April 18, 2021

Google Glass Picks Up Early Signal: Keep Out

But the resistance is already under way.

The glasseslike device, which allows users to access the Internet, take photos and film short snippets, has been pre-emptively banned by a Seattle bar. Large parts of Las Vegas will not welcome wearers. West Virginia legislators tried to make it illegal to use the gadget, known as Google Glass, while driving.

“This is just the beginning,” said Timothy Toohey, a Los Angeles lawyer specializing in privacy issues. “Google Glass is going to cause quite a brawl.”

As personal technology becomes increasingly nimble and invisible, Glass is prompting questions of whether it will distract drivers, upend relationships and strip people of what little privacy they still have in public.

A pair of lens-less frames with a tiny computer attached to the right earpiece, Glass is promoted by Google as “seamless and empowering.” It will have the ability to capture any chance encounter, from a celebrity sighting to a grumpy salesclerk, and broadcast it to millions in seconds.

“We are all now going to be both the paparazzi and the paparazzi’s target,” said Karen L. Stevenson, a lawyer with Buchalter Nemer in Los Angeles.

Google stresses that Glass is a work in progress, with test versions now being released to 2,000 developers. Another 8,000 “explorers,” people handpicked by Google, will soon get a pair.

Among the safeguards to make it less intrusive: you have to speak or touch it to activate it, and you have to look directly at someone to take a photograph or video of them.

“We are thinking very carefully about how we design Glass because new technology always raises new issues,” said Courtney Hohne, a Google spokeswoman.

Developers, however, are already cracking the limits of Glass. One created a small sensation in tech circles last week with a program that eliminated the need for gestures or voice commands. To snap a picture, all the user needs to do is wink.

The 5 Point Cafe, a Seattle dive bar, was apparently the first to explicitly ban Glass. In part it was a publicity stunt — extremely successful, too, as it garnered worldwide attention — but the bar’s owner, Dave Meinert, said there was a serious side. The bar, he said, was “kind of a private place.”

The legislators in West Virginia were not joking at all. The state banned texting while driving last year but hands-free devices are permitted. That left a loophole for Google Glass. The legislation was introduced too late to gain traction before the most recent session ended, but its sponsor says he is likely to try again.

In Las Vegas, a Caesars Entertainment spokesman noted that computers and recording devices were prohibited in casinos. “We will not allow people to wear Glass while gambling or attending our shows,” he said.

Louis Brandeis and Samuel Warren famously noted in 1890 that “numerous mechanical devices threaten to make good the prediction that ‘what is whispered in the closet shall be proclaimed from the house-tops.’ ”

Glass is arriving just as the courts, politicians, privacy advocates, regulators, law enforcement and tech companies are once again arguing over the boundaries of technology in every walk of life.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted last month to require law enforcement to have a warrant to access e-mail, not just a subpoena. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s use of devices that mimic cellphone towers to track down criminals is being challenged in an Arizona case. A California district court recently ruled that private messages on social media were protected without a warrant.

“Google Glass will test the right to privacy versus the First Amendment,” said Bradley Shear, a social media expert at George Washington University.

Google has often been at the forefront of privacy issues. In 2004, it began a free e-mail service, making money by generating ads against the content. Two dozen privacy groups protested. Regulators were urged to investigate whether eavesdropping laws were being violated.

For better or worse, people got used to the idea, and the protests quickly dissipated. Gmail now has over 425 million users. In a more recent episode, the company’s unauthorized data collection during its Street View mapping project prompted government investigations in a dozen countries.

Like many Silicon Valley companies, Google takes the attitude that people should have nothing to hide from intrusive technology.

“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place,” said Eric Schmidt, then Google’s chief executive, in 2009.

Glass is a major step in Google’s efforts to diversify beyond search, and potentially an extremely lucrative move. Piper Jaffray, an analyst firm, estimates that wearable technology and another major initiative, self-driving cars, could ultimately be a $500 billion opportunity for the company. In the shorter term, IHS, a forecasting firm, estimates that shipments of smart glasses, led by Google Glass, could be as high as 6.6 million in three years.

Thad Starner, a pioneer of wearable computing who is a technical adviser to the Glass team, says he thinks concerns about disruption are overblown.

