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Smartphones Sales Posts 4% Gain In Second Quarter

August 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

smartphones-decline-150x150Global smartphone sales enjoyed a 4.3% bump in the second quarter compared to a year ago, but iPhone sales declined for the third straight quarter, market research firm Gartner announced.

Gartner’s figures for second-quarter smartphone growth were more optimistic than numbers reported by Strategy Analytics and Canalys recently. Both had reported modest growth of no more than 3% in smartphone shipments.

IDC last month reported second-quarter shipments were flat, growing just 0.3%.

Gartner’s numbers show that Apple’s iPhone sales dropped 7.7% in the second quarter, with 44.4 million phones sold globally, down from 48 million a year earlier. This decreased Apple’s market share to 12.9%, down from 14.6% a year earlier. Even so, Apple was second globally in smartphone sales.

Meanwhile, Samsung was the top smartphone seller, with 76.7 million smartphones sold, compared with 72 million sold a year earlier. That increase boosted its share to 22.3%, up from 21.8%.

Gartner said Samsung benefited by sales of the Galaxy A and Galaxy J series of smartphones which competed well against devices from Chinese smartphone makers.

Apple’s declines were the worst of any market in greater China and mature markets in Asia/Pacific, decreasing by 26%. There were also declines for Apple in North America and Western Europe, but there was a big jump of 95% in Eurasia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe.

Gartner ranked Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi, in order, for third to fifth biggest in sales. Android devices were 86% of the total market, compared to 14.6% for iOS and 2.5% for Windows. Overall sales reached 344 million, up from 330 million a year earlier.

 

Major Technology Giants Join Forces To Crackdown on ‘Robocalls’

August 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Robocalls-150x150Major technology and communication companies announced they are joining the U.S. government to crack down on “robocalls,” automated, prerecorded phone calls that regulators have labeled a “scourge.”

AT&T Inc, Google parent Alphabet Inc, Apple Inc, Verizon Communications Inc and Comcast Corp are among members of the “Robocall Strike Force” that held its first meeting with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

The strike force will report to the FCC by Oct. 19 on “concrete plans to accelerate the development and adoption of new tools and solutions,” said AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson, chairman of the group.

The strike force hopes to implement Caller ID verification standards to help block calls from spoofed phone numbers and consider a “Do Not Originate” list that would block spoofers from impersonating legitimate phone numbers from governments, banks or others.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in July urged major companies to take new action to block robocalls, which often come from telemarketers or scam artists.

“This scourge must stop,” Wheeler said on Friday, calling robocalls the No. 1 complaint from consumers.

“The bad guys are beating the good guys with technology,” Wheeler said. In the past, he has said robocalls continue “due in large part to industry inaction.”

Stephenson emphasized “the breadth and complexity” of the problem.

“This is going to require more than individual company initiatives and one-off blocking apps,” Stephenson said. “Robocallers are a formidable adversary, notoriously hard to stop.”

The FCC does not require robocall blocking and filtering but has strongly encouraged phone service providers to offer those services at no charge.

The strike force brings together carriers, device makers, operating system developers, network designers and the government.

Other companies taking part include Blackberry Ltd, British Telecommunications Plc, Charter Communications Inc, Frontier Communications, LG Electronics Inc, Microsoft Corp, Nokia Corp, Qualcomm Inc, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Sirius XM Holdings Inc, T-Mobile US Inc and U.S. Cellular Corp.

Consumers Union, a public advocacy group, said the task force is a sign “phone companies are taking more serious steps to protect their customers from unwanted calls.”

Are Power Outlets A Security Risk?

August 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-OutletIt if we did not have enough to worry about, it seems that, thanks to the internet of things, we have to be concerned about the security of our powerpoints.

Security researchers from Bitdefender have found an IoT smart electrical socket which leaks your Wi-Fi password, your email credentials and is so poorly coded that attackers can use it to hijack the device and use it for DDoS attacks. In the good old days all the power point could do was turn electrical equipment on and off.

Bitdefender didn’t reveal the device’s manufacturer but said the company is working on a fix, which will release in late Q3 2016.

Smart electrical sockets are small electrical socket extenders, which you can plug into a regular wall socket. In this case the device comes with a module that allows users to manage power consumption using predetermined limits and schedule the socket to allow usage only between certain hours.

