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Uber, Careem suspend services in UAE capital

An illustration picture shows the logo of car-sharing service app Uber on a smartphone next to the picture of an official German taxi signRide-hailing companies Uber [UBER.UL] and Careem have suspended services in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, since Saturday and do not know when they can resume operations, they said on Sunday. The National, a UAE newspaper, quoted unnamed sources as saying that as many as 50 drivers for Uber and Careem had been arrested. An Abu Dhabi source familiar with the situation told Reuters some drivers had been detained over violations of regulations, but did not specify how many drivers or describe the violations.

08/28/2016 02:57 PM

Facebook changes 'Trending' feature to rely less on human editors

Computer screens display the Facebook sign-in screen in this photo illustration taken in GoldenBy Yasmeen Abutaleb SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook Inc changed its popular "Trending" feature, which shows users the most-talked about topics of the day, to make it more automated and further eliminate the potential for human bias, the company wrote in a blog post on Friday. The update is Facebook's latest attempt in recent months to stress its neutrality as its influence grows. Facebook said an internal probe found no evidence of bias.

08/26/2016 06:34 PM

Cost-cutting, growth could lift Symantec shares 25 percent: Barron's

The Symantec booth is seen during the 2016 Black Hat cyber-security conference in Las Vegas(Reuters) - Symantec Corp shares could gain 25 percent or more following steps to cut costs and a recent acquisition that could propel the company's business in the hot cybersecurity market, a Barron's report said on Sunday. Barron's said Symantec, an early pioneer in antivirus software with its Norton brand, boosted its prospects of gaining a larger share of the cybersecurity market with its June agreement to buy Blue Coat Systems Inc [PRJCBB.UL]. The company will be able to sell Blue Coat's web and cloud protection services to its existing base of more than 370,000 business clients as demand to block hacking attempts grows, the newspaper said.

08/28/2016 04:30 PM

Iran detects malware in petrochemical plants, says not linked to recent fires
Iran has detected and removed malicious software from two of its petrochemical complexes, a senior military official said on Saturday, after announcing last week it was investigating whether recent petrochemical fires were caused by cyber attacks. The official said the malware at the two plants was inactive and had not played a role in the fires. "In periodical inspection of petrochemical units, a type of industrial malware was detected and the necessary defensive measures were taken," Gholamreza Jalali, head of Iran's civilian defense, was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA.
08/27/2016 08:46 AM

Economists see ride-hailing industry as ripe for competition

A driver leaves the office of taxi-hailing service Uber Inc during a driver recruitment event in Hong KongBy Heather Somerville SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Chinese powerhouse Didi Chuxing's acquisition of Uber Technologies Inc's China operations marked the biggest move yet toward consolidation in an industry that many investors and Silicon Valley pundits view as a winner-take-all game. On the day the Didi deal was announced earlier this month, Uber board member Bill Gurley said Uber's rivals in other markets had a slim chance of splitting the market with the dominant player, just as Uber struggled to erode Didi's share in China. After China, the industry will consolidate in other markets, said Hans Tung, an Asia-focused investor and managing partner at GGV Capital, which backed Didi and Grab, a Singapore-based ride service.

08/26/2016 04:47 AM

Belgians are hunting books, instead of Pokemon

A man uses a mobile phone in front of an advertisement board bearing the image of Pokemon Go at an electronic shop in TokyoBy Maria Haase Coelho BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Inspired by the success of Pokemon Go, a Belgian primary school headmaster has developed an online game for people to search for books instead of cartoon monsters, attracting tens of thousands of players in weeks. While with Pokemon Go, players use a mobile device's GPS and camera to track virtual creatures around town, Aveline Gregoire's version is played through a Facebook group called "Chasseurs de livres" ("Book hunters"). Having played Pokemon Go with my kids, I had the idea of releasing the books into nature," Gregoire told Reuters.

