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Is Google Home Vulnerable To A BlueBorne Bluetooth Hack

November 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon Echo and Google Home devices are vulnerable to attacks via the BlueBorne Bluetooth vulnerability that was first disclosed back in September.

Security firm Armis said this week that BlueBorne, a Bluetooth-based attack vector that was initially reported as exploitable on phones and PCs with an active Bluetooth connection, is now setting its sights on digital AI assistants.

The firm said that both the Amazon Echo and Google Home can be exploited using existing BlueBorne vulnerabilities (of which there are eight in total). In the case of the Amazon Echo, those include CVE-2017-1000251 and CVE-2017-1000250, while the Google Home vulnerable to CVE-2017-0785.

Armis notes that BlueBorne represents the first “severe” over-the-air vulnerability that affects the Amazon Echo.

“Given that airborne attacks are virtually invisible to traditional security solutions, a hacker only needs to exploit one device to penetrate further into a network or spread to other devices,” it warned.

Armis CEO Yevgeny Dibrov said: “Burgeoning demand for digital personal assistants is expanding the avenues by which attackers can infiltrate consumers’ lives to steal personal information and commit fraud.

“Consumers and businesses need to be aware how their devices are connecting via Bluetooth, and the networks they may be accessing, in order to take security precautions to protect their information.”

There’s some good news to come out of this, though, as Armis disclosed the vulnerabilities both to Amazon and Google ahead of time, and both have pushed out updates to their respective digital assistants. 

Amazon said in a statement: “A fix has already started rolling out for this. Customer trust is important to us and we take security seriously. Customers do not need to take any action as their devices will be automatically updated with the security fixes.

Google added: “Users do not need to take any action. We automatically patched Google Home several weeks ago, and neither Google nor Armis found evidence of this attack in the wild.

“As always, we appreciate researchers’ efforts to help keep all users safe.”

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Volkswagen Ramps Up Electric Cars Ambitions

November 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Volkswagen has approved a 34 billion euro ($40 bln) spending plan that speeds up its efforts to become a global leader in electric cars.

The world’s largest carmaker by unit sales will spend the money on electric cars, autonomous driving and new mobility services by the end of 2022, it said after a meeting of its supervisory board.

“With the planning round now approved, we are laying the foundation for making Volkswagen the world’s No. 1 player in electric mobility by 2025,” Chief Executive Matthias Mueller told a press conference.

The carmaker’s projected spending is significantly bigger than its pledge two months ago that it would invest more than 20 billion euros on electric and self-driving cars through 2030.

 Electric and autonomous vehicles are widely seen as the keystones of future transport, but pioneers such as Tesla Inc and other manufacturers are still working out how to make money on them as poor charging infrastructure, high battery costs and electric vehicles’ still limited driving range weigh on customer demand.

Until it admitted two years ago to cheating on U.S. diesel emissions tests, Volkswagen had been slow to embrace electric cars and self-driving technology.

The group said its total investments in electric vehicles capacity and projects will amount to about 72 billion euros by 2022, confirming an earlier Reuters story.

To fund greater spending on electric vehicles, it will draw on cost savings in all areas of operations, including vehicle development, administration and manufacturing, as well as strong cash reserves.

Its net liquidity still stood at around 24 billion euros after nine months even though about 17 billion euros of funds have been paid out to cover costs for its dieselgate scandal. VW’s core autos division has made cost savings of about 1.9 billion euros since the start of this year, nearly meeting budgeted cost cuts for the full year.

Mueller said VW will maintain spending discipline in order to shoulder the increased investments in new technologies while it grapples with billions of dollars of costs for its emissions scandal.

SoftBank Acquires $10B Stake In Uber

November 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Uber’s board of directors has agreed to a deal that will allow SoftBank to make a multibillion-dollar investment in the ride-hailing startup.

The agreement resolves a legal battle between Uber co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick and Benchmark Capital, one of the startup’s early investors, Reuters reported Sunday. Benchmark Capital, which owns about 13 percent of Uber, sued Kalanick in August, alleging that Kalanick misled Uber’s stockholders to gain control of three board seats.

“We’ve entered into an agreement with a consortium led by SoftBank and Dragoneer on a potential investment,” an Uber representative said in a statement. “We believe this agreement is a strong vote of confidence in Uber’s long-term potential. Upon closing, it will help fuel our investments in technology and our continued expansion at home and abroad, while strengthening our corporate governance.”

The agreement comes a month after Uber’s board voted to eliminate its super-voting structure, in which early shareholders had 10 times the voting power, to a one vote per share model, according to a source familiar with the vote. The board also voted to expand the number of board members to 17, adding six seats to dilute additions made by Kalanick in September.

At the same time, Uber’s board approved the sale of $10 billion of stock to SoftBank, a Japanese internet giant. SoftBank plans to acquire a 14 percent to 20 percent stake in the world’s most valuable privately-held tech startup, board member Arianna Huffington said in October.

The vote came amid a tumultuous year for the ride-hailing startup, which has been rocked by a slew of scandals, including sexual harassment allegations that resulted in more than 20 Uber employees being fired. The company has been caught using a secretive tool called Greyball to avoid local authorities. The company is also defending itself against a trade-secret theft lawsuit from Waymo, a self-driving car business run by Alphabet, Google’s parent company.

 

Can nVidia Put Fully Autonomous Cars On The Road In Four Years

October 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net, Technology

Nvidia chief executive Jensen Huang said artificial intelligence would enable fully automated cars within four years, but played down a demand for its chips from cryptocurrency miners.

Huang told the assorted throngs, riff-raff and great unwashed who attended a company event in Taipei: “It will take no more than four years to have fully autonomous cars on the road. How long it takes for the vast majority of cars on the road to become that, it really just depends.”

He said that cars are not the only thing which could be automated – many tasks in companies that can be automated… the productivity of society will go up.

But Huang joined peers taming expectations of strong revenue growth from a wave of interest in cryptocurrencies. AMD predicted this week that there will be some levelling off of cryptocurrency demand.

“Revenue for us in crypto is over $100 million a quarter. For us, it’s a small percentage… It’s obviously not a target market”, Huang said.

Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies that use encryption techniques for security and can be traded. Miners use computers to process cryptocurrency transactions, and they are rewarded with additional cryptocurrency.

Courtesy-Fud

Uber Reports First Decline In Users

October 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Uber has said to have lost 1 percent of the ground transportation market. And in some cities, like San Francisco, it saw an 8 percent fall. Meanwhile, Lyft is on the rise.

Uber is starting to see the effects of its tumultuous year.

For the first time, the ride-hailing company appears to have experienced a decline in business passengers. Certify, a management software company that tracks business expenses and travel receipts, said Tuesday that Uber has seen an average 1 percent decline in the ground transportation market. Meanwhile, Certify said Uber’s rival Lyft has seen a 3 percent bump.

“The business traveler is more in the driver’s seat than ever before when it comes to making purchasing decisions on the road,” Certify CEO Robert Neveu said in a statement. “Whether it’s a reaction to the latest headlines or the introduction of new features like tipping, the power of consumer choice has become a major factor in travel and entertainment expense spending.”

Uber has been beleaguered by dozens of scandals over the last year. They kicked off with a #DeleteUber movement in January, then moved onto workplace sexual harassment allegations and an internal investigation led by former US Attorney General Eric Holder. In June, Uber’s board of directors forced CEO Travis Kalanick to resign.

Now Uber is trying to turn things around with its new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, in charge. Khosrowshahi addressed Uber employees when he came on board in August saying what got Uber successfully to where it is, “is not what’s going to get us to the next level” and “this company has to change.”

Uber’s reported decline in business travelers is minimal, but it’s notable since it’s the first time the company has seen a loss of passengers. Certify says Uber owned 55 percent of the ground transportation market in the second quarter. But in the third quarter, it slipped to 54 percent. In its hometown, San Francisco, Uber’s market share saw the biggest loss at an 8 percent decline, according to Certify.

Lyft, on the other hand, had its best quarter ever. It went from controlling 8 percent of the ground transportation market for business travelers in the second quarter to having 11 percent in the third quarter, according to Certify. For comparison, both taxis and car rentals also dropped 1 percent in the third quarter, to 7 percent and 28 percent, respectively.

Certify’s data comes from its third quarter “SpendSmart” report, which is based on more than 10 million business traveler receipts and expenses. It’s been tracking data on Uber and Lyft for the last three years.

Neither Uber nor Lyft returned request for comment.

Toyota Aims For Automous, Talking Cars By 2020

October 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Toyota Motor Corp announced that it would begin testing self-driving electric cars around 2020, which will use artificial intelligence (AI) to engage with drivers, as the company competes with tech firms to develop new vehicles.

The car, whose concept model was unveiled earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, will be able to converse with drivers, while building up knowledge of users’ preferences, habits and emotions through deep learning, the company said.

“By using AI technology, we want to expand and enhance the driving experience, making cars an object of affection again,” said Makoto Okabe, general manager of Toyota’s EV business planning division.

Facing competition from rival automakers and tech companies to produce self-driving, intelligent cars, Toyota has committed $1 billion through 2020 to develop advanced automated driving and AI technology.

The Concept-i model, a battery-electric car which will have a cruising range of 300 kilometers (180 miles) on a single charge, will be able to estimate the emotions and alertness of drivers by reading their expressions, actions and tone of voice.

Using this information, the vehicle will be able to take over driving responsibilities when necessary — after assessing the driver is too tired to drive safely, for example — and also interact with the driver and passengers.

Facing a future where car ownership may be overtaken by new mobility services, automakers are ramping up investment to develop AI capabilities to enhance the driving experience.

 Ford Motor Co earlier this year invested $1 billion in Argo AI, a start-up set up by former employees of Uber Technologies’ self-driving car development team, to develop an on-demand self-driving car service. General Motors Co has also been investing in AI start-ups.

Honda Motor Co 7267.T. and Softbank Corp announced last year that they were teaming up to use humanoid robotic technology in cars to enable them to communicate with drivers.

Cyanogen Changes Names And Now Focusing On Self-Driving Cars

October 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The outfit which claimed to be making an Android killer and failed, is now getting a license to make self-driving cars.

According to Biz Journals, Cyngn has changed its name from Cyanogen and recently got a permit to test its self-driving tech on California roads.

The cunning new plan is being led by Lior Tal, the former chief operating officer who took over as CEO last year when the outfit’s cunning plan to kill off Android went tits up.

No new funding has been disclosed for the reinvented company. It lists on its website investors who backed it before it pivoted, including Andreessen Horowitz, Benchmark Capital, Redpoint Ventures, Index Ventures, Qualcomm and Chinese social networking company Tencent.

The company was the center of acquisition talk in 2014, when companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Samsung and Yahoo expressed interest in the company.

The new company says on its website that its goal is to develop “purpose-driven autonomy”.

“Very soon autonomous machines will be everywhere, in surprising places, exciting new form factors both unexpected and delightful,” it says. “Cyngn is bringing this world to life, animating the inanimate and delivering the future now.”

Courtesy-Fud

Tesla Hands Pink Slips To 400 Employees

October 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Luxury electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc fired about 400 employees late last week, including associates, team leaders and supervisors, a former employee told Reuters on Friday.

The dismissals were a result of a company-wide annual review, Tesla said in an emailed statement, without confirming the number of employees leaving the company.

“It’s about 400 people ranging from associates to team leaders to supervisors. We don’t know how high up it went,” said the former employee, who worked on the assembly line and did not want to be identified.

Though Tesla cited performance as the reason for the firings, the source told Reuters he was fired in spite of never having been given a bad review.

The Palo Alto, California-based company said earlier in the month that “production bottlenecks” had left Tesla behind its planned ramp-up for the new Model 3 mass-market sedan.

The company delivered 220 Model 3 sedans and produced 260 during the third quarter. In July, it began production of the Model 3, which starts at $35,000 – half the starting price of the Model S.

Mercury News had earlier reported about the firing of hundreds of employees by Tesla in the past week.

Tesla Delays Big Rig Debut, Focuses On Model 3 Production

October 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Tesla Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk has delayed the unveiling of the company’s big rig truck until mid-November, tweeting that the electric vehicle maker was diverting resources to fix production bottlenecks of its new Model 3 sedan and to help Puerto Rico.

Musk said Tesla’s Model 3 was “deep in production hell” echoing his own comments in July when he showed off some of the first cars of that model.

The Model 3 could help Tesla approach its goal of becoming more of a mass-market producer. Recent comments have tempered expectations about the speed of the increase in production, though.

The Palo Alto, California-based company delivered just 220 Model 3 sedans and produced 260 in the third quarter. It had planned to produce more than 1,500.

Musk also tweeted the company was diverting resources to increasing battery production to help hurricane-hit Puerto Rico, where most residents remain without electricity.

Earlier this week Tesla reported that “production bottlenecks” had left it behind the planned ramp-up for the Model 3.

In response to a Tesla customer asking if he would get his car delivered this year, Musk tweeted, “December will be a big month, so probably, but it is impossible to be certain right now.”

A Wall Street Journal report said parts of Model 3 were being made by hand as recently as early September, adding to production delays.

Musk also said Tesla would reschedule the unveiling of its semi-truck to Nov. 16 as it focuses on fixing production issues tied to Model 3 and increases battery production for Puerto Rico.

The unveiling of the truck, called Tesla Semi, has been delayed for the second time this year. Musk had initially said the truck would be unveiled in September, but he later rescheduled it to late October.

Reuters in August reported that the truck would have a working range of 200-300 miles.

Earlier in the day, Musk said the company will send more battery installers to Puerto Rico to help restore power after Hurricane Maria knocked out power on the island over two weeks ago.

Security Hack Exposes Vehicle Tracking Data

October 4, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Security reseachers have uncovered a security breach exposing half a million vehicle tracking accounts and details.

Discovered by Kromtech security, the breach reveals information about the customers of US vehicle recovery device and monitoring company SVR Tracking, as well as the physical devices that are attached to the cars.

The exposed data, which includes customer credentials, was unearthed through a misconfigured Amazon AWS S3 bucket that was left publically available, and because it wasn’t protected by a password, could allow anyone to pinpoint locations visited by customers of the vehicle tracking firm.

“The repository contained over a half of a million records with logins, passwords, emails, VIN (vehicle identification number), IMEI numbers of GPS devices and other data that is collected on their devices, customers and auto dealerships,” said Bob Diachenko, Kromtech’s Chief Communication Officer.

“Interestingly, exposed database also contained information where exactly in the car the tracking unit was hidden.

In a Backup Folder called “accounts”, the data contained 540,642 ID numbers, account information that included many plate & vin numbers, emails, hashed passwords, IMEI numbers and more.

Kromtech noted that the car tracking software monitors everywhere the car has been back as far as 120 days, including a somewhat terrifying feature that pinpoints on the map all of the places a driver has visited.

Diachenko added that the actual number of vehicles exposed by the incident may have been far more than half a million, since many of the accounts, which were used by SVR’s resellers and clients, include large numbers of tracking devices.

The tracking devices installed by SVR indicate the vehicle’s location around the clock, even if it hasn’t been reported as missing or stolen, according to the company.

“There is even an option that will show anyone with login credentials the top stops or locations where the vehicle has been,” added Diachenko. “There is a ‘recovery mode’ that can pinpoint every 2min or create zone notifications. They claim to have a 99% success rate on recovery but what about when the customer logins and passwords for thousands of unsuspecting drivers are leaked online?”

Shortly after sending responsible disclosure note, the bucket was secured, however, with no word from the company.

Courtesy-TheInq

Ford Forms New Team Dedicated To Electric Vehicle Production

October 3, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Ford Motor Co has put together a team to accelerate global development of electric vehicles, whose mission will be to “think big” and “make quicker decisions,” an executive of the company announced on Monday.

One aim of Ford’s “Team Edison” is to identify and develop electric-vehicle partnerships with other companies, including suppliers, in some markets, according to Sherif Marakby, vice president of autonomous vehicles and electrification.

Global demand for electric vehicles has “a significant potential to increase” as governments implement EV mandates and quotas, Marakby said in an interview.

 He said the group will be based in the Detroit area and work with regional Ford vehicle electrification teams in China and Europe.

China, India, France and the United Kingdom all have announced plans to phase out vehicles powered by combustion engines and fossil fuels between 2030 and 2040.

Marakby said Team Edison “will look holistically at the electric vehicle market.”

“The idea is to think big, move fast and make quicker decisions” on EV production as demand increases and technology advances, he added.

Ford has not altered its previously announced plan to spend $4.5 billion over five years on electrified vehicles, including plug-in hybrids, Marakby said.

The new team will report to Ted Cannis, who has been named global director of electrification.

Is Tesla Giving nVidia The Boot

October 2, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Tesla has delivered a blow to Nvidia’s plans to dominate the AI car industry by abandoning work in Nvidia chips and moving to develop its own.

To make matters worse for the Green Goblin, Tesla is developing its own chip using Nvidia’s rival’s AMD intellectual property and any chips will be made by GloFo.

On Wednesday Sanjay Jha, CEO of AMD spin-off GlobalFoundries, said at the company’s technology conference in Santa Clara, California, that the company is working directly with Tesla.

Tesla’s silicon project is bounding ahead under the leadership of longtime chip architect Jim Keller, the head of Autopilot hardware and software since the departure of Apple veteran Chris Lattner in June.

Apparently, Keller was not that much of a fan of Nvidia, although to be fair he worked for AMD twice.

Keller arrived at Apple in 2008 through its acquisition of Palo Alto Semiconductor and was the designer of Apple’s A4 and A5 iPhone chips, among other things. More than 50 people are working on the initiative under Keller, the source said.

Tesla has been becoming more AMD focused lately, hiring Keller, including director Ganesh Venkataramanan, principal hardware engineer Bill McGee and system circuit design lead Dan Bailey.

Nvidia’s stock sank slightly on the news. Investers are aware that Tesla is not Nvidia’s only car AI partner. Analysts insist that Nvidia chips will remain the engine behind Tesla’s AI systems, while AMD chips could be used for some specific jobs.

We are not sure how true that will be, as there appears to be a trend happening here and it is following Apple’s own chip development plans. Tesla wants its own chip and will use AMD technology to build it.  If it builds it, why would it need Nvidia? 

Courtesy-Fud

Ford And Lyft Team Up To Deply Self-driving Cars

September 28, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Ford Motor Co announced plans to team up with Lyft to deploy Ford self-driving vehicles on the ride services company’s network in large numbers by 2021.

Ford and Lyft teams will begin working together to design software to allow Ford vehicles to communicate with Lyft’s smartphone apps.

Ford self-driving test vehicles will be connected to Lyft’s network, but at first, customers will not be able to use them, Sherif Marakby, Ford’s vice president for autonomous vehicles and electrification, told Reuters. Ford will put human-driven vehicles on Lyft’s network.

He did not say when Ford and Lyft expect to offer the first rides in self-driving cars.

 “We’re not building prototypes for the sake of building prototypes,” Marakby said, adding Ford intends to ultimately put thousands of self-driving vehicles in use.

Ford’s new Chief Executive Jim Hackett is scheduled to meet with investors on Tuesday to outline the Dearborn, Mich. automaker’s strategy for boosting profitability. Ford shares are down 1.65 percent so far this year, while Detroit rival General Motors Co’s shares have risen 15.6 percent, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV shares are up 71 percent.

Hackett’s plans to compete for revenue from mobility services, which include car sharing and ride-hailing, will be one area of focus for investors. The Lyft partnership fills in a piece of the puzzle.

Ford also is testing delivery services using self-driving vehicles and a van shuttle service. The self-driving vehicles Ford will deploy through Lyft will use software developed by Argo AI, a company in which Ford is investing $1 billion over the next five years.

The company has said it will invest $700 million in a factory in Flat Rock, Michigan, to make it capable of building electric and self driving vehicles.

Lyft has said it will offer an open platform for companies to deploy self-driving vehicles on its network, and has partnerships with self driving vehicle technology startup Drive.ai and Alphabet Inc’s Waymo self driving car unit.

Uber Issues Apology To London

September 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

CEO of Uber Dara Khosrowshahi has issued an official apology to Londoners, acknowledging that the company “got things wrong.”

In an open letter to the city, Khosrowshahi promised to listen to London’s as he writes the company’s next chapter.

“On behalf of everyone at Uber globally, I apologize for the mistakes we’ve made,” he said.

The company also called for talks with London’s transport regulator Transport for London on Monday in a bid to improve after it had its license renewal request denied on Friday.

Uber’s Head of Cities for the UK Fred Jones told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that the company wants to better understand TfL’s concerns, particularly over the way it conducts background checks on drivers and reports serious incidents to the police.

Uber is facing the possibility it will be banned in the city after TfL laid out its concerns while refusing to renew the company’s license to operate in the British capital when it expires on Sept. 30. Uber has 21 days to appeal the decision and is allowed to continue operating throughout the process.

Jones said he understood that it was TfL and not London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had rejected the license, backpedalling from the statements issued by Uber on Friday, which addressed the mayor directly and claimed both he and TfL were making a politically motivated decision.

Following TfL’s announcement on Friday Uber launched a petition, in which the company claimed: “By wanting to ban our app from the capital, Transport for London and their chairman the Mayor have given in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice.” It has so far attracted over 750,000 signatures.

But Jones is now presenting an alternative interpretation. “What’s become clear over the weekend is this was TfL’s licensing decision,” he said. “It’s just not clear for us what their concerns might be.”

Uber is confused by TfL’s accusations over the way background checks are performed, he told the BBC. He also defended Uber’s record for dealing criminal incidents, saying that the Met Police Force had not approached the company directly before making its concerns public.

Londoners Want Uber Back, Sign Petition

September 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Half a million people have signed an online petition in under 24 hours supporting Uber’s bid to stay on the streets of London, showing the company is turning to its tried-and-tested tactic of asking customers for help when it locks horns with regulators.

London’s transport authorities stunned the powerful start-up on Friday when they deemed Uber unfit to run a taxi service for safety reasons and stripped it of its license from next week, although it can continue to operate while it appeals.

The regulator cited Uber’s failure to report serious criminal offices, conduct sufficient background checks on drivers and other safety issues, threatening the U.S. firm’s presence in one of the world’s wealthiest cities.

Uber immediately emailed users in London and urged them to sign a petition that said the city authorities had “caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice”.

By 1200 GMT on Saturday, more than 515,000 people had signed in support of Uber.

It counted 3.5 million active users in London in the past three months. Even if many tourists are probably included in the total, the figure represents a potential political force of commuters who face long journeys between their home and offices and who use Uber as a cheaper alternative to other taxi firms.

Turning to users for help is one of the first steps in Uber’s playbook. In Jakarta, Budapest, Toronto and Portland it asked riders to sign petitions and built online tools to contact lawmakers to show their support.

Regulators have at least partly relented in Portland, Toronto and Jakarta, but Budapest remains a work in progress.

Uber now faces a showdown with London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan, who this month said he wouldn’t let his teenage daughters use cabs like Uber on their own over fears for their safety.

Khan, a leading figure in the opposition Labour Party, said on Friday: “All private-hire operators in London need to play by the rules. The safety and security of Londoners must come first.”

As mayor, Khan is chairman of Transport for London, the regulator which stripped Uber of its license.

 London’s decision is the first major challenge for new Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over from co-founder and ex-CEO Travis Kalanick. He was forced out after internal and external investigations into sexual harassment complaints, the thwarting of government inquiries and potential bribery.

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