Tech Roundup Can You Sue the Pope? Don't Click to Find Out

Data security company Commtouch reveals new phishing scam; Camalia goes Apple picking; Tonara gets a new maestro; SiSense pulls in new funds.

Ruth Schuster
Ruth Schuster
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Ruth Schuster
Ruth Schuster

Spammers coo: Can you sue the pope? Data security company Commtouch on Tuesday revealed a new phishing (identity theft) threat: a series of viruses posing as CNN news flashes about the new pope. Clicking on the link infects the user's computer with the "blackhole exploit kit," a popular tool among malicious hackers. It's the latest wrinkle in "drive-by" attacks: the phishy email doesn't have the malware itself, but directs to a site used by hackers to disseminate viruses, worms and Trojan horses. So far Commtouch has identified three spam waves exploiting the public interest in the pope: "Exclusive: Family sues the pope," for instance, or, "Can the pope be sued over church sex scandals?" And the spammer doesn't even tell us. Get any like these – don't open them. (Dror Reich)

Backweb, farewell: Push technology pioneer Backweb is closing its doors. The company's board of directors made the decision during the Passover break, and expects to finish winding down the firm this July or August. Push technology automates the update of enterprise computer systems, rather than the enterprise having to proactively arrange updates. Founded in 1995 by the Barkat brothers of BRM fame, Backweb went public on Nasdaq in 1999. Its value peaked at $420 million before the bubble burst. The company had been considered quite the Internet wunderkind, but the evolution of Internet did it in: it hasn't rung up a sale in two years and has been mainly occupied with suing the likes of IBM and HP for allegedly making unapproved use of its patents. (Rony Lifshitz)

Camalia recommends a bite of Apple: Analysts are dubious of Apple stock, which lost 31% of its market value in the last year, but not so Tel Aviv's Camalia Capital Market. The brokerage, which specializes in foreign securities, thinks the dip has created a Buy opportunity. Threats do lurk, writes analyst Nadav Zeller, "but its business model still attests to strength." The slump in its stock was caused by rising competition by Android-based devices and weakness in the Chinese market, which is expected to drive future smartphone growth. Zeller also notes the doubts about the ability of Tim Cook, an operations man in character, to replace the visionary Steve Jobs. However, Apple stock isn't being given a premium over companies in difficulty like HP, Dell and Nokia, he sums up. (Eran Azran)

Where are your bank fees going? Not only to plush salaries for bankers: It turns out that the computer departments of Israel's five biggest banks soaked up NIS 5.2 billion in costs in 2012, based on analysis of the banks' own financial statements. The banks specified their outlay on IT for the first time at the demand of the Bank of Israel, and it's about double what it should be, say some information-technology experts. And how did that come about? Wage costs took up half that amount, and there you have one answer. Bank sources admit that their IT departments are flabby, inefficient and that wage costs are too high. So some banks are setting out to economize on IT. In December Leumi (which spent NIS 1.7 billion on IT in 2012, as did Hapoalim) cut its IT projects budget by ILS 100 million, leading to 150-200 job losses. Hapoalim is also cutting back but hasn't specified figures. (Sivan Aizescu)

Israeli apps startup Tonara gets new CEO: The Israeli startup Tonara has hired Guy Bauman, former content and products VP at mobile operator Pelephone, as its new CEO. Tonara makes an app that enables musicians to download sheet music from the Apple app store onto iPads. But that's not just it –the app listens as you play and turns the pages for you automatically, the company explains. You can even annotate and share the sheet music, the startup adds. The Israeli startup's app was featured in a recent Apple ads blitz on the New York subway system. (Orr Hirschauge)

SiSense raises $10 million: Tel Aviv-based software company SiSense has completed a $10 million financing round led by existing shareholders Battery Ventures, Opus Capital and Genesis Partners, which had put up the same amount in the company's first financing round. The company, which has earmarked the proceeds for expansion of sales and support teams, declines to reveal its value for the purpose of the financing. SiSense, founded in 2004, specializes in business intelligence and analytics software. (Inbal Orpaz)

Giants gesturing at Omek Interactive: Global chips giant Intel, and possibly Samsung and Qualcomm too, are sniffing at Beit Shemesh-based Omek Interactive, which makes gesture recognition technology, reports VentureBeat. The company's software interfaces between the man (gesturing) and the machine (receiving an interpretation of the gesture). That is a cutting-edge, kicky and computing-heavy technology that will drum up demand for chips, VB explains. Intel did not comment for the report. The startup, founded in 2007, has raised $14 million to date.

Pope Francis salutes as he leaves his weekly general audience in St. Peter square at the Vatican Wednesday, April 3, 2013.Credit: AP

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