Category Archives: Cloud Computing

Games organizers confirm cyber attack, won't reveal source

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) – Pyeongchang Winter Olympics organizers confirmed on Sunday that the Games had fallen victim to a cyber attack during Friday’s opening ceremony, but they refused to reveal the source.

The Games’ systems, including the internet and television services, were affected by the hack two days ago but organizers said it had not compromised any critical part of their operations.

“Maintaining secure operations is our purpose,” said International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesman Mark Adams.

“We are not going to comment on the issue. It is one we are dealing with. We are making sure our systems are secure and they are secure.”

Asked if organizers knew who was behind the attack, Adams said: “I certainly don’t know. But best international practice says that you don’t talk about an attack.”

The Winter Games are being staged only 80km (50 miles) from the border with North Korea, which is technically still at war with the South since their 1950-1953 war ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.

The two teams marched together at an Olympics opening ceremony for the first time since 2006.

South Korea has been using the Pyeongchang Games to break the ice with the reclusive North, which has been trading nuclear threats with the United States recently.

“All issues were resolved and recovered yesterday morning,” Pyeongchang organizing committee spokesman Sung Baik-you told reporters.

“We know the cause of the problem but that kind of issues occurs frequently during the Games. We decided with the IOC we are not going to reveal the source (of the attack),” he told reporters.

Russia, which has been banned from the Games for doping, said days before the opening ceremony that any allegations linking Russian hackers to attacks on the infrastructure connected to the Pyeongchang Olympic Games were unfounded.

“We know that Western media are planning pseudo-investigations on the theme of ‘Russian fingerprints’ in hacking attacks on information resources related to the hosting of the Winter Olympic Games in the Republic of Korea,” Russia’s foreign ministry said.

“Of course, no evidence will be presented to the world.”

Cyber security researchers said in January they had found early indications that Russia-based hackers may be planning attacks against anti-doping and Olympic organizations in retaliation for Russia’s exclusion from the Pyeongchang Games.

Stakeholders of the Olympics have been wary of the threat from hacking and some sponsors have taken out insurance to protect themselves from a cyber attack. [nL4N1PX1HV]

Editing by Peter Rutherford

Amazon Studios Taps NBC Entertainment’s Jennifer Salke to Succeed Roy Price

Amazon has named a new head for its television and film production unit nearly four months after the departure of former studio head Roy Price amid sexual harassment allegations.

To fill that role, Amazon has tapped NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke, who will now report to Jeff Blackburn, Amazon’s senior vice president of business development and digital entertainment. Salke, who joined Comcast-owned NBC in 2011, helped the network revamp its TV lineup in recent years with popular series such as the critically-acclaimed drama This Is Us and the singing competition The Voice. In a statement on Friday, Amazon’s Blackburn said that Salke has “built an impeccable reputation as a big leader who emphasizes creativity, collaboration, and teamwork.”

Amazon did not say exactly when Salke would start her new position, but she will be taking over for Amazon Studios COO Albert Cheng, who has served as interim head of the studio since Price was forced out in October over accusations that he sexually harassed producer Isa Hackett. Price had overseen Amazon’s entry into the streaming entertainment market, helping to build it’s Hollywood arm into a competitor of traditional film studios as well as rival streamers like Netflix, with Amazon Studios spending roughly $4.5 billion annually on original programming. Price oversaw Amazon’s acquisition of award-winning TV series such as Transparent as well as independent films like Manchester by the Sea, which won the studio its first-ever Academy Awards last year.

Price resigned in October, the same month that several allegations against Harvey Weinstein led to the Hollywood mogul’s ouster from The Weinstein Company. Those allegations against Weinstein kicked off a wave of backlash against sexual misconduct by powerful men in Hollywood and helped lead to the “Me Too” movement and the Time’s Up campaign against harassment in the entertainment industry.

Get Data Sheet, Fortune’s technology newsletter.

Immediately after Price’s departure, Amazon had already been rumored to be dead-set on hiring a female replacement, with potential candidates reportedly including Salke as well as Paramount TV president Amy Powell, Fox TV Group chairman Dana Walden, and A+E Networks CEO Nancy Dubuc, among others.

In her own statement, Salke said that she is “incredibly excited” about heading up Amazon Studios. “In the studio’s relatively short existence they have innovated, disrupted, and created characters that are already an indelible part of pop-culture,” she said. “I am both honored and emboldened by the opportunity to lead this extraordinary business.”

