TIME Video Games

Microsoft’s Black Friday Xbox One Deals Will Blow You Away

Visitors At The Eurogamer Expo 2013 For Gamers
A logo sits on an Xbox One games controller during the Eurogamer Expo 2013 in London, U.K., on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013. Matthew Lloyd—Bloomberg / Getty Images

The Xbox One is about to get $50 cheaper

Microsoft is slashing the price of its Xbox One gaming console by $50 price and offering further discounts for select game titles for the Black Friday holiday weekend.

The Xbox One will retail for $349 at participating retail stores — or, for gamers who don’t care to be trampled under a Black Friday stampede, the console can be had at Microsoft’s online store.

A package deal that includes a Kinect and one free game from the popular Assassin’s Creed series will start at $449.

Further Xbox-related markdwons will be unveiled on Microsoft’s website as soon as this giant doomsday clock counts down to zero.

 

TIME Security

New Malware Infecting Telecom, Energy, Airline Industries

Laptop, speed typing, screen glowing in the dark
Dimitri Otis—Getty Images

A new piece of malware called Regin is spying on people across industries. Why? Researchers aren’t exactly sure

The cyber security firm Symantec on Sunday revealed that a malicious new piece of software is collecting information on individuals, companies, and government entities without their knowledge.

The malware, called Regin, is considered to be a mass surveillance and data collection tool (sometimes referred to as “spyware”). Its purpose and origin is still unclear, Symantec said, but researchers believe that the program is the work of a nation-state.

“We believe Regin is used primarily for espionage,” said Liam O’Murchu, a security researcher at Symantec. “We see both companies and individuals targeted. The ultimate goal is to listen in on phone calls or something like that. [Regin's operators] target individuals and spread the attack to find whatever it is they’re looking for. All of these things together make us think that a government wrote it.”

Symantec said Regin (pronounced “re-gen,” as in “regenerate”) monitors its targets with a rarely-seen level of sophistication. Internet service providers and telecommunications companies make up the bulk of the those that are initially infected, researchers said. Regin then targets individuals of interest—in the hospitality, energy, research, and airline industries, among others—that are served by those ISPs. Regin’s operators continue to use infected companies as a springboard to gain access to more individuals. Once they gain access, they can remotely control a person’s keyboard, monitor Internet activity, and recover deleted files.

More than half of observed attacks have targeted Russia and Saudi Arabia, Symantec said. The rest are scattered across Europe, Central America, Africa, and Asia. The initial infection can come from a wide variety of sources, such as copies of popular websites or web browsers and USB drives that have been plugged into contaminated systems.

Regin has five attack stages. It begins with an initial “drop,” also called a Trojan horse (or “backdoor”) breach, that allows it to exploit a security vulnerability while avoiding detection. The first stage deploys what is called a loader, which prepares and executes the next stage; the second stage does the same to complicate detection. The third and fourth stages, called kernels, build a framework for the fifth and final stage, called the payload. That’s when it can wrest control of a computer or leap to a new victim.

Each stage prepares and executes the next, rather than deploy from a common framework. It’s similar in concept to Russian nesting dolls. Regin’s distributed structure makes it difficult for cyber security researchers to identify it without capturing information about all five stages.

The malware is made up of a system of customizable modules so that it may collect the information it needs across a number of different victims. For example, one Regin attack might capture a password from a hotel clerk’s computer while another attack may obtain remote control of another computer’s keyboard for purposes unknown. Each module is customized for one task or system, making detection and prevention of a comprehensive Regin attack difficult.

“One of the problems we have with analyzing is we don’t have all the components,” O’Murchu said. “You only get the modules set on that [particular] victim. But we know there are far more modules than what we have here. We don’t have enough information to understand. On top of that, it’s coded in a very advanced way to leave a small footprint. Anything they leave behind is encrypted. Each part is dependent on having all the parts.”

This kind of operational complexity is typically reserved for a state or a state-sponsored actor, Symantec said. Only a handful of malware programs to date have demonstrated such sophistication. In 2012, the Flamer malware used the same modular system to hit targets in the West Bank of Palestine, Hungary, Iran, and Lebanon, among other countries. Regin’s multi-stage attack pattern operates similarly to the Duqu malware and its descendent Stuxnet, the malware responsible for the disruption of Iranian nuclear facilities in 2010. O’Murchu said Regin is part of a disquieting trend of government-written and government-enacted malware.

