SiliconANGLE Extracting the signal from the noise. Wed, 28 Jan 2015 12:00:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Gem deploys Thales e-Security hardware security modules for more secure Bitcoin wallet Wed, 28 Jan 2015 12:00:25 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Gem CEO Micah Winkelspecht

Gem CEO Micah Winkelspecht

Bitcoin security platform provider Gem has announced the deployment of custom Hardware Security Modules (HSMs) from Thales e-Security that will now be offered as part of Gem’s Bitcoin wallet product.

The HSM devices are used in 80% of global payment transactions and also provide security to military applications. The modules offer FIPS-140-2 Level 3 hardware-certified security, a tamper-resistant physical security mechanism that prevents intruders from gaining access to sensitive private keys held within the cryptographic module.

Key features of the HSM integration include:

  • Physical security that includes the use of strong enclosures and tamper detection/response circuitry
  • Support for BIP32 Hierarchical Deterministic (HD) key derivation
  • Use of strong random number generated keys with the SECP256k1 elliptic curve to support interactions with the Bitcoin protocol

Gem CEO Micah Winkelspecht told SiliconANGLE that their engineers had worked closely with Thales to deliver a custom solution for the Bitcoin industry.

“The payments industry has been using this hardware technology for years. But we looked at every HSM on the market to find one that could support Bitcoin wallets, and none of them could do it, so we built it ourselves” he said.

Thales e-Security, a division of the French aerospace and defense giant Thales Group protects data for 19 of the 20 largest banks in the world and over 3,000 financial institutions worldwide. This is the first time it has been used in the Bitcoin sector.

“Bitcoin represents a compelling opportunity for both new entrants and traditional members of the payments ecosystem” Thales e-Security VP Richard Moulds said.

Gem said that it is seeking to be the Bitcoin security provider of choice for the next wave of developers building Bitcoin apps and products. Clients include Bitcoin mobile payments company Bitmo Inc., and Singapore based Bitcoin wallet provider CryptoSigma (Sigma X PTE Ltd.) The company announced a partnership with expresscoin Inc. January 15th.

“The year 2014 was all about multi-sig; now we’re finally starting to see major adoption of that security standard by Bitcoin companies, and it’s growing at an exponential pace,” said Winkelspecht. “ 2015 is the year of hardware security. The great news is they work perfectly together… like peanut butter and jelly.”

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Microsoft revels plan to release new free version of its Business Intelligence (BI) service to US customers Wed, 28 Jan 2015 10:33:34 +0000 Continue reading ]]> BIIn a Microsoft blog yesterday the Redmond company revealed it’s planning to release a preview of its improved Power BI service, at first to US customers, but the company says to global customers at a later date. Anyone with a business email address can access the cloud-based business analytics service and through any browser or a Power BI mobile app can keep track of business data via live operational dashboards.

The “business of business intelligence”, as Microsoft calls it, is a non-technical, easy to use tool that gives access to data that is both stored in the cloud and also locally. Microsoft says, “Connect to your data in minutes, with built-in connectors and pre-built dashboards and reports from a wide variety of sources including GitHub, Marketo, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Salesforce, SendGrid and Zendesk.” Connectors will also soon be available for Inkling Markets, Intuit, Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, Sage, Sumo Logic, Visual Studio Application Insights, Visual Studio Online. With the Power BI Designer reports can also be created using interactive charts, maps, graphs, and data transformations, which can be shaped, visualized and shared on devices running BI.

Microsoft stated that once Power BI reaches general availability a free version (I GB data capacity) of the product under the same name will be released, and for $9.99 a month a version called Power BI Pro with more features, higher data capacity (10 GB), and better live connectivity will become available. Microsoft also announced that sometime during the year clients versions of Power BI will be released for iPhone, Android and Universal Windows (for phones, tablets and PCs). A preview version of its Power BI app for iPad was already made available last December.

Sign up for an account and find out more about Microsoft’s Big Data platform here.

