Displaying items by tag: Report

Facebook embroiled in new data sharing claims

Written on Thursday, 14 June 2018 09:10

Beleaguered social media behemoth Facebook has been subjected to further scrutiny over its data sharing policies following a report by the Wall Street Journal.  The WSJ has claimed that Facebook offered deeper access to user records in a series of customized data sharing deals.

According to the report in the New York-based publication the Silicon Valley based social networking firm struck agreements, known internally as whitelists with a small group of companies which allowed access to users’ data which included connections, phone numbers and a metric that measures the closeness of a user with other users in its network.

When quizzed about these agreements and whitelists by The Wall Street Journal, Facebook acknowledged the deals which included agreements with enterprises such as the Royal Bank of Canada and Japanese car manufacturer Nissan, among others.

It was further alleged that the access was offered to companies which advertise on the social network or were valuable for other reasons, the newspaper said. In addition to this, it was further disclosed that Facebook continued to offer such access for periods lasting weeks and months after declaring it had cut off access to third party developers in 2015.

Company officials told WSJ Facebook struck the deals to improve user experience, test new features and allow certain partners to wind down existing data sharing projects. The latest revelation is the latest in a string of publicly damaging setbacks for the company, which faced fierce criticism in recent months over its data sharing activities.

Last week, Facebook’s data sharing practices with 60 device makers, including China-headquartered vendors, was flagged by a US politician. The company is also attempting to deal with the fallout of revelations in March that it shared data of 87 million users with Cambridge Analytica. It was also announced last week that Instagram had overtaken Facebook amongst teenagers and young adults.

Published in Apps

Telecommunication operators Three and Vodafone are closing the gap on UK incumbent EE according to analysis conducted by Root-Metrics. The company carried out 646,230 tests across all of the United Kingdom. It assessed the operators in six categories, which ranged from reliability, speed, data, calls, texts and overall performance.

Whilst EE still came out on top as the strongest performer, it was highlighted that both Vodafone and Three had closed the gap considerably. EE was given four awards by Root-Score, while both Three and Vodafone received two awards each.

EE won the best overall category, and also emerged as frontrunners in speed and data. In addition to this, it shared joint-first with Vodafone for text messaging. Three won outright across the UK for its reliability, and shared joint-first with Vodafone for call performance. O2 came last in all categories apart from text quality, where it finished third.

However, this represents a significant and telling change across the telecommunications landscape, last year EE won all the awards on offer by Root-Score. The latest findings declared that whilst EE is the best-performing telco overall in the UK, Vodafone was No.1 in Northern Ireland, whilst Three dominated in Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland was the only region were 02 performed well.

General Manager of Europe for Root-Metrics, Scott Stonham, suggests that “the report only serves to reiterate just how competitive the UK telecommunications sector is,” he said.

“These latest results have really shaken things up and show the increasing competitiveness in the UK, particularly over the last six months. EE continues to lead the way, but Three and Vodafone are close behind. What is clear is that each operator showed strong performance in at least one particular country, while nobody was able to sweep the board at the four nation’s level. UK consumers have strong mobile options depending on how and where they use their devices most.”

A Senior Research Director on telecoms at HIS Markit said it was imperative that operators needed to invest in radio spectrum in order to succeed. “To succeed, mobile operators must secure sufficient radio spectrum and invest in the necessary equipment, sites and operational teams to ensure consumers enjoy fast reliable mobile broadband. With new UK spectrum allocations soon to be auctioned in the run up to 5G, these performance results provide a snapshot on the competitive balance between the UK mobile operators now, and highlight which operators most need to acquire new spectrum capacity if they are to be a future mobile performance winner.”

Fogg also stressed that the results which come ahead of a spectrum auction in September, could radically alter the balance of spectrum holdings, which would allow operators with smaller holdings such as Three and O2 to compete in a more efficient manner. 02 CEO Mark Evans, has already declared that he wants to see the auction commence soon and that it was compete ‘fiercely’ for spectrum allocation.

Published in Telecom Operators

It has long been speculated that the cause of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 debacle was due to faulty batteries – and a report published by Reuters confirms that it indeed was the case for the South Korean multinational giants.

Samsung’s intentions to dominate the smartphone market seemed well on track, when globally millions of units of the popular Galaxy Note 7 devices were purchased. However, disaster struck last September when reports emerged that Galaxy Note 7 phones were catching fire – and in some instances actually self-combusting.

It was a devastating moment for Samsung as they were forced to recall all units in October - and in addition to this Galaxy Note 7’s were also banned on flights all across the world.  Samsung halted production and sales of the device in October - in December a press release issued by Samsung revealed that almost 96% of all Galaxy Note 7 smartphones had been returned to the company.

