Apple sees surprise fall in iPhone sales

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Apple sold fewer iPhones than a year ago in the first three months of 2017, the company said in its latest results.

The California firm, which is due to release a new phone later this year, said it sold 50.8 million iPhones in the period, down 1% year-on-year.

Apple boss Tim Cook blamed a “pause” as customers wait for the next iPhone.

Shares in the firm fell nearly 2% in after-hours trading after earlier hitting a record high on expectations of better results.

Apple reported a 4.6% rise in revenue across the whole company to $52.9bn (£41bn), slightly below analysts’ forecasts.

The dip in iPhone sales was offset by services, including Apple Pay, iCloud and the App store, which recorded an 18% increase in sales to $7bn.

Mr Cook also pointed to growth in sales of Apple Watch, as well as its AirPods and Beats earphones.

Despite falling unit sales, revenue from iPhones still climbed 1% to $33.2bn due to “robust” sales of its bigger, more expensive iPhone 7 Plus.


Analysis: Expectations high for 10th anniversary iPhone

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By Dave Lee, BBC North America technology reporter

This is always the least impressive time of year for Apple’s earnings, come as it does after the Christmas period.

But worse-than-expected iPhone sales had investors slightly unhappy after anticipation of strong earnings sent shares to record highs earlier on Tuesday.

Tim Cook told investors he was also pleased with the continued growth of its Services division – that’s things like Apple Music, Apple TV, iTunes and so on – but the health of Apple is only realistically measured with the success of that all-conquering smartphone.

Which is why the rest of the year will be exciting to watch.

With the iPhone’s 10th anniversary upon us, expectations are high for the next device.

Anything short of a major improvement would be troubling for investors who are banking on the next iPhone being a blockbuster, not an incremental upgrade.


Analysts at GlobalData Retail noted that Apple’s revenue from iPhones was $7bn less than the same period two years ago.

“We highlight these facts not to be unduly harsh to Apple, but to indicate that the company has only partially emerged from the slump that hit it over the last fiscal year,” Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, wrote in a note.

“In our view, the company’s mature product line up and an absence of any significant new devices mean it has struggled to regain all of the lost ground,” he added.

China, which was partly to blame for the slowdown last year, was again difficult for Apple. Revenue from China dropped 14%, although Mr Cook partly blamed currency fluctuations for the fall.

Apple said quarterly profits were $11bn worldwide, up 4.9% from the same period in 2016.

The firm also announced it would return an extra $50bn to shareholders.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-39786961

Hacker steals and shares unreleased TV shows

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The fifth season of Orange is the New Black was due to air on 9 June

A malicious hacker has reportedly released 10 episodes of the new series of TV show ‘Orange is the New Black’.

The episodes are believed to have been uploaded to file-sharing sites across the net after US media firm Netflix refused to pay a ransom.

The shows were due to be released officially from 9 June onwards.

The hacker who stole the episodes said they had also managed to steal series from other broadcasters including ABC, Fox and National Geographic.

High impact

Netflix told Entertainment Weekly that it was “aware of the situation” and added: “A production vendor used by several major TV studios had its security compromised and the appropriate law enforcement authorities are involved.”

The FBI is also believed to be looking into the theft which is believed to have taken place in late 2016.

The hacker behind the theft uses the alias The Dark Overlord and before now has largely targeted hospitals and other healthcare institutions.

On 29 April, the hacker wrote a message on the Pastebin website which scolded Netflix for not paying the ransom.

It is not clear how much money the hacker wanted for keeping the stolen TV shows offline.

Computer security news site Databreaches.net said it had been given evidence by the hacker that they also got away with 37 other shows and films.

Stolen shows include XXX: Return of Xander Cage, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Season 1 of Bill Nye Saves the World

Economics professor Brett Danaher from Chapman University in the US told the Washington Post that the impact of the theft may spark attacks from other hackers and groups keen to cash in.

