Tag: US

UK VARs unhappy with US Vendors

too_good_for_grumpy_catUK VARs are less happy with their vendor partners than their counterparts in the US, according to a new survey.

The research conducted by CompTIA surveyed more than 200 British channel firms earlier this year as part of its State of the UK Channel Report 2015 and compared the results to that of the same survey it carried out in the US.

According to the results only one in five UK resellers would give their vendors the highest possible satisfaction rating. In the US 40 percent thought their vendor is the bee’s knees.

Less than 12 percent of UK resellers were not satisfied with their vendor partners.

CompTIA’s senior vice president for industry relations Nancy Hammervik said it is “not surprising” the Brits were less enthusiastic than their US counterparts.

She thinks channel conflict could be partly to blame although geography does not help. The UK is not a primary indirect target for many US-based vendors. She said that UK partners may feel less satisfied due to vendors assigning less resources, communication, marketing support to regions compared to the US.

More than 40 percent of respondents said channel conflict with vendors has gone up in the last year.

“There are more vendors can do to ensure their channel partners are 100 per cent satisfied and happy selling their products,” Hammervik said.

“If a reseller knows that their supplier is reliable and offers a product that their customers will want, they will have the confidence to retain and expand the relationship, meaning more business and income for the vendor.”

Execs go as Kaspersky loses business

40153923-1-kaspersky1Two of Kaspersky Lab’s top US executives have cleaned out their desk after they failed to convince US government officials that not everyone in Russia is a pawn in Tsar Putin’s game.

The company’s leader of its North American operations and the head of a Washington-area office went as it struggles to win US government contracts.

Company Chief Executive Eugene Kaspersky confirmed the changes in an interview with Reuters during a visit to China but claimed the two personnel changes were unrelated.

Kaspersky said the North America head Christopher Doggett had gone to a competitor while Kaspersky “decided to change leadership in DC,” where the two-year-old office pursues work protecting government agencies and critical infrastructure.

Doggett and former Washington-area head Adam Firestone are not saying anything.

But the shakeup comes at a time when Kaspersky says it is hard for non-American security companies to win bids for federal jobs and big US corporate contracts. The Americans were not really loyal to any non-American products and only British companies are treated in the same way as the Americans.

Kaspersky has been the foremost researcher uncovering Western government spyware for the past several years. Earlier this year, it said it had itself been attacked by one of the most sophisticated strains uncovered to date, with an intrusion it hinted came from U.S. ally Israel.

Kaspersky has also come under US. scrutiny for other reasons after claims that it distributed malware samples that were designed to trigger false positives by rival companies, prompting them to isolate legitimate software on users’ computers. Kaspersky denied it.

But the stories apparently drew attention in the White House and intelligence agencies and decreased Kaspersky’s chances of getting significant government contracts.

Cloud channel will not have long to wait for US data pact

grandpa_simpson_yelling_at_cloudThose resellers who sell cloud services for US companies in the EU will be relieved to discover that the US is close to coming up with a new “Safe Harbour” deal.

Safe Harbour was a fast-track process that US companies could use to comply with European data protection law, which prevents EU citizens’ personal data being transferred to non-EU countries deemed to have insufficient privacy safeguards.

The EU Courts have struck down the current “Safe Harbour” laws because the US clearly was taking European data.

US. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said that the “Safe Harbour 2.0” agreement currently being negotiated would meet European concerns about the transfer of data to the United States.

“A solution is within hand. We had an agreement prior to the court case. I think with modest refinements that are being negotiated we could have an agreement shortly. The solution … is Safe Harbour 2.0, which is totally doable.”

EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova told a parliamentary committee this week that she hoped to have made progress on “intensive technical discussions” with her U.S. counterparts before a visit to Washington DC in mid-November.

Pritzker admitted that it was costing small and medium-sized US businesses that depend on Safe Harbour a lot of dosh. But that is the price you pay when your government believes that it can spy on whoever it likes.

US cloud supplier in hot water over sexist snap

fortacloud-tweet A US cloud supplier – Fortacloud – appears to have learnt the hard way about European sensibilities when it posted an advert for its products using a woman in her underwear.