“We often say that Stuxnet opened Pandora’s box,” O’Murchu says. “Whether that is because we know what to look for now or because there has been a genuine increase since Stuxnet is up for debate, but what we can say is that yes, we now know about a lot more scary government malware than before. It is far more pervasive, it is embedded in more organizations than we have ever seen, it is more organized than ever, and it is more capable than ever. I would say there has been an explosion in government related malware, and it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.”

What makes Regin different is who it attacks. Instead of going only after high-worth targets, Regin attacks many different targets in an attempt to piece together contextual information. Of the 9% of Regin attacks in the hospitality industry, 4% targeted low-level computers, presumably for this information.

“The average person needs to be aware,” O’Murchu says. “A lot of the infections are not the final target. They are third parties providing some extra information to get to a final target. Lot of people think, ‘I don’t have anything of importance, why would anyone get on my computer?’ Ordinary people who may not think they’re targets in fact are.”

TIME Transportation

Taxi App CEO: Uber Is an ‘A–Hole’

136011080
View of taxi board Thomas Bonfert—Getty Images/Flickr RF

Rakesh Mathur wants to help cab drivers disrupt the disruptors

As Uber weathered a storm of bad publicity this week, a relatively small competitor put a new CEO at the helm. Rakesh Mathur is a serial company-founder who worked at Amazon after it bought his e-commerce startup Junglee. He’s now running Flywheel, an e-hailing app that everyday taxi drivers can use to pick up smartphone users and fight back against the disruptors.

Flywheel is in a mere three cities, compared to Uber’s 220 worldwide. And while the company just announced $12 million in funding, Uber is raising rounds by the billion. TIME spoke to Mathur about privacy, the pros and cons of Uber’s creative destruction and how the company plans to take over America despite the competition.

TIME: In a recent email, one of your company representatives described Flywheel as the “non-a–hole” alternative to Uber. Can you comment on that positioning?

Mathur: I think the last couple of days have been pretty shocking, right? Where you’re not just being told, “Hey, I know how to violate your privacy. I do that all the time. But I’m even worse than the [National Security Agency]. I’m going to take that information and do bad things to you.” I think a–hole is probably a mild word. And the fact that across the organization they feel so open using things like their God View, where you can see anybody who rides in an Uber car. Every driver that drives for Uber is tainted.

These transportation startups generally have the ability to know where their drivers are and where customers are needing to be picked up. What is your policy at Flywheel about who has access to that information and when?

It exists for some complaint or something that we’re solving, like disputing a fare. Certainly we can collect all the data on trends, so we know where demands are peaking and so forth . . . No one should have access to this information. It shouldn’t be called out. It should be available to solve consumer-initiated complaints. I don’t think monitoring individual information about people’s individual rides is something that is anybody’s right to know.

How do you see Lyft as a competitor that is different from Uber?

Their corporate philosophy projects as a lot kinder, gentler. Lyft is every bit as fierce a competitor.

Do you see Uber as a more direct competitor, more similar to a taxi service than Lyft, where riders are invited to sit in the front seat and chat?

We don’t need to obsess about Uber and Lyft beyond a certain point. Our primary job right now is to get into this huge supply that is available to us. And that’s going to keep us busy for a few years, making sure we are in all the cabs in America. I would liken worrying to much about Uber and Lyft to driving by looking in the rearview mirror.

What are your plans for expansion?

There’s so much inbound interest right now from markets all over the country. We’re going through them and figuring out which of the fleets in which markets give us critical mass. There’s also a lot of interest from software service providers within the taxi industry. So we’ve got our plate full.

We do you think you’ll go next?

We’re in San Francisco. We have toeholds in Seattle and Los Angeles. And in the next three-to-six months, we should be in many of the bigger cities in the United States.

Are we talking another three cities? Another dozen?

More like another dozen than another three.

I know you said you try to keep Uber in the rearview mirror, but how do you compete with a service that is raising funds a billion dollars at a time?

