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Security expert: Ransomware took in $1 billion in 2016

Increased user awareness of phishing threats, better antivirus technology, more industry-wide information sharing and cross-border efforts by law enforcement authorities will combine to turn the tide against ransomware this year, according to some security experts, but others expect the attacks to continue to increase. According to a security expert who requested anonymity, ransomware cybercriminals took in about $1 billion last year, based on money coming into ransomware-related bitcoin wallets. That includes more than $50 million each for three wallets associated with the Locky ransomware, and a fourth one that processed close to $70 million.

Cryptowall brought in close to $100 million before it was shut down this year.

CryptXXX gathered in $73 million during the second half of 2016, and Cerber took in $54 million, the expert said. Smaller ransomware families brought in another $150 million, and the FBI has reported $209 million in ransomware payments during the first three months of 2016.
In addition to this $800 million or so in known payments, there are many other Bitcoin wallets that are unknown to researchers and uncounted, pushing the estimated total to $1 billion for all of 2016. “The $1 billion number isn’t at all unreasonable and might even be low,” confirmed Mark Nunnikhoven, vice president of cloud research at Trend Micro. “It’s getting difficult to track the amount of money flowing into criminals’ Bitcoin wallets because they’ve started to try and hide the transactions across a large number of wallets,” he added. He said that there was a 400 percent increase in ransomware variants last year, and he expects to see a 25 percent growth in ransomware families in 2016. “What we’re seeing is a bit of a maturation in how to execute these attacks, so we’re expecting a leveling off to a more realistic growth curve,” he said. But criminals will continue innovating because of how profitable ransomware is. “I don’t think we’ll see the 100 percent growth that we saw from 2015 to 2016,” said Allan Liska, intelligence analyst at Recorded Future. “I think we’ll probably see a 50 percent growth.” The markets for stolen medical records, credit card numbers and email addresses are collapsing, he said. “Not only is it taking a while to get paid, but they’re not getting paid as much as they used to,” he said. Meanwhile, ransomware is an easy business to get into, the payout is immediate, and it offers an ongoing revenue stream. “There’s no incentive for them to discontinue ransomware,” he said. Some experts expect growth to be even higher. Successful ransomware attacks will double this year, predicted Tom Bain, vice president at CounterTack. “The reality is that every single customer I speak to, anyone in the industry really, this is their number one concern,” he said. Better defensive technology and collaboration will help, he said, but the problem is going to get worse before it starts to get better. Gartner analysts estimate that there were between 2 million and 3 million successful ransomware attacks in 2016, and that the frequency will double year over year through 2019. “I think they’re right,” said Bain. But not all experts think the future is quite that bleak. Raj Samani, vice president and CTO at Intel Security, predicts that anti-ransomware efforts will begin to pay off in the next few months. “We’ll see a spike earlier on this year, but then I anticipate our efforts with law enforcement to be successful,” he said. Intel, along with Kaspersky Labs, Europol, and the Dutch National High Tech Crime Unit formed an alliance this past summer, No More Ransom.
Since then, more than a dozen other law enforcement agencies have joined up, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Colombia, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
Several other security vendors have also joined up. “Now that we’ve got more law enforcement agencies on board, and more private sector firms, we expect to see an increase in successful take-down operations,” said Samani. In addition to working together to bring down ransomware operations, the group also distributes free anti-ransomware tools. That, combined with more user awareness about phishing and better detection technologies, will combine to stop the growth of this attack vector, Samani said. “As an industry, we’ve started to develop new products, sandboxing, threat intelligence exchanges,” he said. “It is getting better.” However, he warned that malware authors do have one significant advantage. “There’s an asymmetry of information,” he said. “They have tools and services that will allow them to run their malware through all the anti-virus engines out there.

They can install our products and they know how our products work because we openly talk about them.

This is one of the big security challenges.” This story, "Security expert: Ransomware took in $1 billion in 2016" was originally published by CSO.

The 100 Best iPhone Apps of 2017

Whether you received a new iPhone for the holidays or you just want to breathe new life into an older one, these are the apps you need. The returns are in, and we're declaring our slate of winning iPhone apps. There were no votes cast, however, nor...

