U.S. Intelligence Report Suggests Cutting Ties with Huawei and ZTE

A U.S. House of Representatives intelligence report suggests the U.S. should cut off relations with two of China’s top telecom manufacturers Huwaei and ZTE. It particularly states that neither company should be allowed to merge with any U.S. based telecom company. The recommendation comes after nearly a year long investigation into corporate practices of the Chinese based companies amid concerns of espionage and illegal activity.
House Intel Logo

Congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan, who is also the chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, laid out the details accusing Huawei and ZTE of being uncooperative and not forthcoming with requested documentation. According to the report, the investigation into these companies began in February 2011 when Huawei “published an open letter to the U.S. Government denying security concerns with the company or its equipment, and requesting a full investigation into its corporate operations.” By November 2011, the U.S. House acted on that request and began to investigate potential security risks posed by doing business with the Chinese companies. There is growing concern that the Chinese are interested in accessing U.S. infrastructure for the purpose of espionage. Below is a quote from the Executive Summary section of the report that lays out many of the concerns:

Prior to initiating the formal investigation, the Committee performed a preliminary review of the issue, which confirmed significant gaps in available information about the Chinese telecommunications sector, the histories and operations of specific companies operating in the United States, and those companies’ potential ties to the Chinese state. Most importantly, that preliminary review highlighted the potential security threat posed by Chinese telecommunications companies with potential ties to the Chinese government or military. In particular, to the extent these companies are influenced by the state, or provide Chinese intelligence services access to telecommunication networks, the opportunity exists for further economic and foreign espionage by a foreign nation-state already known to be a major perpetrator of cyber espionage.

Huawei’s vice-president, William Plummer, said the latest accusations were “dangerous political distractions”. According to a BBC article, Huawei was started by a former member of the People’s Liberation Army. It also reported that U.S. based Cisco Systems cut ties with ZTE after it allegedly sold U.S. equipment to the Iranians which is a clear breach of U.S. sanctions.

The report outlined several recommendations from not allowing any ZTE or Huawei systems to be used in any government facility to warning U.S. businesses about the unfair businesses practices of these companies, particularly intellectual property. All of this comes about at a time when relations with China are already strained due to the Presidential election. Many Americans feel the government needs to do more about China’s unfair trade practices.

For more information and to see the full report, visit http://intelligence.house.gov/.

Top Technology Companies & W3C Come Together For A Better Web Platform

It’s not just another day when top technology companies who develop technologies, platforms, and devices for the Web or do business on it get together with the World Wide Web Consortium with an aim to enable a better Web for everyone. Web Platform Docs is a new community-driven site that aims to become a comprehensive and authoritative source for web developer documentation. It has been convened by W3C and the partners – Adobe, Apple, Facebook, Google, HP, Microsoft, Mozilla, Nokia, and Opera – support it through content, people, funding, and other contributions.

This central repository for developers and designers who use open Web standards intends to host clear reference docs, thoughtful tutorials for existing and new technologies, a sample library that takes into account real-world scenarios, and tells you what platforms and devices you can use various technologies on and the current standardization, stability, and implementation status of each technology specification. The initiative would be an ongoing concerted effort attempting to deliver the promise of interoperability through the same standards-based markup.

The web platform has become the medium of creative expression for web developers and designers, and it continues to evolve and to become ever more expressive. Having a reliable source of information for modern, up to date best practices is a huge time saver for creative professionals and will allow them to focus on what they do best: creating.

– Arno Goudrol, Senior Director for the Web Platform for Adobe

The site is a wiki platform, and anyone can become a member, anyone can contribute, and the resulting community creates and manages the content through collaboration and moderation. The founding organizations are known as stewards. The stewards seeded WPD with topics donated from already-published content, for example, Microsoft has contributed over 3200 topics from MSDN.

