By Joseph Menn SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A few days after selling WhatsApp to Facebook for $19 billion, Jan Koum stepped into a suite at the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco to celebrate with old friends, including CEOs, reformed hackers and a few people who fell into both those camps. Conducted over snacks and beer, the late-night festivity was a spontaneous reunion of a security super-group that had come to Koum's aid in 2000 as he grappled with a denial-of-service attack that knocked Yahoo offline when Koum was responsible for security there. The two most famous exceptions are WhatsApp, the messaging service that Koum co-founded, and Napster, the pioneering file-sharing company that was shut down by the music industry in 2001. Napster Co-founder Shawn Fanning was one of several members still in high school.
By Peter Apps and Jim Finkle LONDON/BOSTON (Reuters) - A sophisticated piece of spyware has been quietly infecting hundreds of government computers across Europe and the United States in one of the most complex cyber espionage programs uncovered to date. Several security researchers and Western intelligence officers say they believe the malware, widely known as Turla, is the work of the Russian government and linked to the same software used to launch a massive breach on the U.S. military uncovered in 2008.
Google wanted to acquire WhatsApp but it couldn’t get the deal done. Now, Google is apparently venting some frustrations that Facebook beat it to the punch. While speaking at the Morgan Stanley technology conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, Google’s chief business officer Nikesh Arora voiced his opinion that the huge $19 billion sum Facebook is paying to acquire WhatsApp is exorbitant. “$500 million per employee? Is that a good use of our money?” Arora replied to Morgan Stanley’s Scott Devitt when he asked if Google might be interested in another big mobile messaging market player following the WhatsApp deal. As The Wall Street Journal noted, Facebook’s acquisition of the 55-person cross-platform messaging startup WhatsApp actually works out to roughly $345 million
As we mentioned earlier this week, Microsoft has a problem because a huge chunk of Windows XP stragglers still aren’t upgrading to Windows 7 or Windows 8 even though there’s just over a month to go until XP support ends. Tom’s Hardware writes that Microsoft does have one more card to play that it hopes will finally convince XP diehards to switch: Windows 9. Microsoft knows that Windows 8 is a nonstarter for many XP users, which is why it’s apparently designed Windows 9 with the desktop user much more in mind. The company began its efforts to appease desktop PC users with Windows 8.1 — which added back a Start button and the option of booting up to desktop
By Jeremy Wagstaff and Rujun Shen SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A young American CEO who apparently committed suicide in Singapore was involved in the world of the bitcoin, but was also struggling with other issues prior to her death, friends and colleagues said. Autumn Radtke, chief executive of virtual currency exchange First Meta Pte Ltd, was found dead on February 26. Police said they were investigating her "unnatural" death, and "preliminary investigations showed no foul play is suspected." Neighbors said they thought Radtke jumped to her death from a residential apartment complex near her home. Friends and colleagues said Radtke, 28, was wrestling with professional and personal pressures, not least running a start-up that was struggling to gain traction.
By Julie Gordon and Leah Schnurr VANCOUVER/TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian police have launched an investigation after online bitcoin bank Flexcoin, which closed its virtual doors this week, said that it had lost about $600,000 worth of the digital currency in a hacker attack. The Edmonton, Alberta-based company reported the theft of 896 bitcoins on its website on Monday and said it "does not have the resources (or) assets ... to come back from this loss." It blamed the attack on hackers who had targeted its online wallet. Bitcoins stored in Flexcoin's cold storage facility, which is basically an offline bank, were not affected by the hack and will be returned to customers, the company said. The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) said on Wednesday they were investigating the issue.
