TSR on tech: your weekly news summary
|March 11, 2012||Posted by Elliot Davies under TSR on tech|
It’s been a slightly crazy week for tech, with the arrests of five prominent hackers across the front pages of international newspapers mixed up with Apple’s announcement of the new iPad. Still, at least we’ve some continuity: Yahoo!’s senior management continues to flee the company, Adobe continues to fix security holes in Flash, and Google continues to struggle to unify itself. At least Bethesda and Mojang have finally sorted their little tiff out.
According to SharesPost, a company which has been managing the private trades of some of Facebook’s shares, the social network’s value has rised to $100bn since its IPO announcement. Although investors are obviously excited by the news, analysts have been cautious in confirming anything since Facebook’s future direction is still uncertain; the company recently revealed that 432 million people visited its network from a mobile device in December 2011, an increase of 76% year-on-year – but 58 million of those 432 million never even see Facebook’s website, which represents a huge loss in advertising revenue. Facebook will need to appease investors and start making money from mobile users if its value is to remain high. A valuation of $100bn would place the company higher than Pepsi, a company over 100 years old, and CitiGroup, the third-largest US bank.
Employees continue to jump ship from Yahoo! – this week it was Luis Salazar, vice-president of global product marketing and business development, who only joined the company last year. Rich Riley, Yahoo!’s senior vice-president and managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, also announced this week that he would be stepping down from his job, though he says he intends to remain with the company.
Foursquare’s co-founder, Naveen Selvadurai, is leaving the geolocation company three years after he launched it. He will remain on the board but said: “[I'm] not sure about my exact next steps.”
Western Digital has finished its $4.1bn acquisition of Viviti Technologies (formerly Hitachi GST), making it the largest hard drive manufacturer in the world. The move also shrinks the hard drive industry to just three major players: WD, Seagate and Toshiba.
Apple is to create a new campus in Austin, Texas, according to state governor Rick Perry. Apple will invest $304mn in the campus and hire 3,600 employees over the next decade – small change for the world’s richest company. The new campus will apparently be used predominantly for regional customer support, sales and accounting.
The trademark dispute between Bethesda and Mojang, which we reported on last August, has finally come to a close. The two game studios were arguing over the word “scrolls,” which was to be the title of Mojang’s next game until Bethesda claimed it infringed on its “Elder Scrolls” trademark. Now, the lawsuit has been settled: Bethesda gets to keep the trademark, but Mojang can use it for its upcoming RPG. Couldn’t they have come up with that 8 months ago?
Hacking & Security
Anonymous and LulzSec were yet again plastered across news headlines worldwide this week – but not for their hacking prowess. Instead, it was revealed that “Sabu,” the leader of LulzSec and widely considered one of the key players in Anonymous, was in fact caught by the FBI last summer and has been working as an informant ever since. Hector Xavier Monsegur, an unemployed, 28-year-old father of two from Puerto Rico, who lives in New York, was caught after he accidentally logged into a chatroom without masking his IP address. After being charged with 12 counts of conspiracy to engage in computer hacking and other crimes, which between them carry a maximum sentence of 124 years, he apparently became a model informant for the intelligence agencies, continuing to run his hacking group at the FBI’s direction. He even facilitated the apparent wiretapping of a conference call between the FBI and British police, as well as the release of five million stolen emails from US security agency Stratfor using an FBI storage server.
On Tuesday, the authorities finally swooped, using information provided by Monsegur to arrest five more LulzSec members – two in the UK, two in Ireland (including the hacker who recorded the conference call), and one in Chicago. One of the people named in the indictment is Jake Davis, who was arrested last August in relation to LulzSec’s activities. Ars Technica has the tale of how the FBI caught Jeremy Hammond in Chicago. The question now is whether the FBI has, in its own words, truly chopped the head off LulzSec – or whether we can only expect a string of retaliatory attacks.
A man who claims to have links to Anonymous has also been arrested in the West Midlands, in conjunction with the hacking of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service’s website on Thursday. The man allegedly threatened to release the names of women who had undergone abortions.
On Monday, Sony confirmed that hackers had stolen over 50,000 digital files from the Sony Music archive, including a number of unreleased Michael Jackson songs. Sony bought the material for $250mn after the singer’s death and has yet to recover the files.
Google Chrome failed to maintain its record at the annual Pwn2Own hacker contest this week, falling prey to at least three security exploits. At least one used code native to Chrome, qualifying the teenage hacker who discovered it for a $60,000 prize from Google; the bug was fixed less than 24 hours later.
Adobe has released a significant security update for Flash, ahead of its normal monthly release. The patch fixes a flaw which could “cause a crash and potentially allow an attacker to take control of the system.”
Bioshock Infinite is going to include a mechanised George Washington with a Gatling gun. Seriously.
At the Game Developers Conference, EA announced plans for three expansions to Battlefield 3, as well as the new Medal of Honor: Warfighter, due out on October 23. Although, aren’t all of those games about fighting in wars?
Maxis has announced a new SimCity game for 2013.
The largest product announcement this week was of course Apple’s announcement of the new iPad. The Student Review has a separate article with all the details here.
Google is rebranding the Android Market along with its books, movies and music apps. All of these will now fall under the new Google Play brand, with the Market becoming the Google Play Store. The move demonstrates Google’s commitment to unifying its various media products in order to better compete with Apple and Amazon. Google’s related web products, such as the e-book store and Google Music, will undergo similar brand changes.
Dropbox’s website has undergone a revamping this week as well, as the company updated its web interface to include a photo viewer, drag-and-drop functionality, an indexed search box and keyboard shortcuts. Dropbox calls its new site “simpler, more powerful, and more beautiful,” and this author is inclined to agree.
Al Jazeera has kickstarted a campaign to better introduce Twitter to the world.
James Cameron, director of Titanic and Avatar, is preparing to dive solo to the deepest point on the ocean floor.
The University of New South Wales has proposed a nuclear clock which would be a hundred times more accurate than existing atomic clocks – and they would remain so for around 14 billion years.