Axios - Technology
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Apple says flaws in latest WikiLeaks disclosure are all old

Mike Deerkoski / Flickr cc

Although much was made about a new batch of iPhone and MacBook flaws disclosed by WikiLeaks on Thursday, Apple says the issues appear to all be old, since-fixed vulnerabilities.

"We have preliminarily assessed the Wikileaks disclosures from this morning," Apple said in a statement to Axios. "Based on our initial analysis, the alleged iPhone vulnerability affected iPhone 3G only and was fixed in 2009 when iPhone 3GS was released. Additionally, our preliminary assessment shows the alleged Mac vulnerabilities were previously fixed in all Macs launched after 2013."
Apple added that it has "not negotiated with Wikileaks for any information."

We have given them instructions to submit any information they wish through our normal process under our standard terms. Thus far, we have not received any information from them that isn't in the public domain. We are tireless defenders of our users' security and privacy, but we do not condone theft or coordinate with those that threaten to harm our users.
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Twitter is weighing whether to build a paid version of TweetDeck

Richard Drew / AP

Twitter is considering whether to build premium software geared toward power users of its service.

The company already owns TweetDeck, a program geared toward those who juggle multiple Twitter accounts and spend a lot of time on the social media service. A paid version could offer extra features and bypass advertising.

Andrew Tavani, managing editor of Women in the World, first spotted a message from Twitter about the potential service.



Still pondering: It appears the idea is still in the early stages and Twitter hasn't decided if it'll build this. "We're conducting a survey to assess the interest in a new, more enhanced version of TweetDeck," a Twitter spokesperson told Axios, adding that Twitter is "exploring several ways to make TweetDeck even more valuable for professionals."

Why it matters: Twitter acquired TweetDeck in 2011 from developer Iain Dodsworth, but hasn't done much with it since as far as expanding features and capabilities. This could be a welcome option for users for whom Twitter is a critical part of doing their job.

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Marketo apologizes after video promo for its conference panned as sexist

Marketo, which specializes in helping companies promote themselves, apologized Thursday after one of its own promotions fell flat.

The ad, promoting an upcoming Marketo conference, featured a ditzy female newscaster and the company's male CEO, Steve Lucas. Marketo told Axios the ad, which was roundly criticized on Twitter, has been pulled down.

We sincerely apologize for the offense we caused with what was intended to be a light-hearted promotion for Marketing Nation Summit. The video was created to promote the conference, playing off our theme of engagement. Marketo has always had a steadfast commitment to championing diversity and empowering female leaders in technology and beyond.
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Theranos offers shares to investors if they promise not to sue

Theranos

Theranos, the embattled blood-testing company, plans to offer additional shares to existing investors if they agree not to sue the company, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal citing anonymous sources. Theranos reportedly only has $200 million in cash left, but is already facing multiple lawsuits, including from former partner Walgreens and investor Partner Fund Management.

The deal: The shares would come from founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes' personal stake in the company, which would result in her losing her majority ownership. According to the Journal, early investors aren't included in the deal, and weren't even informed of it.

Murdoch exit: Theranos has reportedly agreed to buy back the stake Rupert Murdoch, the executive chairman of News Corp. and 21st Century Fox, purchased for $125 million in 2015.

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Cable operator WOW files for IPO

WideOpenWest, the country's sixth-largest cable operator, on Thursday filed for an IPO. The filing has a $100 million target raise, but that's most likely a placeholder figure. UBS and Credit Suisse are serving as underwriters.

Financials: WOW reports $26.3 million of earnings for 2016, compared to net losses in both 2014 and 2015. Its 2016 revenue was around $1.24 billion, up slightly from $1.22 billion the year earlier.

Backers: Crestview Partners acquired a "significant stake" in WOW back in 2015 from fellow private equity firm Avista Capital Partners, and both remain listed in the company cap table (no specific ownership stakes were listed).

