Nintendo continues to take shots at the Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4, as all three console giants prepare for a 2014 Christmas holiday shopping season slugfest.
In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Nintendo continues to speak out against rival consoles, trying to promote the cheaper device.
"The good news, for us, is that we're presenting the best value right now in new home consoles," said Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America president. "$299, includes two games; it's a compelling proposition for consumers this holiday. For us the message is simple; you want to play these great games, you want to have these fantastic experiences, you have to upgrade to the Wii U."
Facebook's London office is reportedly developing a new Facebook At Work project that will vie directly with LinkedIn. With a user base of 1.3 billion Facebook can leverage their existing membership to challenge LinkedIn for work-based social networking market share. LinkedIn has experienced rapid growth and now has over 200 million users, but lacks many refined features that Facebook can easily provide. Facebook At Work will enable collaborative workflows through document sharing, and also add messaging and chat services via their Messenger service.
Facebook intends to separate work and personal profiles, and there is no word yet if Facebook will charge a premium for the service. LinkedIn derives much of its profit from enhanced membership options, but Facebook can likely offer better services by simply embedding advertisements into the feed. Facebook will also draw fire from competing Google and Microsoft services, such as Google Drive and Office 365. Many corporations are familiar with using cloud-based services for employee collaboration, and if Facebook offers a compelling solution they can potentially grab a huge chunk of market share in this space. There is no announced release date of the new service, but estimates expect release in 2015.
The Google Glass consumer wearable headset is still expected to launch in 2015, but interested buyers shouldn't hold their breath as they wait. Unfortunately for Google, it appears that some developers are jumping off the Glass bandwagon, losing faith in the high-priced wearable, as several other developers will focus more on business users.
Chris O'Neill, Google Glass head of business operations, previously had this to say: "We are as committed as ever to a consumer launch. That is going to take time and we are not going to launc this product until it's absolutely ready." The company still reportedly has hundreds of employees working on Glass, especially trying to drive interest in Glass Explorer, but potential consumer development remains up in the air.
Consumers have shown interest in new generations of Glass, but don't want to purchase a product that doesn't have a strong backbone of apps and third-party support. Along with losing developer support, several Glass executives left Google throughout 2014, saying the current wearable market isn't big enough to continue such high-profile work.
The rise and fall of the Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange took just a few years, but left a serious black mark on the budding cryptocurrency market. More consumers and retailers are willing to experiment using bitcoins as currency and potential investments, despite continued security concerns.
The actual bitcoin protocol hasn't been breached by cybercriminals, and thieves have found ways to compromise bitcoin storage solutions, exchanges, and bitcoin owners directly. With no government regulation and very little insurance of recouping lost funds, some have shied away from jumping into the bitcoin market.
"It's important to remember that Bitcoin as a protocol and the blockchain, the record of transactions, has no known security vulnerabilities," said Trevor Murphy, Chief Technology Officer of bitcoin storage solution company BitStash. "It's impossible to counterfeit bitcoin and an impossibility with current computing power to modify a transaction that has been confirmed, say five or six times on the blockchain. This is very important. In fact, bitcoin marks the first time in human history that a currency has these attributes. People have been counterfeiting money, bouncing checks and chipping little bits off gold coins since time began."
YardArm is working with several police agencies in California and Texas, testing a mobile network-connected technology that sends signals when an officer unholsters and fires their weapon. The company originally developed a consumer technology that could monitor a weapon's location - but didn't find many interested customers. Instead, the company revamped and wanted to develop new solutions that could be used for potential police and military use.
"You have a social demand for smart gun technology, but not necessarily a market demand," said Jim Schaff, VP of marketing at YardArm. "As a consumer product, it's going to be a long road."
YardArm also is developing new methods to send wireless data of which direction a weapon is pointing, offering data that can be viewed via smartphone and fed to dispatch. If implemented, YardArm's technology could help prevent public outrage - and clear officers of wrongdoing - when officers use their weapons accordingly.
Apple recently upset their users by removing support for third-party software that enables TRIM functionality. Perhaps most distressing was the fact the change went unannounced. Many Apple users with Trim Enabler, a third party app that enables TRIM functionality, unfortunately bricked their installs when they updated to OS X 10.10 Yosemite. There is a method for enabling TRIM with third-party SSDs, but it involves creating a massive security vulnerability. SSDs can work without TRIM but speed is reduced and endurance also takes a hit. TRIM works by complimenting the Garbage Collection routines inside the SSD, which allows the early removal of previously deleted data.