In addition to Price’s departure last fall, a handful of other TV and film executives have left Amazon in recent months, including former original TV series head Joe Lewis. The studio had faced criticism over the past year for failing to deliver a breakout hit TV series, with Price and his fellow executives even reportedly passing on popular and critically-acclaimed series like The Handmaid’s Tale and Big Little Lies, which went on to rack up awards for rivals Hulu and HBO, respectively.

None other than Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos reportedly said last year that he wants Amazon’s studio to develop a global TV hit on the scale of HBO’s Game of Thrones. As such, Amazon reportedly agreed to pay a whopping $250 million to land the global television rights to the classic The Lord of the Rings fantasy novel series, with plans to produce a “multi-season” TV series based on the books for Prime subscribers and the potential for additional spin-off series. Meanwhile, just this week, Amazon was reported to be developing a new TV series featuring the Conan the Barbarian character once portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger on the big screen.

Exclusive: BMC Software explores IPO: sources

(Reuters) – U.S. business software company BMC Software Inc [BSII.UL] is holding conversations with investment banks about an initial public offering (IPO) that could value it at more than $10 billion, including debt, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The move comes as the private equity firms that control BMC – Bain Capital and Golden Gate Capital – consider ways to start cashing out on their investment after taking the company private in 2013 in a $6.9 billion leveraged buyout.

BMC has held discussions with banks in recent weeks about appointing underwriters for an IPO, the sources said. The timing of the IPO has not been decided, and the deliberations have not been affected by this week’s stock market volatility, the sources added.

The sources asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential. BMC did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while Bain and Golden Gate declined to comment.

Based in Houston, BMC provides software that helps corporations organize their information technology management functions. It generated revenue of $1.8 billion for the 12 months that ended Sept. 30, according to Moody‘s.

BMC has been facing increasing competition from so-called software-as-a-service technology rivals, and last year explored a merger with peer CA Inc (CA.O). That deal fell through over challenges in agreeing upon debt financing terms, sources said at the time.

BMC’s mainframe software business is estimated to generate approximately half of the company’s operating profit and cash flow, yet it is a flat to modestly declining business, Moody’s said in a research note in November.

January was the strongest month for IPOs on record in terms of proceeds, however IPO activity was blunted this week by wild swings in the U.S. stock market. The receptivity of the IPO market will hinge on such volatility subsiding.

Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New YorkEditing by Matthew Lewis

U.S. Olympic Curler Is Reminding Everyone of ‘Super Mario’

The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics have a surprise participant: a Mario lookalike.

TV viewers watching U.S. curling team members Matt Hamilton and his sister Becca noticed something interesting about him: He looked an awful lot like Mario, the famed character from Nintendo’s popular Super Mario video game franchise.

A Twitter user shared the observation on Wednesday by saying that Hamilton, wearing a red shirt and red hat while sporting a mustache, looked like the Nintendo protagonist. Whoever manages the U.S. Olympic Team’s Twitter account saw the tweet and challenged followers to “spot the difference” between the curler and Mario. The tweet included a picture of Hamilton and Mario, side-by-side.

Get Data Sheet, Fortune’s technology newsletter

Hamilton, who along with his sister also holds the distinction of winning the first Olympic mixed doubles curling match in history, hasn’t mentioned the Mario jokes directly. He did, however, retweet the U.S. Olympics tweet on Wednesday.

Hamilton is the first of what will likely be many stories coming out of the Pyeongchang Games, which holds its opening ceremony on Friday. But it’s hard to believe we’ll find another Mario lookalike at this year’s games. Would a Luigi lookalike be too much to ask for, though?

Nvidia's upbeat forecast powered by data center, cryptocurrency demand

(Reuters) – Nvidia Corp’s (NVDA.O) upbeat current-quarter revenue forecast on Thursday underscored surging demand for its graphics chips used in data centers, gaming devices and cryptocurrency mining, sending its shares up as much as 12 percent in extended trading.

The company, which also reported better-than-expected quarterly results, is reaping the benefits from the launch of its Volta chip architecture last year. Volta help build processors that power a range of technologies such as artificial intelligence and driverless cars.