“Asocial people will be able to find a way to do asocial things with this technology, but on average people like to maintain the social contract,” Mr. Starner said. He added that he and colleagues had experimented with Glass-type devices for years, “and I can’t think of a single instance where something bad has happened.”

An incident at a Silicon Valley event shows, however, the way the increasing ease in capturing a moment can lead to problems — even if unintentionally.

Adria Richards, who worked for the Colorado e-mail company SendGrid, was offended by the jokes two men were cracking behind her at the PyCon developers conference. She posted a picture of them on Twitter with the mildly reproving comment, “Not cool.”

One of the men, who has not been identified, was immediately fired by his employer, PlayHaven. “There is another side to this story,” he wrote on a hacking site, saying it was barely one lame sexual joke. “She gave me no warning, she smiled while she snapped the pic and sealed my fate,” he complained.

Critics lashed out at Ms. Richards, using language much more offensive than the two men used. SendGrid was hacked. The company dismissed Ms. Richards, saying there was such an uproar over her conduct, it “put our business in danger.

“I don’t think anyone who was part of what happened at PyCon that day could possibly have imagined how this issue would have exploded into the public consciousness,” Ms. Richards reflected later. She has not posted on Twitter since.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/07/technology/personaltech/google-glass-picks-up-early-signal-keep-out.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Kurtz Leaves Daily Beast After Column Is Retracted

Tina Brown, the editor in chief, said in a Twitter post that Mr. Kurtz had “parted company” with the two online news sites. She did not give a reason, but the announcement came as Mr. Kurtz has been embroiled in a controversy over a blog post he wrote about the basketball player Jason Collins.

Mr. Collins co-wrote a Sports Illustrated article that was published on Monday in which he acknowledged that he was gay. In a post earlier this week, Mr. Kurtz lambasted Mr. Collins for not admitting in the article that he had once been engaged to be married.

But Mr. Collins had written about his engagement to a woman. The error made it appear as if Mr. Kurtz had not read the material, and he became the target of gleeful bashing on Twitter. The Daily Beast retracted the article on Thursday.

Mr. Kurtz, one of the most prominent media critics in the country, particularly from his time at The Washington Post, also came under scrutiny for the time he was spending on other ventures. On Wednesday, the Huffington Post columnist Michael Calderone wrote about Mr. Kurtz’s writing for and promoting an unaffiliated Web site called The Daily Download.

“This is not a reaction to the Jason Collins story or the Daily Download situation,” said a staff member at The Daily Beast, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the organization wanted Ms. Brown’s statement to be its only public comment.

“It’s been apparent for some time that Howie has a lot of other irons in the fire,” the staff member said.

In a Twitter message posted about an hour after his exit was reported, Mr. Kurtz wrote: “I’ve enjoyed my time at the Daily Beast but as we began to move in different directions, both sides agreed it was best to part company.”

He added in another message, “This was in the works for some time, but want to wish all my colleagues continued success with a terrific website.”

A spokeswoman for CNN did not respond to a request for comment about whether Mr. Kurtz would continue to host “Reliable Sources,” the channel’s Sunday media review show. Mr. Kurtz has led the show for over a decade.

Brian Stelter contributed reporting.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/03/business/media/howard-kurtz-leaves-daily-beast-after-column-is-retracted.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Anheuser-Busch InBev Reports a Small Profit Increase

Core profit, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, rose 0.9 percent to $3.43 billion, but was below even the lowest forecast in a Reuters poll of brokers. Anheuser-Busch also reported sales declines in every region except Asia, where China was exceptionally strong.

The company, which has a two-thirds share of the Brazilian beer market, said consumers there drank 8.2 percent less beer than a year ago because of the earlier timing of the Carnival, poor weather and high food inflation. It also lost market share.

“Brazil has been a great banker for years. It wobbled a bit last year. Now, it’s taken a further leg down,” said Andrew Holland, beverage analyst at Societe Generale.

The company, which makes Budweiser, Stella and Beck’s, missed first-quarter profit forecasts, and said that Brazilian sales volumes were likely to be flat or down by a low-single-digit percentage this year. It had previously forecast low- to mid-single digit growth there.

