Mark Hurd, former Hewlett-Packard chief executive, is accused in a letter made public on Thursday of using company funds to hire a former star of erotic thrillers as a contractor, and pressing her for sex during a two-year campaign of harassment. It is alleged he repeatedly invited her to spend the night with him and touched her inappropriately.
Hurd, who is married with two children, left the world’s largest maker of PCs under a cloud in August last year after an internal investigation found that irregularities in his expenses claims were used to cover up a “close personal relationship”. The investigation found there was no violation of HP’s sexual harassment policy.
Details of his alleged pursuit of former actor and reality show contestant Jodie Fisher have been revealed after a US court approved release of a previously suppressed letter addressed to Hurd by lawyers acting for Fisher.
Fisher settled out of court with Hurd before his resignation from HP on 6 August 2010. In a statement she admitted the original letter from her lawyers contained “many inaccuracies”, without specifying what they were. The two deny ever having sex.
The eight-page letter, written by Fisher’s lawyer Gloria Allred, claims company expense accounts were used to entertain a reluctant Fisher with intimate dinners and rooms or suites at America’s most exclusive hotels.
It accuses Hurd, since hired as co-president at software group Oracle, of “treating her as a sex object, hand-picking her from a TV show, expecting sexual favours in return for giving her work”, and claims Fisher’s time at HP ended in 2009 after she had continually rejected his attentions: “She refused your quid pro quo attempts at sex and has now been discarded by you and HP.”
According to Allred, Fisher was hired after a call to her publicist in 2007 in which Hurd was said to have noticed her on the NBC reality show Age of Love. She featured among a group of women competing for the attentions of Australian tennis star Mark Philippoussis as he looked for a partner. In the 1990s she had starred in adult thrillers such as Intimate Obsession and Body of Influence 2.
Hurd wanted Fisher to act as a host at a series of high-profile executive events, where she would pick out company chiefs and senior politicians from the crowd and introduce them to her boss. Allred writes: “Looking at what ensued over the next two years, it is clear you had designs to make her your lover from the onset using your status and authority as CEO of HP and HP monies … It is appalling that you would use HP revenues for the purpose of procuring female companionship and romance under the guise of HP business.”
Fisher was initially offered $30,000 (£19,000) to host six events. After the first, in Atlanta, Allred claims Hurd took Fisher to dinner then invited her up to his room at the Ritz-Carlton, supposedly to discuss some documents. Hurd told her to be quiet because of his bodyguards in the next room, and then sat next to her, allowing his hand to touch her breast twice. He then invited her to stay the night.
She says she rebuffed his advances, but was instructed to attend dinner with him the next night. Hurd allegedly told her that many women were “crazy” about him, including the singer Sheryl Crow.
Fisher accompanied Hurd on trips to Boston, Tokyo, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and other cities. On several occasions, according to the letter, he grabbed, hugged or kissed her. At the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills, Hurd “abruptly” asked Fisher to go away with him, it is claimed, but she declined, saying that, as a single mother, she needed to care for her son when not travelling for business.
She claims Hurd offered to take care of her, and once told her he gave endowments of about $30,000 a year to athletes he felt were worthy. “Ms Fisher declined any offer of such a gift of money from you as she felt this would be inappropriate and would make her feel indebted to you in a personal way.”
Allred’s letter alleges that in March 2008, Hurd told Fisher HP was working on one of the biggest takeovers in US history– the purchase of Electronic Data Systems, a Dallas company that HP did later acquire, in May of the same year, for $13.9bn. Fisher told her mother, who was appalled and warned that if she or anyone she told of the deal bought stock in EDS, they could be accused of insider dealing. It is understood that HP’s internal investigation found no evidence that Hurd leaked information.
Allred also portrays HP’s head of internal communications Caprice Fimbres McIlvaine, who left the company three days after Hurd, as having acted as the facilitator for their encounters, instructing Fisher to attend numerous dinners alone with her boss. Allegedly McIlvaine would book the restaurant tables under her name and pay in advance with her credit card.
At one point, when Fisher’s publicist was negotiating for her client to be financially compensated for attending dinners in her own time, Hurd allegedly said he was “outraged”. “Ms Fisher had to ‘fire’ her publicist if she wanted to keep her job. She did so, but thereafter felt completely alone,” the letter says.
