Eric Auchard http://blogs.reuters.com/eric-auchard Eric Auchard's Profile Mon, 09 Nov 2015 14:30:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.5 Iran cyberspy group hit in coordinated European raids http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/09/us-cybersecurity-iran-idUSKCN0SY1G920151109?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/eric-auchard/2015/11/09/iran-cyberspy-group-hit-in-coordinated-european-raids/#comments Mon, 09 Nov 2015 13:36:25 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/eric-auchard/?p=407 FRANKFURT (Reuters) – European authorities have taken action to shut down a cyber espionage operation linked to Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard in the first operation of its kind since Tehran signed a nuclear treaty, according to security researchers who located computers used to launch attacks.

The hacker group – dubbed “Rocket Kitten” by security experts who have been hunting the hacker group since early 2014 – has mounted cyberattacks on high-profile political and defense figures globally since that time.

The action is likely to hamper Tehran’s efforts to gather sensitive intelligence from rivals including Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, the United States and Venezuela, which were among the nations targeted.

Researchers from U.S.-Israeli security firm Check Point Software said the 1,600 high-profile targets include members of the Saudi royal family, Israeli nuclear scientists, NATO officials and Iranian dissidents and even the wives of high-ranking generals from unnamed countries.

The company said it had informed national computer security response teams in Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, who in turn alerted police in those countries to the locations of “command and control” servers used to mount attacks controlled from Iran.

Europol, the FBI and Israel’s internal security service Shin Bet declined immediate comment.

The actions come as U.S. President Barack Obama and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepare to meet on Monday for the first time since the Israeli leader lost his battle against the Iran nuclear deal and security issues top the agenda.

Check Point plans to issue a report later on Monday. According to an advance copy obtained by Reuters, the report details how its experts burrowed inside the hacker group’s database, giving them a map of malicious software tools and remote-controlled computers used by the group.

(Additional reporting by Jim Finkle in Boston, Dan Williams in Jerusalem, Anthony Deutsch and Toby Sterling in Amsterdam and Paul Sandle in London; Editing by Maria Sheahan)

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WorldRemit in talks on mobile money-transfer deals http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/06/us-mobile-transfers-worldremit-idUSKCN0SV25C20151106?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/eric-auchard/2015/11/06/worldremit-in-talks-on-mobile-money-transfer-deals/#comments Fri, 06 Nov 2015 15:34:47 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/eric-auchard/?p=405 DUBLIN (Reuters) – Free chat and calling apps that keep migrant workers in contact with family members back home are transforming the money transfer business and online remittance provider WorldRemit is seeking partnerships to capitalise on this trend, its chief executive said.

Ismail Ahmed, a Somalia-born entrepreneur who heads UK-based WorldRemit, said he’s talking to communication providers such as Facebook’s WhatsApp, Microsoft’s Skype or Rakuten’s Viber to help send money to families abroad. WorldRemit, one of Britain’s fintech start-ups, has held talks with several messaging providers and aims to close deals next year, he told Reuters.

The company expects to handle $1 billion in transactions this year and at least double revenue from 15 million pounds ($22.6 million) in 2014.

Marking its momentum, it has won regulatory approval from California that will help it enter the biggest U.S. market next week. This will drive more business with migrants there who send money home to Latin America and the Philippines, Ahmed said.

“Partnerships with messaging apps are coming next year,” Ahmed told Reuters in an interview at Web Summit, Europe’s largest annual Internet conference.

“Next year you will hear lots of announcements,” he said of the company’s strategy of pursuing tie-ups rather than acquisitions of its own.

Free, frequent calls home are changing money transfer habits, as more migrants now send amounts of as little as $20 in response to specific needs or family emergencies rather than big lump sums once every month or two, Ahmed said.

Online providers such as WorldRemit are shaking up the established retail-based money transfer business dominated by Western Union and MoneyGram by delivering money at lower cost to recipients on their mobile phones.

Disruption in a market known for high commission fees and transaction volumes estimated by the World Bank at $440 billion this year is driving a wave of consolidation across the remittance industry.

