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Can Any Version Of Windows Get Hacked

February 16, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Remember those leaked NSA tools?  Well, they can now hack any version of Windows, not just the old version of Microsoft’s operating system.

Researcher Sean Dillon from cybersecurity firm RiskSense tweaked the source code of three nicked NSA exploits – EternalSynergy, EternalChampion and EternalRomance – to work against Windows versions dating back as far as Windows 2000.

Going by the name of ‘zerosum0x0’ on GitHub and Twitter (hat tip to Betanews for that), Dillon noted his modifications to the code exploits the CVE-2017-0143 and CVE-2017-0146 vulnerabilities in numerous versions of unpatched Windows OS.

While other leaked hacking tools like EternalBlue have been attributed to facilitating the likes of WannaCry and NotPetya, which affected systems running older versions of Windows like Windows 7, the modified exploits can be used against Windows 10 builds.

Windows 10 was originally thought to be immune to the stolen NSA tools leaked by hacker group Shadow Brokers. But unpatched versions of Redmond’s latest OS appear to be vulnerable to attacks that make use of the modified code, not that any have been reported out in the wild.

Naturally, ensuring Windows 10 is up-to-date and patched should make any systems running the software immune to the modified hacking tools. But older versions of Windows that are no longer supported by Microsoft could face attacks that put the modified NSA exploits to use if the operating systems are not updated with patches Redmond pushed out in March 2017.

Plonking his modified code on GitHub with the disclaimer that it’s intended for academic research and the development of cyber defences, Dillon said: “This module is highly reliable and preferred over EternalBlue where a Named Pipe is accessible for anonymous logins (generally, everything pre-Vista, and relatively common for domain computers in the wild).”

The trio of modified exploits also boast remote control and code execution features that could be used to wreak havoc on compromised machines.

If you’ve kept up with patches for more recent versions of Windows, then you should be safe from the exploits.

For companies with large and complex IT estates that aren’t all running the latest software, such modified exploits could cause a headache. Either way, such tweaks to the modified NSA tools show that the Eternal family of exploits is still have some life left into them; jeez, thanks for that NSA.

Courtesy-TheInq

Nokia And Qualcomm 5G Trials Moving In The Right Direction

February 16, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Nokia and Qualcomm have completed interoperability testing in the 3.5Ghz and 28Ghz spectrum compliant with the global 3GPP 5G NR Release 15 standard using the commercially available Nokia AirScale base station and device prototypes from Qualcomm Technologies.

Focusing on the commercialization of 5G technology, with New Radio as its foundation, Nokia and Qualcomm Technologies testing at Nokia’s 5G center of excellence in Oulu, Finland, will provide the basis for 5G NR field trials with operators in 2018.

Nokia, Qualcomm Technologies and operators* including BT/EE, Deutsche Telekom, Elisa, KT, LGU+, NTT DOCOMO, Optus, SKT, Telia and Vodafone Group are already committed to working together in verifying and trialing 5G NR technology. This will be based on the successful interoperability tests of the flexible 5G NR interface from Nokia and Qualcomm Technologies which will support a wide array of 5G services and various deployment scenarios.

In line with Qualcomm Technologies and Nokia’s announcement in September 2017 to collaborate on 5G NR and with the success of these recent tests, Nokia and Qualcomm Technologies continue working closely in driving the industry, leading to wide-scale 5G deployments in 2019 based on 3GPP standard-compliant 5G infrastructure and devices. This will enable timely commercial network launches in 2019, in particular in the United States, China, Japan, Korea and Europe.

Marc Rouanne, president of mobile networks, Nokia said: “These tests by Nokia and Qualcomm Technologies are important to the progress of 5G. Importantly, they demonstrate how we have quickly applied the 3GPP Release 15 specifications that were set in December and using our AirScale base station – which has been shipped to more than 100 customers – together with a prototype Qualcomm Technologies UE. Now, we can look forward to commencing standards-based, over-the-air 5G NR trials with operators.”

Cristiano Amon, president, Qualcomm Incorporated, said, “The successful completion of an end-to-end interoperable connection based on the global 5G NR standard is a significant step on the path to launching 5G NR commercial networks and devices starting in 2019. We look forward to furthering collaboration on standard-compliant field trials with Nokia and global operators on the path to commercialisation.”

Courtesy-Fud

AMD Faces Legal Issues Over Spectre and Meltdown Bugs

February 16, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD has been sued by a company because of the way it handled the Spectre and Meltdown bugs.

It is not exactly because of the flaws, but because of the speed at which AMD said that it was not in trouble because its chips did not suffer from the bugs.

Rosen Law Firm is a global investor rights firm, where a class action lawsuit has been kicked off on “behalf of purchasers of the securities of Advanced Micro Devices”. The lawsuit details:

“Defendants during the Class Period made materially false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose that: (1) a fundamental security flaw in Advanced Micro’s processor chips renders them susceptible to hacking; and (2) as a result, Advanced Micro’s public statements were materially false and misleading at all relevant times. When the true details entered the market, the lawsuit claims that investors suffered damages”.

So AMD is in deep trouble over saying: “To be clear, the security research team identified three variants targeting speculative execution. The threat and the response to the three variants differ by microprocessor company, and AMD is not susceptible to all three variants. Due to differences in AMD’s architecture, we believe there is a near zero risk to AMD processors currently. We expect the security research to be published later today and will provide further updates at that time”.

AMD boldly splitting infinitives which had not been split before said the allegations were without merit and it intends to “vigorously defend against these baseless claims”.

AMD’s current CPUs, Zen core-based products, are entirely immune to Meltdown. Type 2 Spectre attacks that work on AMD hardware are tricky to carry out and need a different set of code for the “same” attack on a different device. AMD Type 1 attacks will not work on Intel or ARM hardware because of implementation differences, and the converse is true too. This means hackers would have to tailor their malware to not just the Type 1/2/3 attack but also for the specific hardware.

Courtesy-Fud

Tablet Market Still Shrinking

February 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

The market for game-changing, super cool keyboardless netbooks is slumping lower than Donald Trump’s approval rating amongst educated black women.

The tablet, which was once touted by the Tame Apple Press as a technology cure for cancer saw only 46 million units sold in the fourth quarter of 2017. Both brand and white-box tablet shipments had sequential growths in the quarter.

According to Digitimes Research, white box tablet suppliers are expected to cut their shipments for the first quarter of 2018 to lower their inventory levels and the move will undermine the suppliers’ shipments in the quarter.

For the brand tablet segment, despite cutting its price tag, Apple’s efforts to buck the trend of the first-quarter 2018 low season, shipments are unlikely to make much difference..

Worldwide tablet output will fall 30 percent sequentially and 17.1 percent on year to stand at around 32 million units, a new historical low.

In the fourth quarter of 2017, tablet shipments to first tier brand vendors accounted for over 70 percent of the overall worldwide volume, growing more than 10 percent sequentially, meeting Digitimes Research’s forecast thanks to the vendors’ aggressive promotions.

After its strong promotional campaign in the third quarter of 2017, Amazon turned less aggressive about marketing its tablets in the fourth quarter, resulting in a sequential shipment decline for non-Apple first tier brand vendors’ combined shipments in the fourth quarter of 2017.

White box players saw their combined shipments reach more than 12 million units in the fourth quarter of 2017, up 3 percent sequentially, mainly due to strong orders from their overseas clients.

However, compared to the same period a year ago, the overall white-box tablet shipments still slipped 8.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 because of fierce competitions from first-tier brands’ inexpensive models and weakening demand from emerging markets that are gradually reaching saturation.
In the first quarter of 2018, overall tablet shipments from first-tier brand vendors will drop to only around 22.5 million units, down 32 percent sequentially as non-Apple first-tier vendors will not have any new devices for the quarter.

Courtesy-Fud

Facebook Illegally Collecting Personal Data, Says German Court

February 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A German consumer rights group revealed that a court had found Facebook’s use of personal data to be illegal because the U.S. social media platform did not adequately secure the informed consent of its users.

The verdict, from a Berlin regional court, comes as Big Tech faces increasing scrutiny in Germany over its handling of sensitive personal data that enables it to micro-target online advertising.

The Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzvb) said that Facebook’s default settings and some of its terms of service were in breach of consumer law and that the court had found parts of the consent to data usage to be invalid.

“Facebook hides default settings that are not privacy-friendly in its privacy center and does not provide sufficient information about it when users register,” said Heiko Duenkel, litigation policy officer at the vzvb.

“This does not meet the requirement for informed consent.” The vzvb posted a copy of the ruling on its website. A court spokesperson confirmed that a judgment had been handed down but declined further comment.

Facebook said it would appeal, even though several aspects of the court judgment had been in its favor. In a statement, it said it had already made significant changes to its terms of service and data protection guidelines since the case was first brought in 2015.

“We are working hard to ensure that our guidelines are clear and easy to understand and that the services offered by Facebook are in full accordance with the law,” Facebook said.

Further, Facebook would in the meantime update its data protection guidelines and its terms of service so that they comply with new European Union-wide rules that are due to enter force in June.

Facebook, which counts more than 2 billion users worldwide, already faces scrutiny from Germany’s competition authorities over its handling of its users’ personal data.

Adobe Confirms Another Zero Day Exploit Impacting Flash

February 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Adobe Has finally issued a warning about a Flash zero-day flash that hackers linked to North Korea have reportedly been exploiting since November. 

Security researchers and South Korean authorities have long warned that cyber attackers based in the North have been tapping into an Adobe Flash zero-day flaw.

They believe that hackers associated with the authoritarian government in Pyongyang are using the zero-day vulnerability to launch attacks on South Korean researchers working on projects about North Korea.

After the serious flaw was uncovered, the South Korean Computer Emergency Response Team (KR-CERT) warned citizens that an “attacker may be able to convince a user to open a Microsoft Office document, web page, or spam mail containing a Flash file”.

Attackers have been embedding a dodgy Flash SWF file into seemingly innocent looking Word and Excel documents in order to infect victims’ computers. But the researchers have slammed Adobe for not doing enough to tackle the flaw.

During this time, Adobe has not offered much insight into the flaw, but experts at KR-CERT have offered recommendations while Adobe works on a patch. They include removing Flash Player completely and using the Firefox web browser.

Simon Choi, a security researcher based in South Korea, has spent much of his time exploring the flaw. He believes that North Korean hackers first started using the flaw in November 2017.

“Flash zero-day vulnerability made by North Korea has been used from mid-November 2017. They attacked South Koreans who mainly do research on North Korea,” he wrote on Twitter yesterday.

Adobe has finally got round to issuing an advisory based on the flaw (CVE-2018-4878), which is rated as critical. The company promised to release a patch on 5 February.  

“Adobe is aware of a report that an exploit for CVE-2018-4878 exists in the wild, and is being used in limited, targeted attacks against Windows users,” it explained.

“These attacks leverage Office documents with embedded malicious Flash content distributed via email.”

Courtesy-TheInq

Microsoft Office 2019 May Only Work On Windows 10

February 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Software king of the world Microsoft has decided that its nice new shiny Office 2019 will not run on versions of Windows before Windows 10.

In a support article for service and support of Windows and Office, Microsoft has revealed you’ll need to upgrade to Windows 10 if you want the latest version of Office without subscribing to the company’s Office 365 service.

It’s a move that’s clearly designed to push businesses that are holding off on Office 365 into subscriptions, as the standalone Office 2019 software will only be supported on Windows 10 and not Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 machines.

Microsoft is also altering the support lifecycle for Office 2019, so it will receive five years of mainstream support and then “approximately two years of extended support”.

Courtesy-Fud

Facebook Testing ‘Downvote’ Button

February 12, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

It’s probably the easiest ways to express your opinion: like or dislike.

Yet for a more than a decade, Facebook only offered the happier option, the thumbs-up. That’s about to change.

The social networking giant is testing a new feature that lets some people register a negative reaction to comments with a button called “downvote.”

The goal, Facebook said, is to allow people to weigh in on comments people leave on public pages, like those for President Donald Trump. When selected, the button offers reporting options like “offensive,” “misleading” and “off topic.”

“We are not testing a dislike button,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “We are exploring a feature for people to give us feedback about comments on public page posts.”

Facebook is currently only testing this feature in the US, with a small number of people using its app on Android-powered phones.

The move marks yet another way Facebook is hoping to spur more interaction on its site, and keep its users happy. Offering easy ways for people to mark comments as “offensive” and “misleading” may help quell users’ concerns about harassment, as well as the impact of Russian propagandists who used the site to spread misleading information during the 2016 election.

Facebook’s efforts also answer people’s long-running response to the company’s mascot, the thumbs-up “like” button, which was rolled out in 2009. While the “like” feature allows users to express their approval over a post or a photo, some people complained it was too limiting.

“Not every moment is a good moment,” said Facebook’s co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a Q&A session in 2015. He said he realizes people may not want to “like” a current event such as the Syrian refugee crisis or a family member passing away. But at the time, he didn’t want users to merely vote up or down on people’s posts.

The answer was a set of emojis, which the company released in 2016. The reactions expanded options to a laughing face, an angry face, a “wow,” a sad face and a heart. “It’s surprisingly complicated to make an interaction that’s that simple,” Zuckerberg said when announcing the initiative.

Unlike the “like” button or “reactions,” the downvote button isn’t about giving feedback to commenters but rather to Facebook. The intention is to give users a way to flag inappropriate, uncivil or misleading comments, Facebook said.

It doesn’t affect a comment’s ranking, and users won’t even see how many people downvoted a comment.

Facebook said there are currently no plans to expand the feature.

Intel Updates Its NUC Systems

February 12, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel is updating its NUCs with new models including the “Hades Canyon” gaming model (with AMD graphics), a “Bean Canyon” model sporting 8th-Gen Intel Coffee Lake chips, and a new entry-level set of “June Canyon” computers with low-power Celeron and Pentium chips based on the new Gemini Lake architecture.

Intel has posted technical specs for the new NUC7CJY NUC kit to its website which means we will probably see the June Canyon models out first.

Chipzilla is also talking about a NUC7JYB board, which is the motherboard and processor without any case, memory, or storage.

Lillyputing said that this would be a 4? x 4? motherboard with a soldered 10-watt processor. Systems will be available with a choice of a Celeron J4005 dual-core processor with Intel HD 600 graphics or a Pentium Silver J5005 quad-core chip with Intel HD 605 graphics.

June Canyon PCs can support up to 8GB of DDR4-2133 or DDR4-2400 memory with two SODIMM slots. The NUC7CJY kit is expected to arrive with 4GB of RAM preinstalled, as well as 32GB of eMMC flash storage.

Other features include:

2.5-inch drive bay for HDD or SSD
SD card slot
2 HDMI 2.0a ports (4k60 support
3.5mm audio jack
mini TOSLINK jack for 5.1 channel audio
Gigabit Ethernet
802.11ac WiFI
Bluetooth 5.0
4 USB 3.0 ports
dual digital mic array for far-field voice detection

The June Canyon NUC may be low power, but it’s not fan-less as there’s a fan placed over the motherboard to keep the system from overheating during use.

Courtesy-Fud

Nintendo’s Switch Helps Push Profits Higher

February 9, 2018 by  
Filed under Gaming

The former maker of playing cards Nintendo reported its biggest third quarter operating profit in eight years, driven by smashing demand for its new Switch games console.

The outfit now expects annual earnings to outstrip its previous estimate. This is thanks to the growing popularity of the hybrid home-portable Switch which nearly doubled Nintendo’s stock price to nine-year highs. Sales have far exceeded initial estimates, beating those of predecessor Wii U, and leaving suppliers scrambling for parts.

Nintendo posted an operating profit of $1.07 billion for the third quarter, up almost fourfold from a year ago. This is the highest ever that the company has earned in the October-December period since 2009.

Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima said that Switch sales during the holiday season were stronger than expected in Japan, the United States, and Europe.

Nintendo sold 7.2 million Switch consoles in the three months through December and raised its annual sales forecast to 15 million units from 14 million units.

That already exceeds lifetime sales of 13.56 million consoles for the Wii U which was on the market for about five years.

The company expects Switch console sales to further rise to 20 million units or more next year, starting April.

As yet another attempt to diversify, Nintendo said this month it would launch in April “Labo” a set of LEGO-style accessories for the Switch console that kids can build themselves on cardboard sheets.

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft Offering OneDrive For Business For Free

February 8, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft is stepping up plans to win over customers from its cloud content storage rivals, offering free usage of OneDrive for Business platform in a new promotion. 

Under the deal announced Tuesday, current customers of Box, Dropbox or Google can switch to OneDrive and use the service for free for the remainder of their existing contracts. The offer is valid until June 30 and is available for organizations that are not currently OneDrive for Business or Office365 customers. Those making the switch must also commit to moving a minimum of 500 users to the platform.

“We want new customers to be able to experience OneDrive without incremental costs above and beyond what they are paying for today,” said Seth Patton, OneDrive general manager of product marketing at Microsoft.

Forrester principal analyst Cheryl McKinnon said the cloud content platform market is “rapidly consolidating” into a handful of large providers, and the Microsoft move could entice customers already on the fence about switching or driven primarily by cost concerns.

But McKinnon argued that customers need to “look beyond just discounts and bold offers” to ensure they’re investing in the content and collaboration services that best help employees and allow for easy sharing and collaboration when needed.

Patton said many organizations are keen to consolidate the number of vendors they rely on for content storage and collaboration. “They are interested in looking at OneDrive for Business but they have existing contracts that they are paying for which they can’t get out of,” he said. “We are reducing that cost and making it easier for new customers to move over.”

To that end, Microsoft provides FastTrack support services to help customers migrate onto OneDrive and Office365.

However, even with support from Microsoft, migrating from one cloud provider to another is no small feat. The offer may appeal to organizations that use cloud platforms for simple file storage or sharing internally, but it will not necessarily work for those that have applications more deeply embedded with their processes.

“Customers who are using these cloud platforms for more strategic content applications…may be less likely to leap within this window, and face rebuilding or reworking key apps or business processes,” McKinnon said.

Alongside the offer, Microsoft noted that 350,000 organizations now use OneDrive for Business, including both Office 365 and standalone customers. OneDrive is a standard part of the cloud application suite.

Among the customers to make the switch to OneDrive for Business are Accenture, Lowe’s, DBS Bank and Land O’Lakes.  Meanwhile, monthly active usage rates doubled during 2017, and the volume of OneDrive for Business storage more than tripled.

Patton also pointed to recent additions and improvements to OneDrive for Business. This includes   Files on Demand file sync service, File Restore and new search capabilities thanks to integration with Microsoft Graph.

McKinnon said the Office 365 suite is rich in what it offers, with only Google offering a near-comparable set of capabilities. “However, there is still some confusion among customers when trying to figure out how the O365 pieces can best complement each other.”

For example, OneDrive for Business is positioned as a personal file storage workspace, facilitating file or folder sharing with internal or external participants, yet SharePoint Online is pushed by Microsoft as the team or company-wide content repository for documents and related metadata.

“Box, Dropbox Business and Google have a clearer story when it comes to personal, team or enterprise content workspaces,” McKinnon said.

She added that the latest OneDrive for Business offer “adds fuel to the fire” in what is a hugely competitive cloud content management and collaboration market. “There has been tremendous innovation in this market over the last five years, with vendors traditionally known for ‘enterprise file sync and share (EFSS)’ capabilities moving into broader collaboration and cloud-native content repository services.”

SAP Goes Deeper Into The Clouds

February 8, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

The maker of expensive management software which is so esoteric few people know what it does has designed to invest $2.4 billion to get more practical about clouds.

SAP has announced a $2.4 billion acquisition of Callidus to help it boost revenues from its cloud platform and CEO Bill McDermott said it would streamline its overall business this year to bolster margins.

The German company is midway through a strategic transition, aiming to force the pace on developing its S/4 HANA cloud platform, which now counts 7,900 customers, and wean customers off software sold under license and installed at offices and factories.

The shift has squeezed margins in recent years because the cloud business model is based on subscriptions which take longer to pay off – in contrast to one-off, up-front software licence payments that was the thrust of its business for decades.

McDermott claimed his cloudy strategy was now bearing fruit after SAP broadly stabilised its operating margins in the fourth quarter at 35.2 percent.

Acquiring U.S. sales software firm Callidus will help SAP become the market leader in front-office software used in sales and marketing, building on its strength in back-office software that is used by companies to maintain control over far-flung multinational operations.

McDermott said SuccessFactors, the human resources application acquired by SAP for $3.4 billion in 2011, would be entirely migrated to the cloud this year.

“This year, the entire company will be on one platform,” McDermott told Reuters after SAP announced 2017 results that met its twice-raised guidance but came in just shy of analyst expectations.

He described Callidus as a “tuck-in” deal that would not move the needle on revenues but that he valued for the company’s market leadership and innovation.

As Callidus was on the cloud, it would help SAP achieve a 2020 goal of having “predictable” revenues of 70 to 75 percent of the total. These grew by one percentage point to 63 percent in 2017.

“We did that to get another cloud revenue stream in the mix,” McDermott said.

SAP reiterated a forecast for 2020 of non-IFRS operating profit of 8.5 to 9.0 billion euros on revenue of 28 to 29 billion euros.

The world economy is “about as good as it gets”, the 56-year-old American said, pushing back against fears that rising trade protectionism could hurt globally diversified businesses like SAP.

All of SAP’s regional businesses are growing at double digits, McDermott said, highlighting “hyper growth” in China.

SAP said it expected total non-IFRS revenue of 24.6 to 25.1 billion euros for 2018, in line with Wall Street Predictions.

But the outlook also highlighted that the company expects margins to increase faster in 2018. Revenue is set to grow by around 5 to 7 percent, excluding currency translation effects, it said while operating profit is poised to increase by 8 to 11 percent.

It forecast 2018 non-IFRS operating profit of 7.3 to 7.5 billion euros, adding that the implementation of IFRS 15, a new accounting rule on revenue recognition, would add 200 million euros to profits.

Courtesy-Fud

Snap Chat User Base Grows, Shares Soar

February 7, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Snap Inc surprised investors with a rebound in user growth for its Snapchat messaging app, showing resilience amid competition with Facebook Inc’s Instagram and sending shares up nearly 30 percent.

Paired with higher-than-expected revenue and improved margins, the user growth signaled loss-making Snap could be turning a corner as it grapples with other social media companies adding Snapchat-like features, analysts said.

Snapchat’s daily active users rose to 187 million in the quarter ended Dec. 31 from 178 million in the third quarter, beating analysts’ average expectation of 184.2 million users, according to financial data and analytics firm FactSet.

Daily active users rose 18 percent from a year earlier, reversing a trend of slowing growth. The figure is closely watched by investors who hope user growth can be translated into advertising revenue.

Chief Executive Evan Spiegel credited improvements to the version of Snapchat that runs on Android phones, saying the retention rate of new Android users rose by nearly 20 percent compared to a year earlier

“Our business really came together towards the end of last year,” Spiegel said in remarks prepared for a conference call with analysts.

Shares traded at $17.73 after the bell, up 26 percent after trading even higher earlier. They had not traded above Snap’s initial public offering price of $17 since July 10.

“This was a monster quarter relative to bearish expectations,” analyst Daniel Ives of GBH Insights said, cautioning however that “competitive headwinds abound with Instagram front and center.”

Nearly a year after Snap’s March IPO, analysts and investors have been watching to see if Snap can boost user growth amid competition from larger rival Instagram, which has added photo filters and other Snapchat-mimicking features.

To make its app more friendly to users and advertisers, Snap launched a redesigned app in November, splitting “friends” from content feeds.

The Venice, California-based company posted a net loss of $350 million, or 28 cents per share, compared to a loss of $170 million, or 20 cents per share, a year earlier. It was Snap’s fourth quarterly earnings as a public company.

 

The Demand For iPhone Replacement Batteries Is Strong

February 7, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

Apple Inc has seen “strong demand” for replacement iPhone batteries and may offer rebates for phone owners who paid full price for new batteries, the company said in a Feb. 2 letter to U.S. lawmakers.

Apple confirmed in December that software to deal with aging batteries in iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE models could slow down performance. The company apologized and lowered the price of battery replacements for affected models from $79 to $29.

In the letter released Tuesday, amid nagging allegations that it slowed down phones with older batteries as a way to push people into buying new phones, the company said it was considering issuing rebates to consumers who paid full price for replacement batteries.

The letter, released by the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, also said Apple provided a phone-slowing software update in January 2017 but did not disclose it until a month later.

In the letter, Apple said it had known about battery problems caused by a manufacturing defect as early as fall 2016.

Senator John Thune, a Republican who chairs the committee, said in a statement that “consumers rely on clear and transparent disclosures from manufacturers to understand why their device may experience performance changes.”

Thune said that in discussions with the committee “Apple has acknowledged that its initial disclosures came up short. Apple has also promised the committee some follow-up information, including an answer about additional steps it may take to address customers who purchased a new battery at full price.”

Apple did not immediately comment on Thune’s statement. The company also sent a letter in response to Representative Greg Walden, a Republican who chairs the Committee on Energy and Commerce in the U.S. House of Representatives. Apple told the committee that it would consider extending its reduced-cost battery replacement program beyond 2018 if it can’t find a way to prevent sudden shutdowns in older iPhones without throttling processor speeds.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission said they were investigating whether Apple violated securities laws concerning its disclosures that it slowed older iPhones with flagging batteries, Bloomberg reported.

In a statement last week, Apple said it had “received questions from some government agencies” and was duly responding to them. The company had “never, and would never, do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades,” the statement said.

Consumers so far have filed some 50 proposed class action lawsuits over Apple’s latest iPhone software update, which they allege caused unexpected shutdowns and hampered the performance of iPhone models of the SE, 6 and 7 lines.

Government agencies in countries ranging from Brazil to France and Italy to South Korea are also investigating Apple following complaints.

Is Dell Going On An Acquisition Spree

February 6, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Michael Dell’s private PC empire is continuing to grow, and it seems that he is not happy with what he has.

Soon after buying out all his shareholders and going private, Dell wrote a cheque for EMC and created a considerable computer outfit. But word on the street is that despite a big debt load caused by all these buy-outs, Dell wants to expand further.

The word on the Street is that Dell’s board of directors will meet later this month to consider the most significant shakeup in the company’s history since it acquired data storage provider EMC for $67 billion in 2016, the sources said.

Dell is under pressure to boost its profitability after the EMC deal failed to deliver the cost savings and performance it projected, while higher component costs and a challenging data storage market have eroded its margins.

Dell is reviewing a list of several possible acquisition targets that would boost its cash flow and expand its offerings. Dell is also considering a sale or initial public offering (IPO) of its one of its fast-growing divisions, Pivotal Software. It may consider a transaction with its majority-owned VMware which have gained more than 62 percent in the past year.

Dell also has a security unit, RSA, and a cloud platform called Boomi which could receive the IPO treatment.  Another possibility is that the company could give itself an IPO.

A bright spot in Dell’s business has been its servers, helping its total net revenue growth to $56.7 billion in the nine months from $41.6 billion a year earlier. However, the company’s operating expenses soared from $10 billion to $17.3 billion, leading to an operating loss of $3 billion, up from a $1.6 billion operating loss a year ago.

Private equity firm Silver Lake which helped bankroll Michael Dell’s $24.9 billion deal in 2013 to take the company private and owns about 18 percent of the company is believed to be wanting to cash out of the company.

A stock market listing for Dell would allow Silver Lake to gradually begin winding down its stake. What is more, an IPO of Dell, or divestiture of one or more of its assets, would help it pay down debt faster, saving it money on expensive interest payments, for which it currently pays about $2 billion annually.

Courtesy-Fud

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