The world’s top brewers are relying on emerging markets for growth amid a prolonged squeeze on consumer incomes in austerity-hit Europe and limited expansion in the United States. But bad weather and tax-related price increases have posed challenges recently.

Felipe Dutra, the company’s chief financial officer, said the early Carnival in Brazil, which shortened the summer drinking season, and wet weather had been known factors. But March proved particularly weak, with industry volumes down by a percentage in the high teens.

“We had continued weak weather into March,” Mr. Dutra said. “But we also saw a peak in food inflation which impacts real disposable income.”

Brazilian inflation accelerated in March to 6.59 percent, breaching the official target ceiling of 6.5 percent for the first time since November 2011.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/01/business/anheuser-busch-inbev-reports-a-small-profit-increase.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Japan Expects to Meet Inflation Target by 2015, but Skeptics Abound

HONG KONG — Deflation remains firmly entrenched in Japan, figures showed on Friday, despite optimistic forecasts from the country’s central bank, highlighting that there are no quick fixes for one of the world’s largest economies.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took office last December, has made the fight against deflation — the damaging decline in prices, profits and wages that has dogged Japan for most of the last 15 years — a central tenet of his economic policy. At his urging, the central bank committed to a target of 2 percent annual inflation, considered by many economists a healthy level.

On Friday, the central bank, the Bank of Japan, under the leadership of its new governor, Haruhiko Kuroda, put a date on that target: 2015 or early 2016.

“Various indicators are showing signs that inflation expectations are heightening as a trend,” Mr. Kuroda said in a news conference on Friday, Reuters reported. “Business and household sentiment is improving.”

“Japan’s economy has stopped weakening and has shown some signs of picking up,” the Bank of Japan said in its economic report. “Looking ahead, it is expected to return to a moderate recovery path around mid-2013.” The bank cited a likely improvement in domestic demand as the increased money supply and other economic measures announced took effect.

The central bank also raised its growth forecasts for this year and the next. The bank said the economy would gradually accelerate to 1.6 percent growth in the fiscal year that ends in March 2016.

The optimistic projections were made as worse-than-expected economic data for March was released by the statistics bureau. Core consumer prices, which exclude food, fell 0.5 percent compared with March 2012, the fifth consecutive month of year-on-year declines.

The news added to the doubts of some economists that Japan’s grinding deflationary era would end soon. The figure “offered another reminder that deflationary pressures remain strong,” Izumi Devalier, Japan economist at HSBC, wrote in a research note. Although a gradual escape from deflation is expected, thanks in part to higher energy prices, she said the inflation rate was unlikely to match what she called the Bank of Japan’s “optimistic projections.”

The hurdle for reaching the inflation target is “getting higher,” Miwako Nakamura, an economist at J. P. Morgan, wrote in a research note.

Shortly after Mr. Kuroda took the top job at the central bank this month, it announced unexpectedly bold steps aimed at reinvigorating economic and price growth. The bank committed to inflating the economy by aggressively doubling its holdings of government bonds in two years. Mr. Kuroda described the program as “monetary easing in an entirely new dimension.” It was widely heralded as a marked change from incremental steps pursued by his predecessors.

The financial markets have welcomed Mr. Abe’s and Mr. Kuroda’s joint efforts. The Nikkei 225-stock index has risen 30 percent since the start of the year, while the yen has fallen 14 percent against the dollar — much to the relief of Japanese exporters, for whom a weaker yen is welcome as it makes their goods relatively cheaper abroad.

Several Japanese corporate giants, including Honda, Toyota and Canon, have cited the weaker yen as a reason for improved earnings and outlooks in recent days.

Honda said its net profit for the financial year that ended in March was up 73.6 percent at 367.15 billion yen, or $3.75 billion, according to Reuters. Mazda recorded a yearly net profit of 34.3 billion yen, after a 107.7 billion yen loss in the previous year.

Growth strategies aimed at stimulating private investment are the most important of the policy arrows in Mr. Abe’s quiver, Kunihiko Sugio, chief investment officer at Invesco Japan, said in a recent research note.

This “arrow,” he added, “is still in Abe’s hand waiting to be fired.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/27/business/global/27iht-yen27.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

European Deficits Are Down; National Debt Is Up

PARIS — An austerity push in Europe helped to reduce government budget deficits in 2012 for a fourth consecutive year, official data showed on Monday, but in relation to gross domestic product, national debt burdens grew.

Outlays exceeded revenue by 3.7 percent in the 17-nation euro zone, down from 4.2 percent in 2011, Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical agency, reported from Luxembourg. For all 27 nations of the union, the government deficit fell to 4 percent from 4.4 percent.

Euro zone debt measured as a percentage of gross domestic product rose to 90.6 percent, from 87.3 percent in 2011. For the union, debt rose to 85.3 percent of G.D.P. from 82.5 percent a year earlier.

Ben May, an economist in London with Capital Economics, noted that the numbers appeared impressive, comparing favorably with those of the United States and Britain, where government deficits last year exceeded 8 percent of G.D.P., and with Japan, where the deficit was more than 10 percent.

“But the fact that most economies’ deficits have fallen by less than expected and that the consolidation has coincided with deeper-than-anticipated recessions confirms that the costs have been large,” Mr. May wrote. He noted that Germany, which last year posted a small budget surplus, accounted for about 60 percent of the improvement.

France’s deficit last year, at 4.8 percent of G.D.P., fell short of President François Hollande’s target of 4.5 percent. Spain posted a budget deficit of 10.6 percent, worse than the 10.2 percent the European Commission had forecast. Both countries face a struggle to meet their financial targets for 2013, economists say.

Greece, the member of the European Union most battered by the crisis, posted a deficit of 10 percent of G.D.P., up from 9.5 percent a year earlier. Its debt fell to 157 percent of G.D.P. from 170 percent after a bailout in which bondholders were forced to write off part of their Greek holdings.

Austerity took hold in Europe when, after the credit bubble collapsed, speculative attacks began on the sovereign debt of euro members like Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus. Led by Germany, governments responded with a reaffirmed commitment to hold their deficits to a maximum of 3 percent of G.D.P. and debts to no more than 60 percent.

Fiscal hawks say that deficit spending is merely a means of pushing the cost of politically unpopular action onto future generations. But austerity, whereby government spending is cut and taxes increased, reduces demand in the overall economy and drives up unemployment, at least in the short term.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/23/business/global/eu-data-shows-reduced-deficits-but-higher-debt-burdens.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Italy Orders Seizure of $2.35 Billion in Siena Bank Inquiry

The unusual move to seize such a large sum, and go after prominent bankers, underlined the importance of the case in Italy and the euro zone, where it has contributed to jitters about the country’s ability to rebuild the economy and survive the financial crisis.

Prosecutors said the former head of Nomura in Europe, Sadeq Sayeed, was a target of the investigation. Mr. Sayeed, who retired in 2010, denied any wrongdoing and said he had not learned of the accusations until asked about them by reporters on Tuesday. Another senior Nomura executive, Raffaele Ricci, is also a target of the inquiry, prosecutors said. Mr. Ricci could not be reached for comment.

The new moves by Italian prosecutors also intensify the pressure on Nomura, and are a sign that the authorities are not letting up in their efforts to find out whether anyone bears criminal responsibility for transactions that left Monte dei Paschi in need of a €4 billion, or $5.25 billion, bailout by the Italian government and unable to fulfill its traditional role as benefactor to the community of Siena, a small Tuscan city.

The bank, founded more than five centuries ago, is the oldest in the world and the third-largest bank in Italy. A foundation that was the bank’s main shareholder used its share of profits to help pay for services like day care, ambulances and even the Palio, the bareback horse race that is the city’s trademark.

But the scandal surrounding the bank has reverberated well beyond the medieval streets of Siena and its 55,000 people. The bank’s problems, and the questions of who was to blame, played a role in the election campaign this year that left Italy so factionalized that a new national government has still not been formed. The lack of a strong government in Italy remains a risk to the euro zone. Meanwhile, the country’s struggling banks are unable to provide enough credit to support an economic recovery that Italy badly needs.

Nomura has been sued by the new management of Monte dei Paschi for helping to design transactions that may have allowed previous managers at the bank to hide losses from regulators and shareholders.

In a statement, Nomura said that no assets had been seized yet. “We will take all appropriate steps to protect our position and will vigorously contest any suggestions of wrongdoing in this matter,” the bank said, declining to elaborate further.

The Siena prosecutor’s office said in a statement that most of the assets to be seized were collateral that Monte dei Paschi had posted with the Italian unit of Nomura in return for a loan. The operation was carried out by the Italian financial police in Siena, Rome, Milan and Bologna, as well as in the southern Italian city of Catanzaro, prosecutors said.

In addition, the authorities ordered the freezing of assets in accounts of three former executives of Monte dei Paschi who are also under investigation: €2.3 million from Giuseppe Mussari, former chairman of the bank; €9.9 million from Antonio Vigni, the former director general; and €2.2 million from Gianluca Baldassarri, the former chief financial officer. Mr. Baldassarri has been under arrest since February.

Prosecutors said Mr. Mussari, Mr. Vigni and Mr. Baldassarri were suspected of obstructing the functions of regulators and misrepresenting corporate assets, as well as other possible misdeeds. No formal charges have been filed against any of the people under investigation.

Italian news reports had previously mentioned Mr. Sayeed in connection with the case, but Tuesday marked the first time that prosecutors officially confirmed that he was a target of the investigation. Speaking by telephone from London on Tuesday, Mr. Sayeed said, “I completely and absolutely and vigorously deny any allegations,” which he said had “no basis in fact.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: April 16, 2013

A headline with an earlier version of this article misstated the amount of assets seized from Nomura. It was $2.35 billion, not $1.8 billion.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/17/business/global/italy-seizes-nomura-assets-linked-to-siena-bank-inquiry.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Economix Blog: The Impact (if Any) of the Fed’s Dual Mandate

Eric Rosengren, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, made a compelling case on Friday morning that the Fed’s dual mandate doesn’t really matter.

That was not the point of Mr. Rosengren’s talk. He set out to defend the unusual operating instructions that require the Fed to seek maximum employment in addition to the standard focus of a central bank, maintaining price stability.

In particular, he argued that over the last 20 years, the Fed has controlled inflation more successfully than central banks that operated under a single mandate. The chart below shows the Fed has held price inflation close to the 2 percent annual pace that the Fed, like most other central banks, regards as most healthy.

Source: Eurostat, Bureau of Economic Analysis, and Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, via Haver Analytics Source: Eurostat, Bureau of Economic Analysis, and Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, via Haver Analytics

So, the Fed is pretty effective at controlling inflation. The dual mandate doesn’t seem to be doing any harm. But it doesn’t seem to be doing much good, either.

As Mr. Rosengren put it, over the last two decades, “the U.S. has a tighter inflation range and a broader unemployment range than many other countries with a single inflation mandate.” In other words, countries with single-mandate central banks have seen less fluctuation in unemployment rates than the United States.

The last few years offer the most striking example. Inflation has remained at or below the Fed’s 2 percent target, while unemployment has remained far too high.

Mr. Rosengren and other Fed officials argue that the central bank is doing what it can to increase the pace of job creation. But those efforts have proved insufficient in part because the Fed’s 2 percent target limits the amount by which it can cut interest rates during a downturn, and it has run out of room. As a result, the Fed has turned to less effective tools to stimulate the economy, like asset purchases.

We don’t know, of course, how the Fed would have behaved under a single mandate. Perhaps it would have acted less forcefully to reduce unemployment. And comparisons with other central banks, and other countries, go only so far because monetary policy is only one factor that influences changes in unemployment.

Perhaps Mr. Rosengren is right to argue that “a dual mandate may help to ensure that employment gets an appropriate weighting in the central bank’s assessment of appropriate policy, particularly during times when employment ranks first in terms of economic woes.”

But it’s hard to find the evidence.

Article source: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/12/the-impact-if-any-of-the-feds-dual-mandate/?partner=rss&emc=rss

You’re the Boss Blog: An Owner Rethinks How He Spends His Marketing Dollars

On Social Media

Generating revenue along with the buzz.

Back in January, Jeff Chinman, president of Broadway Kitchens and Baths, which remodels kitchens and bathrooms in Manhattan, Northern New Jersey, and Stamford, Conn., left a comment on this blog.