After the news was released we were contacted by several third-party SSD vendors about the impact of removing TRIM functionality. From our conversations it was revealed that only one manufacturer currently has native TRIM support for Apple products. Angelbird has supported native Apple TRIM support for two years, and the Angelbird wrk for Mac is the only SSD right now that circumvents the issue. Chris, our consumer SSD guru, recently took an in-depth look at the SSD in the Angelbird SSD wrk 512GB SSD Review. The wrk leverages a Silicon Motion SM2246EN controller, but we aren't sure if that specific controller is the key to native Apple TRIM support. We contacted Angelbird representatives and they confirmed native TRIM support, but could not share specifics on exactly how they enable it. Angelbird representatives also confirmed they have external USB 3.0 devices that support TRIM through their proprietary software.
It has become apparent that Tor isn't so secure after all, with government snooping and privacy experts showing the network can be easily compromised. Using Cisco Netflow, 81 percent of Tor users were de-anonymized by computer science professor Sambuddho Chakravarty - the end-user's IP address could be seen, along with a physical mailing address.
Silk Road - and additional Dark Net offerings - tried to use Tor to help keep organizers and users secure, but federal agencies were able to de-anonymize users.
"End users don't know how to properly configure it - they think it's a silver bullet," said Jayson Street, Infosec Ranger at the Pwnie Express security assessment company. "They think once they use this tool, they don't have to take other precautions. It's another reminder to users that nothing is 100 percent secure. If you're trying to stay protected online, you have to layer your defenses."
A new advanced persistent threat (APT), known as DarkHotel, is now targeting C-level executives of major businesses. Instead of trying to compromise governments to steal state secrets, Dark Hotel is cleverly engineered to conduct corporate espionage, likely for a foreign state-sponsored group, utilizing poor wireless hotel security - a rather clever technique for when business leaders are staying in hotels.
Utilizing Flash zero-day exploits and using spear-phishing to compromise users, DarkHotel has been found to steal and re-use digital certificates that inject malicious code. The attacks have taken aim at business visitors in the United States, Japan, South Korea, India, mainland China, Russia, Germany, Hong Kong and Ireland.
"Just think about the playing field IT security professionals have to deal with, and why they need all the help they can get," said Joe Caruso, Global Digital Forensics (GDC) CEO and CTO. "There are mobile devices like smartphones and tablets being used more than ever before, all with seemingly endless choices of software and applications, and all providing a potential threat vector for cross-platform intrusions and attacks."
BadUSB was developed by a team of researchers to highlight the inherently flawed design of the USB specification. Once injected, this exploit allows full control to the users computer. The worst aspect of this vulnerability lies in the nature of the hack, it actually resides in the firmware of USB devices. Erasing or wiping a USB stick is the most common method of removing malware, but since this exploit resides in the firmware of the device, it renders traditional virus removal techniques useless. The hack goes far beyond just flash memory sticks and includes USB hubs, SD card adapters, SATA adapters, all USB input devices, webcams, and storage devices.
The concept of attacking a computer through USB devices certainly isn't new, the NSA has been known to utilize similar tactics via the Cottonmouth device leaked by Edward Snowden. A recent update on the severity of the issue was released at the PacSec security conference. Researchers tested eight USB controllers from leading manufacturers and determined that only half of them were safe from the attack. This is a better outlook than previous research that indicated all USB devices are vulnerable, but is a hollow comfort because users have no method of determining which devices are exposed to the nefarious firmware hacks. There is no known method for the common user to even detect an infection, let alone remove it.
The original researchers refused to publish the BadUSB code, but some other friendly sorts have published their own BadUSB code, purportedly for studying the problem and providing incentive for companies to fix the issue. The bad news? The code is now available to the public. The only recourse for end users is to simply not trust any USB device.
Mobile payments are growing in popularity among US consumers, and mobile payments could reach $142 billion in 2019, according to Forrester Research. The analyst firm spoke with PayPal, Visa, Verifone and other companies, and they reported a continued shift towards mobile payments - and while companies have struggled with mobile wallets - next-generation services are building momentum.
"It's not just that we have smartphones," said Denee Carrington, an analyst from Forrester. "It's that we're increasingly dependent or rely on or expect them to deliver more."
Apple Pay receives the majority of media attention related to mobile payments, but Google Wallet, CurrentC, and other services will continue to gain traction. Apple's dedication to the market will lead market acceleration, helping convince retailers to test accepting mobile payments at checkout.