Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Blackberry

BlackBerry Says It's Done Designing and Building Its Own Phones (theverge.com) 61

BlackBerry today reported its fiscal second-quarter sales and said that it will stop making its iconic smartphones and focus on its software business. The Verge adds: BlackBerry has announced that it plans to stop making its own phones as the struggling company continues to focus on its software and security products. This is far from the end of BlackBerry devices, the production of which will be outsourced to third-party manufacturers -- as was the case with the company's recent DTEK 50, a clone of Alcatel's Idol 4 with BlackBerry branding. "The company plans to end all internal hardware development and will outsource that function to partners," said CEO John Chen in a statement. Elsewhere he stated: "We are reaching an inflection point with our strategy. Our financial foundation is strong, and our pivot to software is taking hold." This isn't surprising news considering BlackBerry's ongoing struggle in the mobile market. According to estimates from Gartner, the company claimed just 0.1 percent of the market in the second quarter, equating to sales of some 400,400 units. The last BlackBerry phone manufactured by the company was the Priv, the company's first Android-powered device, released November last year.
Government

NSO Has Been Selling a Smartphone-Surveilling Malware For Six Years (nytimes.com) 98

The New York Times continues their coverage of the commercial spytech industry, noting its services "are in higher demand now that companies like Apple, Facebook and Google are using stronger encryption to protect data in their systems, in the process making it harder for government agencies to track suspects... For the last six years, the NSO Group's main product, a tracking system called Pegasus, has been used by a growing number of government agencies to target a range of smartphones -- including iPhones, Androids, and BlackBerry and Symbian systems -- without leaving a trace...to extract text messages, contact lists, calendar records, emails, instant messages and GPS locations." Slashdot reader turkeydance quotes their article: That will cost you $650,000, plus a $500,000 setup fee with an Israeli outfit called the NSO Group. You can spy on more people if you would like -- just check out the company's price list. The NSO Group is one of a number of companies that sell surveillance tools that can capture all the activity on a smartphone, like a user's location and personal contacts. These tools can even turn the phone into a secret recording device...

The company is one of dozens of digital spying outfits that track everything a target does on a smartphone. They aggressively market their services to governments and law enforcement agencies around the world. The industry argues that this spying is necessary to track terrorists, kidnappers and drug lords. The NSO Group's corporate mission statement is "Make the world a safe place"... An ethics committee made up of employees and external counsel vets potential customers based on human rights rankings set by the World Bank and other global bodies....

One of the services offered by the NSO group is "over the air stealth installation," though they can also install their spying software through Wi-Fi hot spots. One critic argues "They can say they're trying to make the world a safer place, but they are also making the world a more surveilled place."
Democrats

Clinton's First Email Server Was a Power Mac Tower (arstechnica.com) 223

An anonymous reader shares with us an excerpt from a report via Ars Technica: As she was being confirmed as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton contacted Colin Powell to ask him about his use of a Blackberry while in the same role. According to a Federal Bureau of Investigations memorandum published today (PDF), Powell warned Clinton that if it became public that she was using a Blackberry to "do business," her e-mails would be treated as "official" record and be subject to the law. "Be very careful," Powell said according to the FBI. "I got around it all by not saying much and not using systems that captured the data." Perhaps Clinton's troubles began when she switched from a Blackberry-hosted e-mail account to an account on her Clintonemail.com domain -- a domain hosted on an Apple Power Mac "G4 or G5" tower running in the Clintons' Chappaqua, New York residence. The switch to the Power Mac as a server occurred the same month she exchanged messages with Powell. The Power Mac, originally purchased in 2007 by former President Clinton's aide Justin Cooper, had acted as the server for presidentclinton.com and wjcoffice.com. Cooper managed most of the technology support for Bill Clinton and took charge of setting up Hillary Clinton's new personal mail system on the Power Mac, which sat alongside a firewall and network switching hardware in the basement of the Clintons' home. But the Power Mac was having difficulty handling the additional load created by Blackberry usage from Secretary Clinton and her staff, so a decision was made quickly to upgrade the server hardware. Secretary Clinton's deputy chief of staff at the State Department, Huma Abedin, connected Cooper with Brian Pagliano, who had worked in IT for the secretary's 2008 presidential campaign. Cooper inquired with Pagliano about getting some of the campaign's computer hardware as a replacement for the Power Mac, and Pagliano was in the process of selling the equipment off.
Android

iOS and Android Combined For Record 99% of Smartphone Sales Last Quarter (macrumors.com) 191

