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Samsung To Sell Monitor That Can Wirelessly Charge Smartphones

July 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Samsung Electronics wants to unclutter your home with a monitor that can wirelessly charge smartphones and other mobile devices.

The SE370 monitor will come in 23.6-inch and 27-inch formats and is the industry’s first to have an integrated wireless charging station, the South Korean manufacturer said Monday.

But your phone will have to support the Qi wireless charging standard, which was developed by the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) and is supported by makers such as Samsung, Sony, LG, HTC and Huawei.

The charging area is on the stand for the monitor, and an LED lights up when it’s in use. The monitor has a 1920 x 1080 resolution and is optimized for video games, with richer black hues when it’s in game mode. The screen will not distort graphics with stutter and lag and has a response time of 4 milliseconds, Samsung said.

Compatible with Mac OS X and Windows 10, the SE370 also has an eye-saver mode that reduces blue light, which is believed to cause eye strain and sleep problems.

Samsung did not provide information about pricing or availability for the SE370 monitor and did not immediately respond to a request for more information.

The company’s Galaxy S6 and GS6 edge flagship smartphones support the Qi and rival Power Matters Alliance (PMA) standards for wireless charging. Earlier this year, Samsung released its own branded charging pad to juice them up.

The latest Qi specification, announced last month, will allow manufacturers to provide much faster wireless power charging options than earlier versions.

The platform has also caught on with makers such as Ikea, which launched a collection of furniture in April with built-in Qi-enabled wireless chargers.

Qi had been competing with PMA and the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP). Following a decision earlier this year, however, the two organizations announced their merger in June, with a new name yet to be decided.

 

 

Massive iPhone Counterfeiting Operation Shut Down In China

July 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Police in Beijing have raided a factory that made more than 41,000 fake iPhones worth as much as 120 million yuan ($19 million), including some that reached the United States, and have arrested nine suspects in the counterfeiting operation.

Apple is one of the most popular brands in China, where authorities have stepped up efforts in recent years to dispel the country’s reputation for turning out counterfeit goods.

Officials have taken stiffer action to enforce intellectual property (IP) rights, pushed firms to apply for trademarks and patents and cracked down on fakes.

Police arrested nine people, including a married couple who led the operation, after a raid in May on the factory, run under the guise of a gadget maintenance shop on the northern outskirts of the Chinese capital.

The details were revealed in a social media posting on Sunday by the public security bureau in Beijing.

The group, headed by a 43-year old man, surnamed Yu, and his 40-year old wife, surnamed Xie, both from the southern hardware manufacturing city of Shenzhen, allegedly set up the Beijing factory with six assembly lines in January, the bureau said.

They hired “hundreds” of workers to repackage second-hand smartphone components as iPhones for export, it added.

Police seized 1,400 handsets and large quantities of accessories during the May 14 raid. In the United States, the newest Apple Inc handsets can fetch $649, or more, depending on the model.

Beijing police said their investigation followed a tip-off from U.S. authorities who seized some of the fake devices.

The destination of the counterfeit phones, and how many made it there, remains unknown.

Public security representatives declined to comment on Monday, telling Reuters they had no additional information.

Apple also declined to comment, saying the investigation was ongoing.

 

 

Best Buy To Begin Selling Apple Watch In August

July 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The Apple Watch will go on sale at stores of Best Buy Co Inc, the largest U.S.consumer electronics chain, starting Aug. 7.

The Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport models will be sold at more than 300 Best Buy stores in time for the holiday shopping season, a spokeswoman for Apple Inc  said.

“Customers love Apple Watch, and we are thrilled to begin offering it at Best Buy,” she said in an email.

Best Buy is the first retailer to sell the watch outside of the Apple retail store.

“The Apple Watch is an important addition to an emerging product category, and we know our customers want it,” Jason Bonfig, senior category officer, said on the Best Buy website.

The company said the product will also be available on its online store BestBuy.com.

The Wall Street Journal first reported that the Apple watch was coming to Best Buy.

Apple Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri told Reuters earlier this month that sales of the Apple Watch had beat the company’s expectations. He said in the nine weeks since its launch in late April, the device had sold better than either iPhones or iPads over a similar period after their launch.

 

 

Apple Offering Free Beats Headphones For Back-to-school Promo

July 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple launched its annual back-to-school promotion in the U.S., switching the deal to a free pair of Beats headphones for customers who buy eligible Macs.

The promotion launched later this year than in the past: In 2014, for example, Apple started its back-to-school campaign July 1.