In the comment, he wrote that he was now on his third or fourth revamp of his Web site, that he had a Facebook page and was trying to figure out how to integrate Twitter and Facebook. He went on to ask whether he was really getting business in return for his efforts or whether he was just bothering his “little bubble of friends and acquaintances.” He said that his big question for 2013 was where he should invest his marketing dollars: Should he stick with radio and print or try harder with social media and Google AdWords?

Confused about where to start and whom to hire to assist him, Mr. Chinman posted his comment asking for advice. After speaking with him about his 18-year-old business, I wrote a blog post that talked about his frustrations. I suggested that he update his Web site, find a way to collect e-mail addresses, start blogging and get his 10-person sales team to start tracking where their leads come from. Many commenters also chimed in with suggestions that he investigate Pinterest and Tumblr, use better quality photography to highlight his kitchens, reach back to happy customers for testimonials, address some negative reviews on Google+, and do more face-to-face networking.

Jeff Chinman: Am I just bothering my little bubble of friends?Courtesy of Broadway Kitchens Baths. Jeff Chinman: Am I just bothering my little bubble of friends?

I recently checked back with Mr. Chinman to see what he thought of the suggestions and how things were progressing.

Was the information helpful?

I thought your advice was right on target, and I have three top priorities now: One, launch new WordPress Web site. Two, create a blog. Three, use local online market ads.

What did you think of the advice your received in the comments section?

I love the advice from Thomas Forgione that taking advice this way is “dangerous and usually results in poor marketing decisions” –  you get what you pay for. Most of the comments confirmed what you said and where I was going, but in addition, there were a few other ideas that I thought need more exploring, such as incorporating YouTube, tracking leads by installing a tracking code, and injecting some personality into the photos to create a connection like Men’s Warehouse.

Did any of the information surprise you?

I was not really surprised, but I thought it was interesting that someone said I should actually remove my Facebook pages.

Have you implemented anything yet that was suggested in the post?

I am hoping to launch my new Web site by April 1.

Are you planning on cutting back or increasing any of your print or radio advertising?

I am cutting back my print advertising to focus on local Google target marketing.

Are you planning to add any new staff or consultants?

I received about three or four solicitations for Internet marketing. Most are offering the same old “optimize my Web site, and they will get me No. 1 in Google searches.” Been there, heard that before.

How has business been lately?

Business has been improved starting the second or third week in January. I think it’s market driven. Since the 2008 recession, I think this is the year that people will spend again. Added to that is the built-up demand from people who put off their renovation, because of fear.

Melinda Emerson is founder and chief executive of Quintessence Multimedia, a social media strategy and content development company. You can follow her on Twitter.

Article source: http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/15/an-owner-rethinks-how-he-spends-his-marketing-dollars/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Australian Central Bank Hit by Cyberattack

The central bank, the Reserve Bank of Australia, was responding to a report in a newspaper, The Australian Financial Review, that said the central bank had been repeatedly and successfully hacked and information stolen.

“As reported in today’s media, the bank has on occasion been the target of cyber attacks,” the central bank said in a news release. “The bank has comprehensive security arrangements in place which have isolated these attacks and ensured that viruses have not been spread across the bank’s network or systems.

“At no point have these attacks caused the bank’s data or information to be lost or its systems to be corrupted.”

Hacking attacks on governments and corporations have become common, with analysts casting suspicion on China as the source of much of the activity. Beijing has repeatedly denied accusations that it is behind the attacks, saying it, too, is a victim of hacking, particularly from the United States.

The Australian central bank said it routinely consulted with the Defense Signals Directorate, the Australian intelligence agency, to ensure the security of its systems.

Reports released under the Australian Freedom of Information Act showed that the central bank had been the subject of a malicious e-mail attack Nov. 16 and 17, 2011, using a virus that was undetectable by the bank’s anti-virus software.

An e-mail titled “Strategic Planning FY2012” was sent to several members of the central bank’s staff, in ranks as high as department head, and was opened by six of them, potentially compromising their workstations. The e-mail purported to come from a senior staff member at the bank and came from a “possibly legitimate” external account.

The e-mails contained a compressed file with an executable “malware,” or malicious software, application, although the bank would not identify the virus used.