An anonymous reader writes: The research firm Gartner has crunched some numbers and found that Android and iOS accounted for a record 99.1% worldwide market share in the second calendar quarter of 2016, which is compared to 96.8% in the year-ago period. What some may view as even more shocking is that Android accounted for 86.2% of the market share in the second quarter, up from 82.2% a year ago. Meanwhile, iOS lost some ground as it dropped to 12.9% market share from 14.6% in the year-ago period. It's no surprise that Windows and BlackBerry have been losing market share. They dropped to 0.6% and 0.1% market share worldwide respectively. Just six years ago, BlackBerry and Symbian operating systems were industry leaders. Now, they're industry losers. Which third-party operating system has what it takes to take on the establishment?
Blackberry

Canadian Fined For Not Providing Border Agents Smartphone Password (www.cbc.ca) 276

Reader da_foz writes: A Canadian was reentering Canada when he was arrested and charged with hindering or obstructing border officials. At the time traces of cocaine were found on his bags and he was carrying $5,000 in cash. He provided his smartphone to border agents as requested, however refused to provide the password. Canada Border Services Agency officials asked for Philippon's smartphone and its password. From a report: "He handed over his BlackBerry but refused to disclose the code to access the phone. Philippon was arrested and charged under the federal Customs Act, accused of hindering or obstructing border officials." It is unclear if he provided the password while agreeing to the fine.
Android

900M Android Devices Vulnerable To New 'Quadrooter' Security Flaw (cnet.com) 129

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from CNET: Four newly-discovered vulnerabilities found in Android phones and tablets that ship with a Qualcomm chip could allow an attacker to take complete control of an affected device. The set of vulnerabilities, dubbed "Quadrooter," affects over 900 million phone and tablets, according to Check Point researchers who discovered the flaws. An attacker would have to trick a user into installing a malicious app, which wouldn't require any special permissions. If successfully exploited, an attacker can gain root access, which gives the attacker full access to an affected Android device, its data, and its hardware -- including its camera and microphone.
The flaw even affects several of Google's own Nexus devices, as well as the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, according to the article, as well as the Blackberry DTEK50, which the company describes as the "most secure Android smartphone." CNET adds that "A patch that will fix one of the flaws will not be widely released until September, a Google spokesperson confirmed."
Blackberry

BlackBerry Enters New Phase Of Patent Monetization, Sues Internet Telephony Firm Avaya (arstechnica.com) 59

In what can be seen as a turning point for BlackBerry, the Canadian iconic company has filed a patent lawsuit against internet telephony firm Avaya. BlackBerry claims Avaya has infringed eight of its U.S. patents, and that BlackBerry should be paid for its history of innovation going back nearly 20 years. "BlackBerry revolutionized the mobile industry," the company's lawyers said. "BlackBerry... has invented a broad array of new technologies that cover everything from enhanced security and cryptographic techniques, to mobile device user interfaces, to communication servers, and many other areas." From an article on Iam Media: The move comes just over a year since Blackberry announced itself as a major player in the monetisation space with an agreement signed with Cisco, in which the Canadian company not only secured a cross-licensing deal but also "a license fee from Cisco." Another royalty-bearing deal was done with an unnamed company around the same time. Since then, the company has also signed two more deals with Canon and International Game Technology, both of which look to contain a royalties element to them; while in January it emerged that late last year Blackberry had sold a portfolio of patents to investment firm Centerbridge Partners for as much as $50 million. Blackberry CEO John Chen has made clear that he sees the company's patent assets as a key element in his plans. "We have today about 44,000 patents. The good thing about this is that we also have one of the youngest patent portfolios in the entire industry, so monetization of our patents is an important aspect of our turnaround," he told delegates at a summit in Waterloo, Ontario, last September. He was at it again in May during an earnings call with analysts when he stated: "Many people have wanted to buy the patents... But I'm not really in a patent-selling mode, I'm in a patent licensing mode."
Blackberry

