Google Slams Symantec for Issuing Fake Web Certificates, Demands Answers

Google is demanding that Symantec must conduct an assessment to ensure it is still eligible to run a certificate authority. The search giant’s scathing statement comes after the security firm was found to have issued a large number of fake digital certificates.

In mid-September, upon Google’s notification, Symantec revealed that its Thawte certificate authority (CA) issued an Extended Validation (EV) pre-certificate for several domains including Google’s and Opera’s. A total of 23 certificates were issued without the domain owners’ knowledge. At the time, Symantec said that these certificates were only created for testing purposes, and were accidentally issued. Google found these domains in its Certificate Transparency system logs.

Following this discovery, Google asked Symantec to conduct a full audit. Upon investigation, Symantec reported an additional 164 bogus certificates spanning 76 domains, and an additional 2,400 test certificates for unregistered domains. The practice of issuing certificates for unregistered domains has been prohibited since April 2014.

In September, the security firm also fired a number of its employees for errors in issuing certificates. The company had said that “employee error” caused cryptographic certificates to be issued online.

The fake certificates, according to Google, make it possible for attackers to impersonate its as well as many other’s websites, potentially leading to data theft and other cybercrimes. “It’s obviously concerning that a CA would have such a long-running issue and that they would be unable to assess its scope after being alerted to it and conducting an audit. Therefore we are firstly going to require that as of June 1st, 2016, all certificates issued by Symantec itself will be required to support Certificate Transparency,” wrote Ryan Sleevi, Software Engineer at Google in a blog post on Wednesday.

“In this case, logging of non-EV certificates would have provided significantly greater insight into the problem and may have allowed the problem to be detected sooner,” he added.

Symantec seems to be downplaying the threat of the fake certificates. “In September, we were alerted that a small number of test certificates for Symantec’s internal use had been mis-issued. We immediately began publicly investigating our full test certificate history and found others, most of which were for non-existent and unregistered domains,” it said in a statement.

“While there is no evidence that any harm was caused to any user or organisation, this type of product testing was not consistent with the policies and standards we are committed to uphold. We confirmed that these test certificates have all been revoked or have expired, and worked directly with the browser community to have them blacklisted.”

Google is not pleased, as you can imagine. The company wants Symantec to conduct a further investigation to find how it failed to meet the basic requirements. Symantec must comply with Google’s demands if it wants to be trusted by Google for certificates. In addition it also requires Symantec, beginning June 1, 2016, to log all certificates with Google’s Certificate Transparency mechanism.

Sony Xperia Z5, Xperia Z5 Compact Receiving Firmware Update With Stagefright Bug Fixes


Users of Sony’s latest Xperia Z5 and Xperia Z5 Compact smartphones report they have started receiving a firmware update, which mainly focuses on the Stagefright bug fix. The OS update weighs 281MB and comes with a build number 32.0.A.6.152 as per user reports. The update is being reportedly seeded to all the smartphone versions.

Users receiving the update mentioned that the camera now loads much faster and the fingerprint sensor has become more accurate after the update. These changes were mentioned by the Xperia Z5 and Xperia Z5 Compact users on Reddit and XDA-Developers forum (via Phonearena). Other changes mentioned by users are RAM optimisation and Calendar interface optimisation. It is worth noting that since the update is rolling out in phases, it might take time to reach all smartphones in every region. Sony has not yet mentioned the official changelog for the update.

For those unaware, Stagefright is an open source media player that is used by about 95 percent of Android devices, or about 950 million devices. Zimperium reported a vulnerability in Stagefright in July that, if exploited, could let attackers to take control of an Android device by sending a specially crafted media file delivered by an MMS message.

While the companies are still rolling out the Stagefright vulnerability fix to devices, security experts have already found a new Stagefright 2.0 vulnerability. The newer version of the bug can also affect devices running OS versions below Android 5.1 Lollipop. Unlike the previous Stagefright bug, the Stagefright 2.0 can enter any device in the form of mp3 or mp4 file instead of a MMS text. Until now, LG, Google, and Samsung promised monthly security updates to fix the Stagefright and other vulnerabilities in all their smartphones. Motorola and OnePlus and other companies have also rolled out updates.

Aircel to Launch 3G Services in 61 Towns in Bihar by Year-End

India’s leading private telecom service provider, Aircel, Thursday announced an aggressive expansion plan of its 3G network in Bihar by adding 61 new towns to its network by December this year, an official said.

For expanding its 3G services, Aircel will set up 600 towers across Bihar to provide seamless connectivity to its constantly growing subscriber base, Aircel Bihar’s business head Hitendra Kumar told reporters.

In order to provide quality service to its customers, the leading private telecom operator will set up 600 new towers in addition to existing 3,300 towers, he said.