In July, PayPal agreed to buy rival remittance firm Xoom.com for $890 million, while Euronet Worldwide, owners of remittance player Ria Digital, bought forex firm XE.com for $60 million.

WorldRemit is focussed on executing its own expansion plans, Ahmed said. “We haven’t talked acquisitions with anybody at this point,” he said.

(Reporting by Eric Auchard; Editing by Keith Weir)

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Messaging software firm Slack plans mass-media push to boost growth http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/03/websummit-slack-idUSL8N12Y4YB20151103?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/eric-auchard/2015/11/03/messaging-software-firm-slack-plans-mass-media-push-to-boost-growth/#comments Tue, 03 Nov 2015 18:24:16 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/eric-auchard/?p=403 DUBLIN, Nov 3 (Reuters) – Slack, the group messaging
platform valued at nearly $3 billion, plans to accelerate its
growth by spending some of its $250 million cash pile on
mass-market advertising, founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield
said.

“We are switching from trying to keep up with growth to
trying to generate growth,” Butterfield said in an interview at
Web Summit, Europe’s biggest conference for start-ups.

“Slack can afford to pay a pretty high price to acquire paid
users. If we are able to grow this company through advertising,
that is my preference,” he said.

The move comes even though Slack is already growing at more
than 10 percent per month and has acquired 480,000 users since
it was introduced 21 months ago, Butterfield said.

Slack’s team messaging software has gone viral over the past
year among business users while often flying under the radar of
information technology departments.

Now though, the company is targeting paid corporate users
and positioning itself as a “platform” that can support office
functions ranging from expense reporting to travel bookings and
project management.

Butterfield pointed to Chinese consumer messaging app
WeChat, a unit of Tencent, as a model. WeChat includes
features that allows people to search for jobs, buy clothing and
perform other tasks.

“WeChat is very similar to what we are doing for business
users,” Butterfield said.

Slack shot to prominence this year after joining the ranks
of so-called “unicorns” – companies valued at more than $1
billion. It has raised $340 million to date and was recently
valued at $2.8 billion.

Butterfield, who previously co-founded the photo service
Flickr, said Slack has about $250 million in the bank and plans
to use some of it on in print advertising, sponsorships and
online marketing.

Slack’s concept of helping teams of co-workers share quick,
conversational updates on what they are doing or thinking or
reading is displacing many of the functions for which email has
long served, while challenging basic business software precepts.

But the company is resisting the conventional way business
software is sold by putting off hiring a corporate sales force.
The basic software is free, and Slack only charges for
additional features once businesses opt to incorporate it more
broadly into their operations.

Butterfield says Slack will rely on a growing network of
hundreds of software partners to create features that run on top
of Slack. The company recently hired Allison Underwood, the
former head of platform development at Twitter to run Slack’s
platform expansion.

(Editing by Jonathan Weber and David Evans)

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Activision Blizzard buys ‘Candy Crush’ maker for $5.9 billion in mobile push http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/03/us-king-digital-m-a-activision-idUSKCN0SS07Z20151103?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/eric-auchard/2015/11/03/activision-blizzard-buys-candy-crush-maker-for-5-9-billion-in-mobile-push/#comments Tue, 03 Nov 2015 14:35:39 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/eric-auchard/?p=400 DUBLIN (Reuters) – Video game maker Activision Blizzard (ATVI.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) is to buy “Candy Crush Saga” creator King Digital Entertainment (KING.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) for $5.9 billion, as the heavyweight of console and PC gaming makes a major push into the faster-growing mobile market.

The deal would be one of the biggest in the industry in recent years, more than twice the size of Microsoft’s (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) $2.5 billion purchase of “Minecraft” maker Mojang last year, and the biggest-ever acquisition of a mobile gaming company.

The failure of King to replicate the success of Candy Crush with follow-up titles such as “Farm Heroes” and “Pet Rescue” has led some investors to worry it may be a one-hit wonder.

But Activision is betting its experience in sustaining long-running blockbuster franchises like “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft” can help it develop new hit series.