What caused this has been widely speculated, but it has always been suspected that faulty batteries were the primary cause for the malfunctions in the devices. It was believed faulty batteries manufactured by its sister company SDI where to blame, but it was never officially confirmed.

However, a report by Reuters suggests that a well placed source close to Samsung has confirmed that the cause of the fires were due to the issue of faulty batteries.

When manufacturing firm instrumental tore down the Note 7 month, it said that the phone’s design was what caused the issue, as there was no gap between the body and the battery inside – causing it to become compressed over time, even without outside pressure being exerted.

According to Reuters’ source, Samsung was able to replicate the fire and didn’t find hardware design or software-related issues to be the problem – so it’ll be interesting to learn exactly what caused the devices to burst into flames. At the beginning of January, South Korean news outlet JoongAng Ilbo reported that Samsung has completed its investigation of the issue plaguing the Note 7 and would publish its findings later this month. Reuters’ source says that we can expect to hear about that on January 23, just a day ahead of the company’s fourth-quarter earnings results announcement.

Hopefully Samsung has learned something from the debacle, which costed the company $5.2 billion in operating profits over the last three quarters, and will avoid such mistakes as it attempts to bounce back with its upcoming Galaxy S8, which will likely be revealed at this year’s Mobile World Congress expo in February.

 

Published in Devices

A new global report from Ericsson, “Opportunities in 5G: The view from eight industries”, reveals the anticipated impact of 5G, the next-generation mobile technology, on specific industries. It examines how these industries expect to apply 5G, which specific uses of the new technology are likely to dominate in their industry, and what business reasons will drive them to move to 5G.

The report captures the opinions of more than 650 executives globally – including CIOs, CTOs, CMOs, and other heads of IT Infrastructure – from the eight key industries most likely to be impacted by 5G: automotive, utilities, public safety, high-tech manufacturing, Internet/digital natives, healthcare, financial services, and media/gaming.

A majority of these decision-makers depend on and actively invest in communications technology to help drive innovation. Looking ahead, 94 percent rate next-generation mobile networks as important to the strategic development of their business.

Responding to disruption from emerging technologies – such as M2M communications, broadband connectivity, cloud service, and mobile – is a key driving force behind business innovation within the respondents’ companies and industries. A large majority indicated they intend to make significant changes to their businesses in order to take advantage of 5G when it arrives.

Rima Qureshi, Head of Region North America and Chief Strategy Officer says: “Emerging technologies, such as the Internet of Things, are becoming integral parts of our economy and lifestyle, and this is driving major change across industries. 5G will accelerate this transformation and create new uses, new revenue streams, and new business models for industries and consumers alike. With 5G, industries will have connectivity that is customized for their requirements and the agility to move quickly to meet customer needs and be innovative.”

”Today’s business environment is driven by change. Three fundamental ICT forces – broadband, mobility and cloud– are rapidly reshaping value chains, digitalizing business models and creating possibilities that were previously unimaginable,” said Rafiah Ibrahim, Head of Ericsson Region Middle East and East Africa.

Highlights from the report include:

Automotive: Cars will rely on high-performance, secure networks

Increased performance, increased security and device-to-device communications are expected to be the areas where 5G provides real business value. The connected car is the major trend in the auto industry, and while many are looking ahead to self-driving systems, enhanced GPS with instant traffic and map updates is the most favored use for 5G globally.

Utilities: 5G will help cut costs, secure facilities

Increased productivity, faster introduction of new products and services to consumers, and boosted efficiency are key business drivers for utility companies to adopt 5G. Remote monitoring and maintenance through sensors is seen as the top benefit as many utilities look to protect valuable assets located in distant and sometimes hazardous locations.

Public safety: 5G will improve citizens’ experience, security

Public safety organizations expect 5G technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) to help keep citizens safe while spending as few taxpayer dollars as possible. A total of 96 percent say they are already investing to take advantage of these technologies. They look to new networks to expand capabilities in connected devices and for network slicing through 5G to provide secure priority communications during an emergency.

High-tech manufacturers: Reach peak productivity with 5G

With disruption from new entrants and business processes threatening the manufacturing industry, the majority of companies plan to take advantage of 5G technologies to increase productivity, improve the customer experience and introduce new products and services to consumers faster. Many expect 5G to help manage risks through monitoring of assets and improving remote site safety and security.