None of the six workstations affected had local administrator rights, which prevented the virus from spreading. The servers were considered compromised and were removed from the network Nov. 17.

“The e-mail had managed to bypass the existing security controls in place for malicious e-mails by being well written, targeted to specific bank staff and utilized an embedded hyperlink to the virus payload which differs from the usual attack whereby the virus is attached directly to the e-mail,” according the central bank’s report on the incident.

“Bank assets could have been potentially compromised, leading to service disruption, information loss and reputation,” the report noted.

The bank took the issue to the providers of its anti-virus software to update its defenses, including scanning for hyperlinks in e-mails and automatically blocking them.

As well as the attempted hacking, the central bank documents also listed a number of potentially embarrassing incidents, including lost laptops and BlackBerrys and the e-mailing of sensitive documents by mistake.

In one incident, a folder containing confidential information was left on the back of an office car by a distracted staff member. When the staff member drove away, a passing motorist raised the alarm that papers had scattered across the road.Most of the papers were recovered after an hour of searching, although some were thought lost in a stormwater drain, “resulting in moderate reputational risk to the bank,” the report said.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/12/technology/australian-central-bank-hit-by-cyberattack.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Euro Watch: Euro Zone Unemployment Rose to New Record in February

PARIS — The unemployment rate in the euro zone edged up in January to a new record, official data showed Friday, as the ailing European economy continued to weigh on the job market.

Unemployment in the 17-nation euro zone stood at 11.9 percent in January, up from 11.8 percent in December, and from 10.8 percent in January 2012, Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, reported from Luxembourg.

For the 27 nations of the European Union, the January jobless rate stood at 10.8 percent, up from 10.7 percent in December. All of the figures were seasonally adjusted.

A separate Eurostat report showed price pressures easing in February. In the euro zone, the annual inflation rate came in at 1.8 percent, down from 2.0 percent in January, and below the European Central Bank’s 2 percent target.

The jobless data “suggest that wage growth is set to weaken from already low rates” and further depress consumer spending, which has already been damped by government austerity measures, Jennifer McKeown, an economist at Capital Economics in London, wrote in a research note.

Ms. McKeown noted that the low inflation numbers and high joblessness “should leave the E.C.B.’s policy options open,” and she said it was possible the central bank “might discuss an interest rate cut or other unconventional policies” when its governing council meets on Thursday.

There was a small bit of bright news Friday. A survey of European purchasing managers by Markit, a data and research firm, showed German manufacturing output growing in February for second straight month, as new business levels improved. The composite German purchasing managers’ index improved to 50.3 in February — just above the level that signals growth — from 49.8 in January.

“German industry is clearly rebounding and taking advantage from better external traction,” Gilles Moëc, an economist at Deutsche Bank in London, wrote.

Employment is sometimes seen as a lagging indicator of economic growth, since companies try to avoid adding to their costs until they are convinced that a rebound is at hand. Despite the green sprouts in German industry, there are few signs that recovery is certain. Markit’s overall euro zone purchasing managers’ index was unchanged in February, at 47.9, a level that signals continued contraction.

European unemployment bottomed in early 2008, just as the financial crisis was getting in motion, and has been on a rising trend ever since. The January numbers were the highest since the creation of the euro.

In absolute terms, Eurostat estimated Friday, 19 million people in the euro zone and more than 26 million people in the overall European Union. were unemployed.

Spain’s unemployment rate in January was 26.2 percent, and Portugal’s was 17.6 percent. Austria, at just 4.9 percent, had the lowest rate, followed by Germany and Luxembourg, both of which stood at 5.3 percent.

Greece’s unemployment rate in November, the latest month for which Eurostat has figures for the country, was 27 percent.

France, the second-largest euro-zone economy after Germany, had a 10.6 percent jobless rate in January. In Britain, not a euro member, the jobless rate stood at 7.7 percent.

Those numbers compare with the United States, where the January unemployment rate stood at 7.9 percent. In Japan, 4.2 percent of the work force was counted as unemployed in December.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: March 1, 2013

An earlier version of this article carried a headline that misstated the month of the data. The report was for January, not February.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/02/business/global/euro-zone-unemployment-rose-to-new-record-in-february-as-inflation-eased.html?partner=rss&emc=rss