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Apple removes thousands of game apps from China store: research firm

SHANGHAI Apple Inc removed 29,800 apps from its Chinese app store on Saturday, including more than 26,000 games, according to data from research firm Qimai.

The takedowns come amid a crackdown on unlicensed games by Chinese authorities.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this year Apple gave game publishers an end-of-June deadline to submit a government-issued licence number enabling users to make in-app purchases.

China’s Android app stores have long complied with those regulations. It is not clear why Apple is enforcing them strictly this year.

The smartphone maker removed more than 2,500 titles from its app store over the first week of July. Games affected by the sweep included titles from Zynga and Supercell, research firm SensorTower reported at the time.

The Chinese government has long sought to enforce stricter regulations on its gaming industry to remove sensitive content.

The approval process for games looking to enable in-app purchases is long and complicated, hurting all but the largest game developers, industry insiders say.

“This affects small- and mid-sized developers’ incomes the most, but due to the difficulties of acquiring a business licence, it’s devastating to the whole iOS game industry in China,” said Todd Kuhns, marketing manager for AppInChina, a firm that helps overseas companies distribute their apps.

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(This story corrects the spelling of name in paragraph 9)

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor


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Categories
Tech

Apple removes thousands of game apps from China store – research firm

SHANGHAI Apple Inc removed 29,800 apps from its Chinese app store on Saturday, including more than 26,000 games, according to data from research firm Qimai.

The takedowns come amid a crackdown on unlicensed games by Chinese authorities.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this year Apple gave game publishers an end-of-June deadline to submit a government-issued licence number enabling users to make in-app purchases.

China’s Android app stores have long complied with those regulations. It is not clear why Apple is enforcing them strictly this year.

The smartphone maker removed more than 2,500 titles from its app store over the first week of July. Games affected by the sweep included titles from Zynga and Supercell, research firm SensorTower reported at the time. The Chinese government has long sought to enforce stricter regulations on its gaming industry to remove sensitive content. The approval process for games looking to enable in-app purchases is long and complicated, hurting all but the largest game developers, industry insiders say.

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“This affects small- and mid-sized developers’ incomes the most, but due to the difficulties of acquiring a business licence, it’s devastating to the whole iOS game industry in China,” said Todd Kuhn, marketing manager for AppIn China, a firm that helps overseas companies distribute their apps.

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor


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Tech

New Delhi-Based IT Firm Allegedly Hired Hackers to Target Thousands of Email Accounts

Image for Representation.

Image for Representation.

Aspects of BellTroX InfoTech Services’ hacking spree aimed at American targets are currently under investigation by U.S. law enforcement.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: June 9, 2020, 6:38 PM IST

A little-known Indian IT firm offered its hacking services to help clients spy on more than 10,000 email accounts over a period of seven years. Delhi-based BellTroX InfoTech Services targeted government officials in Europe, gambling tycoons in the Bahamas, and well-known investors in the United States including private equity giant KKR and short-seller Muddy Waters, according to three former employees, outside researchers, and a trail of online evidence.

Aspects of BellTroX’s hacking spree aimed at American targets are currently under investigation by U.S. law enforcement, five people familiar with the matter told Reuters. The U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment. Reuters does not know the identity of BellTroX’s clients. In a telephone interview, the company’s owner, Sumit Gupta, declined to disclose who had hired him and denied any wrongdoing.

Muddy Waters founder Carson Block said he was “disappointed, but not surprised, to learn that we were likely targeted for hacking by a client of BellTroX.” KKR declined to comment. Researchers at internet watchdog group Citizen Lab, who spent more than two years mapping out the infrastructure used by the hackers, said they had “high confidence” that BellTroX employees were behind the espionage campaign.

“This is one of the largest spy-for-hire operations ever exposed,” said Citizen Lab researcher John Scott-Railton. Although they receive a fraction of the attention devoted to state-sponsored espionage groups or headline-grabbing heists, “cyber mercenary” services are widely used, he said. “Our investigation found that no sector is immune.”