“Virtually every internet and cloud service provider has embraced our Volta GPUs,” Nvidia’s Chief Executive Officer Jensen Huang said in a statement. (bit.ly/2iJPeNN)

Revenue from Nvidia’s widely watched data center business, which counts Amazon.com Inc’s (AMZN.O) Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Corp’s (MSFT.O) Azure cloud business among its customers, more than doubled to $606 million.

That trounced analysts’ average estimate of $541.1 million.

Data center should continue to grow pretty nicely into calendar 2018 and beyond, Morningstar analyst Abhinav Davuluri said.

The boom in cryptocurrencies is also powering demand for chips from Nvidia and rival AMD (AMD.O) as they provide the high computing ability required for cryptocurrency “mining.”

“Strong demand in the cryptocurrency market exceeded our expectations,” Chief Financial Officer Colette Kress said on a conference call.

“While the overall contribution of cryptocurrency to our business remains difficult to quantify, we believe it was a higher percentage of revenue than the prior quarter.”

The company said inventory levels of its gaming GPUs throughout the quarter was lower than historical channel inventory levels due to surging demand from cryptocurrency miners.

The price of Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency, rose more than 1,300 percent in 2017. Prices have, however, dropped about 40 percent this year.

Nvidia’s revenue from gaming, for which it is best known, rose 29 percent to $1.74 billion, accounting for a more than half of its total revenue in the fourth quarter, and also beating analysts’ estimate of $1.59 billion.

The company forecast current-quarter revenue of $2.90 billion, plus or minus 2 percent, well above the analysts’ average estimate of $2.47 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net income rose to $1.12 billion, or $1.78 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Jan. 28 from $655 million, or 99 cents per share, a year earlier.

Results include a $133 million gain related to the new U.S. tax law.

Total revenue rose 34 percent to $2.91 billion, topping estimate of $2.69 billion.

Excluding items, the company said it earned $1.72 per share.

Nvidia earned $1.57 per share, excluding the tax benefit, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, beating estimate of $1.17.

The company’s shares were trading at $233 in extended trading. They have surged about 83 percent in the past 12 months.

Reporting by Arjun Panchadar and Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Sriraj Kalluvila

U.S. announces arrests in $530 million cyber identity fraud scheme

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department announced one of its largest-ever takedowns of a global cyber crime ring on Wednesday, saying it had indicted 36 people accused of trafficking in stolen identities and causing more than $530 million in losses to consumers.

The cyber crime network, known as “In Fraud,” operated a sophisticated scheme that facilitated the purchase and sale of Social Security numbers, birthdays and passwords that had been stolen from around the world, the department said.

The group worked under the slogan “In Fraud We Trust” and was created in 2010 by Svyatoslav Bondarenko, a 34-year-old Ukrainian, according to the indictment.

In addition to facilitating the sale of stolen information, the department also alleged that the network provided an escrow account so people could launder their proceeds using digital currencies including Bitcoin, Liberty Reserve, Perfect Money and WebMoney.

Of the 36 people indicted, Justice Department officials said that 13 have been arrested in the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Kosovo and Serbia.

The other defendants remain at large and the investigation is still ongoing, Deputy Assistant Attorney General David Rybicki told reporters on a conference call.

He declined to answer a question on whether Bondarenko was in custody, saying only that the defendant is a Ukrainian national and that the investigation is still ongoing

“Today marks a significant step in the battle against transnational cyber crime,” he said.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Doina ChiacuEditing by David Alexander and Matthew Lewis

Watch Out, Sony and Microsoft: Google Is Developing a Video Game Streaming Service

Google, which has largely sat on the sidelines of the video game industry, seems ready to get in the fight.

The company is working on a new service codenamed Yeti, which would let people play games streamed to them online, potentially eliminating the need for a dedicated console like the PlayStation 4 or a high-end gaming computer.

News of the service first broke via The Information. Gaming industry insiders, who were not authorized to speak on-the-record, tell Fortune that Google is targeting a holiday 2019 release for Yeti, though the company is currently behind schedule and that date could shift.

Google recently hired Phil Harrison, a long-time gaming industry veteran. Sources indicate he is closely involved with the project. Harrison spent 15 years as the head of Sony’s network of game studios and three years as a senior member of Microsoft’s Xbox team. Since leaving those companies, he has served as an adviser and board member to various gaming companies.

Google declined to discuss the initiative, citing a company policy of not commenting on rumors or speculation.