Hurd fought to keep the letter sealed, asserting California’s privacy law, but shareholder Ernesto Espinoza filed a lawsuit arguing it should be released to allow a proper investigation of any corporate wrongdoing and waste associated with the relationship. The New York Times has published the Allred letter, as well as extracts of emails prepared by an outside counsel for HP which show Fisher talking about enjoying her working relationship with Hurd. It is suggested the emails contradict Allred’s allegations that Fisher was harassed or felt threatened by her employer.
At the time of Hurd’s departure, HP general counsel Michael Holston said that although the company had found its sexual harassment policy had not been violated, Hurd had filed inaccurate expense reports to cover up the “close personal relationship”.
The investigation also found there were “numerous instances where the contractor received compensation and/or expense reimbursement where there was not a legitimate business purpose,” Holston said. Sources later said the sums varied from $1,000 to $20,000. Hurd received $23.2m in severance from HP, plus tens of millions more in stock options, according to an analysis by pay consultant James F Reda Associates.
31 December 2011
Last updated at 00:10
Mr Ive has been behind many of the iconic gadgets of the last 15 years
Jonathan Ive, Apple’s head of design, has been awarded a knighthood in the New Year Honours list.
Mr Ive, who can now style himself Sir Jonathan, has been made a Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE).
Raised in Chingford, Mr Ive began working for Apple in 1992 and since then has been the brains behind many of its products.
He described the honour as “absolutely thrilling” and said he was “both humbled and sincerely grateful”.
Mr Ive added: “I am keenly aware that I benefit from a wonderful tradition in the UK of designing and making.
“I discovered at an early age that all I’ve ever wanted to do is design.”
Mr Ive has been lauded for the tight fit between form and function seen in Apple gadgets such as the iPod and iPhone.
Born in February 1967, Mr Ive inherited a love of making things from his father, a silversmith, and reportedly spent much of his youth taking things apart to see how they worked.
From the age of 14, he said, he knew he was interested in drawing and making “stuff” and this led him to Northumbria Polytechnic – now Northumbria University – where he studied industrial design.
On graduation he started work as a commercial designer and then, with three friends, founded a design agency called Tangerine.
One of the clients for the agency was Apple which was so impressed with the work he did on a prototype notebook that it offered him a full-time job.
Mr Ive was apparently frustrated during his early years at Apple as the company was then suffering a decline. Everything changed, however, in 1995 when Steve Jobs returned to the company he helped found.
Continue reading the main story
He has a very determined sense of getting things right”
“What’s made him so outstandingly successful is the relationship he’s had with Steve Jobs and Apple,” said Deyan Sudjic, director of The Design Museum.
“He’s been working there for 19 years and has built up the kind of relationship that’s very rare.”
Mr Jobs described Mr Ive as his “spiritual partner” in the recent biography of the Apple co-founder written by Walter Isaacson. However, it also said that Mr Ive was “hurt” by Mr Jobs taking credit for innovations that came from the design team.
Mr Ive’s eye for design combined effectively with Mr Jobs’ legendary attention to detail and the products that have emerged from the company since the late 1990s have turned Apple into the biggest and most influential technology company on the planet.
Mr Sudjic said Mr Ive’s talent was to help people stop worrying about technology and just get on with using it.
There have been some mis-steps along the way. Most recently, Apple’s iPhone 4 was criticised because many people said signal strength dropped when their hand touched the phone’s metal case. This was thought to be because the antenna for the handset formed part of the device’s metal shell.
In contrast to many other design celebrities, said Mr Sudjic, Mr Ive had not cashed in on his fame but had let what he and his team created speak for itself.
Mr Sudjic said: “He has a very determined sense of getting things right.”
The knighthood is the second time Mr Ive has been recognised in the honour’s list. In 2005 he was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE).
Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/int/news/-/news/technology-16367022
The dossier detailing sexual harassment allegations that sparked the exit of HP boss Mark Hurd has finally been published after a court ruled that it was only “mildly embarrassing”.
The letter, readable here in pdf courtesy of the New York Times, contains alleged painful details of Hurd’s flirtation with HP hostess Jodie Fisher. It was withheld from the public earlier this year, but a new ruling from the Delaware Supreme Court judged that the letter didn’t reveal any trade secrets and wasn’t embarrassing enough to merit being suppressed.
