Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Is this merely a continuation of the Ballmer era strategy or will we see “Skype phones?”
Microsoft to Buy Nokia’s Device Business in Deal Worth $7.17 Billion
Microsoft announced late Monday that it is buying the majority of Nokia’s cellphone unit for 3.79 billion Euros ($5 billion), and spending another 1.65 billion Euros ($2.18 billion) to license Nokia’s patent portfolio, for a total of 5.44 billion Euros ($7.17 billion).
… The move is a clear sign that Microsoft believes it can and must succeed in the phone business, and that it cannot afford to leave the success in the hands of a partner – even one like Nokia, that had bet its future on Microsoft’s phone software.

How can they be so good?”: The strange story of Skype

(Related) Just for perspective, 7 Billion is cheap.
Verizon to pay Vodafone $130B for stake in Verizon Wireless
… The deal is the third largest corporate acquisition ever, behind Vodafone's $183 billion deal for Mannesmann AG in 1999 and AOL's $164 billion deal for Time Warner the next year. Under the terms of the deal announced Sunday, Verizon will pay $60.2 billion in stock and $58.9 billion in cash for Vodafone's 45 percent share.

More than target practice. Did Syria even notice? There is provocation and then there is an announcement of capabilities...
Israel Just Fired Missiles into the Mediterranean
With the entire world on edge over (possible) impending airstrikes on Syria, it seems that Israel decided to freak everyone out and start launching ballistic missiles into the sea.
Around 6:00 a.m. ET on Tuesday morning, Russian news services began reporting that Russian-based radar systems detected two ballistic "objects" over the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. With multiple U.S. warships already in the region, and Barack Obama threatening an attack on Syria, officials naturally wondered if this was the planned assault they were worried about. When nothing fell out of the sky on Damascus, it soon became apparent that whatever was shot into the air had fallen harmlessly into the water.

Probably less than Citibank spends on paperclips.
Back in June 2011, I noted a breach involving Citibank (previous coverage here and here). There’s now a follow-up to that breach:
Citibank N.A. will pay $55,000 to the state of Connecticut and will obtain a third-party data security audit of its online credit card account system under a settlement filed in court today, Attorney General George Jepsen has announced.
The settlement comes after a joint investigation with the California Attorney General’s Office revealed that a known technical vulnerability in Citibank’s Account Online Web-based service permitted hackers to access multiple user accounts. Hackers accessed account information through Account Online by logging in with an account number and password, and then modifying a few characters in the resulting Universal Resource Locater (URL) bar in a browser in order to access additional accounts. This vulnerability was known to the company at the time of the breach and may have existed since 2008.
Citibank discovered that Account Online had been breached on May 10, 2011, but did not permanently fix the vulnerability until May 27, 2011, and did not begin notifying affected customers until June 3, 2011. Account information for more than 360,000 Citibank customers, including about 5,066 Connecticut residents, was accessed or obtained by hackers.
“Citibank represented to its customers that its online system was secured, but ultimately the techniques hackers used to obtain individual account information were relatively simple and unsophisticated,” Attorney General Jepsen. “This settlement not only ensures that Citibank will be responsive to its customers should this system experience a breach in the future, it also requires the company to review and audit its security protocols.”
… The settlement is not final until approved by the court.
Please click here to view the complaint and the settlement documents.
The settlement does not contain any admission of liability or guilt on Citibank’s part.
SOURCE: Attorney General Jepsen

My Math topic this week is Probability. What are the odds that this is the only company that ever did this? (Other than Big Brother in 1984)
Valerie Vlasenko reports:
TP Vision is a joint venture based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, which develops, manufactures and markets Philips branded TV sets in Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and selected countries in Asia-Pacific.
In 2012 TP Vision made statements about their monitoring the use of Philips branded smart TVs in the Netherlands, such as
“60% of our active users switch on their television more than 50 times a month”.
The Dutch Data Protection Authority started an investigation into TP Visions collection and handling of usage data.
Not surprisingly, they were found to be in violation:
TP Vision used cookies and logfiles in order to monitor the users behavior – the programs, which the users were watching, the websites they were visiting and the apps they used for that, and intended to offer personalized ads to its customers. However TP Visions did not ask their prior permission to these actions. Moreover the company did not inform their customers about such monitoring, providing them with insufficient information about processing their personal data.
Read more on Legal Artviser.

Would this be legal in the US? (If providers could charge for it, they would do it)
Juliette Garside reports:
Broadband providers are being asked to create a database of customers illegally downloading music, films and books, which could be used to disconnect or prosecute persistent offenders.
Measures to combat digital piracy will be among the topics discussed at a Downing Street breakfast on 12 September, when record-label bosses and their trade association, the BPI, have been invited to meet David Cameron.
BT, Virgin Media, BSkyB and TalkTalk are being asked by music and film companies to sign up to a voluntary code for policing illegal downloading.
Read more on The Guardian.
So BPI wants to make broadband providers their agents for purposes of identifying and stopping illegal downloads? I don’t see how they can do that under the Data Protection Act there, but I’m no lawyer. I only hope the providers do not agree to create such records or databases at the BPI’s behest.

Attention Ethical Hackers: I want one. Let's discuss extra credit...
Dan Goodin reports:
Recently leaked brochures advertising next generation spy devices give outsiders a glimpse into the high-tech world of government surveillance. And one of the most tantalizing of the must-have gizmos available from a company called GammaGroup is a body-worn device that surreptitiously captures the unique identifier used by cell phones.
“The unit is optimized for short range covert operation, designed to allow users to get close to Target(s) to maximize the changes of only catching the Target(s’) identities and minimal unwanted collateral,” one of the marketing pamphlets boasts. “The solution can be used as a standalone device or integrated into wider data-gathering and geo-tracking systems.”
Read more on Ars Technica.

“Governments don't do a good job, so we want to be your government?”
Australia – The Coalition’s Policy for E-Gov and Digital Economy
“One of the Coalition’s core principles is a preference for markets, because markets typically produce better outcomes than governments. But government can play a valuable leadership role in the economy, particularly in periods of structural change. If elected, a Coalition government intends to play such a leadership role in driving Australia’s transition to a digital economy and recognising the importance of prioritising investments in ICT. The centrality of ICT to productivity, innovation and growth is beyond dispute: it shows up in the data, in business and in our everyday lives. McKinsey Global Institute has calculated around a fifth of GDP growth in advanced economies over the past five years has arisen from the Internet and associated technologies – with 75 per cent of this growth occurring in sectors not traditionally seen as ‘technology’ industries.”

A major benefit (or downside) of Big Data?
New on LLRX – Will Data Analytics Allow Us to “Do Less Law?”
Ron Friedmann is an expert on the legal market, where hardly a day goes by without an article or blog post about alternative fee arrangements (AFA) or delivering more value. Yet both clients and law firms struggle to define value and adopt alternatives to the billable hour, so Ron proposes perhaps the time has come to re-think the question.

For my students who don't have time to read an article, but can sit and watch a video...
– Two of the top sites on the Internet today are YouTube and Wikipedia. Together, they provide lots of entertainment and information. But what if you could combine both sites, so that relevant YouTube videos appear on Wikipedia pages? Well, that’s what WikiTube does.

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