The expansion to new towns is set to significantly benefit a large number of Aircel customers in Bihar and redefine their data usage experience with a maximum 3G speed of up to 7.2 Mbps, he said, adding that the Aircel customers in these towns soon will be able to consume live streaming videos, HD content, gaming, social networking and browsing at very high speeds.

“The population of 3G users that expects a seamless experience is dramatically increasing, especially as mobile handsets are increasingly being used for varied purposes. We have been working tirelessly to live up to this expectation of our customers and hence, we’ve redoubled our effort in expanding our 3G network all across Bihar. We are confident that by extending our 3G network to these 61 new towns across districts in Bihar, the Aircel network will prove to be the most reliable data companion of our customers for their smart devices,” Kumar said.

The 61 new towns include Arrah, Buxar, Motihari, Sitamarhi, Lakhisarai, Begusarai, Dighwara, Bettiah, Aurangabad, Jehanabad, Purnia, Nalanda, Biharsharif, Munger among others, the Aircel Bihar Business Head said.

On availability of 4G mobile service in Bihar, he said that Aircel provides such service to its business customers.

BlackBerry Priv Android Slider Smartphone Detailed by Company

BlackBerry ahead of the commencement of shipping of the Priv smartphone next week wants to make sure users are familiar with all the features. The Canadian company has released a video showing the major features of its upcoming Android handset.

The company in its YouTube video stresses on the privacy and productivity features alongside the familiarity of the Android platform. The video shows some of the highlight features of the BlackBerry Priv including physical keyboard on the slider, BlackBerry Hub, pop-up widgets, 4K video recording support, dual curved edge screen, touch enabled physical keyboard with SmartSlide, rear camera with OIS, and DTEK by BlackBerry. You can watch the video below.BlackBerry Priv Android slider smartphone is up for pre-orders at $699 (roughly Rs. 45,500), and is slated to begin shipping in the US starting November 6.To recall, Priv features a 5.4-inch QHD (1440×2560 pixels) Amoled display and sports a pixel density of 540ppi. Under the hood, it is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 hexa-core processor clubbed with 3GB of RAM, and supports up to 32GB of expandable storage. An 18-megapixel rear camera is at the rear while a 2-megapixel front-camera is also on board. A massive 3410mAh battery backs the device. The company is yet to reveal the exact Android Lollipop version of the Priv handset.

Recently, BlackBerry’s ‘Productivity Edge’ or notifications on the curved edge display was spotted in a leak. An image of Productivity Edge on the Priv showed icons for quick viewing calendar, mails, tasks, and contacts. BlackBerry’s ‘Productivity Edge’ looked similar to Samsung’s People Edge, which primarily allowed users to quickly access select contacts. Samsung also included an option to light up the edge screen when mails, messages, or calls arrive. Samsung had also implemented Apps Edge, which let users pin apps to the edge display.

Nokia Reports Stronger-Than-Expected Profits for Q3

Nokia, the world’s No. 3 network equipment maker, on Thursday reported stronger-than-expected profits as growth in China offset weaker demand in North America and Europe, and announced a new shareholder return plan.

The Finnish company said it would return EUR 4 billion (roughly Rs. 28,689 crores) to shareholders in the coming years through dividend payments and share buybacks.

Nokia, which this month secured regulatory approval for its proposed EUR 15.6 billion (roughly Rs. 1,11,498 crores) takeover of French rival Alcatel-Lucent, also brought forward its EUR 900 million cost savings target for that deal by one year to 2018.

Third-quarter operating profit at the company’s network unit was EUR 391 million, or 13.6 percent of sales.

That was roughly in line with EUR 397 million a year earlier but significantly above analysts’ average forecast of a profit of EUR 297 million and a margin of 10.2 percent, according to a Reuters poll.

Analysts had been wary about Nokia’s earnings after market leader Ericsson this month posted disappointing results, citing slowing demand in China.

“Although (Nokia’s) sales were down, the profitability in networks was excellent. Performance in China was particulary good,” said Mikael Rautanen, analyst at Inderes Equity Research, who has a reduce-rating on the stock.

Nokia also lifted its full-year profitability forecast for the networks unit. It said the operating profit margin would be around or slightly below the high end of its long-term target range of 8-11 percent, compared to its earlier forecast of a margin around the midpoint of that range.

Nokia last year sold its once-dominant phone business to Microsoft, and in August, it agreed to divest its navigation business HERE to German car makers.

Sony Swings to Big First-Half Profit on Video Games

Sony on Thursday posted a six-month net profit of almost $1 billion (roughly Rs. 6,520 crores), crediting its PlayStation video game unit and a weak yen for a big improvement in its finances as the company moves past years of losses.

The Tokyo-based electronics giant said net profit came in at JPY 116.0 billion (roughly Rs. 6,259 crores) in the first half of its fiscal year, reversing a JPY 109.2 billion loss a year earlier.