“There is some evidence that pre-release piracy is the most damaging piracy to studios,” he said.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-39769428

Turkish authorities block Wikipedia without giving reason

A mobile device shows Wikipedia's front page displaying a darkened logo on 18 January, 2012Image copyright
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Turkish people awoke to find all access to Wikipedia had been blocked

Turkey has blocked all access inside the country to the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia.

Officials said “an administrative measure” had been taken, but gave no reason why.

Turkish media said authorities had asked Wikipedia to remove content by writers “supporting terror”.

Turkey has temporarily blocked social media sites including Facebook and Twitter in the past, usually following protests or terror attacks.

The Turkey Blocks monitoring group said Wikipedia was unreachable from 08:00 (05:00 GMT). People in Istanbul were unable to access any pages without using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

  • Switzerland investigates Turkey spying claims
  • Turkey blocks web drives after leak
  • Wikipedia founder creates news service

“After technical analysis and legal consideration based on the Law Nr. 5651 [governing the internet], an administrative measure has been taken for this website,” Turkey’s Information and Communication Technologies Authority was quoted as saying, giving no further details.

However, the Hurriyet daily newspaper said Wikipedia had been asked to remove content by certain writers whom the authorities accuse of “supporting terror” and of linking Turkey to terror groups. The site had not responded to the demands, Hurriyet said, and the ban was imposed as a result.

Turkey Blocks and Turkish media, including Hurriyet, said the provisional order would need to be backed by a full court ruling in the next few days.


Another day, another outage – by Mark Lowen, BBC Turkey Correspondent

It’s become all too familiar here: the endless “loading” icon followed by the message “server timed out”.

Blocking websites is a common tool of the Turkish authorities: Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have suffered the same fate several times, and numerous anti-government sites are inaccessible.

Critics say it smacks of Turkey’s repression of free speech: over half of all requests to Twitter to remove content have come from Turkey, and the country now ranks 155 of 180 in the press freedom index of the watchdog Reporters without Borders.


Social media was in uproar as news of the ban emerged, with some users speculating that it might be a bid to suppress criticism on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Wikipedia page.

Mr Erdogan narrowly won a controversial 16 April referendum on increasing his powers, but the issue has deeply divided the country.

One Twitter user noted that the Wikipedia page on Turkey’s referendum has a section on “controversies and electoral misconduct”, and cites claims that the government suppressed the No campaign through “arrests, control of the media and political suppression”.

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The Turkish government has previously denied censoring the internet, blaming outages on spikes in usage after major events.

Wikipedia has also faced censorship in other countries, including a temporary ban in Russia, and repeated crackdowns in China.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-39754909

Social media giants ‘shamefully far’ from tackling illegal content

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MPs said the government should consider making the sites pay to help police what people post

Social media firms are “shamefully far” from tackling illegal and dangerous content, says a parliamentary report.

Hate speech, terror recruitment videos and sexual images of children all took too long to be removed, said the Home Affairs Select Committee report.

The government should consider making the sites help pay to police content, it said.

But a former Facebook executive told the BBC the report “bashes companies” but offers few real solutions.

The cross-party committee took evidence from Facebook, Twitter and Google, the parent company of YouTube, for its report.

It said they had made efforts to tackle abuse and extremism on their platforms, but “nowhere near enough is being done”.

The committee said it had found “repeated examples of social media companies failing to remove illegal content when asked to do so”.

It said the largest firms were “big enough, rich enough and clever enough” to sort the problem out, and that it was “shameful” that they had failed to use the same ingenuity to protect public safety as they had to protect their own income.


“White Genocide” and “Ban Islam”

Among the examples the committee found were:

  • Twitter refused to remove a cartoon depicting male ethnic minority migrants abusing a semi-naked white woman while stabbing her baby to death on the grounds it was not in breach of its “hateful conduct policy”
  • YouTube refused to remove a video entitled “Jews admit organizing White Genocide” on the basis it “did not cross the line into hate speech”
  • On Facebook there were openly anti-Semitic and Islamophobic community pages such as “Ban Islam”. Facebook removed some posts but not the community pages themselves because its policy allows criticism of religion, but not hate against people because of their religion

The MPs said it was “unacceptable” that social media companies relied on users to report content, saying they were “outsourcing” the role “at zero expense”.