After all, whenever you think of cloud storage the first thing that pops into your mind is a  nearly naked woman in her drawers.

The pic was used to accompany a Twitter promotion and it created an uproar amongst its 22,000 followers.

IT consultant Richard Price wondered what a picture of a half-naked woman draped on a bed have to do with discounted hosting and wondered how this was not sexist.

Product designer Nils Hoenson replied: “Why the hell are you using a picture of a half-naked women to advertise cheap hosting? Sexist idiots.”

Good product attention right?  Not really.  As one customer pointed out  it made him think is the product is so weak they have to go for the lowbrows with cheap sex.

Fortacloud seemed bewildered by the UK response, after all in America you can have tits with everything, only if you show a bloke in his underpants you can be burnt at the stake.

Another attempted to justify the use of the image: “Well, 99 percent of our customers are male between the ages of 18 and 42.”

Of course this made matters worse.

IT consultant Sally Jenkinson tweeted that the original ad was poor. “Your responses take it to a different level and it was an awful judgement,” she said.

After all they are saying that every male in that age range, in their business engagements, wants to look at pictures of birds in their underwear.

Software causes F-35 fighter headache

DF-SC-82-10542Trying to jack the latest networking tech under the bonnet of Lockheed Martin’s new F35 jet is causing the project some major headaches.

At the heart of the problem is the 2B software which sits at the heart of the $391 billion programme.
Lieutenant General Chris Bodgan said software testing in December revealed problems with the ability of the jets to fuse data about threats on the ground when four F-35s were flying at once. Rhis has lead to project delays.

The issue was being corrected and tested, he said, but the final version of the software would not be ready until early autumn instead of June.

As a result, Lockheed would likely forfeit some of the $300 million in incentive fees linked to completion of three separate software packages – 2B, 3I and 3F – for the jet, he said.

Bogdan said the current version of the software was safe for pilots to fly and the program office could have fixed the problem as part of the 3I software effort, but was pressing ahead now to avoid future delays.

For instance, the fusion problem did not occur when two jets shared data, which meant the Marines could fly two sets of two jets, instead of combining them into a four-jet set, he said.

The software was closely monitoring work on a computer-based logistics system, bulkhead issues with the B-model, and efforts to make the planes more reliable.

Despite all this, the Marines are happy with the programme which in other respects was doing well.

 

Big Brother calls Apple Big Brother

Ad_apple_1984_2US spooks, who have been dubbed “Big Brother” for their worldwide surveillance programme think that the title belongs to Apple.

Following up its exposé about the NSA’s ability to hack into individual smartphones and decrypt their contents, Der Spiegel published a new story about NSA spying on smartphones which features the spook’s Powerpoint presentation.

One slide calls iPhone users “zombies” who pay for the services that enable the NSA to track physical locations.

Another slide calls deceased Apple founder and former CEO Steve Jobs “Big Brother”. This because Apple is already collecting a shedload of geolocation data which the NSA can hack.

The first slide in the series alludes to George Orwell’s 1984, which is ironic because Apple became famous with its 1984 advert where it promised to set users free.

Of course the Tame Apple Press is furious  claimed it showed a “profound disrespect” for “we” users. Given that “we” are not stupid enough to buy an iPhone “we” would say that the NSA is showing a profound disrespect for those who pay for the pleasure of being spied on. It is disrespect that people outside the Apple reality distortion field all share.

 

China puts anti-western tech law on hold

1900-intl-forces-including-us-marines-enter-beijing-to-put-down-boxer-rebellion-which-was-aimed-at-ridding-china-of-foreigners-A law, China claimed was all about counter-terrorism but stopped US technology companies selling so much behind the bamboo curtain, has been put on hold.

A senior US official welcomed the move which he said was a good sign for Western businesses that saw the rule as a major impediment to working in the world’s second largest economy.

President Barack Obama said in an interview with Reuters on March 2 that he had raised concerns about the law directly with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Michael Daniel said the Chinese have decided to suspend the third reading of that particular law, which has put the law on hiatus.

