Sprint Corp promised to gradually bump up wireless data speeds far in excess of those offered by bigger rivals like Verizon, as it hopes to use recently acquired wireless airwaves to regain market share.
At its research labs on the outskirts of San Francisco, Sprint on Wednesday outlined plans to expand Spark, a service it is now building with speeds of 50-60 megabits per second, which is being rolled out initially in five cities: Los Angeles, Tampa, Miami, Chicago and New York.
In comparison, Verizon Wireless says it provides customers data speeds of 5-12 megabits per second but its high-speed network covers 303 million people.
After losing subscribers for years, No. 3 U.S. mobile service provider Sprint is looking to distinguish itself from rivals AT&T Inc, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile US, which are ahead of it in high-speed upgrades.
“Sprint has a much broader set of spectrum in more markets than their competitors,” said Andy Castonguay, principal analyst at Machina Research. “Their spectrum holdings give them a unique advantage.”
But he cautioned a lot of Sprint’s plans seemed theoretical for the moment and the industry has to see the technology in action to understand the impact on the consumer. With rapidly increasing bandwidth, other issues such as power consumption, battery life and heat will come to the fore.
“It’s going to push the boundaries of power consumption and antenna design. It’s going to be very interesting to watch the next generation of devices,” he said.
Sprint demonstrated to reporters at its Burlingame labs ultra-fast wireless data speeds of 1 gigabits per second, about 16 times faster than its current peak speeds and rivaling the fastest wireline speeds.
It also showed off potential applications of ultra high-speed wireless, from online multiplayer gaming to simultaneous streams of video based on next-generation “4K” TV technology.
AT&T shrugged off Sprint’s claims but declined to comment on its own speeds.
“A demo counts as much as making a touchdown with no other players on the field,” AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel said.
Last Friday, the cloud software vendor announced a “hackathon” would be held at the conference, with US$1 million going to the developer or team who creates the top prize-winning mobile application with Salesforce.com technology.
“It’s not going to be easy — $1 million is going to bring out the best of the best,” Salesforce.com said in Friday’s announcement. “So don’t wait until Dreamforce! You’re going to want to get started now. With Force.com, Heroku, ExactTarget Fuel, Mobile Services and more — you’ve got a killer array of platform technology to use.”
Salesforce.com will also be providing some “pretty amazing new technology” for use at the show, the announcement adds.
In order to participate, developers have to either register for a full conference pass or a special $99 hacker pass.
The hackathon reflects Salesforce.com’s long courtship of developers to its development technologies, its AppExchange marketplace and recent efforts to build out more tooling for mobile application development.
Developers taking part in the hackathon will have plenty of competition, with some 20,000 programmers expected to attend Dreamforce overall. A “Hack Central” area will be open around the clock, supporting coders who want to work until the wee hours on their application.
In order to qualify, an application can’t have been previously released. The entries will be judged on four criteria counting 25 percent each: innovation, business value, user experience and use of Salesforce.com’s platform.
The second-place finisher will receive $50,000, with $25,000 going to the third-place winner. Fourth and fifth place will get $10,000 and $5,000, respectively.
Some 120,000 people are expected to register for Dreamforce this year. While some of that total will be watching online rather than in person, Dreamforce is now operating at a scale rivaling Oracle’s OpenWorld event, which happened last month.
Verizon’s 2013 Data Breach Investigation Report has been released and has the staggering statistic that 96 per cent of all espionage data-breach incidents originated in China. The information is gleaned by its own forensics team and data breach info from 19 partner organisations worldwide. The report covers about 621 confirmed breaches and about 47,000 security incidents that occurred in 2012.
Verizon’s Dave Hylender wrote that money-minded miscreants continued to cash in on low-hanging fruit from any tree within reach. Bolder bandits took aim at better-defended targets in hopes of bigger hauls. Activist groups DoS’d and hacked under the very different – and sometimes blurred – banners of personal ideology and just-for-the-fun-of-it lulz. And, as a growing list of victims shared their stories, clandestine activity attributed to state-affiliated actors stirred international intrigue, he said.