Internet/Digital Natives: Build customer loyalty with 5G

The online stores, social networks, digital organization and collaboration tools, and travel and ride-sharing services included in this category seek out cutting-edge technology to help them stay relevant, attract new customers, and build brand loyalty. A total of 96 percent confirm they are investing to take advantage of 5G, and that an enhanced customer experience is the leading expected benefit.

Healthcare: 5G promises to improve quality of life

A significant majority of healthcare executives surveyed expect 5G to allow them to implement new services and products that will improve quality of life for the public and 94 percent said they will make significant changes to their business to take advantage of 5G networks. Additionally, healthcare executives think that security is just as important as performance in terms of 5G business value.

Financial Services: 5G will enhance productivity, customer satisfaction

The financial services industry expects 5G to boost real-time mobile trading and high frequency trading. With security top-of-mind in the financial world, though, 84 percent of financial services executives expressed even greater interest in 5G’s potential for powering more secure transactions.

Media and Gaming: 5G will bring truly immersive experience

Media and gaming executives place the highest priority on delighting their audiences and holding their attention. This includes providing new immersive experiences – such as ultra HD 4K and virtual reality on mobile devices – using the higher capacity delivered through 5G networks. A significant majority highlighted live personal 360 view broadcasting and fixed wireless broadband as additional developments expected from 5G.

Published in Telecom Vendors

Deloitte’s Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) practices highlight the increasing trends for connectivity and mobile phone usage across the board in Deloitte’s latest report entitled: Global Mobile Consumer Trends. Both intensity in usage and ownership rates are increasing―in some categories more than doubling―pointing to dramatically changing consumer behaviors, and a shift towards non-voice communications such as text and instant messaging (IM).

Deloitte conducted a survey designed to gather information regarding consumer behaviors, trends and opinions for a broad range of wireless and mobility products and services across regions and specific countries. The results offer an extensive perspective of the mobile consumer climate, offering country and market level comparisons, covering 6 continents, 31 countries, and 49,500 respondents, representing nearly 70 percent of the world’s total population.

“There is no doubt that the reality of the connected consumer is here to stay and it will transform every industry and region of the world,” said Emmanuel Durou, Consulting partner and Technology, Media and Telecommunications leader at Deloitte in the Middle East. The long-term growth prospects for many companies around the world rely on their ability to stay ahead of the connected consumer’s rapidly changing and evolving habits.

Mobile payments continue to pick up speed

While it is still a relatively new application, mPayment usage is gaining traction globally. According to the survey results, in developed markets, 20 percent of consumers reported using mobile payments. In emerging markets, nearly half of consumers (47 percent) reported phone usage to make in-store payments, and 65 percent indicated their interest to use the technology.

Highlighting the rapid speed of pick-up, China, a predominantly cash market, over the past year has been one of the countries to adopt mobile payments for in-store purchases most quickly with a 66 percent increase in usage over last year. However, across the board, survey respondents listed the number one reason for not wanting to use mPayments – security, with 40 percent of consumers globally noting concern that mobile payments are not secure enough.

“These findings around mPayments highlight some surprising nuances in the current global mobile consumer marketplace. For instance, it is certainly interesting that consumers in technologically advanced countries like Germany, France and U.S. are far more reluctant to use mobile payment solutions than in some emerging markets,” continued Durou. “The lack of confidence in mPayment security, as evidenced by the survey responses received, also points to the need for consumer education, considering that these systems are often more secure than traditional payment methods.”

Additional report highlights:

Mobility comes in all shapes and sizes: Keeping with annual trends, the number of global consumers who own devices continues to increase with 78 percent having smartphones, nearly 10 percent owning wearables, and more than 50 percent having tablets. Diving deeper into wearable devices the survey results show that, one-fourth of consumers in emerging markets plan to buy a wearable device in the next 12 months. On a country basis, Singapore leads the world in connected consumers. Poland also ranks near the top in each category, with the U.S., Australia and Italy close behind. 

Consumers can’t get enough mobile screen time: Almost all mobile consumers check their phones within three hours of waking up. In emerging markets, 93 percent of consumers look at their phone within an hour or less of waking up. Similarly, 14 percent of emerging market consumers check their phones at least 100 times a day.

Text and instant message are consumer favorites: Globally, amongst available mobile device applications, consumers are checking text messages and instant messages (IM) first in the morning. Although voice service remains the most commonly used application across the developed markets with 76 percent indicating usage in the last week, it is closely followed by text messages (74 percent).

Regional preferences for network vs. Wi-Fi: In developed markets, 4G speeds are consistently higher than Wi-Fi speeds. In the Americas region, Wi-Fi is the preferred method to connect to the internet, while Europe and Asia-Pac prefer mobile (e.g., 4G).