So we know that malware developers absolutely love targeting Android since it’s not only the most widely used mobile operating system in the world but it’s also the least tightly controlled of all the other major mobile platforms. The Next Web points us to the latest study from F-Secure showing that, unsurprisingly, 97% of mobile malware found last year targeted Android phones. However, there’s some potentially good news here for Android users: As long as they’re smart, the chances of them ever encountering such malware are pretty slim. Of all the mobile malware threats that F-Secure found last year, only 0.1% came from Google Play, the official app store where Android users mostly go to get their app fixes. F-Secure
By Jeremy Wagstaff SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Some of those who have lost bitcoins in the collapse of Mt. Gox have turned to internet sleuthing to find out where their money has gone - but they're unlikely to have much luck. Forum websites like Reddit and internet relay chatrooms have attracted hordes of users as the Mt. Gox debacle unfolded in recent weeks. "The crowdsourcing so far has been a miserable failure," said Emin Gun Sirer of Cornell University, who posted his own analysis challenging several theories about what may have happened at Mt. Gox. The problem, Gun Sirer and others say, is two-fold: users of such forums are not always methodical or disciplined in their research on one hand, and on the other, bitcoin's combination of transparency and complexity invites the unwary to draw false conclusions.
FreedomPop on Wednesday unveiled the Privacy Phone, also known as the “Snowden Phone,” or essentially a Galaxy S2 model that has advanced privacy-guarding features, while being budget-friendly at the same time. The Privacy Phone costs $189 and for that price buyers will get unlimited text and voice as well as 500MB of free data for three months. Then, the privacy features and wireless plan will cost $10 per month. When it comes to software features, the Privacy Phone will offer 128-bit encryption for voice and text messages and a secure VPN for encrypting data. The privacy application will run in the background and can be terminated by the user. The phone will have custom FreedomPop dialer and text apps, and
Nexus 5 users who have noticed an annoying camera bug that often sees a software process called “mm-qcamera-daemon” eat up CPU resources and drain their handset’s battery can now rest assured that Google is on the case. As noted by Phandroid, Google has officially acknowledged the Nexus 5 bug on its Android issue tracker website and promised that a fix is in the works. That’s the good news. The bad news is that we still have no timeline as far as when the fix might be issued, since Google would only say that it will be implemented in a future Android software update. Users have noted that the bug is tied to apps that access camera processes while in the
Free apps and services have a high price for some users. Take Julia Angwin, a senior reporter at ProPublica who writes in The New York Times that she spent $2,200 last year to make sure that she could still use the web while avoiding all of the free services offered by companies such as Google and Facebook that harvest her data and use them to sell more targeted ads. What did she have to buy that cost so much money, you ask? Angwin says that among other things she bought “a $230 service that encrypted my data in the Internet cloud; a $35 privacy filter to shield my laptop screen from coffee-shop voyeurs; and a $420 subscription to a portable Internet service
By Sruthi Ramakrishnan and Edwin Chan SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc's Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer will retire and hand the reins to Luca Maestri in September, entrusting to the Italian-born executive a cash pile the size of Vietnam's economy and the difficult task of guiding Wall Street's expectations. The 50-year-old born in Rome is taking over with Apple at a crossroads. ...
LG will continue its partnership with Google and launch a Nexus 6 smartphone this year alongside Google’s first Nexus smartwatch, Gizmodo.de has learned from a source during last week’s MWC 2014 event in Barcelona, Spain. LG has already made two Nexus devices including the 2012 Nexus 4 and 2013 Nexus 5 smartphones. The vendor also released a Nexus-like LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition tablet last year. So it’s not necessarily surprising to hear that the South Korean device maker may be involved in this year’s Google Nexus plans. According to the German publication, the Nexus 6 will be a “lightweight” version of the LG G3, although the device has not actually been detailed. Assuming the report is accurate,
By Peter Apps LONDON (Reuters) - Crashing websites and overwhelming data centers, a new generation of cyber attacks is costing millions and straining the structure of the Internet. While some attackers are diehard activists, criminal gangs or nation states looking for a covert way to hit enemies, others are just teenage hackers looking for kicks. ...
