June 28, 2011

Glasses-free HTC EVO 3D smartphone announced for Europe, available in U.S.

HTC has announced that its first glasses-free 3D smartphone, the EVO 3D, will be available...

The range of gadgets capable of stereoscopic glasses-free 3D viewing is slowly increasing, with the LG Optimus 3D, Sharp Aquos SH-12C and Nintendo 3DSgaming console already on the market. HTC has now announced that its first glasses-free 3D smartphone, the HTC EVO 3D, will be available in Europe in July. Unveiled in March 2011 and introduced in the U.S. by Sprint on June 24, the EVO 3D features a stereoscopic 3D display, allowing users to view three-dimensional images without glasses, plus the phone is able to capture pictures in 3D.

The Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) handset features a large 4.3-inch qHD 960x540 pixel screen, that is capable of displaying 3D images, videos and games, plus a dual-lens camera capable of capturing 3D images with up to 2 megapixel resolution and 2D/3D HD (720p) 30 fps video recording coupled with stereo sound. A 2D/3D camera mode switch lets users choose between formats. Some image editing features are also included, one of them allowing you to "add a new creative perspective to your images with Tiltshift Effect - selectively blurring parts of the scene to give subjects the impression of scale models," according to HTC.

The smartphone features a refreshed HTC Sense interface, which now offers 3D menus and a customizable active lockscreen, which allows real-time viewing of the chosen content or apps (browser, photos, social network feeds, etc.). The lockscreen thus becomes a "customizable gateway that lets you instantly jump to your favourite applications with just one gesture," HTC says. The phone's distinctive weather app is also 3D-upgraded, featuring some new 3D animations.

The EVO 3D is powered via a Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-core 1.2GHz CPU, working along with 1GB of RAM. The American version is also WiMAX-enabled, whereas European customers will stick to 3G and WiFi wireless connections. There is also DLNA wireless media streaming available, and HDMI support (through an adapter).

The HTC EVO 3D is Sprint-exclusive in the U.S. and is priced at US$199 with Sprint's two-year service agreement. Vodafone UK has already confirmed that it will offer the handset, though there are no details regarding European pricing yet.

Product page: EVO 3D

by Pawel Piejko Gizmag June 28, 2011



Glasses-free HTC EVO 3D smartphone announced for Europe, available in U.S.

June 26, 2011

Hacker group LulzSec says it's dissolving itself

NEW YORK - A publicity-seeking hacker group that has blazed a path of mayhem on the Internet over the past two months, including attacks on law-enforcement sites, said unexpectedly on Saturday it is dissolving itself.

Lulz Security made its announcement through its Twitter account. It gave no reason for the disbandment, but it could be a sign of nerves in the face of law-enforcement investigations. Rival hackers have also joined in the hunt, releasing information they say could point to the identities of the six-member group.

One of the group's members was interviewed by the Associated Press on Friday and gave no indication that its work was ending. LulzSec claimed hacks on major entertainment companies, FBI partner organizations, the CIA, the U.S. Senate and a pornography website.

The group also accessed and posted online last week hundreds of computer files from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, including officers' personal phone numbers and intelligence briefings on drug cartels.

As a parting shot, LulzSec released a grab-bag of documents and login information apparently gleaned from gaming websites and corporate servers. The largest group of documents - 338 files - appears to be internal documents from AT&T Inc., detailing its buildout of a new wireless broadband network in the U.S. The network is set to go live this summer. An AT&T spokesman could not immediately confirm the authenticity of the documents.

In an unusual strategy for a hacker group, LulzSec has sought publicity and conducted a conversation with the public through its Twitter account. Observers believe it's an offshoot of Anonymous, a larger, more loosely organized group that attempts to mobilize hackers for attacks on targets it considers immoral, like oppressive Middle Eastern governments and opponents of the document-distribution site WikiLeaks. LulzSec, on the other hand, attacked anyone they could for "the lulz," which is Internet jargon for "laughs."

by Peter Svensson Associated Press Jun. 26, 2011 12:00 AM




Hacker group LulzSec says it's dissolving itself

June 25, 2011

Arizona DPS officials downplay attack's effect on operations

The Arizona Department of Public Safety worked Friday to strengthen its computer networks after an international group of hackers exploited a weak spot in the system by accessing the e-mail accounts of eight officers stationed in rural areas of the state.

The hacking group Lulz Security, which has claimed responsibility for breaching CIA and U.S. Senate websites, said in a bulletin Thursday afternoon that it had successfully stolen 700 DPS files. The group posted the information on its website in retaliation for the state's passage last year of Senate Bill 1070, a tough immigration law largely on hold pending a review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

DPS officials characterized LulzSec's breach as isolated and said it did not affect the agency's larger servers and the information contained on them.

The incident is one of many recent efforts targeting government websites to make political statements. It raises concerns about the security of sensitive information on government computers and prompted some state lawmakers to suggest that the state may need to toughen penalties to deter future attacks.

In the latest strike, the hackers obtained reams of information, including personal details about officers and other documents. The eight officers whose e-mails were attacked were part of a separate, outdated system that did not require users to update their passwords on a regular basis. It also did not require a complex combination of capital and lower-case letters and numbers for a password.

Most DPS personnel are on a system that requires password changes every 60 days.

"Because we have people stationed all over the state, not everyone is on the same password requirements," DPS spokesman Steve Harrison said Friday. "We were in the process of changing that system over already. Obviously, this will make us go a little faster."

The documents obtained by LulzSec were either e-mail attachments or stored on the hard drive of the computers used by the officers, he said.

"Obviously there are some training issues related to this," Harrison said of the simplistic passwords. "They need to use a little more robust system."

Harrison said the department is "unlikely" to discipline the officers because "we don't believe the officers did anything wrong."

Harrison declined to discuss specifically what measures the department is taking to contain the breach and ensure it doesn't happen again. But he did say the department's information-technology team immediately changed the officers' passwords Thursday afternoon.

They also blocked external access to DPS servers Thursday evening in response to the attack. The servers were brought online again shortly after noon Friday, he said.

Other systems safe?

The breach raises questions about whether other state agencies also might be vulnerable to a cyberattack.

The hackers vowed to release more classified documents each week to embarrass authorities and sabotage their work.

State agencies operate on different computer networks, which range in age, and contain a wide range of personal data, including health information, motor-vehicle records and tax returns.

Officials in the Governor's Office declined to comment directly on the security of the state's computer network and would speak only to the scope of this breach.

"We have received no information that leads us to believe that the DPS servers . . . or the larger state system have been compromised," spokesman Matthew Benson said.

The DPS notified the Governor's Office and other law-enforcement agencies of the incident, Harrison said. At some point during the evening, the state's Information Technology Department and the Department of Administration also were briefed on the breach, but it was unclear whether details of the hack were formally shared with other state agencies.

A spokesman with the Department of Administration did not return phone calls and e-mails seeking comment.

Recent budget requests suggest some of the state's computer systems are overdue for upgrades. For example, the Department of Administration asked earlier this year for $5 million in its fiscal 2012 budget to start building an integrated statewide financial system.

In the request to Brewer, agency officials spoke in dire tones about the aging Arizona Financial Information System, which processes more than $30 billion in expenditures each year and handles 14 million transactions. The system was installed 19 years ago. Some components are even older. It noted that the "inflexibility of the current system(s) security features does not provide the necessary controls to mitigate potential major risks."

There is nothing in budget documents that indicates the request was honored.

The DPS issued a statement Friday saying safeguards were in place at all agencies to "ensure the security of electronic and computerized records." Those measures include round-the-clock monitoring of external access to the state's computer network, firewalls and anti-virus software.

Several laws broken

The Arizona hacking appears to be part of a joint effort between hacking groups Anonymous and LulzSec, which they have dubbed Operation Anti-Security, according to a statement released by LulzSec. The intent is to target government websites, the group said.

The groups have released the Arizona information and the names of 2,800 Colombian special police-unit members. They also claim to have breached Britain's Serious Organized Crime Agency and two Brazilian government websites.

Tom Holt, assistant professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University, said Thursday's hacking appears to fit with a growing trend called "hactivism."

Hackers used to work individually, either for entertainment or to make money, he said. But "hactivists" are grass-roots groups with a political motivation.

