Vicious new ransomware takes your money and still deletes your files

There’s a new form of ransomware—apparently built by amateurs—that takes your money but deletes your personal files anyway. Security research firm Talos recently published a blog post about a new form of malware dubbed Ranscam.

This ransomware follows the basic premise of previous variants. It claims your files have been encrypted, and thus inaccessible to you, then threatens to delete all your files if you don’t pay up. Ransomware’s scary premise prompts many people to fork over the dough in order to save their photos and other content.

Ranscam ignores conventional ransomware behavior, however, and deletes the victim’s content long before they have a chance to pay up. In typical ransomware scams the user is usually prompted to pay up in Bitcoin, which is harder to trace than other forms of payment. After they pay it, and the transaction is verified, the files are decrypted and the ransomware deletes itself.

The Ranscam authors, however, don’t bother with all those technical details and just hope for the easy payout without regard to the user’s files.

The impact on you at home: The good news is Ranscam is still in its early days and doesn’t appear to be widespread. Nevertheless, it’s an important reminder that you shouldn’t trust that you’ll get your stuff back if you end up paying a ransomware scam. Continue reading “Vicious new ransomware takes your money and still deletes your files”

Is Singapore property really a buyer’s market

Over the past year, we have heard “news” about how the market is slowing down, and how interested buyers should buy a place now to enjoy a steal while they still can. Exactly how true is this? Should interested buyers be considering getting back into the market soon? Or would they be better off employing a wait-and-see attitude for now.

The results of the Housing Board’s latest Build-To-Order (BTO) sales exercise, which closed on Monday (30 May), show that buyers still favour flats in mature estates, reported Channel NewsAsia. This trend was particularly evident in the mature towns of Ang Mo Kio and Bedok, where BTO flats were offered for the first time in three years.

It seems that mature estates in Singapore are still highly sought after by new home buyers across both private and public residential homes. In the private Singapore property market, Gem Residences located in the mature estate of Toa Payoh clocked positive sales last weekend with 315 units out of the 578 units available sold, of which 300 of the transactions happened during the VIP sales on Friday. The units were sold at an average price of $1,426 per square foot (psf).

CIOs Must Fit the Cloud Into IT Strategy

CIO — Cloud computing is still in the testing and experimental space for many organizations, but its benefits are becoming clear to many. Cloud is rapidly shifting from a world of hype and possibilities to one of practical application, and CIOs that haven’t already considered what cloud means for their business need to step up the pace.

That was the consensus of six panelists brought together by information exchange solutions specialist IntraLinks in a roundtable discussion Thursday morning at the Gabarron Foundation in New York City. Continue reading “CIOs Must Fit the Cloud Into IT Strategy”

Microsoft results top expectations, led by Office, Xbox

Microsoft bested analyst revenue and earnings expectations with fourth-quarter results buoyed by continued solid sales from its Office franchise and its server software business, as well as strong gains from its booming Xbox operations.

For the fiscal fourth quarter that ended Jun. 30, Microsoft posted operating income of US$6.17 billion, a 4 percent gain from the year-ago period, on sales of US$17.37 billion, an 8 percent jump. Earnings per share climbed 35 percent to 69 cents.

For the year, Microsoft posted operating income of US$27.16 billion, up 13 percent, on sales of US$69.94 billion, a 12 percent gain from fiscal 2010. Earnings per share grew 28 percent to US$2.69.

“Throughout fiscal 2011, we delivered to market a strong lineup of products and services, which translated into double-digit revenue growth and operating margin expansion,” Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Peter Klein said in a statement. “Our platform and cloud investments position us for long-term growth.”

Wall Street analysts had expected Microsoft to earn 58 cents per share, up from 51 cents a year ago, on revenue of US$17.23 billion, up 7 percent.

Despite the solid results, Microsoft’s Windows franchise continues to slide. Revenue in Microsoft’s Windows and Windows Live division fell about 1 percent to US$4.7 billion. Operating income for the group dropped 4 percent to US$2.9 billion. The culprit: consumer PC sales, which fell 2 percent in the quarter, according to Microsoft. That dip comes amid a solid recovery in business spending, which helped push business PC sales up 8 percent.

Heading into results, analysts cast a wary eye on Windows revenue in the wake of recent projections from research firms IDC and Gartner that PC shipments rose just 2.3 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively, in the quarter.

The Windows slide, though, was more than offset by gains in the company’s other franchise business. Microsoft’s Business Division–home of its Office productivity suite–continues to post sizable gains despite the age of its core product. The group generated US$5.8 billion in sales, a 7 percent jump from the fiscal fourth quarter of 2010. That led to operating income for the group of US$3.6 billion, a 12 percent bump.

Microsoft’s Server and Tools division remains another consistent growth engine. Revenue at the unit grew 12 percent in the quarter to US$4.6 billion, marking the fifth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth. The division’s operating income hit US$1.8 billion, a 14 percent jump.

And the Entertainment and Devices division, home to the company’s Xbox business, saw revenue soar 30 percent in the quarter to US$1.5 billion on the continued strength of the console, which has outsold rivals for 12 of the past 13 months. In the quarter, more than 1.7 Xbox consoles sold, and Microsoft said it now has more than 35 million Xbox Live customers.

That helped the Entertainment division turn a US$32 million operating profit in the quarter, compared with a US$172 million loss in the fiscal fourth quarter of 2010.

“We’ve got great momentum in the marketplace,” Klein said during a conference call with analysts after the results were released. “You see the strategy really coming together in that business.”

Microsoft’s Online Services division, which includes the Bing search engine, saw modest growth off a relatively tiny base but continues to hemorrhage cash. Operating losses at the unit expanded 6 percent to US$728 million on revenue of US$662 million, a 17 percent jump.

During the conference call, Klein also addressed the challenges that Microsoft is having with its adCenter technology, the system for buying and delivering online ads that Yahoo is now using. Yahoo, which reported lackluster results on Tuesday, noted that it continues to see lower-than-expected revenue per search from the Microsoft technology. Like Yahoo chief executive Carol Bartz, Klein said Microsoft is working on the problem and expects to have it resolved by January.

“We still face monetization challenges and continue to work closely with Yahoo,” Klein said. “We’ll have this turned around by the end of the year and we’re totally committed to doing this.”

Microsoft continues to generate huge sums of cash from its core businesses. At the end of the quarter, Microsoft was sitting on US$52.7 billion, up 43 percent from June 30, 2010.

That cash allows the company to continue returning money, in various forms, to shareholders. In the fiscal year, Microsoft spent US$16.9 billion on dividends and stock buybacks.

Wall Street seemed largely unimpressed by the results. In after-hours trading, Microsoft shares have barely budged, falling 9 cents to US$27.

Google Street View clone in China

Google Street View is not available in China, but a company of Home Grown offers a similar service, maps and images from 41 cities across the country watch for a blog.

City8 has a “Street View-like interface” with maps and photos 360 degree panoramic street, said Marc van der Chijs, founder of the Dutch online video site Tudou in China, in his blog Sunday. Currently, users can find locations in 41 Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Fuzhou, Chongqing and Tianjin.

van der Chijs said City8 “works pretty well,” may “very slow”, from abroad or by accessing a VPN (virtual private network) because the site at Great Firewall of China is hosted – a reference filter in China tissue government.

In Asia, Google Street View in countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea. The Internet giant has maps of the tool in the fight against the authorities of privacy after his admission that the service had collected personal data Wi-Fi not participated in May.

Google offices in Seoul were searched by the suspicions of the police and the South Korean government said that the company responsible for violating telecommunications laws of the country.