A federal class action lawsuit alleges "AT&T bills systematically overstate the amount of data used on each data transaction involving an iPhone or iPad account," Electronista reports. The lawsuit likens the situation to a tampered gas pump that "charges for a full gallon when it pumps only nine-tenths of a gallon."
Patrick Hendricks, who's named as the plaintiff in the suit, hired a consulting firm to investigate the matter. After a two month study, the firm alleges that Web traffic was frequently inflated by 7 to 14 percent, though sometimes as much as 300 percent. Because it's usually done in small increments, subscribers aren't likely to notice, though the cumulative effect could lead to a "significant portion" of AT&T's data revenues.
Wired is reporting that the Air Force commander of Network Operations has issued a new directive seemingly in response to the leak of classified data to whistleblower site WikiLeaks. The Dec. 3 “Cyber Control Order” calls on the Air Force to “immediately cease use of removable media on all systems, servers, and stand alone machines residing on SIPRNET." SPIRNET is the Defense Department's secure computer network.
The data being released by WikiLeaks was taken from SPIRNET by Pfc. Bradley Manning, who smuggled them out on a CD labeled "Lady Gaga". The new directive seeks to keep this from happening again. However, this is far from the first attempt to seal leaks. In August the Pentagon disabled the ability of all classified computers to write to removable media.
Critics suspect that the new restrictions will make the job harder for service members. Many PCs are not networked for security reasons, and internet access can be spotty in various places. Thumb drives and discs are often the only good way to move data around. We would also like to point out that even a machine's hard drive is removable, if you know your way around a PC. Taking data might be less surreptitious, but we don't see how it can be stopped altogether.
Someone over at NASA forgot to hit the delete key before getting rid of several computers and hard drives -- never mind giving things a thorough scrubbing by zeroing-filling the drives, which by itself still isn't up to government standards -- leaving sensitive data intact, MSNBC reports.
"Our review found serious breaches in NASA's IT security practices that could lead to the improper release of sensitive information related to the Space Shuttle and other NASA programs," NASA Inspector General Paul Martin said in a statement. "NASA needs to take coordinated and forceful actions to address this problem."
NASA was ridding itself of computer gear as part of a plan to end the Space Shuttle program, but somewhere along the line things went very wrong. An audit revealed that 14 computers from the Kennedy Space Center hadn't been properly scrubbed. Ten of those machines made it to the public, while several hard drives came up missing from Kennedy and the Langley Research Center, a few of which were found in a dumpster.
Be it eavesdropping automobiles or opt-out social networking services, Google has been in the line of fire owing to privacy concerns on numerous occasions, but as those incidents recede into the archival department of public consciousness the internet mammoth is beginning to maneuver itself into the role of the archpriest of data portability. It is now warning users against the perils of importing their friends’ contact information into Facebook, “a service that won’t let you get it out.”
“We think this is an important thing for you to know before you import your data there. Although we strongly disagree with this data protectionism, the choice is yours. Because, after all, you should have control over your data.”
The company has been fighting a very public battle with Facebook over data portability, with the latter refusing to let users export their data to Google’s services (or any third-party service for that matter). This intransigence eventually prompted Google to block access to its Contacts API to all such third-parties that refuse reciprocal access to their data.
Ideally, this should have been enough to prevent FB from accessing Google contacts, but the social networking giant came up with an easy workaround by redirecting users to a Google page that lets users download their contacts. This friendly warning is displayed whenever a FB user comes calling for his contacts.
Despite the fact that Google’s concerns aren’t really all that altruistic as they may seem, it is making a fairly reasonable point. What do you reckon?
If it's true that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Sprint should be blushing from cheek to cheek. Following Sprint's lead, Verizon Wireless has started offering a $70 monthly plan that gives subscribers 450 minutes, unlimited messaging, unlimited data, and unlimited Verizon mobile-to-mobile minutes.
Boy Genius Report first broke the story last Saturday and it's now been confirmed by The Wall Street Journal. According to WSJ, Verizon is offering a $20 credit to select customers who are already signed up for the wireless carrier's $60 plan that includes everything the $70 plan does, minus the unlimited data portion, which runs $30/month.
This is essentially the same as Sprint's Everything Data plan, which offers the same allotment for the same price, only in Verizon's case, not all customers have access to it. The WSJ says a Verizon spokeswoman wouldn't comment on how many people were offered the discount, whether or not the promotion would expand to more subscribers, or how long it would last.
