Vodafone: Hackers may have accessed bank details of 2000 customers

The BBC’s technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones said the email addresses and passwords criminals used to try to access Vodafone accounts appeared to have been bought on the dark web.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: rapidnewsnetwork.com

Vodafone said it noticed attempts to access customer account details between midnight on Wednesday and noon on Thursday, when it started an investigation. The company also warned customers to be on their guard for “phishing” attempts by the criminals, whereby they will contact those people whose details they have partly acquired in a bid to convince them to hand over their security details.  Hackers may have obtained the bank details of almost 2,000 Vodafone customers, according to the company.   A “handful” of customers have been subject to fraudulent attempts on their accounts, Vodafone said. Banks have been put on alert for fraud and the National Crime Agency (NCA), the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) are working to identify the cause of a potential early leak and ensure that all necessary procedures are followed.  The details could not be used to access customer bank accounts but customers may at risk of fraud.  1,827 customers had their account accessed in the attack, but Vodafone insisted its systems were “not compromised or breached in anyway”. A Vodafone spokesman told the BBC the affected Vodafone accounts had been blocked and their banks notified.

See on Scoop.itInternet of Things – Technology focus

Battle Heats Up Over Exports of Surveillance Technology

Silicon Valley is resisting federal plans to increase regulations on exports of “dual use” technology like servers and software used in social media that can also be used for spying.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.nytimes.com

Ayman Ammar and Rashid Albuni claimed to be computer technology distributors, operating through multiple corporations in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. The United States government, though, charged them with smuggling — of illegally shipping American equipment to the Syrian government that can help it monitor Internet traffic and spy on dissidents.  The Syrian case, in which the two men were fined last month for violating American economic sanctions against Syria, is one of the few the Obama administration has pursued to limit authoritarian governments from acquiring technology that enables censoring, spying and hacking.  That is largely because many of the same tools that repressive governments seek from Western companies are vital for social media and other communications by political protesters and grass-roots organizers throughout the world. The software and other equipment are also used by American and other law enforcement agencies to track criminals or disrupt plots, and are needed to filter out unwanted content from most commercial and governmental networks and to keep them secure.  Such dual-use technology is now at the center of a conflict between Silicon Valley and the administration over additional restraints on technology exports. The administration signed an international agreement in 2013 that calls for new curbs on exports of advanced surveillance technology to governments with troubling human rights records. The agreement adds the technology to a longstanding arms control pact that seeks to limit weapons exports to such governments.  Some argue that the global market for such technology is emerging as a 21st century version of the arms trade. To go along with their tanks, assault helicopters and fighter jets, repressive governments are now seeking the latest routers, servers and software from Silicon Valley or Europe.

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The trust machine – BitCoin

The technology behind bitcoin could transform how the economy works

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.economist.com

BITCOIN has a bad reputation. The decentralised digital cryptocurrency, powered by a vast computer network, is notorious for the wild fluctuations in its value, the zeal of its supporters and its degenerate uses, such as extortion, buying drugs and hiring hitmen in the online bazaars of the “dark net”.  

The blockchain food chain:  To understand the power of blockchain systems, and the things they can do, it is important to distinguish between three things that are commonly muddled up, namely the bitcoin currency, the specific blockchain that underpins it and the idea of blockchains in general. A helpful analogy is with Napster, the pioneering but illegal “peer-to-peer” file-sharing service that went on line in 1999, providing free access to millions of music tracks. Napster itself was swiftly shut down, but it inspired a host of other peer-to-peer services. Many of these were also used for pirating music and films. Yet despite its dubious origins, peer-to-peer technology found legitimate uses, powering internet startups such as Skype (for telephony) and Spotify (for music streaming)—and also, as it happens, bitcoin.  The blockchain is an even more potent technology. In essence it is a shared, trusted, public ledger that everyone can inspect, but which no single user controls. The participants in a blockchain system collectively keep the ledger up to date: it can be amended only according to strict rules and by general agreement. Bitcoin’s blockchain ledger prevents double-spending and keeps track of transactions continuously. It is what makes possible a currency without a central bank.  Blockchains are also the latest example of the unexpected fruits of cryptography. Mathematical scrambling is used to boil down an original piece of information into a code, known as a hash. Any attempt to tamper with any part of the blockchain is apparent immediately—because the new hash will not match the old ones. In this way a science that keeps information secret (vital for encrypting messages and online shopping and banking) is, paradoxically, also a tool for open dealing.  Bitcoin itself may never be more than a curiosity. However blockchains have a host of other uses because they meet the need for a trustworthy record, something vital for transactions of every sort. Dozens of startups now hope to capitalise on the blockchain technology, either by doing clever things with the bitcoin blockchain or by creating new blockchains of their own 

See on Scoop.itCrowd Funding, Micro-funding, New Approach for Investors – Alternatives to Wall Street

Google insists it isn’t killing Chrome OS

A recent report claimed Google plans to merge Android and Chrome OS into one platform.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: fortune.com

On Thursday, the The Wall Street Journal published a report claiming that Google is in the process of merging its two operating systems: Chrome OS and Android.   According to the Journal’s sources, Chrome OS would cease to exist after being folded into Android sometime in 2017. Combining the two operating systems has been in the works for nearly two years, the report said.

