Users of Apple's iTunes and other cloud services reported a number of hiccups in normal service this morning, a day after an iCloud account hack on hapless WiReD journo Matt Honan made headlines.
Honan's account was accessed by hacker Phobia – who pried it open by going from call centre operator to call centre operator, starting out at Amazon customer support – and then wiped his devices via iCloud after loose-lipped.
Users reported being unable to download apps or songs from iTunes for up to six hours, and others trying to change their passwords or account details were unable to do so. Apple had told users it was reviewing its processes for password resets in the wake of the hack, and tech sites including that of the hapless hacked hack – WiReD – were reporting that all password changes for any iCloud service were being frozen, though tight-lipped Apple naturally didn't comment. Read more...
With Microsoft's new Outlook.com free email service getting so much attention, will Google and Yahoo need to update their own email offerings before they start to lose users?
Google's Gmail will need some updates to grab a piece of the spotlight, but Yahoo Mail needs an overhaul and it needs to move fast, according to industry analysts.
"This really ups the ante in the email game," said Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC. "Microsoft's email may start to increase its adoption rate ... Everyone is at risk of market share changes. This is what it means to play in a competitive market."
Earlier this week, Microsoft took the wraps off Outlook.com, its new webmail service, which is set up to eventually replace the company's Hotmail. The updated service is a major redesign that synchronizes Outlook.com accounts across a range of devices and is integrated with social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Read more...
Smartphones may make our lives easier, but boy, they sure do make our wallets lighter. A typical smartphone setup with one of the major U.S. carriers costs around $70 to $80 a month -- and that's on the lower end of the spectrum. So what if there were a way you could get the same kind of service for less than half the cost?
It turns out there is -- if you're willing to make a few trade-offs. The secret lies in a rapidly growing but rarely discussed segment of the smartphone market known as prepaid or contract-free service. Prepaid service has been around for some time, but in the last couple of years it's started to transform from a source of cheap, bottom-of-the-barrel phones into a viable outlet for compelling smartphones.
So what exactly do you give up by going the prepaid route and is the sacrifice worth the gain? Read on; you might just be surprised. Read more...
The Google Books project (just today pared down a bit) always impressed me with its sheer scope. Offering modern e-books is all well and good, but that’s more of a business problem. It’s the scanning and free availability of thousands upon thousands of old books that struck me as a worthwhile endeavor.
But publishers and booksellers have been wary of the service, knowing that Google is a fan of free, and their scan-first, ask-permission-later strategy caused some consternation as well. And while access to all that knowledge is appreciated, it is lost on no one that the data is in the hands of a for-profit company. Read more...
There's a war underway throughout our networks, with carriers and ISPs in the thick of it. But for fear of network disruptions or increased cost of service, many ISPs and carriers have shied away from securing the traffic that flows through their wires.
Network security and analytics firm Kindsight hopes to get ISPs more engaged on that front. Today, the company -- a subsidiary of Alcatel-Lucent rolls out its Kindsight Security Analytics platform, designed to help service providers analyze network traffic for malware and aggregate network security statistics. According to Kevin McNamee, security architect and director of Kindsight Security Labs, the platform provides insight into subscriber infections so Internet service providers and mobile operators can identify and mitigate malicious activity.
It's no surprise that malware on ISP and mobile networks is growing. What does raise an eyebrow is how many end users are infected at any given time and how high that percentage spikes during new outbreaks.
McNamee says, as measured by Kindsight Security Labs, approximately nine to 14 percent of home networks are infected on a typical day. The number of infected home users can spike to 30 percent during outbreaks. Mobile malware is also escalating, having increased 400 percent over a three-month period in late 2011.
"It's become increasingly difficult for home users, enterprises and ISPs to keep up with the threat," says McNamee. "Malware is getting better at shutting down anti-malware defenses during infection, and end users don't always have it running. What's needed is analysis of the network traffic to understand the extent and specific types of malware among subscribers so appropriate action can be taken."
Kindsight aims to catch malware such as spambots, banking Trojans and spyware based on the activity they create on the network. Kindsight works by deploying sensors that tap on the carrier network, including peering points, that analyze traffic using its own custom-developed sensors, as well as those it acquires from other security vendors. For botnets and mobile (as well as other forms of) malware, Kindsight also attempts to identify the command-and-control protocol used by these applications to "phone home" their reports on stolen data.
Analysts believe there is more carriers could do to keep their pipes cleaner. "It makes great sense for service providers to be performing monitoring," says Pete Lindstrom, research director at Spire Security. "For instance, looking for botnet command-and-control is clearly one area that is problematic, and which they have an ideal view for rapid identification.
Chipita America may be as close to a server-less company as one can find. Its ERP systems, EDI, BI, Office, Exchange and file servers are all hosted in a service provider's cloud.
About six years ago, when many IT managers were debating Nicholas Carr's book "Does IT Matter," Chipita CIO Scott Martin was moving the Tulsa, Okla.-based snack food maker's email to a third party's cloud hosted platform. Since then Chipita has moved the rest its core systems to the cloud.