Photo credit: Bryce Johnson via photopin cc

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Apple Pay is growing, accounts for two out of every three dollars spent via contactless payments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 08:18:39 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Apple Pay iPhoneSince its launch in October, Apple Pay has accounted for two out of every three dollars spent via contactless payments on Visa, Mastercard and American Express. This is according to Apple Inc. CEO, Tim Cook, speaking during an earnings call with analysts to discuss the company’s first quarter earnings for fiscal 2015.

Cook said that, “Apple Pay is off to a very strong start,” and added that he expects 2015 to be “the year of Apple Pay.”

To date, 750 banks and credit unions have registered to accept Apple Pay. According to Cook, Whole Foods Market Inc. has seen a 400 percent increase in mobile payments since starting to accept Apple Pay and at Panera Bread (also known a St. Louis Bread Company) 80 percent of mobile payments are via Apple Pay.

Right from the start Apple Pay hit some significant milestones, eclipsing the limited successes its predecessors had in the mobile wallet space. In the first 72 hours after launch, Apple Pay saw more than 1 million card activations and in December an ITG Investment Research Report on Mobile Payments revealed that Apple Pay accounted for one percent of digital payment dollars during the month of November.

The report also showed that Apple Pay is most used at Whole Foods, with the natural and organic food retailer accounting for 20 percent of Apple Pay transactions and 28 percent of Apple Pay dollars spent during November.

Walgreens, McDonald’s, Panera Bread and Subway also proved popular with Apple Pay users.

Now barely four months old, Apple Pay is only in “its first innings,” says Cook. He stated that Apple has “Tons of things on our road map of adding functionality to it.”

International expansion is on the cards with rumors of a London-based Apple Pay team for a European expansion and a potential partnership with Alibaba in China.

Expansion outside of the U.S. comes with its own set of challenges, according to Cook. He highlighted that each country requires a different implementation, has different carriers, banks and merchants; all with their unique regulations and requirements. He added that none of this will prevent Apple from taking advantage of the opportunity though.

In the U.S. Apple Pay now supports cards accounting for 90 percent of all credit card purchases.

Image courtesy Apple
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Adiós: Cointerra goes bankrupt as Bitcoin mining now uneconomical Wed, 28 Jan 2015 07:51:24 +0000 Continue reading ]]> cointerraBitcoin mining company Cointerra Inc. has filed for bankruptcy protection in Texas after a fall in the price of Bitcoin made its Bitcoin mining business uneconomical.

Problems at Cointerra first emerged January 14th when it was sued by Utah-based C7 Data Centers Inc., who alleged that CoinTerra acted in bad faith by intentionally underpaying for services, and further demonstrated a pattern of late repayment. C7 was seeking $5.4 million in damages.

The Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition was filed on January 24th with Cointerra disclosing that they had hundreds of creditors who they owed between $10 million and $50 million; assets were listed at the same range. The assets will likely be liquidated through the bankruptcy in an effort to repay secured creditors, but the company noted that it may not be able to pay all unsecured creditors.

Launched in August of 2013, Cointerra launched as a “hardware and software company that designs, produces and operates systems that power the Bitcoin blockchain,” a Bitcoin mining product offering that wasn’t particularly well received by customers, who started making complaints to the Better Business Bureau in 2014. Claims included that the mining computers didn’t meet the standards that CoinTerra was promising, and users who wanted their money back were unable to obtain refunds.

Cointerra had raised $2.26 million at its time of bankruptcy: $960,000 through a convertible note and a seed round of $1.3 million from nine undisclosed investors.

Founder and CEO Ravi Iyengarwas previously held the position of lead central processing unit architect at Samsung Corp. and had worked at Qualcomm Inc. and Intel Corp. before that.

The bankruptcy follows the closure of competitor CEX.IO last week as the current price of Bitcoin makes the cost of Bitcoin mining uneconomical for most.