Bitdefender said that there were several major problems with this unnamed smart socket. When users set up the product, they also need to install one of the accompanying iOS or Android apps. These apps allow the user to connect to the smart electrical socket’s built-in hotspot and configure it by entering the local Wi-Fi network credentials.

The IoT socket uses these credentials to connect to the local network, and contact the vendor servers, where it sends a configuration file that includes several device details, such as model, make, device name, firmware version, MAC address, and others

All this networking is done without encryption, in cleartext, which an attacker can easily pick-up if sniffing the local network at the right time.

Additionally, the device’s default admin username and password is easy to guess, even without reading the device documentation.

The device also comes with a built-in feature to send users email notifications when a device scheduled task executes successfully. For this feature to function properly, users must fill in their email account username and password in the device’s configuration panel. The device improperly stores these details.

Bitdefender researchers say that an attacker that knows the device’s MAC address and default password can take control over the device, rescheduling it, or access data on the user’s email account and password.

Courtesy-Fudzilla

Are People Too Busy To Deal With Security

August 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Security Notices

Security Notices

Only ten percent of people respond to and deal with desktop security alerts immediately, suggesting that the rest of the population simply ignores them or just lets it happen automatically.

You know the sort of warning. It might be Chrome telling you that something is untrusted, something like that. They are very easy to become blind to, like cookie warnings for example, and the study, which comes from Brigham Young University (BYU) and Google engineers, said that most people just ignore them.

The study, entitled More Harm Than Good? How Messages That Interrupt Can Make Us Vulnerable, suggests that this seeming neglect is down to the fact that people can only do so many things at once.

“System-generated alerts are ubiquitous in personal computing and, with the proliferation of mobile devices, daily activity. While these interruptions provide timely information, research shows they come at a high cost in terms of increased stress and decreased productivity,” the study said.

“This is due to dual-task interference, a cognitive limitation in which even simple tasks cannot be simultaneously performed without significant performance loss.”

Multitasking, then. People struggle to comprehend alerts because they are busy closing windows, stopping videos, typing or uploading at their desk or while mobile. Some 87 per cent showed the most disregard when “transferring information”.

The researchers explained things better in an interview with Phys.org. “We found that the brain can’t handle multitasking very well,” said co-author and BYU information systems professor Anthony Vance.

“Software developers categorically present these messages without any regard to what the user is doing. They interrupt us constantly and our research shows there’s a high penalty that comes by presenting these messages at random times.”

A better time to alert, according to the researchers, is at more passive times, for example while punters are waiting for a page to load or have finished watching a video.

“Waiting to display a warning when people are not busy doing something else increases their security behaviour substantially,” said Jeff Jenkins, lead author of the study.

 

Courtesy-TheInq

Toshiba Finally Back In The Black

August 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Technology

Last Friday, Toshiba Corporation said that an extensive company restructuring effort over the past year has allowed it to produce a profit of $197 million (¥20.1 billion) for the first time in six consecutive quarters.

This is a noticeable turnaround from a $64.2 million (¥6.5 billion) loss a year earlier, yet still comes in below a $330.8 million profit based on five analyst estimates.

Now, the present Toshiba has emerged as a company focused on semiconductors, nuclear energy and social infrastructure. A decade ago, the company acquired Westinghouse Electric Company in October 2006 for $5.4 billion, one of the world’s largest producers of nuclear reactors, obtaining a 77 percent stake. It then sold 10 percent a year later, leaving it with a 67 percent stake. Toshiba recently claimed in 2015 that the business is now more profitable that at acquisition in 2006.

Accounting scandal leads to losses, followed by recovery

The company’s restructuring efforts included cutting thousands of jobs and letting go of its consumer electronics business. In April 2015, the company began cooperating in a U.S. federal investigation uncovering seven years of accounting manipulation. An official report placed blame on two former CEOs for pushing employees to postpone losses or push forward sales on accounting. According to people familiar with the investigation, the company hid $1.3 billion in losses at its nuclear power operations. The two CEOs, also known to be rivals who disliked each other, resigned their posts in July 2015.

The outcome resulted in slashing 14,000 jobs, shrinking its semiconductor business and selling its home appliances and medical devices groups.