China was involved in 96 per cent of all espionage data-breach incidents, most often targeting manufacturing, professional and transportation industries. Hylender said that the assets China targeted within those industries included laptop/desktop, file server, mail server and directory server, in order to steal credentials, internal organization data, trade secrets and system info.
More than 95 per cent of the attacks started with phishing which had become much more sophisticated, often targeting specific individuals and using tactics that are harder for IT to control. Phishers are using phone calls and social networking, too, the report said.
HP’s CEO Meg Whitman warned that organisations need to prepare for a lobal cyber-attack that could have large-scale repercussions.
Whitman believes a “cyber-attack of 9/11 scale” is likely to take place in the near future. Customers need to be aware of the “threat of global terrorism” and promised that HP would be on hand to help when such an attack does occur.
Channeling Margaret Thatcher she threatened to “darken the skies with our agenda to help organizations.” We are not sure what use a dark agenda would be, but hell it probably sounded better during the rehearsals. Needless to say HP is trying to position itself as a leader in the security market where it thinks there is a market for dark agendas.
F-secure’s chief security researcher, Mikko Hypponen, has warned that we are entering into a cyber warfare revolution, and that governments will soon attempt to outdo each other based on their computer weapons’ prowess.
The internet security expert said-any future crisis between technically advanced nations will involve cyber elements.
His comments came after hearing last week that China and the US have been engaging in “war games” simulations.
“I wasn’t expecting [war games] so soon,” Hypponen said.
“I’m surprised and I think it is a good move because everybody is worried about escalation. The way to fight unnecessary escalations is that you know more about how the perceived enemy would act if there would be an escalation. War games are exactly that.”
It was Hypponen’s observations on the war games which led him to remark that we must look at “the bigger picture”.
“We’ve seen a revolution in defence technology and in technology generally over the past 60 to 70 years and I believe we are right now seeing the beginning of the next revolution: a cyber warfare revolution, which is going to as big as the revolutions we’ve seen so far in technology becoming part of defence, and part of wars,” he added.
Hypponen also predicted that it won’t be long before the world sees its first cyber arms race, including cyber war rehearsals to prove how strong countries are and boasting about their cyber skills to make other countries pay attention.
“Like nuclear in the sixties, cyber attacks are a deterrent and deterrents only work if your perceived enemies know that you have it,” he said.
When asked if he thinks we are on the brink of a cyber cold war, Hypponen replied, “something like that”.
“What we should be doing is cyber arm negotiations, rules for using cyber arms, and so on,” he said.
“I think what we are seeing here with cyber war games between the US and China is the first steps into that…they are a good thing”.
At the beginning of this year, a report put out by the World Economic Forum rated cyber attacks as the fourth most likely risk to occur over the next 10 years. Detailing 50 risks across five categories based on a survey of 469 experts, the annual study ranked a technological threat in the top five for the first time since 2007.
The FCC, in a 3-0 vote Wednesday, agreed to open a notice of proposed rulemaking, or NPRM, asking what to do with the so-called S band of the mobile satellite services spectrum. In an NPRM, the agency seeks public comment on proposed rules, and the FCC’s new notice asks whether to allow current licensee Dish Network to offer mobile service or to auction the spectrum.
Dish Network purchased the spectrum from TerreStar and DBSD in a US$3 billion-plus deal that closed this month. The company has not detailed how it plans to use the spectrum, although it has said it is committed to helping the FCC solve a predicted mobile spectrum shortage and will explore a “market entry.”
More mobile broadband spectrum is needed because of the skyrocketing use of mobile data services in the U.S., members of the FCC and the mobile industry have said.
The commission’s action Wednesday was a “small but important step” toward bringing more spectrum to market, said Commissioner Robert McDowell.
AT&T and CTIA, a trade group representing mobile carriers, both praised the FCC for moving forward on the spectrum. The FCC’s 2-year-old broadband plan sets a goal of opening up 500 MHz of spectrum for mobile broadband within 10 years.
Also on Wednesday, the FCC voted to launch an NPRM focused on ensuring that smartphones and other mobile devices used in the lower 700MHz band of spectrum are interoperable across spectrum owned by different carriers. Regional mobile carriers have complained that Verizon and AT&T, the two biggest winners in the 700MHz spectrum auctions in early 2008, have been asking device manufacturers for equipment that will only work in their spectrum blocks.