Google’s Chrome OS runs on laptop and desktop computers, and has gained traction in the education sector. Android powers 1.4 billion smartphones, tablets, and watches.  Shortly after the Journal’s story appeared, Google’s newly appointed senior vice president for Android and Chrome, Hiroshi Lockheimer, took to Twitter to refute the Journal’s report, stating, “We are very committed to Chrome OS.”  A Google spokesperson has since confirmed to Fortune that the company intends to keep Chrome OS around for the foreseeable future, and is still pursuing Chromebook partnerships, specifically in education.

Despite assurances (likely aimed to calm the fears among current and potential partners), doing away with Chrome OS in favor of Android isn’t such a bad idea because of how successful Android has become.  If anything, it’s a move that’s been foreshadowed for the past two years. First with Google adding the ability to run Android apps on Chrome OS, and second with Chrome OS adopting a more touch-friendly interface in 2-in–1 Chromebooks that can be transformed into something akin to a tablet.

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How to get around Uber’s surge pricing

Looking to get around Uber’s surge pricing? Simply walk a few blocks or wait a few minutes, researchers say. Users know that Uber’s surge pricing is in effect when ordering a car from their smartph…

Sourced through Scoop.it from: nypost.com

Looking to get around Uber’s surge pricing? Simply walk a few blocks or wait a few minutes, researchers say.  Users know that Uber’s surge pricing is in effect when ordering a car from their smartphone and their app reports: “Demand is off the charts! Fares have increased to get more Ubers on the road.”  But it doesn’t always work that way, according to researchers at Northeastern University who studied the car-hailing service in New York and San Francisco.  Some drivers purposely avoid surge-pricing areas on the assumption fewer customers will pay the higher rate.

The study also cited anecdotal evidence of “collusion.” That is when drivers in a specific area purposely go offline to set up a supply “shortage,” which in turn creates a price surge.  For customers, though, gaming the Uber algorithm is even easier. The study found 40 percent of surges last only five minutes, and 70 percent are over in 10. This means waiting is saving.  But for those short on time, a normal fare could be just a block away. New York, for example, has 16 surge areas — each with its own price, depending on customer demand inside any one area’s perimeter.

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Google’s Lack Of Product Isolation Would Support A Chrome OS And Android Merge

Chrome OS, the “cloud” operating system that Google introduced for laptops and Android, the operating system on phones and tablets may become one, according..

Sourced through Scoop.it from: techcrunch.com

Chrome OS, the “cloud” operating system that Google introduced for laptops and Android, the operating system on phones and tablets may become one, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. The “folding” could happen as early as next year…could be introduced at the next developer event, I/O…or not.  I’ve personally spoken to sources over the past few years about it, some play the “one could imagine” game when discussing a “merger” of the two projects. The chatter increased when Android co-founder Andy Rubin left Google last year.  What we do know is that neither operating system is being “killed off.”  Here’s the deal. Mobile rules the world, and Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai (he previously oversaw Chrome, Chrome OS, Apps and added Android to his purview in 2013) stated as such during Alphabet’s recent earnings call. It’s no secret. There are elements of Android that make it a far superior operating system than Chrome OS. But you know what, Chrome OS does a hell of a job relying on Google’s browser, which is by the far the top browser among internetters.  What Chrome OS lacks is native apps, and that’s what gets developers excited and consumer’s minds swirling about possibilities. In fact, Chrome OS is quite boring. So boring that schools love them. Big companies are taking a look at them. Because of Google Apps. To me, Chrome OS always felt like it could be a “mode” that you should be able to turn on within Android. For when you had a shitty internet connection or just wanted the bare bones to get work done. Regardless, the ecosystem is alive and well.

See on Scoop.itInternet of Things – Company and Research Focus

Google slaps Symantec for issuing fake web security certificates

Google wants Symantec to stop issuing security certificates for sites it doesn’t own.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.engadget.com

Not long ago, Symantec revealed that it had issued bogus security certificates for numerous web domains, including Google’s… and as you might guess, Google isn’t happy. The search firm is warning  Symantec that, as of June 1st, any Symantec certificates which don’t meet its transparency policy may create warnings and “problems” in Google products (read: they’ll be deemed insecure). Moreover, it’s asking Symantec to explain why it didn’t catch some of the fake certificates, the causes behind each slip-up and the steps it’ll take to set things right. Not surprisingly, Google doesn’t want malicious sites posing as someone else (especially not Google) in order to deliver malware or perpetuate phishing scams.  For its part, Symantec claims that it issued a “small number” of test certificates by mistake, and revoked them before notifying those affected. It also fired a handful of staff who reportedly weren’t following guidelines. There’s a good chance this won’t happen again. However, the antivirus maker also appears to be downplaying the scope of the problem. 

See on Scoop.itInternet of Things – Company and Research Focus