The past fiscal year beginning April 2015 and ending March 2016 was not without significant setbacks in debt-financing abilities and credit-rating concerns. In April 2016, the company booked an impairment charge of $2.3 billion for the financial year on its Westinghouse nuclear unit as a goodwill attempt to address a slow decline in the nuclear business since the 2011 Fukushima meltdown.

A containment building at the site of Westinghouse’s first AP1000 power reactor in China (via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

In May 2016, the company reported its worst-ever consolidated net loss of $4.4 billion for FY2015 after restructuring costs, writing down asset values, and reducing deferred tax assets. The company’s official statement said restructuring costs represented $1.09 billion (¥110.5 billion), while asset write-downs represented another $3.21 billion (¥325.1 billion) drag. Total jobs transitioned from 203,100 employees down to 185,900 employees over the course of 2015.

Recovering balance sheet has come under threat

Sources close to Toshiba now claim that its recovering balance sheet has come under threat from Chicago Bridge and Iron Company, which sold its nuclear construction business to Toshiba subsidiary Westinghouse Electric Company for $229 million in October 2015. The purchase was made so that Toshiba could speed up construction on four reactors in the United States – two in Georgia and two in South Carolina.

Chicago Bridge and Iron said last month it was suing Westinghouse because the Toshiba subsidiary demanded $2 billion in additional payments related to the October sale, justifying its claim with some provisions of the purchase agreement. If CB&I’s claim to the lawsuit is upheld, Toshiba could be obligated to pay $2 billion liabilities and may need to either issue new shares to investors or consider listing its semiconductor business on the financial market.

Courtesy-Fud

Samsung Beats TSMC For FinFET Business

August 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Tech giant Samsung Electronics  won a contract to make Nvidia GPUs according to South Korea’s Chosun Biz newspaper.

The paper said Samsung would start making the next-generation Pascal GPUs using its 14-nanometre production technology before year-end. It did not specify the value of the order or say how many chips will be made. Samsung and Nvidia are not saying anything.

According to the newspaper Samsung Electronics is currently testing the Nvidia Pascal (Pascal) architecture on new production lines at the S1 campus Giheung, Gyeonggi Province. It is expected that the first GPU from Nvidia will be supplied by Samsung later this year.

Nvidia normally ships this sort of thing through Taiwan’s TSMC but has changed its mind because of recent unstable supply issues and the fact it wants to diversify its production line, the paper claimed.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Will MediaTek’s Helio X30 SoC Debut In Early 2017?

August 12, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

TSMC is gearing up to build MediaTek’s new Helio X30 SoC using the 10nm process and it looks like everything will be set for volume production in the first quarter of 2017.

It looks like the chip will be out before TSMC uses the same process to make Apple’s new chips later in 2017. Of course when Apple releases its chip it will try to convince the world that it is the first and it invented the whole process.

TSMC will also offer its backend integrated fan-out (InFO) wafer-level packaging (WLP) technology for Apple’s 10nm A11 chips.. However this timetable it means that hte X30 will really be the ground breaking technology which tests TSMC’s 10nm and MediaTek is taking the biggest risk.

Digitimes said that Qualcomm worked with Samsung Electronics to produce its next-generation Snapdragon 830 chips using its 10nm technology and that TSMC lost the orders for Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 series to Samsung.

TSMC told its July investors meeting that its 10nm process will start generating revenues in the first quarter of 2017. The node has received product tape-outs from three clients, and more tape-outs are expected to come later in 2016, the foundry said.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Will Other Hop On The Pokeman Go Bandwagon?

August 11, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

Pokemon Go is the only thing anyone wants to talk about. Even people who don’t want to talk about Pokemon Go end up talking about it all the time, if only to tell everyone how sick they are of people talking about Pokemon Go. Social networks are full of Pokemon Go, going out for a drink is now impossible without occasional interruptions as a buzzing phone signals the possible arrival of a rare beast, and comparisons of recent prized acquisitions have replaced complaints about the weather as smalltalk.