Martin said he didn't see a competitive advantage in managing internal systems, believing that his time could be best spent focusing on business needs.
"The real difference that IT leaders [can make] is being able to leverage information to create competitive advantage in the marketplace," said Martin. Read more...
The launch of Apple's new iCloud service has been reminiscent of the fiasco three years ago when the company debuted MobileMe, according to users' complaints that describe a sweeping range of problems.
iCloud, which Apple launched Wednesday, is the free replacement for MobileMe, the sync service that had major teething troubles in 2008. MobileMe stumbled badly then, dogged by problems ranging from slow synchronization to an 11-day email outage.
In June, Apple's then-CEO Steve Jobs acknowledged MobileMe's troubles when he introduced iCloud at the company's annual developers conference.
"You might ask, 'Why should I believe them, they're the ones that brought me MobileMe?'" Jobs said to loud laughter from the crowd as he touted iCloud. "It wasn't our finest hour, just let me say that. But we learned a lot." Read more...
A Sprint spokeswoman said more details would be announced at a later date, but confirmed the executive's comments in an interview published Wednesday.
Paget Alves, head of Sprint business markets, said in the interview that Sprint's offerings to businesses will include selling its network infrastructure as a service available on-demand. Read more...
More and more, we rely on Web services as a matter of course. The key word is rely: We assume that the data we upload to, say, a photo-hosting account or blog service today will still be there tomorrow. In large part, that's because we assume the services themselves will still be there tomorrow.
But over the past few years, we've seen plenty of examples of sites that are here today and all-too-gone tomorrow -- for example, Friendster (which dumped user data for a redesign in May) and GeoCities (which shut down in 2009).
In other words, nothing lasts forever. The Web services that we entrust with our data can -- and do -- vanish. And when that happens, you need to have a plan. In the following pages, I'll take a look at some cases where user data was lost or endangered, how the companies (and their users) handled the situation, and what you can do to keep your own information safe. Read more...
Google recently relaunched itself into the social media market with the announcement of its Google+ service, but technology executives are split as to whether they really need yet another social network to worry about.
Google's new social networking project is built around five core features: Circles, Hangouts, Instant Upload, Sparks and Huddle. These features allow users to connect with people they know, share content, follow updates on particular subjects of interest and even take part in group video chat.
Google is also making some attempts to woo enteprises to its latest social offering, promising the launch of corporate accounts soon and using car maker Ford as a guinea pig for the business use of Google+.
While Google+ is still early in its beta testing, it already has 25 million users. Even so, in the social media world it's tiny - Facebook has over 750 million users, Twitter around 175 million and LinkedIn is now well past the 100 million mark. Read more...
Its new Direct Connect service allows enterprises to establish a direct connection to Amazon from their data center or colocation provider. They'll be able to run a private line to one of several Direct Connect locations planned around the world, starting with one operated by Equinix in Virginia. AWS' Virginia data center is connected to that facility.
A direct connection will allow enterprises to control the speed of their connection to Amazon. "If they provision a fat pipe to the AWS cloud, they'll have high throughput," said Adam Selipsky, a vice president with AWS. "It should cut down on latency and unpredictability, given that it's their pipe and they're controlling what and how much goes through it." Read more...
If you listen to industry discussion of SOA (service-oriented architecture), you are likely to get the impression that SOA is best thought of as a technical approach for application integration. The reality is that SOA is much more. According to Forrester's Q1 2011 Global Application Architecture, Design, And Portfolios -- SOA And Beyond Online Survey, organizations that use SOA for strategic business transformation must be on to something because they are much more satisfied with SOA than those that do not use SOA for strategic business transformation. According to the survey, all 16 respondents who reported strategic business use of SOA are satisfied enough to expand their use of SOA. By contrast, 7 of 27 respondents without a strategic business focus with SOA are struggling or cutting back on SOA.
A business-focused approach begins with SOA business services, which embody major business units of work -- transactions and queries such as submit order, retrieve customer lifetime value, or schedule production run -- inside clearly-defined software interfaces that are accessible when and where needed by any employee, process, customer, or business partner. Read more...
Mobile networks in North America are filled to 80 percent of capacity, with 36 percent of base stations facing capacity constraints, according to a survey by investment bank Credit Suisse.
Networks in other regions also are more than 50 percent utilized, with the global average at 65 percent, Credit Suisse said after surveying carriers around the world. That level of use matches the average "threshold" rate that would trigger the service providers to start buying more network equipment, the report said. Looking ahead, on average the carriers expected their utilization rate to grow to 70 percent within 12 months.
Credit Suisse used the results to predict new sales by makers of cellular equipment, such as Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia Siemens Networks, and Huawei Technologies. But at a certain level, heavy use of a base station can also affect the mobile experience of individual subscribers. The survey found that 23 percent of base stations worldwide had capacity constraints (defined as a utilization rate over 80 percent during busy hours), while 36 percent in North America were under that kind of pressure. Read more...