Wearable-Device Toolkit Gains Traction

An application-developer toolkit that cloud-based business-services vendor created is gaining market traction among hardware makers seeking to stake a claim in the nascent wearable-device market. The company’s Salesforce Wear program now counts companies such as Epson, Jawbone, and Oculus among its partners. Developers use the tool to create applications that will work on enterprise market wearables such as Google Glass, Android Wear, and various smartwatches. These applications will provide many capabilities such as real-time multimedia training or clocking in and out of work. Projections for market growth vary widely. (Diginomica)(InfoWorld)(TIME)(Salesforce @ PR NewsWire)

Verizon Settles US Privacy Complaints for $7.4 Million

Verizon Communications is paying the US government a settlement of $7.4 million following an investigation into how the company notifies customers of their privacy rights before using their information for marketing, according to the US Federal Communications Commission. This marks the largest fine relating to phone customers’ privacy in FCC history. The agency’s investigation discovered that beginning in 2006, the company didn’t provide roughly 2 million new landline telephone customers with proper privacy notices—explaining how to opt out of having their personal information provided for marketing offers—in their first bill. Under US law, phone companies cannot use customers’ personal data for marketing without their permission. Under the terms of the settlement, Verizon will send opt-out notices with every telephone bill. Verizon said that it advertently violated FCC rules that it takes the agency’s regulations seriously, and that it has implemented measures to avoid a recurrence. (Reuters)

Home Depot Investigates Possible Data Breach

US home-improvement retailer Home Depot is investigating “unusual activity” regarding its customer data, following a report by investigative security journalist Brian Krebs that the company may have suffered a payment-card breach that started in April or May and that may affect all 2,200 US stores. He discovered details about the incident from a posting on a black market forum. Home Depot spokeswoman Paula Drake said if the company confirms that a breach has occurred, it will notify customers immediately. Krebs noted that it appears the hackers responsible “may be the same group of Russian and Ukrainian hackers responsible for [earlier] data breaches at Target, Sally Beauty, and P.F. Chang’s, among others.” . If the breach indeed began in late April or early May 2014, he added, “and if even a majority of Home Depot stores were compromised, this breach could be many times larger than [the] Target [incident], which had 40 million credit and debit cards stolen over a three-week period.” (BBC)(Krebs on Security)

Daimler Enters the Ride-Service Application Market

Daimler, the manufacturer of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, has bought two smartphone applications designed to help users obtain car services. The company’s moovel subsidiary purchased mytaxi, which lets smartphone users hail a cab, track its progress, rate the service, and pay for the ride. moovel also bought RideScout, which helps users find ways to get places using public and private transportation, including car-sharing services. Previously, moovel invested in Blacklane, a limousine-booking service. It also owns car2go and Park2gether, a service that helps users find vacant parking spaces. Daimler, which manufactures cabs, says its new applications will not disrupt the taxi industry. (Reuters)(The Wall Street Journal)

Apple Sets Much-Anticipated September New-Product Preview

Apple will take the wraps off new products in a much-anticipated 9 September event at the Flint Center in Cupertino, California, where Steve Jobs launched the Mac computer. Some reporters are billing it as the most anticipated since Apple launched the iPad in 2010. The company has not released details. Industry observers speculate the firm will show new iPhones as well as its first wearable device. (The Associated Press)(re/Code – 1)(re/Code – 2)

US Comic is Serious about Hybrid Social-Media Promotions

You know the face. He’s got a hit television show in the US——playing Tom Haverford on NBC’s Parks and Recreation—and frequently performs stand-up comedy dates across the country. He’s even sold out Madison Square Garden in New York City. His name is Aziz Ansari, and .he has 4 million Twitter followers, which he is using to his advantage. Ansari employs a mix of social media, posts on his website < >, and text messages to promote shows in small venues to his fans and give them a chance to buy tickets. He sends a tweet instructing fans to head to his site and enter their cellular-phone numbers for a chance to buy tickets. When Ansari did this in San Francisco, there were 35,000 entries in three days. Winners are notified by phone and given a code to buy tickets free of processing fees. “If I tweet out that ‘I’m doing a show at the Punchline’ (the small club where Ansari appeared in San Francisco)’ it would sell out really fast, like in 30 seconds,” he explained to re/Code. “No one would have a chance to get tickets unless they’re maniacally checking Twitter. And I didn’t want those to be the only people.” A team headed by online publisher David Cho created Ansari’s custom software. (re/Code)(Aziz Ansari)