Google’s Chrome mobile browser is the best mobile web browser we’ve used and it looks like Google is about to make it even better. DroidLife flags a thread found in Reddit’s Android community that details how Google has added Chromecast support in its latest beta for the mobile version of its Chrome browser. The best thing about the added support, Redditor WhyYouPaul reports, is that it doesn’t just work with YouTube videos but also with other HTML5-based video sites such as Vimeo as well. Chromecasting over the mobile Chrome browser on an Android phone is apparently very buggy and inconsistent so far, but that’s to be expected from an experimental beta feature. Any Chromecast fans interested in trying out the new
Flexcoin, a relatively small Bitcoin bank, announced early Tuesday morning that it's shutting its doors in light of being completely robbed of its currency. All of it. Just days after a massive theft at another major Bitcoin depository, Flexcoin was completely cleaned out by hackers, leaving the site no choice but to shut down.
Microsoft has a problem: It desperately wants any remaining Windows XP users to upgrade to a newer version of the operating system but a huge chunk of them still haven’t budged. The latest numbers from NetMarketShare show that Windows XP still accounts for around 29.5% of all desktops in use even though Microsoft is due to end support for the 13-year-old platform on April 8th. ZDNet reports that Microsoft plans to pester remaining XP holdovers starting next week by sending them pop-up notifications reminding them — again — that it will end XP support within a month. However, as Computerworld reports, Microsoft may have a tough time convincing some Windows XP users to upgrade because it’s trying to sell them
By Emily Flitter NEW YORK (Reuters) - Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has sent subpoenas to Mt. Gox, other bitcoin exchanges, and businesses that deal in bitcoin to seek information on how they handled recent cyber attacks, a source familiar with the probe said on Wednesday. At least three exchanges were forced to halt withdrawals of bitcoins on February 7, including Mt. Gox, which was the largest at the time. Mt. Gox never resumed service before going dormant on Tuesday, leaving customers unable to recover their funds. "As there is a lot of speculation regarding Mt Gox and its future, I would like to use this opportunity to reassure everyone that I am still in Japan, and working very hard with the support of different parties to find a solution to our recent issues," Karpeles said in a statement posted on the Mt. Gox website.
Cybercrime is the second most common type of fraud reported by financial firms, more than double the level across other industries, as criminals turn increasingly to technology as their main weapon against banks, a survey showed. Some 39 percent of financial services companies that suffered from economic crime last year said they had been hit by cybercrime, compared to 17 percent in other industries, according to the survey by consultancy PwC. Banks in Europe and the United States are being told by regulators to toughen their defenses against cyber attacks, which have grown more frequent and severe as criminals and "hacktivists" become more sophisticated. Banks are often targeted for financial gain, but sometimes it is to disrupt business.
By Joseph Menn SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Electronic spying tools used by the U.S. government could end up in the hands of organized criminals and hackers, further eroding Internet security, warned industry leaders who called for new restrictions and oversight of government activity. "It is a big worry" that the methods will spread, said Andrew France, former deputy director of the UK's NSA equivalent, GCHQ, and now chief executive of security startup Darktrace. The government habit of purchasing information about undisclosed holes in software is also "really troublesome," said former White House cyber security advisor Howard Schmidt. "There's collateral damage." Both France and Schmidt spoke to Reuters at the annual RSA Conference, the world's largest cyber security gathering, in San Francisco last week.