A cache of data reviewed by Reuters provides insight into the operation, detailing tens of thousands of malicious messages designed to trick victims into giving up their passwords that were sent by BellTroX between 2013 and 2020. The data was supplied on condition of anonymity by online service providers used by the hackers after Reuters alerted the firms to unusual patterns of activity on their platforms.

The data is effectively a digital hit list showing who was targeted and when. Reuters validated the data by checking it against emails received by the targets. On the list: judges in South Africa, politicians in Mexico, lawyers in France and environmental groups in the United States. These dozens of people, among the thousands targeted by BellTroX, did not respond to messages or declined comment.

Reuters was not able to establish how many of the hacking attempts were successful. BellTroX’s Gupta was charged in a 2015 hacking case in which two U.S. private investigators admitted to paying him to hack the accounts of marketing executives. Gupta was declared a fugitive in 2017, although the U.S. Justice Department declined to comment on the current status of the case or whether an extradition request had been issued.

Speaking by phone from his home in New Delhi, Gupta denied hacking and said he had never been contacted by law enforcement. He said he had only ever helped private investigators download messages from email inboxes after they provided him with login details. “I didn’t help them access anything, I just helped them with downloading the mails and they provided me all the details,” he told Reuters. “I am not aware how they got these details but I was just helping them with the technical support.”

Reuters could not determine why the private investigators might need Gupta to download emails. Gupta did not return follow-up messages and repeatedly declined to talk when a Reuters reporter visited him at his office on Monday. Spokesmen for Delhi police and India’s foreign ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

HOROSCOPES AND PORNOGRAPHY

Operating from a small room above a shuttered tea stall in a west-Delhi retail complex, BellTroX bombarded its targets with tens of thousands of malicious emails, according to the data reviewed by Reuters. Some messages would imitate colleagues or relatives; others posed as Facebook login requests or graphic notifications to unsubscribe from pornography websites.

Fahmi Quadir’s New York-based short-selling firm Safkhet Capital was among 17 investment companies targeted by BellTroX between 2017 and 2019. She said she noticed a surge in suspicious emails in early 2018, shortly after she launched her fund. Initially “it didn’t seem necessarily malicious,” Quadir said. “It was just horoscopes; then it escalated to pornography.”

Eventually, the hackers upped their game, sending her credible-sounding messages that looked like they came from her coworkers, other short-sellers or members of her family. “They were even trying to emulate my sister,” Quadir said, adding that she believes the attacks were unsuccessful.

U.S. advocacy groups were also repeatedly targeted. Among them were digital rights organizations Free Press and Fight for the Future, both of whom have lobbied for net neutrality. The groups said a small number of employee accounts were compromised, but the wider organizations’ networks were untouched. The spying on those groups was detailed in a report by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in 2017 but has not been publicly tied to BellTroX until now.

Timothy Karr, a director at Free Press, said his organization “sees an uptick in breach attempts whenever we’re engaged in heated and high-profile public policy debates.” Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, said: “When corporations and politicians can hire digital mercenaries to target civil society advocates, it undermines our democratic process.” While Reuters was not able to establish who hired BellTroX to carry out the hacking, two former employees said the company and others like it were usually contracted by private investigators on behalf of business rivals or political opponents.

Bart Santos of San Diego-based Bulldog Investigations was one of a dozen private detectives in the United States and Europe who told Reuters they had received unsolicited advertisements for hacking services out of India – including one from a person who described himself as a former BellTroX employee. The pitch offered to carry out “data penetration” and “email penetration.”

Santos said he ignored those overtures but could understand why some people didn’t. “The Indian guys have a reputation for customer service,” he said.