Sony also reversed a year-earlier operating loss although sales ticked down 0.3 percent to JPY  3.7 trillion. Sony’s operating profit for July-September came to JPY 88 billion (roughly Rs. 4,753 crores), slightly above the JPY 87.3 billion average estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters. In the same quarter last year, it booked a loss of JPY 85.6 billion.

The quarterly operating profit from strong video game sales helped to offset a fall in smartphone sales and as the year-ago quarter had seen a big impairment charge.

Sony has been emerging from a painful corporate restructuring that has included layoffs and asset sales, with executives focusing on its upbeat video game unit and turning around a long-struggling television division.

A sharp decline in the value of the yen has given a lift to some of Japan’s best-known exporters, including Sony, as it made them more competitive overseas and inflated their repatriated profits.

But Sony has struggled in the consumer electronics business that built its global brand, including losing billions of dollars in televisions over the past decade as it faced fierce competition from lower-cost rivals from South Korea and Taiwan.

The upbeat earnings Thursday come a day after Sony said it would acquire Toshiba’s image sensor business.

The deal could boost Sony’s position as a global leader in image sensors, which are key components in smartphones and other mobile devices.

Europe Has Approved ‘Net Neutrality,’ but Not the Kind Advocates Wanted

The European Parliament has voted to approve new rules for Internet providers in major legislation that is nevertheless being slammed by net neutrality advocates who say the regulation is filled with loopholes.

The bill was passed with none of the amendments that consumer advocates and tech firms were pushing for in a last-ditch effort this week. Critics said the bill did not do enough to prevent Internet providers from classifying favored types of Web traffic as “specialized services” that are more lightly regulated. They also said it gives carriers too much freedom to exempt favored partners from customer data caps, a practice known as “zero rating.”

The vote will lead to a less competitive Internet as broadband providers seek to create paid “fast lanes,” opponents of the bill warned. Internet providers argued that it was in the “main interest of European consumers” to be able to choose among providers based on quality of service and support for various features such as connected cars or telemedicine. Stronger rules might restrict their ability to differentiate themselves and try different business models, they had previously argued.

Roaming provisions of the legislation ensure that users of a communications service traveling to another EU member state will no longer be slapped with high fees for going abroad. The measure pushes Europe toward greater integration, at least as far as mobile services.

But many net neutrality advocates are portraying the bill’s passage as a defeat for the policy.

Apple Closes ‘Most Successful Year Ever’ With Record iPhone Sales in Q4

Apple said Tuesday that surging iPhone sales helped propel a sharp rise in quarterly profits, as the tech giant delivered a record 48 million of the smartphones.

Profits rose 31 percent to $11.1 billion (roughly Rs. 72,240 crores), while revenues jumped 22 percent from a year ago to $51.5 billion (roughly Rs. 3,35,171 crores), Apple said.

The California tech giant, which in September unveiled revamped versions of the iPhone, said the number of units sold jumped 22 percent from last year while revenues lifted 36 percent.

Apple, the world’s biggest company by market value, gave back early after-hours gains and dipped 0.2 percent to $114.30 on the results.

Chief executive Tim Cook said Apple closed the books on its fiscal year, calling it “Apple’s most successful year ever,” following strong iPhone sales and a range of new or upgraded devices.

“We are heading into the holidays with our strongest product lineup yet, including iPhone 6s andiPhone 6s Plus, Apple Watch with an expanded lineup of cases and bands, the new iPad Pro and the all-new Apple TV, which begins shipping this week,” Cook said in a statement.

For the full fiscal year ending in September, Apple booked a whopping $53.4 billion (roughly Rs. 3,47,537 crores) profit, up 35 percent, while revenues rose 28 percent to $233.7 billion (roughly Rs. 15,20,964 crores).

China, emerging markets
Some $12.5 billion (roughly Rs. 81,352 crores) in revenue came from China down five percent from the past quarter but double the level of a year ago.

Cook said the fiscal year showed “our largest absolute revenue growth ever” and was helped by “huge inroads into emerging markets generating over $79 billion (roughly Rs. 5,14,147 crores) of revenue and growing 63 percent despite very strong headwinds from foreign exchange.”

The iPhone was the key driver for Apple, bringing in more than 60 percent of its revenues for the past quarter. But iPad unit sales fell 20 percent in the quarter to 9.9 million units.

For its traditional computers, Apple sold an all-time record 5.7 million Macs in the quarter.

No specific sales figures were given for the Apple Watch, but the results showed revenue from “other” products was $3 billion (roughly Rs. 19,524 crores) over the same period.

Cook said of the Apple Watch that “we’re in the very early innings of this promising new part of our business.”