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Apple Watch will ship in April, development right on schedule, says Apple CEO Wed, 28 Jan 2015 06:42:42 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Apple Watch LineupSpeaking during an earnings call with analysts following the company’s earnings announcement on Tuesday, Apple Inc. CEO, Tim Cook said that the Apple Watch will start shipping in April.

Cook said that, “development for Apple Watch is right on schedule.”

First announced alongside the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in September 2014, Apple originally said the wearable will ship in “early 2015” and later rumors pegged the release date around the end of March with retail staff set to receive training starting mid-February.

In November media reports surfaced that the Apple Watch launch was delayed until “spring 2015”, citing battery issues. Apple originally aimed at 19 hours battery life for the Apple Watch, with the device requiring daily charging, but rumors indicate that the battery life could be as little as 2.5 hours with “heavy” use.

Asked about the timing of the Apple Watch launch, Cook clarified that, “early 2015” means the first four months of the year, “mid” means the next four months and “late” means the last four months.  As far as Apple is concerned then, an April launch date is right on schedule.

Cook said that his expectations for the Apple Watch “are very high” and “I’m using it every day and love it and can’t live without it. I see that we’re making great progress on the development of it.”

He added that there are an “impressive” number of developers making apps for the Apple Watch.

Along with Apple Pay, Apple’s mobile payment service for iPhone and iPad, Apple Watch is a push into a new product category for Apple; something the company hasn’t done since the introduction of the iPad in 2010.

The Apple Watch requires a connected iPhone and will be managed by a “Companion” app.

Two sizes and three collections will be available (Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition) along with a choice of five different bands.

Details about the Watch are scarce, but Apple has said that prices for the “entry-level” Apple Watch will start at $349.

Image courtesy Apple
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Snapchat launches rubbish curated content “Discover” service aimed at hipsters Wed, 28 Jan 2015 05:33:45 +0000 Continue reading ]]> napchat stonersSnapchat Inc. launched its new curated news service Discover Tuesday in an attempt to broaden its offering outside of its core chat service.

The service, which we previously covered pre-launch on January 22nd, is billed as “a new way to explore stories from different editorial teams,” Discover offers a storytelling format that the company says “puts the narrative first.”

In an odd take on what to provide, Snapchat said that the offering won’t be based based on what’s “most recent or most popular” but in a highbrow way where “editors and artists, not clicks and shares determine what’s important.”

Having drunk some hipster free range dolphin friendly soy latte, the spin gets worse.

Discover is different because it has been built for creatives. All too often, artists are forced to accommodate new technologies in order to distribute their work. This time we built the technology to serve the art: each edition includes full screen photos and videos, awesome long form layouts, and gorgeous advertising.

The highbrow line is somewhat bizarre given primary content providers include The Daily Mail and People but it seems to be that Snapchat may be setting the platform up to be embraced by young, hispter artists in the future.

It’s rubbish

The application of the feature in the Snapchat app is to be complimented; it’s easy to use, the presentation is first class and it would be unfair not to admit that some of the curated content was interesting.

The problem is that all Discover is is simply crippled, limited fancy apps within an app; if someone wanted to read content from CNN or The Daily Mail why wouldn’t they just use the CNN and Daily Mail app, or visit their webpages?

If they’re having problems finding content to read, they don’t need a Doctorate to use Reddit.

It’s also hard to understand just how this appeals to a typical Snapchat user who is 16 years old and likes to send self-destructing nude selfies to their friends. Are narcissistic millennials with the attention spans of gnats likely to embrace this sort of “curated” highbrow content to begin with?

Or perhaps we’re completely wrong and the core of Snapchat’s user base are men who have a fetish for beards and women who only shop at vintage clothes stores.

As it stands today it’s rubbish, and someone at Snapchat needs to put down the bong and have a serious think about what would actually appeal to the majority of its user base.