The deal also gives the U.S. company a major presence in the mobile market, where games sales are expected to grow 21 percent this year to $20.6 billion, according to research firm Newzoo.

That compares with expected growth of 7 percent for computer games and 2 percent for TV and console games, although they will still represent the lion’s share of the $91.5 billion overall industry, according to the industry researchers.

Activision is paying $18 per share in cash, a takeover premium of 16 percent over King’s current market value, showing how the company’s fortunes have flagged since its 2012 initial public offering at $22.50 per share.

The company’s net revenue – still heavily reliant on Candy Crush – fell 16 percent in the second quarter.

500 MLN USERS

With the gaming business driven as much by hits as the movie business, some young companies like Finland’s Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds, and online games company Zygna (ZNGA.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) have faded from prominence.

Analysts from Jefferies said the task facing King of replicating the success of Candy Crush was a “daunting task”.

“We expect a heavy dose of scepticism from investors especially given the large deal size,” said the brokerage, which nonetheless recommends investors continue buying Activision shares.

Activision said buying King would help broaden the reach of its games, adding that 60 percent of King’s players were female, and that the combined company would have more than 500 million monthly active users across the world.

It said the deal would add to its estimated 2016 adjusted revenue and earnings by about 30 percent. It added it would use $3.6 billion of cash held offshore to fund the acquisition, and borrow the rest.

King will continue to operate as an independent unit led by Chief Executive Riccardo Zacconi, who told Reuters that Activision appealed to him because of the company’s expertise in building long-lasting franchises.

European private equity fund Apax [APAX.UL] listed King in 2014 and holds a 44.68 percent stake in the company, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The deal, expected to be completed by spring 2016, is subject to approval by King’s shareholders and the Irish High Court, and clearances by antitrust authorities.

(Additional reporting by Supriya Kurane in Bengaluru, Liana Baker in New York and Freya Berry in London; Editing by Pravin Char)

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Activision Blizzard to buy ‘Candy Crush’ maker King for $5.9 billion http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/11/03/us-king-digital-m-a-activision-idUKKCN0SS07Z20151103?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11708 http://blogs.reuters.com/eric-auchard/2015/11/03/activision-blizzard-to-buy-candy-crush-maker-king-for-5-9-billion/#comments Tue, 03 Nov 2015 14:22:49 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/eric-auchard/?p=397 DUBLIN (Reuters) – Video game maker Activision Blizzard (ATVI.O: Quote, Profile, Research) it to buy “Candy Crush Saga” creator King Digital Entertainment (KING.N: Quote, Profile, Research) for $5.9 billion, as the heavyweight of console and PC gaming makes a major push into the faster-growing mobile market.

The deal would be one of the biggest in the industry in recent years, more than twice the size of Microsoft’s (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research) $2.5 billion purchase of “Minecraft” maker Mojang last year, and the biggest-ever acquisition of a mobile gaming company.

The failure of King to replicate the success of Candy Crush with follow-up titles such as “Farm Heroes” and “Pet Rescue” has led some investors to worry it may be a one-hit wonder.

But Activision is betting its experience in sustaining long-running blockbuster franchises like “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft” can help it develop new hit series.

The deal also gives the U.S. company a major presence in the mobile market, where games sales are expected to grow 21 percent this year to $20.6 billion, according to research firm Newzoo.

That compares with expected growth of 7 percent for computer games and 2 percent for TV and console games, although they will still represent the lion’s share of the $91.5 billion overall industry, according to the industry researchers.

Activision is paying $18 per share in cash, a takeover premium of 16 percent over King’s current market value, showing how the company’s fortunes have flagged since its 2012 initial public offering at $22.50 per share.

The company’s net revenue – still heavily reliant on Candy Crush – fell 16 percent in the second quarter.

500 MLN USERS

With the gaming business driven as much by hits as the movie business, some young companies like Finland’s Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds, and online games company Zygna (ZNGA.O: Quote, Profile, Research) have faded from prominence.

Analysts from Jefferies said the task facing King of replicating the success of Candy Crush was a “daunting task”.