The Evil in Automated DMCA Takedown Notices

Automated DMCA takedown notices is nothing new and almost all copyright holders use some sort of an automated DMCA takedown request system to do the dirty work for them. However, the fun starts when these automated systems go berserk. Recently, Microsoft started sending rogue DMCA takedown notices through its automated takedown system, which had developed a fondness for the number 45.

dmcaMicrosoft has already asked Google to censor over 5 million web pages over the last year. Stupid as it may seem, the recent failure in this automated DMCA system has raised mayhem. Google has been asked to censor reputed websites like BBC, CNN, The Washington Post, TechCrunch pages, multiple pages from Wikipedia, Rotten Tomatoes and the bummers — the US Government’s Environmental Protection Agency website and Science Direct volume 45!

TorrentFreak writes,

Claiming to prevent the unauthorized distribution of Windows 8 Beta the software company listed 65 “infringing” web pages. However, nearly half of the URLs that Google was asked to remove from its search results have nothing to do with Windows 8.

Google has its own control measures in place against these blatant takedown notices. It maintains a whitelist of websites like Wikipedia and BBC, which are protected from these rogue takedown notices. However, the lesser-known websites have taken a hit.

DMCA was born over a decade ago, and it has restricted illegal copying of copyright work successfully. However, it has also created an anti-competitive world where people use DMCA takedown notices as a tool to annoy competitors or in this case where an automated tool is being allowed to determine the fate of popular websites. There should be some accountability involved in DMCA takedowns, as this automated DMCA takedown ecosystem is clearly killing the Internet.

Loewe Debuts in India with Soundbox

Loewe, the premier home entertainment systems brand from Germany, has launched Soundbox in India. The device has been brought to the market by NavShiv India Retail Private Limited, the official distribution partners for Loewe in India.


Soundbox offers an impressive surround experience and Loewe claims it to be the technologically most advanced and customizable audio device in India. The sleek digital stereo amplifier cum speakers comes with a customizable surface in vibrant colors as well as metallic and high gloss chrome finish. Soundbox allows you to play music with an iPhone or any other MP3 player, from the radio or a CD, or any source via the USB or Aux-In port. The top panel features an iPhone/iPod dock and an integrated CD drive with slot-in mechanism. The device comes with a Loewe Assist remote that not only works with Soundbox but other Loewe televisions and playback devices as well.

The brand Loewe comes with the promise of best in German technology which perfectly blends top of line technology with elegant style. The Soundbox caters to the personal and social musical beats of its customers. The sleek and stylish device comes with a changeable skin that adds to the fun of the play and play device.

– Naveen Rao, CEO, Navshiv Retail Pvt Ltd

While the stylish device makes for a great luxury gadget device and ideal for house parties, the price is a little steep at INR 49,000. It is, however, an elegant accessory for your living room and seamlessly plays music without the hassles of a complex setup or a bunch of cables.

Facebook Reaches One Billion Users

Facebook, which had last reported a very impressive milestone of nearly 950 million users months ago, has reported its greatest milestone yet – one billion users.

Mark Zuckerberg posted a note today, stating that Facebook’s monthly active users had surpassed the one billion users mark.

One Billion People on Facebook

This morning, there are more than one billion people using Facebook actively each month.

If you’re reading this: thank you for giving me and my little team the honor of serving you.

Helping a billion people connect is amazing, humbling and by far the thing I am most proud of in my life.

I am committed to working every day to make Facebook better for you, and hopefully together one day we will be able to connect the rest of the world too.

Just to make it clear, Facebook’s total registered user base must have passed the one billion mark some time ago, but Facebook is focusing on monthly active users, a much more relevant metric.

Facebook has grown exponentially in the last couple of years, driven primarily by increasing global mobile penetration and initiatives like Facebook Zero.

It also shared some other interesting stats. Since launch, it has seen more than 219 billion photos uploaded, 140 billion friend connections and 1.13 trillion likes.

The timing of the announcement is great, as it comes right before Facebook gets ready to report its earnings for the third quarter of 2012.