BlackBerry Says Its New Android Smartphone DTEK 50 Is the 'World's Most Secure' (theverge.com) 94

BlackBerry, which once assumed the tentpole position in the mobile market, announced on Tuesday the BlackBerry DTEK 50, its second smartphone powered by Google's Android operating system. The Canadean company is marketing the DTEK as the 'world's most secure' phone. It is priced at $300, and will go on sale in select markets on August 8. The Verge adds:The DTEK50 has a 5.2-inch, 1080p display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor, 3GB RAM, 13-megapixel camera, and 2,610mAh battery. The 8-megapixel front camera also includes a flash for taking selfies. It runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow with BlackBerry's software features, such as the Hub. The software is similar to the software on the Priv released last year. The security features are highlighted right in the device's name, as it has BlackBerry's DTEK software that protects users from malware and other security problems often seen on Android smartphones. The DTEK app lets users quickly get an overview of their device's security and take action on any potential issues. BlackBerry says that it has modified Android with its own technology originally developed for the BB10 platform to make it more secure. The company is also committing to rapid updates to deliver security patches shortly after they are released.
Android

Phones Without Headphone Jacks Are Here... and They're Extremely Annoying (mashable.com) 536

A few weeks ago, we had an intense discussion on what would happen if Apple's next iPhone doesn't have a headphone port -- and what that means for the rest of the industry, as well as the pros and cons of ditching the legacy port. Over the past few months, we have seen many smartphone manufacturers launch new handsets that don't have a headphone jack. Mashable has a report today in which it says that it is already causing frustration among users. From the article: In the Android camp, phones like Lenovo's Moto Z and Moto Z Force and China's LeEco have already scrapped the 3.5mm headphone jack; to listen to music on the company's three latest phones, users need to plug in USB Type-C headphones, go wireless, or use a dongle. I'm all for letting go of old technologies to push forward, but what is happening is actually going to make things worse. The headphone jack has worked for 50 years and it can work for another 50 more because it's universal. Headphones I plug into my iPhone work in an Android phone, in a BlackBerry, in my computer, in my PS4 controller, in my tablet, in any speaker with audio-out, and so on. I can walk into any electronics store and pick up a pair of headphones and not have to worry about compatibility with any of my devices. I know it'll work. [...] With a universal headphone jack, I never have to worry whether or not the crappy pack-in iPhone EarPods I have will work with the Android phone I'm reviewing or not. I also never have to worry if I'll be able to plug my headphones into a friend's phone to listen to some new song. Same applies for when I want to use my earbuds and headphones with another person's device. And there lies the real issue. I will need different dongles -- a Lightning-to-headphone-jack and a USB-Type-C-to-headphone-jack to be prepared because I do carry both iPhone and Android phone on me daily. Dongles also get lost.
Blackberry

BlackBerry CEO 'Disturbed' By Apple's Hard Line On Encryption (theinquirer.net) 202