Published in Apps

Intel Security just released its McAfee Labs Threats Report: June 2016, which explains the dynamics of mobile app collusion, where cybercriminals manipulate two or more apps to orchestrate attacks capable of exfiltrating user data, inspecting files, sending fake SMS messages, loading additional apps without user consent, and sending user location information to control servers.

McAfee Labs has observed such behaviour across more than 5,000 versions of 21 apps designed to provide useful user services such as mobile video streaming, health monitoring, and travel planning. Unfortunately, the failure of users to regularly implement essential software updates to these 21 mobile apps raises the possibility that older versions could be commandeered for malicious activity.

Widely considered a theoretical threat for many years, colluding mobile apps carries out harmful activity together by leveraging inter-app communication capabilities common to mobile operating systems. These operating systems incorporate many techniques to isolate apps in sandboxes, restrict their capabilities, and control which permissions they have at a fairly granular level. Unfortunately, mobile platforms also include fully documented ways for apps to communicate with each other across sandbox boundaries. Working together, colluding apps can leverage these inter-app communication capabilities for malicious purposes. McAfee Labs has identified three types of threats that can result from mobile app collusion:

  • Information theft: An app with access to sensitive or confidential information willingly or unwillingly collaborates with one or more other apps to send information outside the boundaries of the device.
  • Financial theft: An app sends information to another app that can execute financial transactions or make financial API calls to achieve similar objectives.
  • Service misuse: One app controls a system service and receives information or commands from one or more other apps to orchestrate a variety of malicious activities.

Mobile app collusion requires at least one app with permission to access the restricted information or service, one app without that permission, but with access outside the device and the capability to communicate with each other. Either app could be collaborating on purpose or unintentionally due to accidental data leakage or inclusion of a malicious library or software development kit. Such apps may use a shared space (files readable by all) to exchange information about granted privileges and to determine which one is optimally positioned to serve as an entry point for remote commands.

“Improved detection drives greater efforts at deception,” said Raj Samani, VP & CTO, EMEA, Intel Security. “It should not come as a surprise that adversaries have responded to mobile security efforts with new threats that attempt to hide in plain sight. Our goal is to make it increasingly harder for malicious apps to gain a foothold on our personal devices, developing smarter tools and techniques to detect colluding mobile apps.” 

The McAfee Labs report discusses forward-looking research to create tools, initially used by threat researchers manually, but eventually to be automated, to detect colluding mobile apps. Once identified, colluding apps may be blocked using mobile security technology. The report suggests a variety of user approaches to minimize mobile app collusion, including downloading mobile apps only from trusted sources, avoiding apps with embedded advertising, not “jailbreaking” mobile devices, and most importantly, always keeping operating system and app software up-to-date.

This quarter’s report also documents the return of the W32/Pinkslipbot Trojan (also known as Qakbot, Akbot, QBot). This backdoor Trojan with worm-like abilities was initially launched in 2007 and quickly earned a reputation for being a damaging, high-impact malware family capable of stealing banking credentials, email passwords, and digital certificates. The Pinkslipbot malware re-emerged in late 2015 with improved features such as anti-analysis and multi-layered encryption abilities to thwart malware researchers’ efforts to dissect and reverse engineer it.

The report also provides details about the Trojan’s self-update and data exfiltration mechanism, and McAfee Labs’ effort to monitor Pinkslipbot infections and credential theft in real-time. Finally, McAfee Labs assesses the state of mainstream hashing functions, and urges organizations to keep their systems up to date with the latest, strongest hashing standards.

Q1 2016 Threat Statistics:

  • Ransomware. New ransomware samples rose 24% this quarter due to the continued entry of relatively low-skilled criminals into the ransomware cybercrime community. This trend is the result of widespread adoption of exploit kits to deploy the malware.
  • Mobile. New mobile malware samples grew 17% quarter over quarter in Q1 2016. Total mobile malware samples grew 23% quarter over quarter and 113% over the last four quarters.
  • Mac OS malware. Mac OS malware grew quickly in Q1, primarily due to an increase in VSearch adware.  While the absolute number of Mac OS samples is still low, the total number of samples has increased 68% quarter over quarter and 559% over the last four quarters.
  • Macro malware. Macro malware continued on the growth trajectory begun in 2015 with a 42% quarter over quarter increase in new macro malware samples. The new breed of macro malware continues to attack corporate networks primarily through sophisticated spam campaigns that leverage information gathered through social engineering to appear legitimate.
  • Gamut botnet. The Gamut botnet became the most productive spam botnet in Q1, increasing its volume nearly 50%. Prevalent spam campaigns offer get-rich-quick schemes and knockoff pharmaceutical supplies. Kelihos, the most prolific spamming botnet during Q4 2015 and a widespread malware distributor, slipped to fourth place.
Published in Apps

Like many other leading companies, Twitter recently released its first quarter financial earnings. Unfortunately, the results weren’t great. Although the social media giant has a good 130 million active users, the company reported revenues of $595 million, with Q1 GAAP diluted earnings per share of $0.12 and non-GAAP diluted earnings per share of $0.15. This is a big miss in terms of revenues, however slightly positive in terms of earnings per share.

