Category: Business

Putin’s hackers practice gaming the US election

putin gunIt seems that hackers with links to Tsar Putin, are practising making sure that Donald Trump is elected by tampering with the electronic voting systems.

The FBI has warned that Arizona and Illinois voter registration systems were infiltrated by foreign hackers who downloaded personal data on up to 200,000 voters.

The Untouchables have warned US election officials to increase computer security measures after it uncovered evidence that hackers have targeted two state election databases in recent weeks,

Citing a state election board official, Yahoo News said the Illinois voter registration system was shut down for 10 days in late July after hackers downloaded personal data on up to 200,000 voters.

The Arizona attack was more limited and involved introducing malicious software into the voter registration system, Yahoo News quoted a state official as saying. No data was removed in that attack, the official said.

US intelligence officials have become increasingly worried that hackers sponsored by Russia or other countries may attempt to disrupt the November presidential election.  Donald Trump owes a lot of cash to Russian oligarchs so it would be helpful to Tsar Putin to have someone in the White House who does what he is told.

Officials and cybersecurity experts say recent breaches at the Democratic National Committee and elsewhere in the Democratic party were likely carried out by people within the Russian government. Kremlin officials have denied the allegations of Moscow’s involvement.

Concerns about election computer security prompted the homeland security secretary, Jeh Johnson, to convene a conference call with state election officials earlier this month, to offer help in making their voting systems more secure.

Apple might be responsible for poor China Labour Watch report

visualizing_china_4Earlier this week the Tame Apple Press was doing its best to exonerate its favourite company from the implication that its iPhone’s were being made in sweatshop conditions.

After a labour watch dog China Watch blasted an Apple supplier Pegatron for making people work 60 hour weeks, it was made clear in the Tame Apple Press that this was against Apple’s direct orders.

However a closer look at the China Labour Watch shows that the watchdog believes that Apple is directly to blame.

It said that under CEO Tim Cook’s watch, Apple asked the companies that assemble its products to cut their own costs, and those demands have led them to cut back on worker pay and factory conditions.

Pegatron has been saving cash by committing multiple violations of Chinese labour laws on fair pay and workplace safety.

“Currently, Apple’s profits are declining, and the effects of this decline have been passed on to suppliers. To mitigate the impact, Pegatron has taken some covert measures to exploit workers,” the reports said.

Among the problems cited in the report were workers being forced to put in excessive overtime and have their wages cut to $1.60 per hour. Additionally, the investigation found Pegatron interns being forced to put in hours almost as long as employees, and factory conditions where workers were operating without proper safety equipment.

Apple is saying nothing, of course. According to the Tame Apple Press it has pushed a campaign to improve conditions at the plants that manufacture its products and has in the past cut ties with the worst offenders.

But according to China Labour Watch Cook has been squeezing the manufacturers to reduce costs and keep profits up. This, in turn, makes them culpable when those partners pass the pressure on to workers.

“Apple has already subcontracted its production to suppliers such as Pegatron, however, these workers are making Apple products. Moreover, through outsourcing, Apple lowers its production cost, but this is only possible by exploiting workers,” the report reads.


EU insists that Apple pay extra billion in tax

taxmanThe European Commission is expected to tell Apple that its cosy arrangement with Ireland is tax evasion and it owes Dublin a billion euro.

The Commission accused Ireland in 2014 of dodging international tax rules by letting Apple shelter profits worth tens of billions of dollars from tax collectors in return for maintaining jobs. Apple and Ireland rejected the accusation and claim it is not up to the Commission to decide how much tax Jobs’ Mob pays. Both have said they will appeal any ruling.

When it started looking at Apple in 2014, the Commission told the Irish government that tax rulings it agreed in 1991 and 2007 with the iPhone maker amounted to state aid and might have broken EU laws.

The Commission was miffed that the rulings had been “reverse engineered” to ensure that Apple had a minimal Irish bill and that minutes of meetings between Apple representatives and Irish tax officials showed the company’s tax treatment had been “motivated by employment considerations.”

Apple employs 5,500 workers, or about a quarter of its European-based staff in the Irish city of Cork, where it is the largest private sector employer. It claims that it paid Ireland’s 12.5 percent rate on all the income that it generates in the country.

Apple can rely on its chums in the US Treasury Department to help out.  Last week the department issued a white paper claiming that the EU executive’s tax investigations departed from international taxation norms and seemed to be focused on US companies. The Commission said it treated all countries equally.  Our guess is that it is just the American companies which take the Michael.



