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China Drops Big Technology Brands From State Purchase Lists

February 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

China has removed some of the world’s most popular technology brands from its approved state purchase lists, while approving thousands more home grown products, in what some say is a response to revelations of widespread Western cybersurveillance.

Others put the shift down to a protectionist impulse to shield China’s domestic technology industry from competition.

Chief casualty is U.S. network equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc, which in 2012 counted 60 products on the Central Government Procurement Center’s (CGPC) list, but by late 2014 had none, a Reuters analysis of official data shows.

Smartphone and PC maker Apple Inc has also been dropped over the period, along with Intel Corp’s security software firm McAfee and network and server software firm Citrix Systems .

The number of products on the list, which covers regular spending by central ministries, jumped by more than 2,000 in two years to just under 5,000, but the increase is almost entirely due to local makers.

The number of approved foreign tech brands fell by a third, while less than half of those with security-related products survived the cull.

An official at the procurement agency said there were many reasons why local makers might be preferred, including sheer weight of numbers and the fact that domestic security technology firms offered more product guarantees than overseas rivals.

China’s change of tack coincided with leaks by former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden in mid-2013 that exposed several global surveillance programs, many of them run by the NSA with the cooperation of telecom companies and European governments.

 

Google Continues Wooing Enterprise Users With Android For Work Launch

February 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Google Inc rolled out an initiative  to make smartphones running its Android software more appealing to corporations, a move that could help extend the Internet technology giant reach into workplaces.

Google said on its official blog that its Android for Work program will provide improved security and management features for corporations that want to give their employees Android smartphones. Smartphones supported by the new initiative will be able to keep an employee’s work and personal apps separate, and a special Android for Work app will allow businesses to oversee key tools such as email, calendar and contacts.

Google said it is partnering with more than two dozen companies including Blackberry Ltd, Citrix Systems Inc, Box Inc.

Google’s Android software is the world’s most popular mobile operating system, but many corporations, which have significant security and device management requirements, give their employees smartphones made by Blackberry or Apple Inc.

 

 

Are 100-Core ARM Processors On The Horizon

February 27, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Ezchip is planning to put 100 ARM-based 64-bit cores into a processor which it thinks will fill a hole in the networking market.

Dubbed the Tile-Mx, the multi-core processors are in development, but won’t be sampling until the second half of 2016.

Company officials said the chips high core count, mesh connectivity and hardware accelerators will fix the demands on data centre and carrier networks brought on by such trends as mobility, big data, social media, the Internet of things (IoT) and the cloud.

Ezchip thinks that it will all work well with software-defined networking (SDN) and network-functions virtualization (NFV) and open switches and white boxes.
The Tile-Mx chip family is EZchip’s first go with ARM architecture and means it is moving away from the proprietary designs Tilera used in building out its multi-core portfolio.

Tile-Mx will be based around Cortex-A53 cores and will be targeted at white-box networking vendors, servers that run high-performance networking applications and software vendors.

The new chip family also will include smaller versions of the chip armed with 36 and 64 ARM cores, officials said.
The new chips also will include a mesh core interconnect architecture to provide a lot of bandwidth, low latency and high linear scalability.

The chips will offer 200G-bit throughput and will be able to take advantage of the growing ARM ecosystem of open-source software vendors, officials said.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Bad News For Lenovo Continues As Website Is Hacked

February 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Chinese PC and mobile phone maker Lenovo Group Ltd acknowledged that its website was hacked, its second security blemish days after the U.S. government advised consumers to remove software called “Superfish” pre-installed on its laptops.

Hacking group Lizard Squad claimed credit for the attacks on microblogging service Twitter. Lenovo said attackers breached the domain name system associated with Lenovo and redirected visitors to lenovo.com to another address, while also intercepting internal company emails.

Lizard Squad posted an email exchange between Lenovo employees discussing Superfish. The software was at the center of public uproar in the United States last week when security researchers said they found it allowed hackers to impersonate banking websites and steal users’ credit card information.

In a statement issued in the United States on Wednesday night, Lenovo, the world’s biggest maker of personal computers, said it had restored its site to normal operations after several hours.

“We regret any inconvenience that our users may have if they are not able to access parts of our site at this time,” the company said. “We are actively reviewing our network security and will take appropriate steps to bolster our site and to protect the integrity of our users’ information.”

Lizard Squad has taken credit for several high-profile outages, including attacks that took down Sony Corp’s PlayStation Network and Microsoft Corp’s Xbox Live network last month. Members of the group have not been identified.

Starting 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, visitors to the Lenovo website saw a slideshow of young people looking into webcams and the song “Breaking Free” from the movie “High School Musical” playing in the background, according to technology publication The Verge, which first reported the breach.

Although consumer data was not likely compromised by the Lizard Squad attack, the breach was the second security-related black eye for Lenovo in a matter of days.

 

Anthem Says Nearly 79M Records Were Exposed In Data Breach

February 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The Anthem data breach may have exposed 78.8 million records, according to deeper analysis provided in an estimate by the health insurance company, but Anthem is still investigating exactly how many records hackers captured from a database.

Hackers accessed a database at Anthem that contained customer and employee records with names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and member IDs, the health insurance company said on Feb. 4. Some records included employment information and income levels, but no financial information was compromised, it said.

It marked one of the largest data breaches to affect the health care industry, adding to a string of recent attacks that have shaken large companies, including retailers Home Depot, Target and Michaels.

Anthem, formerly known as Wellpoint, runs health-care plans under the Blue Cross Blue Shield, Empire Blue Cross, Amerigroup, Caremore, Unicare, Healthlink, DeCare, HealthKeepers and Golden West brands.

Between 60 million and 70 million of the 78.8 million records belong to current or former Anthem members, the company said in a statement.

The remainder — between 8.8 million and 18.8 million — belong to non-Anthem members who used their insurance in a state where Anthem has operated over the last decade.

Anthem is still trying to identify those people who may have been affected. Part of the problem is that Anthem has found 14 million incomplete records that can’t be linked to a product or line of business. Those records lack data fields that could be used to identify members, though they probably are not active Anthem members.

No information has been formally released on who may have compromised the database. Security firm CrowdStrike, which is not involved in the investigation, said the attackers used infrastructure linked to a suspected China-based state-sponsored group known as Deep Panda.

 

 

 

 

Will nVidia Put AMD Out Of Business?

February 26, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

It would appear that the world is rushing to Nvidia to buy its latest GPU at the expense of AMD.

According to the data, NVIDIA and AMD each took dramatic swings from Q4 of 2013 to Q4 of 2014 with Nvidia increasing its market share over AMD by 20 per cent and AMD’s market share has dropped from 35 per cent at the end of 2013 to just 24 per cent at the end of 2014.

Meanwhile, Nvidia has gonr from 64.9 per cent at the end of 2013 to 76 per cent at the end of 2014.

The report JPR’s AIB Report looks at computer add-in graphics boards, which carry discrete graphics for desktop PCs, workstations, servers, and other devices such as scientific instruments.

In all cases, AIBs represent the higher end of the graphics industry using discrete chips and private high-speed memory, as compared to the integrated GPUs in CPUs that share slower system memory.

On a year-to-year basis, total AIB shipments during the quarter fell by 17.52 per cent , which is more than desktop PCs, which fell by 0.72 percent .

However, in spite of the overall decline, somewhat due to tablets and embedded graphics, the PC gaming momentum continues to build and is the bright spot in the AIB market.

The overall PC desktop market increased quarter-to-quarter including double-attach-the adding of a second (or third) AIB to a system with integrated processor graphics-and to a lesser extent, dual AIBs in performance desktop machines using either AMD’s Crossfire or Nvidia’s SLI technology.

The attach rate of AIBs to desktop PCs declined from a high of 63 per cent in Q1 2008 to 36 per cent this quarter.

So in other words It is also clear that the Radeon R9 285 release didn’t have the impact AMD had hoped and NVIDIA’s Maxwell GPUs, the GeForce GTX 750 Ti, GTX 970 and GTX 980 have impacted the market even more than expected.

This is ironic because the GTX 970 has been getting a lot of negative press with the memory issue and AMD makes some good gear, has better pricing and a team of PR and marketing folks that are talented and aggressive.

Courtesy-Fud

More Lawyers, Lawsuits Descend On Lenovo Over Superfish

February 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Lenovo and adware maker Superfish were subjected to more legal action as two new lawsuits were filed in California federal courts taking the firms to task for putting consumers at risk of hacker spying and information theft.

The two complaints — the second and third since the China-based computer OEM (original equipment manufacturer) admitted it had pre-loaded adware on its consumer PCs in the second half of 2014 — named both Lenovo and Superfish, and each lawsuit requested class-action status so that others could join the case.

Last week’s first lawsuit covered much of the same ground as the two lodged Monday.

David Hunter of North Carolina, the plaintiff in one of the lawsuits, alleged that Lenovo and Superfish violated the U.S. Electronic Communications Privacy Act and other laws, and asked that the court force the firms to surrender any revenue generated by the sale of consumers’ browsing data and monies earned from the advertising produced by the adware.

Hunter said he bought a Lenovo Y50 laptop — one of dozens of models Lenovo said it had pre-installed Superfish on from September through December 2014 — via the OEM’s website in October.

In the second complaint, filed by Sterling International Consulting Group (SICG) of Statesville, NC, Lenovo and Superfish were charged with breaking the U.S. Wiretapping Act, state and federal anti-fraud regulations and other laws.

Of the two new complaints, Hunter’s was the more interesting as it relied not only on press reports about Superfish’s vulnerability and Lenovo’s actions both before and after last week’s explosion of information, but also dug a bit deeper and offered insights into the adware’s operation.

Lenovo today declined to respond to the new lawsuits, with its head of corporate communications, Brion Tingler, saying, “We do not comment on pending legal matters,” in an email.

Superfish also declined comment on the lawsuits’ specifics, like Lenovo citing the pending litigation. But in a statement, company CEO Adi Pinhas said, “Superfish takes these matters seriously and is reviewing the allegations in the complaints.”

 

 

 

 

Was Old Code The Culprit For Security Breaches In 2014?

February 26, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Nearly half of all security breaches come from vulnerabilities that are between two and four years old, according to this year’s HP Cyber Risk Report entitled The Past Is Prologue.

The annual report found that the most prevalent problems came as a result of server misconfiguration, and that the primary causes of commonly exploited software vulnerabilities are defects, bugs and logic flaws.

But perhaps most disturbing of all was the news that Internet of Things (IoT) devices and mobile malware have introduced a significant extra security risk.

The entire top 10 vulnerabilities exposed in 2014 came from code written years, and in some cases decades, previously.

The news comes in the same week that HP took a swipe at rival Lenovo for knowingly putting Superfish adware into its machines.

“Many of the biggest security risks are issues we’ve known about for decades, leaving organisations unnecessarily exposed,” said Art Gilliland, senior vice president and general manager for enterprise security products at HP.

“We can’t lose sight of defending against these known vulnerabilities by entrusting security to the next silver bullet technology. Rather, organisations must employ fundamental security tactics to address known vulnerabilities and, in turn, eliminate significant amounts of risk.”

The main recommendations of report are that network administrators should employ a comprehensive and timely patching strategy, perform regular penetration testing and variation of configurations, keep equipment up to date to mitigate risk, share collaboration and threat intelligence, and use complementary protection strategies.

The threat to security from the IoT is already well documented by HP, which released a study last summer revealing that 90 percent of IoT devices take at least one item of personal data and 60 percent are vulnerable to common security breaches.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Chrome Browser Now Has Early Warning Alert

February 25, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google has added an early warning alert to Chrome that appears when users try to access a website that the search giant believes will try to trick users into downloading suspicious software.

The new alert pops up in Chrome when a user aims the browser at a suspect site but before the domain is displayed. “The site ahead contains harmful programs,” the warning states.

Google emphasized tricksters that “harm your browsing experience,” and cited those that silently change the home page or drop unwanted ads onto pages in the warning’s text.

The company has long focused on those categories, and for obvious, if unstated, reasons. It would prefer that people — much less, shifty software — not alter the Chrome home page, which features the Google search engine, the Mountain View, Calif. firm’s primary revenue generator. Likewise, the last thing Google wants is to have adware, especially the most irritating, turn off everyone to all online advertising.

The new alert is only the latest in a line of warnings and more draconian moves Google has made since mid-2011, when the browser began blocking malware downloads. Google has gradually enhanced Chrome’s alert feature by expanding the download warnings to detect a wider range of malicious or deceitful programs, and using more assertive language in the alerts.

In January 2014, for example, Chrome 32 added threats that posed as legitimate software and tweaked with the browser’s settings to the unwanted list.

The browser’s malware blocking and suspect site warnings come from Google’s Safe Browsing API (application programming interface) and service; Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox also access parts of the API to warn their users of potentially dangerous websites.

Chrome 40, the browser’s current most-polished version, can be downloaded for Windows, OS X and Linux from Google’s website.

 

 

ARM and IBM Join Forces On IoT

February 25, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

ARM has joined forces with IBM to launch its Internet of Things (IoT) mbed Device Platform as a starter kit with cloud support, offering developer tools with cloud-based analytics.

ARM’s mbed tool was announced last year and is primarily an operating system built around open standards to “bring internet protocols, security and standards-based manageability into one integrated tool” and make IoT deployment faster and easier and thus speed up the creation of IoT-powered devices.

ARM has launched the mbed IoT Starter Kit – Ethernet Edition today to coincide with the opening of Embedded World in Nuremberg. Partnering with IBM means that ARM’s mbed tool can channel data from internet-connected devices directly into IBM’s Bluemix cloud platform.

The IoT Starter Kit consists of an ARM mbed-enabled development board from Freescale, powered by an ARM Cortex-M4 based processor, together with a sensor IO application shield.

It also support standards such as Bluetooth Smart, 2G, 3G, LTE and CDMA cellular technologies, Thread, WiFi, and 802.15.4/6LoWPAN along with TLS/DTLS, CoAP, HTTP, MQTT and Lightweight M2M.

The mbed OS also features the mbed Device Server, a licensed software product that provides the server-side technologies to connect and manage devices in a more secure way. It also provides a bridge between the protocols designed for use on IoT devices and the APIs used by web developers.

“The combination of a secure sensor environment by ARM with cloud-based analytics, mobile and application resources from IBM will allow fast prototyping of new smart products and unique value-added services,” explained ARM.

Krisztian Flautner, general manager for IoT business at ARM, said that securely embedding connectivity into devices from the start will allow for cloud-connected products that are far more capable than we see today.

“Smart cities, businesses and homes capable of sharing rich information about their surroundings will be critical in unlocking the potential of IoT,” he said.

“The ARM IoT Starter Kit will accelerate the availability of connected devices by making product and service prototyping faster and easier.”

The first products developed using the kit are expected to enter the market later this year.

Future versions of the kit will run the new ARM mbed OS and use ARM mbed Device Server software to deliver a wider range of efficient security, communication and device management features.

Prototypes have been given to a few early adopters, including the Science and Technology Facilities Council which said that the kit and its connection to the IBM IoT Foundation will help businesses realise the value during the development and production phases of any venture.

The mbed software also comes with its own community, Mbed.org, a focus point for a more than 70,000 developers around the platform.

The website provides a database of hardware development kits, a repository for reusable software components, reference applications, documentation and web-based development tools. It is already up and running, ARM said.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Lenovo Hit With Lawsuit Over Superfish Adware

February 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Lenovo admitted to pre-loading the Superfish adware on some consumer PCs, and now outraged customers are dragging the computer maker to court on the matter.

A proposed class-action lawsuit was filed late last week against Lenovo and Superfish, charging both companies with “fraudulent” business practices and of making Lenovo PCs vulnerable to malware and malicious attacks by pre-loading the adware.

Plaintiff Jessica Bennett said her laptop was damaged as a result of Superfish, which was called “spyware” in court documents. She also accused Lenovo and Superfish of invading her privacy and making money by studying her Internet browsing habits.

The lawsuit was filed after Lenovo admitted to pre-loading Superfish on some consumer PCs. The laptops affected by Superfish include non-ThinkPad models such as G Series, U Series, Y Series, Z Series, S Series, Flex, Miix, Yoga and E Series.

Lenovo has since issued fixes to remove Superfish applications and certificates from PCs. Microsoft’s Windows Defender and McAfee’s security application also remove Superfish since Friday.

Lenovo earlier admitted it “messed up” by preloading Superfish on computers. The software plugs product recommendations into search results, but can hijack connections and open major security holes, thus leaving computers vulnerable to malicious attacks.

The first complaints of Superfish on Lenovo’s laptops emerged in September last year, but it became a real security issue when a hacker Marc Rogers pointed it out in a blog post.

Bennett, a blogger, purchased a Yoga 2 laptop to conduct business and communicate with clients. She noticed “spam advertisements involving scantily clad women” appearing on her client’s website when writing a blog post for the customer. After seeing pop-ups on other websites, she assumed her computer had spyware or had been hacked, but then scoured the forums to notice similar behavior on other Lenovo laptops. She then rooted out the problem to be Superfish, which could intercept secure communication and leave computers vulnerable.

Superfish also used memory resources and took up Internet bandwidth, according to the court document.

Damages from Lenovo and Superfish are being sought as part of the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

 

 

 

YouTube Releasing New Kids App

February 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

YouTube is rolling out a new app for children next week, called YouTube Kids, which will run on smartphones and tablets and focus on kid-appropriate content.

The free app from Google Inc’s online video service will be available for download as of today, February 23rd, and will feature kid-friendly design, with big icons and minimal scrolling, according to details seen by Reuters.

The app, which will be separate from the mainstream YouTube mobile app, will also feature parental controls such as a timer that can be used to limit a child’s screen time.

The Wall Street Journal earlier reported the launch, saying the company is planning to announce the new app today at a children’s entertainment industry conference.

A YouTube spokeswoman confirmed the information.

In December, USA Today reported that Google was planning to roll out child-friendly versions of its most popular products in a bid to be “fun and safe for children.”

Internet companies such as Google and Facebook Inc do not offer their services to children under 13.

 

 

Microsoft Doubling Price For Those Who Still Want XP Support

February 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft will double the per-PC price of support for enterprises still holding onto Windows XP systems when the anniversary of the aged OS’s retirement rolls around in April, according to a licensing expert familiar with the situation.

The per-PC price for what Microsoft calls “custom support agreements” (CSAs) will increase to $400, the expert said after requesting anonymity.

CSAs provide critical security updates for an operating system that’s been officially retired, as Windows XP was on April 8, 2014. CSAs are negotiated on a company-by-company basis and also require that an organization has adopted a top-tier support plan, dubbed Premier Support, offered by Microsoft.

The CSA failsafe lets companies pay for security patches beyond the normal support lifespan while they finish their migrations to newer editions of Windows. Most enterprises have shifted — and are continuing to do so — to Windows 7 rather than adopt Windows 8.1.

Last year, just days before Microsoft retired Windows XP, the company slashed the price of CSAs to $200-per-device with a cap of $250,000.

Because a CSA is an annual-only program — and Microsoft limits each organization to just three years of post-retirement support — agreements must be renewed each year. The first renewals come due in less than two months.

Ideally, companies that signed up for a CSA last year will have retired large numbers of Windows XP machines in the interim. If a firm reduced the number of Windows XP PCs by half, it will pay the same as last year if it renews the agreement at the higher per-device price.

It’s difficult to gauge the persistence of Windows XP in commercial settings, but the operating system, which debuted in 2001, continues to appear in analytics firms’ tracking.

According to U.S.-based Net Applications, for example, the global user share of XP stood at 20.7% of all Windows-powered PCs in January, representing more than 300 million machines. Meanwhile, Irish metrics company StatCounter pegged XP’s usage share at 12% for January.

 

 

 

Will AMD Release Kaveri Today?

February 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD has confirmed that it is releasing new AMD A8-7650K APUs today.

The chips are based on the “Kaveri” design and are designed for overclockers on a budget.

The APU has four “Steamroller” cores (two dual-core modules) operating at 3.30GHz/3.90GHz clock-rate, 4MB L2 cache, AMD Radeon R7 graphics engine with 384 stream processors, a dual-channel DDR3 memory controller, unlocked multiplier and up to 95W thermal design power. The chip will be drop-in compatible with FM2+ mainboards.

AMD will officially start to sell its A8-7650K on the 20 February, 2015. In Japan, where prices are traditionally a bit higher than in the rest of the world, the APU will cost $117.

The new chip is slower than the company’s A8-7700K, which AMD discontinued late last year. That said, it is not completely clear why the company decided to replace an APU with a product with lower performance and did not just drop the price of the A8-7700K.

Later this year AMD plans to release a family of A-series APUs known as “Kaveri Refresh” and “Godovari” which will have higher clock-rates.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Intel Give A Boost To Its Exascale Computing Effort

February 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel’s exascale computing efforts have received a boost with the extension of the company’s research collaboration with the Barcelona Supercomputing Center.

Begun in 2011 and now extended to September 2017, the Intel-BSC work is currently looking at scalability issues with parallel applications.

Karl Solchenbach, Intel’s director, Innovation Pathfinding Architecture Group in Europe said it was important to improve scalability of threaded applications on many core nodes through the OmpSs programming model.

The collaboration has developed a methodology to measure these effects separately. “An automatic tool not only provides a detailed analysis of performance inhibitors, but also it allows a projection to a higher number of nodes,” says Solchenbach.

BSC has been making HPC tools and given Intel an instrumentation package (Extrae), a performance data browser (Paraver), and a simulator (Dimemas) to play with.

Charlie Wuischpard, VP & GM High Performance Computing at Intel said that the Barcelona work is pretty big scale for Chipzilla.

“A major part of what we’re proposing going forward is work on many core architecture. Our roadmap is to continue to add more and more cores all the time.”

“Our Knights Landing product that is coming out will have 60 or more cores running at a slightly slower clock speed but give you vastly better performance,” he said.

Courtesy-Fud