Cars

Some interesting integrations and acquisitions within the Auto industries. First off, Kia will be integrating Google Maps into their car dashboards. While this will hardly be a reason to buy a Kia, the U/X is interesting and very similar to Google’s Chrome to Phone widget.

Users will also be able to send a POI or a destination to their car using a smartphone app, find the newest Kia dealership using Google Places, and control their on-board navigation system through voice commands.

I wonder if Kia will now be partnering with Google to provide cars for their ubiquitous Google Maps auto driving car or other such efforts.

In another Auto related move, Avis continues to try harder by this time snapping up the urban-ly popular ZipCar for a cool half a bil. To me, this move seems to be a bit of a defensive move on Avis’ part as it is clear that “traditional” rental car retailers are getting hit by these “quick rent” services like ZipCar, especially now that they have expanded up from hourly to the traditional daily rental space. In a way, Avis was probably a bit worried about the “WalMart Effect”, where a smart upstart competitor (ZipCar = WalMart) started eating away at market share by attacking a vulnerable area of the market (unserved market of urbanites/college kids who need a car to do quick errands or take a day trip = WalMart going after low income markets early on). Maybe Avis wasn’t in the mood to wake up one day and realize they were Sears.

And if we all really think about it, the car is just another device in the American household. Just a really expensive one.

Social Engineering WalMart

Every year at the Defcon Conference, a gathering of hackers of all shapes and sizes, they hold a “Capture the Flag” contest where a random hacker is given a list of “flags” or data points that they need to acquire from an unsuspecting employee in a top company. Past victims include UPS, Verizon, FedEx, Shell Oil, HP and others.

This year, WalMart was Defcon’s victim:

A Wal-Mart store manager in a small military town in Canada got an urgent phone call last month from “Gary Darnell” in the home office in Bentonville, Ark. Darnell told the manager Wal-Mart had a multi-million-dollar opportunity to win a major government contract, and that he was assigned to visit the handful of Wal-Mart stores picked as likely pilot spots. First, he needed to get a complete picture of the store’s operations.

For about 10 minutes, Darnell described who he was (a newly hired manager of government logistics), the outlines of the contract (“all I know is Wal-Mart can make a ton of cash off it”) and the plans for his visit. Darnell asked the manager about all of his store’s physical logistics: its janitorial contractor, cafeteria food-services provider, employee pay cycle and staff shift schedules. He learned what time the managers take their breaks and where they usually go for lunch. Keeping up a steady patter about the new project and life in Bentonville, Darnell got the manager to give up some key details about the type of PC he used. Darnell quickly found out the make and version numbers of the computer’s operating system, Web browser and antivirus software. Finally, Darnell directed the manager to an external website to fill out a survey to prep for the upcoming visit. The manager dutifully plugged the address into his browser. His computer blocked the connection, but Darnell wasn’t fazed. He said he’d call the IT department and have it unlocked.The manager didn’t think that was a concern. “Sounds good,” he answered. “I’ll try again in a few hours.”

After thanking the manager for his help, Darnell made plans to follow up the next day. The manager promised to send Darnell over a list of good hotels in the area.

Then “Gary Darnell” hung up and stepped out of the soundproof booth he had been in for the last 20 minutes. “All flags! All flags!” he announced, throwing his arms up in a V-for-Victory symbol. His audience of some 100 spectators at the Defcon conference in Las Vegas burst into applause. They had been listening to both sides of the call through a loudspeaker broadcast.

via CNN Money.