Need proof that the smartphone/superphone era is in full swing? Consider this: by the end of the year, mobile data revenue for the U.S. alone will likely reach $55 billion, according to analyst Chetan Sharma.
Charma predicts that mobile data usage will exceed 1 exabyte, or one billion gigabytes, by the end of 2010, again just in the U.S. The big beneficiaries here are AT&T and Verizon, the two of which combined to account for 70 percent of the market data services revenue.
All this translates into big bucks for wireless carriers. In the third quarter alone, U.S. mobile data service revenue clocked $14 billion, representing a 25 percent year-over-year growth data market growth rate. And with tablets and eBook readers both looking to play growing roles in the mobile data sweepstakes, all of these numbers will balloon even higher.
Verizon on Sunday announced it would be handing out as much as $90 million to 15 million current and past subscribers for unauthorized data fee charges.
"As we reviewed customer accounts, we discovered that over the past several years approximately 15 million customers who did not have data plans were billed for data sessions on their phones that they did not initiate," Verizon Wireless explains. "These customers would normally have been billed at the standard rate of $1.99 per megabyte for any data they chose to access from their phones. The majority of the data sessions involved minor data exchanges caused by software built into their phones; others involved accessing the web, which should not have incurred charges. We have addressed these issues to avoid unintended data charges in the future."
It took a little nudging from the FCC for Verizon to fork over the $90 million, which the wireless carrier claims comes out to $2 to $6 in most cases, though did admit that "some will receive larger credits or refunds."
"We're gratified to see Verizon agree to finally repay its customers," FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Michele Ellison said in a statement.
Users looking for a no-contract 3G data plan with low limits and high prices (we didn't get that backwards, folks) have reason to jump for joy, and reach for their wallets. AT&T's revamped Dataconnect Pass service offers a variety of data and payment options, and we'll let you be judge if any of them sound appealing. Here's how it breaks down:
Day Pass, 100MB, $15
Week Pass, 300MB, $30
Month Pass, 1GB, $50
"Demand for high-functioning, lightweight, mobile computing devices remains strong among consumers and small business customers who want access to the Internet while on the go," said David Haight, VP of product development, AT&T emerging devices, in a statement. "By offering the DataConnect Pass Plans, customers receive added value, choice, and flexibility to decide when to consume data within the parameters of their personal budget, for a more consumer-centric and convenient experience."
We're with Haight on the "choice" and "flexibilty" part, but we have a hard time identifying any of these plans as "valued" oriented. To use the DataConnect Pass service, subscribers will need a laptop or netbook with an aircard/connect card for AT&T's wirless network.
Are we being too hard on AT&T, or do you think the new data plans are a little weak?
Just as many imagined, Dell has finally given up its pursuit of data storage provider 3PAR after engaging in a fierce bidding war with arch-rival Hewlett-Packard for around two weeks. Once the world's leading PC maker, Dell announced earlier today that it won't be increasing its most recent bid to acquire 3PAR, making the coveted storage vendor's acquisition by HP a mere formality.
The deal worth $2.4 billion, or $33 per share, was quickly approved by the boards of directors of both HP and 3PAR following news of Dell's exit. The two companies have signed a definitive merger agreement. As for Dell, it has already received the $72 million break-up fee that it was entitled to on the termination of its merger agreement with 3PAR.
How awesome would it be if your hard drive securely erased sensitive data whenever it's powered down, or when it was removed from your system? Not only would that be rad, but it's now a reality thanks to Toshiba's new Wipe technology for its line of Self-Encrypting Drive (SED) models.
There are a number of scenarios where something like this could prove useful, including obvious ones like your notebook becoming lost or stolen. But that isn't all Wipe is good for.
"Many organizations are now realizing the critical importance of maintaining the security of document image data stored within copier and printer systems," Toshiba explains. "Wipe is a technology that can automatically invalidate an HDD security key when its power supply is turned off, instantly making all data in the drive indecipherable. Toshiba's innovative new Wipe Technology adds advanced storage security features to enable system makers to transparently and automatically secure private data."
On the pedestrian side, Toshiba's Wipe technology can also come in handy when returning a leased system, disposing of a system and/or hard drive, or re-purposing a drive, Toshiba says.