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Hackers claim to have millions of iCloud credentials, but Apple denies breach

Kenny Louie / Flickr CC

A group called the Turkish Crime Family is claiming to have millions of passwords for Apple's iCloud, and is demanding Apple hand over money or it will delete the accounts.

Apple, while not saying what contact it has had with the group, issued a statement saying it doesn't believe its systems have been compromised. Instead, it suggests that any account information that has fallen into the wrong hands is probably the result of other well-publicized breaches and because people reuse their passwords on multiple sites.

There have not been any breaches in any of Apple's systems including iCloud and Apple ID. The alleged list of email addresses and passwords appears to have been obtained from previously compromised third-party services.
We're actively monitoring to prevent unauthorized access to user accounts and are working with law enforcement to identify the criminals involved.

The upshot: Use different passwords on different sites and, whenever possible use two-factor authentication. It sounds simple, but most people don't do it. And if you haven't done so recently, change your iCloud password.

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Senate votes to overturn privacy rules for major internet providers

Jeff Fusco / AP

The Senate voted 50 votes to 48 on Thursday to overturn FCC rules requiring internet providers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T to get users' permission to share their personal data. That data could include what websites someone has visited and the applications they've used.

Why this matters: Big internet providers trying to compete with the dominant players in the digital ad market — Facebook and Google — want the ability to easily share customer data with advertisers. And Washington trade groups that represent Facebook and Google have also been wary of the rules since they think they set a bad precedent, even though they don't apply to those companies.

What's next: The House still hasn't voted on a similar resolution, and it would require the president's signature should it pass both chambers. But this was a big step for opponents of the FCC's rules.

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Feds moves forward with robocall fight

Robin Groulx / Axios

The Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday to formally consider steps it hopes will fight robocalls:

  • It has proposed rule changes thats would make it easier for phone companies to block calls with fake caller ID information (a practice called "spoofing") without violating the agency's rules.
  • This could apply in cases where the number showing up on caller ID hasn't been given to a user yet or when the area code in question doesn't actually exist.
  • The commission will also ask for comments about other ways to block robocalls that violate the law.

Why it matters: Robocalls are a regular source of consumer frustration but regulators have struggled to bring them to heel. The vote also follows work by a robocall "strike force" that included companies like AT&T and Verizon as well as major Silicon Valley firms.

What's next: The public can now comment on the FCC's proposals. The agency will need to vote again for the rules to go into effect.

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Amazon reportedly buys Middle Eastern e-commerce company

Ted S. Warren / AP

Amazon reportedly has agreed to acquire Souq, a Dubai-based e-commerce marketplace focused on Middle Eastern consumers. No financial terms have been disclosed, although the FT gives a sale price of around $650 million.

Why it's a big deal: Amazon not only gets some geographic expansion for it retail dominance, but this deal also reflects how it is becoming the purchaser of only resort for e-commerce startups that don't get an offer from less acquisitive Wal-Mart or Alibaba. It also would appear to be a major disappointment for Souq's later-stage investors, as the company reportedly was valued at $1 billion via a $275 million funding round 13 months ago. Backers on that deal included Tiger Global, Naspers, GIC and Standard Chartered.

Bottom line: "As China's e-commerce market has matured, dominated by homegrown giant Alibaba and hampered by slowing growth, Amazon, Alibaba and other e-commerce companies are looking to other parts of the world for growth." ― Daphne Howland

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MapR picks IPO bankers

MapR has picked Goldman Sachs to lead its upcoming IPO, Axios has learned. This comes on the heels of larger rival Cloudera hiring Morgan Stanley to lead its own offering, with the two enterprise Hadoop companies in a race to be first to market (or third, since Hortonworks has been public since 2014).

MapR is the smaller of the two companies, with a most recent post-money valuation of $500 million compared to around $4 billion for Cloudera. So, not surprisingly, it only is expected to raise between $150 million and $200 million in its IPO, compared to upwards of $400 million for Cloudera.

Both companies count Google among their investors ― Capital G for MapR and GV for Cloudera ― and neither has set filed a public S-1.