PRISM Prompts Deeper Probe of US Tech Players
Today in international tech news: China widens its probe of U.S. tech companies. Also: A Syrian hacker group takes credit for mucking up links on U.S. news sites; Google Maps will soon include footpaths along British waterways; and Samsung will reportedly unveil a smartwatch next month.
China's Ministry of Public Security and a cabinet-level research center are teaming up to probe IBM, Oracle and EMC over security issues.
The upcoming investigation could be more than a simple tit-for-tat in the ongoing cybersaga between the U.S. and China. The probe follows Edward Snowden's allegations that the National Security Agency hacked into networks at universities in China and Hong Kong, where Snowden was hiding out after this leaking spree began.
The Shanghai Securities News, which first reported the story, quotes a source who said that the "PRISM scandal" suggests that things might be amiss with U.S.-dominated networks.
Last year, Beijing deemed Cisco untrustworthy to operate the nation's communications networks -- immediately after the U.S. deemed Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE untrustworthy to operate its networks.
Earlier this year, pre-Snowden, U.S. officials were slamming China for widespread cyberespionage campaigns carried out against American targets.
Syrian Group Claims Responsibility for US Media Hacks
The Syrian Electronic Army is claiming responsibility for a cyberattack that affected the websites of CNN, Time and The Washington Post.
Links on those outlets' websites redirected users to an external site controlled by the Syrian Electronic Army, a group that supports Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
The SEA reportedly didn't hack into the media outlets themselves, but instead went after Outbrain, a recommendation service used by numerous outlets, including the aforementioned ones. Outbrain temporarily disabled its service to investigate the attack.
The Post confirmed that it was the victim of a sophisticated phishing attack in which the Syrian Electronic Army sent out an email from a staff writer's personal email account.
The hacking group has also claimed responsibility for hacking the New York Post's Facebook page and commandeering the Twitter accounts of New York Post writers.
A spokeswoman for The New York Times, whose website went down for a few hours Wednesday, said it was not the victim of a cyberattack -- just complications associated with maintenance.
Google Maps Soon to Feature English Waterways
A British group called Canal & River Trust will embark on a month-long hike to help Google Street View capture new images of waterways in the UK.
Hikers will don a "Trekker" that captures 360-degree images of places the Street View car can't reach. New territory will include waterway footpaths and bridges.
The four-foot, 40-pound Trekker, which has a 15-angle lens camera, has been used to map the Grand Canyon and some of the world's tallest peaks. This will be the first time the Trekker has been used in the UK.
Samsung to Unveil Smartwatch
Samsung will unveil a smartwatch in September, according to a report from the Samsung-obsessed website SamMobile.
The device -- to be named "Galaxy Gear," according to initial reports -- will be unveiled at an annual electronics show in Berlin, which is also where Samsung is reportedly planning to announce the Galaxy Note III smartphone.
The smartwatch will work with Galaxy smartphones, SamMobile reports. There is speculation, based on patents on the device, that the screen will be flexible.