An anonymous reader writes: BlackBerry CEO John Chen said he is "disturbed" by Apple's tough approach to encryption and user privacy, warning that the firm's attitude is harmful to society. Earlier this year, Chen said in response to Apple resisting the government's demands to unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters: "We are indeed in a dark place when companies put their reputations above the greater good." During BlackBerry's Security Summit in New York this week, Chen made several more comments about Apple's stance on encryption. "One of our competitors, we call it 'the other fruit company,' has an attitude that it doesn't matter how much it might hurt society, they're not going to help," he said. "I found that disturbing as a citizen. I think BlackBerry, like any company, should have a basic civil responsibility. If the world is in danger, we should be able to help out." He did say there was a lot of "nonsense" being reported about BlackBerry and its approach to how it handles user information. "Of course, there need to be clear guidelines. The guidelines we've adopted require legal assets. A subpoena for certain data. But if you have the data, you should give it to them," he said. "There's some complete nonsense about what we can and can't do. People are mad at us that we let the government have the data. It's absolute garbage. We can't do that." Chen also warned that mandatory back doors aren't a good idea either, hinting at the impending Investigatory Powers Bill. "There's proposed legislation in the U.S., and I'm sure it will come to the EU, that every vendor needs to provide some form of a back door. That is not going to fly at all. It just isn't," he said.
Blackberry

BlackBerry's 'Classic' Smartphone Is About to Disappear (fortune.com) 74

From a Reuters report:The beleaguered tech company continues its shift to software. BlackBerry will stop making its Classic smartphone, 18 months after launching it in an effort to entice users who prefer physical, rather than touch, keyboards, the Canadian technology company said on Tuesday. The Classic was launched early last year, with a physical keyboard in the vein of its Bold predecessor and powered by the company own overhauled BlackBerry 10 operating system. BlackBerry has since launched a phone powered by Alphabet's Android software and plans several more, and BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen last month expressed confidence the company's trimmed-down handset business can turn a profit by a self-imposed September deadline.
Blackberry

Senate Staffers Will No Longer Be Issued BlackBerry Devices (cnet.com) 29

An anonymous reader writes: Senate staffers will no longer be issued BlackBerry devices. According to Politico, a note sent to staffers on Wednesday said the Senate had no choice after BlackBerry decided to discontinue devices running its own BlackBerry 10 software. "Once we have exhausted our current in-house stock, new device procurements will be limited, while supplies last, to warranty exchanges only," reads the Sergeant at Arms note. The 600 BlackBerry smartphones currently in the Senate's possession will be supported for the "foreseeable future." The news comes after a report that President Obama has ditched his BlackBerry handset in favor of a "hardened" version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 that is supported by the Defense Information Systems Agency. It also follows a report that the Canadian smartphone maker lost $670 million in the first quarter of its 2017 financial year. During BlackBerry's first quarter, the company sold roughly 500,000 devices at an average price of $290 each. They will apparently need to sell about three million phones at an average of $300 each to break even.
Blackberry

BlackBerry Remains Committed To Smartphone Business, Despite $670M Net Loss In Last Three Months (baytoday.ca) 78

AchilleTalon writes: BlackBerry CEO John Chen refuses to give up on the company's hardware business despite lackluster sales of its first Android-powered smartphone, the Priv. The Canadian smartphone maker reported a $670 million net loss in the first quarter of its 2017 financial year, but said its recovery plan for the year remains on track. Chen, who has stated the company's No. 1 goal is to make its smartphone device business profitable this fiscal year, said he expects the company's new mobility solutions segment to break even or record a slight profit during the third quarter, which ends Nov. 30, 2016. During BlackBerry's first quarter -- second full quarter to include Priv sales -- the company sold roughly 500,000 devices at an average price of $290 each, he said, which is about 100,000 smartphones fewer than the previous quarter and about 200,000 fewer than two quarters earlier. Previously, the company said it needs to sell about three million phones at an average of $300 each to break even, though Chen indicated that may change as the software licensing business starts to contribute to revenue.
Android

Obama Finally Ditches BlackBerry, Switches To Samsung Galaxy S4 (arstechnica.com) 138

