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Microsoft To End Detailed Security Bulletins

January 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft discontinue issuing detailed security bulletins in February, which for nearly 20 years have provided individual users and IT professionals information about vulnerabilities and their patches.

One patching expert crossed his fingers that Microsoft would make good on its pledge to publish the same information when it switches to a new online database. “I’m on the fence right now,” said Chris Goettl, product manager with patch management vendor Shavlik, of the demise of bulletins. “We’ll have to see [the database] in February before we know how well Microsoft has done [keeping its promise].”

Microsoft announced the demise of bulletins in November, saying then that the last would be posted with January’s Patch Tuesday — the monthly round of security updates for Windows and other Microsoft software — and that the new process would kick in on Feb. 14, next month’s patch day.

The web-based bulletins have been a feature of Microsoft’s patch disclosure policies since at least 1998, and for almost as long have been considered the professional benchmark by security experts.

 A searchable database of support documents will replace the bulletins; that database has been available, albeit in preview, since November on the portal Microsoft dubbed the “Security Updates Guide,” or SUG.

The documents stored in the database are specific to a vulnerability on an edition of Windows, or a version of another Microsoft product. They can be sorted and filtered by the affected software, the patch’s release date, its CVE (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) identifier, and the numerical label of the KB, or “knowledge base” support document.

“Our customers have asked for better access to update information, as well as easier ways to customize their view to serve a diverse set of needs,” wrote an unnamed member of the Microsoft Security Response Center in November to explain the switch from bulletins to database.

Can AMD Launch Ryzen This Quarter?

January 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD indicated that the official Ryzen launch date will be sometime before March.

While they haven’t specifically given an exact date, a talk to be given by AMD at the annual Game Developer Conference (GDC) says the following: “Join AMD Game Engineering team members for an introduction to the recently-launched AMD Ryzen CPU followed by advanced optimisation topics.”

Obviously for this to be the subject of the talk Ryzen would have had to be recently launched which means that it is probably timed for that week.

GDC event runs from 27 February to 3 March and has not been put on the schedule yet and it could appear any day during the event.

AMD has not disclosed an exact date either, launching the new set of Ryzen CPUs right in the middle of both GDC and Mobile World Congress would be insane as the news would end up being buried under other GDC and smartphone announcements.

It would make sense to do it the week before all that, if not two.

Courtesy-Fud

Will A.I. Help nVidia And AMD Dethrone Intel?

January 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

The move to AI could be the one catalyst which could help AMD and Nvidia carve up Intel’s mighty kingdom.

Last year saw Microsoft, Apple, Google develop more software for ARM based chips. During the year AMD and Nvidia saw their stock prices rise as shareholders started to think that they might succeed in taking Intel’s crown.

On of the reasons for this is AI which is fast becoming a bigger buzz world than Interent of Things – which is the basket Intel is putting its eggs into.

AMD and Nvidia are both making perfect AI processors in their graphics cards and now that AMD has released Polaris it is properly in a game dominated by Nvidia. AMD’s Radeon Instinct is specifically designed for the market.
Intel is doing ok in the market but it is not growing as fast as AMD or Nvidia.

According to the Verge, investors are buying up AMD stock because they know the processing challenges of the future are practically tailored for the massively parallel architecture of a GPU.

Nvidia and IBM have revealed their own agreement to provide “the world’s fastest” deep learning enterprise solution.

AMD and Nvidia should do well in the growing consumer interest in virtual reality although that might be a bubble waiting to burst. On paper at least, the most popular HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, both require tons of GPU power. However it is a moot point if these machines are the ones that will make AR work or if it will be something much cheaper and require less spec.

But if AR does take off then it will be yet another thing that Intel missed out on.

Courtesy-Fud

MediaTek Has A Strong Quarter

January 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

MediaTek, the fabless semiconductor company from Taiwan that provides SoCs for HDTVs, Blu-ray players and wireless products, saw its revenues jump by 29.2 percent year-over-year to a record high of $8.6 billion (¥$275.51 billion), according to the latest industry reports.

