Hackers Arrested in U.K.

Five males between the ages of 15 and 26 were arrested in Britain. They are suspected of being part of the group of hackers, known as “Anonymous”.

The group supports WikiLeaks and were responsible for the denial of service attacks on websites such as MasterCard, VISA and PayPal.

Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks are where computers flood a server to prevent it from displaying a Web page and is illegal in the UK under the Computer Misuse Act and carry a maximum fine of £5,000.

The term “hacktivists” has been coined as the phrase used to describe these types of groups.

All five men are being held in police custody in Britain. Scotland Yard said, “They are part of an ongoing [Metropolitan police] investigation into Anonymous which began last year following criminal allegations of DDoS [distributed denial of service] attacks by the group against several companies.”

iPhone and Verizon; Better Together?

On Wednesday, Verizon announced they will be accepting the iPhone on its wireless network. This makes many AT&T customers very happy because of the poor service they have reportedly provided their iPhone customers over the past few years.

With so many AT&T customers flocking to the Verizon network, will this free up the AT&T network for the folks that stay behind? Only time will tell.

One of the surprises that came with the Verizon announcement was the Verizon iPhone could also work as a personal WiFi hot spot. In other words, it would allow the iPhone to act as a WiFi access point for up to five devices, allowing them to connect to Verizon’s 3G network wherever the phone has coverage.

But, this seems to be a part of the new operating system, 4.3 and not exclusive to Verizon. So, this WiFi hot spot feature will be available to all iPhones capable of running the 4.3 operating system. Now, this is being reported by BGR, formerly known as Boy Genius Report, who’s source remains a mystery. So, we’ll find out when 4.3 gets pushed to all iPhone users, whenever that may be.

The price? Well, the iPhone device will cost the same as AT&T’s. The more important monthly service fees have not been announced yet.

Apple Opens New Mac App Store

Apple opened it’s new Mac App store today as they promised.

The new store contains more than 1,000 games, utilities and productivity apps in 21 different categories.

“We think users are going to love this innovative new way to discover and buy their favorite apps,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

The new store is seen as their way of aligning their strategy more closely with its mobile devices such as the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and MacBook Air.

In order to access the new store, users must be running Mac OS X 10.6, aka Snow Leopard, and download and install the 10.6.6. update that Apple issued today. Then, a single click will download and install the programs and users will be notified of updates when they are available.

The new store will also provide application developers with a new opportunity to expand their businesses because the new interface is much easier for users to download the apps.

Is Microsoft Getting into the TV Market?

Rumor has it Microsoft will be debuting their “Windows TV” at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The Seattle Times is reporting the cost of the set top box will be around $200 and will run the Windows Media Center interface. This may be a serious challenge to the new Apple and Google TV devices.

The “web enabled televisions” are seen as the next big thing in consumer electronics. Apple and Google have already introduced their set top boxes but sales have been dismal so far.

According to research firm DisplaySearch, the market for connected televisions is expected to triple to more than 124 million units by 2014.

There have been earlier reports that Microsoft was planning on turning the Xbox 360 into a cable TV set top box but was said to be about a year away from completion. If the rumor is true, this would mean the timetable for Microsoft has shortened considerably.

Facebook – Most Visited Site In The US

It’s official. Social networking is more popular than searching online.

Reuters reports that Facebook has officially beat out Google.com as the most visited website on the web for year 2010. Facebook had 8.9% of all web visitors in the U.S. between January and November 2010 while Google.com grabbed 7.2% of all visits.

It truly has been a banner year for Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg who was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year. The movie “The Social Network” was a huge hit. Facebook exceeded 500 million users this year. Can it get any better?

Facebook has grown at an astonishing rate over the past six years it’s been in existence. Google was the most visited site in the U.S. in both 2008 and 2009. MySpace was actually the top spot in 2007.

It’s worthy to note that if you include all of Google’s properties such as YouTube, they end up being at the top of the list with 9.9 percent of all visits in 2010.

Microsoft Co-Founder Relaunches Apple Patent Lawsuit

Microsoft Corp co-founder and billionaire investor Paul Allen relaunched a wide-ranging patent lawsuit against Apple Inc, Google Inc. and its YouTube subsidiary, Facebook Inc., Yahoo Inc., AOL Inc., eBay Inc., Netflix Inc., OfficeMax Inc. and Staples Inc. with specific allegations that the companies are illegally using technology owned by his firm.

The move Tuesday by Interval Licensing LLC, a small research company set up by Allen in 1992, comes in response to a ruling by a federal judge in Seattle, who threw out the complaint Interval filed in August on grounds that its allegations were not described specifically enough.

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman had given Interval a Dec. 28 deadline to revise the suit, and a spokesman for Mr. Allen had said it would do so.

The revised complaint lists specific products and services offered by the defendants, along with related technologies that Interval alleges are covered by its patents.

In the case of Apple, for example, the 35-page document states that the Silicon Valley giant relies on such functions as comparing content items to determine whether they are related. Offerings that Interval alleges infringe patents covering such technologies include iTunes, Apple’s app stores, Apple TV systems and its Apple Dashboard software.

