Weekend news roundup

30 Jul 2012

Apple acquires fingerprint tech firm AuthenTec for US$360m

In our trawl through some of the technology news from the weekend, we find fingerprint readers may come embedded in iPhones or iPads of the future, CEO Marissa Mayer ‘Googlefies’ Yahoo!, Silicon Valley is worried about internet addiction, and South Korean police have arrested two people for hacking the personal data of 8.7m phone users.

Apple acquires fingerprint tech firm AuthenTec for US$360m

Consumer tech giant Apple’s purchase of fingerprint tech company AuthenTec means biometric readers could soon be standard on mobile devices, PC World reported.

Apple has just snapped up AuthenTec for nearly US$360m. AuthenTec makes fingerprint sensors for use in mobile devices, which could then mean future versions of the iPhone and iPad may have a fingerprint reader embedded in them.

If that turns out to be the case, then instead of having to enter passwords to unlock phones or tablets, users would just need to place their thumbs on the devices.

Or instead of entering a password on a bank’s website users would use a thumbprint, which only the real bank would be able to verify.

Is Marissa Mayer turning Yahoo! into Google?

Only two weeks in the job, and new Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer has announced free food for Yahoo! employees in Silicon Valley and is beginning to model the company on her former employer Google, AllThingsD reported.

Free food is only one of the perks Google employees enjoy at the office, and Mayer has also reportedly announced regular mass staff meetings, in another move also borrowed from Google.

Mayer is also said to be planning to introduce more widespread changes into how Yahoo! employees work and to the office environment.

“Such focus on improving cultural issues is an interesting initial move by the neophyte CEO, since the care and feeding and, most of all, cosseting of employees has been a critical element to Google’s success at creating an always sunny work environment,” Kara Swisher wrote on AllThingsD.

Internet addiction even worries Silicon Valley

When it comes to internet addiction, attention is shifting away from compulsive surfing to the effects of the demands that our phones, laptops, tablets and computers are making on us, The Observer online reported.

In China, Taiwan and Korea, internet addiction is accepted as a genuine psychiatric problem with dedicated treatment centres for teenagers who are considered to have serious problems with their web use. Next year, America’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the authority on mental illness, could include “internet use disorder” in its official listings.

In February, leaders of the largest social media companies will gather in San Francisco for the Wisdom 2.0 conference. The theme for the conference, attended by some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names, is finding balance in the digital age. Richard Fernandez, Google’s development director, has called it “quite possibly the most important gathering of our times”.

Two arrested for hacking personal data of 8.7m phone users

South Korean police have arrested two men who allegedly stole the personal information of about 8.7m mobile phone customers from KT Corp, the second biggest mobile carrier in South Korea, ZDNet reported.

The company alerted police on 13 July after detecting traces of hacking attacks. The data was collected for the last five months, starting in February 2012.

The attack, described as one of the country’s largest hacking schemes, is estimated to be valued at six figures: police said the two made about 1bn won (US$878,000) by selling the information to telemarketing companies. Those firms in turn used the details to contact customers (especially those whose contracts were close to expiration or considered likely to change phone plans), soliciting them to switch to other mobile operators.

“We deeply bow our head in apology for having your precious personal information leaked… we’ll try our best to make such things never happen again,” KT said in a statement to customers.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos donates $2.5m in support of same-sex marriage

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has thrown his support behind same-sex marriage in Washington state by donating US$2.5m to defend the cause, CNET reported.

Bezos announced Friday that he was making the donation with his wife MacKenzie to Washington United for Marriage, a group working to uphold the state’s same-sex marriage law.

Fingerprint image via Shutterstock

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