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Apple hits record $74.6B first quarter revenue, most profitable public company in the world Wed, 28 Jan 2015 04:43:50 +0000 Continue reading ]]> apple store beijing newApple Inc. yesterday announced financial results for its fiscal 2015 first quarter which ended December 27, 2014. The Cupertino, California-based tech giant posted record quarterly revenue of $74.6 billion and a record quarterly net profit of $18 billion, or $3.06 per diluted share. Compared to the year-ago quarter with revenue of $57.6 billion and net profit of $13.1 billion, or $2.07 per diluted share, a record quarter at the time, these latest numbers are staggering.

These numbers are largely due to record sales of iPhone and Mac. The App Store also played a significant role, seeing a 50% increase in sales for 2014.

The iPhone alone sold 74.5 million units, setting a new record. Apple said that 65 percent of revenue for the quarter came from international sales.

Sales in China increased by 70 percent thanks to the popularity of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in the region. Apple continues to expand its presence there and aims to have 40 company stores in greater China by mid-2016. iPhone sales in Singapore and Brazil also doubled over the period.

Apple’s first quarter profit of $18 billion, a record among public companies, worldwide, puts the company’s cash reserves at $178 billion. This is enough money to buy IBM or to give every American $556 according to S&P analyst Howard Silverblatt.

“Our exceptional results produced EPS growth of 48 percent over last year, and $33.7 billion in operating cash flow during the quarter, an all-time record,” said Luca Maestri, Apple’s CFO. “We spent over $8 billion on our capital return program, bringing total returns to investors to almost $103 billion, over $57 billion of which occurred in just the last 12 months.”

Looking ahead at the second quarter of its fiscal 2015, Apple forecast revenue between $52 billion and $55 billion with an expected gross margin between 38.5 percent and 39.5 percent.

Apple declared a cash dividend of $0.47 per share, payable on February 12 to all shareholders of record as of the close of business on February 9.

Apple shares rose around 5 percent to $114.90 in after-hours trade.

Image courtesy Apple
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Yahoo Q4 earnings down, Alibaba shares to be spun off into new company Wed, 28 Jan 2015 04:14:20 +0000 Continue reading ]]> small_431053572Yahoo Inc. announced its Q4 and yearly results Tuesday while at the same time announcing that it would spin off its remaining stake in Chinese E-Commerce giant Alibaba Inc.

The financials weren’t great for Yahoo with the once internet leading company seeing a small decline in revenue. For the fourth quarter revenue came in at $1.253 billion, down from $1.266 billion for the same quarter in 2013. Revenue for the year ending December 31st came in at $4.618 billion, down from 2013’s figure of $4.680 billion.

Yahoo reported net earnings for Q4 at $166 million, down significantly from $348 million in Q4 2013. Yearly earnings looked impressive on paper at $7.552 billion, up from the $1.366 billion in 2013, however that figure is padded by its sale of part of Alibaba in 2014 for $9.404 billion, or a net gain of $6.122 billion after tax; excluding the Alibaba sale Yahoo’s net income for 2014 would have been $1.430 billion.

Leading the downwards pressure to Yahoo’s financials was its display advertising business which dropped 4% to $532 million for the fourth quarter of 2014 vs the same quarter in 2013. The yearly figures showed a decrease from $1.950 billion in 2013 to $1.868 million.

Yahoo noted though that its ad business it terms of volume remained strong, with the number of ads sold increasing approximately 17 percent for the quarter compared to the fourth quarter of 2013, however the price-per-ad decreased approximately 20 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2013.

Search was perhaps the only highlight in the financials, with Yahoo’s deal with Mozilla starting to pay dividends.

CEO Marissa Mayer

CEO Marissa Mayer

GAAP Search revenue was $467 million for the fourth quarter, up one percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2013. Search revenue came in at $1,793 million for the full year of 2014, up 3 percent compared to $1,742 million in 2013. Gross search revenue was $932 million for the quarter, up 14 percent over Q4 2013. Gross search revenue for 2014 was $3.382 billion, also up 14 percent on 2013.

The company noted that the number of paid clicks increased approximately 10 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2013, and price-per-click increased approximately 7 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2013.