08/26/2016 04:28 AM

A closer look at the NSO Group, the organization behind the most advanced iPhone spyware ever released
Late last week, security researchers uncovered what may very well be the most advanced mobile hacking tool we've seen to date. Dubbed Pegasus , and created by a relatively unknown Israeli company called the NSO Group, the software in question utilized three previously undisclosed iOS zero-day exploits that, in unison, managed to completely take over and surreptitiously spy on a targeted iPhone. DON'T MISS:  This stagnant technology is what’s holding Siri back Once installed, the software is capable of eavesdropping on phone calls, text messages and a whole lot more. As evidenced via the image below -- purportedly a snapshot from the NSO Group's Pegasus documentation -- Pegasus is an extremely versatile piece of spyware that can monitor all aspects of a device, including messages sent and received from iMessage, Gmail, Viber, Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, Skype, WeChat and more. What makes Pegasus all the more sophisticated is that all a targeted user needs to do to unwittingly install it is to click on an SMS link. As the security group Citizen Lab notes : According to the purported 2013 NSO Group Pegasus documentation found in the Hacking Team materials, NSO Group offers two remote installation vectors for spyware onto a target’s device: a zero-click vector, and a one-click vector. The one-click vector involves sending the target a normal SMS text message with a link to a malicious website. The malicious website contains an exploit for the web browser on the target’s device, and any other required exploits to implant the spyware. In the attack against Mansoor, the Trident exploit chain was used. Apple was quick to issue a software patch for the security hole, but the unmasking of Pegasus helped kickstart a wave of questions regarding the identity, history and capabilities of the NSO Group. Here's a little bit of what we've learned so far. The NSO Group is based out of Herzilya, Israel and, relative to other companies whose bread and butter centers on selling advanced software to intelligence agencies and foreign governments, it keeps a surprisingly low profile. Notably, the NSO Group doesn't have an official online presence though its LinkedIn page does boast that it's a "world leading company in the field of Cyber Security and research." Founded by Omri Lavie and Shalev Hulio in 2009, the company is said to boast a few alumni from Unit 8200, a division within the Israeli army that focuses on signals intelligence, similar in practice to the NSA. For those curious to learn more about the NSO Group, Thomas Fox-Brewster of Forbes recently put together an engrossing list detailing everything there is to know about the company, including some of their business dealings with countries like Panama and Mexico. NSO has close partnerships with a variety of other Israeli surveillance firms as they seek to spread their spy kit across the world. These include Ability Inc, a troubled supplier of an as-yet unproven technology called the Unlimited Interception System (ULIN). The tool exploits a crucial part of the global telecoms infrastructure known as SS7, allowing interception of calls and texts, and collection of target location, all with just a phone number, according to the firm. Of NSO, Ability founder and CEO Anatoly Hurgin told me earlier this year: “I think it’s one of the best companies in this field.” That’s something even Scott-Railton agrees with: “Pegasus is really next-level stuff.” Hurgin indicated NSO and Ability worked together, Hurgin’s team covering the network side and NSO leaving malware on devices. One interesting albeit non-conclusive tidbit unearthed by Fox-Brewster is that one of Lavie's LinkedIn contacts is Chaouki Bekrar. For those unfamiliar, Bekrar is the CEO of Zerodium, a company that previously offered upwards of $3 million to anyone who was able to come up with an exclusive, browser or text message-based, “workable, remote and untethered jailbreak that will persist even after reboot.” Is Zerodium perhaps connected with the NSO Group? That might be something of a reach. Indeed, a researcher from Citizen Lab said that the NSO Group likely doesn't need any outside assistance in developing its own wares. "Given NSO’s public statements about their capabilities, and the size of their company, it would not be surprising to learn they’d developed their own exploits,” the researcher said. The full-length profile on the NSO Group is well worth the read and can be viewed via the source link below.
08/28/2016 04:16 PM

What you should know about the iPhone 6's 'Touch Disease' (Apple Byte Extra Crunchy Podcast, Ep. 52)

What you should know about the iPhone 6's 'Touch Disease' (Apple Byte Extra Crunchy Podcast, Ep. 52)It's time to update your iPhone's software right now. Also, is the iPhone 6S really faster than the Note 7? And Apple Music starts to flex its muscle.

08/28/2016 03:49 PM

For one Syrian refugee, close, but no asylum

In Sweden and Finland, tech companies help refugees find workCommentary: For Road Trip 2016, I met asylum seekers in Sweden and Finland on the doorstep of a dream. But for some, the door is closed.