US commission whistles to FIDO: Help end ID-based hacks by 2021

No breaches should result from compromised identities, say gov bods A White House commission on improving cybersecurity has come up with a list of recommendations for US president-elect Donald Trump’s administration – including a target for no big hacks to involve identity-based compromises. The US Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity has identified 16 key recommendations on security and growing the digital economy. The report (pdf, 100 pages) lays out an ambitious goal that by 2021 there should be no major breaches in which identity – especially the use of passwords – is the primary vector of attack. This goal will require the development and broad adoption of improved identity authentication technologies. The commission name-checked the Fast IDentity Online (FIDO) Alliance as an organisation that can help in achieving this goal: “Other important work that must be undertaken to overcome identity authentication challenges includes the development of open-source standards and specifications like those developed by the Fast IDentity Online (FIDO) Alliance,” it said. In a blog post, the FIDO Alliance outlined how the US government achieve its goal to move beyond passwords. Brett McDowell, executive director of the FIDO Alliance, said: “Through continued partnership between industry and government – and by following the Commission’s recommendations around identity and authentication – I am confident the new US administration, with the help of global consortia like the FIDO Alliance, can make meaningful progress toward that five-year goal of eliminating identity-related data breaches.” “The commission has recognized that solving the password problem and closing off identity as an easily exploited vector of attack is a clear priority,” he added. The FIDO Alliance has more than 250 members including device manufacturers, banks, payment card networks, several governments and dozens of security and biometrics vendors.
Its main goal is to push simpler, stronger authentication. FIDO’s work includes drafting specifications for simpler, stronger authentication experiences that reduce reliance on passwords and protect people from phishing and the misuse of login credentials exposed as the result of data breaches. Microsoft, Google, PayPal and the Bank of America are all part of the alliance. Last month the UK government unveiled a national cybersecurity strategy that similarly charted a course towards moving beyonds passwords for online authentication, as previously reported. “A common theme in both countries has been the need to balance security with usability, privacy and interoperability,” FIDO’s McDowell concluded. George Avetisov, chief exec and co-founder of biometric technology firm HYPR, agreed that authentication needs to be at the top of the list of the new President's actions to improve overall cybersecurity. The rapid adoption of technologies like "selfie pay" have shown that there is an urgent need to shift away from passwords and over to “easy to use” identity solutions, he added. PKWARE CTO Joe Sturonas noted the absence of much description about encryption in the lengthy report. “It’s notable that the word encryption appears only twice across the 100 pages of the commission on enhancing national cybersecurity," Sturonas said. "For a paper that talks specifically about the NIST cybersecurity Framework and IoT (there are 52 mentions of IoT), it seems as though encryption should have come up a little more. "For an Administration that presided over the OPM breach, it might stand to reason that encryption of sensitive data might have taken a more prominent role in the recommendations for the next Administration.

Considering how a lack of encryption of data itself has been a major point of vulnerability in every recent breach that has occurred, it is concerning that the commission on enhancing national cybersecurity has not emphasized encryption in their recommendations,” he added. Open-source standards and specifications developed by the Fast Identity Online (FIDO) Alliance will allow for the best and most secure available experience online experience, according to HYPR. ® Sponsored: Flash enters the mainstream.
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US Presidential Commission Outlines Key Cybersecurity Actions For Future Administrations

