BlackBerry has been granted approval to purchase German-based encryption company Secusmart, with the Canadian smartphone manufacturer agreeing to a "no-spy" agreement. As part of the agreement, BlackBerry will grant the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) access to the BlackBerry operating system.
In addition, BlackBerry executives have given the German government assurance that no data will be passed along to the NSA, GCHQ, and other foreign intelligence branches.
"The German government has examined the planned purchase of Secusmart by BlackBerry and given its approval for it to go ahead," said a spokeswoman from the German economy ministry.
Since being introduced in 2009, it has taken years of existence before the bitcoin cryptocurrency started causing concern for most lawmakers. Now, many US states are seeing different oversight and possible regulation of bitcoins - and the matter isn't going to get any easier.
State and federal agencies want to try to regulate bitcoins, even while saying the cryptocurrency isn't a traditional currency, while many supporters want a hands-off approach. However, state regulators are watching one another to see what is happening, and how interactions with bitcoin backers can be done in a respectful, knowledge sharing manner. States such as New York and Texas want to have some type of bitcoin licensing system, and others will wait-and-see on possible oversight.
"In order to prevent money laundering, we need to have some points within the ecosystem where the financial intermediaries have some sense of who they're dealing with," said Benjamin Lawsky, New York financial services superintendent. However, the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau doesn't necessarily disregard bitcoin, but warns supporters they are effectively "stepping into the Wild West."
Europol is targeting cybercriminals suspected of using stolen debit and credit card information to purchase airline tickets. The large raid took place in 45 countries and 80 airports, with 118 people arrested - and airlines lose more than $1 billion per year due to fraudulently purchased tickets.
"Airlines are fighting credit card fraud on their ticket sales on daily basis," said Meta Backman, a Europol European airline fraud prevention group. "It is clear to the airlines that they are up against organized crime in this fight."
The Global Airport Action initiative will rely on better communication between local police, national police, and federal agencies working with airlines and credit card companies to identify suspected fraud. Credit card fraud was reportedly linked to human trafficking and truck trafficking, which will also be investigated by European authorities.
It seems like only a matter of time before another significant data breach hits US consumers, and it could happen before the end of the year. Many retailers don't have appropriate infrastructure in place to defend against cyberattacks, and the criminals are adapting their strategies to ensure they are successful. A recent study found 58 percent of retailers are now less secure than they were within the past year, as criminals can easily surpass firewalls and compromise customer data.
As more consumers shop online and head to local stores, it's the perfect storm for criminals to seize bulk debit and credit card data in a single breach. Meanwhile, some experts say the cost of expensive next-generation security solutions to be passed down to consumers, according to the study from BitSight Technologies.
"Bad guys know that this is a big shopping season," said Bob Ackerman, cybersecurity specialist and managing director of Allegis Capital. "Bad guys are on the prowl, they are active, and they know this is a time of year where there is a lot more fish that their net can capture."
Due to poor demand for the Microsoft Xbox One game console in Japan, the GM of Xbox in Japan, Takashi Sensui, has stepped down. Sensui reportedly "stepped down" from the position, but has been given a new role within the company's gaming unit: He will assume the role of General Manager for the Interactive Entertainment Business in Redmond, Washington.
Not surprisingly, the Xbox One hasn't sold well in Japan - where Sony and Nintendo reign supreme - with the next-generation Xbox One only moving 38,461 units since September. There were 23,562 units sold within the first week, and Microsoft hasn't been able to build any type of momentum.
Xbox Japan continues to reshuffle its management, with Nobuyoshi Yokoi and Yoshinami Takahashi now in control of the Xbox Japan business.
Snapchat wants to utilize advertising in its mobile messaging service, and it appears Electronic Arts will use the platform to promote Dragon Age: Inquisition. The ad is a 20-second promotion of the BioWare-released open-world role-playing game that was released on Nov. 18, available for the following platforms: PC, Sony PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox 360, and Xbox One.
Although Snapchat wants to rake in advertising dollars, it remains a relatively non-intrusive method where users have to opt-in. "We want to see if we can deliver an experience that's fun and informative, the way ads used to be," Snapchat noted last month.
The video game industry is a multi-billion-dollar revenue machine, and advertising is an important aspect to promote sales and marketing of released - and upcoming - game titles.
Popular coffee shop chain Starbucks is rolling out wireless charging stations in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the effort is set to expand even further later on. Using Powermat Technologies, it would appear Starbucks could help bring wireless charging solutions to the mainstream - and it begins with its customers becoming more comfortable with wireless charging technology built directly into tables and bar tops.
Powermat Technologies CEO Daniel Schreiber says the charging speed at Starbucks locations rivals cabled connections - and while there has been a large amount of criticism regarding speed - it seems faster than many people give it credit for. However, there are only a small number of phones that support Powermat directly out of the box, so Starbucks provides Power Rings for charging - a loan or $10 to purchase them - along with Duracell-Powermat providing them online.
"You've got to have a complete system," said Matthew Guiste, Starbucks VP of in-store digital services. "No one has taken the plunge, [but] we want to start giving manufacturers a reason to put it in their phones."
Following a massive data breach that left 56 million debit and credit card details stolen, along with 53 million email addresses, the company spent $43 million during Q3 to deal with the aftermath. The company expects to receive $15 million reimbursement as part of a $100 million network liability insurance policy - and must now work to ensure the problem doesn't occur again.
Meanwhile, the company faces multiple lawsuits and will "incur significant legal and other professional services expenses" due to the incident. The company's payment card data network was complaint in fall 2013, and was undergoing 2014 certification when the breach occurred, according to an independent auditor.
"The forensic investigator working on behalf of the payment card networks may claim the company was not in compliance with those standards at the time of the data breach," Home Depot noted.
The Internet of Things market is growing rapidly, and is attracting more attention from US technology and telecoms buyers, according to the Hampleton Partners' report. More than $9.4 billion has been spent since 2011 to help acquire IoT suppliers, with a whopping $5 billion of that spent during 2014 so far.
Expect to see Intel, Texas Instruments, Juniper Networks, Johnson Controls and AT&T become more active in acquiring - and creating partnerships - that will help bolster their IoT product lines. There will be an estimated 28 billion Internet-connected devices by 2020, and a global market valued at more than $7.1 trillion - and that figure will only grow as reliable Internet continues to be expanded worldwide.
Meanwhile, IoT will be one of the fastest growing market segments, and spending to support the blossoming market is expected to be $59 billion by 2020. Such wide market growth presents excellent opportunities for manufacturers, especially by releasing consumer technology solutions.
Former GCHQ boss Sir John Adye believes current generation biometrics need more control, as he has concerns related to fingerprint scanners used by the Apple iPhone 6 and other devices. Despite believing the use of biometrics is a positive step toward device security, Sir John also is concerned about what happens to people's data when using these devices.
Sir John called out Apple specifically, with Apple Pay now allowing users to make payments simply with their fingerprint.
"I think Apple has done some good things. They appear to have a good system at the moment for protecting their operating system so it's difficult for anyone outside to penetrate it and retrieve data from it. But how long will that last, because the criminals... are very inventive at finding ways in, and although you can protect it in that way on the device itself, what happens if the device is lost or stolen?"