Somalia internet outage is 'major disaster'

Workers haul a fibre-optic cable, which will serve East Africa, to shore at the Kenyan port town of Mombasa in 2009Image copyright Getty Images Image caption A fibre-optic link into Somalia via Kenya was opened in 2013

Somalia's government says an ongoing internet outage is costing the country $10m (£7.7m) each day.

The outage affects southern Somalia, and was caused by damage to an undersea fibre-optic cable more than two weeks ago.

Somali Post and Telecommunications Minister Abdi Anshur Hassan has called the incident a "major disaster", costing Somalia "more than $130m".

He said the cable was being fixed and service will be restored "this week".

Africa Live:Updates on this and other stories[1]

Somalia's internet 'culture shock'[2]

After more than 20 years of conflict, internet usage is low in Somalia, with just 1.6% of the population online in 2014, according to estimates by the International Telecommunication Union.

Image caption Many Somalis rely on internet cafes rather than 3G or satellite internet

That same year, 3G mobile phone services in southern Somalia were cut off because of a threat from al-Shabab Islamist militants and the ban has stayed in place ever since.

Satellite internet is available, but users complain that it is costly and slow.

Internet cafes have therefore proved popular in towns and cities, as they provide more reliable connectivity....

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Stripe strikes Alipay and WeChat Pay deal for China access

Men on bench staring at phonesImage copyright Getty Images

US digital payments firm Stripe has struck a deal to help online retailers around the world sell more easily to Chinese customers.

Merchants who use Stripe to process transactions will now be able to accept Alipay and WeChat Pay on their websites and apps.

Alipay and WeChat Pay dominate online spending in China - each having more than half a billion users.

The Chinese e-commerce market was worth an estimated $750bn last year.

But that was mainly spending done with China-based businesses, with relatively few Chinese consumers buying online from overseas because of a lack of credit cards.

'More complete'

Stripe has more than 100,000 customers globally who pay a fee to Stripe each time it processes a payment.

That means the deal's impact on its own profits will depend on China's appetite for buying products from overseas.

Talking to the BBC, Stripe co-founder John Collison would not predict how many of its customers would sell their goods or services to Chinese customers.

But he said businesses were much more likely to sell to Chinese customers if it was made easy for them - allowing retailers to focus on their core business.

"Once it has becomes a engineering project, it's much more likely to be put on the backburner, he said.

"This is much more complete than anything that's currently available."

Competition

Stripe is one of the most valuable venture-backed financial technology companies globally.

So far, it has received around $450m funding from investors, including Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz and Visa.Early backers included Paypal founders Elon Musk and Peter Thiel.

While Stripe is keen to profit from customers in China, Chinese payment firms are looking at different ways to make money from transactions done abroad.

Last month Alipay announced it was expanding in the US[1], after signing a deal - aimed at Chinese tourists visiting North America - that would allow it to be used at about 4 million businesses.

It followed a small trial in California and New York, and brings Alipay into direct competition with the likes of ApplePay, Android Pay and PayPal....

References

  1. ^ announced it was expanding in the US (www.bbc.co.uk)

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Stream-ripping is 'fastest growing' music piracy

YouTube error messageImage copyright YouTube Image caption Converting and downloading YouTube videos is a violation of the site's terms and conditions Stream-ripping is now the fastest-growing form of music piracy in the UK, new research has suggested. Several sites and apps allow users to turn Spotify songs, YouTube videos and other streaming content into permanent files to store on phones and computers. Record labels claim that "tens, or even hundreds of millions of tracks are illegally copied and distributed by stream-ripping services each month". One service alone is thought to have more than 60 million monthly users. According to research by the Intellectual Property Office[1] and PRS For Music[2], 15% of adults in the UK regularly use these services, with 33% of them coming from the 16-24 age bracket. Overall usage of stream-ripping sites increased by 141.3% between 2014 and 2016, overshadowing all other illegal music services. In September last year, these sites were used 498,681 times to pirate music in the UK.By comparison, file-sharing service BitTorrent was used 23,567 times;and Cyberlocker sites like Dropbox and Rapidshare were accessed 104,898 times. "As soon as we think we've come up with an innovative solution [to piracy], the pirates seem to come up with an even more innovative infringement tactic," said Pippa Hall, Chief Economist at the IPO. Image copyright Thinkstock Reasons given for stream-ripping included: Music was already owned by the user in another format (31% of users) Wanting to listen to music offline (26%) Wanting to listen to music on the move (25%) Cannot afford to pay for music (21%) The feeling that official music content is overpriced (20%) (These figures add up to more than 100%, as people were allowed to choose more than one response) A quarter of the people who use stream-ripping believed the sites had the necessary rights and permissions to allow them to download and rip content;and one in five said they felt they were not doing anything illegal. Only 56% per cent of consumers said they felt confident in identifying illegal content online, the IPO said. Robert Ashcroft, chief executive of PRS for Music[3], said:"We hope that this research will provide the basis for a renewed and refocused commitment to tackling online copyright infringement. "The long-term health of the UK's cultural and creative sectors is in everyone's best interests, including those of the digital service providers, and a co-ordinated industry and government approach to tackling stream-ripping is essential." There was some good news for the music industry in the IPO's research, however. It found that the average consumer spent £75 on music last year, up from £68 in 2016. Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents.If you have a story suggestion email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..[4][5][6][7] BBC Music homepage[8] BBC Music News LIVE[9]