Hackers Target Large Banks

Several large US banks were attacked by hackers who appear to have used malware and a zero-day vulnerability to infiltrate networks and obtain corporate and customer data. At least five banks—only JP Morgan Chase was identified—were involved in the attacks, in which cybercriminals stole “gigabytes of customer data,” according to the anonymous sources cited by news outlets. However, it is unclear whether they took credit card or other account information. The fact that there have been no reports of money moved from accounts indicates the attack was politically motivated, according to a US government source. The US FBI, Secret Service, and National Security Agency are investigating the breaches. Initial investigations indicate the attacks were routed through computers in Latin America from servers that Russian hackers are known to use. Security vendor Trend Micro reported an uptick in attacks on US and European banks since 24 July 2014 from computers whose IP addresses appear to be in former Soviet bloc countries. JP Morgan Chase spokesperson Brian Marchiony declined comment on the recent incidents, saying only, “Companies of our size unfortunately experience cyberattacks nearly every day. We have multiple layers of defense to counteract threats and constantly monitor fraud levels.” In April, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said the company was increasing its annual expenditures on security by 25 percent—to $250 million—compared to 2013. (CNN Money)(re/Code)(Bloomberg)

Court Denies Apple’s Request to Bar Samsung’s Infringing Smartphones in US

A US federal judge has rejected Apple’s request asking for her to ban the domestic sale of nine Samsung smartphones—most in the Galaxy line—that Apple claims infringed on its patents. Apple sought a permanent injunction after a US jury found in May that Samsung, which is appealing the finding, infringed on three of its patents and had to pay $120 million of the $2.2 billion in damages sought. In a 42-page ruling, US District Judge Lucy Koh contended that Apple did not prove that “it suffered significant harm in the form of either lost sales or reputational injury.” Additionally she said Apple had not “satisfied its burden of demonstrating irreparable harm and linking that harm to Samsung's exploitation of any of Apple’s three infringed patents.” Earlier this month, the companies agreed to end their patent battles outside the US. (Tech Spot)(The San Jose Mercury-News)(The Wall Street Journal)(Ars Technica)

US-Based eTailers Increasingly Accept Bitcoin

More US-based online retailers—including Dish Network, Expedia, and—are allowing payments via bitcoin. Market analysts say the virtual currency is moving toward mainstream acceptance for online purchases, with full adoption occurring in about five years. Currently, market analysts note, consumers still prefer to use credit cards. Continuing volatility in the bitcoin exchange rate, which is unregulated, is also deterring consumer acceptance. However, merchants like using bitcoin to avoid credit-card fraud and transaction fees paid to credit-card companies. (Reuters)(Mashable)

Major US Carrier’s Internet Service Restored after Massive Outage

Time Warner Cable’s Internet service was knocked out across the US for about 90 minutes Wednesday morning. Millions of customers—primarily in key markets of California (including Los Angeles), New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas—were left without service. In a statement, the company explained, “During our routine network maintenance, an issue with our Internet backbone created disruption with our Internet and on-demand services. Industry observers say this incident could bolster arguments made by those opposing the pending merger between Time Warner and Comcast, the country’s largest cable TV provider.  “People are questioning whether this merger will be good for consumers,” Steve Beck, founder of the management consulting firm CG42, told the Los Angeles Times. Service interruptions happen. The world is an imperfect place, but it really comes down to how these companies handle the problem and resolve their customer's complaints.” (re/Code)(The Los Angeles Times)

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