Interval claims Apple’s iTunes service uses the technology to suggest music based on a user’s searches, and that eBay Inc, Facebook, Netflix, Yahoo Inc and Office Depot’s sit have also infringed the patent in the way they direct users to related content.

In the case of Google, the new complaint also cites technology that helps determine whether content items are related. Services that Interval allege infringe its patents include Google search, Gmail, Google Finance, Google Videos, Google Maps, Orkut and the Adsense ad-payment system. Interval claims Google uses this technology to match advertisements from third parties to content being displayed, while AOL’s sites use it to suggest items related to news stories.

The second and third patents concern relaying information on a computer screen in a peripheral, unobtrusive manner, such as in an instant messaging box or overlay.

Interval claims its patent has been infringed by features in AOL’s Instant Messenger, Apple’s Dashboard, Google Talk and Gmail Notifier, Google’s Android phone system and Yahoo Widgets.

The fourth patent concerns alerting web browsers to new items of interest based on activity of other users. Interval claims AOL uses this technology on its shopping sites, while Apple’s iTunes uses it to recommend music.

Interval claims eBay, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Office Depot, Staples Inc, Yahoo and Google’s YouTube all have infringed the patent in the way they suggest content to users.

Interval has asked the court for damages and a ban on products that use the disputed patents.

Apple Sued Over App Privacy

Apple has been slapped with a class action lawsuit that accuses the company and several prominent app makers of sharing users’ personal identification without consumers’ approval.

Jonathan Lalo filed his complaint in California district court last week, accusing Apple of producing devices that allow ad networks to track a user’s app activity.

The entire complaint has not yet been posted online, but it cites Backflip, Dictionary.Com, Pandora, and The Weather Channel as some of the offending apps.

“Some apps are also selling additional information to ad networks, including users’ location, age, gender, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation and political views,” the suit said, according to Bloomberg.

The case centers around the use of the Unique Device Identifier, or UDID, on Apple’s iPhones and iPads. The suit complains that the UDID can’t be blocked by consumers and that Apple shares that info with ad networks and advertisers. Apple says otherwise and that it makes sure that users can’t be “tracked” by marketers through the UDID or anything else without consumers’ permission.

Apple Raises iPhone Shipment Goals for Next Year

Apple expects to ship 1 to 2 million more iPhones in the first quarter of 2011 than it originally expected, sources said.

It seems the company is having complete trust on the consistent performance of the iconic Smartphone and they are expecting a dream run during the coming year too.

As per the reports, the shipment goal has been pushed up from 19 million units to 20-21 million. Out of those 21 million units, 15 million are expected to be the WCDMA iPhones. Earlier it was said that it will be 13 million units of WCDMA phones coming out.

Apple shipped 14.1 million iPhones worldwide in its last quarter, and it appears as if Apple intends to ship around 1 million more units intended for 3G networks like AT&T’s come the first quarter of 2011.

Microsoft Warns About Security Flaw in IE

Microsoft has warned about a flaw on the Internet Explorer browser that could allow hackers to take control of unprotected computers.

Microsoft affirms that Internet Explorer (IE) holds a serious susceptibility which can be used by attackers to abuse users and make them visit a manipulative bugged Web site.

The bug allows hackers to inject malware onto any system if they manage to trick users into visiting booby-trapped websites. Anyone with Internet Explorer (IE) 6 to 8 is potentially affected.

Dave Forstrom, director of Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing group, said: “We’re currently unaware of any attacks trying to use the claimed vulnerability or of customer impact.”

The company also says that it is working on dissolving the problem and introducing an update for all its IE versions which will debug the problem.

The bug targets how the browser manages a computer’s memory when it is processing Cascade Style Sheets – which are design instructions that determine how most web pages look.

Hackers can inject their own code into the stream of instructions and in this way hijack the PC. Although Microsoft has improved how memory management is protected, it does not work when some older parts of Windows are called on.

Rik Ferguson, security analyst at Trendo Micro, told the BBC: “As vulnerabilities go, this kind is the most serious as it allows remote execution of code.

“This means the attacker can run programmes, such as malware, directly on the victim’s computer.”

“It is highly reminiscent of a vulnerability at the same time two years ago which prompted several national governments to warn against using IE and to switch to an alternative browser.”

Skype to Refund Customers Affected by Service Outage

Skype’s CEO took to the company’s official blog for some official damage control. He issued a statement apologizing for the service outage and promising compensation.

Bates also issued an update on the outage, claiming the company has been able to successfully stabilize Skype due to the “dedicated supernodes deployed by Skype’s engineering team.” The service is now at roughly 90 percent of normal user volumes, Bates said.

Users of the VoIP service were unable to log into Skype on Wednesday, and the trouble has continued for many over the past 48 hours.

“We now understand the cause of the problem and we believe it was not caused by a malicious attack. But, we are still doing a full analysis and we will provide an in-depth post-mortem,” wrote Bates.

For those who have a subscription plan and pay a monthly fee to use Skype as much as they want, they’ll all automatically receive a free week of service in the form of an extended service expiration date.

“For our active subscribers, we will credit you with a week’s extra subscription service. It may take a few days, but once implemented, it will be applied from your next renewal date,” he added.