What is somewhat disturbing about these two groups, Holt said, is that they are increasingly incorporating others into the various efforts. They've developed websites that help individuals start their own attack and provide resources via Twitter.

Holt said the hack was sophisticated, which could hamper identifying any culprit.

"This seems a little bit more complex, and the amount of data acquired suggests that these actors have some degree of skill," he said. "The way in which they got the information might leave some trails. But it will require a degree of sophistication by the investigators."

In accessing the DPS files, LulzSec appears to have violated both federal and state laws. The DPS said Friday that it anticipates bringing in the FBI to help with the investigation.

Title 13, Section 2316 of the Arizona Revised Statutes makes it a crime, among other things, to "recklessly use a computer, computer system or network to engage in a scheme or course of conduct that is directed at another person and that seriously alarms, torments, threatens or terrorizes the person."

Violation of the statute is a Class 2 felony and punishable by up to 12.5 years in prison, the state Attorney General's Office said.

Federal computer crimes are prosecuted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which sets penalties of one to 10 years in prison, depending on the crime.

The released documents included information from federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Law-enforcement officials said Friday that finding the guilty parties will be difficult, given that hackers can commit their crimes from virtually anywhere in the world.

It is not clear who would prosecute the case if a suspect were identified.

State Attorney General Tom Horne said the DPS would have the discretion to send the criminal probe either to his office or to the U.S. attorney for Arizona, or both.

Tougher statutes

Thursday's hack could lead to a push for tougher state laws against cybercrime, several state lawmakers said Friday.

House Speaker Andy Tobin, R-Paulden, said he was "outraged" by the attack, particularly because it may have endangered DPS officers and their families.

Tobin said he had "been hearing from (legislative) members all day."

He said he believes lawmakers would be receptive to giving the DPS additional resources to improve its computer networks, if it determined that was needed, and increasing the state penalties for hacking into government computers.

"This is as important to protecting our law-enforcement officers and their families as a bulletproof vest might be," Tobin said. "It would absolutely be a priority for the Legislature."

Sen. John McComish, R-Phoenix, said he would like to ensure the penalty for cyberattacks is harsh enough to deter future hackers.

Others said solutions against additional attacks might be as simple as requiring the state's e-mail administrators to enact more rigorous password-protection programs.

The military, for example, uses "challenge words" to verify the validity of a password, adding another layer of security, said Rep. Jack Harper, R-Surprise, a member of the House Military Affairs and Public Safety Committee.

by Ginger Rough, Mary Jo Pitzl and Alia Beard Rau The Arizona Republic Jun. 25, 2011 12:00 AM



Arizona DPS officials downplay attack's effect on operations

A look at infamous hackers

The breach of Arizona DPS' computer system hardly ranks among the most infamous hacking incidents. Here are some of the more notable ones in hacking's history:

(This feature includes Information from the Washington Examiner, Orlando Sentinel, the Telegraph, CNET, NPR, PBS, and PC Magazine.)

1996: Disgruntled employee detonates

Timothy Lloyd worked for Omega Engineering Corporation for 11 years before being fired because of conflict with co-workers. Three weeks later a code "bomb" detonated when an Omega employee logged on to a computer terminal. The bomb deleted Omega's design and production programs, losing almost $10 million in sales for the company. Lloyd was convicted in 2000 of writing the bomb, which was six lines of code.

1994: Cashing in on Citibank

Vladimir Levin was a Russian hacker who, working with accomplices, hit an estimated $10 million payday at Citibank's expense. Levin confessed to using Citibank customers' passwords and codes to transfer funds. He apparently gleaned the information from customers' phone calls. Citibank's recovery effort fell just $400,000 shy of the stolen amount. Levin pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges in the U.S. He was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay $240,000 to Citibank.

Early 1990s: Hacker eludes FBI for 3 years

Kevin Mitnick gained notoriety for accessing the computer systems of companies such as Motorola and Novell. He was noted for "social engineering" his way into networks rather than hacking them. He was arrested in 1995 after he hacked into computer files belonging to a researcher at the San Diego Supercomputer Center. He'd eluded the FBI for three years.

1990: Teen takes Kiss FM for a ride

Kevin Poulsen was a teenager when he won a Porsche 944 from the Kiss FM radio station in Los Angeles. But his "Win a Porsche by Friday" luck was of his own design. Poulsen had hacked into the station's phone lines to ensure he was the 102nd caller -- the winning number. Subsequent hacking coups saw Poulsen face FBI charges, including fraud. He served more than four years in prison and now works as a journalist for Wired.com.

1986: Captain Midnight strikes

A mysterious prankster calling himself ''Captain Midnight'' interrupted a Home Box Office TV broadcast of "The Falcon and the Snowman" and imposed his own message: "GOODEVENING HBO FROM CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT, $12.95/MONTH ? NO WAY ! [SHOWTIME/MOVIE CHANNEL BEWARE!]."

John MacDougall's message was in protest of cable television companies' newly adopted practice of scrambling their signals. Prior to signal scrambling, users of home satellite dishes could receive cable content without paying. MacDougall said the name Captain Midnight was inspired by a movie he'd seen. Afterward he paid a $5,000 fine and served one year of probation.

by Kiali Wong The Arizona Republic Jun. 24, 2011 04:30 PM



A look at infamous hackers

Arizona DPS: Officers' personal info, cartel briefings stolen

Hundreds of pages of e-mails. Nearly four dozen images and two dozen slide shows. Intelligence briefings about drug cartels.

Home telephone numbers and work schedules for Arizona Department of Public Safety officers.

The hundreds of documents posted online by an international group of hackers on Thursday have raised questions about whether local and border-security law enforcement was compromised by a breach of DPS computers.

DPS officials deny enforcement work was compromised.

"Other than personal information, we don't think this will affect our operations at all," DPS Capt. Steve Harrison said. "It's a minor inconvenience." He acknowledged, however, that the posting of personal information about DPS officers put them "in harm's way."

The materials are clearly not what a law-enforcement agency would choose to divulge, at least out of caution.

A stark example is an intelligence briefing describing a high-level border-town meeting involving the head of the most powerful drug cartel in Mexico, as related by a confidential informant. The cartel leader and a small army of cartel traffickers were plotting how to smuggle large amounts of marijuana through Arizona.

"If there is information about how sources of information get to our attention, the cartels will change their ways," said Peter Forcelli, a supervisor with the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Phoenix, who works border smuggling cases.

Also posted online were such things as the work schedule for officers in a DPS bureau, the types of weapons used by officers in another bureau, and personal information and photographs of agency officers and family members.

There is no indication that any source's confidentiality was betrayed or an investigation was jeopardized.

Phoenix police Lt. Vince Piano, who runs an undercover operation targeting drug cartels, said that the damage of the breach to day-to-day enforcement operations is minimal but that the incident will serve as a wake-up call.

"It's going to make officers a lot more cautious," Piano said. "After this, my guys aren't e-mailing anything."

State and federal authorities are now poring through the more than 700 files that include at least 1,300 pages of DPS e-mails taken by hackers known as Lulz Security, to assess the damage.

At a minimum, the unwanted disclosures have forced authorities to rethink cybersecurity. At least for a short time, state and federal agents combating the cartels will have to shift tactics, veteran agents say.

The vast majority of released documents seem mundane. On Friday, the DPS acknowledged that the hackers used the department's remote e-mail system to obtain e-mails and attachments in accounts for eight employees. But the penetration got no further than those documents. Those records range from staff rosters and routine paperwork to unclassified bulletins from intelligence-sharing centers and training slide shows and videos describing drug-cartel methods.

Volumes of personal information were taken from spreadsheets of dozens of employee names. They include badge numbers and personal phone numbers and, in some cases, spouse names. "It's unconscionable and can place these officers in harm's way," Harrison said.

There are home phone numbers for some state judges and personal contacts for some federal authorities.

One spreadsheet lists the work schedule for every officer in one DPS border office for this year, with vacation dates noted. Another indicates the type of weapons used by officers in a different bureau. A third includes the dispatch codes used by police agencies around the state.

Several files outline the dates, locations and participants in police crackdowns.

Many of the documents are alerts about drug-related intelligence, offering a window into how much the DPS knew at various times.

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned about cartels planning an imminent attack in Sonora border towns.