Deemed one of the fastest growing chip companies in 2016, MediaTek’s upswing in performance last year is attributed to a larger share of the worldwide smartphone SoC market, along with higher sales in local China and Taiwan markets. In Q4 2016, revenues totaled $2.18 billion (¥68.68 billion) which is down 12.4 percent over the previous quarter, but still falls within the company’s projection of $2.11 and $2.31 billion (¥66.6 to 72.9 billion).

In Q3 2016, revenues totaled $2.49 billion (¥78.4 billion), an increase of 8.1 percent over Q2 and a 37.6 percent increase over the previous year. Net profits also rose to $248.4 million (¥7.83 billion) in Q3, an increase of 18.8 percent over the previous quarter but down 1.6 percent over the previous year.

Going forward into 2017, company officials now want to shift its focus from increasing market share to improving gross margins and profitability. This will include an effort to market its high-end Helio X30 and X35 mobile processors more effectively to compete against the likes of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 830 and 835 and Samsung’s Exynos 8895, as all three companies are now using ARM cores with 10-nanometer designs.

MediaTek MT5597 supports Dolby Vision and HLG

The Taiwanese chip designer was the first to develop an 4K Ultra HD-capable SoC for Android TVs with the introduction of the MT5595 for Android TV 5.0 back at CES 2015. It followed up a year later with the MT5996 for Android TV 6.0, another world’s first featuring four 64-bit CPU cores based on the Cortex A53 design.

Now in 2017, the company is releasing its third-generation Ultra HD SoC for Android TV 7.0, the MT5597. This chip also features a quad-core Cortex A53 design but now includes support for Dolby Vision HDR and Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG), the standard expected to be used in UHD television broadcasts when providers are ready to roll out HDR terrestrial and satellite services.

Courtesy-Fud

Will Apple’s Supposed Jump In AR Be A Game Changer?

January 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The super-cool and innovative tech power house Apple is rumored to have come up with some game-changing glasses which superimpose information and pictures onto reality.

Dubbed AR, no other technology company has come up with the idea before and it is believed to be the brain child of Tim Cook himself. Of course, it is all top secret because other companies will steal the idea before Apple gets it to market.

However, word on the street is that Apple is working with the German optics manufacturer Carl Zeiss on a pair of lightweight AR/mixed reality glasses.

The rumor comes from tech evangelist Robert Scoble who thinks the project could be announced as early as this year. Apparently it has been confirmed by a Zeiss employee, Scoble wrote in a Facebook post Monday.

Unlike virtual reality, which promises to immerse goggle-wearing users in new and exciting digital worlds, AR tends to overlay images and data atop the real world. This is the sort of idea which was shown with Pokemon Go.

To show how in advance Apple is over companies like Microsoft and Google Cook told ABC News that he saw bigger possibilities for AR than VR in September! That is long before anyone else came up with the idea and pours cold water on the idea that Apple has run out of ideas, can only update its ten-year-old smartphone technology and that it is always getting beaten to the punch issuing technology years after everyone else.

The company has filed several patents with the US Patent and Trademark Office that deal with augmented reality because, you know, no one else is doing AR.

Courtesy-Fud

Security Experts Warn Of New Spora Ransomware

January 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Security experts have uncovered a new ransomware program dubbed Spora that can perform strong offline file encryption and brings several ‘innovations’ to the ransom payment model.

The malware has targeted Russian-speaking users so far, but its authors have also created an English version of their decryption portal, suggesting they will likely expand their attacks to other countries soon.

Spora stands out because it can encrypt files without having to contact a command-and-control (CnC) server and does so in a way that still allows every victim to have a unique decryption key.

Traditional ransomware programs generate an AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) key for every encrypted file and then encrypts these keys with an RSA public key generated by a CnC server.

 Public key cryptography like RSA relies on key pairs made up of a public key and a private key. Whatever file is encrypted with one public key can only be decrypted with its corresponding private key.
Most ransomware programs contact a command-and-control server after they’re installed on a computer and request the generation of an RSA key pair. The public key is downloaded to the computer, but the private key never leaves the server and remains in the attackers’ possession. This is the key that victims pay to get access to.

The problem with reaching out to a server on the internet after installation of ransomware is that it creates a weak link for attackers. For example, if the server is known by security companies and is blocked by a firewall, the encryption process doesn’t start.

