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Dead Apple titan Steve Jobs, a flippin' in his grave

'Flame is MEGA', 'I think you'll find it's f-LAME' etc

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Internet Security Threat Report 2014

QuotW This was the week in which Apple supremo Tim Cook managed to spin Steve Jobs' constant flip-flopping on new product ideas sound like a good thing.

The D10 tech conference featured much reminiscing and idolising of the late Apple co-founder, including these words from Cook on how Jobs' about-turns were an "art":

He would flip on something so fast that you would forget that he was the one who was taking the 180 polar position the day before.

It was an art. And you would never know that he thought the opposite. I saw it daily. And this is a gift. This is a gift because things do change. It takes courage to change. And courage to say, I'm now wrong.

This was also the week when Cisco's Cius has become the latest tablet to bite the dust as the firm discovered that business people don't actually want tablets because doing anything meaningful work-wise requires a keyboard and if they did want a tablet, it would probably be an iPad.

OJ Winge, the SVP of TelePresence Technology at Cisco, blogged:

Cisco will no longer invest in the Cisco Cius tablet form factor, and no further enhancements will be made to the current Cius endpoint beyond what’s available today. However, as we evaluate the market further, we will continue to offer Cius in a limited fashion to customers with specific needs or use cases.

Now that Facebook is a public company it had to have its very own Apple-esque rumour mill: first up was the whisper that it was going to make its own mobile. The gossamer web of gossip was spun after the social network apparently hired at least six iPhone and iPad engineers, cherry-picked to make a Facebook mobe.

The network wouldn't confirm the report, of course, perish the thought! But a spokesperson did give the usual two cents on the firm's mobile strategy:

We think every mobile device is better if it is deeply social. We're working across the entire mobile industry, with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers.

Next up was speculation that Facebook was going to buy browser biz Opera Software, which neither company would comment on at all. Quite why the social network would want its own browser is something of a mystery, although El Reg's Gavin Clarke does offer one possible reason here.

Neither rumour seemed to do much to bolster Facebook's shares, which have continued to slide beneath the IPO price tag.

Here in the UK, Virgin Media was in a spot of bother after music streamer Spotify clogged the ISP's network despite having the service bundled into its broadband package.

Reg reader Andrew said:

A whole bunch of Virgin Media broadband customers are having connectivity issues when using Spotify – basically the service keeps skipping and pausing.

We've all assumed that VM have been throttling Spotify management – despite their Traffic Management policy explicitly stating that Spotify is not traffic managed – however VM are claiming issues with Spotify, and Spotify claim [it's] Virgin Media's error.

Meanwhile, problems continued over at BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion this week, as yet another senior exec exited stage left while the firm considers drastic action to improve its deteriorating bottom line.

Chief legal officer Karima Bawa retired from the firm, following the departures of co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, who resigned in January, and COO Jim Rowand and head of software David Yach, who left in March.

That news came as reports abounded that the Canadian mobile firm was set to shed as many as 6,000 jobs - over a third of its staff. Later in the week, RIM confirmed employees would be let go, but didn't give a figure. CEO Thorsten Heins said:

There will be significant spending and headcount reduction in some areas throughout the remainder of the fiscal year.

At the same time, Heins said that first-quarter results were going to show a loss and that the firm had appointed JP Morgan Securities and RBC Capital to assess the business. Appointing bankers is often a sign of considering some sort of stake sale or even looking for a buyer for the whole firm.

Heins said:

These advisers have been tasked to help us with the strategic review we referenced on our year-end financial results conference call and to evaluate the relative metrics and feasibility of various financial strategies.

Meanwhile, Kaspersky Lab and the International Telecommunication Union uncovered a massive worm on systems in the Middle East on Monday that they believed to be a super cyber-espionage weapon.

The worm was initially seen on computers in Iran and Israel, but has been found in the Palestinian West Bank, Hungary, Lebanon, Russia, Austria, Hong Kong and the UAE as well.

Eugene Kaspersky said:

Stuxnet and Duqu belonged to a single chain of attacks, which raised cyberwar-related concerns worldwide.

The Flame malware looks to be another phase in this war, and it’s important to understand that such cyber weapons can easily be used against any country. Unlike with conventional warfare, the more developed countries are actually the most vulnerable in this case.

Later in the week, security researchers said that the spread of the 20MB worm made its purpose unclear.

Symantec said:

Initial evidence shows the victims may not all be targeted for the same reason. Many appear targeted for individual personal activities, rather than their company of employment. Interestingly, in addition to particular organisations being targeted, many of the attacked systems appear to be personal computers being used from home internet connections.

While David Harley, a senior researcher at ESET, said:

Whether it’s actually targeting a specific country is not clear: after all, Stuxnet is nowadays assumed to have been targeting Iran, but was originally detected over a very wide area. While there’s speculation that Flamer is linked in some way to Stuxnet and Duqu, that seems to me to be purely speculative right now, as the code seems very different.

And by the end of the week, the security guys were all disagreeing with each other over just how super-cyber Flame is. Rather than being the amazing espionage weapon of initial analyses, some researchers said it was actually a garden-variety virus, albeit a really fat one.

Patrik Runald of Websense said:

While it really doesn't do anything we haven't seen before in other malware attacks — what’s really interesting is that it weaves multiple techniques together and dynamically applies them based on the capabilities of the infected system.

Finally, just because the week wouldn't be complete without some legal news, Microsoft has now made it harder for customers to band together against it.

The software giant will start using a new end-user licence agreement that stops people from banding together to form class-action lawsuits. Assistant general counsel Tim Fielden said:

We think this is the right approach for both Microsoft and our US customers. Our policy gives Microsoft powerful incentives to resolve any dispute to the customer’s satisfaction before it gets to arbitration, and our arbitration provisions will be among the most generous in the country.

Class-action suits are supposed to help the little guy stand up to big corporations by allowing them to pool resources so they can afford a court case. However, the Supreme Court ruled that companies can include a clause in contracts that forbids customers from joining one.

Microsoft already made sure its Xbox Live users can't sue in a group, and now they'll make sure no user of their products and services can. ®

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