Yet the companies expected the police – funded by the taxpayer – to bear the costs of keeping them clean of extremism.

The report’s recommendations include:

  • The government should consult on requiring social media firms to contribute to the cost of the police’s counter-terrorism internet referral unit
  • It should also consult on “meaningful fines” for companies which failed to remove illegal content within a strict timeframe, highlighting proposals in Germany which could see firms fined up to £44m and individual executives £5m
  • Social media companies review urgently their community standards and how they are being interpreted and implemented

“Social media companies’ failure to deal with illegal and dangerous material online is a disgrace,” said committee chairwoman Yvette Cooper.

Ms Cooper said the committee’s inquiry into hate crime more broadly was curtailed when the general election was called and their recommendations had to be limited to dealing with social media companies and online hate.

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Yvette Cooper said social media firms’ “failure to deal with illegal and dangerous material online is a disgrace”

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said she expected to see social media companies take “early and effective action” and promised to study the committee’s recommendations.

In a statement Simon Milner, Facebook’s policy director, said: “We agree with the Committee that there is more we can do to disrupt people wanting to spread hate and extremism online.”

He said the social network was working with King’s College, London and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue to make its efforts to curb hate speech more effective.

Mr Milner added that Facebook had developed “quick and easy ways” for people to report content so it could be reviewed and, if necessary, removed.

Twitter and Google have not yet responded to a BBC request for comment.

The firms had previously told the committee that they worked hard to make sure freedom of expression was protected within the law.

Football parallels

A former European policy manager for Facebook, Luc Delany, told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme the report had failed to look at more than a decade of work the industry had done with police and successive governments on the problem.

He said: “It bashes companies and gets a few big headlines for the committee but the solutions proposed don’t really play out in reality.”

However, committee member and Labour MP Naz Shah disagreed: “It’s not headline-grabbing when people are making money off terrorist content, headline grabbing when we’ve got child abuse online.

“Not working fast enough is not acceptable to the committee, to myself or anybody quite frankly.”

Ms Shah suggested that internet companies giving money to the Met’s counter-terrorism unit would be similar to football clubs contributing to the cost of policing matches.

But Mr Delany rejected this, adding a football stadium was a “fixed place” with “one obvious and historic type of behaviour” whereas social media companies had hundreds of millions of users and hours of content.

The child protection charity NSPCC has also called for fines for social networks that fail to protect children.

Internet companies’ voluntary regulations on child protection are “not up to scratch”, the charity’s chief executive, Peter Wanless, said last week.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-39744016

NatWest and RBS banking app fails

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The NatWest banking app failed to work for nearly an hour on Friday morning.

Many customers complained on social media that payments and money transfers had not been getting through.

The RBS Group, which owns NatWest, said: “Our mobile apps and online banking are now running as normal and delayed payments are starting to credit customer accounts. We apologise for the inconvenience caused.”

A spokesman added that no customer would be left out of pocket.

The issue with payments affected only NatWest, not Royal Bank of Scotland or Ulster Bank.

It only affected some payments made from NatWest accounts. People’s incoming salaries were unaffected, the group said.

The bank has not yet issued an explanation for the problem.

“You transfer money from a #Natwest account to another and it just disappears into thin air,” one customer tweeted during the outage.

Another described it as an “absolute disaster”.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-39744633

Finland’s oldest operating ferry given electric motor

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The Fori has been in service since 1904

The oldest operating ferry in Finland is being relaunched as the country’s first all-electric vessel.

The Fori first entered service in 1904 as a steam-powered boat. It was fitted with diesel engines in 1955.

When it returns to the Aura River in Turku on Saturday, it will be fitted with two electric motors and an electric drivetrain system.

Despite the upgrade, the ferry will still make the crossing at an average speed of 2kmh (1.24mph).

The work was carried out by local boatyard Mobimar, using an electric drivetrain system designed by Finnish company Visedo.

Spare engine

Each of the two engines consists of a DC/DC converter to increase the voltage from the batteries, and a permanent magnet motor drive to transform the electrical signal into mechanical energy.