A report at the Washington Post says that the FDA turned its eyes inward after some scientists and doctors warned the US Congress that it was approving medical devices that could harm patients.
Snooping took place over a two year period, according to a complaint filed against the FDA, and saw spooks reading personal emails sent through Google’s Gmail service. This information was then used to harass or dismiss workers.
Documents released in the lawsuit show that the FDA began reading emails sent by its staff to the US Congress, snooped on draft versions of whistle-blower complaints and looked at documents saved on computers.
The doctors and scientists say that their constitutional rights have been violated because, although they accept that their work communications are open to inspection, their private ones should not be.
“Who would have thought that they would have the nerve to be monitoring my communications to Congress?” said one plaintiff. “How dare they?”
The six scientists and doctors filed their lawsuit against the FDA in the US District Court for the District of Columbia in Washington, DC last week.
Google+, which is less than two months old, announced Thursday afternoon that it has begun to roll out a games button at the top of users’ streams. The highly popular Angry Birds is one of the first games to be added to the site, along with Zombie Lane and Edgeworld.
Vic Gundotra, senior vice president of engineering at Google, announced the gaming news in a blog post. Gundotra noted that users will be able to click on a Games button that will be located above their streams. The button re-directs them to a games page, allowing games to be available when users want them and hidden when they don’t.
“The experiences we have together are just as important to our relationships,” wrote Gundotra. “We want to make playing games online just as fun, and just as meaningful, as playing in real life. That means giving you control over when you see games, how you play them and with whom you share your experiences.”
And that’s going to be an important feature for Google+, which has grown quickly since its launch, according to Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research.
“Games are a real complement to social networking,” said Gottheil. “When people play games with other people, it is often more about being with other people than about the game itself. It actually fits the Circles model well. If you’re a serious gamer, you want to talk about the game with other players, but that bores the rest of us silly.”
And Gottheil also noted that adding games to the site, while not surprising, is a smart move. If people are able to access great games and engage with Circles of gamers, it easily could draw more users to the fledgling network.
“I think Facebook has to be nervous about Google+ taking away some of its time-on-site more than taking away users,” he added.
Security firm fighting the dreadful Conflicker worm claim that they have it on the ropes. The team of computer-security researchers said they managed to neutralize the worm’s impact by blocking its ability to communicate with its developer, who is still anonymous.
Unfortunately after years of trying fighting the Conflicker, security experts estimate the worm infects between five million to fifteen million computers. The Conficker worm, showed up in 2008. The worms intent is to disable a computer’s security measures, including Windows software updates and antivirus protection, leaving machines vulnerable to more malicious software.
A team of security experts have been working diligently to find a way to kill off the worm that has infected a massive amount of networked computers. In a report Rodney Joffe, chairman of the Conficker working group and chief technologist of Neustar said that the operation was a complete success, but the patient died. The group was unable to clean up the machines already infected or stop new ones from being infected. The worm is still there.
In its report, the Conficker Working Group concludes that cybersecurity threats are growing faster than the ability to counter them.
Skype estimates that about two-thirds of its users are still not able to log in after an outage caused by problems with its peer-to-peer interconnection system, it said in a blog posting earlier today.
Almost 5 million users are back online, Skype said, but that’s still only around 30 percent of the number it would expect to see at the time of the blog posting.
The number of logged-in users is increasing all the time, but it’s not possible for Skype to predict when all users will be able to sign in and start making calls again, the company said.
Even for Europe users able to log in earlier today, some instant messages and calls went undelivered or unanswered. Skype at one stage also disabled new downloads of its software, according to a Twitter message from a company spokesman.
Skype’s initial description of the problem said many of the “supernodes” that act as directories for Skype users to find one another were taken offline by a problem affecting some versions of the Skype client.
“Our engineers are creating new ‘mega-supernodes’ as fast as they can, which should gradually return things to normal,” the company blog post said.
In a statement, BitDefender says that Trojan.Spy.YEK sniffs for critical data and archives that may hold private information and sends them back to the attacker. BitDefender Malware Researchers Doina Cosovan and Octavian Minea say that because Trojan.Spy.YEK has both spying and backdoor features, it is a serious enemy.