After the results were released, Twitter’s stock was trading more than 13 percent down. According to analysts, non-GAAP EPS (earnings per share) averaged at $0.10, while the average estimate for revenues sat at around $608 million. Twitter remains unprofitable with a net loss of Q1 coming in at negative $79.7 million. GAAP EPS was expected at negative $0.17.

Before the release of the results, analysts expected Twitter’s guidance on Q2 to be $678 million. But the real number that Twitter released was a big step down from the predictions at between $590 and $610 million. EPITDA (EPITDA = Revenue - Expectations) is also taking a big hit, with Twitter estimating between $145 million and $155 million for Q2, while analysts had expected $173 million.

The one positive aspect of Twitter’s results is that the company saw a slight user growth. But we must remember that for Q4 2015, Twitter disappointed on revenues of $710 million and adjusted EPS of $0.16 per share, with monthly active users of 305 million which was a very slight increase on the previous year.

What is the future for Twitter? The company is growing in some key areas where it hopes to establish more business. According to the Q1 statement, Twitter’s advertising revenues were up 37 percent compared with a year ago, representing sales of $530 million. But this number was much higher for the previous quarter when ads brought in $640 million in revenues.

“Year-over-year revenue growth from large brand advertisers was softer than expected,” Twitter noted in a statement, “although brand advertising remains our largest overall contributor to revenue.”

To improve its situation, Twitter attempted to position itself as a media engagement platform; for example, its deal to stream NFL games, tapping both into its ambition to do more in video as well as sports content. However, Twitter’s early move with Periscope is now facing stiff competition from Facebook with its new Live product, and also potentially Google, which is reportedly building a live video service.

Twitter said in its report: “As we outlined last quarter, we’re focused on what Twitter does best: live. Twitter is live: live commentary, live connections, live conversations. Whether it’s breaking news, entertainment, sports, or everyday topics, hearing about and watching a live event unfold is the fastest way to understand the power of Twitter. Twitter has always been the place to see what’s happening now and our continued investment in live will strengthen this position. By doing so, we believe we can build the planet’s best daily connected audience. A connected audience is one that watches together, and can talk with one another in real time.”

Published in Finance

Billions missing out on comms technology’s benefits

Written on Wednesday, 20 January 2016 11:58

A new World Bank report says that while the internet, mobile phones and other digital technologies are spreading rapidly throughout the developing world, the anticipated digital dividends of higher growth, more jobs and better public services have fallen short of expectations, and 60 percent of the world's population remains excluded from the ever-expanding digital economy.

According to the 'World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends,' the benefits of rapid digital expansion have been skewed towards the wealthy, skilled and influential around the world, who are better positioned to take advantage of the new technologies. In addition, although the number of internet users worldwide has more than tripled since 2005, four billion people still lack access to the internet.

"Digital technologies are transforming the worlds of business, work, and government," said Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group. "We must continue to connect everyone and leave no one behind because the cost of lost opportunities is enormous. But for digital dividends to be widely shared among all parts of society, countries also need to improve their business climate, invest in people's education and health, and promote good governance."

The report finds that, although there are many individual success stories, the effect of technology on global productivity, expansion of opportunity for the poor and middle class, and the spread of accountable governance has so far been less than expected.

"The digital revolution is transforming the world, aiding information flows, and facilitating the rise of developing nations that are able to take advantage of these new opportunities," said Kaushik Basu, World Bank chief economist. "It is an amazing transformation that today 40 percent of the world's population is connected by the internet. While these achievements are to be celebrated, this is also occasion to be mindful that we do not create a new underclass. With nearly 20 percent of the world's population unable to read and write, the spread of digital technologies alone is unlikely to spell the end of the global knowledge divide."

To deliver fully on the development promise of a new digital age, the World Bank suggests two main actions: closing the digital divide by making the internet universal, affordable, open and safe; and strengthening regulations that ensure competition among business, adapting workers' skills to the demands of the new economy, and fostering accountable institutions-measures which the report calls analog complements to digital investments.

Published in Featured