The new system is eight tonnes lighter than the diesel engines and hydraulic motor it has replaced.

Visedo said it should use about 3kW of energy per hour during the summer months, rising to 4kW in the winter.

The ferry only needs one engine to operate, but the design allows for both to be used when extra power is required – such as during the winter when river ice begins to form.

It also means the ferry can stay in service when one of the engines needs maintenance.

The Fori is one of Turku’s less obvious tourist attractions, operating non-stop during the day, transporting up to 75 passengers at a time from one side of the Aura River to the other.

The city authorities announced the plan to convert the light vehicle ferry from diesel to electric in 2015.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-39744805

Ted 2017: Elon Musk’s vision for underground road system

Media captionMusk released this video to explain his vision

US entrepreneur Elon Musk has outlined his vision for a tunnel network under Los Angeles and shown how it might work.

Mr Musk also told the Ted (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference he planned fully autonomous journeys across the US by the end of the year.

He spoke about how he wanted solar-powered roof tiles to be standard on “every home” within 50 years.

And he explained why he is committed to sending a rocket to Mars.

In a wide-ranging conversation with Ted curator Chris Anderson, the founder of Tesla and Space X said that he was inspired to consider a tunnel system to alleviate congestion because he found being stuck in traffic “soul-destroying”.

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Cars would mount a platform

He showed off a concept video of how the multi-layered tunnel system might work.

Cars would stop on a trolley-like device and the ground would open up to carry them below. Cars would then drive off the platform and another would get on to be returned above ground.

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The platform would take the car underground

He said that his vision was to have “no limits” to the amount of tunnels, but to find ways to cut the cost of boring and to speed up how quickly such tunnels could be created.

“We have a pet snail called Gary, and Gary is capable of moving 14 times faster than a tunnel boring machine – so the ambition is to beat Gary,” he said.

The firm he set up to oversee the project – The Boring Company – took up less than 3% of his time, he said, and it was run by interns and part-timers.

“It is pottering along.”

Susan Beardslee, a senior analyst at ABI Research, said the project sounded like a “moonshot”.

“He has shown his ability to be a visionary, and I believe he can take tunnelling and apply the financial capital and technical expertise, but this is not a go-it-alone project.

“He is addressing the need to look at congestion – but it will have to be a public/private partnership,” she said.

“Musk is good at coming up with a very different way of looking at things, and this might work better somewhere where it can be purpose-built rather than retro-fitted.”

Mr Musk is rarely out of the headlines these days – recently notching up another landmark for his Space X business when it launched a recycled rocket as well as starting a new firm – NeuraLink – that would aim to augment the human brain with computer technology.

His semi-autonomous Tesla car fleet has been under scrutiny since a fatal crash in May 2016, but Mr Musk showed no signs of slowing down his ambitions for the firm.

He promised a “fully autonomous” journey across the US “by the end of the year”.

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In a chat with Ted curator Chris Anderson, Mr Musk said he wanted to think about the future and not be sad

“From a parking lot in California, cross-country to New York or from Seattle to Florida, these cars should be able to go anywhere on the highway system,” he said.

He also revealed that he had test-driven the semi-autonomous electric truck Tesla plans to unveil in September, saying it was “so nimble”.

“You will drive it around like a sports car,” he said.

“In a tug-of-war between a Tesla semi and a diesel semi, the Tesla would pull the diesel uphill.”

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SpaceX has delivered so far – even if timelines have slipped somewhat

Ted curator Chris Anderson asked Mr Musk why he had so many diverse interests – on Earth and in Space.

“The value of Tesla is to accelerate the inevitable use of sustainable energy and if it accelerates that by a decade, then that would be a fundamental aspiration,” said Mr Musk.

But, he added, the advancement of space technology was not inevitable and would only happen if someone worked hard to make it a reality.

“It is important to have an inspiring future and if it doesn’t include being out there among the stars, that is incredibly depressing.

“I am not trying to be anyone’s saviour.

