Apple: White iPhone 4 is Real (and Late)

April 15th, 2011

Apple: White iPhone 4 is Real (and Late)

Ten months after the iPhone 4 was announced, Apple is still reassuring us that the white model is on its way-possibly. After Bloomberg reported the white iPhone 4 should be on sale by the end of the month, Apple apparently reassured The
Wall Street Journal
that it's coming this spring. But after ten months on sale, the iPhone 4 is reaching the end of the product cycle — so is there any point in having a white one now?

We still don't know what's holding up the white iPhone 4. Rumor has it the delay is due to Apple having trouble manufacturing white iPhone that don't leak light from the edges of their glass cases. Others say it's because the white paint causes transparency on the back panel, resulting in washed-out photos when using the flash. Nevertheless, Apple is mum on what's causing the delay.

So where is the white iPhone 4 Steve Jobs held in his hand when introducing the new model last June? Well, Apple didn't tackle the delay graciously, either: initially the phone was expected in July 2010; then, in the second half of July, news broke that the white iPhone 4 was delayed again, with a release slated for later in the year; only to get delayed again until spring 2011. Apple even went through lengths to remove all traces and imagery of the white iPhone 4 from its website. Not classy.

If Apple keeps to the historical iPhone release schedule, a new iPhone 5 should be arriving in June (some say it's not happening until September, or even next year). So if the white iPhone 4 arrives at the end of this month, there will be just over a month between the release of the white, older model and the introduction of a brand-new iPhone. If this proves to be true, it makes more sense for Apple to release a new iPhone 5 in both black and white from launch day (like with the iPad 2) and send this whole white iPhone 4 fiasco to the annals of tech history.

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Report: Chinese Far Outstrip U.S. Cyber-Spy Fight for Military, Business Secrets

April 15th, 2011

Report: Chinese Far Outstrip U.S. Cyber-Spy Fight for Military, Business Secrets

While most of the IT world was fretting over the break-in at Epsilon that probably netted some organized crime group a few million pre-confirmed email addresses, U.S. IT espionage specialists were finishing up a report showing the Epsilon hack is small potatoes compared to China.

U.S. investigators told Reuters that attackers working for the Chinese government have stolen terabytes of sensitive data ranging from usernames and passwords for State Department computers to the designs of major weapons systems.

Secret State Dept. cables held by WikiLeaks and given to Reuters by someone else, traced a series of attacks back to the Chinese government - one trace even identifying the specific unit of the Chinese military that launched it.

Code-named "Byzantine Hades," the breaches represent attacks that have been going on since at least 2006 and are accelerating.

The months-long attack on Google in late 2009 and early 2010, which compromised the emails of Chinese dissidents and accessed Google source code, also came from China, according to Joel Brenner, former counterintelligence chief for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Thousands of U.S. companies were part of the same series of attacks - code-named "Aurora" - though only 34 were publicly identified, Brenner told Reuters.

Companies ranging from IT developers to defense companies to Formula One teams also complain of attacks that go after proprietary information.

Brenner called the Aurora attacks "heavy handed use of state espionage" to steal information of military political or industrial value.

A March 28 study from McAfee and government consulting company DAIC called corporate intellectual property "the latest cybercrime currency."

"Cybercriminals have shifted their focus from physical assets to data driven properties, such as trade secrets or product planning documents," said Simon Hunt, vice president and chief technology officer, endpoint security at McAfee in the report.

The change in target means corporate security has to change, too according to Scott Aken, vice president for cyber operations at SAIC.

Rather than assuming a good perimeter means tight security, end-user companies have to assume attackers will get through the first layer of defense, he said. Real protection means having security that can slow down or wall out attackers who already look like legitimate users.

"Sophisticated attackers infiltrate a network, steal valid credentials on the network, and operate freely - just as an insider would," Aken said in the report. "Having defensive strategies against these blended insider threats is essential, and organizations need insider threat tools that can predict attacks based on human behavior."

The most common method of attack is spear-phishing - directing phony email requests at people with legitimate access to get entry credentials for a specific network.

Once into a network, hackers install keyloggers and command-and-control programs that gather other usernames and passwords, and give attackers control over systems attached to the network, where they can work unimpeded.

The technique is so successful military and civilian security specialists have almost given up keeping attackers out completely.