The next time the deposed prince of Nigeria has a massive inheritance to send you, will he offer to give it to you in Bitcoins? Cornell associate computer science professor Emin Gün Sirer has written a lengthy post that details why we shouldn’t believe bankrupt Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox’s official explanations for how it lost nearly $500 million worth of Bitcoins. Essentially, Sirer just doesn’t think incompetence alone can’t explain such a stunning loss and alleges that there had to have been at least one person working within Mt. Gox who was either masterminding or aiding and abetting the theft. “Human history is full of people who were entrusted with valuables, who then absconded with them,” he writes. “Whenever anyone is in
Google’s Paul Eremenko at a LAUNCH event last week performed a first hands-on demo of a Google Ara smartphone that revealed some of the interesting things about Google’s ATAP project. During a 25-minute presentation, Eremenko explained the reason Google is investing resources into Project Ara while showing off two prototypes. Unfortunately neither model was functional. As previous reports suggested, the Ara is Google’s way of replacing feature phones and cheap smartphones that could be aesthetically pleasing, but also functionally superior to similarly priced alternatives. However, Google doesn’t necessarily want to drive down the price of high-end smartphones with the help of Ara. Instead, Ara phones could help the company connect the other 5 billion people in the world who don’t have Internet access, a goal Google and Motorola execs
We recently revealed the six organizations that secretly run the Internet, and interesting new details surrounding one of them were recently uncovered. In a great piece over at The Guardian, the site covers one of the most intriguing security measures taken by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the group responsible for the system that maps the Internet and ensures that web addresses point to the proper servers around the world. To protect the system that maintains all of this data, 14 people hold 14 keys, half of which must be used as part of a movie-like ritual in order to entire that the systems that map the Internet remain safe and secure. “The east and west coast
As scammers continue to get more and more creative with their endeavors, it is becoming increasingly important that we keep our guard up at all times. We recently covered a new scam that targets Verizon Wireless subscribers and looks to take over control of their accounts, but a new scam targeting Netflix customers is even more dangerous. Malwarebytes’ Jérôme Segura recently uncovered the scam, which uses a fake website to steal Netflix users’ login credentials. The scam doesn’t stop there, however. After a user enters his or her credentials on the login page, an error message is displayed. “We have detected unusual activity on this account,” the message reads. “To protect this account from unauthorized use, we have temporarily suspended this
Those who follow virtual currency Bitcoin with even the slightest interest have no doubt read of the major breach and subsequent bankruptcy filing of Mt. Gox, formerly the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange. The Tokyo-based company had been eerily silent over the past few weeks as customers continued to panic as their investments in Bitcoin, some worth millions, had vanished; Mt. Gox went offline some time ago, and rumors of a breach began to swirl immediately. Now, the company has confirmed that more than $500 million worth of Bitcoins were lost in a major heist that completely wiped out the exchange, and it gave a loose explanation of how it thinks the monumental robbery occurred. In a nutshell, Mt. Gox’s statement
(Reuters) - Google Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd have asked Chinese regulators to ensure that Microsoft Corp's bid to acquire Nokia Oyj's phone business did not lead to higher licensing fees on patents that remain with the Finnish company, Bloomberg reported on Monday. The companies joined Chinese mobile phone makers Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and ZTE Corp in voicing concerns about Microsoft gaining more power in the smartphone market, the report said, citing two government officials familiar with the matter.
Following the bankruptcy of Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox on Friday, the company has released a full statement on the matter on the homepage of its website. Under the purview of the Tokyo District Court on Friday, the company began “procedure of civil rehabilitation.” This includes orders preventing the company from paying its debts, transferring assets, or performing other financial maneuvers. It also gives specifics numbers on how the liabilities of the company dwarf their current assets. Gox currently has assets totaling 3,841,866,163 yen, and liabilities estimated around 6,501,119,371 yen (roughly $38 million and $64 million, respectively).
(Reuters) - Britain's revenue collector is preparing to abort its plans to tax Bitcoin trading only days after the currency's leading exchange, Mt Gox, collapsed after losing almost $500 million of customer deposits to hackers, the Financial Times reported. HM Revenue & Customs said in a meeting with UK traders that it would no longer levy 20 percent value-added tax (VAT) on bitcoin transactions and also said it would not tax margins either, according to the paper. Corporation tax and other taxes would still apply, according to the FT. The market for bitcoins - a virtual currency created or "mined" through a process involving a network of computers that solve complex mathematical problems - is worth about $7 billion at current market rates.