In the document, dated June 2010, the then-CEO’s attempts at chatting up Fisher, a former Playboy model he had handpicked to host conferences for HP, were described as “unwelcome, awkward” and “never reciprocated in any way”.
It was alleged that after a dinner date and a rebuffed attempt at a kiss the married HP boss tried to impress Fisher by showing her his bank account balance at an ATM and saying that country singer Sheryl Crow found him attractive. It was further alleged that he boasted of his mistresses in other cities, according to the letter, which was written by Fisher’s attorney Gloria Allred.
One conversation in which Hurd tried to persuade Fisher to spend the night with him was described as “going on painfully for an[other] hour”, according to the unsealed document.
Hurd persisted for almost two years, it was claimed, as Fisher continued to be requested to hostess at HP conferences around the world, conferences often involving private dinners with the CEO among other awkward situations.
The letter alleges that Fisher’s rejections of Hurd finally led to her losing her job in 2009. After that Fisher was not requested to host any more HP conferences.
“Looking at what ensued over the next two years, it is clear you had designs to make her your lover from the onset using your status and authority as CEO of Hewlett Packard and Hewlett Packard monies expecting her to be with you,” Allred wrote.
Allred’s letter threatened legal action against Hurd and his company. After he handed the document to HP’s lawyers, the biz launched an internal investigation but did not find any evidence to support the harassment claims. However the probe did find that Hurd had incorrectly filed his HP expenses while he was out on business trips with her. That discovery led to Hurd’s resignation. Fisher dropped her claims upon receiving a payment of an undisclosed sum.
Hurd – who is credited with revivifying HP during his five-year stewardship from 2005 – was given a $30 million golden goodbye from HP, and is now employed at Oracle. ®
30 December 2011
Last updated at 12:25
China says it has the biggest internet using population in the world
The Chinese government is cracking down on home-grown cyber thieves seeking to steal online banking details.
The crackdown combats phishing by ensuring that the websites of legitimate banks appear at the top of search results.
The move comes as the personal details of more than 45 million Chinese people were stolen in separate attacks.
The government is investigating the thefts and said that the wave of attacks “threatened internet safety”.
The 10 biggest search engines in China have signed up to the anti-phishing scheme to ensure that users looking for bank websites go to the right place.
Phishing attacks involve messages that look like they come from a bank or other organisation and direct people to a website that mimics the real thing.
When people visit the fake site and enter their login details these are recorded by cyber criminals who may loot the account soon afterwards.
By ensuring that the websites of banks appear first, the government hopes to limit the numbers of people falling for phishing scams and visiting the fake sites.
Some of the search engines will put a special icon next to the bank links in lists of results to flag them as legitimate.
The anti-phishing initiative comes at the end of a week in which the personal details of almost 10% of China’s 485 million web users were stolen.
On Christmas day, the hugely popular Tianya chat site revealed that the login names and passwords from 40 million of its users had been stolen. All risk being plundered by attackers as the information was held in plain text.
Scammers regularly create fake websites that mimic those of legitimate banks
Tianya has contacted the affected users and urged them to change their passwords as soon as possible.
Soon after, CDSN, one of China’s largest forums for programmers, reported that the details of all its six million users had been stolen. The attackers got away with email addresses, login names and passwords. Again, all the details were stored in plain text.
The scale of the attacks prompted government action and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said it would investigate who was behind the attacks.
“The department believes the recent leak of user information is a serious infringement of the rights of internet users and threatens internet safety,” the Ministry said in a statement.
The Chinese government is known to have put in place technology that monitors online chat rooms for controversial topics but the far-reaching measures have not stopped all nefarious cyber activity.
As well as criminal hackers, many activists are turning to the web to make protests more visible.
The website of Menginu, a firm at the centre of a tainted milk scandal, was vandalised and its homepage image replaced with text that read “Do you have a conscience?”.
Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/int/news/-/news/technology-16357238
Open … and Shut If the last decade was all about open source, the next decade will be about open APIs. However, as with open source, APIs aren’t necessarily a guarantee of billions in the bank. They’re simply the ante for playing the technology game at scale. That scale will be determined by who gives developers the best access to data, and that access is a function of open APIs.