If users were citizens, Facebook would now be the third largest country in the world after China and India. In the next couple of years, it may even overtake both.

What remains to be seen is whether or not Facebook is able to effectively monetize its growing user base and become the $100 billion company it was touted to be.

Microsoft Settles with Defendants in Nitol Botnet Case

Last month, we reported about an operation conducted by Microsoft to disrupt the Nitol botnet. The operation, titled Operation b70 was a result of a study conducted by Microsoft which discovered pirated copies of Windows embedded with malware. As a part of the operation  Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit had asked to be allowed to take control of the domain 3322.org which was used to host the botnet.

Assistant General Counsel for Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit,Richard Domingues Boscovich has stated in a blog post that they have reached a settlement with Peng Yong, operators of 3322.org domain. He states:

Today, I am pleased to announce that Microsoft has resolved the issues in the case and has dismissed the lawsuit pursuant to the agreement. As part of the settlement, the operator of 3322.org, Peng Yong, has agreed to work in cooperation with Microsoft and the Chinese Computer Emergency Response Team (CN-CERT) to:

· Resume providing authoritative name services for 3322.org, at a time and in a manner consistent with the terms and conditions of the settlement.

· Block all connections to any of the subdomains identified in a “block-list,” by directing them to a sinkhole computer which is designated and managed by CN-CERT.

· Add subdomains to the block-list, as new 3322.org subdomains associated with malware are identified by Microsoft and CN-CERT.

· Cooperate, to the extent necessary, in all reasonable and appropriate steps to identify the owners of infected computers in China and assist those individuals in removing malware infection from their computers.

In accordance with the settlement, Peng Yong will work with Microsoft and Chinese Computer Emergency Response Team to remove all malware associated with the domain and bring to justice all those responsible for spreading the malware.

Richard also shared some statistics regarding the blocked domains.

Of note, in 16 days since we began collecting data on the 70,000 malicious subdomains, we have been able to block more than 609 million connections from over 7,650,000 unique IP addresses to those malicious 3322.org subdomains. In addition to blocking connections to the malicious domains, we have continued to provide DNS services for the unblocked 3322.org subdomains. For example, on Sept. 25, we successfully processed 34,954,795 DNS requests for 3322.org subdomains that were not on our block list.

The operation is a part of Microsoft’s larger MAPS program intended to provide protection to the users of its Windows operating system.

Via: Technet 

Google Celebrates Its Official 14th Birthday

Google Birthday Cake

Happy birthday Google!! Today, when you visit the search giant’s website, you will be greeted with a huge chocolate cake glowing with 14 candles on top. You may recall I wrote an article a few weeks ago titled “Google Celebrates Its 14th Birthday“. Despite what my friends may say, I am not crazy. Google’s birthday is not today, though today is the day they chose to put the cake on their page.  I find it funny how some sources are saying Google’s birthday is September 7th, but if you go to Google and type the search query “when was Google founded”, you will get the result September 4th. Anyway, for some reason Google started putting their birthday logo on their main page on September 27th instead of their real birthday.

Below, you can see the result of the animated cake after everyone has scarfed down their favorite piece! You will notice that the candles are neatly arranged at the bottom of the cake to tally up to 14. Of course, what’s left of the cake spells out the name Google.Cake Eaten

Google has become such a part of our lives, I don’t think many of us realize what life was like before it. How did we ever reach our vacation destinations without Google maps? How many unanswered questions would there be if Google weren’t around to answer them instantly from our smart phones? It’s hard to believe how much has changed in 14 years. It is so easy to take for granted the genius idea the founders of Google had when they developed this search engine. Here’s to many more birthdays for Google and the hope that it will live up to its unofficial slogan, “Don’t Be Evil”.

