Apple Kickback Scheme: Don't Let This Happen to You

A global supply chain manager for Apple has been arrested as a result of allegedly accepting more than $1 million in bribes and kickbacks. Apple's investigation focused on personal Web-based e-mail accounts on the accused manager's Apple-issued laptop, and provides valuable lessons for enforcing policies and protecting data.

With more proactive monitoring and policy enforcement, Apple could have detected and prevented Devine's alleged unethical activities.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Paul Shin Devine is facing both a federal grand jury indictment and a civil suit from Apple following an investigation which implicates Devine for leaking confidential information to key suppliers to enable them to negotiate better contracts with Apple. In exchange, the Apple suppliers made payments to various bank accounts set up in the names of Devine and his wife according to the indictment.

Apple suspected Devine was violating corporate policy and launched an internal investigation that uncovered suspicious e-mails on his company laptop using personal accounts on Hotmail and Gmail. The e-mails divulged sensitive and confidential information to key Apple suppliers.

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The Next Smartphone I'm Buying

I should really get the iPhone 4. At least, that's what many readers are saying, after I asked on this blog last week which smartphone should replace my lint-clogged, sidewalk-scratched BlackBerry Bold 9000.

Among the 9894 people who voted in a week-long poll in that story, 44 percent chose Apple's storied (or notorious) handset.

That also means 56 percent voted against the iPhone. The runner-up, with support from 29 percent of survey takers, was the Motorola Droid X, which lost its early lead after the poll's first few days.

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Malware Call to Arms: Threat at All-Time High and Rising

McAfee recently published its McAfee Threat Report: Second Quarter 2010 revealing a variety of interesting and relevant details about the current state of the malware threat. The McAfee report contains cause for concern and demonstrates why it's more important than ever that organizations not let their computer and network security guard down.

The report finds that the volume of spam has leveled off--remaining relatively stagnant, but that the first six months of 2010 represent the most active half-year ever for malware. Attackers are targeting USB drives and other portable storage devices, and social networking services, and they are increasingly skilled at camouflaging attacks behind stories ripped from the headlines to draw the most attention from gullible users.

"Our latest threat report depicts that malware has been on a steady incline in the first half of 2010," said Mike Gallagher, senior vice president and chief technology officer of Global Threat Intelligence for McAfee in a McAfee press release. "It's also obvious that cybercriminals are becoming more in tune with what the general public is passionate about from a technology perspective and using it to lure unsuspecting victims. These findings indicate that not only should cybercrime education be more widespread, but that security organizations should move from a reactive to a predictive security strategy."

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Get Ready for Internet Explorer 9

After four platform previews aimed at demonstrating the power of the underlying Internet Explorer 9 engine to developers, Microsoft is ready to unveil a public beta of the IE9 Web browser on September 15. Many organizations are still struggling with the decision to move from IE6 to IE8, so what should businesses expect from the new Microsoft browser?

While developers have had months to play under the hood, Microsoft has not yet revealed what the actual IE9 browser interface will look like. Based on some of the IE8 feedback, and the trend competing browsers like Chrome and Firefox have been following, I would expect a cleaner, simpler interface.

Users generally want the browser to just be a Web browser. The performance of the browser--both the speed at which it renders each visited page, and compatibility with industry standards so that Web pages just work--are significantly more important factors than bells and whistles, and whiz-bang features.

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Getting Things Done With Froyo Voice Actions

Google announced a new feature called Voice Actions for Android 2.2. The interactive voice command feature improves productivity and efficiency on the go by enabling mobile business professionals to perform most common Android actions by simply talking to the smartphone.

A post on the Official Google Blog described the new feature "Voice Actions are a series of spoken commands that let you control your phone using your voice. Call businesses and contacts, send texts and email, listen to music, browse the web, and complete common tasks, all just by speaking into your phone."

Google also explains "To use Voice Actions, tap the microphone button on the Google search box on your home screen, or press down for a few seconds on the physical search button on your phone to activate the "Speak Now" screen."

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Record Patch Tuesday: Where to Begin

Microsoft unleashed a record number of security bulletins for a single month--14 security bulletins addressing 34 different vulnerabilities. IT admins need to understand the risks and prioritize the patches to ensure they aren't overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the patch avalanche.

Microsoft issued a record 14 security bulletins addressing 34 vulnerabilities for the August 2010 Patch Tuesday.
Microsoft outlined in a statement "Microsoft is providing active security protections to help customers manage and prevent threats to their computing experience through the release of 14 security bulletins. This month's bulletin package includes eight Critical and six Important updates to address 34 vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office, Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Microsoft Silverlight, Microsoft XML Core Services and Server Message Block."

Andrew Storms, director of security operations for nCircle, had this to say about the slew of Microsoft patches. "It's another movies-to-malware month for Microsoft. Four of the 14 bulletins this month fix bugs in media applications. Already this year Microsoft has fixed bugs in media applications or media file formats in February, March, April and June, so this month continues an obvious and growing trend. So much of what people do on the Internet these days includes videos or music and malware writers continue to take advantage of the fact that people are less aware of malware embedded in these files."

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Rentals Take the Sting Out of Getting the Latest Gear

Keeping up with the latest and greatest technology is often a losing game. Once you've spent a fortune on a new laptop, smartphone, or flat-screen TV, a few months later a better version comes along, leaving you stuck with yesterday's model.

Tech companies design products that are doomed from the start to be replaced by faster, more powerful upgrades.

However, tech rentals can help you enjoy the latest releases and save a chunk of money. Renting isn't right for every consumer or every product, but it can be ideal for short-term needs and other situations.

Upgrade Incentives

Although not a rental arrangement, the TechForward buyback program is built to attract consumers who want to keep a product for a while but like to upgrade regularly. Through participating merchants--including CompUSA, TigerDirect, and some RadioShack and Office Depot stores--TechForward BuyBack plans are available with new electronics purchases.

The plan costs $30 with the purchase of a laptop under $1000, or $150 for a flat-screen TV priced between $1000 and $2000. If you tire of the tech toy within six months, you're supposed to get back half of what you paid to buy. The benefit diminishes with time: Between 18 and 24 months from the purchase, for instance, you'll receive only 20 percent of the initial price.

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