“We expect a heavy dose of scepticism from investors especially given the large deal size,” said the brokerage, which nonetheless recommends investors continue buying Activision shares.

Activision said buying King would help broaden the reach of its games, adding that 60 percent of King’s players were female, and that the combined company would have more than 500 million monthly active users across the world.

It said the deal would add to its estimated 2016 adjusted revenue and earnings by about 30 percent. It added it would use $3.6 billion of cash held offshore to fund the acquisition, and borrow the rest.

King will continue to operate as an independent unit led by Chief Executive Riccardo Zacconi, who told Reuters that Activision appealed to him because of the company’s expertise in building long-lasting franchises.

European private equity fund Apax [APAX.UL] listed King in 2014 and holds a 44.68 percent stake in the company, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The deal, expected to be completed by spring 2016, is subject to approval by King’s shareholders and the Irish High Court, and clearances by antitrust authorities.

(Additional reporting by Supriya Kurane in Bengaluru, Liana Baker in New York and Freya Berry in London; Editing by Pravin Char)

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Activision Blizzard to buy “Candy Crush” maker King for $5.9 bln http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/11/03/king-digital-ma-activision-idUKL3N12Y1HB20151103?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11708 http://blogs.reuters.com/eric-auchard/2015/11/03/activision-blizzard-to-buy-candy-crush-maker-king-for-5-9-bln/#comments Tue, 03 Nov 2015 14:21:45 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/eric-auchard/?p=399 DUBLIN, Nov 3 (Reuters) – Video game maker Activision
Blizzard it to buy “Candy Crush Saga” creator King
Digital Entertainment for $5.9 billion, as the
heavyweight of console and PC gaming makes a major push into the
faster-growing mobile market.

The deal would be one of the biggest in the industry in
recent years, more than twice the size of Microsoft’s
$2.5 billion purchase of “Minecraft” maker Mojang last year, and
the biggest-ever acquisition of a mobile gaming company.

The failure of King to replicate the success of Candy Crush
with follow-up titles such as “Farm Heroes” and “Pet Rescue” has
led some investors to worry it may be a one-hit wonder.

But Activision is betting its experience in sustaining
long-running blockbuster franchises like “Call of Duty” and
“World of Warcraft” can help it develop new hit series.

The deal also gives the U.S. company a major presence in the
mobile market, where games sales are expected to grow 21 percent
this year to $20.6 billion, according to research firm Newzoo.

That compares with expected growth of 7 percent for computer
games and 2 percent for TV and console games, although they will
still represent the lion’s share of the $91.5 billion overall
industry, according to the industry researchers.

Activision is paying $18 per share in cash, a takeover
premium of 16 percent over King’s current market value, showing
how the company’s fortunes have flagged since its 2012 initial
public offering at $22.50 per share.

The company’s net revenue – still heavily reliant on Candy
Crush – fell 16 percent in the second quarter.

500 MLN USERS

With the gaming business driven as much by hits as the movie
business, some young companies like Finland’s Rovio, the maker
of Angry Birds, and online games company Zygna have
faded from prominence.

Analysts from Jefferies said the task facing King of
replicating the success of Candy Crush was a “daunting task”.

“We expect a heavy dose of scepticism from investors
especially given the large deal size,” said the brokerage, which
nonetheless recommends investors continue buying Activision
shares.

Activision said buying King would help broaden the reach of
its games, adding that 60 percent of King’s players were female,
and that the combined company would have more than 500 million
monthly active users across the world.

It said the deal would add to its estimated 2016 adjusted
revenue and earnings by about 30 percent. It added it would use
$3.6 billion of cash held offshore to fund the acquisition, and
borrow the rest.

King will continue to operate as an independent unit led by
Chief Executive Riccardo Zacconi, who told Reuters that
Activision appealed to him because of the company’s expertise in
building long-lasting franchises.

European private equity fund Apax listed King in
2014 and holds a 44.68 percent stake in the company, according
to Thomson Reuters data.

The deal, expected to be completed by spring 2016, is
subject to approval by King’s shareholders and the Irish High
Court, and clearances by antitrust authorities.