Obama has finally been able to ditch his BlackBerry handset, something which he was stuck with for more than six years. Mr. President appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and told the audience that it was only this year that he was able to get a real smartphone. There's one caveat, though. The Android smartphone Obama has gotten is a "hardened" version, with pretty much all the unrequired features removed from it. Laughing with the audience, Obama said, the phone feels like the fake toy handset kids play with. ArsTechnica, citing documentations, claim that Obama is using a Samsung Galaxy S4 (a phone that was released in 2013), as it is the only smartphone currently supported by the Defense Information Systems Agency. From the report: The S4 is currently the only device supported under DISA's DOD Mobility Classified Capability-Secret (DMCC-S) program. In 2014, a number of Samsung devices were the first to win approval from the National Security Agency under its National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP) Commercial Solutions for Classified (CSfC) program -- largely because of Samsung's KNOX security technology. And the S4, layered with services managed by DISA, is the first commercial phone to get approval to connect to the Secret classified DOD SIPRNet network. DISA has been working with vendors and the National Security Agency's Information Assurance Directorate to develop a Top Secret-capable mobile device for use by the Defense Department and the national leadership both on the move and within secure facilities. But currently, the highest level of classification that can be handled by commercial devices under the DMCC program is at the Secret level. Secretary of State John Kerry was a DMCC-S early adopter, and he served as a beta tester of the hardened Galaxy S4.
Blackberry

BlackBerry Hands Over User Data To Help Police 'Kick Ass,' Insider Says (www.cbc.ca) 144

Reader Dr Caleb writes: A specialized unit inside mobile firm BlackBerry has for years enthusiastically helped intercept user data -- including BBM messages -- to help in hundreds of police investigations in dozens of countries, a CBC News investigation reveals. For instance, citing a number of sources, CBC says that BlackBerry intercepted messages to aid investigators probing the political scandals in Brazil that are dogging suspended President Dilma Rousseff. The company also helped authenticate BBM messages in Major League Baseball's drug investigation that saw New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez suspended in 2014. One document obtained by CBC News reveals how the Waterloo, Ont.-based company handles requests for information and co-operates with foreign law enforcement and government agencies, in stark contrast with many other tech companies. "We were helping law enforcement kick ass," said one person.
Blackberry

BlackBerry Really Struggling In Android Market (cnet.com) 92

Once an icon in the smartphone business, BlackBerry is having a hard time transitioning to Android. According to a report on CNET, the company's BlackBerry Priv Android smartphone, citing a high-level executive at AT&T, is really struggling. From the report: AT&T offered a more detailed account of why the Priv has disappointed. BlackBerry and the carrier expected to see demand for an Android phone with a physical keyboard. Instead, most of the buyers were BlackBerry loyalists, the executive said. Those faithful, however, struggled with the transition from the BlackBerry operating system to the Android operating system, leading to a higher-than-expected rate of return. BlackBerry's decision to market the phone as a high-end device also hurt its prospects, the executive said. The Priv initially sold unlocked for $699, above the starting price of the iPhone 6S, which sells for $650. Few premium phones have fared well beyond devices from Apple and Samsung.
Government

FTC Has Serious Concerns About IoT Security and Privacy (onthewire.io) 41

Trailrunner7 quotes a report from On The Wire: The Federal Trade Commission has sent comments to the Department of Commerce, outlining a list of concerns about the security and privacy of connected and embedded devices, saying that while many IoT devices have tangible benefits for consumers, "these devices also create new opportunities for unauthorized persons to exploit vulnerabilities." One of the key security problems that researchers have cited with IoT devices is the impracticality of updating them when vulnerabilities are discovered. Installing new firmware on light bulbs or refrigerators is not something most consumers are used to, and many manufacturers haven't contemplated those processes either. The FTC said the lack of available updates is a serious problem for consumers and businesses alike. "Although similar risks exist with traditional computers and computer networks, they may be heightened in the IoT, in part because many IoT chips are inexpensive and disposable, and many IoT devices are quickly replaceable with newer versions. As a result, businesses may not have an incentive to support software updates for the full useful life of these devices, potentially leaving consumers with vulnerable devices. Moreover, it may be difficult or impossible to apply updates to certain devices," the FTC comments say. In early May, the FTC issued a 10-page letter to eight leading players in the mobile communications arena requiring them to tell the agency how they issue security patches.
AI

Avoiding BlackBerry's Fate: How Apple Could End Up In a Similar Position (marco.org) 214

