Pirate Bay Founder Sentenced, another Founder Arrested

A Danish court sentenced Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, a Swedish hacker who founded the controversial file-sharing website Pirate Bay, to 3-1/2 years in prison after being found guilty of hacking crimes in Denmark. Prosecutors had sought a six-year sentence, near the maximum allowed. Svartholm Warg had been charged with vandalism, as well as hacking into several Danish public databases via an ISP and accessing people’s personal data, including criminal records and extradition agreements. He contended the hacking was done by someone who remotely accessed his computer. An unnamed co-defendant received a six-month sentence and was freed based on time served in pre-trial detention. He is not the only Pirate Bay co-founder now in custody. Hans Fredrik Lennart Neij was arrested in the Thai city of Nong Khai, just after arriving from Laos, based on an international warrant for his arrest on 2009 copyright infringement charges. He and three others, including Svartholm Warg, were convicted of those charges in 2009, but Neij fled Sweden while out on bail. (Naked Security)(BBC)


Hackers Immediately Exploit Recently Discovered Drupal Vulnerability

As many as 12 million websites may have been compromised through a recently discovered vulnerability in Drupal 7 software, commonly used to manage Web content. Immediately after the bug discovery was announced, Drupal noted, hackers began attacking vulnerable sites. In a statement, Drupal said users failing to apply a patch within at least seven hours of the bug announcement on 15 October should assume they were hacked. The company said that the attacks might escape detection by conventional security approaches so users should check for back doors inserted into their sites as well as missing data. The vulnerability lets an attacker exploit a database abstraction API, which ensures queries made against a database are sanitized to prevent SQL injection attacks. Drupal reports the content of the malicious requests dictates the type of attack launched. These can include attacks used to escalate a hacker’s privilege status and inject malware. They can also use the access to steal data. (BBC)(Dark Reading)(Drupal)

Hungarian Government Drops Internet-Tax Proposal

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced he is removing a proposed Internet tax from the nation’s pending budget. The draft 2015 tax bill, submitted to Parliament on 22 October 2014, called for ISPs to pay a tax of 150 forints (60 cents) per gigabyte of data traffic. Tens of thousands of protesters subsequently marched in the Hungarian capital Budapest. The ruling Fidesz party unsuccessfully tried to appease the opposition by amending the bill with a cap 700 forints ($2.81) per consumer and 5,000 forints ($20.10) for business customers. In a radio address, Orban then said “This must be withdrawn, and we do not have to deal with this now.” The government had expected to collect between 175 and 200 billion forints ($703.5 million and $804 million) from the tax and thereby reduce the national deficit. Opponents said the tax would stifle free expression and make it more difficult to start new businesses. (BBC)(Bloomberg)


Samsung Wants Out of Microsoft Patent Deal

Samsung is seeking to be released from a patent agreement with Microsoft on the grounds that the latter’s recent purchase of Nokia’s smartphone business breaches the terms of their deal. The companies’ 2011 agreement enables Samsung to use Microsoft Android patents and to collaborate on making Windows Phone handsets. “Before Microsoft’s merger with Nokia DSB, these provisions between Microsoft, an input supplier, and Samsung, a downstream seller, comported with United States antitrust laws,” Samsung said in its filing to be released from the patent agreement. “After the Nokia DSB Merger, the agreements, now between competitors, invite charges of collusion.” Once Microsoft purchased Nokia’s handset business, it competed with Samsung. The original agreement also compels Samsung to share information with Microsoft. Doing so, Samsung says, would put it at risk of violating US antitrust laws. According to Reuters, Microsoft denies Samsung’s claims. Microsoft filed a suit earlier this year in a New York federal court alleging Samsung breached a previous agreement by delaying royalty payments. Samsung had paid Microsoft $1 billion in 2013 licensing fees as part of the agreement but did not pay any of the other scheduled fees, claiming it would have resulted in one or more antitrust violations. Microsoft contends that Samsung is liable for $6.9 million in back interest on the unpaid fees. (GeekWire)(ZD Net)(Reuters)


Carnival Becomes First Cruise Line to Offer Hybrid Wi-Fi

Carnival’s cruise ship fleet is being outfitted with a hybrid wireless network designed to provide its consumers with reliable, faster connectivity at sea. The $10 million network is being installed in the 101 ships belonging to the cruise operator, the world’s largest line, which operates nine different brands. Carnival’s WiFi@sea smart hybrid network uses both satellites and land-based antennas located along its various cruise routes. Being able to switch between the two technologies, says the cruise line, enables customers to have service throughout a cruise, even at mid-ocean, where connectivity is notoriously difficult. The system is reportedly 10 times faster than the previous Internet service on its ships. Carnival says it is banking on this to help generate greater interest in cruise vacations, especially among tech-savvy younger travelers. WiFi@sea will initially be available in North America in the fourth quarter of 2014 with expansion to Alaska in the summer of 2015, then to the Mediterranean, the Baltic, Western Europe, and Asia. According to Carnival, the service will be designed so that it can add the latest new technologies. Carnival says the service’s cost to passengers will vary by brand. (Toronto Sun)(MarketWatch)(Carnival Corporation)

Technology Enables Veterinarians to Make House Calls on Demand

A newly launched service enables people to use technology to get a house call for their ill pets. VetPronto, which has operations in Seattle and San Francisco and plans to eventually expand into Los Angeles, is being dubbed the Uber for sick pets. The on-demand service lets pet owners use a mobile application to make appointments for basic services such as tests or vaccinations. Participating veterinarians can access and create a pet’s medical records using the service. VetPronto designed its service to eliminate the stress that animals and humans often experience when they must go to the veterinarian’s office. (Geek Wire)(VetPronto)

Chinese Upstart Temporarily Vaults to Third Place in Global Smartphone Sales

Three years after its market debut, Xiaomi recently became the world's third-largest smartphone vendor, albeit temporarily. The Chinese firm trailed Samsung Electronics and Apple in sales during the third quarter of 2014, based on a report by market research firm Strategy Analytics. However, with the finalization of its acquisition of Motorola’s mobile-phone business, Lenovo moved ahead of Xiaomi in third-quarter 2014 sales. A total of 320 million smartphones shipped worldwide between July and September of this year. Samsung had a 25 percent share, down from 35 percent during the same period last year. Other leading vendors’ shares were Apple at 12 percent, Lenovo at 7.4 percent, and Xiaomi at 6 percent. “Xiaomi was the star performer,” Strategy Analytics executive director Neil Mawston said in a media statement. “Samsung continues to face tough competition from Apple at the higher end of the smartphone market, from Xiaomi and Huawei in the middle tiers, and from Lenovo and others at the entry level.” Xiaomi is the leading mobile-phone vendor in China and also sells products in India.(Reuters)(Fortune)(Computerworld)

Pirate Bay Founder Convicted on Hacking Charges

Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, a Swedish hacker who founded the controversial file-sharing website Pirate Bay, has been found guilty of hacking crimes in Denmark. He was charged with vandalism, as well as hacking into several Danish public databases via an ISP and accessing people’s personal data, including criminal records and extradition agreements. Svartholm Warg contends the hacking was done by someone who remotely accessed his computer. Sentencing for both men is expected 31 October 2014. Prosecutors sought a six-year sentence, near the maximum allowed. Svartholm Warg, who has spent 11 months in a Danish prison, was arrested in 2012 in Cambodia before extradition to Sweden on unrelated hacking charges before being extradited to Denmark a year ago. In 2009, he was found guilty of copyright violations with the other founders of Pirate Bay, which gained a reputation as a conduit for illegal copies of movies, music, software, and video games. (The Age)(International Business Times)

Robots Hawking Coffee Makers in Japanese Retail Stores

A fleet of humanoid robots is selling coffeemakers for Nestle SA in electronics retailers throughout Japan. The company is the first corporate customer for SoftBank’s Pepper robots, which are developed in France and made in Taiwan. In December, 20 robots will be used in Japanese Nestle stores. Nestle plans to eventually have robots in 1,000 stores. Nestle Japan spokesperson Miki Kano told the Japan Times, “We are sure that our customers will enjoy shopping and being entertained by robots.” Pepper—which sells for ¥198,000 yen ($1,763)—is also serving as a greeter at SoftBank mobile phone stores in Japan. Pepper will be available to consumers in February 2015. (Reuters)(Japan Times)

Microsoft Announces Final Planned Job Cuts

After eliminating more 3,000 jobs in late October, Microsoft says it has now completed “almost all” of the 18,000 cuts announced in July by new CEO Satya Nadella. He said the reductions were designed such that there were “fewer layers of management, both top down and sideways, to accelerate the flow of information and decision making.” The latest cuts were reportedly in departments such as finance, human resources, and marketing. “The reductions are spread across many different business units and many different countries,” according to a corporate statement. The company will have, once the job cuts are effective, roughly 110,000 employees. (Geek Wire)(Reuters)

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