It’s not just your social group that’s talking about Pokemon Go, though. Damned near every conversation I’ve had within the industry in recent days has turned to Pokemon Go at some point. The games industry has produced some remarkable social phenomena in recent decades – Grand Theft Auto 3, Halo and Angry Birds all spring to mind as games that leapt across the boundaries to ignite the mainstream imagination, at least for a time – but none has been as fast, as widespread or as visible as Pokemon Go. It’s inevitable, then, that business people across the industry find themselves wondering how to help themselves to a slice of this pie.

Behind the headlines about the game itself, there’s another story building steam. Some investors and venture capitalists are hunting for the “next Pokemon Go”, or a “Pokemon Go killer”; developers are frantically preparing pitches and demos to that effect; IP holders are looking at their own franchises and trying to figure out which ones they could “do a Pokemon Go” with. I know of several investor meetings in the past week alone in which developers of quite different games were needled to push their titles towards mobile AR in an effort to replicate the success of Pokemon Go.

This is an ill-advised direction, to say the very least. From a creative standpoint, it’s hard not to roll one’s eyes, of course; this bandwagon-hopping occurs after every major hit game earns its success. For a couple of years after any truly huge game captures the industry’s imagination, it seems that the only words investors want to hear are “it’s like that hit game you think you understand, but with something extra”. Sometimes that’s not a bad thing; “it’s like Grand Theft Auto but with superpowers” was probably the pitch line for the excellent Crackdown, while “it’s like Grand Theft Auto but we drink more heavily in our design meetings” was probably not the pitch line for Saints Row, but should have been. This approach does also yield more than its fair share of anaemic clones of great games, but it has its merits, not least in being a clear way of communicating an idea to people who may not be experts in game design.

In the instance of Pokemon Go, however, there’s a really fundamental problem with the bandwagon jumping. Even as third parties fall over themselves to figure out how to hop aboard the Pokemon Go bandwagon, the fact is that we don’t even know if this bandwagon is rolling yet. Pokemon Go is a free-to-play mobile game, which means that its phenomenal launch is only the first step. In F2P, a great launch is not a sign of success, it’s a sign of potential; the hard work, and the real measure of a game’s success, is what comes next.

To put this in blunt terms, Pokemon Go has just managed to attract the largest audience of any mobile game within weeks of its launch – and it could just as readily find itself losing that audience almost in its entirety within a few weeks. If that happens, those enormous download numbers and the social phenomenon that has built up around the game will be almost meaningless. Mobile games make their money over long periods of time and rely upon engaging players for months; a mobile game that’s downloaded by millions, but is only being played by thousands within a few weeks, is not a success, it’s a catastrophic case study in squandered potential.

I’m not necessarily saying that this will happen to Pokemon Go – though there are warning signs there already, which I’ll get to in a moment – I’m saying, rather, that it could happen to Pokemon Go, and that it’s therefore vastly premature for anyone to be labelling this as a model for success or chasing after it with their own mobile AR titles. There are shades of what happened with VR, where Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus drove ludicrous amounts of capital into some very questionable VR startups and projects, inflating a valuation bubble which many investors are now feeling deeply uncomfortable about. Here, the initial buzz for Pokemon Go has sent capital seeking out similar projects long before we actually get any proper feedback on whether the model is sustainable or worthwhile.

There’s actually only one way in which Pokemon Go has been an unqualified success thus far, and that’s in its incredibly powerful validation of the Pokemon brand. Nintendo walks away from this whole affair a winner, no matter what; the extraordinary launch of the game is, as I’ve argued previously, a testament to the huge appeal of Pokemon, the golden age of nostalgia it’s going through, and the clever recognition of its perfect fit to the outdoor, AR-based gameplay of Niantic’s games. The thing is that thus far, we simply can’t tell to what extent Pokemon Go is riding the wave of that brand, and to what extent it’s actually bedding in as a sustainable game with a huge playing (and paying) audience.

I have my own suspicions that Pokemon Go is actually quite troubled on the latter count. Looked at from the standpoint of mobile and F2P game design, the game is severely lacking in the crucial area of player retention. At first, it does a great job; it trickle-feeds new Pokemon to you and filling out the first 100 or so entries in the Pokedex is a fun challenge that keeps players coming back each day. It’s then that things become more problematic. As players reach higher levels, the game applies significantly more friction (not necessarily in fun ways, with Niantic making some very dubious guesses as to the tolerance for frustration of their players) even as the actual reasons for playing start to fade away.