The alert notes, "There is nothing to indicate that the violence will cross over into the United States, but agents should maintain situational awareness."

In 2010, an unclassified FBI bulletin, based on contact with a confidential informant, warned about cartels seeking to kill local and federal law-enforcement officers at three agencies.

The release of information about confidential informants is "compromising and damaging," said DPS Sgt. Carlos Contreras, a veteran of various task forces assigned to smuggling crimes.

Even more seemingly benign and stale leaks, such as duty rosters, generic operations plans or slides about smuggling techniques can set back counternarcotics agents in the constant chess battle with the cartels.

"It gives them a pretty solid mechanism for changing their tactics," Contreras said, adding that he has been advised to never put sensitive information in e-mails.

Harrison said the DPS is now re-evaluating its procedures. The agency is thinking about a more secure way to share files electronically and changing its e-mail security protocols.

The breach has reverberated beyond the DPS.

The Homeland Security investigations unit of Immigration and Customs Enforcement "is in contact with the Department of Public Safety and the FBI regarding the recent security breach," ICE said in a written statement, adding that it "is still conducting an assessment to determine its operational impact."

Among the documents are photographs of officers. One image shows an officer shaking hands with former President George W. Bush. Another includes a family member's photograph.

There is a picture of nearly 40 officers from one bureau. There are also 43 spreadsheets and 22 slide shows, most of them relating to training or routine paperwork.

What is largely absent is anything relating to Senate Bill 1070, the ostensible reason LulzSec targeted the DPS in the first place.

One e-mail from June 2010 suggests the author saw SB 1070 as a potential reason to move illegal-immigrant suspects from the open desert to safer conditions.

"If we have a distressed pedestrian, regardless of origin, we have a humanitarian responsibility to act for their safety. And if that requires that we transport them to a Border Patrol checkpoint or facility or to another location where we can remove them from the heat, I believe we will meet both the headline and humanity tests," the e-mail said.

A 2008 e-mail did express one officer's anger over Mexican drug dealers profiting from the porous border, "What the @#@%*@ are we thinking???" the sender asked.

A 2009 alert from the U.S. Justice Department warns police that iPhones feature remote-erasure tools, potentially allowing criminals to destroy evidence before police can analyze it. The authorities recommended securing the phones in a way to ensure the erasure signal couldn't be received.

The hacking episode has embarrassed the state agency and left it assessing the value of information never intended for public view.

"We feel like somebody whose house has been burglarized: shock, anger, frustration and a little fear," Harrison said.

by Sean Holstege and Ronald J. Hansen The Arizona Republic Jun. 25, 2011 12:00 AM



Arizona DPS: Officers' personal info, cartel briefings stolen

Report: Scottsdale-based GoDaddy sale rumored

Three private-equity firms are closing in on a deal to buy Scottsdale-based domain-registrar Go Daddy Group Inc. for between $2 billion and $2.5 billion, according to media reports Friday.

The Associated Press reported a deal is expected by Tuesday. A source spoke to the news service on condition of anonymity because the deal hasn't been publicly announced.

The sale would be led by New York-based Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Silver Lake Partners. Technology Crossover Ventures would be a third, but smaller, partner. KKR's desire for Go Daddy was reported earlier by the New York Post.

A Go Daddy spokeswoman declined to comment Friday. A KKR spokesman said the company does not comment on rumors. A Silver Lake Partners spokeswoman also would not comment, and representatives for Technology Crossover Ventures could not be reached.

Sources cautioned that no deal has been finalized and that it's typical for details of large private-equity transactions to leak before they are consummated, causing speculation.

Go Daddy's outspoken founder and CEO, Bob Parsons, is expected to stay on after the buyout to lead the company, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Rumors about Go Daddy's sale have surfaced before, and the privately held company once flirted with going public.

The Web hummed with reports in September that Go Daddy had hired San Francisco-based Qatalyst Partners to find a buyer. The company ended up taking itself off the market even though reports said there were companies willing to meet Go Daddy's $1.5 billion to $2 billion asking price.

In 2006, the company filed papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission to go public. In its filing, the company said it has never posted a profit, and it lost $11.6 million in 2005. Go Daddy generated $139.8 million in revenue in 2005, an increase of 92 percent from 2004, when it generated $73 million, the company said in the filing.

Go Daddy pulled the IPO, or initial public offering, when officials cited poor market conditions for technology stocks.

Go Daddy revenue was listed as $610 million on the 2010 Inc. 5000 list, up from nearly $241 million in 2006.

With its racy marketing and ubiquitous name at sporting events, Go Daddy has grown to become the largest domain registrar in the world since its founding in 1997. It manages more than 48 million domain names.

Go Daddy's potential sale comes at a high-flying time for technology and Internet-based companies. Following its IPO in May, LinkedIn had a market value of $9 billion. This week, online-video service Hulu said it was exploring putting itself up for sale after a takeover offer.

The reason Go Daddy has drawn so much private-equity interest is it has been able to build up critical mass in the website-hosting and Web-presence market, said Melanie Posey, analyst with IDC in New York.

"It's not the easiest thing to do when you're talking customer bases in small business and startups," she said. "There are really interesting economies of scale that you can get in this business by being as big as they are."

She credited the company's racy Super Bowl and NASCAR ads in helping build brand awareness, and she said Go Daddy has done a good job of selling other products beyond domain names. Those looking for a URL to start a website often also purchase hosting and e-commerce services and search-engine marketing.

"You can get it all from them," Posey said. "It's kind of like your Web-presence one-stop shop."

She said the company is closing in on $1 billion in revenue.

"It's not like they've got $10 million in revenue and somebody is going to buy them for $2 billion," Posey said. "It's not like the (the reported sales price) is really out of whack."

by John Yantis The Arizona Republic Jun. 24, 2011 03:05 PM



Report: Scottsdale-based GoDaddy sale rumored

Tech-gadgetry groans

DETROIT - Owners of cars that were new or redesigned for the 2011 model year are reporting more quality problems, partly because of glitches with the navigation screens, voice-activated systems and other technology packed into their dashboards.

J.D. Power and Associates released its annual survey of new-vehicle quality Thursday. Lexus, Honda and Acura were the top performers. Dodge was the worst-performing brand.

The survey questioned 78,000 people about the problems they had with 2011 model-year vehicles in the first 90 days of ownership. Owners reported an average of 107 problems per 100 vehicles. That jumped to 122 problems for cars that were new or redesigned in 2011, up 10 percent from 2010 model-year cars and trucks.

J.D. Power said new technology was partly to blame.

"Clearly, consumers are interested in having new technology in their vehicles, but automakers must ensure that the technology is ready for prime time," David Sargent, J.D. Power vice president of global research, said in a statement. "There is an understandable desire to bring these technologies to market quickly, but automakers must be careful to walk before they run."

New technology was likely responsible for Ford's declining quality. The brand dropped from fifth place in 2010 to 23rd this year.

Ford launched its My Ford Touch voice-activated dashboard system on the Ford Edge and the Ford Explorer in the 2011 model year. The system allows drivers to control climate, navigation, entertainment and other features by voice.

Ford said earlier this week that 73 percent of owners with My Ford Touch say they're satisfied with it, but the company has acknowledged it has been difficult for some buyers to use.

Toyota saw a big leap in quality, jumping 14 spots to seventh place.

by Dee-Ann Durbin Associated Press Jun. 24, 2011 12:00 AM



Tech-gadgetry groans

Global hacking group breaks into DPS network

Computer experts are trying to determine how an international group of hackers broke into the Arizona Department of Public Safety's computers on Thursday and downloaded and released hundreds of law-enforcement files.

The hacking group LulzSec, which has taken responsibility for breaching the websites of the CIA and the U.S. Senate, said in a bulletin that it targeted the DPS because LulzSec opposes Senate Bill 1070, a law the Arizona Legislature passed that widened law-enforcement officers' ability to apprehend illegal immigrants. The law is largely on hold pending a review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The DPS files, posted on LulzSec's website, include personal information about officers and numerous documents ranging from routine alerts from out-of-state police agencies to videos and photos about the hazards of police work and operations of drug gangs. The names of the files are as innocuous as "resume" and "evaluation form" and as provocative as "cartel leader threatens deadly force on U.S. police."

In its Web posting, the group said the files were primarily related to U.S. Border Patrol and counterterrorism operations.

