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Chinese hackers attacked the company behind Samsung Pay

Samsung Pay on a Galaxy S6 Edge+

A notorious group of state-sponsored Chinese hackers reportedly broke into the computer systems of LoopPay, the company that created the tech used in Samsung Pay. According to the NYT, the breach by the so-called Codoso Group occurred in March, well before Samsung acquired LoopPay for $250 million. The technology forms the core of Samsung’s mobile payment system, which launched in the US on September 28th. However, Samsung says that “Samsung Pay was not impacted and at no point was any personal payment information at risk.”

Experts contacted by the NYT aren’t sure there’s enough evidence yet to back that statement, however. For starters, LoopPay never discovered the breach itself — the company’s info was actually spotted by a third party probing the Codoso hackers for a separate attack. As a result, the group, which is allegedly backed by the Chinese government, was inside LoopPay’s corporate system for nearly five months. And Codoso has a reputation for leaving backdoors, allowing them to return for another attack, as Forbes and Microsoft found out earlier this year during a breach.

However, LoopPay said that there’s no evidence that the group has stolen any customer data or financial information. Samsung said that the attack was an “isolated incident that targeted the LoopPay corporate network, which is a physically separate network (from Samsung Pay).” Nevertheless, LoopPay launched an investigation just over a month before the payment system was launched in the US — an insufficient period to thoroughly investigate a hack, according to a recent security study.

Source: New York Times


Google is purging hacked spam from your search results


It’s bad when your web searches include sites that are mainly marketing fluff, but it’s much worse when that fluff has been hacked into legitimate sites that you wouldn’t visit otherwise. Well, Google has had enough of this attempt to game the system. It’s tweaking its algorithms to “aggressively” cull hacked spam from results, leaving you only with sites that intended to include the content you’re looking for. While the changes will only affect about 5 percent of searches when all is said and done, that could mean a lot if it helps you avoid compromised pages and the malware that might be lurking inside.

[Image credit: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan]

Source: Google Webmaster Central Blog


Amazon’s Snowball is a smart box for shipping tons of cloud data

Amazon's oddball Snowball storage box

It seems paradoxical that you’d have to ship cloud data, but plenty of companies do — it’s sometimes faster for them to send a courier than to wait days for a massive upload to finish. And Amazon knows it. The internet giant just revealed the Snowball, an odd but unassuming storage device that shuttles up to 50TB of data to Amazon Web Services the old-fashioned way. The box is not only tough enough to survive the bumps and jostles of a courier, but has everything it needs for power and networking. There’s even an E Ink control panel on the side that doubles as an automatic shipping label.

You probably aren’t going to use Snowball unless you’re with a company that uses AWS, and it’ll probably be a big company at that. That’s doubly true when it’ll cost $200 plus shipping every time you want to move terabytes of data across the country. You might notice its impact even if you never see it in person, though. You may spend less time waiting for your favorite cloud service to roll out updates, recover from outages and otherwise keep itself in top shape.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Amazon Web Services


TSMC’s A9 Chip Outperforming Samsung’s in Early iPhone 6s Battery Benchmarks

Following the launch of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus last month, it was discovered that Apple is dual sourcing the A9 chip for the new devices from both TSMC and Samsung, with the chips from the two companies measuring at slightly different sizes due to different processes used in manufacturing the chips. As users began to determine which chips were used in their devices, data began to point toward a 60/40 split in favor of TSMC, although the ratio has shifted toward 50/50 as more data has been obtained.

Benchmarks have suggested there is little if any difference in chip performance between the two A9 variants, but some recent battery testing (via Engadget) is hinting at the possibility of significantly better battery life for models with the TSMC-manufactured A9 chip.

We should caution that data points remain few at this time and controlling for variables to accurately focus the comparison only on the differences in the A9 is difficult, but these limited tests are generating significant amounts of interest in our discussion forums and elsewhere.

Perhaps the most dramatic result comes from a reddit poster who compared Samsung and TSMC versions of the iPhone 6s Plus using the battery life test included in Geekbench 3, finding the TSMC version lasting nearly two hours longer than the model with Samsung A9 chip.

geekbench_tsmc_samsung_a9Geekbench battery tests on TSMC (left) and Samsung (right) iPhone 6s Plus variants

Ran this test a couple times and results were consistent. Always about a 2 hour difference in duration. Both phones were tested using the same backup, same settings. Also tried testing them as new phones and results were similar.

We asked John Poole of Primate Labs, the developers of Geekbench, for any insight into the dramatic differences being observed in some cases, and he noted there have been rumors of TSMC’s 16-nanometer process being “superior” to Samsung’s 14-nanometer process in power consumption. He was, however, surprised by the amount of difference in observed battery life considering the various components have essentially identical performance benchmarks. Ideally, further controlled testing can be performed to offer a more accurate comparison between the variants.
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Microsoft Releases Office for Mac 2011 Update to Fix Outlook El Capitan Bug

Microsoft today released an update for Microsoft Office for Mac 2011, which fixes a significant Outlook bug that Office users ran into after upgrading to OS X El Capitan. After installing the new Apple operating system, many Outlook 2011 users found themselves unable to access their mail due to a syncing issue that caused the app to hang whenever it attempted to access the server.

