Hackers in China attempted to gain access to over 20 million active accounts on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s Taobao e-commerce website using Alibaba’s own cloud computing service, according to a state media report posted on the Internet regulator’s website.
An Alibaba spokesman said the company detected the attack in “the first instance”, reminded users to change passwords, and worked closely with the police investigation.
Chinese companies are grappling a sharp rise in the number of cyber attacks, and cyber security experts say firms have a long way to go before defenses catch up to U.S. counterparts.
In the latest case, hackers obtained a database of 99 million usernames and passwords from a number of websites, according to a separate report on a website managed by the Ministry of Public Security.
The hackers then used Alibaba’s cloud computing platform to input the details into Taobao. Of the 99 million usernames, they found 20.59 million were also being used for Taobao accounts, the ministry website said.
The hackers started inputting the details into Taobao in mid-October and were discovered in November, at which time Alibaba immediately reported the case to police, the ministry website said. The hackers have since been caught, it said.
Alibaba’s systems discovered and blocked the vast majority of log-in attempts, according to the ministry website.
The hackers used compromised accounts to fake orders on Taobao, a practice known as “brushing” in China and used to raise sellers’ rankings, the newspaper said. The hackers also sold accounts to be used for fraud, it said.
Alibaba’s spokesman said the hackers rented the cloud computing service, but declined to comment on security measures designed to stop the system being used for the attack. He said they could have used any such service, and that the attack was not aided by any possible loopholes in Alibaba’s platform.
“Alibaba’s system was never breached,” the spokesman said.
The number of accounts, 20.59 million, represents about 1 out of every 20 annual active buyers on Alibaba’s China retail marketplaces.
The program debuted at West Bluff, an affordable housing community in Kansas City, Mo., where 100 homes have been connected to Google Fiber. Across the Kansas City area, Google is now working with affordable housing providers to connect as many as nine properties that could reach more than 1,300 local families.
Google described the program as an extension of its work with ConnectHome, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Obama administration.
HUD Secretary Julian Castro said in a conference call that under the ConnectHome program, up to 200,000 children in affordable housing in 28 different U.S. cities are expected to be connected to fast Internet. Google Fiber is expected to be a part of those connections in Atlanta, Durham, N.C., Nashville and San Antonio, he said.
There will be no cost to local housing authorities, their residents or HUD. Google will absorb the costs of the free service and there will be no fees or contract.
The Kansas City area was the first Google Fiber location in the nation, starting in 2012. Today, the service is available in two other cities — Austin, Texas and Provo, Utah — with work under way in six others. Normally, residents in Kansas City pay $70 a month for Google Fiber fast Internet service.
In addition to free Internet, eligible residents will work with ConnectHome partners like Connecting for Good and Surplus Exchange to be able to purchase discounted computers and learn new computer skills, Google said.
In Austin, Google plans to complement free Internet service for some families with investments in computers labs and digital literacy classes. Plans for other cities were not announced.
That’s what Canadian researchers found when they studied fitness-tracking devices from eight manufacturers, along with their companion mobile apps.
All the devices studied except for the Apple Watch transmitted a persistent, unique Bluetooth identifier, allowing them to be tracked by the beacons increasingly being used by retail stores and shopping malls to recognize and profile their customers.
The revealing devices, the Basis Peak, Fitbit Charge HR, Garmin Vivosmart, Jawbone Up 2, Mio Fuse, Withings Pulse O2 and Xiaomi Mi Band, all make it possible for their wearers to be tracked using Bluetooth even when the device is not paired with or connected to a smartphone, the researchers said. Only the Apple device used a feature of the Bluetooth LE standard to generate changing MAC addresses to prevent tracking.
In addition, companion apps for the wearables variously leaked login credentials, transmitted activity tracking information in a way that allowed interception or tampering, or allowed users to submit fake activity tracking information, according to an early draft of the report, “Every Step you Fake: A Comparative Analysis of Fitness Tracker Privacy and Security.” It was published by Canadian non-profit Open Effect, and researched with help from the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.
The apps are typically used to gather data from the fitness tracking device and upload it to a central server, where users can analyze their performance and perhaps compare it with that of other device wearers.
Using a man-in-the-middle attack, researchers were able to spy on traffic between the apps and the servers for all but two of the apps, Apple’s Watch 2.1 and Intel’s Basis Peak 1.14.0. For the six remaining apps, this allowed them to observe even encrypted data sent via HTTPS.
Apple and Intel used a technique called certificate pinning to avoid being fooled by the fake security certificates presented by the researchers. Intel has been highlighting the risks of poorly secured wearable devices since at least 2014, when it published the report “Safeguarding the Future of Digital America 2025.”
For years Microsoft held a torch for the tablet even while everyone else mocked them. When Apple turned the concept into a gimmick and everyone bought one, Microsoft was mocked for not really understanding the tablet.
Now it seems that Redmond is the only one making tablets that people want again, as the market slowly shrinks to the point before Jobs claimed “his” invention was a “game changer.”
Strategy Analytics said that final quarter of 2015 witnessing the worst year-on-year decline for a product that it has seen.
The company’s ‘Preliminary Global Tablet Shipments and Market Share by Operating System: Q4 2015′ report estimates that tablet shipment numbers fell to 69.9 million units in Q4, which is a record drop of 11 per cent. Over the full year of 2015, shipments reached 224 million units which represented a drop of 8 per cent.
TrendForce estimated a bigger drop over the course of the full year with a 12.2 per cent decline compared to 2014′s shipment numbers.
However Strategy Analytics said that the only one to do well was Microsoft. Windows tablets witnessed growth of 59 per cent in Q4 compared to the previous year.
Part of this is because 2-in-1 PCs are doing well and expected to do better. Strategy Analytics observed a huge 379 per cent leap in year-on-year growth in Q4 2015.
Eric Smith, Senior Analyst, Tablet & Touchscreen Strategies service at Strategy Analytics, said: “2-in-1 Detachable Tablets have reached an inflection point in 2015 as computing needs continue to trend more and more mobile and Tablets with Windows 10 can compete against iOS in the premium and high price bands and equally well against Android in the mid and lower price bands.
“The Q4 2015 launch of Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book was met with many ‘Surface clones’ by Microsoft’s OEM partners at lower price points. This variety of devices will bolster momentum of Windows Tablets going forward.”
Apple is still the top tablet vendor with a share of 23.1 per cent in Q4 of last year. But it fell heavily from 27.3 per cent the previous year. Cupertino’s shipment numbers dropped from 21.4 million units to 16.1 million units this year.
Samsung was in second place with a 12.9 per cent market share, down from 13.9 per cent the previous year. Lenovo saw slight growth in third place with an increase from 4.7 per cent to a 5.7 per cent share in Q4 2015, with Amazon slipping to fourth place, dropping from 4.9 per cent to 4.4 per cent.
Microsoft is ramping up its efforts to expand the reach of its Yammer work social network — and better compete with other workplace collaboration tools – announcing that any organization with an Office 365 subscription will gain access to the service and have it automatically activated.
The service will start rolling out to users in waves. The automatic activation will allow businesses to quickly spin up online communities for their workers.
Microsoft will also let users sign in to Yammer with the same username and password they use to access all of their other Office 365 apps and services. System administrators will, however, have the ability to prevent users from accessing Yammer.
The first Yammer rollout will target businesses with fewer than 150 licenses and that have an Office 365 subscription that includes Yammer.
Microsoft bought Yammer in 2012 for $1.2 billion. At the time, it was a high-flying technology startup in the hot enterprise social network space, althought it hasn’t been taken up widely. Microsoft said that more than 500,000 businesses are using it, up from 200,000 at the time of its acquisition.
Yammer faces increased competition in the workplace collaboration space. Rival Slack’s real-time chat capabilities have made it a popular choice, though that software doesn’t replicate the message board and information feed aspects of Yammer’s product. However, when Facebook for Work becomes publicly available — it’s in a closed beta test — that offering will more closely compete with Yammer’s core functionality.
Nintendo’s finances took a dip in the company’s third quarter report for FY 2015 – sales stayed relatively stable with just 3.9 per cent shrinkage to 427.7 billion Yen ($3.5bn), but profits dropped by 32 per cent year-on-year to 40.5 billion Yen ($336m).
Although the bottom line failed to excite, plenty of familiar faces performed well for the publisher’s software arm, as well as a few new names. Top seller was Child friendly Wii U shooter Splatoon, shifting over four million units. Super Mario maker wasn’t far behind on 3.34 million, whilst Animal Crossing Happy Home Designer reached 2.93 million. Collectively the 3DS family sold 5.88 million units of hardware and 38.87 million games. The Wii U totalled 3.06 million consoles and 22.62 million pieces of software. 20.50 million Amiibo figures were sold, and approximately 21.50 million Amiibo cards.
Those eagerly awaiting news of either the new NX system or the company’s first smartphone game will be disappointed – neither was mentioned in the company’s forward looking statements. Instead, the publisher focused on relatively known quantities.
“For Nintendo 3DS, we will globally release a special edition hardware pre-installed with Pokémon title(s) from the original Pokémon series on February 27 which marks the 20th year since the original Pokémon series release,2 read the accompanying statement.
“Furthermore, Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and key titles from third-party publishers are scheduled for release. For Wii U, we will strive to maintain the attention level of Splatoon and Super Mario Maker, which are continuing to show steady sales, while introducing new titles such as The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD. Meanwhile, for Amiibo, we will continue to expand the product lineup in order to maintain momentum. At the same time, we will aim to further expand sales by offering new gaming experiences with the use of Amiibo. In addition, the first application for smart devices, Miitomo, is scheduled for release.”
The company has maintained its full year target of 35 billion Yen in profit.
Amazon recently experimented with brick-and-mortar stores with the opening of a bookstore in its home city of Seattle in November. An expansion of bookstores, which the company has not confirmed, would be a surprise reversal from the online retailer credited with driving physical booksellers out of business.
“You’ve got Amazon opening brick-and-mortar bookstores and their goal is to open, as I understand, 300 to 400 bookstores,” Sandeep Mathrani, chief executive of General Growth Properties Inc, said on Tuesday, responding to an analyst’s question after it reported earnings.
On the call, Mathrani compared Amazon’s plans to similar moves by eyeware company Warby Parker or men’s clothing retailer Bonobos, both of which opened physical stores after finding success online.
An Amazon spokeswoman said the company does not comment on “rumors and speculation.”
Before branching out to offer everything from fresh groceries to original TV programming, Amazon got its start as a bookseller 20 years ago. It has since revolutionized the publishing industry by introducing its popular e-reader, the Kindle.
Amazon’s bookstore in Seattle carries books selected based on customer ratings and popularity on Amazon.com. The storefront also provides a space for visitors to test-drive Amazon’s Kindle, Fire TV and other devices.
Any move by Amazon to expand stores would further antagonize long-time rivals like Barnes & Noble Inc, the largest U.S. bookstore chain, which operated 640 bookstores across the United States as of January. Shares of Barnes & Noble fell more than 5 percent on Tuesday.
The Wall Street Journal first reported Mathrani’s comments on Tuesday.
Kevin Berry, vice president of investor relations at General Growth Properties, declined to comment beyond what was said during the conference call.
A little more than two years after Evernote announced that it would offer a suite of branded products through its own online retail store, the productivity company is walking away from the business of selling products like socks, messenger bags and wallets.
As foreshadowed by a series of sales and app changes last year, the current incarnation of the Evernote Market — a hub for people to buy branded swag and connected tools for the popular note-taking software — will no longer exist as of today.
In its place will be a page that directs people to a handful of products made by partner companies that are tightly integrated with Evernote’s service and were previously sold through the Market. Users will still be able to buy the ScanSnap Evernote Edition scanner, Adonit Jot Script Evernote Edition stylus and Evernote-branded Moleskine notebooks that are designed to work with the notetaking software.
The companies that make those items will be in charge of selling them and handling distribution, allowing Evernote to get out of the business of holding inventory and fulfilling orders. That means all of the Market’s non-integrated items, like business card holders and the company’s infamous socks, will be unavailable after after tonight.
In some ways, the Market experiment was a fairly successful one. 40% of people who purchased goods from the Market were subscribers to Evernote’s free tier, meaning that the company was able to monetize people who weren’t paying for the premium version of its service. In the first year of its existence, Market made a little more than $12 million, though it’s not clear how it continued to fare after that.
It’s a move that illustrates Evernote’s current strategy of winnowing down the products and services it’s providing to just focus on a core set of experiences that can make the startup money.
Yahoo Inc Chief Executive Marissa Mayer announced cost-cutting measures that include slashing 15 percent of the company’s workforce, or roughly 1,600 jobs, and closing several business units, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
The plans were announced after Yahoo’s fourth-quarter results on Tuesday, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. It did not specify which business units might be closed.
A Yahoo spokeswoman said the company could not comment during its quiet period before releasing earnings.
Activist investors have pressed Yahoo to sell its core business rather than spin it off, even though a sale would likely incur more taxes.
It is unclear whether the plan Mayer is expected to announce would satisfy their demands, but cutting costs could make Yahoo more attractive to buyers.
Verizon has said it is interested in acquiring Yahoo if it were up for sale. Other potential buyers would include media and private equity firms, analysts said.
Yahoo had about 11,000 employees as of June 30, according to its website, down from a Dec. 31, 2014 total of about 12,500 full-time employees and what it called fixed term contractors.
Separately, a former Yahoo employee filed a lawsuit against the company Monday challenging its “quarterly performance review” process, on grounds it assigned numerical ratings to workers that in some cases were used to fire those at the bottom of the scale.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Jose, California, said the plaintiff was terminated in 2014, despite being previously praised, as a result of the QPR process.
The filing said Yahoo’s use of the QPR process to terminate large numbers of employees violates federal and California laws that require employers to disclose mass layoffs above a certain threshold.
Internet search giant Google has finally added Australian slang and language recognition to its applications, addressing complaints that its software had difficulty in understanding thick local accents and complex place names.
Long accustomed to having their distinctive slang misunderstood, Australians can now substitute “footy” for football, “arvo” for afternoon and find directions to Mullumbimby or Goondiwindi, a spokesman told Reuters.
The extended vocabulary came after Google, which is now part of holding company Alphabet Inc, added an Australian accented voice to its Google Maps and search applications last week.
“People are starting to talk to their phones much more regularly now. Mobile voice searchers have doubled in the last year,” Google Australia spokesman Shane Treeves said.
“Particularly all those tricky Aussie place names, they just sound much better in an Aussie voice that can get them right.”
Google and its chief competitor, Apple Inc, have saturated the United States and Western Europe with their devices, leaving foreign language markets as some of the prime places to grow.
In December, Apple released a version of its virtual personal assistant, Siri, for Arabic speakers in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Google’s Android phones’ search function already offered some support in Arabic.
Google’s Android operating system was used by roughly 54 percent of mobile devices sold in Australia in December, placing it ahead of Apple iOS at 38 percent, according to data published by research firm Kantar Worldpanel.
The addition of Australian language features to Google’s software could carry with it a sense of vindication for local users, who have long groused about its inability to understand them.
Enterprises of all sizes are willingly surrendering their emails to the cloud, according to the analysts at Gartner, and the bulk of them are relying on Microsoft to keep them up in the air and spinning.
The cloud, in case you missed it, is everywhere. Even your nan uploads her photos to the cloud. Cloud email services have been embraced by consumers, but have been welcomed more cautiously in the business world. Until now, that is, according to a new Gartner cloud and email report.
The leading firms in this area are Google and Microsoft. The latter seems to have the edge, perhaps because Microsoft solutions are as entrenched in business as tedious meetings. Google is getting its game together, however, thanks to a mix of improvement and marketing.
“Although it is still early days for cloud email adoption, Microsoft and Google have achieved significant traction among enterprises of different sizes, industries and geographies,” said Nikos Drakos, a research vice president at Gartner.
“Companies considering cloud email should question assumptions that public cloud email is not appropriate in their region, size or industry. Our findings suggest that many varied organisations are already using cloud email, and the number is growing rapidly.”
Party like it’s 1999, because Microsoft has the market locked down and Gartner reckons that it is well in use in industries where regulation is a strong consideration. Google is more obviously installed at more relaxed locations.
“Among public companies using cloud-based email, Microsoft is more popular with larger organisations and has more than an 80 per cent share of companies using cloud email with revenue above $10bn,” added Jeffrey Mann, research vice president at Gartner.
“Google’s popularity is better among smaller companies, approaching a 50 per cent share of companies with revenue less than $50m.”
Samsung is rolling out a rental phone service which will replace a phone that is been used for a year with the latest model.
The system is similar to the rental model which was introduced by Apple in September of last year. Samsung will bring the service out in March in South Korea but it is also in talks with Bright Star, which is a business that specializes in distribution of mobile in the US so it is pretty likely to be tried over the pond too. We have not heard about it talking to any EU distributor but it is also fairly likely.
Under the deal you replace your old phone with a new phone every year if you make a two year contract and pa a year worth of instalments. The company then makes a bit of dosh flogging the used phones.
The first phone to be rented will be the Galaxy S7 that happens to be being released in March. It will also have a higher resale value as a used model.
Officially Samsung is saying nothing as the Galaxy S7 is not even in the shops yet.
Mobile telecommunication businesses such as SK Telecom, LG Uplus and others are also preparing to release similar services. This is not the first time they have had a crack at programs likes this there were operations like Zero Club, Free Club and others in the past which operated in a similar way. It should make the introduction of the rental phone service using Apple’s model a doddle.
If it takes off it could be a change in distribution model for phones. As mobile markets are saturated and as subsidies for mobiles disappear, rental phones are seen as an alternatives that will create new demand. Much of the success however depends on the resale value of the older phones.
‘KIN’ ‘ELL. You don’t want to be the people who bunged this morning’s distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack at HSBC, as the money lender and local business supporter has already set the authorities on your behind.
The DDoS attack rained down on the bank and its customers for most of this morning and locked punters out of a range of online banking services at a time when minds were turning to the pub and the weekend. We don’t know how big an attack it was, but we understand that there are some huge scary DDoS monsters out there.
HSBC said that it has fixed the problem and beaten off the attackers with some success. The bank confirmed that customer transactions have not been affected.
The most recent statement suggests that things are getting back to normal, but are not quite there yet. This has been a testing month for HSBC and its customers.
“HSBC internet banking came under a DDoS attack this morning, which affected personal banking websites in the UK. HSBC has successfully defended against the attack, and customer transactions were not affected,” the company said.
“We are working hard to restore normal service. HSBC is working closely with law enforcement authorities to pursue the criminals responsible for today’s attack on our internet banking.”
HSBC hit by DDoS attack. Online banking is offline https://t.co/ThNdEaeo8q pic.twitter.com/6qXibUTDnx
— Graham Cluley (@gcluley) January 29, 2016
HSBC isn’t just going to walk away with this without some security firm saying that they should have seen it coming.
“DDoS attacks, regardless of motive, are never good for any organisation. Whether they are driven purely as a means to cause downtime, force the owner to pay extortion fees or as a cover for malware activity, it quite often mostly affects the users the most,” said Mark James, a security specialist at ESET.
“As in all situations like this please be mindful of the after effects. Nothing may happen but just be a little bit more cautious when opening emails or taking calls from people claiming to be associated with your financial organisations.
“And definitely make sure you have good, regularly updating internet security software installed on your computer or mobile device.”
The study predicts that the continued expansion of Internet-connected devices — such as smart TVs and vehicles, IP video cameras and more — will offer fresh opportunities for tracking targets.
“Law enforcement or intelligence agencies may start to seek orders compelling Samsung, Google, Mattel, Nest or vendors of other networked devices to push an update or flip a digital switch to intercept the ambient communications of a target,” it said. “These are real products now.”
The study comes from Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet Society and was signed by well-known figures, including security expert Bruce Schneier, Jonathan Zittrain of Harvard Law School and Matthew G. Olsen, former director of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center.
All are members of the Berkman Center’s Berklett Cybersecurity Project, which studies surveillance and cybersecurity issues.
The technology industry has come under increasing pressure from some government officials in the U.S. and U.K., who contend that bolstering data security, primarily through encryption, will diminish their capabilities to fight terrorism and crime, and will result in those sources “going dark.”
While law enforcement can gain access to data held by service providers through warrants, some systems have been designed in a way that the service providers can’t provide any information at all.
These so-called end-to-end encryption systems leave users in sole possession of the decryption keys. Without a password, law enforcement would have to use other means to try to decrypt data.
The study, titled ”Don’t Panic: Making progress on the encryption debate,” does acknowledge encryption will poses challenges in some instances but by no means will dictate the landscape of future technology products.
“To be sure, encryption and provider-opaque services make surveillance more difficult in certain cases, but the landscape is far more variegated than the metaphor suggests,” it said. “There are and will always be pockets of dimness and some dark spots — communications channels resistant to surveillance — but this does not mean we are completely ‘going dark’.”
Facebook, for example, built a data center in Lulea in Sweden because the icy cold temperatures there would help cut the energy required for cooling. A proposed Facebook data center in Clonee, Ireland, will rely heavily on locally available wind energy. Google’s data center in Hamina in Finland uses sea water from the Bay of Finland for cooling.
Now, Microsoft is looking at locating data centers under the sea.
The company is testing underwater data centers with an eye to reducing data latency for the many users who live close to the sea and also to enable rapid deployment of a data center.
Microsoft, which has designed, built, and deployed its own subsea data center in the ocean, in the period of about a year, started working on the project in late 2014, a year after Microsoft employee, Sean James, who served on a U.S. Navy submarine, submitted a paper on the concept.
A prototype vessel, named the Leona Philpot after an Xbox game character, operated on the seafloor about 1 kilometer from the Pacific coast of the U.S. from August to November 2015, according to a Microsoft page on the project.
The subsea data center experiment, called Project Natick after a town in Massachusetts, is in the research stage and Microsoft warns it is “still early days” to evaluate whether the concept could be adopted by the company and other cloud service providers.
“Project Natick reflects Microsoft’s ongoing quest for cloud datacenter solutions that offer rapid provisioning, lower costs, high responsiveness, and are more environmentally sustainable,” the company said.
Using undersea data centers helps because they can serve the 50 percent of people who live within 200 kilometers from the ocean. Microsoft said in an FAQ that deployment in deepwater offers “ready access to cooling, renewable power sources, and a controlled environment.” Moreover, a data center can be deployed from start to finish in 90 days.