“A spying malware in the local network of a company means danger and unfortunately the number of such threats is constantly increasing,” the researchers said.
“With an encrypted dll in its overlay, this Trojan is easily saved in windows\system32\netconf32.dll and once injected in explorer.exe nothing can stop it from connecting (whenever necessary) to a couple of meeting spots with the attacker,” the researchers said.
“The backdoor component helps it register itself as a service so as to receive and follow instructions from a command and control center, while the spyware component sends away data about files, operating system, while also making screenshots of the ongoing processes.”
Some of the commands Trojan.Spy.YEK is supposed to execute are: sending the collected files using a GET request, sending info regarding the operating system and computer, taking screenshots and sending the results, listing the processes that run on the system and sends them away, finding files with a certain extension.
“Shortly put,” the researchers said, “it uploads all the interesting data on a FTP server without the user’s consent.
“The fact that it looks for all that it is linked to archives, e-mails (.eml, .dbx), address books (.wab), database and documents (.doc, .odt, .pdf etc) makes Trojan.Spy.YEK a prime suspect of corporate espionage as it seems to target the private data of the companies”.
Cosovan and Minea say that the Trojan can run, without problems, on all versions of Windows from Win 95 to 7. “If you haven’t done that already, this should be a good time to try an antivirus,” they said.
Travelers this holiday season will find that they don’t have to worry about being suffering from Internet loss, even for a few hours. The Google Chrome browser team has joined with three airlines to offer free in-flight WiFi on more than 700 planes for approximately 15 million passengers this holiday season.
This is the second year in a row that Google has offered free WiFi, with the program expanding this year to three airlines – AirTran, Delta and Virgin America. According to the Free Holiday WiFi website, the deal with last from November 20, 2010 through January 2, 2011. To connect, simply search for the Gogo Inflight network and connect your device.
If you’re asking yourself “Why?”, just take a look at last year’s program. According to The Next Web, users of the free WiFi were sent to a landing page promoting the Nexus One, just before its launch. This year, we imagine, those 15 million potential customers will see a splash page promoting Google’s ever-growing entry into the browser market, Google Chrome. We have to wonder how much of a push a campaign like this could give to the number three browser out there.
As Google notes in its press release, if flying used to be your excuse to disconnect, it will be no more:
Not too long ago, flying home for the holidays meant disconnecting for several hours until you touched down at your destination. Today, Wi-Fi technologies allow us to stay connected even at 30,000 feet above the ground, so we can read the news, browse the web (to beat the long-haul boredom) and send that last-minute planning email before the family reunion. This holiday season, there will be more connected flyers than ever before.
More than 100 foreign intelligence organizations are trying to break into U.S. networks, Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn wrote in the September/October issue of the journal Foreign Affairs. Some already have the capacity to disrupt U.S. information infrastructure, he said. Gates ordered the new unit’s creation in June 2009 to address the growing threat of cyber-attack.
It consolidates offensive and defensive operations under Army General Keith Alexander, who also heads the National Security Agency, the Defense Department’s intelligence arm that protects national security information and intercepts foreign communications.
“Cyberspace is essential to our way of life and U.S. Cyber Command synchronizes our efforts in the defense of (Defense Department) networks,” Alexander said in the Pentagon announcement.
Lynn declared the unit, based at Fort Meade, Maryland, fully up and running in a memorandum dated October 31, said Colonel Rivers Johnson, a Cyber Command spokesman. The new unit began work in May, establishing a joint operations center and transitioning personnel and functions from the old structures.
It is part of the Offutt Air Force, Nebraska-based Strategic Command, the organization responsible for U.S. nuclear and space operations as well as information warfare and global military intelligence.
AT&T is checking in on its disgruntled customers via their Twitter messages. The project is an experiment designed to automatically pinpoint where and when people are having problems with their wireless connection. Software developed by AT&T researchers finds complaints about network problems on the social network (which now has 175 million users) and extracts the approximate time the tweet was sent and the location of its sender.