Combined with the Q4 earnings report Yahoo also said that it would spin off its remaining stake in Alibaba to a new company called SpinCo.

In a tax-free transaction, SpinCo will own all of Yahoo’s remaining 384 million shares of Alibaba, currently valued at $40 billion, as well as a legacy, ancillary Yahoo business.

The completion of the spin off is expected to occur in the fourth quarter of 2015 and is subject to certain conditions, including a favorable ruling from the Internal Revenue Service with respect to various aspects of the transaction, including its tax-free treatment and regulatory compliance.

photo credit: mil8 / sdk via photopin cc

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Lizard Squad hacks Taylor Swift, offers nudes for Bitcoin Wed, 28 Jan 2015 03:21:25 +0000 Continue reading ]]> output_DvsIU2

Hackers going to hack, hack, hack, hack, hack.

Notorious hacking group Lizard Squad appears to have ticked off another entry on its achievements list today having successfully hacked the Twitter and Instagram accounts of Taylor Swift.

The hack occurred Tuesday morning with multiple tweets appearing on Swift’s Twitter account; the first encouraged her fans to follow user @Veriuser, with a second tweet urging users to “go follow my boy @lizzard;” of note both accounts have since been suspended.

Swift confirmed the hacking on her Tumblr account, saying that “My Twitter got hacked but don’t worry, Twitter is deleting the hacker tweets and locking my account until they can figure out how this happened and get me new passwords.”

In a later post to Tumblr she confirmed that her Instagram account was also hacked.

Shortly after the attack the hackers claimed they had obtained nude photographs of Swift and said they would release the photos once they had received 3 Bitcoins in donations. Swift denied having nude photos, and replied:

Throughout the day Swift joked about the hacking, posting tweets such as these:

The new hack from Lizard Squad follows a busy time for the group after they successfully put both XBox Live and Playstation Network offline on Christmas Day in a coordinated denial of service (DDoS) attack, hacked the Malaysian Airlines site, and then claimed to have taken down Facebook and Instagram Tuesday, although Facebook have denied that Lizard Squad was responsible.

In between times Lizard Squad tried to subvert user anonymity on the Tor Network, and launched their own DDoS for hire service.

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Virtual world selfies coming soon to World of Warcraft Tue, 27 Jan 2015 21:37:29 +0000 Continue reading ]]> world-of-warcraft-anoxia-screenshotIf you didn’t already think Instagram was overwhelmed by selfies from the real world, it’s time to expect them from the virtual world. Blizzard Entertainment is adding a special item to its cultural juggernaut massively multiplayer online (MMO) video game World of Warcraft (WoW) that allows players to turn the camera around and take a photograph of themselves.

The item, called the S.E.L.F.I.E. Camera, is available from a level 100 garrison mission called Field Photography. Garrisons in WoW are a recently added feature to the game that allows players to build their own housing in the newest expansion to the game.

According to the WoW database tracking site, the item comes with an upgraded version: the S.E.L.F.I.E. Camera MkII. This upgraded version comes with several Instragram-like filters including a stretch filter, a black and white filter, and a death filter. The “death filter” produces an effect similar to what WoW players see when their character is dead and exists in a ghostly otherworld.

The upgrade reportedly comes from another pun-named mission called Lens Some Hands, which involves obtaining a camera lens for the S.E.L.F.I.E. camera.

“I foresee a plague of duck faces the likes of which Azeroth has never seen,” WoW player Grimslayer said on the Wowhead camera MkII item’s comment section. This refers to the discovery that players may emote at the camera while taking a selfie, up to and including making kissy-faces.

The item adds an in-game action that permits players to “take a selfie” with the camera. According to gaming news site Joystiq the camera interface is enabled fully in game and upon activation turns the view towards the player and once a selfie is taken it adds the picture to the WoW screenshot folder.

It is speculated that this addition to the game is designed to be integrated with new Twitter capabilities being introduced in an upcoming patch.

Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment, World of Warcraft, screenshot by Kyt Dotson
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