The hackers vowed to release more classified documents each week as a way to embarrass authorities and sabotage their work.

Steve Harrison, a DPS spokesman, confirmed late Thursday that the agency's system had been hacked earlier in the day. The agency had heard rumors that someone was working on hacking the agency's system, but the DPS could not do anything until the system was actually breached, Harrison said.

Gov. Jan Brewer was briefed on the situation, but her spokesman referred all questions to the DPS.

Experts are working on closing the loopholes and have closed external access to the DPS system.

Harrison said the release of officers' personal information is alarming. This information included the names of eight officers, their spouses' names, cellphone numbers and addresses.

"When you put out personal information, you don't know what kind of people will respond," Harrison said, noting that another officer was attacked at his home Thursday morning in an unrelated incident.

The only breach identified by the DPS so far has been that of the e-mail accounts, the passwords of which were also posted online. The agency suspects most, if not all, of the information released was obtained via what was available on those accounts.

Although LulzSec claims some of the files were labeled "not for public distribution," Harrison said. The DPS did not believe any sensitive information that would compromise current investigations was leaked.

Many of the files reflect the mundane concerns of law enforcement. Others offer insight into efforts to keep pace with rapidly evolving technology and the ways criminals take advantage of it.

Some documents also relate to the DPS' effort to address issues of alleged racial profiling, stemming from a 2001 lawsuit that the agency agreed to settle. As part of that agreement, the DPS has continued to allow a university research firm to collect data on its officers' traffic stops.

Other documents included an intelligence bulletin about the leader of a Mexican drug cartel, an advisory from the Arizona Counter Terrorism Intelligence Center and Highway Patrol operational plans for responding to border threats.

According to news reports, the anonymous computer-hacking group has taken responsibility for breaching websites of the CIA, the U.S. Senate, the Public Broadcast System and numerous video-game companies.

LulzSec posts its exploits on Twitter and, as of Thursday, claimed more than 261,200 followers.

Aaron Sandeen, the state's chief information officer, said a national cybersecurity agency that monitors state websites notified his office of a potential breach.

The DPS website was shut down immediately, Sandeen said, and IT teams went to work "to make sure there was no outbreak anywhere else within the network."

The DPS information system is separate from the rest of state government, he said. No other state agency websites have been compromised, he said.

Sandeen said the DPS attack appeared to have been malware.

DPS employees late Thursday were comparing passwords and e-mail addresses to verify whether the information LulzSec has published matches actual DPS accounts.

"DPS is working to verify all user accounts, change all passwords and make sure everything is secure," Sandeen said. "We have to validate that it is a legitimate hack and it's legitimate information."

IT teams also were looking for the source of the cyberattack by scanning internal computer files for unusual activity, such as peaks of usage.

For example, Sandeen said increased traffic this week on the DPS sex-offender registry could provide some clues.

"I don't know if that's related, but that's something we will look into," he said.

On Thursday afternoon, LulzSec taunted Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio on his official account, saying, "Media? Heat? You?" The tweet included an expletive in Spanish aimed at the Border Patrol.

Sheriff's Deputy Chief Jack MacIntyre said the Sheriff's Office is taking "some countermeasures" with the agency's IT system.

"We will be cooperating with DPS to make sure that we minimize any possible impact," he said. Asked if the sheriff's computer systems had been compromised, MacIntyre responded, "We don't think so, we're looking at that - although we're not absolutely sure. We're working on it full-scale with all our IT people."

Sen. Linda Gray, chairwoman of the state Senate's Public Safety and Human Services Committee, said she was unaware of the attack. But she did worry about confidential employee information, such as home addresses and other identifying details, being disseminated on DPS personnel.

Much of that information is shielded from public disclosure in the interest of protecting law enforcement who work on sensitive matters, she said.

Asked if Maricopa County is taking special precautions amid the high-profile attacks, a county spokesman declined to provide details, saying only, "We are always vigilant."

In a bulletin accompanying the latest release of information, LulzSec said:

"We are releasing hundreds of private intelligence bulletins, training manuals, personal e-mail correspondence, names, phone numbers, addresses and passwords belonging to Arizona law enforcement. We are targeting AZDPS specifically because we are against SB 1070 and the racial profiling anti-immigrant police state that is Arizona."

The group said it will release more information every week to embarrass military and law-enforcement officials "in an effort not just to reveal their racist and corrupt nature but to purposefully sabotage their efforts to terrorize communities fighting an unjust 'war on drugs.' "

by Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, Matt Haldane and Shaun McKinnon The Arizona Republic Jun. 24, 2011 12:00 AM



Global hacking group breaks into DPS network

Firms lighten cloud-computing load

With the recent boom in the cloud-computing industry, some local businesses have found a niche market in helping cloud-computing companies outsource their tech support.

J-Curve Technologies in Phoenix is one of those companies.

It provides enterprise business to technical support for cloud-computing services, which let customers use data networks to store, access or stream information. J-Curve has seen its clientele increase from three companies during its founding in 2005 to more than 20 companies that now use its tech-support outsourcing services, said CEO Jim Kaiser.

Big-name clients, such as Walmart and Panasonic, have prompted Kaiser to increase his workforce from six technical-support workers to nearly 100, with round-the-clock shifts 365 days of the year, he said, adding that the company is still hiring.

"Cloud computing is a new technology. Once you get it established, your growth can be pretty extraordinary," said Tom Rex, associate director at Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business.

Chuck Vermillion, CEO of OneNeck IT Services in Scottsdale, a hosting-services and customer-support provider, said that while technology has become the norm for all businesses, a company's ability to manage that technology often drives up costs.

"(Smaller companies) have the same technology challenges as the Fortune 500 companies have, but they don't have the same budget," Vermillion said.

That's where companies like OneNeck and J-Curve come in. Vermillion said it's becoming increasingly difficult for midsize and small businesses to handle their technology, such as e-mail applications and technical support, which is essential to their operations.

Working with clients such as Sunny Delight Beverages Co. in Cincinnati, OneNeck is another example of a company that works behind the scenes to provide data storage for its clients.

"They don't know where our data center is. They don't know what network it's running over. All they know is that when they double-click that icon on their desktop, (it should work)," Vermillion said.

J-Curve stores its data in what Kaiser calls a "bulletproof" room with dozens of servers at its Airport Technology Center office in Phoenix. And in the unlikely event of a system crash, J-Curve has a backup system in another part of the city, he said.

To better manage clients' information, J-Curve developed an internal database to store all of its clients' programs so support workers can quickly access a given company's specific information, said J-Curve's Vice President of Operations Mechelle Childs, who oversees the team. They're expected to communicate with a company's supervisors if they notice an increase in complaints about a particular aspect of a company's service, she said.

"We don't want a bunch of robots," Childs said. "We want them empowered and to feel like they're part of the solution."

So while the recession has caused firms to cut costs or downsize during the past few years, the opposite is true of technology companies, such as J-Curve and OneNeck, who now benefit from those same companies having to outsource their services. "A down economy helps our business because companies are looking to be more efficient," he said.

Still, ASU's Rex said there are some risks companies take when outsourcing support positions, mainly because of a potential loss of control. Also, while companies might be reducing their costs short term, their costs could increase long term, he added.

It's unlikely the outsourcing trend will go away anytime soon, Rex said.

by Kevin Cirilli The Arizona Republic Jun. 23, 2011 12:00 AM



Firms lighten cloud-computing load

Police: Man updated Facebook during standoff

SALT LAKE CITY - Jason Valdez is no stranger to Utah police. His latest brush with the law, however, may have been the most public.

An armed Valdez, 36, held a woman hostage at a motel in a tense 16-hour, overnight standoff with SWAT teams, all while finding time to keep his family and friends updated on Facebook, authorities said.

He even got some help from the outside over the social network: A friend posted that a SWAT officer was hiding in the bushes.

"Thank you homie," Valdez replied. "Good looking out."

When officers swarmed the room, Valdez shot himself in the chest with a handgun, Ogden police said. On Tuesday, he was in critical condition.

The Associated Press reviewed Valdez's Facebook profile page on Tuesday. Police believe he wrote the messages during the standoff.

It wasn't immediately clear, however, whether police were following the posts in real-time, though the department spokeswoman said officers routinely search the Internet and other sources for background on suspects.