Linus rages at GNU enforcement

Mr SwearyOpen Sauce’s Mr Sweary has gone off on lawyers making money on GPL enforcement.

Linus Torvalds waded into the Software Freedom Conservancy and Bradley Kuhn over the question of enforcing compliance of the GPL General Public Licence.

Software Freedom Conservancy head Karen Sandler made a mistake when she suggested that Linuxcon in Toronto should include a session on GPL enforcement.

A number of developers think that while discussing enforcement issues was topical and necessary, doing it at a conference of this kind could well lead to people who took part being deposed later on by lawyers for their own cases.

Matthew Garrett, a former kernel developer and someone who was not attending LinuxCon, joined the discussion, pushing his view that a militant approach was better and this appears to have set Torvald’s off.

He backed the proposal to have a discussion on GPL enforcement but said no lawyers should be present, only developers. “I personally think this arguing for lawyering has become a nasty festering disease, and the SFC and Bradley Kuhn has been the Typhoid Mary spreading the disease,” Torvalds said.

Torvalds added: “I think the whole GPL enforcement issue is absolutely something that should be discussed, but it should be discussed with the working title ‘Lawyers: poisonous to openness, poisonous to community, poisonous to projects.’

“…quite apart from the risk of loss in a court, the real risk is something that happens whether you win or lose, and in fact whether you go to court or just threaten: the loss of community, and in particular exactly the kind of community that can (and does) help. You lose your friends.

“Because lawsuits — and even threats of lawsuits — make companies way less likely to see you as a good guy. Even when you’re threatening somebody else, everybody else around the target starts getting really, really antsy.”


Russian politician’s son convicted for hacking US restaurants

920x920The son of a Russian politician was convicted for trying to hack US businesses to steal and sell credit card numbers.

The scam apparently cost financial institutions more than $169 million, so he must have been pretty good at it.

Roman Seleznev, also known as “Track2,” was found guilty by a federal jury in Seattle on 38 of 40 counts including wire fraud and intentional damage to a protected computer following an eight-day trial, prosecutors said.

Seleznev hails from Vladivostok and was dragged from his home in the Maldives by US spooks in what he called a kidnapping.

Seleznev, the son of Valery Seleznev, a member of the Russian Parliament, is scheduled to be sentenced on December 2. His minimum sentence will be  four years in prison.

Browne said Seleznev, 32, plans to appeal and challenge what he called Seleznev’s illegal arrest in the Maldives and a ruling that allowed prosecutors to introduce evidence from a corrupted laptop seized at the time of his arrest.

“I don’t know of any case that has allowed such outrageous behaviour,” Browne said.

Prosecutors said that from October 2009 to October 2013, Seleznev hacked into retail point-of-sale systems and installed malware to steal credit card numbers from businesses, including restaurants and pizza parlours in Washington state. He will not get much sympathy there – many of them were forced to close after the hacks.

Seleznev sold the credit card information on various “carding” websites. Buyers in turn used the card numbers for fraudulent purchases, they said, causing 3,700 financial institutions to lose more than $169 million.

Valery Seleznev insisted his son did not know a thing about computers, although how he explained why all the stolen card details were found on his laptop is anyone’s guess. Instead of worrying about the crime he waded into the US government for ignoring international extradition arrangements. It seems that everyone is focusing on the method of arrest rather than the poor pizza shop owners who had to close because of his antics.


Arista Networks loses appeal against Cisco’s trade ban

the Cisco kidThe U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC)  has upheld an import ban on Arista Networks ethernet switches which it thinks infringe Cisco’s patents.

The decision follows a complaint from  Cisco filed in December 2014 about the switches, which are used in computer data centres and servers.

In a blog post on the company’s website on Monday, Cisco general counsel Mark Chandler said the import ban was to start on Tuesday. The ITC said Arista infringed three Cisco patents relating to managing and securing communications networks. The ruling excludes the import of Arista’s network devices, including its 7000 series of switches, which generates most of that company’s product revenue. It also prevents the sale of domestic supplies of the imported products.

Arista’s general counsel, Marc Taxay, said the company has redesigned the software in its switches and believes it is in “full compliance” with the ITC’s orders.

“Our primary focus remains the continued supply of non-infringing products to our customers,” he said.

Arista also said it would appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.  Arista has not received approval from the ITC for the redesigned products.


Only Apple and Samsung make money out of smartphones

apple-dalek-2Only Apple and Samsung are making money from smartphones and Apple is losing ground fast.

