Microsoft Patents Exposed | Tech Talk Today 9

Microsoft Patents Exposed | Tech Talk Today 9

Finally Microsoft’s patent war chest against Android has been revealed, and we dig in.

Plus Apple, Cisco, and AT&T join Microsoft in a pushback against US government overreach, Steam summer sale rumors, and more!

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Show Notes:

— Headlines —

Apple, Cisco, AT&T join Microsoft in fight against global search warrant

Apple, Cisco and AT&T all filed amicus curiae briefs on Friday supporting Microsoft in its appeal of a decision requiring it to hand over data about an Irish customer to U.S. law enforcement officials. Verizon filed an amicus brief on Microsoft’s behalf on Tuesday.

In this case, U.S. magistrate judge James Francis IV decided that pursuant to the Stored Communication Act, Microsoft must provide law enforcement officials with the contents of an Irish customer’s email, which is stored on servers located in Dublin, Ireland. Microsoft and its peers argue the warrant defies both the Stored Communications Act and numerous international law constructs, including treaties the United States has in place with other countries — Ireland among them — regarding how to handle requests for data about each others’ citizens.

Chinese gov’t reveals Microsoft’s secret list of Android-killer patents

Microsoft has held to the line that it has loads of patents that are infringed by Google’s Android operating system. “Licensing is the solution,” wrote the company’s head IP honcho in 2011, explaining Microsoft’s decision to sue Barnes & Noble’s Android-powered Nook reader.

For the most part, they’ve remained secret. That’s led to a kind of parlor game where industry observers have speculated about what patents Microsoft might be holding over Android.

A list of hundreds of patents that Microsoft believes entitle it to royalties over Android phones, and perhaps smartphones in general, has been published on a Chinese language website.

The patents Microsoft plans to wield against Android describe a range of technologies.

They include lots of technologies developed at Microsoft, as well as patents that Microsoft acquired by participating in the Rockstar Consortium, which spent $4.5 billion on patents that were auctioned off after the Nortel bankruptcy.

The Chinese agency published two lists on a Chinese-language webpage

The longer list is divided into three sections: 73 patents that are said to be “standard-essential patents,” or SEPs, implemented in smartphones generally, followed by 127 patents that Microsoft says are implemented in Android. The final section includes another section of “non-SEP” assets, which includes 68 patent applications and 42 issued patents.

Many newer and previously unrevealed patents, like 8,255,379 “Customer Local Search,” 5,813,013 “Representing Recurring Events,” and 6,999,047 “Locating and tracking a user in a wireless network through environmentally profiled data.”

Steam Summer Sale – Start Date Leaked!

According to a leaked listing posted on “Neogaf” this year’s Steam Summer Sale will begin on June 19th and end on June 30th leaving most Steam users no more than a week.

Now none of these dates or listings have been confirmed however they do appear to coincide with recent posts on both the Stream’s Developer Network and also fit in with Valve’s International DOTA 2 Championship Schedule, not only that but other Game Sale sites such as “GreenManGaming” and “GOG (Good Old Games)” have started to have massive clear-out sales and bundles

— Security Update —

Massive security flaws allowed for Stratfor hack, leaked report reveals

In December 2011, a group of skilled hackers broke into the network of Strategic Forecasting, Inc. (Stratfor), compromising the personal data of some 860,000 customers, including a former U.S. vice president, CIA director, and secretary of state, among others.
The hackers, known collectively as AntiSec, exfiltrated approximately 60,000 credit card numbers and associated data, resulting in a reported $700,000 in fraudulent charges. Roughly 5 million internal emails were obtained by the hackers and later released by the whistleblower organization WikiLeaks as the “Global Intelligence Files.”

Based on confidential internal documents obtained by the Daily Dot and Motherboard, Stratfor employed substandard cybersecurity prior to the infiltration that left thousands of customers vulnerable to potential identity theft.

According to the documents, Stratfor engaged Verizon Business/Cybertrust to “conduct a forensic investigation” into the breach on Dec. 30, 2011
In a 66-page report filed Feb. 15, 2012, Verizon concludes in painful detail that Stratfor had insufficient control over remote access to vital systems, and that those systems were not protected by a firewall and lacked proper file integrity-monitoring.

For starters, at the time of the attack, no password management policy existed within Stratfor. Passwords were at times shared between employees, and nothing prevented the same passwords from being used on multiple devices.

“Users commonly use the same password to access email as the password to remotely access a system containing sensitive information,” the report states.

According to Verizon, no anti-virus software had been deployed on any of the examined systems, which left Stratfor “wide open to not only the more sophisticated and customized hacker attempts, but also to other viruses.”

Another “significant factor” in the breach was the design of Stratfor’s e-commerce environment, which facilitated the electronic transfer of payments by its customers. According to the report, this system was accessible, needlessly, from anywhere within the company’s network, “as well as the Internet directly.”

UglyGorilla Hack of U.S. Utility Exposes Cyberwar Threat

Somewhere in China, a man typed his user name, “ghost,” and password, “hijack,” and proceeded to rifle the computers of a utility in the Northeastern U.S.

He plucked schematics of its pipelines. He copied security-guard patrol memos. He sought access to systems that regulate the flow of natural gas. He cruised channels where keystrokes could cut off a city’s heat, or make a pipeline explode.

That didn’t appear to be his intention, and neither was economic espionage. While he was one of the Chinese officers the U.S. charged last month with infiltrating computers to steal corporate secrets, this raid was different. The hacker called UglyGorilla invaded the utility on what was probably a scouting mission, looking for information China could use to wage war.

UglyGorilla is one of many hackers the FBI has watched. Agents have recorded raids by other operatives in China and in Russia and Iran, all apparently looking for security weaknesses that could be employed to disrupt the delivery of water and electricity and impede other functions critical to the economy, according to former intelligence officials with knowledge of the investigation.

UglyGorilla’s surveillance sortie was one of dozens conducted on natural gas pipelines and electric utilities by People’s Liberation Army Unit 61398 over at least 14 months in 2012 and 2013, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg News and people involved in the investigations but who asked not to be named because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

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