Google Stock Hits All-Time High; Nears $750

Apple was in the news last week as its shares hit an all-time high, following the launch of the iPhone 5. It’s Google’s time to celebrate this time around. Today, the company’s shares hit an all-time high of $748.90, and may go even higher as the day progresses. Its market capitalization is nearly $245 billion, the highest it has ever been, and the search giant may soon overtake Microsoft, which currently has a market cap of near $257 billion.

Google currently has a run rate of nearly $50 billion in annual revenue, based on its earnings last quarter, and its ad business is stronger than ever. The hype surrounding Facebook’s social advertising and its threat to Google has died down, and analysts seem to have renewed faith in Google’s trusty old search advertising machine which still generates tons of money.

We expect the rapid proliferation of Android in the mobile space to help Google continue its domination of the advertising space, both on desktop and on mobile. It might even hit $750 today, before trading hours end. Compare that to Facebook, which is trading near its all-time low.

Groupon Acquires Savored, a Restaurant Reservation Startup

Groupon has been one of the more prolific startup acquirers in recent history, besides Google, Facebook, and Zynga. Following the IPO, it had a significant infusion of cash which enabled it to fund its loss-making core business, and acquire a number of startups which let it expand its range of offerings, in its bid to become the “operating system” for local businesses.

Today, it announced the acquisition of Savored, a startup in the restaurant reservations and discounts space. Savored is used by more than 1000 restaurants and offers discounts to customers when they book through its platform. It helps restaurants with yield management, and even out customer traffic during peak times. Savored will be a great addition to Groupon’s offerings for restaurants and other similar small businesses. It will be merged with Groupon Now.

Here’s the official press release by Groupon, announcing the acquisition:

Groupon (http://www.groupon.com) (NASDAQ: GRPN) announced today it has acquired Savored (http://www.savored.com), a leading provider of reservations at the best restaurants across the United States. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

More than 1,000 restaurants nationwide have used Savored’s unique platform for yield management. After booking a reservation on Savored.com and visiting the restaurant, diners enjoy up to a 40% discount applied automatically to their bill. Merchants enjoy incremental revenue for tables that would otherwise be empty, and consumers are incentivized by the ‘built-in’ discount and roster of high-end eateries to explore.

“Savored’s platform nicely complements Groupon’s efforts in yield management, an area we’ve pioneered with Groupon Now!,” said Dan Roarty, VP of Groupon Now. “We look forward to working together to achieve a common goal – making dining out even more fun and affordable for consumers while helping restaurateurs manage inventory and grow their businesses.”

LinkedIn Announces Endorsements to Increase Engagement

LinkedIn has been really focused on improving the user experience in the last couple of months. It revamped its entire user interface, and also rolled out updated mobile apps. It has been adding new features to make the platform more engaging, and today, it introduced Endorsements. It’s a new feature which lets users recognize their connections for their specific skills and expertise.

LinkedIn has had a recommendation feature for a long time, but it was too cumbersome compared to this one. Users can endorse their connections using just one click. The feature has launched across multiple global markets, and will be launched worldwide soon.

Here’s LinkedIn’s official announcement:

“On LinkedIn, you have many smart, talented, and skilled professional connections. Starting today, we are introducing Endorsements, a new feature that makes it easier to recognize them for their skills and expertise.

With just one click, you can now endorse your connections for a skill they’ve listed on their profile or recommend one they haven’t added yet. Think your connection is great at programming AND project management? Let them know!

Here’s how you can endorse your connections:
On the top of a connection’s profile, you’ll see recommended endorsements for them. You can suggest additional skills as well.
You can also endorse them from the new Skills & Expertise section that now showcases these endorsements.

Want to see who has endorsed you? We’ll notify you via email and on LinkedIn whenever you are endorsed. You can scroll to the bottom of your profile page under “Skills and Expertise” to see the faces of people who think you’re great at what you do. You can also accept any new skills recommended by your peers that you may not have thought to include on your profile. Or you can also add a new skill by clicking on “add a skill” on your profile page.”

via LinkedIn Blog