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BlackBerry touts security amid nude photo hacking scandal

These are stories Report on Business is following Friday, Sept. 5, 2014.

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BlackBerry touts security
BlackBerry Ltd. is using the nude photo hacking controversy to tout its strong reputation for security.

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As concerns mount after the theft of photos from celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence via iCloud, the Canadian smartphone maker is taking to its official blog to both promote its own security and advise users on how not to fall victim.

In its latest post, BlackBerry provides a roundup of media reports citing its renown for security, from Fox News to CNN, CNBC and Time Warner Cable.

"As the iCloud hacking story continues to unfold, experts are finding it hard to talk about strong mobile security without bringing the corporate embodiment of it into the discussion," its latest post says.

An earlier post provides "five concrete steps for better mobile security."

As BlackBerry uses the scandal to its own advantage, Apple Inc., in turn, is scrambling to contain the damage.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, chief executive officer Tim Cook disclosed plans for a new system that will advise users if attempts are made to change account passwords or move data from the cloud.

Apple has stressed that the leak was the result of targeted attacks by hackers seeking passwords, rather than a compromise of iCloud.

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So the company is taking steps to warn its users.

"When I step back from this terrible scenario that happened and say what more could we have done, I think about the awareness piece," Mr. Cook told the Journal.

"I think we have a responsibility that ratchet that up."

Both Apple and BlackBerry are heading into key launches, the former of a new iPhone and smartwatch, expected to be unveiled next week.

BlackBerry, in turn, is poised to unveil its new Passport device later this month.

"Apple shares look set for their worst weekly performance since late January as some investors pare back their positions ahead of next week's eagerly awaited media event," chief analyst Michael Hewson of CMC Markets in London said before today's Nasdaq open.

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"Recent bad publicity as a result of iCloud security concerns have hit investor sentiment as has the recent launch by Samsung of a new Galaxy Note which will likely be seen as big rival to the new iPhone 6."

Canada's labour market suffers
Canada's jobs market is hurting badly, according to the latest report from Statistics Canada.

The country lost 111,800 private-sector jobs in August, according to today's report, while the public sector gained and the ranks of the self-employed swelled.

If the report is accurate, that would be the harshest loss of private-sector jobs on record. In July, the country gained 55,000 private-sector positions.

Over all, Statistics Canada said 11,000 jobs were shed last month on a net basis, with the unemployment rate holding steady at 7 per cent as the labour force declined, The Globe and Mail's Tavia Grant reports.

"After a string of solid economic reports, Canadian employment delivered yet another shocker, with no computer error to blame this time," said chief economist Avery Shenfeld of CIBC World Markets, referring to the fast that Statistics Canada had to pull and correct its July report.

"Canada shed 11,000 jobs, a figure subject to a wide statistical margin of error, but one that added to a generally lackluster trend in the this series going back over the past year, with jobs up only 0.5 per cent in that period," he added.

That 0.5 per cent translates to an overall gain of 81,000 positions since August, 2013.

When you strip out self-employment, noted senior economist Krishen Rangasamy of National Bank, Canada lost 98,000 jobs in August, for the worst showing since the recessionary month of January, 2009.

"The loss of private sector and full-time jobs is concerning," he said, describing today's report as "awful."

"August's results extend the survey's volatility -  we haven't had back-to-back gains (or losses) in employment this year," he added.

"Amidst that volatility, it's best to look at the longer term trend. On a 12-month moving average basis, Canada is creating 7,000 jobs per month, none in the private sector. That's a pretty dismal record for an economy that is growing above potential."

U.S. jobless rate dips
In the United States, today's jobs report fell shy of what was expected.

The U.S. economy churned out 142,000 jobs last month, while the unemployment rate dipped to 6.1 per cent, also as people left the work force, our Washington correspondent Kevin Carmichael reports.

"The modest 142,000 increase in non-farm payrolls in August, which was well below the consensus forecast at 230,000 and the smallest gain this year, will inevitably spark speculation that the U.S. recovery is somehow coming off the rails again," said Paul Ashworth, the U.S. economist for Capital Economics.

"However, we're not too concerned by what is probably just an isolated blip," he added.

"Other indicators suggest that labour market conditions are still strengthening and the latest round of survey evidence indicates that economic activity is soaring."

U.S. group sues Canada
U.S.-based fund Quadrangle Group LLC is suing the Canadian government for $1.2-billion for damages related to equity investments worth hundreds of millions of dollars it made in struggling wireless player Mobilicity.

Quadrangle said today it invested the huge sums in Mobilicity "on the basis of Industry Canada's assurances," The Globe and Mail's Bertrand Marotte and Christine Dobby report.

It said the investment helped in the build-out of Mobilicity's network and the creation of thousands of jobs but that Industry Canada "breached its assurances that it would enforce foreign ownership rules, require incumbent carriers to provide roaming and access to cell towers at reasonable rates and terms, prevent unfair and anti-competitive competitive practices and allow spectrum to be transferred."

It added that "the prospect of any meaningful foreign investment in Canadian wireless industry for the foreseeable future has been lost."

Seven Generations plots IPO
Seven Generations Energy Ltd., which has been making big oil and gas production gains in a region known as the Alberta Montney, is said to be planning an initial public offering in the next eight weeks that could be worth up to $1-billion, The Globe and Mail's Jeffrey Jones reports today.

Seven Generations, seen as a juicy IPO candidate for much of this year, is said to have retained Peters & Co. Ltd. and RBC Dominion Securities to lead the offering, according to the sources. The two banks have done other financings for the company, including a $625-million secondary issue of shares by some of its major institutional investors last March.

Although privately held, the company has already created a name for itself in the oil patch for success with horizontal drilling techniques on a land spread that is yielding impressive volumes of high-value liquids-rich gas and light oil. Its Kakwa River project is located about 100 kilometres south of Grande Prairie, Alta.

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About the Author
Report on Business News Editor

Michael Babad is a Report on Business editor and co-author of three business books. He has been with Report on Business for several years, and has also been a reporter and editor at The Toronto Star, The Financial Post and United Press International. His articles have appeared in major newspapers around the world. More


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