At high levels, finding or evolving new creatures is incredibly rare, and the only other thing for players to do is battling at Pokemon Gyms – which some players find entertaining, but which is a completely disconnected experience from the thing people have been enjoying up to that point, namely exploring and collecting new Pokemon. The idea that players who love exploring and collecting will be motivated by combat at Gyms seems naive, and misunderstands the different motivations different people have for playing games. My suspicion is that on the contrary, lots of players, perhaps a significant majority, will complete as much of their Pokedex as they reasonably can before churning out of the game – a high churn rate that will be exacerbated by the dying down of the “halo” of social media around the game, which inexplicably lacks any social features of its own.

I could be wrong – I’d be very happy to be wrong, in fact – but my sense of where Pokemon Go is headed is that, absent some dramatic updates and changes from Niantic in the coming weeks, the game is destined to be a fad. It will achieve its objective for Nintendo in some regards, establishing the value of the firm’s IP on mobile and probably igniting interest in this year’s upcoming 3DS Pokemon titles, but in the broad scheme of things it’s likely to end up being a fun summer fad that never converts into being a sustainable, long-term business.

In that case, those companies and investors chasing the Pokemon Go dollar with ideas for Pokemon Go killers or Pokemon Go-alikes are running down a blind alley. Crucially, they’re misunderstanding the game’s appeal and value; at the moment, Pokemon Go’s appeal is firmly rooted in its IP, and no other IP is ever going to replicate that in the same way. Digimon might have some appeal within a certain age group; Yokai Watch is largely unknown in the west and its players in Japan skew too young for an outdoor AR game to make much sense; I can think of no other franchise that would fit the “Pokemon Go model” well enough to make for an appealing game. If Pokemon Go turns out to be sustainable, then there’s potential for other companies to start thinking about what to do with this new audience of people who have fallen for mobile AR experiences; but until that happens, every VC dollar or man-hour of design time spent on a “Pokemon Go killer” is most likely being wasted entirely.

Courtesy-GI.biz

 

Can Intel Dominate The 5G Space?

August 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Intel, Samsung, MediaTek, Huawei and Qualcomm all claim the leadership for 5G and most of them will have a tough time to deliver on this promise. Nokia, Huawei and Ericsson – from the networking component standpoint – claim they can do great things with 5G.

Everyone is bound to dominate something that will commercially launch in 2020. Fudzilla invested a lot of time analyzing the wireless communication market as it’s becoming rather interesting.

What piqued our interest is that everyone wants to claim its dominance in 4G/5G. The hot topic today is carrier aggregation in 4G where most providers can deliver 300 Mbps download and 50 Mbps upload with faster speeds in sight. Uploads are reaching 150 Mbps with carrier aggregation and enhanced modulation techniques like 64-QAM, which is faster than most cable and fiber connections available. Things are going to get even faster as Australian Telstra already offers 600 Mbps carrier aggregation and there will be more to follow that path.

Intel is telling investors and customers that they were late to the mobile and overall modem market, but that they won’t be late with 5G. Intel was late with 3G, again very late with 4G and now it claims that it will be the first with 5G. As you can imagine, this does not seem very realistic.

The 5G players are focusing on enhanced mobile broadband, mission critical services such as medicine, robotics, abd automotive,  and the potentially massive connected internet of thing devices.

One way of looking at 5G is that it is a 4G on steroids with some major improvements that will solve some of the limitations of 4G. So in order to have a state of the art, winning 5G solution, you have to be dominant in 4G. Intel simply isn’t, as it doesn’t have enough experience.

Intel is most likely to get inside some iPhone 7 or other making its first high end modem design win ever. Intel did ship its modem in some Samsung Galaxy phones but only for small and limited markets.

The Santa Clara giant had a few design wins with Asus, simply as it could corner Asus as its partner in PC space, but even that marriage ended up in divorce. The latest generation of Zen phones uses Snapdragon processors and Asus had a very limited success with phones outside its native Taiwan. Asus’ end of relations with Intel on the SoC side didn’t come as a surprise as Intel decided to terminate its SoC phone business.

Intel invested billions of dollars in mobile SoCs and after years of failures it announced that it will simply stop  bleeding money on something it cannot make competitive.