“I just want to think about the future and not feel sad.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-39741094

Amazon ‘style assistant’ divides opinion

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Amazon

Amazon’s new smart speaker, the Echo Look, received a mixed reaction following its unveiling this week.

Some say it could inspire confidence while others voiced privacy concerns.

The $200 (£154) gadget, not yet on sale, features a camera to capture full-length selfies and video which can be stored to create a personal “look book”.

It uses smart assistant Alexa to give a verdict on outfit choices and recommend clothes to buy.

It is listed as available “by invitation only” on the Amazon website and is aimed at the US market only.

“With this data, Amazon won’t be able to just sell you clothes or judge you. It could analyze (sic) if you’re depressed or pregnant and much else,” tweeted Zeynap Tufekci, assistant professor at the University of North Carolina.

“Not just a privacy disaster; people don’t understand what algorithms can infer from pictures. You are disclosing a lot of health info, too.”

Amazon said that it would not share any personal information with advertisers or third party websites.

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Fiona Blake said the device could be inspiring.

But Fiona Blake, who runs a closed Facebook page where hundreds of women share photos of their outfits and offer each other supportive fashion advice, said she thought the Echo Look sounded like a good idea.

“People struggle with looking in the mirror and taking photographs of themselves,” she said.

“This is brilliant daily inspiration. You could flick through your own personal Pinterest board [of outfit choices] – that is key for getting up, getting dressed and getting out there.

“I’m happy for someone to recommend something. I can’t get to every high street shop. I don’t mind being sold to but I know a lot of people don’t like that approach.”

Professional stylist Donna McCulloch, from Sulky Doll stylists, said people should not rely on an app to tell them what to wear.

“If you are unsure about an outfit, then trust your own gut instinct and try a different look instead,” she said.

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Amazon

Ben Wood, analyst at CCS Insight, said the Echo Look may not appeal to all ages.

“For younger people that happily share regular moments of their life via SnapChat and Instagram, the general response has been positive with the main limitation being the price,” he told the BBC.

“However, for a slightly older audience it either seems completely unnecessary (I already have a full length mirror) or is regarded as a considerable privacy concern – particularly in the context of a device that it makes sense to have in a bedroom.

“It underlines Amazon’s ambitions for its growing range of Alexa-powered Echo products. The Echo Look helps extend its reach into other parts of people’s homes and also in the dramatically different product categories orientated around fashion.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-39744293

TED 2017: UK ‘Iron Man’ demonstrates flying suit

Richard Browning in VancouverImage copyright
Bret Hartman/Ted

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Richard Browning took off beside the spectacular Vancouver harbour

A British inventor, who built an Iron Man-style flight suit, has flown it at the Ted (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference in Vancouver.

Richard Browning’s short flight took place outside the Vancouver Convention Centre in front of a large crowd.

Since he posted the video of his maiden flight in the UK, Mr Browning has had huge interest in his flying suit.

But he insists the project remains “a bit of fun” and is unlikely to become a mainstream method of transportation.

Media captionWATCH: ‘Rocket man’ tests his flying suit

He was inspired by his father, an aeronautical engineer and inventor, who killed himself when Mr Browning was a teenager.

He told the BBC that he always had a passion for making things and loved a challenge.

“I did this entirely for the same reason that you might look at a mountain and decide to climb it – for the journey and the challenge.”

He said he was also fascinated by the idea of human flight.

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Richard Browning

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Richard Browning practised his flights in Wiltshire in the UK

“My approach to flight was why not augment the human mind and body, because they are amazing machines, so I just bolted on what was missing – thrust.”

Mr Browning, a Royal Marine Reserve, created his flying machine using six miniature jet engines and a specially designed exoskeleton.

He has a helmet with a sophisticated heads-up display that keeps him informed about fuel use.

The Daedalus suit – named after the father of Icarus by Mr Browning’s eight-year-old son – takes off vertically. Mr Browning uses his arms to control the direction and speed of the flight.

Mr Browning said it is easily capable of flying at 200mph (321km/h) and an altitude of a few thousand feet.

But, for safety reasons, he keeps the altitude and speed low.