Report outlines ways to lock down critical infrastructure as well as IoT - and the urgent need to expand the security workforce by 2020 with 100,000 new jobs. As part of a broader effort to strengthen national security and inform future administrations, the US Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity last week issued recommendations that encompass critical infrastructure and convergence driven by the Internet of Things, workforce development, public-private partnership, and information sharing. President Obama established the Commission in February of this year to improve cybersecurity across the country. Twelve commissioners representing industry, academia, and former government officials were appointed to develop recommendations.  The 100-page "Securing and Growing the Digital Economy" report by the commission, which contains short- and long-term guidance for improving cybersecurity across the public and private sectors, comes at a time when cyber threats are constant and becoming more dangerous.  "It's bad and getting worse," says Gus Hunt, former CTO of the CIA and current cybersecurity lead at Accenture Federal Services, of the current state of cybersecurity. "If you think about the threat level that has begun to emerge, things are not looking up." The Commission's recommendations are outlined in six key areas: Security of the information infrastructure and digital networks Acceleration and investment in security and growth of digital networks and digital economy Preparing consumers for the digital age Building cybersecurity workforce capabilities Equipping government to effectively and securely function in the digital age An open, fair, competitive, and secure global digital economy Peter Lee, a member of the Commission and CVP at Microsoft Research, explained how the Commission came up with its recommendations. "Soon after we got started in March, we held a series of public meetings where we took in quite a lot of input from stakeholders in different parts of the cybersecurity landscape," he says. "I came with a perspective on the tech industry, where technology might be going, and what the interests would be between Silicon Valley and the US government, as well as how that partnership might be harnessed to make improvements," Lee says. "I also have the responsibility of managing a large part of Microsoft Research, and tend to have a more technical and future-oriented view," which helped inform his insight. The Internet of Things was a key concern, especially with respect to critical infrastructure (CI). Commissioners urged government to address the convergence of IoT and CI by establishing programs for government agencies and private organizations to evaluate potential cyberattacks and determine next steps. "These programs would move beyond tabletop exercises and seek to establish public-private joint collaboration by examining specific cyber protection and detection approaches and contingencies, testing them in a simulation environment, and developing joint plans for how the government and private sector would execute coordinated protection and detection activities, responding together, in alignment with the National Cyber Incident Response Plan," the report states. Over the next decade, the distinction between critical infrastructure and other products (cars, consumer goods) will continue to fade as devices become more connected, says Lee.   "As time goes on, the computing technology in your child's teddy bear is going to be every bit as meaningful to the nation's cybersecurity as the computer control for our national electric grid," he notes. Connected devices will evolve to the point where even simple consumer products could become a meaningful element of a botnet. The Commission recommended that the government set baseline standards for connected products and label them accordingly so consumers have a better idea of their security. This would help improve consumer education and awareness of cybersecurity, says Hunt. "Security has to be built in, easily engaged with, and when possible, completely transparent for the user because users don't understand [security]," he explains. "They make mistakes, and they make all of us vulnerable." Workforce development is another key issue, says Lee, and both government and industry experts interviewed by the Commission cited a lack of supply of cybersecurity practitioners. The report states the next president should initiate a program to train 100,000 new cybersecurity practitioners by 2020. This program would develop security talent through local and regional partnerships among employers, educational institutions, and community organizations, according to the report. The government and private sector should also collaborate to sponsor a network of security bootcamps, with the idea of building critical skills in a shorter timeframe. National cybersecurity should be viewed as a shared responsibility, both experts agree. Education should start as early as K-12 levels so children learn basic security practices at a young age. Identity management is important to address because a tremendous amount of security breaches begin with the theft of a user ID or password, Lee says.The Commission urged government to make authentication stronger and easier to use, something he says Microsoft has done to prevent intrusions caused by password theft. However, neither the government nor private sector can make the necessary improvements alone. For this reason, the Commission called for a more active collaboration and partnership between the public and private sectors. This relationship extends to information sharing, which can be powerful for mitigating risk, Lee notes. Bad actors have an advantage because they embrace the latest technologies and receive direct rewards for new tools and exploits. Those trying to mitigate threats can do so by sharing information as threats emerge. "If we can create a situation where network operators are able to share data more safely and quickly, the damage caused by botnets can be dramatically reduced," for example, says Lee. A challenge for companies in sharing information is navigating legal liability risks, he notes. The report recommends government work with the private sector to identify changes in regulations or policies that would encourage companies to more freely share risk management practices. "Cyber, most interestingly, is the world's first frictionless weapon system," says Accenture's Hunt. "We're at a juncture where we have to go at this in a new way, with focus and vigor and hopefully, bring together the government, state, and private sector," Hunt says. Related Content: Kelly is an associate editor for InformationWeek. She most recently reported on financial tech for Insurance & Technology, before which she was a staff writer for InformationWeek and InformationWeek Education. When she's not catching up on the latest in tech, Kelly enjoys ... View Full Bio More Insights

CloudFlare warns of another massive botnet, er, flaring up

DDoS attacks on the horizon as White House cybersecurity report issues recommendations CloudFlare has warned of another massive botnet that appears to be ramping up and targeting the US West Coast. In a blog post, the content delivery network said it has been watching a flood of attack traffic that started two weeks ago and appears to have been coming from one person testing out its abilities before moving it to 24-hour management. The news of another botnet that may equal or surpass the Mirai botnet comes as a report from the White House's special cybersecurity commission delivered its recommendations to the president, in which it highlighted the issues and called for more action on mitigating and eliminating such threats. Remarkably, CloudFlare concluded from observing the attack traffic – which peaked at 172Mpps (million packets per second), equivalent to 400Gbps (gigabits per second) – that the botnet was being turned on and off seemingly by an individual working a nine-to-five job. "The attack started at 1830 UTC and lasted non-stop for almost exactly 8.5 hours, stopping at 0300 UTC," the company wrote. "It felt as if an attacker 'worked' a day and then went home." That same attacker then did the same thing every day for over a week before his daily schedule suddenly shifted to a 24-hour attack – suggesting that it was taken over by an organized group. But perhaps most importantly, the attack traffic was not due to the Mirai botnet, which has been causing havoc in recent weeks.