(Additional reporting by Supriya Kurane in Bengaluru, Liana
Baker in New York and Freya Berry in London; Editing by Pravin
Char)

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STMicro pares back manufacturing, cuts Q4 outlook http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/29/stmicroelectron-results-idUSL8N12T0PY20151029?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/eric-auchard/2015/10/29/stmicro-pares-back-manufacturing-cuts-q4-outlook/#comments Thu, 29 Oct 2015 07:07:46 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/eric-auchard/?p=395 FRANKFURT/PARIS, Oct 29 (Reuters) – Franco-Italian chipmaker
STMicroelectronics on Thursday posted
weaker-than-expected quarterly results and said lower spending
in China, especially on autos, had led it to cut back its
manufacturing plans and reduce its fourth-quarter outlook.

Europe’s largest semiconductor maker reported third-quarter
net revenue of $1.76 billion (1.61 bln euros), a decline of 6.5
percent from the year-ago quarter. Analysts were looking for
revenue, on average, of $1.81 billion, according to Thomson
Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company reported an improved third-quarter gross margin
of 34.8 percent, but shy of the 35 percent consensus which
analysts were expecting.

ST blamed a progressive deterioration in market conditions
during the third quarter stemming from lower consumer spending
in China spilling over to affect overall electronics demand in
Asia and globally, particularly in the automotive segment.

“The softer market demand during the third quarter has led
us to adjust down our manufacturing plan for the fourth
quarter,” ST Chief Executive Carlo Bozotti said in a statement.

ST forecast revenue for the fourth quarter to decline by
anywhere from 2.5 percent to 9.5 percent compared to the third
quarter. It said gross margins would fall back to around 33.5
percent, plus or minus 2 percentage points.

The midpoint of the projected revenue range, 6 percent,
would result in revenue of around $1.65 billion, far below the
$1.825 billion which analysts were predicting for the fourth
quarter, according to 21 estimates complied by Thomson Reuters.

The company postponed announcing plans for its struggling
digital products group until the first quarter of 2016, saying
only that it had narrowed its options. ST’s move to explore
“radical options,” including job restructuring or the possible
sale of the business, have met with political resistance in
France.

(1 euro = $1.0942)

(Reporting By Eric Auchard in Frankfurt and Joseph Sotinel in
Paris; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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TalkTalk cyberattack: who, what and why? http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/23/talktalk-cyberattack-questions-idUSL8N12N3XM20151023?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/eric-auchard/2015/10/23/talktalk-cyberattack-who-what-and-why/#comments Fri, 23 Oct 2015 17:32:33 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/eric-auchard/?p=393 FRANKFURT, Oct 23 (Reuters) – The cyberattack on British
broadband supplier TalkTalk this week raises a host of
questions over who could be behind it and what their aims are.

TalkTalk said on Friday it had received a ransom demand from
an unidentified party claiming responsibility for the attack
that may have led to the theft of personal data from its more
than 4 million customers, including bank and credit card
details.

Computer experts say details provided by TalkTalk and
publicly available network data suggest that the hackers gained
access by exploiting vulnerabilities in TalkTalk’s customer
website rather than by some form of insider attack.

Samples of financial data which appeared to come from
TalkTalk customers are already for sale in cybercriminal forums
on the so-called dark web, experts from two separate security
research firms, FireEye and Rapid7, told Reuters.

A TalkTalk spokeswoman declined to comment, citing the
ongoing police investigation.

Most experts say they want to wait to learn more technical
details following the police investigation before they try to
assess how the attack took place and who may be responsible. It
may take weeks or months for forensic investigators to unravel
what happened.

But theories have been put forward.

Copenhagen-based cyber forensics investigator Jens Monrad
said hackers seeking to exploit the value of stolen customer
data often publish small samples of stolen data in order to
attract buyers in the criminal underworld who will in turn try
and exploit customer details for financial gain.

Adrian Culley, a former detective at Scotland Yard’s
cybercrime unit, told the BBC the cyberattack appeared to be the
work of an Islamist group, but provided no specific evidence for
his theory.