Yes, developers. Politicians may focus on ways to get consumers to spend more money in an effort to rebuild their economies, but the world’s economies are increasingly founded upon software services, services that are developed and consumed by developers. These developers are, then, “the new kingmakers,” and not simply of some random technology company. They are behind the rise or fall of 21st Century news (Twitter), communication (Facebook), and more (Salesforce, Google, etc).
To thrive, these developers need APIs. Lots of them, though standardized and well-documented.
Redmonk analyst Stephen O’Grady hints at this in a recent post that discusses ways to unleash the “age of data”, by describing legal handicaps placed on Redmonk’s efforts to get at analytics data through an open API. Cut off the API through whatever means, and you’ve cut off a developer’s ability to not only grow her service, but also yours.
Given the importance of APIs, it’s surprising just how hard it can be to release them. Dan Woods calls this out, reporting on research he and others had done on APIs: “API programs [are often] started in secret, nurtured by the true believers in a clandestine way, slipped into production, and then brought to the awareness of senior management after the API was shown to be a success.” Developers, in other words, are having to secretly succeed for their business.
This is silly, if for no other reason than one of the great benefits of APIs is how much they can help with the integration of internal software services. That is, software that runs behind the firewall. Indeed, O’Reilly’s Anant Jhingran argues that for all the positive noise made about public APIs at Twitter and Facebook, the “real revolution” is that “enterprises of all sizes are API-enabling their back-end systems”. This makes the enterprise permeable to partners but also to its own employees, and is the number one reason enterprises are adopting APIs.
APIs are the key to making internal integration easy.
At one time we looked to open source to fill this function. Companies like CollabNet sprung up to enable internal software collaboration. But it turns out that APIs prove to be an easier way to achieve similar goals. Instead of having to learn an entire code base, I just need a well-documented API to get access to software services. Minimal fuss, maximum productivity.
This may be the point in APIs: to give developers a way to focus on services provided by software, and not the software itself. This shift from open-source software to open APIs becomes ever more critical as we move to cloud services, where developers can no longer access the underlying software. As the industry moves from software to Infrastructure as a Service to Platform as a Service, APIs are the key to the shift, as analyst Krishnan Subramanian details.
But not just any APIs. The industry can’t stomach a million competing APIs any more than it could digest a huge array of open-source projects for CMS, ERP, etc. We need APIs, but we also need standardization.
Take OpenStack, for example. OpenStack has taken on the daunting task of unseating Amazon Web Services, but it has made its life dramatically more difficult by trying to move the industry away from Amazon’s APIs. For better or for worse, the AWS APIs are the public standard and, as Canonical and Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth posits, “The hackers and funders and leaders and advocates of OpenStack, and any number of other cloud infrastructure projects both open source and proprietary, would be better off figuring out how to leverage [the AWS API] standardisation than trying to compete with it, simply because no other API is likely to gain the sort of ecosystem we see around AWS today.”
Shuttleworth is right about OpenStack, and about the larger industry. It’s better to rally around a common API, much as we rallied around Linux. In the case of cloud computing, cloud expert and former Googler Sam Johnston thinks the future is OpenCloud, and other industry observers have their own preferred horses in the various races.
But at the heart of each is APIs. Open APIs are the new open source, except they require less geeky access to lines of code, and more programmatic interaction with software services. As an added bonus, open APIs don’t come with the baggage of licensing fundamentalists. Praise the heavens! ®
Matt Asay is senior vice president of business development at Nodeable, offering systems management for managing and analyzing cloud-based data. He was formerly SVP of biz dev at HTML5 start-up Strobe and chief operating officer of Ubuntu commercial operation Canonical. With more than a decade spent in open source, Asay served as Alfresco’s general manager for the Americas and vice president of business development, and he helped put Novell on its open source track. Asay is an emeritus board member of the Open Source Initiative (OSI). His column, Open…and Shut, appears three times a week on The Register.
Accessing the internet from a mobile phone will remain hundreds of times more expensive abroad than at home for the next 10 years under proposed European commission rules, politicians warn.