08/28/2016 03:42 PM

9 Things You Should Never Do on Snapchat

9 Things You Should Never Do on SnapchatLots of ways to have fun with a single app, lots of ways to ruin your life and everyone else's.

08/28/2016 03:00 PM

The Goodwood Festival of Speed hillclimb is a short, muddy, English masterpiece

The Goodwood Festival of Speed hillclimb is a short, muddy, English masterpieceThe starting line is just ahead of us, and the guy behind the wheel of this 650-horsepower muscle car is showing off for the crowd. Ostensibly it's warming them for a quick blast up the 1.16-mile hillclimb, but really it's to show off. This is what the Goodwood Festival of Speed is about.

08/28/2016 02:45 PM

This stagnant technology is what’s holding Siri back
Over the past few years, Siri's functionality and reliability has improved by leaps and bounds. Not only is Siri's feature-set more expansive than ever, but it operates much more quickly and does a much better job at understanding and processing language. To this point, Medium last week published a fascinating and  detailed profile on how Apple's advancements in the field of AI and machine learning have helped take Siri's performance to the next level. In fact, Siri Senior Director Alex Acero boasted that advancements in Siri's underlying technology has cut down the error rate "by a factor of two in all the languages" and "more than a factor of two in many cases." DON'T MISS:  Apple’s iPhone 8 will feature the radical redesign we’ve been waiting for "That’s mostly due to deep learning and the way we have optimized it," Acero added, " not just the algorithm itself but in the context of the whole end-to-end product.” That's all well and good, but heavy Siri users can agree that the software still isn't anywhere close to perfect, especially when used in less than ideal conditions. Using Siri in a quiet room is one thing, but trying to use Siri to settle a bet in a crowded bar or even on a busy street can often be an exercise in frustration. Interestingly enough, one of the reasons why Siri and other virtual assistants still struggles with understanding queries in less than ideal acoustic environments is because the state of microphone technology has remained somewhat stagnant over the years. Highlighting this issue, Bloomberg reports : The mics in most consumer technology haven’t kept pace with the advances in, say, cameras. They still aren’t great at focusing on faraway voices or filtering out background noise, and they often require too much power to be listening at all times. ... Apple and its rivals have challenging, albeit straightforward, demands. They want a higher signal-to-noise ratio, meaning the mic can isolate voices more clearly and from farther away, and a higher acoustic overload point, the threshold at which the mic can no longer distinguish signal from noise. And the chips have to improve in both areas without getting bigger, becoming less reliable, or using more power than before. One solution, of course, is to simply grace your everyday smartphone with more mics. While this certainly helps, it also costs more money and can also have an unfavorable effect on battery life. That being the case, component manufacturers are busy at work coming up with new strategies designed to improve Siri's ability to understand language in noisy environments. While some companies are keen on using software algorithms to improve things, others are exploring completely novel microphone designs. Make sure to hit the source link below for the full rundown on what some companies are doing in order to make software assistants like Siri and Alexa all the more reliable.
08/28/2016 02:24 PM

Around the world in an iPhone

Around the world in an iPhoneLanding late at night in Shenzhen for my first trip to China, I was nervous about being able to navigate the city. Starting the next day I would have the services of a local translator, but for that first night, I was on my own. The interface alerted me that I would be switching to the Chinese version, controlled now by Uber’s rival turned business partner Didi.

08/28/2016 01:57 PM

Iran inaugurates its homegrown National Network of Data
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's official news agency is reporting the country has inaugurated first phase of its "National Network of Data."
08/28/2016 01:47 PM

Autism a Silicon Valley asset with social quirks

Analyst Corey Weiss, disgnosed with autism as a young boy, works at Mindspark in Santa Monica, CaliforniaLaser-focus on detail that comes with his place on the autism spectrum are part of what makes Weiss a top analyst at MindSpark, a young California firm mixing business smarts with social good. "I see things others wouldn't," said 27-year-old Weiss, who was diagnosed with autism when he was a young boy. MindSpark, located in the coastal city of Santa Monica near Los Angeles, employs analysts with autism to test software for companies.

08/28/2016 12:34 PM

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