He insisted it is “safer than a motorbike”.

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Mr Browning keeps his flights short and low to ground even though he could fly much higher

The suit can currently fly uninterrupted for around 10 minutes.

The start-up he founded, Gravity, is working on new technology for the device which Mr Browning said will make the current prototype look “like child’s play”.

Since video of his maiden flight went on YouTube, he has had thousands of views and interest from investors and the UK military.

But he does not think that the system is about to go mainstream anytime soon.

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Richard Browning

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Getting his equipment from the UK to Canada proved tricky and he borrowed fuel from sea planes in Vancouver harbour

“I think of it as a bit like a jet ski, a bit of fun or a indulgent toy, but I do have a hunch that stuff will come along to make it more practical.”

It remains a fascinating project for those who see it in action.

“There is something strange in seeing the human form rise up and drift around and that leaves a deep impression on people,” he said.

The Civil Aviation Authority has yet to take any decisions on the level of regulation required for jetpacks.

And in Europe, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which has responsibility for approving all new aircraft designs, including experimental concepts, has not yet formed an opinion on human propulsion technology.

“Going forward it may be necessary to create a new category of regulation for this technology as it clearly does not fit in neatly with aircraft regulation,” a CAA spokesman told the BBC.

“Ultimately, I think it unlikely that such technology would be completely deregulated.

“This is potentially powered flight after all, unlike activities such as hang-gliding and paragliding which are deregulated. High speed human propulsion could easily conflict with low flying aircraft and so the ‘pilot’ would almost certainly need some kind of training and a licence.”

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-39441825

Google and Facebook duped in huge ‘scam’

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The two tech giants succumbed to a well known type of scam, in which an attacker tricks the victim via innocent-looking emails

Google and Facebook have confirmed that they fell victim to an alleged $100m (£77m) scam.

In March, it was reported that a Lithuanian man had been charged over an email phishing attack against “two US-based internet companies” who were not named at the time.

They had allegedly been tricked into wiring more than $100m to the alleged scammer’s bank accounts.

On 27 April, Fortune reported that the two victims were Facebook and Google.

The man accused of being behind the scam, Evaldas Rimasauskas, 48, allegedly posed as an Asia-based manufacturer and deceived the companies from at least 2013 until 2015.

“Fraudulent phishing emails were sent to employees and agents of the victim companies, which regularly conducted multimillion-dollar transactions with [the Asian] company,” the US Department of Justice (DOJ) said in March.

These emails purported to be from employees of the Asia-based firm, the DOJ alleged, and were sent from email accounts designed to look like they had come from the company, but in fact had not.

The DOJ also accused Mr Rimasauskas of forging invoices, contracts and letters “that falsely appeared to have been executed and signed by executives and agents of the victim companies”.

“We detected this fraud against our vendor management team and promptly alerted the authorities,” a spokeswoman for Google said in a statement.

“We recouped the funds and we’re pleased this matter is resolved.”

However, the firm did not reveal how much money it had transferred and recouped.

Nor did Facebook – but a spokeswoman said: “Facebook recovered the bulk of the funds shortly after the incident and has been cooperating with law enforcement in its investigation.”

Big firms targeted

“Sometimes staff [at large firms] think that they are defended, that security isn’t part of their job,” said James Maude at cyber-security firm Avecto, commenting on the phishing threat facing big companies.

“But people are part of the best security you can have – that’s why you have to train them.”

He also told the BBC that Avecto’s clients have recounted phishing attempts that used senior staff’s hacked email accounts to convince employees that a request to wire out money was genuine.

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“CEO fraud” is a “key threat” according to Europol

The sophistication of phishing scams has increased lately, according to a recent Europol report.

“CEO fraud” – in which executives are impersonated by the scammer – was a particular worry.

“The request is usually time-sensitive and often coincides with the close of business hours to make verification of the request difficult,” the report explained.

“Such attacks often take advantage of publicly reported events such as mergers, where there may be some degree of internal flux and uncertainty.”

In order to avoid succumbing to such fraud, firms are advised to carefully verify new payment requests before authorising them.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-39744007