HP has seen its revenue grow for the first time in three years to $27.58bn, helped by stronger than expected growth of its PC division, which grew 12 percent year on year.
The revenue rise was up from the $27.23bn the company made in Q3 2013, and up from $27.31bn in the same period last year.
Despite this growth, profits fell in Q3 2014, dipping under the $1bn mark to $985m. This is down from $1.39bn in the same period last year and $1.27bn in the previous quarter.
HP reported that its Personal Systems Group, which sells PCs, notebooks and workstations, saw revenues rise by 12 percent to $8.65bn. Consumer sales were up eight percent and business sales up 14 percent. Profit in the group was four percent of the total revenue.
CEO Meg Whitman was upbeat on this “excellent performance of the Personal Systems Group, noting that several factors were driving this uptick in sales.
“The Windows XP expiration has contributed to our growth. Although we believe we’re now through much of that benefit,” she said.
“However, our product line-up, driven by products like our EliteBook Series and our x360 convertible notebook, is the strongest we’ve had in years and we continue to see customers looking to refresh their ageing installed base.”
HP’s Enterprise Group division, covering areas such as networks and servers saw revenue rise by two percent.
However, all other units saw revenues fall. Printing was down four percent, enterprise services fell by six percent, software dropped by five percent, and financial services were down three percent.
Whitman touted HP’s recent unveiling of its new technology called The Machine as part of its efforts to conquer the software marketing around new areas such as big data.
“We rolled out our vision for what we call The Machine, a new computing platform for the Big Data era. The Machine has become a rallying cry across HP and frankly around the industry for the reinvention of how we compute,” she said.
Overall Whitman said that while the results were pleasing the company still had much to do to become a leaner, more productive outfit that the one she inherited a few years ago.
“Turnarounds are not linear and we face some tough comparisons in the fourth quarter, but overall I continue to be very encouraged by the progress we’re making.”
YouTube appears to be readying a paid premium music service that would cost US$9.99 a month, called YouTube Music Key. Roughly a dozen purported screenshots of the service were recently published online on the blog Android Police, possibly showing how it would work. The images showed exclusive content such as remixes or cover songs, offline access to entire albums or concerts, and personalized playlists.
A YouTube spokesman declined to comment, but rumors of a paid music service from the Google-owned video site have been circulating for some time now. An earlier report in the Financial Times claimed YouTube was blocking or penalizing independent labels that were not signing up for the yet-to-launch paid service. Earlier this month, YouTube head Susan Wojcicki confirmed the company was working on some kind of subscription music service, in aRe/code interview.
So it looks likely that a premium version of YouTube just for music is on the way. The free version of YouTube works well for many right now, but a premium version might let Google monetize some new content and lead users to the company’s other digital media services.
The amount and diversity of content already available free on YouTube is massive, and the advertisements don’t interrupt the listening experience like those on Spotify or Pandora do. Plus, Google already offers Google Play All Access, a paid music service that syncs across devices and lets people listen offline, for $9.99 a month.
“Premium” might be the draw for a paid music service. The special content might include exclusive recordings of professional artists’ cover songs, or unreleased tracks similar to iTunes exclusives.
To do that, Google would probably have to strike new licensing deals with music labels. But if YouTube could convert just a tiny fraction of its billion-plus monthly users into paying customers, that might be a win for Google, argues Mark Mulligan, co-founder of the music and technology research firm Midia Consulting.
YouTube claims viewers watch more than 6 billion hours of video each month on its site — almost an hour for every person on Earth — and that 100 hours of video are uploaded every minute. That catalogue is peerless, Mulligan said, but Google probably wants to do more with it in order to take on streaming services like Spotify, Rdio or Beats Music.
“YouTube has the ability to offer so much more than anyone else, with video the killer component,” he said.
The vulnerability means that on the surface, it looks like the popups and advertisements are coming from the websites users are visiting, when they are actually coming from the fake Evernote web extension.
Researchers at the company discovered the vulnerability in a “multi-plug .PUP” file, which installs the fake Evernote browser extension.
A PUP file is one that has the .pup file extension and is most commonly associated with the Puppy Linux operating system. PUP files run when an installer program is opened on the user’s computer and they are similar to the installer.exe files that are used with Windows applications.
“A quick look shows the PUP is digitally signed by ‘Open Source Developer, Sergei Ivanovich Drozdov’, although the certificate has since been revoked by the Issuer. This serves as another reminder that you can’t always trust a program just because it’s digitally signed,” said Malwarebytes malware intelligence analyst Joshua Cannell.