CloudFlare notes that whoever is behind it is using different software and different methods, namely "very large L3/L4 floods aimed at the TCP protocol." The attacks are focused on "a small number of locations mostly on the US west coast." White House Meanwhile, the 100-page report [PDF] from the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity digs into the issue of cybersecurity and what the US government should do about it, concluding that it needed to do a lot and to do it as quickly as possible. It identifies six "imperatives" and makes 16 recommendations with no fewer than 53 "action items" in relation to them. In the broadest terms, the report urges the president to get the US government to work closely with the private sector to come up with ways to both handle cybersecurity problems and develop new programs to tackle future problems. The sheer size and breadth of recommendations demonstrates just how much ground has to be made up on cybersecurity.

And President Obama appears to believe so too, noting that his administration "will take additional action wherever possible ... to make progress on its new recommendations before the end of my term." He also strongly recommends the report to the Trump Administration and Congress. "We must provide sufficient resources to meet the critical cybersecurity challenges called out in the Commission's report," the president says in a blog post announcing the report. "We have the opportunity to change the balance further in our favor in cyberspace – but only if we take additional bold action to do so." Among a series of bureaucratic suggestions, such as creating new working groups, the report also makes some policy recommendations, including encouraging the use of strong encryption and focusing on IoT security. The very first action item in the report, however, focuses on the risk that botnet and DDoS attacks represent: "The Administration should focus first on mitigating and, where possible, eliminating denial-of-service attacks, particularly those launched by botnets," it states. "It should then expand its scope to other attacks on Internet infrastructure, including the Domain Name System." ® Sponsored: Customer Identity and Access Management

Muni system hacker hit others by scanning for year-old Java vulnerability

EnlargeZboralski reader comments 13 Share this story The attacker who infected servers and desktop computers at the San Francisco Metropolitan Transit Agency (SFMTA) with ransomware on November 25 apparently gained access to the agency's network by way of a known vulnerability in an Oracle WebLogic server.

That vulnerability is similar to the one used to hack a Maryland hospital network's systems in April and infect multiple hospitals with crypto-ransomware.

And evidence suggests that SFMTA wasn't specifically targeted by the attackers; the agency just came up as a target of opportunity through a vulnerability scan. In an e-mail to Ars, SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said that on November 25, "we became aware of a potential security issue with our computer systems, including e-mail." The ransomware "encrypted some systems mainly affecting computer workstations," he said, "as well as access to various systems. However, the SFMTA network was not breached from the outside, nor did hackers gain entry through our firewalls. Muni operations and safety were not affected. Our customer payment systems were not hacked.

Also, despite media reports, no data was accessed from any of our servers." That description of the ransomware attack is not consistent with some of the evidence of previous ransomware attacks by those behind the SFMTA incident—which Rose said primarily affected about 900 desktop computers throughout the agency.

Based on communications uncovered from the ransomware operator behind the Muni attack published by security reporter Brian Krebs, an SFMTA Web-facing server was likely compromised by what is referred to as a "deserialization" attack after it was identified by a vulnerability scan. A screen at a Muni train station shows the malware message from HDDCryptor. Blorq, via Reddit A security researcher told Krebs that he had been able to gain access to the mailbox used in the malware attack on the Russian e-mail and search provider Yandex by guessing its owner's security question, and he provided details from the mailbox and another linked mailbox on Yandex.

Based on details found in e-mails for the accounts, the attacker ran a server loaded with open source vulnerability scanning tools to identify and compromise servers to use in spreading the ransomware, known as HDDCryptor and Mamba, within multiple organizations' networks. Krebs reported that the e-mails he reviewed showed many paid the attacker, including one organization that sought recommendations from the ransomware operator on how to prevent future attacks.
In response, the ransomware operator sent a link to a November 2015 advisory from Oracle regarding a vulnerability in the Apache Commons library of server-side Java components. That vulnerability, which uses maliciously crafted data objects to exploit how the affected libraries "deserialize" them to unpack them for processing, is the same class of vulnerability used to attack MedStar, the Maryland health system that had multiple hospitals lose access to critical systems in April as the result of a ransomware attack.
In that case, the attacker (who deployed Samsam crypto-ransomware across MedStar's network) also apparently used an open source vulnerability scanning tool (JexBoss) to find and compromise a server running the open source JBoss platform. Rose told Ars that ticket machines for Muni trains were not directly affected by the ransomware. "In coordination with our partners at Cubic Transportation Systems, which operates [the ticketing kiosk system] Clipper, we took the precaution of turning off the ticket machines and faregates in the Muni Metro subway stations, starting on Friday until 9am Sunday," he wrote. "This action was to minimize any potential risk or inconvenience to Muni customers." He added that the SFMTA's payroll system was not hit by the attack, "but access to it was temporarily affected.

There will be no impact to employees' pay." SFMTA did not pay the 100-Bitcoin (about $73,000) ransom demanded by the attacker, Rose said.
SFMTA's internal information technology team is instead restoring systems from backups. "Existing backup systems allowed us to get most affected computers up and running this morning, and our information technology team anticipates having the remaining computers functional in the next two days." Rose also said that the Department of Homeland Security and FBI were contacted immediately after the discovery of the malware, and SFMTA has been working with the agencies to isolate the malware used in the attack and investigate who may have been behind it.

100k+ petition: MPs must consider debating Snoopers’ Charter again

Brexit means Brex... hang on, you want to store... WTF? A petition to Parliament requesting the repeal of the Investigatory Powers Act has received the 100,000 signatures required to make Parliamanet “consider” debating the issue. Although the Investigatory Powers Act doesn't actually exist at the moment — it remains a Bill of Parliament which will not become an Act until it achieves royal assent — the deep unpopularity of the surveillance legislation has already provoked over 100,000 people to sign a petition against it. This means it meets the threshold for Parliament to "consider" debating its proposition, though in practice debates are rarely carried out resulting from such petitions, and the repeal of the Investigatory Powers Act is ultimately extremely unlikely. Created by someone calling themselves Tom Skillinger, and titled “Repeal the new Surveillance laws (Investigatory Powers Act)” the petition described the legislation as “an absolute disgrace to both privacy and freedom”. Skillinger wrote: With this bill, they will be able to hack, read and store any information from any citizen's computer or phone, without even the requirement of proof that the citizen is up to no good. This essentially entitles them to free reign [sic] of your files, whether you're a law-abiding citizen or not! The executive director of the Open Rights Group, Jim Killock, commented that Brexit had distracted politicians and the public from examining the bill when it was debated in the House of Commons in the weeks before the referendum. "Now that the Bill has passed, there is renewed concern about the extent of the powers that will be given to the police and security agencies," Killock wrote. "Parliament may choose to ignore calls for a debate but this could undermine public confidence in these intrusive powers." In the face of several legal battles, Killock recommends that the debate be used as an opportunity to amend the bill's more questionable legal provisions. ® Sponsored: Customer Identity and Access Management

Passengers ride free on SF Muni subway after ransomware hits 2,100...

Workstations, servers, ticket machines derailed by malware Hard-drive-scrambling ransomware infected more than 2,000 systems at San Francisco's public transit agency on Friday and demanded 100 bitcoins to unlock data, The Register has learned. Ticket machines were shut down and passengers were allowed to ride the Muni light-rail system for free on Saturday – a busy post-Thanksgiving shopping day for the city – while IT workers scrambled to clean up the mess. A variant of the HDDCryptor malware hit 2,112 computers within the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, according to correspondence with the ransomware's masters seen by El Reg. These systems appear to include office admin desktops, CAD workstations, email and print servers, employee laptops, payroll systems, SQL databases, lost and found property terminals, and station kiosk PCs.
It appears the malware was able to reach the agency's domain controller and compromise network-attached Windows systems.

There are roughly 8,500 PCs, Macs and other boxes on the agency's network. After the vulnerable computers were infected and their storage scrambled, they were rebooted by malware and, rather than start their operating system, they instead displayed the message: "You Hacked, ALL Data Encrypted, Contact For Key (cryptom27@yandex.com) ID:601." HDDCryptor and its cousins encrypt local hard drives and network-shared files using randomly generated keys and then overwrite the hard disks' MBRs, where possible, to prevent systems from booting up properly.

A machine is typically infected by an employee accidentally opening a booby-trapped executable in an email or download, and then the infection spreads out across the network. When the 100 bitcoin ransom – right now about $73k – is paid, the crooks supposedly hand over the decryption keys to restore the ciphered drives and files.

A bitcoin wallet into which the transit agency is expected to pay remains empty. You've been hacked ... Message left on a PC screen at a San Francisco Muni kiosk on Saturday (Photo by Colin Heilbut) Buses and the underground-overground Muni rail system continue to run.

The Muni's turnstiles were left open from Friday night, though, allowing people to travel for free.

Ticketing systems were halted with "out of service" messages in the wake of the infection. "There’s no impact to the transit service, but we have opened the fare gates as a precaution to minimize customer impact," the transit agency's spokesman Paul Rose said on Saturday. "Because this is an ongoing investigation it would not be appropriate to provide additional details at this point." San Francisco's public transit system joins the ranks of hospitals, businesses, police stations and other organizations hit by ransomware.
Some cough up cash to the extortionists who spread the file-encrypting software nasties, some don't. Meanwhile, Cisco-owned Talos has an open-source tool for protecting MBRs from ransomware and other malware. ® Hat tip: Thanks to computer security researcher Mike Grover for his help with this article. Sponsored: Customer Identity and Access Management

Google responds in EU antitrust case: “Android hasn’t hurt competition”

Illustration by Aurich Lawsonreader comments 19 Share this story Google—as expected—has dismissed the European Commission's charge that the ad giant abused Android’s dominance to block its competitors in the market. The company is accused of using Android’s position as the dominant smartphone operating system in Europe to force manufacturers to pre-install Google services while locking out competitors. Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager sent a so-called Statement of Objections to Google in April. On Thursday, the multinational corporation defended its position and spoke of the open source nature of the Android operating system.
It also compared a typical Android smartphone to rivals Apple and Microsoft.

According to Google, 39 out of 39 pre-installed apps are from Apple on iPhone 7, and 39 out of 47 pre-installed apps on the Microsoft Lumia 550 are from Microsoft. In a blog post on Thursday, Google general counsel Kent Walker said: "The response we filed today shows how the Android ecosystem carefully balances the interests of users, developers, hardware makers, and mobile network operators.

Android hasn’t hurt competition, it’s expanded it." The 100-plus page response to the commission focuses on metrics in an attempt to add weight to the claim that it hasn't abused any competitive advantage. Walker said: The commission’s case is based on the idea that Android doesn’t compete with Apple’s iOS. We don’t see it that way.
In fact, 89 percent of respondents to the commission’s own market survey confirmed that Android and Apple compete.

To ignore competition with Apple is to miss the defining feature of today’s competitive smartphone landscape. Walker claimed that possible remedies to resolve the case could create fragmentation in the mobile ecosystem. "The commission’s preliminary findings underestimate the importance of developers," he said. Walker continued: The commission argues that we shouldn’t offer some Google apps as part of a suite. No manufacturer is obliged to preload any Google apps on an Android phone.

But we do offer manufacturers a suite of apps so that when you buy a new phone, you can access a familiar set of basic services.

Android’s competitors, including Apple’s iPhone and Microsoft’s Windows phone, not only do the same, but they allow much less choice. Vestager can fine the search behemoth up to 10 percent of its global turnover—around $7.4 billion (£5.9 billion)—if she finds Google guilty of wrongdoing. Google is currently appealing against a similar case in Russia after authorities fined the company approximately 438 million rubles  ($6.8 million, £5.25 million) in an almost identical Android antitrust case earlier this year. Yandex, Russia's biggest search engine and the main complainant in that case, is also one of four complainants in the EU case.

Google rivals Microsoft, Nokia, and Oracle—under the Fairsearch umbrella organisation—lodged the first complaint against Android in 2013. Fairsearch said in a statement to Ars: Google says there's no problem because Android is 'open.' The truth is that Android is today a closed operating system, and any claim to the contrary is disingenuous.

Any manufacturer or network operator seeking to differentiate its devices or services is prevented from doing so by the web of Google's contractual restrictions. Google imposes severe sanctions on those who defy its insistence on conformity.

For example, a phone maker that offers even a few phones that do not comply with Google's straitjacket faces a cut-off from all of Google’s branded products. US ad-blocking firm Disconnect and Aptoide, a rival Portuguese Android app store, have also complained. None had responded to requests for comment from Ars at time of publication. Google separately faces antitrust charges on favouring its own search services and price comparison offerings over those of its rivals and for allegedly breaching competition rules with its mammoth ad business. Last week, Google rebuffed both of those charges. This post originated on Ars Technica UK