Users were seeing a spinning Wait cursor whenever a sync was attempted and Outlook would become unresponsive, making it impossible to fetch new emails. The new 14.5.6 update should fix this problem for Outlook users who have installed OS X El Capitan and is a much better fix than Microsoft’s previous workaround, which simply suggested users run OS X Yosemite.

Though Microsoft has fixed one major bug OS X El Capitan users are running into, there are still problems with Office 2016. Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint 2016 are crashing for many users, preventing them from being used with OS X El Capitan.

Microsoft has said that it is working on a fix for Office 2016, but it has not given a timeline for when users can expect the issues to be solved.


Virgin Mobile announces data-free music streaming for Pandora, Slacker Radio and iHeartRadio

Virgin Mobile music streaming

If you love streaming music and happen to be a Virgin Mobile customer, we have some good news for you. Virgin Mobile has just introduced a new data-free music streaming feature that will allow you to stream music through select music services without it counting against your monthly data allotment. As of right now, Virgin Mobile has only partnered with Pandora, iHeartRadio and Slacker Radio, but the Sprint MVNO says it will be adding more partners in the future. The new feature will be available beginning Friday, October 9th at no additional cost.

This data-free music streaming feature sounds quite similar to T-Mobile’s Music Freedom program, which lets users stream music from popular services such as Spotify, Google Play Music, Xbox Music, SoundCloud, Rhapsody and many more without it taking up precious monthly data.

We’ll be sure to let you know as more music streaming services get added to Virgin Mobile’s lineup.


You’ll soon be able to back up your entire WhatsApp messaging history to Google Drive

WhatsApp Google Drive

With nearly one billion monthly users, WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging services available on Android. And to make the service even more feature-rich than ever before, WhatsApp is teaming up with Google Drive to bring native cloud storage to the messaging platform. With Google Drive integration, WhatsApp for Android will let you create a private backup of your chat history, voice messages, photos and videos in Google Drive. Once your history is backed up, you can easily restore everything on a new device with just a few taps.

Once you enable this new backup feature, you’ll be able to tell WhatsApp to create daily, weekly or monthly backups of your messaging history. You’ll also be able to specify whether or not WhatsApp will backup your videos, too.

WhatsAppLogoSee also: How to get WhatsApp on your tablet15

This new feature will be rolling out to WhatsApp users in the Play Store over the next few months, so keep an eye out for the update to make its way to your device. Are you a WhatsApp user? If so, will you use the new Google Drive backup feature? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Download WhatsApp from Google Play


Lexus made a working electric car out of cardboard

Lexus' cardboard Origami Car

Suddenly, Lexus’ hoverboard doesn’t seem quite so impressive. The automaker has unveiled the Origami Car, a fully functional electric IS sedan whose main body, interior and wheels (!) are made out of cardboard. The designers laser-cut 1,700 based pieces based on the digital model of the regular car, and stuck them all together using wood glue — that’s not exactly a quick process (it took 3 months to put everything together), but this would have been virtually inconceivable in previous decades. You’re not going to see this vehicle on the streets, of course. The instrument cluster is nothing more than a bunch of drawings, and cardboard simply isn’t going to be comfortable or safe. However, the Origami Car is proof that modern assembly techniques can build just about everything out of seemingly anything. Slideshow-326681

Via: Autoblog, Engadget Spanish (translated)

Source: Toyota UK


FAA slaps drone video firm with record $1.9-million fine

It looks like the FAA is getting serious on unauthorized UAV flying. The department’s just slapped SkyPan, a Chicago-based aerial video company, with a record $1.9-million dollar fine for violating flying regulations in its home city, and New York. The FAA states that SkyPan engaged in a total of 65 “unauthorized operations” between March and December 2012 — 43 of them in NYC’s highly restriction airspace.

This is the largest fine to be issued by the FAA yet, but it’s far from the first time the agency has made it clear that inappropriate use will result in sever consequences — including jail time. FAA regulations are still being adapted to address the burgeoning number of hobby aircraft taking to the skies — with two new executives assigned to the task just last month. SkyPan, however, isn’t new to aerial photography, explaining in a statement to TechCrunch, that it has 27 years of compliant flying experience, but doesn’t reference the 2012 allegations specifically. The firm specializes in city landscapes.

The FAA has given SkyPan 30 days to respond to the claims..

Source: FAA


Pandora snatches up Ticketfly to become a one-stop shop for music

Pandora has been providing artists with tools to connect with fans and understand their audience for a while now, but the company is getting serious about event promotion, too. The internet radio service announced that it’s purchasing Ticketfly, a company that offers ticketing and other marketing tools for live gigs. Ticketfly currently works with 1,200 venues and promoters to help folks like you and I find and purchase tickets to catch a live show. The acquisition means that Pandora will have a way for artists to sell tickets in addition to its AMP (Artist Marketing Platform) feature that provides audience info and Artist Audio Messages that help them directly connect with fans. It also recently purchased Next Big Sound to help with listener insights and trends. This deal for Ticketfly is worth around $450 million and it’s said to be “a nearly equal mix” of cash and stock.

Source: Pandora

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