MediaFile

Tech wrap: Netflix gets subscribers back

Netflix’s fourth-quarter revenue outpaced Wall Street’s expectations as the video rental website reversed subscriber losses to sign up more than 600,000 new U.S. customers in the period, pushing its shares up. Netflix posted a 47 percent leap in fourth-quarter revenue to $876 million, outpacing an average forecast for $857.9 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Symantec took the rare step of advising customers to stop using one of its products, saying its pcAnywhere software for accessing remote PCs is at increased risk of getting hacked after blueprints of that software were stolen. The announcement is the company’s most direct acknowledgement to date that a 2006 theft of its source code put customers at risk of attack. Also on Wednesday, Symantec reported a higher quarterly profit and issued an outlook in line with Wall Street estimates.

Europe proposed strict new data privacy rules, putting greater responsibility on companies such as Facebook to protect users’ information, and threatening those who breach the code with hefty fines. But the move, which legislators say is designed to better defend children against predators, has rattled major technology and Internet-based companies, with executives concerned the legislation will be almost impossible to implement in full or will do serious damage to their business models.

Apple’s customer service plan for the iPhone makes them more appealing to thieves because the phone’s warranty applies to the phone and not the owner, Mitch Lipka writes. This approach thrills many Apple owners, who have boasted on message boards of how generous some stores have been in replacing broken iPhones. But that same approach has apparently rewarded a lot of thieves, Lipka adds.

Tech wrap: Zappos hacked

Online shoe retailer Zappos told customers this weekend that it has been the victim of a cyber attack affecting more than 24 million customer accounts in its database. The popular retailer, which is owned by Amazon.com, said customers’ names, email addresses, billing and shipping addresses, phone numbers and the last four digits of credit card numbers and scrambled passwords were stolen. The company, which is well known for its customer service, said due to the high volume of customer calls it is expecting it will temporarily switch off its phones and direct customers to contact via email.

Hackers disrupted online access to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, El Al Airlines and three banks in what the government described as a cyber-offensive against Israel. The attacks came just days after an unidentified hacker, proclaiming Palestinian sympathies, posted the details of thousands of Israeli credit card holders and other personal information on the Internet in a mass theft. Israel opened an agency to tackle cyber attacks earlier this month.

A hacker who goes by the name of “Yama Tough” threatened Saturday to release the full source code for Symantec’s flagship Norton Antivirus software on Tuesday. Last week, Yama Tough released fragments of source code from Symantec products along with a cache of emails. The hacker said all the data was taken from Indian government servers.

Tech Summit Q&A, day 2: Symantec CEO talks privacy

Online security was a theme on day two of the 2011 Reuters Global Technology Summit.

Enrique Salem, the CEO of software security maker Symantec, suggested ways consumers can protect their privacy:

Tech M&A was also on the table.

Neil Rimer of Index Ventures gave his two cents on Microsoft buying Skype.

Reuters: “Does the Microsoft-Skype deal make sense?”

Rimer: “Yes, I think so. I think it is a phenomenal property that still is relatively underexploited. And a lot of the most promising plans that we had when we were investors in Skype still haven’t been carried out, so I still think there is a ton of opportunities ahead”

Tech wrap: Google unveils Chromebook

Google took the wraps off two Chromebook laptop PCs after nearly two years of delays and touts of its Chrome operating system as an alternative to Microsoft Windows. Samsung and Acer laptops using Chrome OS will go on sale June 15, as the world’s No. 1 Internet search engine tries to entice people to do more on the Web. As with Android, Chrome software will be free, but is expected to spur people to use the Internet more often and search for more things, potentially boosting Google’s Internet ads business.

Despite recent indications that Google is priming Chrome for use in tablets, Google says that it is “fully focused on notebooks” for the foreseeable future, writes Mashable’s Ben Parr.

Facebook users’ personal information could have been accidentally leaked to third parties, in particular advertisers, over the past few years, Symantec said in its official blog. Third-parties would have had access to personal information such as profiles, photographs and chat, and could have had the ability to post messages, the security software maker said.  Facebook had taken steps to resolve the issue, the blog post said.

from Summit Notebook:

Alphabet-shaped recovery? Try bathtub-shaped

We've all heard discussions on what letter of the alphabet the economic recovery will look like. Will it be "V" shaped -- as in, a sharp plummeting, followed by an equally sharp upswing? Or more "U" shaped -- a downturn followed by a flat period before the recovery starts? Is the lightness we're witnessing in the economy the mid-point in a more extended recovery process, mirroring the letter "W"? And heaven forbid, let's not even think we might be stuck in an "L" shaped economy, with no near or medium-term hope of improvement.

We asked the chief executives of Sybase and Symantec, our first two guests at the Reuters Global Technology Summit, what they thought the recovery graph might look like.

Sybase CEO John Chen said he remains cautious about the overall economic outlook despite talk of a "green shoots" rebound and the idea that tech spending has hit a bottom. So it's unlikely to be a V-shaped recovery or even a W-shaped recovery, Chen said. He think the economy is going through a U-shaped recovery, although it might be a year or more before we begin to climb up the right side of the "U."