Category Archives: IT News

Microsoft Corporation buys business networking site Yammer

It has been confirmed that Microsoft has bought office social networking site, Yammer, for $1.2bn (£770.6m). The four year old site has around five million users and operates like Facebook for communication purposes within companies.

Reports had emerged that the two companies were negotiating a deal, with Microsoft confirming their plans on 26th June 2012.
Firms that currently use Yammer include Ford Motor Company and business firm Deloitte. (more…)

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Microsoft to offer summer ‘sneak peak’ of Windows 8

Windows 8 presents a radical revamp for the company in its attempt to target the tablet buying market as well as serve its network of traditional PC users. Windows’ president Steven Sinofsky has said that the ‘release preview’ would be the closest yet to the final version (more…)

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Android’s share of tablet market jumps

Android accounted for 39% of the market in the final three months of last year, up from 29% a year earlier, Strategy Analytics said. Apple’s share fell to 58% from 68%. Microsoft’s share stood at 1.5%. Shipments of tablets reached 26.8 million in the quarter, up from 10.7 million a year ago.

“Demand for tablets among consumer, business and education users remains strong,” said Strategy Analytics’ Peter King. Apple shipped 15.4 million iPads between October and December. That compares with shipments of 10.5 million tablets using Android. For 2011 as a whole, shipments hit 66.9 million, up from 18.6 million in 2010.

Android is used by a number of tablet manufacturers, including Amazon and Samsung. It is also one of the most-used operating systems in the global smartphone market, although the latest figures suggest Apple has overtaken Android in the US.

According to figures from Kantar Worldpanel, Apple took 44.9% of market share in the US in the 12 weeks to 25 December, compared with 44.8% for Android. Last month, the 10 billionth app was downloaded from the Android Market, and some analysts expect the operating system to overtake Apple in terms of app downloads in the coming months.

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United Nations Agency ‘hacking attack’ investigated

A spokeswoman for the UNDP said the agency believed “an old server which contains old data” had been targeted. “The UNDP found [the] compromised server and took it offline,” said Sausan Ghosheh.”The server goes back to 2007. There are no active passwords listed for those accounts.”Please note that UNDP.org was not compromised.”

Details were posted on the website Pastebin under the Teampoison logo. The message preceding the login details accused the UN of acting to “facilitate the introduction of a New World Order” and asked “United Nations, why didn’t you expect us?” Many of the email addresses given end in undp.org, but others appear to belong to members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The poster noted that several of the accounts had “no passwords”. The message ended with the taunt: “The question now is how? We will let the so called ‘security experts’ over at the UN figure that out… Have a Nice Day.”

The security company Sophos noted that Teampoison hackers had previously attacked the maker of the Blackberry smartphone’s website and had published private information about former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. “Teampoison recently announced they were joining forces with Anonymous on a new initiative dubbed ‘Operation Robin Hood’, targeting banks and financial institutions,” the firm’s senior technology consultant, Graham Cluley wrote on Sophos’s blog.

The groups said at the time that their operation aimed to take money from credit cards and donate it to individuals and charities. They said people would not be harmed as the banks had to refund fraudulent charges.Teampoison added a “shoutout” to Anonymous in its UN attack posting, adding a link to a Youtube video with more information about its banking attack plan.

These latest moves serve as a reminder that so-called hacktivists are skilled and willing to collaborate to take down their targets, according to Professor Alan Woodward from the University of Surrey’s department of computing.”One of the big problems is that there is so much data around that people forget about their older systems that still have valuable data on them,” he said.”The lesson here is that anything that holds any data of any value must be protected.”

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Chemicals and defence firms targeted by hacking attack

It is believed that the campaign focused on intellectual property, including formulas and design processes. While the report did not reveal the names of any of the companies involved, it did say they included Fortune 100 firms. It disclosed that at least 12 of the infected companies were based in the US, five in the UK, and two in Denmark. Several of the firms were also said to have developed materials for military vehicles.

US giant Dow Chemicals confirmed to the BBC that it had been the target of “unusual emails” received during the summer. Symantec said workers at the organisations were sent emails asking them to open an attachment. It said in some cases they claimed to be invitations from established business partners, in others a security update. The firm said if the attachments were opened they installed a piece of code known as a Trojan horse, which allowed the hackers to obtain details of the targets’ computer networks. The attackers were then able to use this information to locate and copy files to another part of their targets’ systems, from where they were extracted.

Symantec identified the Trojan involved as PoisonIvy, which it said was developed by a Chinese speaker. The firm also said it had traced the attacks back to a “20-something male located in the Hebei region of China” who funnelled the process through a US computer server.

Symantec chief technology officer, Greg Day commented, “This is unfortunately becoming a new normal behaviour. We had at least a decade of cybercrime which generally targeted anybody. Then we had the emergence of very skilled techniques involving a lot of time and effort to target global organisations. What we have now is almost the commercialisation of those techniques, using elements such as advanced persistent threats to pursue espionage and intellectual property theft, whether that is for their own gain or resale.”

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Steve jobs vowed to ‘destroy’ android

Mr Jobs told author Walter Isaacson that he viewed Android’s similarity to iOS as “grand theft”. Apple is suing several smartphone makers which use the Android software. Apple enjoyed a close relationship with Google prior to the launch of the Android system. Google products, including maps and search formed a key part of the iPhone’s ecosystem. At that time, Google’s chief executive, now chairman, Eric Schmidt also sat on the board of Apple.

However, relations began to sour when Google unveiled Android in November 2007, 10 months after the iPhone first appeared. In subsequent years, Apple rejected a number of Google programs from its App store, forcing the company to create less-integrated web app versions. Android has subsequently enjoyed rapid adoption and now accounts for around 48% of global smartphone shipments, compared to 19% for Apple.

Apple has waged an aggressive proxy-war against Android, suing a number of the hardware manufacturers which have adopted it for their tablets and smartphones. Motorola was one of the first to be targeted, although it is Samsung that has borne the brunt of Mr Jobs’ ire.  The South Korean firm is currently banned from selling its Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia and Germany because of a combination of patent infringements and “look and feel” similarities. A smartphone ban is also pending in the Netherlands.

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Blackberry confirms services are ‘fully restored’

Following a three day global blackout for Blackberry services, Blackberry founder, Mike Lazaridis confirms services are “fully restored”. Millions of customers worldwide had their messaging and email services sporadically disrupted. (more…)

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Olympic Games computer systems prepare for cyber attacks

Scenarios to be run include a massive denial of service attack on the official website, and a virus getting onto organisers’ computers. Despite the extensive planning, Olympic bosses say they are unaware of any specific threat. Nevertheless, one of the biggest fears around the Olympics is not a crashed server or power outage, but a deliberate attack by cyber criminals. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China was subject to about 12 million online attacks per day.

Gerry Pennell, Chief Information officer for London 2012 believes the UK has learned lessons from its predecessor. “The approach of the website is a distributed one. That minimises the DDoS attack route. Another key principle is to keep mission-critical games systems quite isolated from anything web-facing. So very much partitioned and separated, thus making it hard for an external attack to succeed.”

Security testing on the system will be carried out in a specially isolated version of the Olympic network, using an in-house team of pretend hackers. Atos, the company managing the games’ IT systems is constantly looking for information on potential threats to the Olympic Games. Since the last Olympic Games, the nature and scope of cyber threats has changed substantially. A series of hacks and website takedowns – orchestrated by Anonymous and LulzSec – has hit organisations including Sony, HB Gary, and the UK and US governments. More complex attacks, such as the Stuxnet worm, which targeted Iran’s nuclear industry, highlighted the sophistication of politically motivated hackers.

In April, former Home Secretary David Blunkett warned that the Olympics could be hit by “devastating” cyber attacks if more was not done to boost the country’s IT defences. Since becoming prime minister, David Cameron has repeatedly stressed his commitment to protecting the country from cyber attacks. The UK is due to host a global summit to discuss the problem, beginning 1 November.

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Bangladesh unveils £83 laptop

The state-owned telecoms company Telephone Shilpa Sangstha (TSS) is producing four models of the laptop. The most basic one is priced at 10,000 taka (£83). The primary model runs the android operating system. Initially, the laptop will be distributed to various government departments. But later on they will be made available to the public and to tens of millions of students.

Managing Director, Mohammad Ismail of TSS commented: “This is a big step towards building a digital Bangladesh. When villages get laptops at a cheaper price they will be connected to the internet and that will bring lots of benefits.” Currently Bangladesh is producing 10% of the components for the laptop and the rest are imported. However, Ms Ismail expects “within six months we will be able to produce 60% of the components.”

However, the country’s internet connectivity remains poor and critics have raised doubts whether the distribution of laptops alone will help the country to connect digitally. The government has launched an ambitious plan, known as Digital Bangladesh, with the aim of digitally connecting the country by 2021. “Every part of the country will be brought under e-governance, while the telecommunication system is being modernised to cut the digital divide,” Sheikh Hasina said during the inauguration.

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Samsung seek injunction on iPhone 4s in France and Italy

Apple has obtained temporary embargoes on its rivals’ products in Australia and Germany and is seeking similar rulings in several other countries. In a statement, Samsung said: “Apple has continued to flagrantly violate our intellectual property rights and free ride on our technology, and we will steadfastly protect our intellectual property.”

Samsung’s claim centres around two patents covering Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA), part of the iPhone’s 3G wireless connectivity. As the technology is essential to the functioning of modern phones, Samsung is obliged to license it to other manufacturers under Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

Conversely, the patents being enforced by Apple against Samsung in Germany, the Netherlands and Australia relate to specific innovations which it is not obliged to license – primarily around its touchscreen user interface. It has also successfully argued before the courts that the look and feel of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab gave a “clear impression of similarity”.

Observeres believe Samsung are walking a fine line between standing-up to Apple and avoiding jeopardising valuable contracts with its occasional foe. Samsung supplies parts for many of Apple’s devices, including screens for some of its smartphones and tablets. The two companies are said to have agreed a components deal in February worth $7.8bn (£5bn).

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who may be prepared, where required, to sponsor an individual on a Tier 2
Visa (formerly UK Work Permit). If you are a highly skilled
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Commonwealth Contractors can help. Our OISC Registered Partners
specialise in Tier 1 General (formerly Highly Skilled Migrant Programme)
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either wish to apply or extend a Tier 1 General Visa.

For more
Information call Commonwealth Contractors now on 0800 294 4388 or Submit
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