The Apple design win doesn’t actually prove that Intel’s modem is any good.

The Apple iPhone design win just proves that companies like Samsung and Apple like to use dual sourcing and buy components from more than one supplier. The reason is quite simply, they can play these suppliers off against each other and get better pricing. We understand that dual sourcing happens often in the image sensors market. In case of an earthquake in Japan or a similar catastrophe, a phone might end up with a Samsung image sensor instead of Sony’s.

Apple started dual sourcing with its SoCs and the iPhone 6S ended up having the SoCs manufactured by TSMC in 16nm or Samsung with 14nm. It turns out that the 16nm ones ended up being better, upsetting a lot of customers.

We won’t want to wander off topic, but it will take Intel a few generations to improve. Samsung has a modem but only inside its SoC and so does MediaTek and Huawei. None of these three players have a dedicated modem, it is up to Intel and Qualcomm to make a 4G modem for companies like Apple.

Intel has only been working on modems for a few years while companies like Qualcomm have done that for a few decades. Qualcomm is inside every iPhone past iPhone 3G manufactured, a few short of a billion. Infineon, a company now owned by Intel has developed iPhone 2G and iPhone 3G, but again, Infineon had no 4G modems available and the acquisition took place after Intel realized the WiMAX 4G standard is doomed to die.

This gives Qulcomm quite a lot of experience and a clear focus to make a modem for Snapdragon SoC and Apple the best they possibly can.

Intel will have a hell of a ride polishing and fast learning 4G before it deploys 5G.

There are no solid guarantees that Intel will make modems in 2020. Intel said that it would dominate computer graphics but its Larrabee discrete card project crashed and burn. Intel promised world dominance with SoCs for phones with Atom processors and again it crashed and burned. It turned so bad, that the company totally killed of the SoC manufacturing. Intel at least has had graphics for gaming inside of millions of notebook processors.

The equivalent of Intel dominating 5G would be as realistic as Tesla beating Toyota or German automakers in 2020 by volume. Tesla 3 preorder customers will be happy if all half million of them get their cars by 2018, considering that the company delayed every single product from its first days of existence.

Research in 2015 by V3‘s sister site Computing in conjunction with Intel provided some indications of a rise in ransomware, and showed that 55 per cent of organisations had put the necessary security measures in place.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Ransomware Wreak Havok On UK Businesses

August 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

More than half of UK businesses have been hit by ransomware, according to security outfit Malwarebytes, and almost 10 per cent were left “entirely unable to operate” as a result.

Malwarebytes surveyed 540 CIOs, CISOs and IT chiefs at organisations with an average headcount of 5,400 in the UK, US, Germany and Canada. Around 40 per cent have been affected by ransomware and a third lost revenue as a result.

The majority of ransomware attacks come via a single end point, and 46 per cent begin, unsurprisingly, with a dodgy email.

What’s more, the crooks are clearly reaping the rewards of such attacks as 40 per cent of all firms pay the ransom to get the data unlocked.

Around 60 per cent of attacks demand $1,000 to unlock data, while 20 per cent ask for more than $10,000 and one per cent ask for over $100,000.

The situation is particularly bad from a UK perspective. Some 54 per cent of UK companies have been hit by ransomware, despite 87 per cent believing that they had the defences in place to stop such attacks.

Even more worrying is that UK companies lost the most in revenue of all nations to ransomware, up to 21 times more than US companies. This may have something to do with the fact that UK IT staff are the second most likely to pay ransom demands if business machines and data become inaccessible.

This could be because nine per cent of UK organisations hit by ransomware admitted that their entire end point estate was infected, leaving them effectively unable to operate. Despite all this, the UK had the lowest levels of ransomware training for staff.

Marcin Kleczynski, chief executive of Malwarebytes, explained that the data underlined just how bad the ransomware epidemic is becoming,

“Cyber criminals are increasing their use of ransomware in their attack strategies globally, causing business disruption, loss of files and wasted IT man hours,” he said.

The Malwarebytes findings come just a week after Europol, with help from Kaspersky and Intel Security, announced the start of a fightback against ransomware with an online portal designed to flag up the risks.

It even includes thousands of decryption keys to help victims of ransomware unlock their machines without having to pay up.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Tinder App Run Afoul Of European Privacy Regulators

August 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Marc Tarabella is taking on Tinder’s privacy policy.