More and more firms are turning to Twitter in search of their customers’ voices, but usually they do this to understand how people perceive their brand or to respond to specific consumer problems. AT&T’s project is a novel way to mine the collective mood of the tweetosphere.
When AT&T secured exclusive rights to distribute the iPhone in 2007, the deal proved to be a mixed blessing of sorts. The much-desired handset brought huge customer growth and brand prestige. But along with that came soaring demand for wireless data that overwhelmed AT&T’s network in places such as New York and San Francisco, leading to dropped calls and sluggish connections.
The company has an automated network monitoring system that can detect connectivity problems, and customers can, of course, call in to report problems. But by mining messages shared on Twitter, AT&T gets extra real-time information and can prioritize fixes, says Jia Wang, a member of the company’s Internet and Systems Networking Research Center. “We are trying to identify three pieces of information: where the customer experienced problems, what type of problem, and when they experienced it,” she says.
Wang and colleagues use two levels of filtering to find tweets by frustrated customers, and they do this by tapping into the programming interface tools Twitter makes freely available. A general set of queries pulls in every tweet related to AT&T’s mobile service before a more rigorous set of rules homes in on those relating to service quality, for example messages containing words like “call dropped” or “3G.” This automated method was around 90 percent accurate at identifying genuine complaints, the researchers found.
Zynga, the maker of such games as “FarmVille” and “FrontierVille,” is valued at $5.51 billion, according to SharesPost Inc., an exchange for shares of privately held companies. Electronic Arts, the second-largest game publisher by sales, is worth $5.16 billion on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
Started by Mark Pincus almost four years ago, Zynga has become one of the fastest-growing technology companies by using Facebook Inc.’s social network to distribute games. It makes money by selling virtual goods, such as vehicles and weapons that help players advance in games. The company has grabbed about a third of that market, which is worth $1.6 billion this year, according to Inside Network in Palo Alto, California.
“The valuation is not that crazy, given what’s going on in the market,” said Atul Bagga, an analyst at ThinkEquity LLC in San Francisco, who estimates the virtual goods market may reach $3.6 billion in three years. “It’s not that terribly expensive seeing the growth prospects.”
Electronic Arts, meanwhile, faces declining retail sales of gaming hardware and software. More consumers would rather play games within their social networks, rather than heading to a store to buy a shrink-wrapped program. That’s forced Electronic Arts to cut jobs and seek acquisitions for growth. Before today, its shares had dropped 7.4 percent since March 1. Zynga’s estimated value has more than doubled in that timeframe.
Dani Dudeck, a spokeswoman for San Francisco-based Zynga, said the company doesn’t comment on its valuation. SharesPost bases its number on data from trades of private shares, research estimates and venture-financing valuations.
Jeff Brown, a spokesman for Redwood City, California-based Electronic Arts, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The 28-year-old company ranks second to Santa Monica, California-based Activision Blizzard Inc. in video-game sales. Activision has a market value of $13.9 billion.
Zynga is the largest maker of games on Facebook, with more than 210 million monthly active users, according to AppData.com, part of Inside Network, a research firm. Zynga, which has raised more than $350 million in private capital, has made six acquisitions since May and expanded its workforce by a third in the past quarter to 1,200 employees.
Six of the 10 most popular apps on Facebook belong to Zynga, led by “FarmVille” with 57.6 million users, AppData said. To reduce its dependence on Facebook, which is taking a bigger cut of virtual-goods sales, Zynga has developed its own websites for games and put its apps on sites run by Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo! Inc. This year, Zynga introduced a poker game in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and it bought companies in China and Japan.
Zynga’s value on SharesPost was $2.61 billion in March. That’s when SharesPost introduced a new index for venture-backed companies, including Facebook, Twitter Inc. and LinkedIn Corp.
At Electronic Arts, Chief Executive Officer John Riccitiello has cut more than 2,500 jobs since 2008 to reduce costs and stem three years of losses. Retail sales of game hardware and software fell 9 percent in the first half of 2010, according to NPD Group Inc.
The company entered the social-games market last year with the purchase of Playfish Inc. Electronic Arts also bought the U.K.-based publisher of “Angry Birds” last week to add titles made for Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPad.