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Google Says 'State-Sponsored,' Users Hear 'China'

Google Says 'State-Sponsored,' Users Hear 'China'

Today in international tech news: Google didn't name names when it issued a warning about potential state-sponsored attacks on its users, but that hasn't stopped people from assuming that "state-sponsored" translates to "China-sponsored." Also: Starbucks' Irish Twitter account got followers steamed, and an ambitious plan could bring more mobile access to Congo.

By David Vranicar
06/06/12 8:35 AM PT

Google has announced it will warn users of suspected state-sponsored attacks on their accounts.

Google is taking its safeguards against security breaches a step further and introducing a system that will send messages to individual users whose accounts show signs of being compromised.

Google did not call out any specific countries -- just "state-sponsored." But that hasn't stopped people from speculating that China prompted the warning.

The Los Angeles Times, for one, said that "the move immediately brought [China] to mind" because of China's links to past attacks. China was accused in 2010 of hacking several foreign companies, including Google.

The blog Tech In Asia also connected the dots, asserting that Google's message was directed at China. The author of the blog post -- who himself says his account has been hacked -- points out that last week Google announced an upgrade to its Chinese search engine that will help users circumvent the Great Firewall.

Tech In Asia doesn't claim to have any sort of proof that Google is referring to China with its warnings upgrade, but it's not like Google and China haven't rubbed each other the wrong way before.

Twitter Gaffe Has Irish Steamed With Starbucks

Starbucks' Ireland Twitter account, @StarbucksIE, celebrated Queen Elizibeth II's recent diamond jubilee by asking followers to "show us what makes you proud to be British."

Problem was, that tweet was sent to about 2,000 Irish followers. And the Republic of Ireland, according to both The Guardian and your nearest history book, is not part of the United Kingdom.

Some irked Irish followers tweeted back. One wrote, "the ie stands for Ireland, awaiting the apology before I visit your stores again!!"

Starbucks Ireland apologized via Twitter and assured followers that the message was meant for UK customers.

The relationship between Ireland and the UK has proven elusive for some American companies as well. Earlier this year, Nike released a pair of shoes to commemorate St. Patrick's Day. The shoes were called "Black and Tan," and while that's the name of a famous Irish drink, it's also the name of a violent British paramilitary unit formed to suppress Irish revolution in the 1920s.

Small Antennas Could Ease Big Network Backlogs

Small antennas could become commonplace as mobile devices put an increasing amount of stress on telecommunications networks, according to an article from Bloomberg.

Bloomberg quotes a France Telecom employee who says that while the network has enough overall capacity, having a glut of people in one particular location poses a challenge.

While the article uses this week's French Open as the case study, this is a problem that transcends Roland Garros. Train stations, airports, stadiums -- anyplace where people congregate in tight spots and use their mobile devices -- are all liable to cause a slowdown. That phones are now capable of streaming movies, video chats and playing video games only exacerbates the problem.

In an effort to solve the problem, Ericsson AB, Huawei and other technology companies are tinkering with small antennas that can hang from lamp posts, traffic lights or buildings. The potential for that industry, and what it might mean for telecom companies, is discussed in the article.

Connecting Congo

Pan-African telecommunications provider RascomStar-QAF has teamed up with British technology company ip.access to bring mobile coverage to remote parts of Congo, according to the BBC.

The plan is to use picocells to reach parts of Congo -- including its vast rainforests -- that are currently cut off from mobile coverage.

This summer, 50 picocell stations, which according to Wikipedia are the size of a ream of paper, will be installed throughout the country. Each station, known as a "femtocell," will create its own private wireless network.


Tech Trek is a blog that looks at tech news from around the world. David Vranicar is a freelance journalist currently living in the Netherlands. His ECT News Network archive, with links to articles and podcasts, is available here. You can email him at david.vranicar@newsroom.ectnews.com



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