“We are aware of speculation regarding alleged perpetrators;
this investigation remains at an early stage; a full assessment
of the alleged data theft is ongoing,” London’s Metropolitan
Police Cyber Crime Unit said in a statement.

An attack on French television network TV5Monde in April
that was originally attributed to pro-Islamic State hackers is
now believed by many security experts to be the work of a
Russian-based hacking group which they have dubbed APT 28.

Gavin Millard, the Europe, Middle East and Africa regional
technical director of U.S. security firm Tenable Networks, said
the breadth and regularity of attacks had led the American
public to suffer “breach fatigue,” a hapless passivity in the
face of forces beyond their control.

Retailers such as Target, Wall Street bank J.P.
Morgan and several U.S. healthcare providers have each
had tens of millions of customer records stolen. These attacks
affected far more customers than the TalkTalk assault, which
nonetheless ranks as one of the biggest ever in Britain.

The difficulties involved in tracing those behind such hacks
have been shown by the investigations into the attack on
infidelity website Ashley Madison in August, when details of 39
million customers of were leaked, and into the invasion of the
corporate network of Sony Corp’s film studios last year.

No culprit has been identified in either attack yet, despite
many false trails.

(Editing by Pravin Char)

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TalkTalk gets ransom demand after hit by cyber attack http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/23/us-talktalk-tlcm-gp-cyberattack-idUSKCN0SH0IU20151023?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/eric-auchard/2015/10/23/talktalk-gets-ransom-demand-after-hit-by-cyber-attack/#comments Fri, 23 Oct 2015 13:20:25 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/eric-auchard/?p=391 LONDON/FRANKFURT (Reuters) – British broadband provider TalkTalk said on Friday it had received a ransom demand from an unidentified party claiming responsibility for a cyber attack that could have led to the theft of personal data from its more than 4 million customers.

The data could include credit card and bank details, and if the theft is confirmed by a police investigation it would be one of Britain’s biggest online security breaches.

“We have been contacted by, I don’t know whether it is an individual or a group, purporting to be the hacker,” TalkTalk CEO Dido Harding told the BBC, without giving details.

Jens Monrad, a Copenhagen-based security expert for U.S. cyber defense firm FireEye, also told Reuters that samples of financial data which appeared to come from TalkTalk customers had been spotted for sale in cybercriminal forums on the so-called dark web.

A TalkTalk spokeswoman declined to comment, citing the ongoing police investigation.

The attack is potentially one of the largest and most damaging to hit a British company, and follows dozens of high-profile cases targeting retailers and banks in North America.

The details of millions of customers of infidelity website Ashley Madison were leaked in August after a massive cyber assault, while Sony Corp’s film studios were hit last year.

TalkTalk said late on Thursday there was a chance names, addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers, email addresses, TalkTalk account information, credit card details and/or bank details had been accessed.

“Potentially this could affect all of our customers. I don’t know for certain, which is why we are taking the precaution of reaching out to everyone,” Harding told the BBC.

THIRD BREACH THIS YEAR

The attack is the third data breach to hit TalkTalk this year, and experts said it would damage the reputation of the company, which competes with bigger rivals BT, Virgin Media and Sky in the broadband market.

“Their brand will be damaged and their customers will say it is the final straw,” said computer security expert Graham Cluley.

Shares in TalkTalk, which had fallen 7 percent since the group’s websites went down on Wednesday, fell as much as 8.5 percent on Friday to a two-year low of 238 pence.

Some customers took to Twitter to vent their anger.

“I see #talktalk has been hacked again, seriously need to go to another provider, especially as I find out via BBC and not TalkTalk,” said Cardiff-based user Lan.

Monrad said hackers seeking to exploit the value of stolen customer data often publish small samples of stolen data in order to attract buyers in the underworld who will in turn try and exploit customer details for financial gain.

“Our field intelligence operation has found what appears to be a direct dump of various database information from TalkTalk,” he told Reuters in an interview.