"We have given up on the idea we can keep our networks pristine," according to Stewart Baker, a former senior cyber-security official at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and National Security Agency.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington - a think tank specializing in security - have been negotiating with the Chinese over digital conflicts between the two countries' militaries, law enforcement and trade groups. So far with no progress on the cyberwar front.

CSIS itself was the target of a spear-phishing attack containing malicious code that could be tentatively traced to China.

Though it contains little about American capabilities or practice, the report concludes that in agressiveness, volume and success rate, the Chinese cyberattackers are scoring far higher than their U.S. counterparts.

Which doesn't mean the Epsilon email snatch was small potatoes. It was big potatoes.

Epsilon is just lucky they didn't take the whole kitchen.

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RIM's email-less PlayBook gets tough reviews

April 14th, 2011

RIM's email-less PlayBook gets tough reviews

TORONTO (Reuters) – RIM's PlayBook tablet has bombed with influential technology reviewers who call the new iPad competitor a rushed job that won't even provide RIM's vaunted email service unless it's hooked up to a BlackBerry.

"RIM has just shipped a BlackBerry product that cannot do email. It must be skating season in hell," New York Times' David Pogue wrote in a review published on Thursday.

Research In Motion built its reputation on a BlackBerry email service that it says is so secure that it can't bow to government requests to tap messages, winning high-profile customers in business, defense and politics before branching out to a wider consumer market.

The PlayBook, which hits North American retailers on Tuesday, so far offers that secure service only in tandem with a BlackBerry. RIM says secure email and other key services will come later, not at launch.

"I got the strong impression RIM is scrambling to get the product to market," Walt Mossberg, the widely followed business and consumer technology critic, wrote in a Wall Street Journal article headlined "PlayBook: a tablet with a case of codependency."

The pessimism of the reviews seemed to hit RIM's often volatile shares, which fell 1.7 percent to $53.92 on the Nasdaq on Thursday, the lowest closing price since Oct 25.

RIM's 7-inch WiFi-only device is priced identically to Apple's 10-inch market leader and faces tough me-too competition from a slew of devices running Google's Android software.

It is a first step in a major product overhaul intended to reinvigorate RIM's fortunes. But the lukewarm initial reception, coupled with an outburst from co-Chief Executive Mike Lazaridis, threaten to overshadow the coming-out party.

Most reviewers have been impressed by the PlayBook's well-documented capability to handle Flash websites and its ability to show one high-definition image — a movie, for instance — on a connected TV, while doing something else on its own screen. Those are two things the iPad cannot do.

But reviewers paid more attention to what the PlayBook can't do.

The PlayBook needs a smartphone to access a cellular network and a BlackBerry to tap into RIM's popular BlackBerry Messenger chat platform or get secure emails.

The PlayBook's secure Bluetooth link with the BlackBerry mirrors a user's existing BlackBerry applications, negating corporate worries about leaking confidential information.

It was a question on BlackBerry security, and Indian government demands for access to the information that the BlackBerry protects, that co-founder Lazaridis took umbrage with during a BBC interview this week.

"That's not fair, this is a national security issue," he said before ordering the camera off.

RIM says the PlayBook and its brand-new QNX-based platform will launch with around 3,000 apps, the third-party tools that have helped make Apple's iPhone and iPad so successful.

That number will grow in coming months as RIM adds support for Android apps and those available on its smartphones.

The iPad has a library of more than 65,000 apps.

It's too little for Mossberg, even though RIM plans to add a video-chat app soon and key email and personal organizer features, plus cellular connection, later in the year.

"Until then, I can't recommend the PlayBook over a fully standalone tablet, except possibly for folks whose BlackBerrys never leave their sides," he wrote.

In other critical comments, tech websites Boy Genius Report and Engadget zoomed in on what may at first glance appear trifling: a small and hard to operate power button.

"It's impossible to find by feel and, once located, difficult to activate," Engadget said.

Reviewers also fretted that, days ahead of a launch that will define RIM's standing in the tablet market, the company was still pushing out software updates to fix bugs.

"The PlayBook of today is considerably better than the PlayBook of yesterday, which also was a big step forward from the one we were reviewing two days before that," Engadget said.

(Reporting by Alastair Sharp; editing by Peter Galloway and Janet Guttsman)

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Munich Re eyes growth in hacker attack insurance

April 14th, 2011

Munich Re eyes growth in hacker attack insurance

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The rise of computer hacking may be a growing threat to companies but it offers new business for insurers, the world's biggest reinsurer Munich Re said.

