those services is Flurry, a mobile analytics and advertising company Yahoo acquired last year. Flurry tracks more than 600,000 apps worldwide, providing information on app performance and users that can aid in ad targeting.
Yahoo needs that data to kickstart its sluggish ad business, especially on mobile devices.
During the show, Yahoo executives will try to sell third-party developers on the value of using Flurry. They will also promote Yahoo Gemini, the company’s platform for mobile advertising, and BrightRoll, a digital video advertising platform the company also acquired last year.
It’s a multi-pronged strategy, and the pieces are still coming together. But by encouraging more outside developers to use Yahoo’s services, Yahoo hopes to gain valuable information about how people use mobile apps.
That information could help Yahoo do its job. “We can help advertisers find the right audience they’re looking for, target the ads they want to target, using strong data from Yahoo, and find users wherever they are, on or off Yahoo,” Mayer said last week during the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco.
And if Yahoo can freshen its appeal to outside software developers and build new partnerships with them, then all the better.
“Yahoo is working on their own apps, but they will be able to extend their reach and their advertising inventory by getting outside developers into the fold,” said Karsten Weide, an industry analyst at IDC who studies consumer apps and platforms.
Sony Corp hopes to increase operating profit 25-fold within three years by growing its camera sensors and PlayStation units, its chief executive said, laying out a strategy that could see the company exit the ultra competitive TV and smartphone markets.
CEO Kazuo Hirai said on Wednesday the Japanese consumer electronics firm would no longer pursue sales growth in areas such as smartphones where its has suffered competition from cheaper Asian rivals as well as industry leaders like Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics.
Sony would instead focus its spending on more profitable businesses such as camera sensors, videogames and entertainment as it seeks to return to growth after forecasting for this financial year its sixth net loss in seven years.
“The strategy starting from the next business year will be about generating profit and investing for growth,” Hirai told a briefing, adding that Sony’s units would be given greater autonomy to make their own business decisions.
Asked about the TV and mobile phone units, Hirai said he would not “rule out considering an exit strategy”, Sony’s clearest statement to date about the possibility of selling or finding partners for these struggling units.
Sony is in the midst of a restructuring that has so far seen it sell off its personal computer division and spin off the TV business. It has also axed thousands of jobs.
Sony shares have risen more than 80 percent over the past year as investors applauded the restructuring, which accelerated since Hirai appointed Kenichiro Yoshida as his chief strategy officer in late 2013.