“We did see that as something that was bad not just for U.S. business but for the global economy as a whole, and it was something we felt was very important to communicate very clearly to them,” Daniel said.

The law would require technology firms to hand over encryption keys, the passcodes that help protect data, and install security “backdoors” in their systems to give Chinese authorities surveillance access.

The move has given companies “some breathing room, but not complete relief” because the bill could be picked up again at any point.

The thought is that the Chinese are not ready to kick out all foreign companies, and because they weren’t ready to take that step, they backed off.

The initial draft, published by the NPC late last year, requires companies to also keep servers and user data within China, supply law enforcement authorities with communications records and censor terrorism-related Internet content.

Although the law would apply to both domestic and foreign companies, officials in Washington and Western business lobbies complained that the combination of that law, the banking rules and anti-trust investigations amounted to unfair regulatory pressure targeting foreign companies.

 

US advances cyber threat bill

National-Security-Agency--008A move that would allow the US government to share cyber information with private companies has been given the nod by a key committee.

The US Senate Intelligence Committee voted 14-1 on Thursday to approve a bill intended to enhance information sharing between private companies and intelligence agencies about cybersecurity threats.

The Bill will go to the Senate where it is expected to get a full backing – after all many private companies would like all that data that the US intelligence services collect and are quite happy to pay their tame Senators to change the law to get it.

Privacy advocates opposed the bill, worrying that it would do too little to prevent more data collection by the National Security Agency and other US intelligence agencies.

Privacy concerns were cited by the only member of the committee who voted against the bill, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon who saw it as another surveillance bill.

In practice the law is targeted at preventing the major cyber attacks and co-ordinate companies and government departments better. Microsoft, Lockheed Martin and Morgan Stanley, had pushed for a such a threat-sharing bill.

 

Direct phone connections to Cuba on way

1920s-telephone-advertAn agreement to build a direct telephone connection between the United States and Cuba has been inked, Cuba’s national telecom provider announced.

The US-based IDT reached an agreement with Cuba’s Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA) to provide direct international long distance telephony.

This marks the first finalised agreement between companies from the two countries since the joint December 17 announcement by U.S. President Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro that they would restore diplomatic relations.

“The re-establishment of direct communications between the United States and Cuba will help offer greater ease and quality of communications between the people of both nations,” ETECSA said in a statement.

Phone communication between the two countries was only possible with with calls passing through third countries.

Obama used his executive authority to ease some of the travel and trade restrictions on Cuba and has asked the Congress to lift the embargo completely. Such legislation was introduced in the Senate but has been opposed by the Republicans, hoping to pick up the dissident Cuban ex-pat vote in Florida.

 

Kaspersky finds more US snoops

spyMoscow-based Kaspersky Labs has uncovered more evidence indicating that the US National Security Agency is behind a particularly successful hacking group.

“Equation Group” ran the most advanced hacking operation ever uncovered and was untouched for more than 14 years.

Kaspersky researchers did not say that the hackers were the NSA, saying only that the operation had to have been sponsored by a nation-state with nearly unlimited resources to dedicate to the project.

However the mountain of  evidence that Kaspersky provided  strongly implicated the spy agency.

The strongest new tie to the NSA was the string “BACKSNARF_AB25” discovered only a few days ago embedded in a newly found sample of the Equation Group espionage platform dubbed “EquationDrug.” “BACKSNARF,” according to page 19 of this undated NSA presentation, was the name of a project tied to the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations.

“BACKSNARF” joins a host of other programming “artifacts” that tied Equation Group malware to the NSA. They include “Grok,” “STRAITACID,” and “STRAITSHOOTER.” Just as jewel thieves take pains to prevent their fingerprints from being found at their crime scenes, malware developers endeavor to scrub usernames, computer IDs, and other text clues from the code they produce. While the presence of the “BACKSNARF” artifact isn’t conclusive proof it was part of the NSA project by that name, the chances that there were two unrelated projects with nation-state funding seems tiny.

The code word is included in a report Kaspersky detailing new technical details uncovered about Equation Group.