In all, Valdez made six posts and added at least a dozen new friends.

His family and friends responded with 100 comments. Some people offered words of support, and others pleaded for him to "do the right thing."

Court records show Valdez has a criminal history, including convictions for aggravated assault and domestic violence in front of a child.

In March, prosecutors filed felony and misdemeanor drug possession charges against Valdez. A judge issued a warrant for Valdez's arrest after he missed a June 1 preliminary hearing in the case.

On Friday afternoon, Ogden police tried to serve Valdez with a felony drug warrant for the missed court appearance.

Valdez barricaded himself inside the Western Colony Inn.

"I'm currently in a standoff ... kinda ugly, but ready for whatever," Valdez wrote in his first post at 11:23 p.m. "I love u guyz and if I don't make it out of here alive that I'm in a better place and u were all great friends."

Valdez said in posts that he was with a woman named Veronica. Police described her as a hostage.

In his posts, Valdez told friends when police shut off the power that his "hostage" was fine - and with him willingly - and that police are jeopardizing her life by their actions.

At 2:04 a.m., Valdez posted two pictures of himself and the woman.

"Got a cute Hostage' huh," Valdez wrote of the photographs.

At 3:48 a.m., one of Valdez's friends posted that police had a "gun ner in the bushes stay low." Valdez thanked him in a reply.

by Jennifer Dobner Associated Press Jun. 22, 2011 12:00 AM



Police: Man updated Facebook during standoff

June 19, 2011

Go Daddy gets approval to go .XXX

candice michelle go daddy Is Go Daddy the Worst Brand Around?

Several years of fiery resistance from adult-industry leaders, government officials and private-sector trademark holders came down to one vote by a powerful Internet-governing agency in March.

The .XXX Internet domain, which Scottsdale-based Go Daddy will launch to select customers later this year, has joined a collection of others widely used in cyberspace, such as.com, .net and .org

The issue had been scrapped, reconsidered, appealed and even sparked a lawsuit since it was proposed in 2000.

Opponents feared that the inherently sexually suggestive nature of .XXX would unfairly limit their law-abiding businesses, open pathways for trademark infringement and create a "virtual red-light district." Supporters, mainly parents and child advocacy groups, believed it would improve online transparency and help combat child pornography.

In a recent vote at a San Francisco conference, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers approved .XXX, which is set to launch in September. The California non-profit, known as ICANN, is in charge of assigning Internet domains.

Christine Jones, general counsel for Go Daddy, the world's largest seller of website-domain names, called registrars, said ICANN's decision came swiftly after hearing many strong cases against the measure.

"The board went back and approved it," Jones said. "That's what really surprised me."

Go Daddy last week announced that, in response to customer demand, preregistrations for existing adult-industry websites and trademark holders would start this fall, eventually opening up to all consumers. The company is one of the few registrars with the rights to sell website names ending with .XXX.

"On this one, we were very agnostic," Jones said of Go Daddy's position on ICANN's decision.

"We've just been watching it along with everybody else."

The company has made a name for itself primarily through its provocative Super Bowl advertising blitzes that unveil celebrity "Go Daddy Girls" to amp hype around a new product, such as the launch of the .co domain earlier this year.

However, with .XXX, Go Daddy has been keeping an unusually low-profile. Jones said the public shouldn't expect the same marketing parade.

"I seriously doubt we're going to put a whole lot of advertising behind it," she said.

The company expects .XXX to be "somewhat successful," she said.

As for pricing, the only thing that Go Daddy knows so far is that it will be top-dollar.

"It will seem like premium pricing because the registry is charging premium pricing," Jones said.

The .XXX domain caters to the "responsible online adult-entertainment community" and is operated by ICM Registry LLC, a private Florida company that administers domains to registrars such as Go Daddy.

All .XXX registrants, however, are contractually required to follow regulations of International Foundation for Online Responsibility, a non-profit in Washington, D.C., that sets policies for the domain, monitors compliance and sponsors like-minded programs and entities.

Eventually, the domain will be available to everyone, but existing adult-entertainment websites and future registrants in that industry are not required to ditch the.com or .net.

Most big-name companies, such as Playboy and Hustler, will likely always have a presence in commonplace extensions like.com, Jones said.

In fact, that was one of ICM Registry's biggest selling points to ICANN.

ICM said .XXX raises the bar in transparency in the online adult industry mainly because it's inherently suggestive of a website's content.

That makes it easier for parents to monitor their children's web browsing and help others avoid any unwelcomed surprise visits to adult content.

It also reassures that those sites are protected against viruses, credit-card fraud and identity theft, according to ICM.

The registry also contends that it has potential for better customer retention and harnessing more predictable revenue streams.

Jones said the opposition has taken a number of angles, such as potentially endangering free enterprise and "double the porn on the Internet."

ICM countered those concerns by saying the popularity of .XXX was already evident when it was approved in March.

MORE ON THIS TOPIC
The .XXX world


The International Foundation for Online Responsibility, or IFFOR, is governed by mostly adult-industry representatives and also advocates of online child protection, free speech, privacy and security. Those with .XXX names must abide by IFFOR's policies, which include:

- Clearly identify website content through use of IFFOR-approved labels. This, however, is done automatically for the registrant.

- Agree to automatic monitoring of websites to verify compliance.

- Maintain zero tolerance of use or suggestion of child pornography.

- Block illegal and unsolicited phishing or spam advertising.

- Protect intellectual property rights of others, such as trademarks.

- Be aware that violators will be reported to third-party hotlines and law enforcement. Registrations could potentially be revoked.

IFFOR's revenue is generated by an annual $10 fee for each name, which enables it to sponsor and provide advocacy for the online adult industry through programs that:

- Sponsor child-safety and child-pornography reporting agencies.

- Advance and raise awareness of content-labeling programs, technologies and other organizations.

Information: www.iffor.org or www.icmregistry.com.

by Kristena Hansen The Arizona Republic Jun. 17, 2011 01:52 PM






Go Daddy gets approval to go .XXX

Phoenix-area firm forms digital-sign alliance

Phoenix-based Ellman Cos. investment group has struck an alliance with a unit of Panasonic Corp. worth "hundreds of millions of dollars" to develop massive digital signs throughout North America.

Ellman's flagship investment is Westgate City Center in Glendale, and it has ownership stakes in 88 companies. Its sign subsidiary, Branded Cities Network, will work with Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Co., which provides sign technology for sports and tourism industries.

BCN will sell ads for all Panasonic signs, including those that hang over Kobe Bryant in the Staples Center during Los Angeles Lakers games. Panasonic will provide the technology for BCN as it grows.

Panasonic's portfolio also includes one of the world's largest LED screens, at the Concord, N.C., Charlotte Motor Speedway, a NASCAR venue.

BCN's portfolio includes massive signs at Westgate, the Denver theater district and casino properties owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp.

"We went to Panasonic because we believe they truly are the leader in this space and technology," said Steven Ellman, CEO of the Ellman Cos. The company owns or has a joint venture in more than 2,000 signs.

Ellman is better known for his company's real-estate holdings, ranking as one of the largest owners of real estate in metro Phoenix for the past few years with maximum holdings in excess of 10,000 acres. But the sign business is booming.

The Ellman Cos. bought Clear Channel Outdoor's majority interest in Clear Channel Branded Cities in October after being a partner for years.

"We've been involved in the outdoor space since the mid-1990s, and 15 years ago, there wasn't a lot of digital signage," Ellman said. "We've struck a venture that will be worth several hundred million dollars in investment in the next few years."

He said the venture will probably hire 50 new employees in Phoenix in the next year and several hundred nationwide.

"Obviously, Panasonic has lots of capital to invest," he said. "What is an issue is getting permits and locations. It is controlling the best real estate, the best rooftops you can in America."

While metro Phoenix has seen some complaints regarding bright billboards that can distract freeway drivers, Ellman said that is not his company's focus.

"Most of the boards we are building don't read to drivers," he said. "They read to intersections, squares."

The venture also will use "cloud technology" to distribute specialized, targeted advertising content to signs across the continent, offering customers the ability to advertise in major city centers.