“Clicking ‘Visit website’ directs the user to the Chrome webstore page for the actual Evernote Web extension,” Cannell added. “Chrome believes the real extension is installed, as verified by the Launch App button. When clicking this button with the fake extension installed, nothing happens, whereas normally the user is met with an Evernote login screen.”
Cannell explained that this is because the extension uses a content script to run in the context of the webpages a user browses.
“The content script is guaranteed to be loaded into every web page using the extension manifest (manifest.json). When visiting webpages, you’ll get a series of annoying advertisements, all leading to potentially more unwanted programs and offers,” he added.
To remove the extension, Chrome users need to visit the extensions tab in the browser and click the picture of a garbage can.
Evernote hit the headlines for its security concerns last year when it emerged that its network had been compromised by hackers.
The online note-taking service issued a password reset for all users after the discovery. It said that it “discovered and blocked” suspicious activity on its network, but claimed that no user data was compromised during the intrusion.
“In our security investigation, we have found no evidence that any of the content you store in Evernote was accessed, changed or lost,” Evernote said.
ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, citing unnamed sources, said that Microsoft will deliver a “technical preview” of Threshold late in September or early in October. Previously, Foley had reported that Microsoft would offer a preview of some kind this fall.
Threshold may be officially named “Windows 9″ by Microsoft — the company has said nothing about either the code name or labeled the next iteration of its desktop and tablet OS — although there are arguments for dumping a numerical title because of the possible association with Windows 8, which has widely been pegged as a failure.
“Technical Preview” is a moniker that Microsoft has used in the past for its Office suite. For both Office 2013 and Office 2010, Microsoft used the term to describe an invitation-only sneak peek. Both application suites were later released as public betas prior to their official launch.
Windows, however, has used a different nomenclature. For 2012′s Windows 8, Microsoft called the early looks ”Developer Preview,”"Consumer Preview” and “Release Preview,” all open to everyone. The first was analogous to an alpha, the second to a beta, and the third to a done-but-not-approved release candidate.
Windows 7, however, had used the more traditional “Beta” to describe the first public preview in early 2009. The previous fall, when Microsoft unveiled Windows 7, the firm had seeded an invite-only “pre-alpha” version, also dubbed a Developer Preview, of the OS to programmers and some influential bloggers.
Within hours, the Windows 7 Developer Preview leaked to file-sharing websites. Microsoft may have changed its practices for Windows 8, letting anyone download the first preview, because of the inevitably of leaks.
In an update to her blog of earlier today, Foley added that the “Technical Preview” nameplate notwithstanding, Microsoft would allow anyone to download Threshold/Windows 9 when it becomes available in the next few weeks.
If Microsoft does ship a preview soon and sets its sights on a second-quarter 2015 final release, it will have significantly accelerated the tempo from past practice. With Windows 7 and Windows 8, Microsoft offered its first previews 12 and 13 months, respectively, and the public beta 8 or 9 months, before launching the operating system.
Eight or nine months from September would be May or June 2015; that, however, assumes that the Technical Preview is of beta quality. The name itself hints at something less.
Microsoft appears eager to put Windows 8 behind it. It has stopped beating the drum about the OS and recently announced that it would not issue any additional major updates. Instead, the firm said last week, it will include improvements or new features in small packets using the same Windows Update mechanism that regularly serves security patches.
SMS Audio’s BioSport In-Ear Headphones, announced at an event will tell you. The headphones are good for people who work out as well as those who just want to check their heart rate, said Brian Nohe, president of SMS Audio, which was founded by rapper 50 Cent, who is the majority owner.
50 Cent, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, wanted headphones with top-quality audio, fit, form and functionality, Nohe said. The rapper, along with New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, who is the minority owner of SMS, were scheduled to appear at the event.
The headphones have sensors to measure the heart rate of users, drawing power from a smartphone through an audio jack. No batteries are required. SMS Audio is using technology from Intel in the headphones.
“Open the box, plug it into your smartphone device and it works,” Nohe said.
The earphones will ship worldwide in the fourth quarter this year. The price will be announced later.
The headphones will work with RunKeeper, a popular Android and iOS fitness application that assembles and tracks fitness data.
“The general marketplace is ripe for having more products in this area,” Nohe said. “We understood what was happening with wearable technology and what was going on with biometrics.”
The engineering challenge for Intel was how to draw power and transfer data through an audio jack. Intel also had to figure out the frequencies at which to handle data transfers. The goal was to deliver accurate heart-rate readings.
“It’s a seemingly easy thing to explain, but hard to implement,” said Mike Bell, vice president and general manager of the New Devices Group at Intel.
Intel didn’t want to use Bluetooth or other wireless technologies to transfer data, Bell said. Those technologies would require batteries and not fit well within the small size of headphones.
“The best technology is invisible. It’s as much form as it is function,” Bell said. “That’s the road we’re going down.”
Beyond tracking heart rate, headphones could also be enabled to capture more health information, the executives said. Other opportunities are being explored by SMS Audio and Intel.
“You don’t start a strategic alliance and become a one-trick pony,” Nohe said.
The headphone space has gotten attention lately because of Apple’s $3 billion purchase of Beats Audio, founded by Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine.
The new cards should start shipping in September. Nvidia has not released any pricing info so far.
Maxwell goes Quadro
The first new card is the Quadro K420, a Kepler-based card with 192 CUDA cores clocked at 780MHz. It features 1GB of DDR3 memory on a 128-bit bus, clocked at 1.8GHz. The card has a TDP of 41W and it churns out 0.3TFLOPs.
The Quadro K620 is a Maxwell design. It has 384 cores clocked at 1GHz, backed by 2GB of DDR3 clocked at 1.8GHz. The TDP stands at just 45W, but the card delivers 0.8TFLOPs, proving once again that Maxwell offers vastly superior efficiency.
The Quadro K2200 is a bit more serious. This mid-range professional solution packs 640 CUDA cores running at up to 1GHz. It uses 5GHz GDDR5 memory on a 128-bit bus and there’s a lot more of it – 4GB to be precise. The TDP is 68W and the card can pump out 1.3TFLOPs (single precision).
Kepler still powers 100W+ Quadro cards
The Quadro K5200 and K4200 are Kepler cards with a beefier 256-bit memory bus. The Quadro K4200 comes equipped with 1344 CUDA cores clocked at 780MHz. It has 4GB of GDDR5 clocked at 5.4GHz effective. The TDP stands at 105W and the card 2.1TFLOPs.
The K5200 packs 2304 CUDA cores and it can deliver 3.1TFLOPs. It has 8GB of GDDR5 clocked 6GHz effective. However, the GPU clock is somewhat lower at 650MHz. Its TDP is 150W.
It looks like an interesting alternative to the mighty Quadro K6000, which is a $5,000 card with 2880 CUDA cores, or a “full GK110″ implementation as some buffs prefer to call it.
Of course, Nvidia is not the only player in this segment. In fact AMD has made great strides in professional graphics and it is going strong. AMD also used Siggraph to announce four professional cards.
The company, which specializes in security for cloud based data, joins Crossideas that IBM bought at the end of last month. The move is part of an expansion of IBM’s enterprise security services, which will see products from the two firms merged into IBM’s portfolio.
The combined business will include Lighthouse Gateway as well as IBM’s own IAM service to create a suite of identity focused security software. IBM GM of Security Services Kris Lovejoy said, “Business models are rapidly evolving as employees conduct more of their work offsite. Protecting this data and who has access to it has become a challenge, costing our clients time and money.
“With this acquisition, IBM provides a unique identity and access management offering that combines proven software and analytics technology with expert managed services that make it easy for businesses to tackle the complexities of security in this new digital world.”
IBM, which already monitors 15 billion security events per day, according to its figures, has not disclosed financial information regarding the deal.
Lighthouse Security Group’s parent company Lighthouse Computer Services will continue to run as a separate and independent company, working in partnership with IBM. IBM continues to transform its business direction to a cloud heavy future, with the sale of its x86 server division to Lenovo, which has been approved by Chinese authorities.
Absolute Computrace, which is embedded in the BIOS, of a large chunk of PCs could be a security nightmare according to research from Kaspersky labs. The software allows companies to track and secure all of their PCs from a single cloud-based console, but Kaspersky claims that it runs without user-consent, persistently activates itself at system boot, and can be exploited to perform various attacks and to take complete control of an affected machine.
Vitaly Kamluk and Sergey Belov along with Annibal Sacco of Core Security demonstrated the flaw at the Black Hat 2014 conference. Kamluk said that the software is extremely flexible. It’s a tiny piece of code which is a part of the BIOS. As far as it is a piece of the BIOS, it is not very easy to update the software as often. So they made it was extensible.
“It can do nearly anything. It can run every type of code. You can do to the system whatever you want. Considering that the software is running on these local system privileges, you have full access to the machine. You can wipe the machine, you can monitor it, you can look through the webcam, you can actually copy any files, you can start new processes. You can do absolutely anything”.
What is alarming is that after Kaspersky warned about the problem Computrace is still exploitable and once it has been activated it’s very persistent and difficult to turn off. It also doesn’t enforce encryption when it communicates and doesn’t verify the identity of servers from which it receives commands, so could expose users to attacks.
It is also not clear what is activating Computrace? Kaspersky believe it may be down to manufacturers’ testing of new machines to check for Computrace compatibility.
What a difference a year makes. Motorola sold 8.6 million smartphones in the second quarter, up from 6.5 million in the first three months of the year, and more than double what it sold in the same quarter a year earlier, according to ABI Research.
The figures pale in comparison with those of Apple and Samsung, which sold 35.2 million and 75 million phones last quarter, respectively. But Motorola is in a position few thought it would reach just a year ago.
“The resurgence has slightly surprised me, to be honest. I didn’t expect to see Motorola come back in a meaningful way, but it actually has,” said Nick Spencer, senior practice director at ABI Research.
Ben Wood, director of research at CCS Insight, agreed.
“If you’d asked me about Motorola a year ago, I would have said it was on a distinct trajectory towards oblivion,” he said.
Motorola’s turnaround can be attributed only in part to Google, which announced it would buy the handset maker three years ago this week. The deal gave Motorola a new lease on life, but Google operated Motorola largely at arm’s length, and it now plans to sell the division to Lenovo.
It took more than two years after the Google deal for Motorola to release a phone that resonated with consumers. Its first device was the high-end Moto X, but not using the latest components and relying on software features to attract buyers turned out to be a miscalculation.
But thanks to the Moto G, the LTE version of that phone and the Moto E, Motorola’s sales have turned a corner. The company apparently hit on a winning formula, offering phones at lower prices but with features good enough to please many consumers.
“As the market for flagship smartphones has softened and a lot of people are looking at buying devices without a contract, Motorola’s Moto E and G seem to have really captured the moment,” Wood said.
Firmware is a type of software that manages interactions between higher-level software and the underlying hardware, though it can sometimes be the only software on a device. It’s found on all kinds of computer hardware, though the study focused on embedded systems such as printers, routers and security cameras.
Researchers with Eurecom, a technology-focused graduate school in France, developed a web crawler that plucked more than 30,000 firmware images from the websites of manufacturers including Siemens, Xerox, Bosch, Philips, D-Link, Samsung, LG and Belkin.
They found a variety of security issues, including poorly-protected encryption mechanisms and backdoors that could allow access to devices. More than 123 products contained some of the 38 vulnerabilities they found, which they reported privately to vendors.
They’re due to present their research next week at the 23rd Usenix Security Symposium in San Diego.
Most of the firmware they analyzed is in consumer devices, a competitive arena where companies often release products quickly to stay ahead of rivals, said Aurelien Francillon, a coauthor of the study and an assistant professor in the networking and security department at Eurecom.
“You have to be first and cheap,” Francillon said in a phone interview. “All of those things are what you should not do if you want a secure device.”
Firmware security practices lag far behind those of the PC software market, where vendors like Microsoft learned the hard way that they need to patch software automatically on a regular, frequent schedule.
That’s often not the case with firmware, which may not be designed to patch itself periodically and also relies heavily on third-party software that may not be current. In one instance, the researchers found a Linux kernel that was 10 years out of date bundled in a recently released firmware image.
“On these devices, it’s a real nightmare,” Francillon said.
Kaspersky Lab has discovered an espionage network that successfully attacked government institutions, intelligence agencies and European companies.
The firm has dubbed the spy operation Epic Turla, and said that it is in no doubt about its capabilities.
“Over the last 10 months, Kaspersky Lab researchers have analysed a massive cyber-espionage operation which we call ‘Epic Turla’,” it said.
“The attackers behind Epic Turla have infected several hundred computers in more than 45 countries, including government institutions, embassies, military, education, research and pharmaceutical companies.”
Kaspersky said that Epic Turla used two zero-day exploits that affected Adobe and Microsoft software, along with some backdoor and social engineering tricks.
In particular, Kaspersky said a vulnerability in Windows XP and Windows 2003 – CVE-2013-5065 – termed a “privilege escalation vulnerability” is being used. “The CVE-2013-5065 exploit allows the backdoor to achieve administrator privileges on the system and run unrestricted. This exploit only works on unpatched Microsoft Windows XP systems.”
The use of this Windows XP flaw underlines the risk that the unsupported Windows XP OS poses. Kaspersky went on to explain that, once inside, attackers install their own rootkits and other malware tools and begin their surveillance.
“Once the attackers obtain the necessary credentials without the victim noticing, they deploy the rootkit and other extreme persistence mechanisms,” it said. “The attacks are still ongoing as of July 2014, actively targeting users in Europe and the Middle East.”
The attacks are just the latest in a long line of incidents that businesses need to be aware of as cyber attacks continue at an alarming rate.
In June the security firm Crowdstrike alerted the industry to Putter Panda, a cute-sounding but nasty piece of malware. That firm pointed an accusatory finger at China and charged it with espionage on the US and Europe.
Crowdstrike CEO George Kurtz said at the time, “China’s decade-long economic espionage campaign is massive and unrelenting. Through widespread espionage campaigns, Chinese threat actors are targeting companies and governments in every part of the globe.” Chinese authorities disputed this.
The report comes in the same week Hold Security reported uncovering a huge trove of 1.2 billion web passwords and login details that have been gathered by Russian cyber criminals.
Security researcher Dan Rosenberg has told a Black Hat conference how it is possible to permanently unlock the bootloader on Android phones – provided they use a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip.
Rosenberg said that the flaw is in ARM’s TrustZone technology, which runs a trusted operating system and another for normal apps. This is supposed to improve device security, but in Qualcomm’s implementation, they cocked it up. It means that if a hacker gets access to the trusted operation part of the chip, it can run whatever application he or she likes.
This affects all known Android devices with a Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC, including the Nexus 5, the HTC One, and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3, as well as the Moto X. The Samsung Galaxy S5 and the HTC One M8 have already been patched.
Directr is an app that businesses can use to shoot videos for marketing purposes, then upload them to Facebook and YouTube, for instance, or embed them in newsletters.
The app provides help with things like frame selection and building a storyboard, to provide “point-and-shoot moviemaking” on a smartphone.
The app was priced at between US$25 and $400 a month, depending on the features and amount of usage. Directr says the app will now be free, though it’s unclear how long it will exist in its current form.
“For now, everything you love about Directr is staying the same and we’ll continue to focus on helping businesses create great video quickly and easily,”Directr said on its website.
“One immediate bonus: Directr will soon be all free, all the time. Thanks, YouTube!”
The 2-year-old company is joining YouTube’s video ads team.
The app is offered today for Apple’s iOS. Google didn’t immediately say if it will build a version for Android, though it seems likely, assuming the app is to continue.
Since Edward Snowden revealed that the US government is spying on everyone, there has been a boom in the sales of expensive “difficult to hack” phones. Two products new products in the last five weeks show how the market place for off the grid communications is growing.
First one there was the Blackphone, a handset which started shipping on June 30 for $629, and last week there was an app called Signal which appeared last week. Blackphone and Signal use encryption developed by world-class cryptographers and developers who hate the US government.
Signal maker Open Whisper Systems wrote on its blog that in an environment of increasingly pervasive surveillance, it wanted to make it as easy as possible for anyone to be able to organize and communicate securely. Blackphone uses Silent Circle, that allows users to send encrypted voice calls and texts to one another. Silent Circle’s software is already available for iPhone and Android phones, but the company says Blackphone uses a sexed up version of Android that makes it harder for hackers to take control of the phone and listen in.
Signal maker reports that the software had 70,000 downloads on the first day, probably because the service is free.
Bill Gates has unloaded another 20 million shares of Microsoft, the technology giant he co-founded, driving his portfolio under the 300-million mark for the first time, according to regulatory filings.
Over a five-day span from July 24 to July 30, Gates sold the shares at prices ranging from $43.45 to $44.54, turning the holdings into $882 million in cash. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) published the sales documents between July 28 and July 31.
Gates, former CEO and chairman, has been selling approximately 80 million shares annually — usually 20 million each quarter — for the last decade in a long-standing plan to fund the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates has pledged to give away the bulk of his wealth.
At the end of his latest sales stretch, Gates owned 298 million shares worth $12.9 billion at Monday’s closing price. If Gates continues his sales pace, he will empty his portfolio by September 2018.
Gates ceded the title of largest Microsoft shareholder in April, when his holdings dipped under the 333 million owned by ex-CEO Steve Ballmer. Ballmer, who has promised to pay $2 billion for the Los Angeles Clippers professional basketball team, has about $14.4 billion in Microsoft stock.
Both men remain on the company’s board.
Since Gates vacated his role as chairman in February to become an advisor to new CEO Satya Nadella, Gates has been almost entirely in the background at Microsoft. He has remained in the news, however, most recently in a report from China that he will help start a philanthropic education program in that country.
According to Forbes, Gates is the second-richest person on the planet, with an estimated wealth of $79.5 billion.