Buyers who purchase a qualifying Mac between now and Sept. 18 receive a $199.95 credit toward a a pair of Beats Solo2 On-Ear Headphones, which list for that amount. Alternately, the credit can be applied to a pair of Beats Solo2 Wireless On-Ear Headphones, which run $299.95, making the out-of-pocket expense $100.

The promotion launches today in Apple’s retail stores and participating authorized on-campus stores but won’t appear on the company’s e-store until Aug. 6.

9to5Mac.com first reported on the promotion earlier today.

This year’s back-to-school promotion gives parents of college students and incoming freshmen, and teachers and staff members of all grade levels — including K-12 — the credit when they buy a new iMac, Mac Pro, MacBook, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. Unlike years past, iPads and iPhones do not qualify.

For the last four years, Apple has handed out gift cards and maxed the amount of the offer at $100. Before that, a more generous Apple gave rebates of up to $300 toward the purchase of an iPod Touch.

Educational discounts on the hardware also apply. MacBooks and MacBook Airs are reduced by $50 for parents of students and for faculty and staff. The discounts on other products are $100 on MacBook Pros, $100 to $200 on Retina 5K iMacs, $50 to $100 on iMacs, and $200 to $300 on Mac Pros.

 

 

 

Unpatched Vulnerabilities Uncovered In Mobile IE

July 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Security researchers have provided details about four unpatched vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer for Windows Phone because Microsoft has not moved quickly enough to fix them.

The flaws could potentially be exploited to execute malicious code on computers when users visit compromised websites or open specially crafted documents. They were reported through Hewlett-Packard’s Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) program.

HP’s TippingPoint division, which sells network security products, pays researchers for information on unpatched high-risk vulnerabilities in popular software. The company uses the information to create detection signatures, giving it a competitive advantage, but also reports the flaws to the affected vendors so they can be fixed.

The ZDI team gives vendors 120 days to develop fixes before making limited information about the flaws reported to the public. That deadline was apparently reached for the four Internet Explorer vulnerabilities this week.

The ZDI advisories describe the type, impact and general location of the flaws, but intentionally leave out technical details that could help attackers create exploits for them. In other words, they don’t classify as full disclosure.

Three of the new ZDI advisories don’t have sufficient information for other researchers or hackers to easily rediscover the issues, said Carsten Eiram, the chief research officer at vulnerability intelligence firm Risk Based Security, via email. The fourth one, however, is a bit more detailed, he said.

That advisory, tracked as ZDI-15-359, covers a vulnerability that was used by security researcher Nicolas Joly during the Mobile Pwn2Own hacking contest organized by ZDI in November last year. As part of the contest rules, researchers disclose the vulnerabilities they use with ZDI, which then shares them with the affected vendors.

Microsoft said in an emailed statement that it would take “appropriate steps” to protect its customers, but noted that no attacks had been reported so far.

 

 

 

Cloud Services Behind Amazon’s Rising Revenue

July 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon.com Inc’s shares surged more than 20 percent last Friday, adding more than $46 billion to the company’s market value, after strong growth in the e-commerce giant’s cloud business drove a surprise quarterly profit.

The company’s market capitalization soared to more than $270 billion, overtaking that of Wal-Mart Stores, the world’s biggest retailer.

Revenue from Amazon’s cloud operations – Amazon Web Services (AWS) – nearly doubled in the second quarter, indicating that the business was poised to drive sustainable earnings for the online retailer, Wall Street analysts said.

Operating margins at the unit jumped to 21.4 pct from 7.7 percent.

“Product sales are Amazon’s bread, but AWS is its butter,” Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said in a note, raising his price target on the stock by 21 percent to $700.

“They delivered a pretty large profit, we expected a loss … they exercised discipline and did not invest in new consumer electronic product launches.”

Investors have raised concerns that the company’s aggressive spending may not pay off. But strong growth in AWS and positive commentary on the Amazon Prime service allayed some worries.

Amazon Prime members, who pay $99 a year for speedier delivery and exclusive access to certain movies, music and Kindle books, tend to spend more than regular users of Amazon’s services.

“The scale of their distribution network is starting to generate better incremental margins,” Barclays analyst Paul Vogel said.

“That, coupled with the continued strong growth in both revenue and margins at AWS, moves us from cautious to optimistic on the next year of growth for Amazon.”

Amazon, which last reported a profit in the fourth quarter of 2014, considers AWS its main engine of growth, along with Amazon Prime and Marketplace, where the company acts as a middleman for third-party vendors.

 

 

 

Microsoft To Open Source Radio Code

July 24, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft has begun to open source some more of its code, this time for the Microsoft Research Software Radio (Sora).

“We believe that a fully open source Sora will better support the research community for more scientific innovation,” said Kun Tan, a senior researcher on the Sora project team.

Sora was created to combat the problem of creating software radio that could keep up with the hardware developments going on around it.

The idea behind it is to run the radio off software on a multi-core PC running a basic operating system. In the example, it uses Windows. But then it would.

A PCIe radio control board is added to the machine with signals processed by the software for transmission and reception, while the RF front-end, with its own memory, interfaces with other devices.

The architecture also supports parallel processing by distributing processing pipelines to multiple cores exclusively for real-time SDR tasks.

Sora has already won a number of awards, and the Sora SDK and API were released in 2011 for academic users. More than 50 institutions now use it for research or courses.

As such, and in line with the groovy open Microsoft ethos, the software has now been completely open sourced, with customizable RF front-ends, customizable RCB with timing control and synchronization, processing accelerators and support for new communication models such as duplex radios.

The Sora source code is now up on GitHub. Use cases already in place include TV whitespace, large scale MIMO and distributed MIMO systems.

Microsoft has made a number of moves towards open sourcing itself over the past year. Most notably, The .NET Framework at the heart of most Windows programs was offered up to the newly created .NET Foundation.

It was announced yesterday that Google is releasing its Kubernetes code to the Linux Foundation to set up a standardized format for containerization.

Courtesy-Fud

HP Goes After Security In Smartwatches

July 24, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

HP has released a study suggesting that anyone who uses a smartwatch is offering their wrist to vagabonds, criminals and privacy probers.

Blam! HP ain’t messing. “You got a smartwatch?” it says. “Then damn, son, you are in trouble!”*

A report apparently straight outta HP finds that the smartwatch lets us all down by not doing encryption right, not considering privacy and using second rate authentication.

In the current threat market, this would be a pretty much a full house of problems and pretty bad form on the part of providers like Apple.

Security firm Bitdefender has wrapped itself around the study, and describes the threat as “extreme” in its reporting of the HP smartwatch horror story.

The INQUIRER has not been able to find the report, but it has found mention of it. We shall turn to what we can while our inquiries hang in PR purgatory.

ESET has its own report on the study and offers advice on securing wearable technology, including smartwatches, on its website.

The security firm quotes from the report, saying that HP security personnel are fretting about increased adoption and the rising tide of threats.

“Smartwatches have only started to become a part of our lives, but they deliver a new level of functionality and we will increasingly use them for sensitive tasks,” Jyoti Prakash, country director for India and south Asia at HP Enterprise Security Products, is quoted as saying.

“As this activity accelerates, the watch platform will become vastly more attractive to those who would abuse that access, and it’s critical that we take precautions when transmitting personal sensitive data or bringing smartwatches into the workplace.”

The best practice if a zombie has bitten your arm and infected you with a virus, for example, would be to chop it off. Your arm, that is.

Here, we suggest that perhaps you consider what you share, where you share it and what you share it on as your best response.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Walmart Buys Out Chinese E-commerce Yihaodian

July 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Wal-Mart Stores Inc acquired full ownership of Chinese e-commerce firm Yihaodian.com, buying out the 49 percent stake that it did not already own to accelerate its push online, the U.S. retail giant announced.

The investment will help Wal-Mart target China’s fast-growing online market at a time when largely brick and mortar retailers are feeling the pinch of competition from online rivals and a slowing of the world’s second-largest economy.

Wal-Mart’s move also comes after China said last month it will allow full foreign ownership of some e-commerce businesses, with the goal of encouraging foreign investment and the development and competitiveness of the sector.

“[Yihaodian's] local experience, combined with Walmart’s global sourcing and our strong local retail presence and supply chain will allow us to deliver low prices on the products customers need in new and exciting ways,” Neil Ashe, head of Wal-Mart’s e-commerce division, said in a statement.

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, added the purchase of the stake would help accelerate its e-commerce business in China and boost coordination between its physical and online stores. It did not disclose the price paid for the stake, which was bought from former executives and financial services group Ping An.

Wal-Mart’s Asia head Scott Price told Reuters earlier this year that online retail was important to help tap China’s younger generations and that the firm would increasingly look to weave together its online and offline presence in the market.

Wal-Mart, France’s Carrefour SA and Britain’s Tesco PLC have all seen sales growth slip over the last five years in China, losing market share to local rivals, according to consumer analytics firm Kantar Worldpanel.

The U.S. retailer also announced on Thursday that company insider Wang Lu will take the helm at Yihaodian. The e-commerce firm’s CEO and Chairman had quit earlier this month “to pursue their next venture”.

 

 

 

ZTE To Offer High-end Axon Smartphone In U.S.

July 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Chinese mobile brands don’t normally stir much interest in the U.S., so when ZTE teased its newest smartphone, the Axon, it initially didn’t mention the company at all.

The company’s online promotions in advance of the launch featured a mysterious high-end Android device. The marketing scheme paid off, according to Adam Zeng, CEO of ZTE’s mobile devices business, sparking media interest. It even caused some to wonder if the product was Korean-made, since Chinese brands have a low-end image to U.S. consumers, according to Zeng.

ZTE was happy to clear up any preconceived notions. “Chinese brands can also come out with top-tier products,” Zeng maintained.

The Axon is a premium handset that the company claims can rival flagship phones from Apple, Samsung and LG.

It is scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. in early August, and is already available for pre-order, with a no-contract price of $449. That’s about $200 less than an iPhone 6 when bought without carrier subsidies. But consumers are still getting the latest in smartphone technology.

For the Axon, this includes a 2560 by 1440 screen, an eight-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 4GB of RAM, all fitted in a sleek metal case with leather on the back cover.

Zeng noted that it took ZTE 18 months to develop the product. The company wanted to make sure it had everything, such as the ability to shoot 4K video, and a rear-facing camera with dual lenses.

ZTE kept pushing the phone’s launch date back to include more features, Zeng said. It also tapped talent from North America, hiring Seattle-based design firm Teague and former BlackBerry employees to help build the product.

ZTE has been expanding in the U.S., although competition remains stiff. In this year’s first quarter, it was ranked as the U.S.’s sixth largest smartphone vendor, with a 4.5 percent market share, according to research firm IDC. Industry leaders Apple and Samsung, on the other hand, have a combined market share of 62 percent.

 

 

 

 

Verizon Wireless Enjoying Success With Subscriber Growth

July 22, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Verizon Communications Inc reported a suprise rise in quarterly profit as more new customers signed up for its postpaid wireless services and subscriber defections fell to a three-year low.

The biggest U.S. wireless service provider added 1.1 million wireless retail postpaid subscribers – those who pay each billing cycle based on usage – on a net basis in the second quarter, in line with estimates from analysts polled by market research firm FactSet StreetAccount.

Customer defections, also known as churn in the telecommunications industry, for Verizon’s wireless postpaid business dipped to 0.90 percent versus the 0.99 percent estimated by FactSet.

Revenue from Verizon’s FiOS high-speed Internet, TV and phone service rose 10 percent to $3.4 billion, while tablet sign-ups totaled 852,000 in the quarter.

Wireless carriers have been offering heavy promotions and discounts on tablets as they look to boost crucial subscriber growth numbers and limit customer churn.

Verizon is gearing up to launch its online video service to unlock new revenue streams as competition in the wireless industry from smaller players such as T-Mobile US Inc and Sprint Corp heats up.

The company bought AOL Inc in June in a $4.4 billion bet that a push into mobile video and targeted advertising can help it find new growth avenues.

Verizon said it added 842,000 4G smartphones to its postpaid customer base in the quarter.

 

 

Is PayPal Blocking Users?

July 22, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Paypal appears to have had technical problems as it tried to free itself from the corporate networks of Ebay and has been stopping some users from spending money for nearly six weeks.

The company, which appeared on the stock market again free from Ebay for the first time today, has been blocking some users from spending their money.

It is flagging transactions as being problematic and refusing to let them go through. The user gets a message suggesting that they should try later. However, waiting never improves anything, the account is blocked.

We noticed the problem about six weeks ago and it was hinted to us that the problem was caused as engineers tried to liberate PayPal from its eBay overlords.

Paypal customer support did not know what to do and is blaming all of Paypal’s suppliers as security risks. Ironically it has also been saying that eBay transactions have been security risks. Initially customner support suggested that payments were sent out to email addresses but then the unfixed security feature started blocking these too.

What is also alarming is that the security blocks cannot be overridden manually, in fact, most users will not even know they have been blocked.

Customer support seems to have faith that the security system and has no interest in referring the problem to someone with technical expertise:

” the reason as to why your payment using your account is being stopped is because according to our Internal Security System it may fail or there are potential problems linked to it.

Please be advised that I do not mean you, as the user or the seller or even your card/bank account has triggered our internal security system but what happened here is that when each and every payment is made through PayPal our Internal Security system will analyse each one of them.

I hope you understand that our system will analyze all factors involved in the payment being made, not just those making the payment or receiving or what is being used. It could possibly be that items or services of a certain category has had a history of failing or being done fraudulently or that the item or service is not suitable according to the Acceptable Use Policy. These are a few examples of what could have triggered our Internal Security system and it completely objective and analytical to prevent any negative outcomes to a transaction.

You may at the moment view this as protection but in actual fact this system we use has helped reduce losses for both buyers and sellers, as we only have your best interests in mind. A smooth transaction is an ideal transaction and we wish to straighten out any wrinkles for you from the start so that once an exchange of money and item or service is done, you need not worry about it anymore.”

Obviously automatically freezing people’s accounts does prevent the money from being stolen, but it equally reduces the usefulness of your service.

We asked PayPal to comment about the problem and if it was aware of the security problem it was facing. We even offered access to our accounts so they could see the problem in action.

Press officer Adam Blacker told us that we needed to talk to customer support. This makes it the first time in our long career that we have been referred to customer support when asking about a company’s security.  Needless to say we thought we would get a better comment from the cat than another round of emails to customer support.

Courtesy-Fud

Big Retailers Halt Online Photos After Potential Data Breach

July 22, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Costco Wholesale Corp , Sam’s Club and several other large retailers have disabled their online photo printing stores in recent days, over concerns about a possible data breach at PNI Digital Media, which manages and/or hosts photo services sites.

Last week CVS Health Corp disabled its CVSphoto.com site, and the week before Walmart Canada’s walmartphotocentre.ca took a similar action after it was informed that customer credit card data had been potentially compromised.

Other photo printing sites that might have been recently affected included Rite Aid Corp and British supermarket chain Tesco’s.

“We take the protection of information very seriously. PNI is investigating a potential credit card data issue, and outside security experts are assisting in the investigation,” said Kirk Saville, vice president, global communications at Staples Inc, which bought Vancouver-based PNI last year.

Some websites said they had been advised by PNI of a potential breach, while others said they acted because of recent reports.

Costco Canada and Rite Aid noted that PNI has limited access to customer information since it does not process credit cards, but the photo service sites were temporarily taken down as a precaution.

CVS and Walmart Canada asked customers to monitor their credit card transactions closely for unauthorized charges.

Tesco’s page simply said it was it was unavailable for routine maintenance.

The retailers’ main websites and other services were not affected by the potential breach.

 

 

Microsoft To Acquire Cyber Security Firm Adallom

July 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft Corp plans to purchase Israeli cyber security company Adallom for $320 million, the Calcalist financial newspaper is reporting.

Adallom, which develops cloud security platforms, is expected to become the center for Microsoft’s cyber security business in Israel, the newspaper said.

Adallom could not be reached for comment and officials at Microsoft in Israel declined to comment.

The U.S. technology company has made several recent acquisitions in Israel, including security software developer Aorato for a reported $200 million. It also bought text analysis firm Equivio and the technology of digital pen maker N-trig.

Adallom has raised about $50 million from venture capital funds Sequoia Capitol and European Index Ventures as well as EMC Corp and Hewlett-Packard, among others, Calcalist said.

Adallom was founded in 2012 has 80 employees at its offices in Israel and the United States.

It offers users information security technology on remote servers. It can secure information stored on Salesforce’s, Microsoft’s or Google’s cloud services and protect it from cyber attacks.

 

 

Spam Rate Finally Falls Below 50%

July 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Spam emails have dropped to less than 50 percent of all email in June, the lowest in a decade, Symantec said Thursday in its latest Intelligence Report.

The levels of spam have been slowly falling since 2010 for multiple reasons. Network providers are more tuned into the problem and are taking action faster when there are issues on their services.

Also, unlike six or seven years ago, sending billions of messages per day from massive botnets isn’t as feasible anymore.

Law enforcement, along with companies including Microsoft, have aggressively gone after some of the largest botnets over the past few years and worked to technically shut them down. Although some botnet operators have been able in some instances to regain control, the increased attention makes it more difficult for them to work.

Improved filtering and blocking also means that fewer unsolicited marketing messages reach inboxes where people might click on a message to buy a product. Response rates to spam are notoriously low, so it means spammers must reach many inboxes in order to build a business.

That’s not to say spam is going to completely stop, but as the cost of entry into the spam business rises and the likelihood of a return falls, it’s less of an incentive.

In June, Symantec saw 704 billion email messages sent. Of those, 353 billion were classified as spam. At one of the peaks of the spam epidemic in June 2009, 5.7 trillion of the 6.3 trillion messages sent were spam, according to past data from Symantec.

Symantec noted that phishing and email-based malware fell in June, which is evidence that “attackers are simply moving to other areas of the threat landscape.”