In terms of capital, I’ve built multiple companies. In the past 20 years, I’ve sold six companies. I’ve got pretty deep connections in the venture, finance and angel world. With any luck, we’re going to raise all the capital we need. The other part is that if I had $100 million right now and I felt compelled to spend it, I could make some terrible mistakes that I haven’t thought through. And it’s very hard to scale back.

You have a lot of advantages in leveraging the already-existing taxi industry. No surge pricing. Allies in some transportation authorities. You may have an easier time getting legal access to airports. What do you see as your key advantage?

Taxi companies offer a more safe and knowledgeable environment. Safe, as in taxi drivers, for all the insults that are hurled at them, have to go through fingerprinting and checks against national databases, including the FBI’s. The standard Uber or Lyft driver is, maybe, slightly more checked out than the general population. I’m fiercely concerned about how unsafe the unregulated part of the industry is. And in many to most instances, you’re dealing with people who know their city very well if you’re dealing with a taxi. . . . It’s a regulated industry with a huge supply. We don’t have to recruit supply. It’s a more stable model.

What do you see as your disadvantage in the market?

At an overall level, the regulatory system is a dual-edged sword . . . We’re on the right side of the law everywhere. That said, we don’t feel that it would make any sense to come up with rules to govern how we price, how we behave, et cetera. To the extent that regulators want to try to regulate us, that would be a bad thing.

How do you plan, as a new CEO, to do things differently at the company?

My main charter is scaling, to make sure that the technology that worked in San Francisco is applicable and scales, all while eliminating things like ridestacking [when drivers accept a ride through the app and then pick up a street hail], more integration with other systems inside the cab, making it much more bullet-proof and delightful for the consumer. The other part of it is dealing with the ecosystem in a very aggressive way and making sure our deployment into all the cabs in America goes as fast as possible.

Before they had this new competition, were taxi companies too lax in customer service?

Absolutely. Uber has been a godsend for the taxi industry. They’re starting to realize who they serve, the person who gets into the taxi. The service levels have gone up. The importance of hailing from a smartphone has been recognized. I think they’ve also unified the taxi industry. It’s been good for the taxi industry. Uber and Lyft have delivered very valuable service to everybody, despite the fact that one of them seems to be a company that only has sharp elbows.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

 

TIME Companies

Amazon Wants to Book Your Next Hotel

The Amazon logo is seen on a podium duri
The Amazon logo is seen on a podium during a press conference in New York, September 28, 2011. EMMANUEL DUNAND—AFP/Getty Images

Amazon could potentially combine hotel booking information with product offerings

A new feature is reportedly coming to Amazon: hotel booking.

The online retailer, hardware maker, publisher and video distributor is adding a service called Amazon Travel to its litany of businesses, according to a report from travel industry news site Skift.

Amazon Travel will feature a curated selection of hotels within a few hours’ drive from New York, Los Angeles and Seattle. The hotels will load their room types, availability and pricing information onto Amazon and pay the company a 15% commission, Skift reports. Hoteliers would receive their payments for the room from Amazon, and could negotiate a lower commission.

One advantage for Amazon is that it could combine information about a traveler’s hotel plans with other product offerings, depending on the trip.

Skift reports that the service will likely go live January 1.

[Skift]

TIME Companies

European Parliament Wants to Break Up Google

Signage is displayed outside the Google Inc. headquarters in Mountain View, California, on Oct. 13, 2010.
Signage is displayed outside the Google Inc. headquarters in Mountain View, California, on Oct. 13, 2010. Bloomberg/Getty Images

European Parliament reportedly set to call for a break-up of the tech giant’s search engine from some of its other commercial businesses

Officials want the tech giant to unbundle its search engine from some of its other commercial business, according to a report.

Concerned over Google’s growing influence, the European Parliament is reportedly set to call for a break-up of the tech giant’s search engine from some of its other commercial businesses, according to the Financial Times.

Politicians are pushing the European Commission to limit Google’s reach either by passing new legislation or through its antitrust investigation into the company, which the EU recently reopened. A draft of a parliament motion that FT viewed argues that “unbundling [of] search engines from other commercial services” could be one appropriate path to curbing the Internet company’s dominance.

The expected recommendation, which FT says is backed by the parliament’s Socialist and European People’s Party political groups, would represent the most extreme action proposed to date by European regulators concerned over how much control American companies have over the Internet.