It's almost unbelievable today that BlackBerry ruled the smartphone market once. The Canadian company's handset, however, started to lose relevance when Apple launched the iPhone in 2007. At the time, BlackBerry said that nobody would purchase an iPhone, as there's a battery trade-off. Wittingly or not, Apple could end up in a similar position to BlackBerry, argues Marco Arment. Arment -- who is best known for his Apple commentary, Overcast and Instapaper apps, and co-founding Tumblr -- says that Apple's strong stand on privacy is keeping it from being the frontrunner in the advanced AI, a category which has seen large investments from Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon in the recent years. He adds that privacy cannot be an excuse, as Apple could utilize public data like the web, mapping databases, and business directories. He writes: Today, Amazon, Facebook, and Google are placing large bets on advanced AI, ubiquitous assistants, and voice interfaces, hoping that these will become the next thing that our devices are for. If they're right -- and that's a big "if" -- I'm worried for Apple. Today, Apple's being led properly day-to-day and doing very well overall. But if the landscape shifts to prioritise those big-data AI services, Apple will find itself in a similar position as BlackBerry did almost a decade ago: what they're able to do, despite being very good at it, won't be enough anymore, and they won't be able to catch up. Where Apple suffers is big-data services and AI, such as search, relevance, classification, and complex natural-language queries. Apple can do rudimentary versions of all of those, but their competitors -- again, especially Google -- are far ahead of them, and the gap is only widening. And Apple is showing worryingly few signs of meaningful improvement or investment in these areas. Apple's apparent inaction shows that they're content with their services' quality, management, performance, advancement, and talent acquisition and retention. One company that is missing from Mr. Arment's column is Microsoft. The Cortana-maker has also placed large bets on AI. According to job postings on its portal, it appears, for instance, that Microsoft is also working on Google Home-like service.
Cellphones

FTC Orders Apple, Google, Microsoft, BlackBerry, Samsung To Divulge Mobile Security Practices (networkworld.com) 74

coondoggie quotes a report from Networkworld: The Federal Trade Commission today said it issued a 10-page letter to eight leading players in the mobile communications arena requiring them to tell the agency how they issue security updates to address vulnerabilities in smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. Apple, BlackBerry, Google, HTC America, LG Electronics, Microsoft, Motorola Mobility, and Samsung must provide the following: The factors that they consider in deciding whether to patch a vulnerability on a particular mobile device, detailed data on the specific mobile devices they have offered for sale to consumers since August 2013, the vulnerabilities that have affected those devices, and whether and when the company patched such vulnerabilities.
Encryption

BlackBerry Comments on Canadian Police Eavesdropping Report (blackberry.com) 61

Last week, a report, citing court documents, claimed that Canadian police have had BlackBerry's global decryption key since 2010. Today BlackBerry CEO John Chen officially commented on the report. In a blog post, Chen reiterated that his company remains committed to doing what is "right for the citizenry," without confirming if the Candian police have the "global encryption key." "I have stated before that we are indeed in a dark place when companies put their reputations above the greater good," Chen wrote, adding that the company's cooperation with the Canadian police resulted in shutting down a criminal organization. He adds: Regarding BlackBerry's assistance, I can reaffirm that we stood by our lawful access principles. Furthermore, at no point was BlackBerry's BES server involved. Our BES continues to be impenetrable -- also without the ability for backdoor access -- and is the most secure mobile platform for managing all mobile devices. That's why we are the gold standard in government and enterprise-grade security. For BlackBerry, there is a balance between doing what's right, such as helping to apprehend criminals, and preventing government abuse of invading citizen's privacy, including when we refused to give Pakistan access to our servers. (Update). We have been able to find this balance even as governments have pressured us to change our ethical grounds. Despite these pressures, our position has been unwavering and our actions are proof we commit to these principles. To recall, Chen criticized Apple last year when the iPhone maker refused to unlock a terrorist's iPhone. At the time, he said, Apple was "putting reputation above the greater good."

Slashdot Top Deals