Anam's A2P SMS Firewall a hot favourite with MNOs

ROCCO’s independent survey of 170 Mobile Network Operators (MNO) places Anam’s ASSURE solution at the top.Anam’s ASSURE solution has shot into a leading position in a survey of MNO opinions on A2P SMS Firewall vendors, as well as earning a coveted Tier 1 supplier status. The comprehensive study asked MNOs to rate 16 leading vendors on 40+ KPIs across multiple aspects of the solution including Business Understanding, Technological Capability, Performance, Reporting and Leadership. Anam’s solution scored consistently high on all KPIs earning itself a prestigious Tier #1 status. Anam Technologies Tier 1 Supplier Commenting on the report findings, Anam CCO, Brian D’Arcy said that “Anam’s A2P monetisation services reflect close linkage and understanding of the Mobile Operator position. This is a highly complex ecosystem with varied agendas and objectives. Achieving early and incremental revenue gains on Grey Route traffic for the operator is Anam’s concern and the intelligent reporting element of our solution is essential for dynamic A2P traffic monitoring and anomaly detection”. Already an acknowledged heavyweight in terms of SMS technology, Anam invented and owns the patent for Home Routing – a technique fundamental to SMS firewalls. The company has focused on building its A2P business and analytical capability to leverage the Mobile Operators filtering capability. “SMS Firewall is of critical importance to MNOs in monetising SMS revenues and only Vendors who are really specialist in this field have the competence to stay ahead of the requirements and provide optimal solutions” said Jason Bryan CEO of ROCCO. “In ROCCO we support MNOs with useful specific research and it’s always a pleasure to understand from MNO’s which vendors really make them happy, especially to get such great feedback as Anam have which suggests a lot of positive support for what the company is doing. Congratulations to Anam on this achievement.” About AnamAnam is the fastest growing independent SMS Firewall and A2P Monetisation service provider in the world, filtering billions of messages for Mobile Operators in over 60 countries. Anam’s team of Industry leading A2P consultants leverage firewall technology to enable Mobile Operators to generate new revenues from A2P SMS traffic on their networks whilst also eliminating SMS SPAM. The company’s offering has generated incremental revenues in excess of $2million per annum for every 1 million subscribers. On the network signalling side, Anam’s Managed Signaling Firewall protects the mobile network from the well publicised attacks arriving over the global SS7 & Diameter networks. This same technology serves as a monetization platform for a variety of location based & mobile identity services. Anam owns the worldwide patent for Home Routing (EP 1683375 B1), a technique invented in 2006 and fundamental to SMS Firewalls. Anam is hosting the GSMA WAS#4 meeting in Dublin from October 31 – Nov 3rd, 2016. The event, which has already reached the 1000 delegate capacity, focuses on International business needs of Mobile Operators. Anam is headquartered out of Dublin with an Asia hub in Kuala Lumpur and further worldwide presence in London, Hong Kong and Hanoi. www.anam.com ContactAnam: Mary Therese Fitzpatrick, Director of Marketing; Anam Technologies Limited; email: mary-therese.fitzpatrick@anam.com; Mobile: +353.87.2497543 About ROCCOROCCO is the 100% neutral Research, Strategy and Education Company based in the UK. For 3.5 years we have providing research into Roaming and Interconnect Vendors on behalf of Mobile Network Operators interested in making the right Vendor decisions as well as on all kinds of hot topics that interest them. Over 500 MNOs contribute to our research annually.

10ZiG Technology Launch Advanced PCoIP Zero Clients with DP + DVI,...

10ZiG Technology introducing enhanced V1206-PD and V1206-PDS Zero Clients, featuring DP + DVI and Smart Card capabilities.Leicester, United Kingdom – Two new advanced dual screen Zero Clients, the V1206-PD and V1206-PDS, 10ZiG Technology announces. 10ZiG Technology logo The V1206-PD comes standard with six USB 2.0 ports and two high-resolution video ports, one for DP (DisplayPort) and one for DVI (Digital Video Interface).

The maximum screen resolution is 2560x1600 for a single screen, 1920x1200 for dual screens. The V1206-PDS adds to these features the many benefits of an integrated Smart Card Reader.

This includes high security desktop authentication on the Secret Internet Protocol Routed Network (SIPRNet) and other classified networks that use CAC (Common Access Card) authentication. Smart Card technology has become a security standard in areas of research and development, government, healthcare, finance and education, where classified, highly sensitive or personal information is handled.

Additional security is provided by AES-128/AES-256 Suite B Cipher encryption found in the PCoIP protocol. These two TAA compliant Zero Clients feature new streamlined form factors and are powered by the potent Teradici TERA2321 (Tera 2) PCoIP Portal Processor. Overall power consumption is as low as eight watts for both the V1206-PD and V1206-PDS. Other features include a centralized management utility, optional Fibre SFP module and full compatibility with VMware Horizon, Amazon AWS and other PCoIP platforms. Rugged, low-maintenance, Solid-State construction featuring no moving parts or wear components rounds out a list of impressive specifications. Complementing the true Zero Client experience of easy centralized management, no virus exposure and no operating system is the peace of mind of 10ZiG’s Advanced Exchange Three Year Warranty. 10ZiG’s warranty is one of the best in the industry, no registration required. 10ZiG is now accepting orders for the V1206-PD and V1206-PDS. About 10ZiG TechnologyTo learn more about cutting edge VDI technology from 10ZiG, or to arrange for a FREE Thin or Zero Client evaluation unit, please contact the relevant office below: (Corporate Headquarters, US)10ZiG Technology Inc.23309 N. 17th Drive #100Phoenix, AZ 85027P. (866) 865-5250 | Email: sales@10ZiG.com | Web: www.10ZiG.com (EU Headquarters, UK)10ZiG Technology Ltd.Unit S2, Troon Way Business CentreHumberstone LaneLeicester LE4 9HA, United KingdomP. +44 (0) 116 214 8660 | Email: sales@10ZiG.eu | Web: www.10ZiG.com Focusing solely in developing Thin and Zero Clients for the latest desktop solutions, 10ZiG Technology has long-standing partnerships with industry leaders such as Citrix, VMware and Microsoft.

