Here are today's top stories from Tech News Today for January 13, 2014:
- Reuters says five US retailers -- not just Target -- were hacked and customer information stolen over the holiday shopping season. The other stores were Neiman Marcus plus three more that haven’t been identified. Target Chairman and CEO Gregg Steinhafel confirmed yesterday that the attack involved point-of-sale malware -- malicious code installed on store cash registers. Reuters sources said the hack involved malware called a RAM scraper, which grabs encrypted data as it passes through a computer’s memory. The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, warned retailers on January 2 of Malware Targeting Point of Sale Systems. Read more at reuters.com.
- In related news, nobody seems to be able to pin down exactly how many consumers were affected by the Target breach. Target first reported 40 million people affected. Then it was 70 million. Some news organizations, such as Reuters, are reporting 70 as the new total. Others, such as CNN, are adding the numbers together and reporting a total of 110 million customers affected. TNT has contacted Target to clarify, but the company has not responded. Read more at pressroom.target.com.
- An airline executive may have revealed a secret Google project over the weekend. The CEO of the discount Irish airline Ryanair, Michael O Leary, said in an interview with the Irish Independent newspaper that “very exciting developments with Google” described as a “price-comparison thing“ would “change the way people buy tickets forever.” He said the new Google service would go live by the end of March and be 100% advertising supported. Read more at independent.ie.
- PayPal is making the online checkout process simpler. Used to be the system would force shoppers to switch to the PayPal web site to complete their transaction... now, a new “in-context checkout” system keeps them on the merchant site. PayPal says the new system will be widely available by summer, and provides the same checkout process no matter what the device is. Buyers can pay using a credit card or even PayPal’s Bill Me Later offering. Read more at techcrunch.com.
- Windows 8 is failing, so Microsoft is planning a ‘Windows 9’ release in April of 2015, according to a report on Paul Thurrott’s Supersite for Windows. According to the post, Microsoft’s next major upgrade for Windows, which is code-named ‘Threshold,” and is the version that will bring back the Start menu, will be called “Windows 9” to quote: “distance itself from the Windows 8 debacle,” according to Thurrott. Read more at winsupersite.com.
- Here's a head scratcher. The independent dance music label Spinnin’ Records has asked Google to remove links to its own Twitter feed. The label sent takedown requests to Google to remove links to its own Twitter account, as well as the Twitter accounts of several of the label’s top artists, according to a discovery made by the blog Torrent Freak. The requests were made on behalf of the label by a service that looks for pirate links and requests takedowns for a fee, as were probably accidental. Fortunately, Google ignored the requests. Read more at torrentfreak.com.
- Maxis announced this morning that Sim City is getting an offline mode. The upcoming Update 10 will include a new Single Player Mode for offline play. Maxis was criticized last Spring when users discovered that playing in single-player modes still required an online check-in. Read more at kotaku.com.
- New York City crime is down. Yay! But iPhone thefts are way, way up. Booo. According the New York Police Department, nearly one out of every five cases of “grand larceny” involves an Apple product, and some 8,000 iPads or iPhones were reported stolen in New York City last year. Read more at wsj.com.
For insight, analysis, and discussion of these topics and more, check out Tech News Today for January 13, 2014.