According to beancounters working for Canaccord Genuity, Apple accounted for 75 percent of the smartphone industry’s profits in the second quarter, but that’s down from more than 90 percent a year ago due to Samsung’s Galaxy device success.

Samsung’s Galaxy S7 launch and the Note 7 follow-up likely indicate that profits will continue to do well,.

Cannaccord Genuity analyst T. Michael Walkley said that Apple’s industry profit was also suffering because punters were delaying purchases ahead of the iPhone 7 launch. Although it is a moot point if that particular product will do well.  Either way Samsung has captured more than 30 percent of industry profits in the second quarter.

Walkley said that Apple’s industry profit share is at its lowest point since the second quarter of 2014 before the iPhone 6 launched.

However it does look like all the other makers trying to get in the high end of the market are not scratching the surface.

Walkley said: ” Given the ramp of Chinese OEM smartphone volumes and particularly strong 2015 smartphone market share gains for Huawei, we note our industry profit analysis excludes a large portion of this group of OEMs gaining an increasing share of the smartphone market profits due to the lack of available and comparable profit metrics. While this likely overstates Apple’s profits, we note some leading smartphone OEMs in China are growing global market share through aggressive pricing strategies limiting near-term profit levels. Inside the Greater China region, share has shifted to Chinese OEMs as well. In fact, in Q2/C15 Apple was number 1 vendor of smartphones in China, and we now believe in Q2/C16 Apple fell to the number 5 vendor behind Huawei, OPPO, Xiaomi and VIVO.”


Sharp rethinks foreign brand licensing deals

sharp2Troubled Japanese telly maker Sharp is having a rethink of its  TV brand licensing deals overseas in an effort to boost its global presence now it is ruled by the glorious Foxconn empire.

In a statement the company said it had decided to review our current brand licensing business in Europe and Americas, and are currently examining various possibilities.

The comment follows a report by the Yomiuri newspaper that Sharp will dispatch officials next month for negotiations to buy back its TV business in the United States and Europe.

Sharp effectively exited the money-losing TV business in those markets and licensed its brand to China’s Hisense Group in the Americas and to Universal Media Corp Slovakia in Europe.

The withdrawal from the money-losing TV business abroad helped Sharp trim its losses in April-June.

But Sharp now believes that it can make profits out of the TV business by taking advantage of Foxconn’s procurement power in the supply chain and its vast network of clients, the Yomiuri said.


Gates is still coining it in

young-bill-gatesWhile he appears to have dedicated most of his fortune in a war against the mosquito, former software king of the world Sir William Gates III is still the world’s richest man.

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, the net worth of the world’s richest person Bill Gates hit $90 billion. This was thanks to Gates’ gains in public holdings including Canadian National Railway Company and Ecolab.

He is now  $13.5 billion richer than the world’s second-wealthiest person, Spanish retail mogul Amancio Ortega. At $90 billion, the Microsoft Corp. co-founder’s personal net worth is equal to 0.5 percent of US GDP.

Less than two weeks ago, Bill Gates topped Forbes‘ “100 Richest Tech Billionaires in The World 2016” list with an estimated fortune of $78 billion.  It seems that the gods are continuing to smile on Gates, who has dedicated his wealth to saving the world from extinction. Now it seems that the more he gives away the more he gets back from other profitable deals.

It is all a noble cause which almost makes you forgive all those antitrust campaigns in the 1990s.


Oracle funds “anti-Google” group

Consulting-the-Oracle-JWW-1884A non-profit group calling itself the “Campaign for Accountability” appears to be an anti-Google group funded by Oracle.

According to Fortune magazine, the group appeared in Washington in the spring and is keeping quiet about who pays for its activities.

While the group appears to be covering issues like  LGBT rights, clean water it has a permanent campaign called “The Google Transparency Project,” which claims to expose the dark satanic doings of the search engine.

Ken Glueck, Senior Vice President of Oracle has admitted that it is contributor to the Transparency Project.

“This is important information for the public to know. It is 100 percent public records and accurate,” said

The admission comes after Fortune was giving a tip off about Oracle funding the anti-Google project.

Oracle is still embroiled in a bitter intellectual property lawsuit with Google. Microsoft, which has run secret anti-Google campaigns in the past, said it is not a contributor.

The deputy director of the CfA, Daniel Stevens, declined to name the group’s other donors, or to explain why it does not disclose its funders.

Google has declined to comment on Oracle’s decision to fund the project.