The European parliament is to vote in the summer on new caps limiting the amount mobile phone operators can charge travellers. Costs remain astronomical, with some UK networks charging “roaming” customers the equivalent to £3,000 for one gigabyte of data – enough to download 200 songs or watch two hours of video. The proposed price caps, intended to run until 2022, could be set at €500 (£420) for one gigabyte, but MEPs have asked for further reductions.
“We need better value for the consumer,” said Irish MEP Sean Kelly, who wants the cost of one gigabyte to fall to €90 by 2014. “The Commission’s proposals were somewhat generous to the industry. I don’t think any of the companies involved are going to go bust, they may cry wolf but they are not going to have the wolf at their door. The single market is about free movement of goods, free movement of people. We should be aiming to have no roaming charge at all.”
Since smartphone adoption became widespread there have been reports of holidaymakers coming home to bills running into thousands of pounds. Last year, Europe imposed a €50 cap on data spending. Internet access is automatically choked off after the limit is breached, unless by prior agreement. But holidaymakers outside the eurozone are not guaranteed such protection.
The average price of one gigabyte in a European country has fallen to €7 for those using their phone at home, according to research firm Berg Insight, though Three charges as little as £1 a gigabyte in Britain. In contrast, UK operators O2 and Orange charge pay-monthly customers £3 per megabyte when they are on the continent, the equivalent of £3,000 a gigabyte. These charges apply even in countries where they own networks; Orange UK customers will pay £3 when in France. Vodafone automatically opts customers into discounted roaming tariffs, which cost £80 per gigabyte in Europe, but £200 in the rest of the world. Such prices mean customers tend to use wifi rather than mobile connections when surfing the web abroad.
With the average customer expected to consume 1.3GB within the next three years, the commission’s proposed caps would still lead to huge bills and do nothing to counter the even higher prices of using phones outside the eurozone.
An Orange spokesman said: “We offer a number of bundles to help keep down the cost of data roaming. Taking out a bundle is always advised and can significantly reduce the overall cost of using data abroad. Next year we plan to introduce new controls, such as spending caps, for all areas outside of the EU, to allow all our customers greater spend control and prevent them incurring unexpectedly high charges.”
Roaming prices are based on wholesale agreements between mobile operators, which have been secretive about what they pay to use each others’ networks. Three, which owns networks in Britain, Italy and three other European countries, is lobbying for wholesale prices to drop. It believes they do not reflect the true costs to operators, claiming these are as low as €10-€30 a gigabyte. Three wants the cap set at €90, with a corresponding wholesale cap at €30.
“High prices are choking off use of the internet for travellers,” said Three’s UK corporate affairs director. “European consumers should be able to access the internet wherever. It’s like sitting with a French or Spanish friend in their local bar and being charged 100 times what they are for the same drink.”
The commission asked MEP Angelika Niebler to review its proposals and this month she presented a report saying consumers should pay no more than €200 a gigabyte, a significant reduction on the commission’s original proposal. She also suggested steep reductions in tariffs for texting and calling from abroad.
“We need to be very ambitious,” Niebler said at a debate on her report. “The target is to ensure that national costs and tariffs are similar to European tariffs so we won’t have a separate roaming tariff any longer – that’s the ultimate goal. Consumer organisations will agree; providers have a different take.”
The commission first introduced price caps for roaming in 2007 and is preparing a new round of cuts which are due to be voted on by the Parliament in June. The cuts would be staggered over a three year period beginning in July 2012 and ending in July 2014, and will remain in place for up to ten years.
MEPs have tabled 11 amendments to Niebler’s report. Kelly, a member of the centre-right Eurpean People’s Party, and four others have put forward Three’s proposals. The Greens have suggested even lower prices and the others all agree that caps should be lower than the Commission proposes.
29 December 2011
Last updated at 12:14
Participants in the hacktivist group Anonymous are using Twitter to provide more detail about the attack
Hacked US security firm Stratfor has told its subscribers that it may take a week or even longer to restore its website.
The site went offline on 24 December.
Hackers have posted credit card details, email addresses, phone numbers and encrypted passwords which they said were taken during the attack.
Stratfor has said it will pay for a credit card fraud protection service for members whose payment details might have been compromised by the breach.
Tweets posted on accounts linked to the hacktivist group Anonymous said that the US Department of Defense, the defence firm Lockheed Martin and Bank of America were among Stratfor’s clients.
A recent message posted by @YourAnonNews added that other parties affected by the hack included Google, American Express, Coca-Cola, Boeing, Sony, Microsoft and the mining group BHP Billiton.
An email from Stratfor to its subscribers said: “At our expense, we have taken measures to provide our members whose credit card information may have been compromised with access to CSID, a leading provider of global identity protection and fraud detection solutions and technologies.
“We have arranged to provide one year of CSID’s coverage to such members at no cost.
“As part of our ongoing investigation, we have also decided to delay the launching of our website until a thorough review and adjustment by outside experts can be completed.”
The identity theft prevention service Identity Finder has carried out its own analysis of details posted online about hacked clients whose names fell between A and M. It suggested that the attack netted:
- 9,651 unexpired credit card numbers
- 47,680 unique email addresses
- 25,680 unique telephone numbers
- 44,188 encrypted passwords of which roughly half could be “easily cracked”
This list is expected to grow if the hackers publish details of the N to Z list.
A tweet posted to the account @AnonymousIRC on 25 December claimed that $1m (£650,000) had been taken from the hacked accounts and had been given to charity.
Participants in Anonymous have subsequently posted screenshots which allegedly show money being transferred to the charities Red Cross, Save the Children and Care.
The organisations will have to return the money if credit card owners report the charges as being unauthorised. Some supporters of the Anonymous movement have also expressed concern that the charities could theoretically be charged a fee for the return of the transactions.
Anonymous Twitter accounts have also hinted that the hackers planned to release details of emails harvested in the breach, adding that “Stratfor is not the ‘harmless company’ it tries to paint itself as.
Stratfor could not be reached for comment. However a video posted by Fred Burton, its vice president of intelligence, to YouTube promised to provide updates “as more details become available” and offered details about the credit card protection scheme.
Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/int/news/-/news/technology-16352891
An Italian regulator has fined Apple €900m ($1.17bn) for trying to sell a two-year extended warranty when customers were entitled to such a thing for free under Italian law.
Apple offered a one-year warranty, with an option to extend that cover under an AppleCare Protection Plan, but Italian law says that all goods have to come with a two-year warranty, and (critically) it is up to the retailer to inform customers of that fact.
Apple’s online store failed to do that, and so has been fined €400m for failing to provide the two-year warranty, and another €500m for inducing customers to sign up to extended cover they didn’t need.
The fines are further divided between Apple Sales International, Apple Srl Italy, and Apple Retail Srl Italy, with Apple Sales International taking the brunt of the cost as the fine is calculated on a percentage of turnover.
The ruling also states that Apple stop misleading people within 90 days, and post an extract from the ruling on its web site. Apple hasn’t responded to our questions on the matter, but no explanation has appeared on Cupertino’s website just yet.
Warranty requirements vary across the EU, and Apple isn’t the first company to get caught out, but in most instances a gentle reminder is all that’s needed. Electrical retail chain Comet was doing much the same thing in Italy, but managed to update its website and retail outlets fast enough to prevent any fine, so one has to wonder why Apple didn’t manage to do the same.
It’s easy to accuse Cupertino of American arrogance in failing to respect local laws, but that seems unlikely and an American corporation certainly makes an easy target for a regulator seeking political points, not to mention nine hundred million euros. ®
28 December 2011
Last updated at 15:40
Network Rail says the switch to GSM-R technology will deliver a secure and robust switching system
A shift to a mobile communications technology could expose rail networks to hackers, according to a security expert.
Prof Stefan Katzenbeisser made the claim at the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin.
The professor said that the systems which switch trains from one line to another could be shut down if encryption keys went astray.
He stressed that trains would not be in danger, but there could be delays.
Train-switching systems have historically been controlled by proprietary analogue systems.
At the end of the last century, more than 35 incompatible systems were used for railway communications across Europe.
A group of manufacturers met to address this and decided to switch to a single digital standard to ensure they could source replacement parts and make different companies’ systems interoperable.
They developed GSM-Railway (GSM-R), a more secure version of the 2G wireless standard used by mobile phones.
It allows traffic controllers and train drivers to talk to each other, and for data to be transmitted recording the vehicle’s speed and location. The control centre then uses the data to give the train permission to enter the next part of the track, theoretically making trackside signals unnecessary.
The technology is already being used in parts of Europe, Africa and Asia. Network Rail is rolling it out in the UK and aims to cover all Britain’s rail lines by the end of 2014.
Prof Katzenbeisser believes the system is relatively secure from hackers under normal circumstances. However, the computer science expert from Technische Universitat Darmstadt warns that encryption keys, used to protect the communications, could pose risks.
“The main problem I see is a process of changing… keys. This will be a big issue in the future, how to manages these keys safely,” he told Reuters news agency at the conference.
Network Rail says the GSM-R masts provide continuous, secure communication
The news agency said the keys are downloaded to physical media such as USB sticks before being distributed for installation.
It said the risk would occur if one of them fell into the wrong hands. This could allow hackers to mount a denial of service attack by overwhelming the signals system with traffic, forcing it to shut down.
“Trains could not crash, but services could be disrupted for some time,” the professor said.
However, a spokesman for Network Rail played down the risk.
“GSM-R is a robust and secure system and Network Rail does not comment in detail on security,” PJ Taylor, head of national news at Network Rail, told the BBC.
Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/int/news/-/news/technology-16347248
With the Xbox 360 now a stately seven years old and PlayStation 3 pushing six, it seems a new console generation is on the horizon. An announcement from one of the two manufacturers is expected at the gigantic E3 exhibition in Los Angeles in June.
But 2012 is already looking as if it will be an extraordinarily busy year for games. Sony will launch its Vita handheld console in the UK in February. The sleek high-end device features a 127mm (5in) OLED display, innovative rear-mounted touch panel, twin analogue controls and Wi-Fi internet access.
Titles such as Uncharted: Golden Abyss, LittleBigPlanet, Escape Plan and Little Deviants suggest an interesting gaming experience, but the question is whether consumers will buy a new dedicated gaming machine with smartphones eating into the market.
Nintendo is also lining up its Wii U console for release later in the year. Featuring a tablet-style controller with its own screen, the machine promises some intriguing new gameplay concepts, but it is still underpowered compared with the PS3 and Xbox 360. The announced games – including new versions of puzzler Pikmin and fighting game Super Smash Brothers – have hardly set the universe alight.
Elsewhere, it looks like industry upstart Rockstar could be dominating the charts this year. March sees the launch of its gritty shooter Max Payne 3, sporting ludicrously balletic shootouts and sophisticated character animation. But the big news is the return of Grand Theft Auto. Set in a Hollywood-style city of fame-hungry wannabes and retired criminals, GTA V looks like another huge sleazy thrill ride. An autumn release is possible, but it would be wrong to assume anything with this company.
Sequels will do huge business as usual – and it is very much a year of threes. Sci-fi adventure Mass Effect 3, sword-and-sorcery romp Diablo III and jungle shooter Far Cry 3 should all do good business.
Publishers are also keen to bring back franchises that have enjoyed long breaks. Square Enix has its promising reboot of Tomb Raider arriving in the autumn, featuring a teenage Lara Croft fighting for her life on a deadly island.
The same publisher is also exhuming its bald contract killer, Agent 47, for new stealth game Hitman: Absolution.
It could be that the most creative, thought-provoking comeback will be Bioshock: Infinite, a steam-punk historical fantasy set upon a floating city.
Luckily, a few original titles are expected in the coming months. The downloadable PS3 title Journey promises an adventure set in a mysterious desert where gamers must form co-operative relationships with anonymous players. Then there’s the open-world stealth shooter Dishonored, from Lyon-based Arkane Studios, which mixes weird gothic machinery with rusted industrial cityscapes.
And Gears of War creator Epic Studios announced in December its plan to launch Fortnite, a post-apocalyptic strategy game in which you build a fortress then defend it against hordes of zombies. Yes, zombies will be back again in 2012. Some things never change.
But the big question remains what will those new Sony and Microsoft consoles look like? One guess is that they will resemble tablet PCs, designed to fit into a world where consumers want to take their favourite games, music and movies with them wherever they go.
But with the coming rise of smart TVs complete with built-in computer chips, and the growing power of smartphones and tablets, is there still a place for any sort of dedicated game platforms? It could be that 2012 will set the terms of the coming conflict.