"Cyber risks can generate considerable costs and become an issue affecting a company's equity capital," said Andreas Schlayer, who is responsible for IT risks like hacking at Munich Re.

"Damages can be especially high in the case of IT disruptions on stock exchanges, telephone and mobile phone companies, air and rail transport, banks and car makers," Schlayer said, adding that governments have been developing models of how much cyber attacks could cost their countries.

The ever-increasing use of computers and the growing inter-connectedness of individual companies, many of whom have outsourced their IT operations, is ratcheting up the risk, particularly when it comes to liability claims, he said.

"Stolen data from a single customer can cost $200, so you can quickly get into the millions," Schlayer said.

Global premium volumes to cover cyber risks are currently up to about $2 billion annually, with the lion's share coming from the United States, which has seen prominent hacking cases in recent years involving companies such as payment card processor Heartland and retailer TJX.

Damages in those cases ran to more than $100 million, Schlayer said.

The privacy-risk insurance segment, which includes direct damages from hacker attacks, liability and business interruption cover has seen growth in the United States of 100 percent to 150 percent per year.

"Naturally that (rate) cannot continue," Schlayer said, adding that in the European market, growth was in the single digits.

Munich Re has about 30 percent of the reinsurance market for these types of risks, he said.

Cloud computing, involving moving IT services and data systems to the Internet, presents a major challenge for insurers in future, as companies' dependence on service providers like Microsoft, Google, SAP, Fujitsu and Salesforce.COM grows.

"Here insurers will need pool solutions and liability limits are indispensable," Schlayer said.

(Editing by David Cowell)

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Rumor: White iPhone in stores by end of April (Digital Trends)

April 14th, 2011

Rumor: White iPhone in stores by end of April
(Digital Trends)

"white

It’s been a long time coming, although it hasn’t actually come yet.

When we tell you that the long-awaited white iPhone will be in stores by the end of April, you may well ask, “Yeah, but April what year?”

A report from Bloomberg Businessweek says that according to three unnamed sources who are apparently familiar with Apple’s plans, the white iPhone will be lining up alongside its black counterpart by the end of this month – that’s within the next sixteen days.

AT&T and Verizon Wireless will be distributing the phones to patient customers who for the last 10 months have been hanging on and hanging on (possibly clinging on by this stage).

When Steve Jobs proudly announced the coming of the white iPhone last year, few expected to have to wait this long to see it in stores. Due to a number of manufacturing issues, which included paint peeling when the product became hot, the launch was delayed. It seems that now, however, these problems have been overcome.

With recent reports suggesting that the launch of the next-generation iPhone may be some way off, the release of a white iPhone may be enough to keep the popular product in the headlines, boosting sales at the same time.

But will the addition of merely a new color be enough for Apple to maintain the edge in an increasingly crowded smartphone market? Only time will tell.

And for anyone still doubting the coming of the white iPhone, further evidence pointing to an April launch came in the form of a tweet from Apple’s senior vice president of marketing, Phil Schiller. The March 14 message reads: “The white iPhone will be available this spring (and it is a beauty!).”

For those keen to get their mitts on a white iPhone, things are looking up – Phil even says which spring.

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How to Hack Qaddafi's Cellphone Network (The Atlantic Wire)

April 13th, 2011

How to Hack Qaddafi's Cellphone Network
(The Atlantic Wire)

The Libyan rebels are back on the grid thanks to a telecom executive from Alabama, an airplane napkin and several million dollars worth of equipment. Ousama Abushagur, a Libyan-American living in Abu Dhabi, teamed up with two childhood friends and built a pirate cell phone network to replace the one that Qaddafi shut down after violence broke out in February. Up to the hackers' first phone call on April 2, the rebels had been communicating on the battle field using flag signals with pretty basic capabilities. "Yellow meant retreat, green meant advance," rebel commander Gen. Ahmed al-Ghatrani told the Wall Street Journal.

The feat sounds like something out of a George Clooney movie. And perhaps most the impressive detail: Qaddafi's spokesperson had no idea it existed until the Journal tried to interview him about it. After sketching out the idea on a napkin—just like Twitter's founders did!—the rebels pulled it off in five easy steps:

  • Enlist the support of wealthy neighbors like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to buy the very expensive machinery needed to build a wireless telecommunications network.
  • Transport the equipment along with engineers and bodyguards through Egypt to the Libyan border. Try not to get caught.
  • Steal a bunch of phone numbers from Libyan General Telecommunications Agency, the existing network run by Qaddafi's son.
  • Plug the new equipment into Qaddafi's network, route it around Tripoli.
  • Hit up the U.A.E. for a satellite feed, take the new "Free Libyana" network online and start thinking about pricing plans.

