Google Shuts Down Short-Lived Hands Free Mobile Payment App

Today's topics include Google's decision to shut down its Hands Free mobile payment application, Microsoft’s addition of Evernote and other add-ins to its Outlook application, the new Tenant Restrictions feature in Microsoft Azure that helps tighten access controls and a SecureWorks’ analysis that found that the majority of cyber-attacks involving phishing and network scams.

Like it has with several other technologies and services in recent months, Google is pulling the plug on its Hands Free mobile payment application. In a brief announcement this week, the company said it would shut down the service Feb 8.

After that date, Hands Free will no longer work in the small number of San Francisco Bay Area retail stores that have accepted Hands Free payments on a trial basis since Google announced the service last March.

Google's statement offered no reason for the company's decision to terminate Hands Free and merely noted the company had learned quite a bit from the pilot program.

Microsoft released its mobile Outlook client for iOS and Android two years ago this week, based on the software giant's late-2014 acquisition of the popular email app, Acompli.

To celebrate, the company announced add-in support for the iOS version of the app. The first batch includes Evernote, GIPHY, Nimble, Smartsheet, Trello and Microsoft's own Dynamics 365 and Translator.

In addition to serving as the cloud-based version of the software giant's user identity management platform, Azure AD also can be used to provide single sign-on and access services for a variety of third-party software-as-a-service apps and Microsoft's own Office 365 business software suite. Add-in functionality is being rolled out first to Office 365 customers, followed by users.

The Tenant Restrictions feature in Azure Active Directory is now generally available, allowing organizations to exert more control over their users' interactions with software-as-a-service applications to prevent leaks of sensitive information.

Azure AD also can be used to provide single sign-on and access services for a variety of third-party apps and Microsoft's own Office 365 business software suite. Essentially, the feature can be used to help businesses ensure that their users are only permitted to log into their cloud application subscriptions.

"For example, you can use Tenant Restrictions to allow access to your organization's Office 365 applications, while preventing access to other organizations' instances of these same applications," continued Simons.

The vast majority of successful attacks on companies are conducted by cyber-criminals using phishing, network scans for exploitable systems and strategic web site compromises, security-services firm SecureWorks found in an analysis of six months of incident-response engagements.

The analysis of 163 incidents found that 82 percent could be attributed to cyber-criminals, 11 percent to insiders and 7 percent to nation-state adversaries.

The company attributed attacks to financially-motivated cyber-criminals if they included theft of funds, the copying of financial information or personal data, the use of computing power, or ransom of data.

While advanced attacks and zero-day vulnerabilities garner a lot of attention, phishing, exploitation of known vulnerabilities and using websites to launch attacks were the most common methods of compromise. The vast majority—88 percent—of attacks were opportunistic and not targeted, the report stated.