"Cloud technology allows scalability of our system without building a massive operations center," said Jim Doyle, president of Panasonic Enterprise Solutions. "The (advertising) content and software will exist in a quote-unquote cloud."

by Ryan Randazzo The Arizona Republic Jun. 17, 2011 06:41 AM



Phoenix-area firm forms digital-sign alliance

Pandora shares soar after IPO




NEW YORK -- The shares of popular but unprofitable Internet radio service Pandora (P) soared more than 50% in its market debut.

Its shares rose as high as $26 in early trading on Wednesday, up from its offering price of $16 and valuing Pandora Media at more than $4 billion.

That is easily more than the current value of AOL but a fraction of such Internet behemoths as Google or Yahoo.

Pandora's offering comes amid a fervor for high-profile Internet IPOs that have just begun to trickle in. The professional networking service LinkedIn was among the first to its public debut among the latest generation of Web startups.

Daily deals site Groupon has also filed to go public, though it has not yet provided details on its expected price range or amount of shares it plans to sell. "FarmVille" maker Zynga is also expected to make its public debut soon.

Pandora sold its initial public offering of stock at $16 a share late Tuesday, fetching twice as much as expected less than two weeks ago.

Pandora started as a music recommendation site called TheSavageBeast.com 11 years ago.

Since then, it has morphed into a service that streams music over high-speed Internet connections to computers and a widening array of other devices. The tunes are tailored to suit the individual tastes of Pandora's 94 million registered users.

The large audience and the amount of time that people spend listening to Pandora is the main reason money managers and institutional investors drove up the value of the company's IPO.

The buyers of the IPO appear to be betting the recent fervor for the stock of rapidly growing Internet services will quickly drive up Pandora's trading price. That's what happened last month after the IPO of LinkedIn, the company behind the world's largest site for business networking. LinkedIn's stock more than doubled on its first day of trading to mint it with a $9 billion market value.

Pandora shares are entering a stock market that has become much shakier amid signs that the economy's recovery from the Great Recession is faltering. The Nasdaq composite index has fallen 5 percent since LinkedIn priced its IPO May 18.

Anyone thinking about buying Pandora's shares Wednesday also may want to consider this: LinkedIn shares closed Tuesday at $76.34, a 19% drop from where they finished on the first day of trading.

From aspective of Pandora and the insiders who sold some of their stock, this IPO already looks like a smash hit. Before expenses, the offering raised about $96 million for the company, which is based in Oakland. Existing stockholders collected a combined $139 million by selling a total of 8.7 million shares.

The IPO price represents a more than five-fold increase from what Pandora's own board thought the company was worth just six months ago. Pandora's board appraised the stock's value at $3.14 a share in December, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Earlier this month, Pandora projected its IPO would sell for $7 to $9 a share before raising the range to $10 to $12 a share at the end of last week.

The main thing Pandora has going for it is people's attention. In Pandora's last fiscal year ending January, its audience spent a collective 3.8 billion hours listening to streamed music over the Internet. That total could more than double this year if its audience rate of engagement grows at the same pace it did in the three months ending in April.

As people spend more time listening to Pandora, the service becomes a more compelling marketing vehicle. Like most Internet services, Pandora makes most of its money from advertising. It also sells a music subscription service to listeners who want to skip the ads.

Pandora still hasn't been able to bring in enough money to cover its costs, which primarily consist of the royalties that it pays to play music. As more people listen to music, the royalty rates also rise.

Before paying dividends on preferred stock, the company lost $1.8 million on revenue of $138 million in its last fiscal year. Pandora's content acquisition costs ate up half the revenue. During the first quarter of the current fiscal year, Pandora's revenue more than doubled from last year to $51 million but so did its losses, which totaled $6.8 million for the February-April period before accounting for the preferred stock dividends.

The IPOs from LinkedIn and Pandora are being viewed as warm-up acts for the stock market debuts of several bigger Internet stars.

The upcoming attractions include Internet coupon seller Groupon, which filed its IPO earlier this month, and Web game maker Zynga, which is expected to file its plans to go public soon. Facebook, the owner of the world's largest social network site, has indicated it will file its IPO documents before May 2012.

Goldman Sachs Group put together an investment that valued Facebook at $50 billion at the beginning of this year.

by Michael Liedtke Associated Press Jun. 15, 2011 08:37 AM



Pandora shares soar after IPO

IBM has left its mark on century

ENDICOTT, N.Y. - Google, Apple and Facebook get all the attention. But the forgettable everyday tasks of technology - saving a file on your laptop, swiping your ATM card to get 40 bucks, scanning a gallon of milk at the checkout line - that's all IBM.

International Business Machines Corp. turns 100 today without much fanfare. But its much younger competitors owe a lot to Big Blue.

After all, where would Groupon be without the supermarket bar code? Or Google without the mainframe computer?

"They were kind of like a cornerstone of that whole enterprise that has become the heart of the computer industry in the U.S.," says Bob Djurdjevic, a former IBM employee and president of Annex Research.

IBM dates to June 16, 1911, when three companies that made scales, punch clocks for work and other machines merged to form the Computing Tabulating Recording Co. The modern-day name followed in 1924.

By the 1930s, IBM's cards were keeping track of 26 million Americans for the newly launched Social Security program.

These old, sprawling machines might seem quaint in the iPod era, but they had design elements similar to modern computers. They had areas for data storage, math processing and output, says David A. Mindell, professor of the history of technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The force behind IBM's early growth was Thomas J. Watson Sr., a demanding boss with exacting standards.

Its machines were used to calculate everything from banking transactions to space shots. As the company swelled after World War II, IBM threw its considerable resources at research to maintain its dominance in the market for mainframes, the hulking computers that power whole offices.

By the late '60s, IBM was consistently the only high-tech company in the Fortune 500's top 10.

It introduced the magnetic hard drive in 1956 and the floppy disk in 1971. In the 1960s, IBM developed the first bar code, paving the way for automated supermarket checkouts.

IBM introduced a high-speed processing system that allowed ATM transactions. It also created magnetic-strip technology for credit cards.

For much of the 20th century, IBM was the model of a dominant, paternalistic corporation. It was among the first to give workers paid holidays and life insurance.

IBM's fortunes began to change as bureaucracy stifled innovation. By the 1980s, Big Blue found itself adrift in a changing technological environment.

IBM had slipped with the rise of cheap microprocessors and rapid changes in the industry. In an infamous blunder, IBM introduced its influential personal computer in 1981, but it passed on buying the rights to the software that ran it - made by a startup called Microsoft.

IBM didn't own the intellectual property inside its own machines.

With its legacy and very survival at stake, the company was forced to embark on a wrenching restructuring.

Viewed as too bureaucratic to compete in fast-changing times, IBM tapped an outsider as CEO in 1993 to help with a turnaround.

Louis Gerstner, a former executive with American Express and RJR Nabisco, had little knowledge of technology or IBM culture. But he broke up fiefdoms, slashed prices and cut jobs. IBM, which had peaked at 406,000 employees in 1985, shed more than 150,000 in the 1990s as the company lost nearly $16 billion over five years.

Gerstner focused on services, such as data storage and technical support. The shift allowed IBM to ride out two recessions.

With around $100 million in annual revenue today, IBM is ranked 18th in the Fortune 500.

Some things haven't changed. The company still spends heavily on research, about $6 billion a year. It still comes up with flashy feats of computing prowess, most recently when its Watson computer system handily defeated the world's best "Jeopardy!" players. Just as in 1911, it's still in the business of finding data solutions.

While IBM's Watson attracted buzz by beating two human "Jeopardy!" champions, the company wants to put it to real-world use as a medical-diagnostic tool that can understand plain language and analyze mountains of information.

The company sees future innovations in the analysis of the billions of bits of data being transmitted in the 21st century.

"The scale of that enables you to do discovery, whether it's in the case of drugs, medicine, crime - you name it," says Bernard Meyerson, IBM's vice president for innovation.

by Michael Hill and Jordan Robertson Associated Press Jun. 16, 2011 12:00 AM




IBM has left its mark on century

Phoenix-based company sues Apple over iCloud service

Phoenix-based iCloud Communications has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in federal court against Apple, Inc., saying the tech giant stole its name when Apple unveiled its iCloud service last week.