This isn't the first time an American emigrant greased the wheels of a revolution in the Middle East this year. Wael Ghonim, the senior Google executive captured and later freed by Mubarak's regime in Egypt, earned credit for helping to mastermind the social media effort that led to the revolution in Tahrir Square. Ghonim allegedly helped stoke the youth's outrage on Facebook in the weeks leading up to the January 27 day of rage and then praised the protesters on Twitter as soon as he was released from custody in February.

Does this development shed any more light on the never-ending debate over the impact of information technology on political revolutions? The Atlantic's Peter Osnos quoted a debate in print between social media guru Clay Shirky and anti-social media guru Malcolm Gladwell over the role of tools like Twitter and Faceboook in a revolution. According a column Shirky penned for Foreign Affairs:

Even the increased sophistication and force of state reaction, underline the basic point: these tools alter the dynamics of the public sphere. Where the state prevails, it is only reacting to citizens' ability to be more publicly vocal and to coordinate more rapidly and on a larger scale than before these tools existed.

Gladwell responded in his own Foreign Affairs column:

The lesson here is that just because innovations in communications technology happen does not mean that they matter; or, to put it another way, in order for an innovation to make a real difference, it has to solve a problem that was actually a problem in the ï¬

Osnos basically conceded the fact that indeed social media helped little in Libya, where a strongman dictator shut down communications and attacked the protesters with brute force. It didn't help that Qaddafi ran a pretty ramshackle propaganda machine that disallowed reports from rebels to reach the press easily.

Now the tables may have turned. The British were quick to offer up more communications equipment in the days after the network went live and so the rebels' problem of lacking equipment is over. However, since the new rebel network only offers free calls domestically, Twitter via text message is now one of the few ways the rebels can broadcast, without filter, what's happening to everyone outside of Libya.

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Maine schools to spend $200,000 on iPads for Kindergartners (Digital Trends)

April 13th, 2011

Maine schools to spend $200,000 on iPads for Kindergartners
(Digital Trends)

"ipad-2-kindergartener"I may not be able to find an iPad 2 yet, but a bunch of Kindergarteners will soon have them. After a unanimous approval by the Auburn school board last week, this Fall, the Maine school district will be the first in the country to equip nearly 300 Kindergarteners with iPad 2s. All children will learn basics like ABCs, 1-2-3s, drawing, and music using Apple’s new tablet.

Maine was the first state to equip its students with computers. In 2002, it began giving all seventh and eighth graders, and in more recent years, laptops have been doled out to roughly 50 percent of high school students as well.

“If your students are engaged, you can teach them anything,” Angus King, the former Maine governor who launched the state’s laptop program, told the AP. “If they’re bored and looking out the window, you can be Socrates and you’re not going to teach them anything. These devices are engaging.”

Some residents have criticized the $200,000 plan, which gives each child a $500 iPad 2. “I understand you have to keep up with technology, but I think a 5-year-old is a little too young to understand,” said Sue Millard, who has children in older grades.

Is this good for the kids, or are we training our youth to be even more dependent on technology, perhaps now at the expense of basic physical skills like drawing on paper. Then again, will kids need to know how to draw on paper? Maybe crayons really are too twentieth century for our jaded modern youth.

(Image via JimWorth.blogspot.com)

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Senate bill would set consumer privacy rights

April 12th, 2011

Senate bill would set consumer privacy rights

WASHINGTON – A new Senate bill introduced Tuesday would establish a "privacy bill of rights" to set ground rules for companies that collect consumer data, including personal data amassed on the Internet and then mined to target online advertising.

The bill, sponsored by Democrat John Kerry of Massachusetts and Republican John McCain of Arizona, would create a "baseline code of conduct" to govern the use of information that could identify a particular individual or a particular computer or smartphone. It would establish a framework for how this data could be collected, used, stored and shared with third parties such as online advertising networks.

The proposal aims to address growing unease about the vast amounts of personal information that companies are scooping up on the Internet — including Web browsing habits, smartphone locations and Facebook preferences. That data is seen as a goldmine for marketers, and consumers have little control over what happens to it.

"Companies can harvest our personal information online … and they can do whatever they want … and we have no legal right to stop it," Kerry said.

The bill comes several months after the Commerce Department called for the creation of a "privacy bill of rights" for Internet users, and after the Federal Trade Commission recommended the creation of a "Do Not Track" tool to let consumers stop or restrict advertisers from studying their online activity to target ads.

It also comes just two weeks after the FTC reached a landmark agreement with Google Inc. to settle charges that it deceived users and violated its own privacy policy when it launched a social networking service called Buzz last year. The settlement requires Google to adopt a comprehensive privacy program and submit to independent audits of that program every other year for the next 20 years.

The new legislation would require companies to clearly disclose how they collect and use personal data — including whether they share it with online advertising networks — and give users the opportunity to turn off this data collection through an "opt-out" choice. It would also require companies to obtain explicit user consent before collecting sensitive personal information, such health or financial data.

In addition, the bill would require companies to establish strong data security protections for personal data, and to give users an opportunity to review and correct mistakes in their information. The rules, which would apply to any company that collects data on more than 5,000 people in a one-year period, would be enforced by the FTC and state attorneys general.

The bill also opens the door to a form of industry self-regulation by granting immunity from the law to companies that abide by voluntary privacy programs approved by the FTC. The bill directs the Commerce Department to help develop such programs.

Reaction to the new legislation was mixed.

A number of big technology companies, including Intel Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Microsoft Corp., eBay Inc., AT&T and Verizon Communications Inc., praised the bill.

"The proposed framework is a great start toward modernizing privacy rules for the Internet age," Verizon said in a statement.

But several privacy watchdog groups complained that it would not go far enough, in part because it would not mandate the creation of a "Do Not Track" tool.

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Apple iPhone-maker Foxconn ponders big Brazil move

April 12th, 2011

Apple iPhone-maker Foxconn ponders big Brazil move

Foxconn workers walk on a footbridge outside a Foxconn factory building in the township of Longhua

BEIJING/SAO PAULO (Reuters) – IPhone maker Foxconn Technology Group is considering investing $12 billion in Brazil, a move that could help Apple Inc and other tech companies expand in the world's eighth largest economy.

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff said on Tuesday her government is studying Foxconn's investment plan, the latest move by the manufacturer to expand its manufacturing operations beyond the booming southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.

Rising labor costs have forced many companies to set up operations in cheaper parts of China, but a Foxconn move into Brazil would help tech companies sidestep hefty import tariffs on products they sell in the South American country. Its other clients include Hewlett Packard and Dell.

Tech companies are keen to sell to Brazilian consumers hungry for high-end electronics, but gadgets are often priced out of the market because of high production costs and import tariffs. Apple's cheapest iPad, for example, retails for about $860 in Brazil, versus $400 in the United States.

"It makes a lot of sense," said Jefferies & Co analyst Peter Misek, citing "punitive" import taxes. "If you're trying to serve Latin America, Brazil is certainly the biggest country" you have to hit."

"I don't think Foxconn is building this without a big marquee customer."

A deal would hand Brazil's president a major victory on her Asian trip.

"You've got an ample range of investments that go from $300 to $400 million to $12 billion over 5 to 6 years in the case of Foxconn," Rousseff told reporters, speaking of discussions her government was having with various technology companies.

"They're proposing a partnership. They came to us and said we want to invest in Brazil," she said during a visit to Beijing, where she is meeting Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Foxconn, a Taiwanese company that also controls Hon Hai, manufactures most of Apple's products — including the latest hit gadget, the iPad — at its Shenzhen factories.

China's largest private employer made headlines last year after a string of worker suicides blamed on harsh living conditions and unrelenting pressures.

"We've been talking to them for three months," said Aloizio Mercadante, Brazil's science and technology minister.

TABLETS FOR THE MASSES

Rousseff herself has identified tablet computers as a relatively cheap way to promote Internet access for Brazil's emerging lower middle-class, which accounts for about half the 190 million population.

Brazil has one of the steepest import-tariff regimes in South America, and is one of the world's most expensive places to do business because of a heavy tax load, an overvalued currency and restrictive labor laws.

According to media reports, Apple CEO Steve Jobs last year slammed the country's tariff barriers.

"We can't even export our products because of Brazil's crazy politics of high taxation. That makes investing in the country very unattractive. Many high tech companies feel this way," Jobs was cited as saying in an email response to an official's invitation to open an Apple store in Rio de Janeiro.

But as one of the fastest-growing BRIC countries, it has long been viewed as an attractive consumer market, one which some — like Apple — have had difficulty breaking into because of steep tariff barriers. Foxconn's move would help clients expand into local markets while potentially also offering a base for export to neighboring regions.

To get around hefty tax burdens, electronics vendors have increasingly set up local manufacturing, partly also to hitch a ride on attractive tax benefits. Almost all locally assembled electronic goods are produced near the Amazon city of Manaus, where duty-free status helps make costs more viable.

The Brazilian government and Foxconn are now negotiating a range of details, including the location of facilities, financing, taxes, broadband infrastructure and logistics.

Mercadante also told reporters Foxconn is planning to begin assembling Apple's iPad tablet PC at its plants in the South American country by the end of November.

"The negotiations are far from complete but I'm confident," said Mercadante.

Calls to Foxconn's spokesman went unanswered. Apple declined to comment.

Foxconn is a key supplier to top technology brands, which typically do their own research and design work in-house and outsource manufacturing to Foxconn and rivals such as Flextronics.

Chairman Terry Gou has been ramping up the company's capabilities in the LCD sector in recent years, setting up its own flat panel display unit and buying Sony's LCD TV manufacturing plant in Slovakia. The company's LCD unit is Chimei Innolux.

Besides Foxconn, other Taiwanese companies that operate factories in Brazil include Compal, the world's No. 2 contract laptop PC maker.

Foxconn's last major investment outside of Shenzhen was in October, when it announced a $2 billion plant in Chengdu, in China's Sichuan province. The company has roughly 1 million workers in China, and is the country's largest private sector employer.

But over the past year, its Shenzhen base has come under fire after a string of worker suicides. Apple's secretive culture — and its stringent demands — were blamed by media for one incident in which a worker reportedly killed himself after losing an iPhone prototype. CEO Steve Jobs has called the reports of worker deaths "troubling", while Foxconn has since raised wages and tried to improve living conditions.

(Writing by Kelvin Soh and Edwin Chan, Editing by Alex Richardson, Don Durfee, Mark Potter and Bernard Orr)

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SpyEye Arrests Have Little Impact in the Grand Scheme

April 11th, 2011

SpyEye Arrests Have Little Impact in the Grand Scheme

Reports are emerging from the UK that authorities have arrested three individuals in connection with the SpyEye botnet. Unfortunately, these appear to be bit players rather than the brains behind the SpyEye malware platform, and will have virtually no impact on the threat of SpyEye in general.

Arresting these guys is a bit like making a drug bust of the thug selling dime bags on the corner while the real drug kingpin sips piña coladas in a villa on the beach in Costa Rica. The arrest might temporarily stop drugs from being sold on that particular block in that particular neighborhood, but have virtually no impact on drug trafficking as a whole. Another thug will be standing on that same corner selling the same dime bags tomorrow.

AppRiver, agrees with the drug dealer / drug lord analogy, but adds that even relatively trivial arrests such as these send a message that law enforcement is not going to tolerate such activity, and that it has the skills and capabilities to track down the attackers.

AppRiver's Troy Gill concurs with Touchette's opinion that the arrests send a message. He points out that the arrests still disrupt criminal activity on some level, and let other would-be script kiddies know that there is risk involved with cybercrime. Gill also notes that information gathered from these low-level players might contribute to the greater goal of tracking down the SpyEye source.

Vikram Thakur, principle security response manager for Symantec, commented, "Perhaps a more accurate analogy would be the arrest of someone who uses a gun to commit a crime, while the source that individual obtained the gun from remains free," adding "Regardless of the analogy, these individuals were caught stealing money from multiple banks. My assumption is that this involved a substantial monetary loss, since it warranted an investigation by law enforcement officials that appears to have lasted more than three months."

Thakur notes that individuals who are directly affected by botnets or malware attacks are primarily interested in simply catching the perpetrators of their particular crime. They aren't necessarily concerned with the big picture of whether or not law enforcement manages to track down and prosecute the source of the tool that was used.

McAfee's Dave Marcus has a more ominous take on the big picture, though. Marcus agrees that the individuals arrested are essentially script kiddies, but says that even if authorities arrested the authors of the SpyEye malware toolkit it would have little impact on the overall threat of SpyEye. Marcus notes "The code is out there, and will continue to be developed."

Is it good news that UK authorities put a stop to the criminal activity of these three individuals? Absolutely. But, ultimately it means little in the grand scheme of malware attacks.

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