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Tech

IBM Fires Thousands of Employees in US as New CEO Looks For Revival

Representative Image: Reuters

Representative Image: Reuters

IBM, however, did not disclose how many workers are affected but reports said thousands of employees are set to lose jobs in at least five US states.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: May 25, 2020, 9:35 AM IST

Arvind Krishna-led tech giant IBM has joined the league of companies who have started firing employees in tough Covid-19 times. The company confirmed the layoffs in a statement given to the media late Friday.”Recognizing the unique and difficult situation this business decision may create for some of our employees, IBM is offering subsidized medical coverage to all affected US employees through June 2021,” said a company spokesperson.

“While we always consider the current environment, IBM’s workforce decisions are in the interest of the long-term health of our business,” said the company, adding that the “highly competitive marketplace requires flexibility to constantly remix high-value skills”.Both Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) and IBM have announced significant cost-cutting measures, including pay cuts and significant job losses, reports Ars Technica. IBM, however, did not disclose how many workers are affected but media reports said thousands of employees are set to lose jobs in at least five states in the United States.

HPE also announced its cost-cutting plans “as part of its more recent quarterly earnings report”. The company will cut some salaries through October 31, with executives taking pay cuts of 20 to 25 per cent. According to Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, he is hearing it’s a balancing act between business units. “IBM is moving as many resources as it can to the cloud. Essentially, you lay off some of the people without the skills you need and who can’t be re-educated and you bring in people with certain skill sets. So not a net reduction in headcount,” Moorhead told TechCrunch. The company acquired Red Hat for $34 billion in 2018.




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BTS' Next Live Concert, Which Typically Attracts Thousands, Will Now be Held Online

62nd Grammy Awards - Show - Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 26, 2020 - Lil' Nas X and Billy Rae Cyrus perform with South Korea's BTS. (Pic Source: Reuters)

62nd Grammy Awards – Show – Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 26, 2020 – Lil’ Nas X and Billy Rae Cyrus perform with South Korea’s BTS. (Pic Source: Reuters)

The South Korean septet has now announced that an “un-tact” (no-contact) concert, “Bang Bang Con the Live,” will be livestreamed at 5 am EST on June 14

  • AFP Relaxnews
  • Last Updated: May 16, 2020, 1:37 PM IST

Last month, the South Korean superstars were forced to suspend their “Map of the Soul” world tour over coronavirus concerns. “Due to the nature of BTS concerts, involving travel by thousands of international fans no matter where the performances are held, it is also difficult to resume the tour with the current strict restrictions on cross-border movement still in place,” BTS’s management, Big Hit Entertainment, said in a statement.

The South Korean septet has now announced that an “un-tact” (no-contact) concert, “Bang Bang Con the Live,” will be livestreamed at 5 am EST on June 14. The concert will run for approximately 90 minutes, during which RM, Jin, J-Hope, Suga, Jimin, V and Jungkook will perform for their fan army in a single room.

Details about the paid-to-watch experience are still scarce at this point, although BTS will update fans on the concert via their Weverse app in the coming weeks. The announcement arrived a few weeks after the seven-piece South Korean group streamed a marathon of full-length concerts and fan meetings recorded over the past six years.

It is claimed the online event, dubbed “BANG BANG CON,” amassed 50.6 million views in total and 2.24 million concurrent viewers, Variety reports. Jungkook and his bandmates are also set to appear in YouTube’s virtual graduation ceremony, “Dear Class Of 2020,” during which musicians and thought leaders will commemorate graduating seniors in a series of commencement speeches.

The multi-hour event, headlined by former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, will premiere on Saturday, June 6 on the YouTube Originals channel and YouTube’s Learn@Home site. “Graduation is a tradition that students and families look forward to and with the current state of the world, YouTube is lending some inspiration in the form of a virtual commencement,” Susanne Daniels, Global Head of Content for YouTube, said in a statement.

“We hope bringing together noteworthy, influential speakers along with performances from some of their favourite artists will provide encouragement for the students who have worked so hard to get here.”




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