Filed Thursday, the lawsuit charges Apple with trademark infringement under Arizona law, unfair competition and injury to its business. It asks the federal court to block Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple from using "iCloud," which the Phoenix company says it's used as part of its "Cloud Marks" trademark since forming in 2005.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for "all profits, gains and advantages obtained from Apple's unlawful conduct," profits lost and attorneys' fees.According to iCloud Communications' website, the company offers VoIP solutions for business and residential customers. But in its complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of Arizona, the company said it also offers cloud computing services.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled Apple's iCloud service last week during the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, where he described the new free online program that will allow users to synchronize and store information online for Apple products, including the iPhone and iPad. The service is expected to launch this fall.

"(Apple's iCloud) has actually caused confusion among consumers of cloud computing services and members of the general public," iCloud Communications' suit says, adding that the company has received inquiries from existing and potential customers about whether it is connected to Apple's iCloud.

"The damage to iCloud Communication's reputation and confusion among consumers is likely to continue - and, in fact, intensify - unless Apple is enjoined from its use of the mark 'iCloud,'" it alleges.

iCloud Communications attorney Charles Runyan of Gallagher & Kennedy in Phoenix declined to comment and Apple officials did not return requests for comment. According to the suit, iCloud Communications acquired and equipped a data center worth more $550,000 in Phoenix and has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars marketing it. Now they want that money back plus all other profits lost as a result of Apple's iCloud.

The suit details Apple's controversial copyright history, most notably Cisco Systems, Inc.'s 2007 lawsuit against Apple for releasing the iPhone without owning the naming rights to it.

by Kevin Cirilli The Arizona Republic Jun. 14, 2011 12:00 AM



Phoenix-based company sues Apple over iCloud service

June 12, 2011

Social sites connecting legislators with public

One day after a 23-year-old Tucson woman received a life-saving bone-marrow transplant that had been stalled for months by legislative funding cuts, House Minority Whip Anna Tovar was there, at least in a sense.

In their usual mode of communication, Cindy Straw - Courtney Parham's mother - sent Tovar a Facebook message to update her on Courtney's successful surgery. The two began talking on Facebook in February and have been in touch online several times since the June 2 operation.

"It has touched our family very deeply to be able to actually talk to somebody that's working so diligently to try to get things changed," Straw said.

Tovar is one of many state legislators increasingly using social-media sites like Facebook and Twitter to make personal contact with constituents, solicit their feedback and announce breaking political news.

Politicians' use of social media is getting increased scrutiny, particularly after U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., admitted to sending out sexually explicit photos via Twitter. Arizona legislators' recent "tweets," or 140-character messages broadcast on Twitter, have been tame in comparison: Many have sent prayers to families affected by the Wallow Fire or posted news articles that underscore the need for certain types of legislation.

Sarah Muench, communications director for the Arizona House Democrats, said Democrats also use social media to "hold Republicans who control all of state government accountable of their actions" by informing the public about "what exactly is going on down here."

Paul Boyer, public-information officer for the state House Republican Caucus, said some of the Democratic legislators he follows use Twitter "as quite the platform to talk poorly about Republican policies."

But some social-media posts are less serious. Before Kirk Adams stepped down as speaker of the House in April to run for Congress, he responded to rumors that he would end the session in order to campaign in Washington, D.C., with a joke on Twitter. Adams created a hashtag called #startyourownrumor and kicked it off with a few of his own. The trend went viral in Arizona in a matter of hours.

Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix, tweeted a rumor jesting that the Democratic interns were actually a failed boy-and-girl-band combo hired as cheap labor.

Adams, who has nearly 1,400 Twitter followers, was a prolific "tweeter" during the session, and he often posted from the Assembly floor. He said some of his "followers," those who signed up to receive his messages, instantly retweeted his news about bills passing or failing.

Many politicians also use social media to campaign. Adams said he doesn't intend to use his well-developed Twitter account to fundraise for his congressional campaign, although he might use Facebook.

"Each social medium has its own sort of culture and ethics," Adams said.

Adams said Twitter is also useful for "lifting the hood a little bit," so people can see a politician's personal side. For example, Rep. Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, frequently tweets about the Arizona Diamondbacks and the local restaurants he enjoys. Tovar recently tweeted about her youngest son winning a basketball championship.

Tovar said constituents who are too intimidated to call her office are usually more comfortable contacting her online. She said one man who wasn't receiving the unemployment benefits he needed found her online because he wanted to remain anonymous.

Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, said that level of comfort makes some people ruder online than they would be in person.

Gould started tweeting about three years ago when he realized someone else was posting under his name. He said the tweets were initially funny but "degraded into making fun of the Gould mustache." Twitter seized the account and turned it over to Gould, he said. He now has more than 700 followers between two accounts.

Gould said that overall, the sites are useful, but using social media as an elected official also has its downfalls. After he received a death threat through the mail at the Capitol, Gould said he stopped giving blow-by-blow accounts of his location.

by Emily Holden The Arizona Republic Jun. 12, 2011 12:00 AM



Social sites connecting legislators with public

Company plans more Blockbuster kiosks

Blockbuster Express: ncr corp who licenses the bb name for its blockbuster express kiosks ...

NCR Corp. plans to continue to add Blockbuster Express video-rental kiosks in Arizona and other states despite the uncertain future of traditional Blockbuster locations and legal challenges to its use of the name.

Formerly known as the National Cash Register Co., NCR is now a leading maker of point-of-sale terminals, ATMs and bar-code scanners.

The company signed a licensing agreement in 2009 with video-rental chain Blockbuster allowing NCR to open thousands of self-service video-rental kiosks under the Blockbuster Express name.

The kiosks were Blockbuster's answer, albeit late, to the thousands of video-rental kiosks that had been opened by Redbox.

The Redbox kiosks, plus online video rentals from Amazon, Apple and others, contributed to financial problems at Blockbuster that led to widespread store closures and an eventual Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

In April, satellite television provider DISH Network Corp. bought Blockbuster out of bankruptcy for $320 million. The deal included 1,700 Blockbuster locations, 1,200 of which Dish Network said it likely would close.

At its peak, Blockbuster had 5,000 stores worldwide, including about 200 in Arizona. There are now fewer than 50 Blockbuster stores in Arizona.

DISH Network has sued NCR to stop it from using the Blockbuster name. NCR contends that it has the rights to use the name until 2016 and that that deal was unaffected by Blockbuster's bankruptcy.

Justin Hotard, vice president of NCR's entertainment business, which includes Blockbuster Express, said the company had developed its own agreements with movie studios and other content providers and intended to continue to grow its network of kiosks despite the dispute with Blockbuster's new owners.

Blockbuster Express now has about 9,000 kiosks open across the country, including more than 400 in Arizona. That compares with Redbox's 27,000 outlets nationwide, including about 1,000 in Arizona.

In Arizona, Blockbuster Express kiosks are at supermarkets and convenience stores, among other locations.

Hotard said NCR planned to open 1,500 new Blockbuster Express locations this year, including numerous sites in Arizona.

by Max Jarman The Arizona Republic Jun. 11, 2011 12:00 AM



Company plans more Blockbuster kiosks

Hackers strike at major firms

NEW YORK - Citigroup Inc. has become the latest victim in a string of high-profile data thefts by hackers targeting some of the world's best-known companies.

The New York bank said Thursday that about 200,000 Citibank credit-card customers in North America had their names, account numbers and e-mail addresses stolen by hackers who broke into Citi's online account site.

The breach comes after data attacks in recent weeks have struck at companies including Internet search leader Google Inc., defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. and media and electronics company Sony Corp.

Citigroup said it discovered that account information for about 1 percent of its credit-card customers had been viewed by hackers. Citi has more than 21 million credit-card customers in North America, according to its 2010 annual report.

The bank, which discovered the problem during routine monitoring, didn't say exactly how many accounts were breached.

Citi said it was contacting those customers.

The bank said hackers weren't able to gain access to Social Security numbers, birth dates, card-expiration dates or card-security codes. That kind of information often leads to identity theft, where cybercriminals empty bank accounts and apply for multiple credit cards. That can debilitate the finances and credit of victims.

Citi customers could still be vulnerable to other problems. Details about their bank accounts and financial information linked to them could be acquired using the e-mail information and account numbers that hackers stole.

Federal regulators have taken notice and are asking banks to improve security.

"Both banks and regulators must remain vigilant," said Sheila Bair, chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. She said federal agencies are developing new rules to push banks to enhance online account access.