Among other new data included in the report, the timestamps stored inside the Equation Group malware showed that members overwhelmingly worked Monday through Friday and almost never on Saturdays or Sundays. The hours in the timestamps appeared to show members working regular work days, an indication they were part of an organised software development team.

The timestamps show the employees were likely in the UTC-3 or UTC-4 time zone, a finding that would be consistent with people working in the Eastern part of the US.

 

 

Intel and Huawei snuggle up

cuddling-dog-catIntel and Huawei Technologies are getting closer even as their rival governments fall out over trade blocks.

According to Huawei, the pair are getting closer and will share technology and adopt Huawei branding behind the bamboo curtain to make Intel products more palatable to local buyers and the Chinese government.

The technology involved focuses on the cloud, with the pair working on a project to create new servers, a data centre, software and cyber security for a global cloud-computing network.

China’s government has been openly pushing for the use of more Chinese and less foreign-made technology, both to grow its own tech sector and as a response to Edward Snowden’s leaks about widespread US cyber surveillance.

Intel and Huawei have collaborated previously, including a server and cloud product team-up in 2012 and an agreement to cooperate on data storage last April.

Although the announcement is mostly Chinese focused it is likely that the Intel side of the deal will result in other products seen worldwide. Intel would take the lead in nations where Huawei is not trusted, and Huawei stepping forward in countries which are worried about US surveillance.

US tech economy suffering because of paranoia

Senator McCarthy On 'Face The Nation'The US economy is officially suffering because its government is not reigning in its paranoid security services.

One of the world’s biggest markets, China, has said that it is no longer using high-profile US technology brands for state buys, amid ongoing revelations about mass surveillance and hacking by the US government.

That means that key brands, including Cisco, Intel, Apple and McAfee — among others — have been dropped from the Chinese government’s list of authorised brands.

The number of approved foreign technology brands fell by a third, based on an analysis of the procurement list. Less than half of those companies with security products remain on the list.

Chinese companies were said to offer “more product guarantees” than overseas rivals. Some claim it has cost the US government many billions of dollars figure on the impact of the leaks.

US companies have been moaning that the activities by the NSA are harming their businesses in crucial growth markets, including China. However, the US government has claimed that its aggressive spying plan meant that Americans were safer and spying on everyone was the only way to catch terrorists.

This included backdoors being placed in US products sold overseas. Those revelations sparked a change in Chinese policy by forcing Western technology companies to hand over their source code for inspection. That led to an outcry in the capital by politicians who accused Chinese companies of doing exactly the same thing, when they hadn’t.

Microsoft said its fourth-quarter earnings that China “fell short” of its expectations, which chief executive Satya Nadella described as a “set of geopolitical issues” that the company was working through.

HP said its fiscal first-quarter earnings had “execution issues” in China thanks to the “tough market” with increasing competition from the local vendors approved by the Chinese government.

However Cisco has been suffering the most. Earlier this month at its fiscal second-quarter earnings, the networking giant said it lost 19 percent of its revenue in China, amid claims the NSA was installing backdoors and implants on its routers in transit.

US no longer the Land of the Fee

 Statue-of-LibertyThe US will finally get net neutrality after the Republicans realised that mindlessly defending telco’s rights to charge people double were going to cost them votes.

Republicans conceded that the gruelling fight with President Obama over the regulation of Internet service appears over, with the president and all those people who did not want to be charged for internet use were victorious.

The Federal Communications Commission is expected on Thursday to approve regulating Internet service like a public utility, prohibiting companies from paying for faster lanes on the Internet.

Republicans, many of which take donations from the phone companies that opposed the scheme, had slammed the plan as “Obamacare for the Internet.”  It looks like that was also a mistake, as a large chunk of Americans did well under Obamacare.

But it also became clear that the Senators needed bi-partisan support to shaft net neutrality and there was no way that the democrats would support it.

It is not over yet. The new F.C.C. rules are still likely to be tied up in a protracted court fight with the cable companies and Internet service providers that oppose it, and they could be overturned in the future by a Republican-leaning commission.

The F.C.C. plan would let the agency regulate Internet access as if it is a public good. It would follow the concept known as net neutrality or an open Internet, banning so-called paid prioritization — or fast lanes — for willing Internet content providers.

In addition, it would ban the intentional slowing of the Internet for companies that refuse to pay broadband providers. The plan would also give the F.C.C. the power to step in if unforeseen impediments are thrown up by the handful of giant companies that run many of the country’s broadband and wireless networks.

Dave Steer, director of advocacy for the Mozilla Foundation, the nonprofit technology foundation that runs Firefox said that despite the telcos out spending out outlobbying the net neutrality lobby, they still managed to lose.

In fact there is talk that the days of top-down decisions by executives investing in or divesting themselves of resources, paying lobbyists and buying advertisements might be over.  This case showed that it was possible to remove the old system by mobilising Internet customers and users.

 

US leans on Indonesia over smartphone law

page_detail_zoom_3315The US government is leaning on Indonesia to daring to set up laws that forbid foreign smartphone makers from coming into the country.

The country is one of the few where smartphone makers have not been able to penetrate, and Indonesia has insisted that companies make 40 percent of their phones locally.

This of course destroys the US model of making cheap phones in China and having them shipped to foreign parts.

From January 1, 2017, smartphone makers that sell smartphones and tablets in the fast-growing economy of 250 million people to produce 40 percent of their content locally.

We are not sure why the US Trade Representative (USTR), is involved in strong arming Indonesia to have a change of heart. If he wins, it is not as if he is protecting US jobs.  He is in fact protecting Chinese jobs and the bottom lines of big multinationals who do not pay much tax in the US.

Apparently critics of the “made in Indonesia” rule, including an influential US business group, say it could increase costs and restrict access to technology.

“The United States shares these concerns, and strongly supports ensuring that information and communications technology, which can be instrumental to economic development, be openly available in Indonesia,” said a USTR spokesman in Washington.

Less than a third of Indonesians own a smartphone, a much lower rate than China’s almost 80 percent, according to figures from research firm Canalys.

Samsung has already begun producing phones in Indonesia after opening a factory near Jakarta last year, but Apple’s supplier Foxconn has been dragging its feet as it negotiates with the Indonesian government over a proposed investment that would include manufacturing smartphones.

US banks finally adopt mark of the beast

Card-fraudUS banks have finally twigged that the reason they keep losing money to credit card theft is because they insist on being the last bastion of low tech cards.

Given the fact that the free market is supposed to decide the best form of technology to defend its transactions, the US banks have been dragging their collective trotters adopting the EMV standard.

Meanwhile in Europe, the birthplace of Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) standard there is a low amount of credit card fraud while in the US it is incredibly high.

Now the US is finally making the transition to secure cards based on the European EMV standard, mostly because the liability shift imposed by the three big credit card brands — Visa, MasterCard and American Express — will start on October.

If the merchant is EMV compliant and has a POS system equipped to read EMV cards, and the card is not, because the financial institution has not started issuing them yet — effectively forcing the merchant to run your card on the magnetic stripe reader — then the bank or credit card issuer has to pay for the misuse of the card.

If the issuer has upgraded to EMV by sending chip cards to its cardholders, but the merchant has not upgraded their point of sale to accept them, the retailer bears the cost for counterfeit fraud.

While all this is a pain for the banks and retailers, it is widely accepted in the US that something has to be done. A wave of data breaches that has hit major retailers such as Target and Home Depot, among others, has convinced many card issuers that the expense of sending new cards fades in comparison to the consequences of new data breaches. It will probably take another three years for full adoption.

Some analysts expect fraud to increase this year, as thieves will step up their efforts to capture more credit card details before the EMV conversion starts to take a grip on their bottom line.

It is unclear why the US has been so slow in adopting the chips, one reason might be the fact that their parts of the US which may refuse to use them because of religious reasons.  Parts of the bible belt believe that the move to such technology is a sign of the “end times” and that any electronic transactions are the same as the “mark of the beast” of revelation.