Apple Watch “has already had a tremendous effect on customer health and fitness and the stories we’re hearing about its impact are truly inspirational,” he added.

Apple is making efforts to diversify with services such as its streaming music service and  Apple Pay, and its new streaming television devices.

“The reach of our ecosystem continues to grow, and iOS is changing more and more aspects of our customers lives in very meaningful ways from their health to their homes to their cars,” Cook said on the earnings call.

He added that Apple Pay is expected to expand to Hong Kong, Singapore and Spain in 2016.

Cook visited China last week and said Apple will continue to invest in the country despite slowing growth in the world’s second-largest economy.

The launch of the company’s large-screen iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus last year boosted its sales in China, though it faces sharp competition from domestic competitors such as Xiaomi and Huawei.

On his Chinese Sina Weibo or microblog account, Cook posted a photo of himself climbing the Great Wall and said he was “Happy to be back” in China.

The US company was due to open its 21st mainland China store in the northeastern city of Dalian.

Apple aims to have 40 stores in China by next year.

InFocus M260 With 4.5-Inch Display, 5-Megapixel Camera Launched

Over the past few months, we’ve seen the launch of a number of affordable handsets. On Tuesday, InFocus added an interesting dirt-cheap smartphone to the mix. Called the InFocus M260, the handset offers an impressive set of specifications and relatively new Android version at a price tag of Rs. 3,999.

The InFocus M260 runs Android 5.1 Lollipop with UI Life 2.0 skin on top of it. The smartphone sports a 4.5-inch FWVGA (480×854) display. It is powered by a MediaTek MT6582M quad-core SoC clocked at 1.3GHz, coupled with 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of inbuilt storage which can be expanded via microSD card (up to 32GB).

Other features of the InFocus M260 include a 2000mAh battery, a 5-megapixel rear-camera, and a 2-megapixel front facing shooter. The dual-SIM dual-standby smartphone supports 3G, 2G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and FM radio connectivity options.

The InFocus M260 comes in orange, yellow, and white colour options with black finish on all variants. The company says that it will begin the registration for the sale of the handset in two to three weeks, and the handset will be exclusively available for purchase from e-commerce website Snapdeal.

If you’re looking for the 4G LTE capability in a handset, you would have to shell out some more money and settle for the Lenovo A2010 which is priced at Rs. 4,999. The Yu Yunique, which is also priced at Rs. 4,999, offers 4G LTE connectivity as well, and also offers a better display (720p).

Motorola Droid Turbo 2 With ‘Shatterproof’ Display, 21-Megapixel Camera, 3760mAh Battery Launched

At a media event on Tuesday, Motorola officially took the wraps off two new smartphones – theMotorola Droid Turbo 2 and the Motorola Droid Maxx 2.

The Motorola Droid Turbo 2 offers top-of-the-line specifications. The successor to the last year’s Droid Turbo, comes with a 5.4-inch QHD (1440×2560) display. The company claims that the ‘ShatterShield’ display – which is made of an aluminium rigid core, flexible Amoled screen, and dual-layer touchscreen panels (redundancy in case one goes bad) – wouldn’t break into pieces even when dropped on a slab of concrete.The Motorola Droid Turbo 2 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 oct-core SoC paired with 3GB of LPDDR4 RAM, and comes in 32GB and 64GB storage options, both variants rocking a microSD card slot with up to 2TB capacity cards supports. There’s a 3760mAh battery, which in addition to a claimed battery life of 2-days under “mixed use”, also supports Quick Charging.

On the photography front, the handset comes with a 21-megapixel rear-camera with f/2.0 aperture and dual LED flash and Phase Detect Auto-Focus, and a 5-megapixel front-facing shooter with flash. In terms of software, the Motorola Droid Turbo 2 runs Android 5.1.1. The single-SIM capable Turbo 2 supports 4G LTE (Cat 4), 3G, CDMa, Wi-FI and other standard connectivity options.Much like other Droid devices, the Droid Turbo 2 will be exclusively sold on Verizon Wireless network in the States. The carrier will be selling the Motorola Droid Turbo 2 at a price point of $624 (roughly Rs. 40,600) and $720 (roughly Rs. 47,000 retail) off contract for the 32GB and 64GB variants respectively. There’s no word on international availability just yet, though it is likely to launch in other markets as the Turbo 2, similar to what we saw last year with the Moto Turbo.

The Motorola Droid Turbo 2 will be available in the United States from October 29 in a trade-in offer for up to $300 off on the upgrade to the new Droid Turbo 2. The company says that it would also accept smartphones with cracked displays. As previously rumoured, the company is bringing its Moto Makerphone customisation program to the Droid-branded smartphone. Motorola says that it will provide users with more than 1,000 ways to design their phone, also giving them the option to select materials ranging from ballistic nylon to genuine Horween pebbled leather.