A vote on the recommendation is expected early next week, FT reports.

A Google spokesman declined to comment.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Smartphones

President Obama Forgot His BlackBerry Today

U.S. President Barack Obama holds up his BlackBerry device after he returned inside the White House to retrieve it, after boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on Nov. 21, 2014.
U.S. President Barack Obama holds up his BlackBerry device after he returned inside the White House to retrieve it, after boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on Nov. 21, 2014. Larry Downing—Reuters

We've all been there, Barack

At one point or another, we’ve all left our phones at home, only to realize it after we’re already in the car, bus, or subway. Well, count one more victim of smartphone amnesia: President Obama.

Obama reportedly left the White House to board Marine One earlier Friday — only to realize once on board that he left his BlackBerry back in his office. He hurried off the presidential chopper, grabbed his phone and headed back outside, waving the device in the air and telling reporters “Didn’t you guys ever forget something?,” Bloomberg reports.

Obama is a longtime BlackBerry user, and government offices in general remain one of the company’s strongest markets.

TIME apps

5 Awesome iPhone Apps On Sale This Weekend

Fackbook Acquires WhatsApp For $16 Billion
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Get Final Fantasy for cheap!

Looking to download a few great iPhone apps while saving some money this weekend? Check out these five, all on sale or free for the new few days.

Final Fantasy Series

The much-loved game series is going through a series of sales on the App Store store at the moment. I-VI of the series are currently on sale at prices between $3.99 and $10.99. Usually $16.00, the series is a long narrative adventure from the 1990s, taking players through a remarkable trans-galactic universe, from the earliest versions to the newer, 3D re-releases.

Final Fantasy is on sale in the App Store.

7 Minute Workout Pro

This app has become a best-seller for good reason. With a simple interface, it takes users through a short, no-frills workout based on 12 carefully chosen exercises. Some professional athletes believe that seven- or eight-minute bursts of intense workouts through the day can be a much more effective way of keeping in shape than hitting the gym during the 6 p.m. rush a few times a week. This app does all the planning for you.

7 Minutes Workout Pro is on sale $0.99 in the App Store.

Osmos

One of the iPhone’s most popular games, Osmos is a brilliantly designed evolution game in which players must absorb smaller organisms and avoid being absorbed by predators. The aim is to grow as large as possible, but in order to move your organism, you must expel some of your internal matter and shrink. It’s as much a game of strategy as it is of survival.

Osmos is on sale for $0.99 in the App Store.

Resume Mobile Pro

For those who decided not to visit career services at their universities and now are looking for jobs with unruly three-page resumes, this app creates a template and reminds you to fill out essential components of a professional resume. The most important feature may be that it allows you to send a PDF of your resume directly from the app to your potential employer.

Resume Mobile Pro is temporarily free in the App Store.

Things

Things is one of the most effective task manager developed for the iPhone. With separate spaces for your various commitments—from hobbies to work obligations—Things helps organize your life. Keep yourself on track with checklists and reminders and lists of goals for long-term projects. But above all, it displays what you will need to do today and allows you to manage an overwhelming schedule one day at a time.

Things is temporarily free in the App Store.

TIME Hong Kong

Hong Kong Protest Sites Slammed By ‘Largest Cyberattack Ever’

Pro-democracy activists join arms as they face off with police outside the Legislative Council building on Nov. 19, 2014 in Hong Kong.
Pro-democracy activists join arms as they face off with police outside the Legislative Council building on Nov. 19, 2014, in Hong Kong. Chris McGrath—Getty Images

The company that protects the independent media outlets said the attacks are unprecedented in scale

Media websites connected to the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement have been slammed in recent months with what has been described as one of the largest cyberattacks the Internet has ever seen.

The attacks have been leveled against websites for Apple Daily and PopVote, which held a mock-vote for Hong Kong chief executive. One of the protestors’ key demands is a free and open election for chief executive of the onetime British enclave.

The content delivery network Cloudfare, which services the sites, says the Denial of Service—or DDoS—attacks are the largest in the history of the Internet, by far. An attack in Europe brought 400 Gbps in attack traffic against an unidentified victim—the Hong Kong attacks are 500 Gbps in scale, Forbes reports. “[It’s] larger than any attack we’ve ever seen, and we’ve seen some of the biggest attacks the Internet has seen,” Cloudshare CEO Matthew Prince said.