References

  1. ^ Intellectual Property Office (www.gov.uk)
  2. ^ PRS For Music (www.prsformusic.com)
  3. ^ PRS for Music (www.prsformusic.com)
  4. ^ Facebook (www.facebook.com)
  5. ^ @BBCNewsEnts (twitter.com)
  6. ^ bbcnewsents (www.instagram.com)
  7. ^ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (www.bbc.co.uk)
  8. ^ BBC Music homepage (www.bbc.co.uk)
  9. ^ BBC Music News LIVE (www.bbc.co.uk)
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Qualcomm seeks Apple iPhone sales ban

iPhoneImage copyright Reuters

Qualcomm, the world's biggest producer of mobile phone chips, has appealed for the sale of some iPhones in the US to be blocked.

It claims that iPhones using chips by rivals, such as Intel, infringe six of its patents.

Qualcomm said it had asked the US International Trade Commission (ITC) to investigate and impose an import block.

It is the latest move in a series of disputes and lawsuits between Apple and Qualcomm.

In January, Apple filed two lawsuits against Qualcomm, claiming it had abused its dominant market position.

It also alleged the chip-maker had broken an agreement between the two companies, by denying Apple access to chip technologies it was entitled to use under the terms of a licensing deal.

The latest disagreement concerns six patents relating to energy-saving features on the iPhone, which Qualcomm says Apple has used without permission.

According to the news agency Reuters, Qualcomm has also filed a lawsuit seeking financial compensation from Apple.

"Apple continues to use Qualcomm's technology while refusing to pay for it.These lawsuits seek to stop Apple's infringement of six of our patented technologies," the company said in a statement.

Apple referred the BBC to a previous statement on Qualcomm, in which it said the company's business practices "harmed the entire industry".

"They supply us with a single connectivity component, but for years have been demanding a percentage of the total cost of our products - effectively taxing Apple's innovation", it said.

"We believe deeply in the value of intellectual property but we shouldn't have to pay them for technology breakthroughs they have nothing to do with."

Qualcomm said it hoped the ITC would begin an investigation in August....

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Petya victims given hope by researchers

ScreenshotImage copyright Screenshot Image caption Many reports suggested that screens around the world received this message, indicating a ransomware attack

A security firm says it has managed to decrypt files damaged by the recent Petya ransomware attack, on one infected computer.

The cyber-attack caused havoc[1] for businesses around the globe, but mainly in Ukraine.

The potential solution only works if the ransomware secured administration privileges to the machine.

However Positive Technologies said the concept is currently too technical for most average computer users to run.

"Once you have a proof of concept of how data can be decrypted, the information security community can take this knowledge and develop automatic tools, or simplify the methodology of getting the encryption reversed," said the firm's Dan Tara.

The company says in a blog that the creators of the ransomware made mistakes in programming the encryption algorithm Salsa 20[2] that was used with administration rights.

Mr Tara said his team had not expected to get this result when it started investigating the outbreak.

"Recovering data from a hard drive with this method requires applying heuristics, and may take several hours," said Head of Reverse Engineering Dmitry Sklyarov.

"The completeness of data recovery depends on many factors (disk size, free space, and fragmentation) and may be able to reach 100% for large disks that contain many standard files, such as OS [Operating Systems] and application components that are identical on many machines and have known values."

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionWhat is ransomware?

It is impossible to work out how many victims would have had their administration privileges taken over.

Without this, the ransomware carries out a different method of encryption which is only reversible with a private key obtainable from the criminals behind it.

However the email address that was provided was initially shut down meaning that they were not contactable by victims who chose to try to pay.

'Cause for hope'

The research team's finding only works on the recent Petya ransomware and its variants.

"It doesn't look like a working solution yet but it gives cause for hope," said security expert Prof Alan Woodward, from the University of Surrey.

Salsa20, which activates when the ransomware has admin privileges, corrupts a device's Master File Table (MFT), meaning that files are lost forever.

"What they seem to have discovered is that there's a portion of the MFT that isn't corrupted and they are suggesting they may have found a way of recovering that," Prof Woodward added.

"If that is true, that would be a significant finding.It may actually allow people to recover the so-called boot disks, that contain the original operating system, which we were assuming you couldn't do."

Earlier this week the perpetrators of the attack appeared to have accessed the ransom payments they raised and made fresh demands.

Consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser, which makes Nurofen painkillers, Dettol cleaner and Durex condoms, said the attack may have cost it £110m because of lost production and delivery time, the Financial Times reported....

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