The plan calls for a $3.1 billion fund to replace outdated IT infrastructure; a new position of federal chief information security officer; a commission to study cybersecurity problems, and a program to recruit cybersecurity experts into government roles.
The U.S has been working since 2009 to improve the nation’s cyber defenses, most recently with the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, which promotes better information sharing between private industry and government, said Michael Daniel, special assistant to the President and cybersecurity coordinator, in a phone briefing with reporters Monday.
“Despite this track record, the cyberthreat continues to outpace our current efforts,” he said. “Particularly as we continue to hook more and more of our critical infrastructure up to the Internet, and as we build out the Internet of things, cyberthreats become only more frequent and more serious.”
The U.S. has faced serious data breaches and intrusions over the past two years. An attack on the Office of Personnel Management, the federal personnel agency, resulted in the theft of data including Social Security numbers, and in some cases fingerprints, of 21.5 million people.
In November 2014, the State Department took its unclassified email system offline after it detected suspicious activity. The shutdown came just two weeks after the White House reported unusual activity on the unclassified Executive Office of the President network.
Overall, the government wants to allocate $19 billion for cybersecurity spending in fiscal 2017, a 35% increase over the current year.
The proposed $3.1 billion Information Technology Modernization Fund would be used to replace systems that pose a high risk and to investigate more modern architectures, such as cloud services.
Imation, which purchased the then privately-held IronKey in 2011, did not disclose the financial details of the sale to Kingston.
IronKey is perhaps best known for its highly secure USB flash drives, which use 256-bit AES encryption algorithm to secure data and a stainless steel case with no seams so it cannot be pried open.
The secure storage devices are validated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to meet the stringent Level 3 criteria of FIPS 140-2. Combined with the cloud-based IronKey Enterprise Management Service, data security can be managed and audited from anywhere in the world.
IronKey’s thumb drives carry with them a hefty price as well. For example, a 32GB thumb drive can retail for as much as $599. However, you can also find them on online sites for around $280.
Kingston, which has had an encrypted portable drive line since it launched its DataTraveler product more than 10 years ago, said IronKey is one of the “leading alternative brands in encrypted USB flash” drives.
“The acquisition provides customers with a more comprehensive portfolio of products and services, and demonstrates Kingston’s commitment as the global leader in trusted encrypted solutions for mobile data,” Kingston said in a statement.
Kingston envisions no immediate changes that would affect the channel partners now supporting IronKey products.
“IronKey customers with any questions or concerns are asked to contact their current distribution or reseller partners, or email firstname.lastname@example.org,” the company said.
According to a post by USA Today, the Los Angeles area retailer began selling the Samsung UBDK8500 on February 5th for $397.99. The device is available in-store only, so we are expecting locals to rush in over the weekend and grab the player quickly as retailers are not expected to begin selling them for another few weeks.
In January, we wrote that Samsung’s UBDK8500 would begin arriving early to New York City-based Internet retailer B&H Photo Video as well as Crutchfield.com. Both sites are currently taking preorders for $399 and are expected to have stock on February 15th and February 17th, respectively.
For the initial public launch, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players are expected to be in high demand and limited supply as there will only be three options to choose from – the Samsung UBDK8500, the Philips BDP7501, and the Panasonic DMP-UB900.
We have asked Samsung if the company plans to release any 4K Ultra HD BD-ROM drives for PC, as we expect these to be a much better value-per-dollar than the standalone home entertainment players mentioned above. Unfortunately, the company says it cannot comment at this time.
Verizon Communications Inc has granted Tim Armstrong, chief executive officer of its AOL unit, a leading role in researching a possible bid for Yahoo Inc’s assets, Bloomberg reported, citing a person with knowledge of the situation.
Verizon, the largest U.S. wireless carrier, hasn’t hired bankers to conduct an offer and there have been no formal talks, according to the report.
Yahoo said last week that it would consider “strategic alternatives” for its core Internet business, even as it continues with its plan to revamp the business and spin it off.
Yahoo’s core business, which includes popular services like Yahoo Mail and its news and sports sites, could attract private equity firms, media and telecom companies or firms like Softbank Group Corp, analysts had said.
Verizon’s Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo said in December that the U.S. wireless carrier could look at buying Yahoo’s core business if it was a good fit.
Earlier this year, Verizon bought AOL Inc in a $4.4 billion deal to push into targeted advertising and mobile video.
Verizon and Yahoo couldn’t immediately be reached for comments.
The Mozilla Foundation has confirmed details of its shift in strategy for Firefox OS which will see it abandon future phone development in favour of using the software as (yet another) IoT platform.
In an announcement to the developer community by John Bernard, director of collaboration for Connected Devices at Mozilla, and George Roter, head of core contributors, it was confirmed that Firefox OS for smartphones will be canned at version 2.6.
“The circumstances of multiple established operating systems and app ecosystems meant that we were playing catch-up, and the conditions were not there for Mozilla to win on commercial smartphones,” they said in a statement.
Meh. Could have told you that one two years ago.
In addition, the Firefox OS Marketplace will no longer accept submissions for Android, desktop and tablet apps. Apps for Firefox OS itself will remain accepted until sometime in 2017.
At the moment, the new emphasis on connected devices is in the internal testing phase with three products ‘past the first gate’ and more in the pipeline. It is expected that this process will be opened to outsiders before the end of the second quarter.
The foxfooding (think dogfooding, or insider programme) will continue, turning its focus to connected products, and by the end of March, Mozilla intends to identify how the existing Sony Z3 Compact devices used for testing so far will figure going forwards.
The statement continued “Obviously, these decisions are substantial. The main reason they are being made is to ensure we are focusing our energies and resources on bringing the power of the web to IoT. And let’s remember why we’re doing this: we’re entering this exciting, fragmented space to ensure users have choice through interoperable, open solutions, and for us to act as their advocates for data privacy and security.”
This seems to suggest that Mozilla wants to help the fragmentation issue by fragmenting it further. This is the ongoing problem with connected devices – everyone wants to be the one to end the fragmentation with their solution.
One of the solutions through the internal tests early doors is the Firefox Smart TV platform, an already fragmented market that should still be licking its wounds from the Matchstick debacle.
Roter adds, “Our push into the Connected Devices space will absolutely necessitate strong community support for our initiatives to be successful – and that means hacking on and testing new product innovations coming through the pipeline.”
According to several metrics sources, Edge’s share of the global Windows 10user base was significantly lower in January than was Internet Explorer’s (IE) share of all Windows users, signaling that Microsoft has not been able to maintain the historical — or even current — percentages of Windows customers on its newest browser.
Last month, Edge’s share of all Windows 10 users was 26% in U.S.-based analytics firm Net Applications’ estimate. That was a decrease of two percentage points from December, and 10 points lower than in September.
In comparison, Net Applications’ IE-only share of all Windows users was a much more substantial 48%, or nearly double that of Edge on Windows 10. In other words, almost half of all Windows users ran a version of IE last month, while just over one-fourth of Windows 10 users ran Edge.
Because Edge works only on Windows 10, and IE only on Windows, it’s relatively easy to calculate the percentages. That’s not the case with other browsers, including Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox, which run on multiple editions of Windows and on rival operating systems, such as Apple’s OS X.
Other measurement sources portrayed the same situation: Edge has not held up its side of the bargain for Microsoft.
Irish vendor StatCounter, for example, pegged January’s Edge global share of Windows 10 at 13%, while IE’s share of all Windows was a more substantial 19%.
A third source, the Digital Analytics Program (DAP), tagged Edge’s share of Windows 10 for January at 24%, up one point from December. According to DAP, the IE-only share of all Windows traffic was 40%.
The kit from Seeed Studios ships with separate modules that can be pieced together to create a 2G phone with a 1.54-in. LCD screen. Icons on the display can be used to make phone calls or send text messages.
There’s more to RePhone than being a fun device. The kit also is a small development board to make wearable and IoT devices with cellular communication capabilities.
The $59 kit is now shipping, and comes with a small battery and modules for a SIM card — that’s how you connect to a carrier’s network — as well as speaker, GSM, NFC and Bluetooth Low Energy. It also ships with craft paper that can be the skin of the phone.
By October, the company hopes to upgrade RePhone Kit Create with a 4G communications module, said Wells Tu, marketing director at Seeed Studio in an e-mail.
Seeed Studio, which is in Shenzhen, China, received $276,865 from 3,399 backers on Kickstarter to make the RePhone Kit Create. More than 10,000 kits have been sold so far, Tu said.
The kit has spawned interesting wearable and IoT ideas, Tu said. One project involves a homegrown traceable dog tracker, with a RePhone kit in the collar tracking and calling dogs back home through voice commands.
Another idea floated in RePhone’s forums is a simple tracking device for things not expected to move, like a parked car. The goal with RePhone is to have a basic device to allow new IoT applications to be explored, Tu said.
Most IoT development boards today have only Bluetooth or Wi-Fi capabilities. Wearable development boards like MIPS’ Creator Ci40 don’t have cellular capabilities.
The RePhone has two connectors so other modules for motion control and GPS can be attached. It has standard ports found on developer boards to attach cameras and other external devices.
Intel is looking at tunneling transistors and spintronics and slowly rejecting the need for speed.
According to the Intel’s William Holt, who leads the company’s technology and manufacturing group, Intel will soon have to start using fundamentally new technologies.
He named tunnelling transistors and spintronics as good candidates, but both would require changes in how chips are designed and manufactured, and would likely be used alongside silicon transistors.
Holt said that the technology will not offer speed benefits over silicon transistors and chips may stop getting faster. Instead the tech would improve the energy efficiency of chips, something important for many leading uses of computing today, such as cloud computing, mobile devices, and robotics.
Speaking at the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco said: “We’re going to see major transitions… The new technology will be fundamentally different.”
Holt said that the status quo can only continue for two more generations, just four or five years, by which time silicon transistors will be only seven nanometres in size.
Tunnelling transistors are far from commercialization. They take advantage of quantum mechanical properties of electrons that harm the performance of conventional transistors and that have become more problematic as transistors have got smaller.
Spintronic devices could hit the market next year. They represent digital bits by switching between two different states encoded into a quantum mechanical property of particles such as electrons known as spin.
Spintronics will appear in some low-power memory chips in the next year or so, perhaps in high-powered graphics cards.
“Particularly as we look at the Internet of things, the focus will move from speed improvements to dramatic reductions in power. Power is a problem across the computing spectrum. The carbon footprint of data centres operated by Google, Amazon, Facebook, and other companies is growing at an alarming rate. And the chips needed to connect many more household, commercial, and industrial objects from toasters to cars to the Internet will need to draw as little power as possible to be viable,” Holt said.
Grey tin box shifter Dell wants to beef up security on its business laptops and PCs by introducing a new tool which helps to protect the BIOS from malware.
Attacks like this are rare and hard for software security to handle. Even wiping your harddrive and reinstalling software will not fix them.
Dell has introduced this new tool which makes a copy of the clean BIOS which is kept in the cloud, and compares it with snapshot with the machine’s BIOS every time it boots. If something’s been hacked or messed with it can be flagged up.
This allows the admin to be notified of the problem, and the system reverted to the clean BIOS. Dell wants to automate the entire process, but at the moment it still needs to be done manually.
Dell is making the system optional, and will cost extra for users. It will be available on Dell’s Precision and OptiPlex models, along with XPS PCs and Venue Pro tablets.
Firefox OS for smartphones will be retired once Mozilla wraps up version 2.6, George Roter, who leads Mozilla’s Participation Lab, said in a long message posted to the company’s website.
Firefox OS 2.6 is currently slated for a May 30 release.
Nearly two months ago, Mozilla confirmed that it wascalling it quits on Firefox OS in its current incarnation, ending more than four years of work building a browser-based, smartphone operating system.
Instead, Mozilla said that it would use the resources freed up by the shuttering of Firefox OS on smartphones to pivot toward an operating system for connected devices, the category dubbed “Internet of things,” or IoT.
“The main reason [these decisions] are being made is to ensure we are focusing our energies and resources on bringing the power of the Web to IoT,” said Roter.
Roter was more direct in explaining the reasoning for turning off Firefox OS’s spigot than were Mozilla executives in December.
“The circumstances of multiple established operating systems and app ecosystems meant that we were playing catch-up, and the conditions were not there for Mozilla to win on commercial smartphones,” Roter acknowledged. “We have decided that in order to succeed in the new area of connected devices we must focus our energy completely on prototyping the future and exploring how we can make the biggest impact in IoT.”
Ari Jaaksi, the executive who runs Mozilla’s Connected Devices group, was just as candid. “We could not create a compelling and differentiating end-user value proposition and we failed to build the full ecosystem,” he wrote on a company blog, referring to Firefox OS for smartphones.
Along with the demise of Firefox OS, on March 29 Mozilla will stop accepting submissions to its app store for Web apps that run in Firefox on Android as well as the desktop- and tablet-centric versions of the browser. Apps for those platforms now in the store will be removed on that same day; in other words, Mozilla will kill the small app ecosystem it had struggled to create.
After March 29, only apps for Firefox OS on smartphones will be available on the store. Mozilla is also dead-ending the store’s payment support, meaning that developers will have to scramble to find another payment provider or make their paid apps free.
Twitter has said it only takes down accounts when they are reported by other users, but said that it has increased the size of teams monitoring and responding to reports and has decreased its response time “significantly.”
Twitter’s announcement comes as many tech companies – led by Facebook – have taken stronger steps to police controversial content online in the face of threats from legislators to force the companies to report “terrorist activity” on their sites to law enforcement.
Silicon Valley has been wary of engaging with government officials, concerned about endless demands for similar action from countries around the world as well as fears about being perceived by consumers as tools of government.
The announcement was also notable because Twitter has said little about its efforts to combat Islamic State, also known as ISIS, and similar groups even though it has been criticized for not doing enough.
Islamic State, which controls last swathes of Iraq and Syria, has heavily relied on the 300 million-person site, as well as others, to recruit fighters and propagate violent messages.
Seamus Hughes, deputy director of George Washington University’s program on extremism, said Friday’s report showcased an “impressive number” of takedowns, but said that Twitter still appears to police extremist content in a mostly “episodic” way.
Many extremists have migrated toward smaller, less monitored platforms in recent months in response to major Silicon Valley firms stepping up their content policing, Hughes added.
In January, a delegation of top national security officials met tech industry leaders from Twitter, Facebook Inc, Apple Inc, and Google parent Alphabet Inc, but most companies, including Twitter, did not send their chief executive officers.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, called Twitter’s announcement a “very positive development,” but said more was needed.
“Addressing the use of social media by terrorists will require a sustained and cooperative effort between the technology sector, the Intelligence Community, and law enforcement,” he said.
Still, Twitter said in a blog post that it has cooperated with law enforcement when appropriate.
The program debuted at West Bluff, an affordable housing community in Kansas City, Mo., where 100 homes have been connected to Google Fiber. Across the Kansas City area, Google is now working with affordable housing providers to connect as many as nine properties that could reach more than 1,300 local families.
Google described the program as an extension of its work with ConnectHome, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Obama administration.
HUD Secretary Julian Castro said in a conference call that under the ConnectHome program, up to 200,000 children in affordable housing in 28 different U.S. cities are expected to be connected to fast Internet. Google Fiber is expected to be a part of those connections in Atlanta, Durham, N.C., Nashville and San Antonio, he said.
There will be no cost to local housing authorities, their residents or HUD. Google will absorb the costs of the free service and there will be no fees or contract.
The Kansas City area was the first Google Fiber location in the nation, starting in 2012. Today, the service is available in two other cities — Austin, Texas and Provo, Utah — with work under way in six others. Normally, residents in Kansas City pay $70 a month for Google Fiber fast Internet service.
In addition to free Internet, eligible residents will work with ConnectHome partners like Connecting for Good and Surplus Exchange to be able to purchase discounted computers and learn new computer skills, Google said.
In Austin, Google plans to complement free Internet service for some families with investments in computers labs and digital literacy classes. Plans for other cities were not announced.
Cisco Systems Inc announced that it will acquire Technologies Inc, a startup that connects devices like cars and medical devices to the Internet, for $1.4 billion in cash and equity awards, its largest acquisition since 2013.
Legacy technology companies like Cisco have been trying to find paths for growth while new technology developments, such as the rise of cloud computing, threaten their core businesses. The emerging field dubbed Internet of Things, offers Cisco, known for networking equipment, a chance to offer cutting-edge technology to its current customers.
In addition to connecting devices to the Internet, Jasper makes a software platform that helps monitor these devices once they are online.
Rob Salvagno, Cisco’s vice president of corporate development, said in an interview that the Internet of Things has been a priority for Cisco for the past few years.
“We’ve been keeping an eye on this market and what we noticed was that Jasper represented a unique asset. We believe they are the largest Internet of Things service platform of scale today,” he said.
Connecting myriad objects to the Internet is in its infancy today, said Gaurav Garg, a Jasper board member and a partner at Wing Venture Capital who compared the potential of the technology to the early days of the electrical grid.
“Who thought we’d be plugging computers and all sorts of things into it?” he asked, assigning similar possibilities to the Internet of Things.
Cisco, which has acquired dozens of smaller companies over the years, is shifting its business toward high-end switches and routers and investing in new products such as data analytics software and cloud-based tools for data centers.
Jasper is the largest deal for Cisco since it acquired security company Sourcefire for $2.7 billion in 2013.
Jasper had been planning an initial public offering and had banks to help it prepare. Its investors, such as Singapore’s Temasek, Sequoia Capital and Benchmark Capital, will now get a chance to cash out without having to brave the rocky equity markets, which have seen no technology IPOs this year.
Jasper’s chief executive, Jahangir Mohammed, will stay on with Cisco and run a new Internet of Things Software Business unit once the deal closes in the third quarter.
That’s what Canadian researchers found when they studied fitness-tracking devices from eight manufacturers, along with their companion mobile apps.
All the devices studied except for the Apple Watch transmitted a persistent, unique Bluetooth identifier, allowing them to be tracked by the beacons increasingly being used by retail stores and shopping malls to recognize and profile their customers.
The revealing devices, the Basis Peak, Fitbit Charge HR, Garmin Vivosmart, Jawbone Up 2, Mio Fuse, Withings Pulse O2 and Xiaomi Mi Band, all make it possible for their wearers to be tracked using Bluetooth even when the device is not paired with or connected to a smartphone, the researchers said. Only the Apple device used a feature of the Bluetooth LE standard to generate changing MAC addresses to prevent tracking.
In addition, companion apps for the wearables variously leaked login credentials, transmitted activity tracking information in a way that allowed interception or tampering, or allowed users to submit fake activity tracking information, according to an early draft of the report, “Every Step you Fake: A Comparative Analysis of Fitness Tracker Privacy and Security.” It was published by Canadian non-profit Open Effect, and researched with help from the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.
The apps are typically used to gather data from the fitness tracking device and upload it to a central server, where users can analyze their performance and perhaps compare it with that of other device wearers.
Using a man-in-the-middle attack, researchers were able to spy on traffic between the apps and the servers for all but two of the apps, Apple’s Watch 2.1 and Intel’s Basis Peak 1.14.0. For the six remaining apps, this allowed them to observe even encrypted data sent via HTTPS.
Apple and Intel used a technique called certificate pinning to avoid being fooled by the fake security certificates presented by the researchers. Intel has been highlighting the risks of poorly secured wearable devices since at least 2014, when it published the report “Safeguarding the Future of Digital America 2025.”
For years Microsoft held a torch for the tablet even while everyone else mocked them. When Apple turned the concept into a gimmick and everyone bought one, Microsoft was mocked for not really understanding the tablet.
Now it seems that Redmond is the only one making tablets that people want again, as the market slowly shrinks to the point before Jobs claimed “his” invention was a “game changer.”
Strategy Analytics said that final quarter of 2015 witnessing the worst year-on-year decline for a product that it has seen.
The company’s ‘Preliminary Global Tablet Shipments and Market Share by Operating System: Q4 2015′ report estimates that tablet shipment numbers fell to 69.9 million units in Q4, which is a record drop of 11 per cent. Over the full year of 2015, shipments reached 224 million units which represented a drop of 8 per cent.
TrendForce estimated a bigger drop over the course of the full year with a 12.2 per cent decline compared to 2014′s shipment numbers.
However Strategy Analytics said that the only one to do well was Microsoft. Windows tablets witnessed growth of 59 per cent in Q4 compared to the previous year.
Part of this is because 2-in-1 PCs are doing well and expected to do better. Strategy Analytics observed a huge 379 per cent leap in year-on-year growth in Q4 2015.
Eric Smith, Senior Analyst, Tablet & Touchscreen Strategies service at Strategy Analytics, said: “2-in-1 Detachable Tablets have reached an inflection point in 2015 as computing needs continue to trend more and more mobile and Tablets with Windows 10 can compete against iOS in the premium and high price bands and equally well against Android in the mid and lower price bands.
“The Q4 2015 launch of Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book was met with many ‘Surface clones’ by Microsoft’s OEM partners at lower price points. This variety of devices will bolster momentum of Windows Tablets going forward.”
Apple is still the top tablet vendor with a share of 23.1 per cent in Q4 of last year. But it fell heavily from 27.3 per cent the previous year. Cupertino’s shipment numbers dropped from 21.4 million units to 16.1 million units this year.
Samsung was in second place with a 12.9 per cent market share, down from 13.9 per cent the previous year. Lenovo saw slight growth in third place with an increase from 4.7 per cent to a 5.7 per cent share in Q4 2015, with Amazon slipping to fourth place, dropping from 4.9 per cent to 4.4 per cent.