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Comcast launches cloud DVR in San Francisco, lays foundation for a set-top box-free future (Janko Roettgers/Gigaom)

2 hours ago Sep. 30, 2014 - 9:00 PM PDT Comcast customers in the San Francisco Bay Area can now stream their DVR recordings to their iOS or Android devices, no matter where they are. The Sling-like feature requires one of the company’s newer X1 set-top boxes — for now. Under the hood, it’s already powered by Comcast’s cloud DVR, which could eventually make set-top boxes obsolete altogether. X1 users can also watch any of their live TV channels on a mobile device within their home. This kind of feature is similar to what Dish is offering with its Hopper DVR, or some of the things Slingbox owners have been able to do for some time as well. But the infrastructure used by Comcast to power mobile playback is more unique, and foreshadows significant changes coming to the way the company operates it TV service. That’s because on late Tuesday evening, Comcast also lit up its cloud DVR infrastructure for customers in the Bay Area. This means that every TV subscriber with a X1 set-top box also immediately has access to a virtual DVR in the cloud, which is used to stream any of those recordings to mobile devices. Initially, the cloud DVR literally works as a kind of invisible clone of the DVR a customer has in her living room, meaning that each episode gets recorded twice — once on a local hard drive, and once on Comcast’s servers in the cloud. Customers will stream from the cloud DVR once they leave their house, but shouldn’t really notice the difference. In the future, Comcast is going to switch to set-top boxes without hard drives, and only keep recordings in the cloud, ready to stream to any screen as needed.

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McKinsey report details barriers to Internet adoption; first Internet.org Summit to be held in New Delhi, India next week (Internet.org)

Bringing the next 4.4 billion people online will require companies, governments, and civil society to work together to remove barriers that stand in the way of a more connected world. A new study released today from McKinsey & Company, “Offline and falling behind: Barriers to Internet adoption,” with research conducted in collaboration with Facebook, identifies the barriers that impede consumers from gaining access to the Internet. The study examines the trends that have fueled Internet growth, the demographics of the offline population and describes four categories of barriers: incentives, low incomes and affordability, user capability, and infrastructure. The report found that there are currently 4.4 billion people without Internet access, and 3.4 billion of those people live within 20 countries. The offline population is disproportionately rural, low income, elderly, illiterate, and female. For example, between 1.1 billion and 2.8 billion people are out of range of an existing mobile network; 920 million people offline are illiterate; and, in developing countries, women are 25 percent less likely to be connected than men. An estimated 3.8 billion to 4.2 billion individuals will still lack access to the Internet in 2017. The report also introduces the “Internet Barriers Index,” a detailed study based on the combination and severity of the barriers facing 25 countries. For example, countries such as Egypt, India, and Indonesia face the greatest challenges with respect to incentives and infrastructure. In India, Internet adoption is showing steady growth, but the current Internet penetration rate is only 15 percent. The goal of the Index is to help identify similarities and common challenges, which may help government and industry facilitate the development of solutions. As part of the effort to address the barriers to Internet access, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will keynote the first Internet.org Summit in New Delhi, India next week

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How RAM Scrapers Work: The Sneaky Tools Behind the Latest Credit Card Hacks (Kim Zetter/Wired)

Getty Images Today, news broke of yet more large-scale credit-card breaches at big-box stores , this time at Albertson’s and Supervalu, grocery chains in the American west. The breaches follow in the wake of other recent breaches at Target and Home Depot, all of which have one thing in common—the stealth tool the thieves used to steal the valuable card data. In the world of hacking, every malicious tool has its heyday—that period when it rules the underground forums and media headlines and is the challenger keeping computer security pros on their toes. Viruses and worms have each had their day in the spotlight. Remote-access Trojans, which allow a hacker to open and maintain a secret backdoor on infected systems, have had their reign as well. These days, though, point-of-sale RAM scrapers are what’s making the news. Attackers installed these RAM scrapers surreptitiously on the point-of-sale systems used to scan and process credit and debit card transactions at Albertson’s and Supervalu. The tools make it easy to steal card numbers by the millions as they pass through the system. RAM scrapers— used recently in the Target and Home Depot breaches to net the hackers data on more than 100 million bank cards collectively—are not new. VISA issued a warning to retailers about their use in 2008. But they’ve become increasingly sophisticated and efficient at stealing massive caches of cards. They’ve also become more ubiquitous as developer kits for building them—from a starter stub that is easily customized from a menu of features—have pushed scrapers into the mainstream and made them accessible to a wider swath of hackers. Need something to exfiltrate data from your victim’s network to a server in Minsk? Check. Want a turnkey solution for managing your command-and-control server in Mumbai?

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