These partnerships are all with the aim of providing the best performance possible by supporting the full feature sets of acceleration protocols such as HDX, HDX 3D Pro, PCoIP and RDP 8.1. 10ZiG offers traditional dual screen Thin and Zero Clients, including the widest range of TERA2-based PCoIP devices on the market, including Dual Screen, Quad Screen and All-In-One hardware. 10ZiG devices come with a variety of OS options, including Linux, NOS (No OS), Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10 IoT (W10 IoT). 10ZiG is committed to taking the complexity out of Desktop Virtualization, Application Delivery and The Cloud by providing Thin and Zero Clients with components that simplify implementation, improve management, device visibility and enhance the user experience.

All 10ZiG devices are accompanied by the 100% free enterprise class 10ZiG Manager Utility, enabling centralized configuration, maintenance and control of all 10ZiG Software Zero, Linux and Windows devices.

The 10ZiG product range is underpinned by the most personal Sales and Support service on the market, complemented by a no-obligation, no-hassle, flexible 30-day evaluation offer. CONTACT:Tom DoddsMarketing Executive10ZiG Technology Ltd.tomd@10ZiG.comp. +44 (0) 116 214 8658

Adblock Plus finds the end-game of its business model: Selling ads

Enlarge / Adblock Plus CEO Till Faida at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016.Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch reader comments 120 Share this story Eyeo GmbH, the company that makes the popular Adblock Plus software, will today start selling the very thing many of its users hate—advertisements. Today, the company is launching a self-service platform to sell "pre-whitelisted" ads that meet its "acceptable ads" criteria.

The new system will let online publishers drag and drop advertisements that meet Eyeo's expectations for size and labeling. "The Acceptable Ads Platform helps publishers who want to show an alternative, nonintrusive ad experience to users with ad blockers by providing them with a tool that lets them implement Acceptable Ads themselves,” said Till Faida, co-founder of Adblock Plus. Publishers who place the ads will do so knowing that they won't be blocked by most of the 100 million Adblock Plus users.

The software extension's default setting allows for "acceptable ads" to be shown, and more than 90 percent of its users don't change that default setting. Eyeo started its "acceptable ads" program in 2011. With the new platform, it hopes to automate and scale up a process that until now has been a cumbersome negotiation. What once could take weeks, the company boasts in today's statement, now "takes only seconds." The company has a list of criteria for what makes an ad acceptable, including size and placement limitations. Most acceptable ads are simple text, but Eyeo says images "may qualify as acceptable, according to an evaluation of their unobtrusiveness based on their integration on the webpage." The acceptable ads system also provides Eyeo with its main revenue source. Large companies that use its white-listing system must pay a cut of the revenue they earn on those ads to Eyeo. "We’ve been waiting years for the ad-tech industry to do something consumer-friendly like this, so finally we got tired of waiting and decided to just do it ourselves," said Faida. Eyeo won't say which companies meet its criteria for white-listing advertisements.

Citing a source close to the company, The Wall Street Journal reported that paying customers include Google, Microsoft, and Taboola. Ad-blocking software is increasing widespread, but it continues to rankle publishers, who resist the notion that Adblock Plus should get paid for white-listing ads.
It's been clear for some time that if ad-blocking companies want to start selling ads, the technology is there.

Earlier this year, Adblock showed its users Amnesty International ads promoting free speech—in the same spaces it had removed ads chosen by the publisher. (Adblock and Adblock Plus are different products.) "It does blur the line," said Ben Williams, head of operations for Adblock Plus, at the time. A 2015 study by PageFair and Adobe found that 16 percent of the US online population blocked ads, while 21 percent blocked ads in the UK.
In several European countries, rates of ad-blocking topped 25 percent.