The Citi incident is only the latest data breach at a major company.

• On June 1, Google said that the personal Gmail accounts of several hundred people, including government officials and military personnel, had been breached.

• On May 30, broadcaster PBS confirmed that hackers cracked the network's website and posted a phony story claiming dead rapper Tupac Shakur was alive in New Zealand.

• On May 28, Lockheed Martin said it had detected a "significant and tenacious attack" against its computer networks. The company said it took swift action to protect the network and the systems remain secure.

• In April, Sony's PlayStation Network was shut down after a security breach that affected more than 100 million online accounts.

• Also in April, hackers penetrated a network operated by a data-marketing firm Epsilon, which handles e-mail communications for companies such as Best Buy and Target.

The number of data breaches in the last two months sets a "high watermark," said John Ottman, CEO of Application Security Inc., a New York-based company that specializes in securing databases, the big repositories companies use to organize account information.

"Attackers have realized that most organizations have not properly protected databases," Ottman said.

Cyberattackers have a variety of less-dangerous motivations, from mischief to online activism. For example, a group identifying itself as LulzSec claimed credit for the fake PBS article calling it retaliation for a documentary about WikiLeaks.

But often such data breaches are an attempt to steal personal data, which is likely the case with Citi. Hackers also will pose as legitimate companies in a tactic known as phishing, where they try to get users to supply additional information like Social Security numbers and e-mail or bank passwords to get access to their financial information.

The fact that the Citi hackers only got a few pieces of personal data on customers may limit what crooks can do with the information, said Susan Grant, director of consumer protection at Consumer Federation of America, a consumer-advocacy group.

"But any ID theft is worrisome for consumers," Grant said. She believes companies are responsible for protecting their customers' information from internal and external abuse.

In an e-mailed statement, Sean Kevelighan, a spokesman for Citi said the bank is contacting affected customers and enhancing procedures to prevent a similar security breach.

"For the security of these customers, we are not disclosing further details," he said.

by Pallavi Gogoi and Kelvin Chan Associated Press Jun. 11, 2011 12:00 AM




Hackers strike at major firms

Nintendo's debut of Wii U draws investor skepticism

Wii U Associated Press Nintendo's next video game console, the Wii U, is shown at the Nintendo booth at the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, June 8, 2011.


NEW YORK - The upcoming Wii U - part tablet computer, part game machine - could help Nintendo surpass its rivals once again.

Yet investors so far are skeptical, with unknowns such as the price. The company's stock has fallen 10 percent since the Wii U's unveiling this week. Expectations for the new machine have been high following the original Wii's roaring success.

Wii U, which will go on sale next year, features a motion-sensing controller with a tabletlike touch screen and high-definition graphics.

Of these, only the tablet-screen feature will be unique to the Wii U. Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 already offer high-definition and motion controls.

Scott Steinberg, CEO of video-game consulting company TechSavvy Global, said people were expecting an innovation that's "so far ahead of the competition that it can position Nintendo as a leader again."

Instead, he said, people got "a whimper, not a scream."

Then again, people were also skeptical in 2006, when Nintendo Co. went against conventional wisdom with its Wii. The quirky, cheap game console relied not on high-end graphics and complex buttons to lure in hard-core players but on simple motion controls to lure in everyone.

The Wii's then-revolutionary technology lets players stand up and bowl, play tennis and drive a virtual car simply by flailing a wand in front of their TV. It has sold more than 86 million units, at least 30 million more than either the PlayStation 3 or the Xbox 360.

Whether Wii U will replicate the Wii's success or fade like the Virtual Boy (if you don't remember it, it's for good reason) will depend largely on its price.

Nintendo will also have to convince customers that they need another dedicated gaming device in the age of iPads, Facebook and Angry Birds.

"People are getting harder to impress," Steinberg said. "They are expecting more for the money. They already have a number of systems in their home that are performing well."

With Wii U, Nintendo is catching up with its rival console makers by offering a system that runs high-definition graphics, an essential feature in 2011. Sony and Microsoft also began selling their own motion controllers late last year.

The Wii U's tabletlike controller, however, is novel. Although Nintendo says the idea behind it came long before the iPad's debut in April 2010, the ensuing tablet craze couldn't hurt.

Michael Pachter, a Wedbush Morgan analyst, called the console brilliant and believes Nintendo will have no problem selling it, as long as it costs less than $300.

"I was really, really surprised at the stock-price reaction," Pachter said. "I thought it (the Wii U) was really cool."

Pachter said he had to hold the device in his hands before understanding its significance: "They integrated a tablet into a console."

No one else has done that.

The Wii U's controller is a mix between Nintendo's family of DS touch-screen handhelds, complete with stylus, and a traditional console-game controller with two joysticks and trigger buttons. It's a little bulky - a bit like holding a hardcover book by its top and bottom edges.

In Nintendo's demonstrations at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, a game called Shield Pose has players blocking suction-cup arrows fired by pirates from different directions in rhythm to a beat. The accelerometer inside the controller knows if you are blocking in the right direction.

Other games make use of the controller's ability to have a different perspective on the same world. In one, the Wii U controller operates a spaceship and is in a shoot-'em-up battle with players on the ground. Those players, holding traditional controllers, have to look at a split-screen view on the TV for their perspective.

In offering new experiences through the Wii U, "not only do we want to bring back those people who have left Nintendo, we also want to create a new group of core users," said Katsuya Eguchi, manager and producer of software development at Nintendo.

"I think we can do that with the new controller, but it will be hard to bring back those people who've moved onto Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, unless we offer something a little bit different," he said in Japanese through a translator at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.

Some analysts worry that traditional video games have to compete for attention and dollars with smarter-than-ever phones, quick games such as FarmVille and tablet computers, including the iPad.

That is not necessarily true.

Clicking on a field of virtual crops to harvest on FarmVille is not quite the same as spending two hours as U.S. commandos fighting Cold War-era enemies in Call of Duty: Black Ops. It's not the same as immersing yourself in the Mushroom Kingdom with the Super Mario brothers.

Nonetheless, demand for the Wii has dropped in recent years.

Even the much-hyped Nintendo 3DS, a glasses-free, handheld, 3-D gaming system, has been selling slower than expected. Pachter believes a big reason for Nintendo's stock-price drop this week is not Wii U but Sony's decision to price PlayStation Vita, its newest handheld-gaming device at $249, the same as the 3DS.

With an economy that's still on the rocks, money speaks. The lack of an announced price for Wii U, Pachter said, "makes people worried that it'll be 500 bucks."

by Barbara Ortutay Associated Press Jun. 10, 2011 12:00 AM



Nintendo's debut of Wii U draws investor skepticism

Apple called largest chip buyer

NEW YORK - Driven by the success of the iPhone and iPad, Apple Inc. has become the world's largest buyer of chips for computers and phones, a research firm said.

Apple bought $17.5 billion worth of chips last year, surpassing computer maker Hewlett-Packard Co. as the largest consumer, IHS iSuppli said Wednesday. That was an increase of 80 percent from the year before, reflecting Apple's continuing sales surge.

An iPhone contains about $80 worth of chips, according to iSuppli. The chips include a central processor that acts as the brains of the device, radio chips that let it talk to cell towers, and an audio chip that converts voice into a stream of data.

The finding that Apple is the No. 1 buyer cements its standing as a company that has the clout and the cash to buy chips and other crucial components such as touch screens when other companies struggle because of supply constraints.

Apple said that, in January, it spent $3.9 billion on long-term contracts to secure supplies for the next two years of a "very strategic" unidentified component. Few companies are able to commit that much money.

Last summer, high-tech manufacturers scrambled to buy chips as sales started reviving after the recession and chip makers had yet to ramp production back up. But Apple reported no chip-supply problems; it blamed shortages of iPhones and iPads instead on limited assembly-line capacity.

Both iPhones and iPads use large amounts of expensive flash memory, accounting for much of Apple's chip consumption.

Apple sold 48 million iPhones last year. PC industry sales grew 14 percent, iSuppli said. The iPad went on sale last year.

Associated Press Jun. 9, 2011 12:00 AM




Apple called largest chip buyer

Mashable!

Crave: The Gadget Blog

PCWorld Latest Technology News

CNET TV: Laptops

Blog Archive

Recent Comments