He said the samples FireEye has collected contain specific bank account and credit card information from what appears to be TalkTalk customers.

A TalkTalk spokesman said the company was trying to determine whether key customer financial details and passwords were protected by encryption in the company’s databases.

“We are still investigating the extent of information accessed and exactly what customer data may have been compromised,” the spokesman said.

The Metropolitan Police said its cyber crime unit was investigating an alleged data theft from a telecommunications website, without giving details.

Personal data including names, addresses and phone numbers were stolen from TalkTalk at the start of the year, and in August servers owned by Carphone Warehouse, the retailer which founded TalkTalk, were attacked, potentially affecting 480,000 TalkTalk mobile customers.

(Editing by Jason Neely and Mark Potter)

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Ericsson profit misses forecasts, hit by China slowdown http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/23/ericsson-results-idUSL8N12N0G120151023?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/eric-auchard/2015/10/23/ericsson-profit-misses-forecasts-hit-by-china-slowdown/#comments Fri, 23 Oct 2015 10:12:05 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/eric-auchard/?p=389 STOCKHOLM/FRANKFURT, Oct 23 (Reuters) – Slowing demand for
new mobile networks in China pushed third quarter sales and
profit for Sweden’s Ericsson below forecasts and
reinforced concerns that another major growth market had passed
its peak.

Like-for-like sales at Ericsson, the world’s biggest maker
of mobile telecoms network equipment, dropped 9 percent in the
third quarter, with declines in China and Europe.

Ericsson and industry rivals are in the middle of a
decade-long investment cycle but initial build-outs of the
latest high-speed 4G equipment are slowing in major markets such
as China, Europe and the United States.

Ericsson Chief Executive Hans Vestberg said the slowdown in
China was not tied to the broader economic situation there and
that it was normal for the pace of network spending to fluctuate
between quarters.

“I cannot speculate when it will come back, but long-term,
medium-term, I think 4G will continue to grow in China,” he told
reporters on a conference call. Reorganisations at Chinese
operators may have contributed to lower spending, he added.

Ericsson shares were down 6.6 percent by 0951 GMT and
analysts were unimpressed.

“The Chinese market that has been a significant contributor
to systems sales for several quarters dropped 20 percent year
over year and 1 percent from the second quarter,” said Bengt
Nordstrom, head of telecoms consultancy Northstream.

“That indicates the 4G roll out in China has peaked.”

Prior to Friday, the stock had dropped 6.4 percent this
year, underperforming the STOXX Europe 600 Technology index
, which had gained 12 percent.

Ericsson shares have also come under pressure after rivals
Nokia and Alcatel Lucent agreed to merge in
a 15.6 billion euro deal to create the world’s second-largest
mobile gear maker after Ericsson.

SALES SUFFER

Ericsson’s like-for-like sales have been flat over the past
three years and are down 7 percent so far this year, raising
questions over its growth prospects.

Late last year, Ericsson cut its growth forecasts for the
network equipment market in coming years and financial analysts
question where the company will find fresh impetus in 2016.

Like-for-like sales at the group’s mainstay networks unit,
plunged 15 percent and were down in all regions of the world
except for India and South East Asia.

While revenue had stabilised for Ericsson’s mobile broadband
business in North America, which accounts for 21 percent of all
network sales so far this year, it remained lower than at the
peak a year ago.

Operating profit was 5.1 billion Swedish crowns ($604
million) compared to 3.9 billion in the year-ago quarter and
below a mean forecast of 5.4 billion crowns in a Reuters poll of
analysts.

To compensate, Ericsson is investing in areas of faster
growth and aims to boost the share of sales to media, Internet
and corporate clients outside of its classic telecom customer
base to 20-25 percent in 2020 from around 10 percent in 2013.

Overall sales at Ericsson were 59.2 billion crowns, below a
forecast of 60.9 billion. The gross margin was 33.9 percent
against a mean forecast of 34.9 percent.

Link to report:
($1 = 8.4446 Swedish crowns)

(Additional reporting by Olof Swahnberg; Editing by Alistair
Scrutton and Keith Weir)

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