The company’s terms of use breach European Union privacy laws, according to Tarabella, a member of the European Parliament.

Tarabella particularly dislikes the way the company gives itself the right to swipe the personal information and photos of its users, and to continue using it even if they deactivate their accounts.

It’s not just Tinder: Tarabella is also unhappy about how much personal information Runkeeper keeps about runners’ movements, even when the app is inactive. He has the same concerns about Happn, a sort of missed-connections dating service.

The lawmaker wants the European Commission to root out abusive clauses in the terms of use of a number of mobile apps, and to penalize their developers.

“The problem is always the lack of transparency, and the notion of consent. For example, the consumer has never consented to the transmission of their data to third parties when the app is offline in the case of Runkeeper or Happn,” he wrote.

Mobile apps simplify our daily lives, he said, but they should not become a lawless zone where the consumer is systematically taken advantage of. Privacy rules should be fair, transparent and easy to understand — and respect consumers’ legal rights, he said.

But in calling for an investigation by the European Commission, Tarabella appears to be swiping the wrong way.

While some laws, such as those on competition and cartels, are both enacted and enforced by the Commission, the rules on privacy and protecting consumers from unfair contract terms are for national data protection authorities to enforce, a Commission spokeswoman said Thursday.

Tarabella, a Belgian MEP, may find a better match with the Belgian Privacy Commission, responsible for protecting the personal information of Belgian citizens.

The Belgian Privacy Commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tinder’s privacy policy.

Authorities in other countries, however, are taking an interest.

Earlier this year the Norwegian Consumer Council launched a campaign calling on app developers to respect their users’ privacy.

 

Is The IoT A Security Disaster Waiting To Happen?

August 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

The craze for connecting anything and everything and controlling it over the internet will result in a major disaster without better built-in security, according to security expert Bruce Schneier.

Furthermore, if secret services really are trying to influence elections by hacking the systems of political parties and releasing embarrassing emails, they will almost certainly attempt to hack into the increasing number of internet-connected voting machines for the same ends.

Schneier is the author of multiple encryption algorithms, founder of security company Counterpane, and former chief technology officer of BT Managed Security Solutions.

“It’s one thing if your smart door lock can be eavesdropped on to know who is home. It’s another thing entirely if it can be hacked to allow a burglar to open the door or prevent you opening your door,” Schneier wrote in an article published by Motherboard.

“A hacker who can deny you control of your car, or take over control, is much more dangerous than one who can eavesdrop on your conversations or track your car’s location.

“With the advent of the Internet of Things [IoT] and cyber-physical systems in general, we’ve given the internet hands and feet: the ability to directly affect the physical world. What used to be attacks against data and information have become attacks against flesh, steel and concrete.”

Schneier explained that many of the devices now being connected to the internet, including industrial systems controlling major facilities, have security only as an afterthought, and that the IoT “will allow for attacks we can’t even imagine”.

The key weaknesses come from software control systems, the connections between systems and autonomous systems. Schneier highlighted a lack of security patching in control systems, the ability to compromise networks via insecure devices connected to them, especially IoT devices, and the security dangers of increased automation.

“Security engineers are working on technologies that can mitigate much of this risk, but many solutions won’t be deployed without government involvement. This is not something that the market can solve,” he said.

Schneier also suggested that if Russian security services were indeed behind the attack on the systems of the US Democratic National Committee there is no reason why they wouldn’t target internet-connected voting machines.

“Over the years, more and more states have moved to electronic voting machines and have flirted with internet voting. These systems are insecure and vulnerable to attack,” Schneier warned.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

The OvRcharge Levitates And Charges Your Smartphone

August 5, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

A Canadian design company is selling a mobile device stand that not only wirelessly charges your phone or tablet but levitates the device at the same time.

The OvRcharge, by 15-year-old AR Designs Canada, combines magnetic induction charging with electromagnetic suspension to levitate your Android or iOS mobile device a few centimeters above a square, wooden platform.

The charger comes in two sizes: the smaller OvRcharge platform is about 5.5 inches square for smartphones, and the larger OvRcharge Ultra,for tablets, is about 6.75 inches square. Both wood platforms are around 1 3/8 inches thick.

The charging stand comes in three colors, Dark, Walnut and Cherry.

Besides the size, the only difference between the two charging models is the output current rate: the OvRcharge uses a ~500mAh charge and the OvRcharge Ultra provide ~700 mAh.

The wireless charger both suspends a mobile device at a fixed height and slowly rotates it for an aesthetic appeal.

The charger works in conjunction with an AR Designs smartphone or tablet case that’s included and can be ordered with either a Lightning or micro-USB connector for an iPhone or Android device. The unit is powerful enough to levitate a device that’s up to 21.1 ounces (600 grams) in weight.

The early bird price for the OvRcharge stand and mobile device case is $239 (the $199 and $209 offers have already sold out); the price for the OvRCharge Ultra is  $259. After two weeks on Kickstarter, the campaign has raised more than $25,000 of a $30,000 goal.

The devices are expected to ship to early bird buyers by December.

The iPhone cases can be ordered to fit iPhone 5 or later models. The Android cases fit Samsung, LG, Sony and Huawei devices.

 

 

 

Dropbox Paper Opens Beta To All

August 5, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Ten months after Dropbox first debuted Paper, the collaborative writing tool opened its beta testing to all and is getting mobile versions for iOS and Android.

Paper allows teams to work on documents together in the cloud. It makes it easy to add text, images and embedded videos from YouTube, Google, or Dropbox itself. Users can also add programming code, which gets formatted automatically. And they can create to-do lists and assign tasks on those lists using the @ symbol.

Since its unveiling in private beta, Paper has been used to create more than a million documents for tasks like brainstorming ideas and capturing meeting notes, Dropbox said. Based on lessons learned along the way, Dropbox has improved the software with better tables and image galleries, more powerful search, and notifications via desktop and mobile.

The new apps for Android and iOS, meanwhile, let users get project updates, make edits, and respond to feedback from their mobile devices.

“As Dropbox tries to expand the concept of what it is, it’s only natural that they dig deeper into the productivity tool bag,” said T.J. Keitt, a senior analyst with Forrester Research. “Paper gives them a collaborative content engine that lets teams work collectively on lists and notes — a useful tool given information workers have scooped up note-taking tools like Evernote and OneNote for similar purposes.”

Competitors like Box, Google and Microsoft offer similar tools, so Dropbox needed Paper to keep up, Keitt said. “I don’t think this will be a great point of differentiation for them.”

Paper is “definitely a cool product,” said Melissa Webster, a program vice president with IDC.

It’s essentially Dropbox’s answer to Google Docs but designed to be more visually appealing, Webster said.

“Word processors have historically been poor at supporting creative teams and concept work that is visual,” she said. “Dropbox Paper should appeal to marketers, creative folks, product teams and others who find traditional text-oriented word processors and note-taking apps somewhat confining.”

The beta program for Dropbox Paper is now open online. The associated mobile apps are available in the U.S. from the iOS App Store and Android Play Store, and are coming soon for users in the EU.

 

 

Samsung Debuts 15TB SSD

August 4, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Samsung is shipping its PM1633a SSD which has 15.36TB of storage space however you are not going to get much change out of $10,000.

Samsung now has the drive available at select retailers but at $10,000 it is one of the most expensive SSD storage drives around. Pricing seems to vary too with CDW asking $10,311.99 while SHI wants $9,690 on pre-order. There is a 7.68TB flavour but that is $5,700.

The SSDs are based around 16 of Samsung’s 256Gb TLC 3D V-NAND memory chips. These chips make a 512GB package which are then scaled up. The biggest drive uses 32 of those packages to build the largest of the PM1633a SSDs. The is a new controller specifically for this drive to increase the performance offered. The 15.36TB SSD offers sequential read performance of up to 1200 MB/s and sequential write performance of up to 900 MB/s using a SAS-12Gbps interface.

Random read operations are 195,000 and write speds are 31,000 IPOPs. Those wanting to spend less money and needing less storage can get 480GB, 960GB, 1.92TB, 3.84TB, and 7.68TB models.

Although it looks pricey, actually it works out being cheaper for business running massive data centers. Power consumption is around 11W active and 4.5W idle for the SSDs.

Courtesy-Fud

 

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