Some details about Yeti are still fuzzy. It could be a dedicated streaming box or could operate through the company’s Chromecast device. How it will overcome issues of in-game lag is one of the biggest hurdles. But Fortune has learned that several major publishers are working with Google on the project.

Yeti would compete with Sony’s Playstation Now streaming service, which carries a $19.95 monthly fee (or $100 annual fee). That service, built off of one of the pioneers in game streaming, has not found an especially large audience, in part because of the high price and older catalog of games. Microsoft has previously discussed launching a game streaming service, but has not made any announcements about a new streaming product.

Google has flirted with the game industry before. It almost acquired Twitch in 2014 for $1 billion, but the deal fell apart in the final stages. (Amazon would later acquire that game streaming service.) Since then, Google’s YouTube division has dramatically increased its presence in the video game world, live streaming from E3, the video game industry trade show, and enabling live game streaming.

There’s certainly a big financial incentive for Google in video games. The industry saw revenues of $36 billion in the U.S. alone in 2017. Globally, it generates over $100 billion each year.

Fake KodakCoin Is Already Being Sold by Scammers

Eastman Kodak Co. is warning that several fraudulent websites and Facebook accounts are promoting and even claiming to already be selling its planned digital token.

The warning, sent in an email to potential investors, comes as Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton is testifying before Congress about initial coin offerings and coin-related scams. Regulators have been increasingly scrutinizing ICOs, which raised $3.7 billion in funds last year, according to CoinSchedule.

The 130-year-old company said last week that verifying the “accredited” status of potential investors for the digital KodakCoin token could take several weeks, sending its shares down 13 percent. Over 40,000 investors expressed interest in the offering, the Rochester, New York-based company said last week.

Kodak’s plan has been greeted with a mixed reception, with some critics of the proposal saying the imaging company is jumping on the distributed-ledger technology bandwagon to boost its shares. Kodak is working with a company that promotes paparazzi photos to offer a blockchain-based service that would let photographers get paid whenever their images are used.

U.S. regulators to back more oversight of virtual currencies: testimony

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Digital currencies such as bitcoin demand increased oversight and may require a new federal regulatory framework, the top U.S. markets regulators will tell lawmakers at a hotly anticipated congressional hearing on Tuesday.

Christopher Giancarlo, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and Jay Clayton, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, will provide testimony to the Senate Banking Committee amid growing concerns globally over the risks virtual currencies pose to investors and the financial system.

Giancarlo and Clayton will say current state-by-state licensing rules for cryptocurrency exchanges may need to be reviewed in favor of a rationalized federal framework, according to prepared testimony published on Monday.

Reporting by Michelle Price; Editing by Paul Simao

Major Banks Ban Buying Bitcoin With Your Credit Card

Most major U.S. credit card issuers have now banned the use of their cards to buy Bitcoin or other digital currencies, in a move intended to decrease both financial and legal risk.

Bank of America began blocking cryptocurrency purchases on Friday, according to Bloomberg. JPMorgan did the same on Saturday.

Citigroup also says it is halting cryptocurrency purchases on credit, and Capital One and Discover had already enacted their own bans. That means all of the top five credit card issuers have announced or implemented bans.

The moves are above all in the banks’ self-interest. As Fortune previously reported, the mania surrounding cryptocurrency late last year appears to have motivated many retail investors to use credit cards as leveraging tools, buying more cryptocurrency than they could afford. With Bitcoin down roughly 50% from December highs, many of those investors are likely underwater right now, and may not be able to pay off their initial Bitcoin purchases soon, if ever.

Get Data Sheet, Fortune’s technology newsletter.

Further, as Bloomberg points out, banks may be responsible for monitoring customers’ behavior to prevent money laundering after they make a credit-backed Bitcoin purchase, a tough standard for them to comply with.

The bans — or more to the point, the news of the bans — may exacerbate ongoing declines in cryptocurrency prices. After a hefty bounce Saturday morning, crypto markets broadly retreated on Sunday. Bitcoin is now trading at around $8,500 from a December high near $20,000.

In the longer term, however, tighter cryptocurrency investment controls, whether from regulators or lenders, seem likely to help mitigate the consequences of both hype and scams. For much of 2017, those threatened to overshadow the underlying promise of blockchain technology, which is still in the very early stages of evolution.