AT&T to Expand Spectrum Holdings With Straight Path Acquisition

Today's topics include AT&T acquiring Straight Path Communications, a zero-day vulnerability affecting Microsoft Office users, Symantec linking Vault 7 tools to the Longhorn attacks and Google updating its Image Search with a new "Similar Items" feature.

AT&T is expanding its portfolio of wireless spectrum licenses and 5G expertise with its acquisition of Straight Path Communications in a deal valued at around $1.6 billion, equal to $95.63 per share.

This follows AT&T’s January purchase of FiberTower, which holds 24GHz and 39GHz wireless spectrum licenses. This latest deal will support the company's work in 5G wireless network technology and help ramp up wireless speeds for users, AT&T noted in a statement.

The acquisition was announced on April 10 and will be subject to review by the Federal Communications Commission. It is expected to close sometime in the next 12 months.

Both McAfee and FireEye have reported a previously undisclosed vulnerability in Microsoft Office that is being actively exploited by attackers, which Microsoft says would be patched April 11.

McAfee first publicly posted about the new zero-day vulnerability in Microsoft Word files on April 7, with security firm FireEye following with its own disclosure a day later.

"We plan to address this through an update on Tuesday, April 11, and customers who have updates enabled will be protected automatically," Microsoft wrote in a statement sent to eWEEK.

"Meanwhile, we encourage customers to practice safe computing habits online, including exercising caution before opening unknown files and not downloading content from untrusted sources to avoid this type of issue."

Security firm Symantec recently disclosed a link between the Vault 7 hacking tools and the recent spate of attacks by a group called Longhorn that stretch back to 2011.

WikiLeaks first revealed the existence of the Vault 7 tools in February, alleging that they were developed and used by the CIA, though at the time it wasn’t clear how they were being used.

Symantec's investigation connects the Vault 7 tools to the Longhorn attacks, which involve at least 40 targets spread across 16 countries. "We believed Longhorn had state espionage motivations.

However, until the Vault 7 documents, we did not have any data that allowed us to attribute it to a particular actor," Eric Chien, director of Symantec Security Response, told eWEEK. He added Symantec has not had any direct contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Google has introduced another new feature that uses machine learning technologies, part of an effort by the company to make its products more intelligent and user friendly.

Google’s latest release in this effort is its new "Similar Items" feature for Image Search. The update will give users a way to find products in photos via Image Search.

When a user conducts a search for images containing specific products and finds one they like, they will be able to pull up multiple similar images by clicking on that image.

Initially at least, the similar items feature will support only handbags, sunglasses and shoes. In coming months, the feature will be updated to include other apparel and also home and garden products.