“It’s safe to say the attackers are not sympathetic with the Hong Kong democracy movement,” Prince told Forbes, “but I don’t think we can necessarily say it’s the Chinese government. It could very well be an individual, or someone trying to make the Chinese government look bad.”

[Forbes]

TIME Gadgets

Google Sweetens the Chromebook Deal Ahead of the Holidays

Google Chromebook To Be Available Online On June 15
Google Inc. Chrome and Samsung Electronics Co.'s logos are seen on a Chromebook in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, June 9, 2011. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Free storage promotion runs until the new year

Google is offering a terabyte of free storage with its Chromebook computers for the holiday season, the company announced Friday.

Customers who buy qualifying Chromebooks priced at $199 or more will receive a two-year subscription to Google Drive with a terabyte of free storage space. That amount of space typically costs $9.99 per month, so the deal is worth about $240.

Chromebooks are stripped of many of the programs typically found on PCs, and instead offer apps that are accessed online, like Google Docs. They’ve slowly gained in marketshare since Google first unveiled the barebones laptops in 2011 — Chromebook sales are expected to triple by 2017.

The Google Drive promotion runs through January 1.

TIME Technology & Media

A TV Network Should Buy Aereo. Here’s Why.

Supreme Court Hears Case Pinning Startup Internet TV Company Aereo Against Major Broadcast Networks
In this photo illustration, Aereo.com, a web service that provides television shows online, is shown on an iPhone 4S on April 22, 2014 in New York City. Andrew Burton—Getty Images

It would help them compete against Netflix and HBO Go

Aereo, an ambitious startup that aimed to stream live broadcast television to subscribers for a small monthly fee, filed for bankruptcy Friday, months after a devastating loss at the Supreme Court. But it doesn’t have to end this way.

Aereo worked by giving each of its subscribers access to a tiny antenna that picked up broadcast television signals, which were then stored in a cloud server before being beamed over the Internet to users’ laptops or mobile devices, either almost live or well after-the-fact via DVR technology. Subscribers paid about $8 a month for the service, even though broadcasters like NBC and Fox give away their content for free to anyone with an antenna in range of their transmitters, making most of their profits from advertising.

But advertising isn’t the broadcasters’ only revenue stream. Cable companies like Time Warner Cable have for years been legally required to pay broadcasters for the right to retransmit their content to cable subscribers. What sparked the Aereo case is that Aereo didn’t pay those fees, which make up an increasingly large slice of the broadcasters’ revenues. So broadcast networks, including CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox, sued Aereo on copyright grounds. The case ultimately found its way to the Supreme Court, which in June sided against Aereo. Aereo then tried a few legal hail-marys to try saving its business, but as prime Aereo backer Barry Diller admitted over the summer, the game was over once the Court’s gavel was struck.

What I have trouble moving past is that Aereo wasn’t really charging for content, as everything you could watch on the service was free anyway. It was charging for convenience — You could watch Aereo on a laptop or iPhone, and it gave customers access to a cloud-based DVR to store their favorite shows. It also made up for the fact that, here in building-packed New York City at least, the free, over-the-air broadcasts are often difficult to watch with a regular TV aerial. Most of the people I know who used Aereo here did so because they couldn’t get reliable signals from the broadcasters. In this sense, Aereo addressed a technical failure, too. With those factors combined, Aereo was certainly worth eight bucks a month.

The broadcast networks used the courts to pummel Aereo into submission, suing a potential industry disruptor out of existence. But instead of walking away smiling, those broadcasters should realize Aereo only foreshadowed a massive industry shakeup that will change everything about television. As more people cut the cord and switch to on-demand services like Netflix and HBO Go (with the latter soon to be available without a cable subscription), cable television will slowly die out — and take those lucrative retransmission fees with them as it goes. CBS, at least, sees the writing on the door: It’s launching an innovative subscription-based online service, from which it’ll likely make money off ads, too. More broadcasters should realize that cable TV is the past, not the future. And what better, bolder move to make than buying Aereo?

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser