BlackBerry Shares Dip as Home Depot Switches to iPhone – Little Known U.S. Carrier Offering Z10 for Whopping $999

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BlackBerry shares dipped nearly four percent today (Feb. 11) after Home Depot announced it will make the switch to Apple handsets.

The company, which up until now has provided its executives with BlackBerry Smartphones, said it will issue iPhones to nearly 10,000 executives, managers and corporate employees.

“We are replacing the current base of BlackBerry technology with iPhone, but these are not the mobile devices used in our stores,” Stephen Holmes, a spokesman for Home Depot, told Reuters.

Home Depot store employees will continue to use the more hardy Motorola Smartphones that offer mobile point-of-sale, analytical, walkie-talkie and traditional phone features.

blackberry Z10

The BlackBerry Z10

The news of Home Depot’s defection is a blow for the Canadian company, which launched its news line of handsets — the Z10, a touchscreen device, and the Q10 with a traditional keyboard — running BlackBerry 10 Jan. 30.

Despite strong sales of the Z10 in Canada and Britian as well as the United Arab Emirates, where it launched Feb. 10, BlackBerry shares dropped to $15.86 in afternoon trading.

The company has been doing everything it can to create excitement about its new handsets, particularly the Z10, leading up to the product’s launch via carriers in the U.S. next month.

BlackBerry had little to say about Home Depot’s defection, choosing instead to focus on the positive.

“We have over 2,700 unique businesses in North America already registered for our BlackBerry 10 Ready Program,” spokeswoman Amy McDowell told Reuters. “We are confident that BlackBerry is, and will continue to be, the best solution for corporations managing large Smartphone deployments.”

Meanwhile, although the Z10 will not go on sale with any well known American carriers until next month, the new BlackBerry touchscreen handset can be had for a cool $999 via Solavei, a relatively new phone carrier. Solavei, which is offering the phone without a contract, is promising shipment of the device in two days.

The price is sure to get consumers’ attention — and not in a good way.

An iPhone 5, which until now was the most expensive of the Smartphones — can be had without a contract from Wal-Mart for $649.

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BlackBerry Shares Dip as Home Depot Switches to iPhone

Apple, Microsoft, Adobe to Appear Before Australian Parliamentary Committee to Address ‘Unfair’ Pricing

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Apple, Microsoft and Adobe are being accused of price gouging Down Under.

The Australian Parliament’s House Committee on Infrastructure and Communications has summoned the three companies to appear before the committee in Canberra March 22 as part of an ongoing probe.

“The Committee is looking at the impacts of prices charged to Australian consumers for IT products – Australian consumers often pay much higher prices for hardware and software than people in other countries,” the committee said in a statement. “The committee has been examining claims made by organizations such as CHOICE, and the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network.”

Australian Parliament announced last April its investigation into why Australian citizens pay up to 50 percent more to download software and other content than consumers in other countries.

It is thought Adobe’s pricing of its Creative Suite 6 — the firm charges up to $1,400 more in Australia than it does in the U.S. — was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

And, when the three companies refused to co-operate in the probe, the committee launched an official inquiry in July 2012.

Ed Husic, the Member of Parliament who has been spearheading the campaign, commended the committee’s announcement today (Feb. 11).

“These firms should have co-operated and been prepared to be more open and transparent about their pricing approaches,” Husic said in a statement. “In what’s probably the first time anywhere in the world, these IT firms are now being called by the Australian Parliament to explain why they price their products so much higher in Australia compared to the U.S.”

So far, none of the three companies have commented on the summons or if they will attend. The firms could face charges if they choose to ignore the Australian government’s demands.

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Apple, Microsoft, Adobe to Appear Before Australian Parliamentary Committee to Address ‘Unfair’ Pricing

Hacking of Bush Family E-mails Shows Internet Security A Serious Issue: Experts – Passwords, Two-Step Verification Key In Securing Digital Data

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The recent e-mail hackings of two former presidents and those of their family members is a wake up call to take Internet security seriously, experts are saying.

The e-mails of George Bush and his son George W. Bush, were breached after the AOL e-mail account of Dorothy Bush Koch, the daughter and sister of the former presidents, was hacked late last week.

Also compromised were the accounts of Scott Pierce, brother-in-law and uncle, an unspecified sister-in-law and aunt, Williard Heminway, a friend of the senior Bush, family friend Jim Nantz and another unspecified account.

Some of the leaked e-mails included family preparations for the possible death and funeral of Bush Sr. who was hospitalized until late last month.

According to The Smoking Gun, in an e-mail to his siblings, George W. Bush said he was “thinking about eulogy” and asked for anecdotes that would reveal their father’s sweet nature and kindness. “Hopefully I’m jumping the gun,” he added.


George W. Bush

Included in the hacked data was a confidential list of home addresses, cellphone numbers, and e-mails for dozens of Bush family members, including both former presidents, their siblings and their children, The Smoking Gun reported. A number of embarrassing photos of George W. Bush — self-paintings of himself showering and in a bathtub — were also posted.

The photos and e-mails — which were posted to an online account that has since been purged — were stamped with a watermark bearing the hacker’s online alias, “Guccifer.”

Guccifer claimed to be a veteran hacker who is already being sought by “the feds” for hacking hundreds of accounts.

“This is just another chapter in the game,” he wrote on the website.

The Secret Service and the FBI are currently investigating the incident.

The Bush hacking was preceded by other high-profile incidents: The Emergency Communication System of the Federal Reserve, an unnamed American power station, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and several private companies.

Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham, executive director of the Cyber Security Research and Education Center at the University of Texas at Dallas, said the attack is an indicator of how insidious hacking has become.

“It is a lot easier. It’s getting so dangerous these days,” she told The LA Times, adding that malware grants hackers access to personal information remotely. “By the time you find a problem, it’s already changed and attacked your e-mail …. Anti-virus software cannot keep up with the changes. We have to be one step ahead of the hackers, and the hackers are also getting very smart.”

“It can happen to anyone, it’s not just the Bush family. This is all cyberspace — they are as vulnerable as you and me. They’re just a bigger target.”

Security expert Christopher Wolf, in a piece written for CNN, says the recent proliferation of hacking incidents “will mean that government and businesses will up their game even more to secure our information infrastructure.”

“But the security reinforcement might take time,” Wolf says. “In the meantime, people have options to protect their information and themselves. Privacy and data security is a shared responsibility, after all, and users have a role to play.”

Wolf, who leads the privacy and information management practice at Hogan Lovells US LLP and is the founder and co-chairman of the Future of Privacy Forum, says users should take advantage of the two-step verification offered by many Web-based e-mail services.

In two-step verification, after a user enters his user name and password, he then must enter a code sent by the e-mail provider via text, voice call or mobile app.

“Two-step verification drastically reduces the chances of someone stealing the personal information from your e-mail account because hackers would have to not only get a password and your user name, they would also have to have access to the mobile phone to which the code is sent,” Wolf says.

He also recommends users ensure their Wi-Fi connections are secure.

“Wireless routers are ubiquitous, allowing you to share your Internet connection and files around the house,” he says. “But without securing your router, anyone within range can access the websites you visit and may be able to access your personal information. Securing your Wi-Fi router with a password is an easy step to take, and it is often overlooked.”

Wired tech writer Mat Honan, who went public about being hacked last year, says users themselves have made their digital identities too easy to crack.

“Imagine that I want to get into your e-mail,” he writes. “Let’s say you’re on AOL. All I need to do is go to the website and supply your name plus maybe the city you were born in, info that’s easy to find in the age of Google. With that, AOL gives me a password reset, and I can log in as you.”

“The common weakness in these hacks is the password. It’s an artifact from a time when our computers were not hyper-connected. Today, nothing you do, no precaution you take, no long or random string of characters can stop a truly dedicated and devious individual from cracking your account. The age of the password has come to an end; we just haven’t realized it yet.”

Mark Bower of Voltage Security told PC Mag Smartphones and tablets are also a large security risk.

“For convenience, many users let their Smartphones remember their logins to e-mail systems, Web mail, and so on without even a passcode protecting the device,” he says. “Anyone who gets possession of the device could quickly access a potential goldmine of personal, private or financial data in the user’s email account—or even data in their cloud services.”

Bower also says encrypting all of one’s files and digital correspondence is the only way to fully secure one’s digital data.



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Hacking of Bush Family E-mails Shows Internet Security A Serious Issue: Experts