Some ransomware programs can perform so-called offline encryption, but they use the same RSA public key that’s hard-coded into the malware for all victims. The downside with this approach for attackers is that a decryptor tool given to one victim will work for all victims because they share the same private key as well.

The Spora creators have solved this problem, according to researchers from security firm Emsisoft who analyzed the program’s encryption routine.

The malware does contain a hard-coded RSA public key, but this is used to encrypt a unique AES key that is locally generated for every victim. This AES key is then used to encrypt the private key from a public-private RSA key pair that’s also locally generated and unique for every victim. Finally, the victim’s public RSA key is used to encrypt the AES keys that are used to encrypt individual files.

In other words, the Spora creators have added a second round of AES and RSA encryption to what other ransomware programs have been doing until now.

So far, researchers have seen Spora distributed via rogue email attachments that pose as invoices from an accounting software program popular in Russia and other Russian-speaking countries. The attachments are in the form of .HTA (HTML Application) files that contain malicious JavaScript code.

U.S. Defense Department Testing 3D Printed Drone Swarm

January 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The Department of Defense has been testing low-cost, autonomous, micro-drones for low-altitude intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions.

The drones, dubbed Perdix, operate as a swarm and are not individually pre-programmed. Instead, they act as a collective organism with one distributed brain for decision-making, the DOD said in a statement on Monday.

“Because every Perdix communicates and collaborates with every other Perdix, the swarm has no leader and can gracefully adapt to drones entering or exiting the team,” says William Roper, director of the Strategic Capabilities Office of the DOD.

The drones are meant to be controlled in much the same manner as a coach would guide a sports team. The operator orders a broad objective, and the drones communally decide how best to execute the plan.

The latest test, initially documented on “60 Minutes,” took place at China Lake, California, in October. There were 103 mini remote-controlled vehicles launched from three F/A-18 Super Hornets.

Prior tests have also taken place in Alaska and Edwards Air Force Base in southern California.

The DOD says Perdix is in its sixth generation, with a seventh-generation model featuring more advanced autonomy in the works.

 

Instagram Stories To Get Advertising

January 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc’s Instagram is adding more than 30 advertising partners to one of its fastest-growing features, Instagram Stories, in a bid to boost advertising revenue.

The social media company will become a more important player in maintaining Facebook’s growth in advertising revenue in 2017. During the last two earnings calls, Facebook executives said they may soon reach a limit on the amount of ads they can place before users, one of the factors that had driven ad revenue growth.

Instagram is expected to generate $3.64 billion in worldwide ad revenue this year, nearly double that of 2016, according to eMarketer. That would represent 12.3 percent of Facebook’s global ad business, up from 8.4 percent in 2016. In the United States, eMarketer said it expects Instagram to account for more than 20 percent of Facebook’s ad revenue.

eMarketer also found that 74 percent of U.S. companies plan to use Instagram this year, up from 53 percent in 2016. This level of use would allow Instagram to surpass Twitter.

Media buyers are optimistic about Instagram’s ability to maintain Facebook’s place, second only to Alphabet Inc’s Google, in the digital ad marketplace. “Instagram could end up being as strong a revenue component for Facebook as YouTube has been for Google,” said Noah Mallin, head of social for ad agency MEC Wavemaker.

In Instagram Stories, users and businesses can post a string of photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. It launched in August and now has 150 million daily active users, according to Jim Squires, director of market operations for Instagram.

The new ad product will show full-screen ads intermittently as users swipe through photos and videos on Instagram Stories. The company is testing it with major advertisers including General Motors Co, Nike Inc and Airbnb, which is using it to promote its product Trips on Airbnb.

Time Warner Inc’s Turner Sports will test ads for cable network TNT’s airing of the National Basketball Association’s All-Star Game in New Orleans next month.

Companies normally test new advertising products with a select group of advertisers before a wider roll out.

“It’s definitely gained importance,” said Ian Schafer, founder and chairman of ad agency Deep Focus, who said he plans to spend more money with Instagram.

Are Notebooks Making Gains Against Tablets?

January 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Notebooks, which had been written off by the Tame Apple Press after Steve Jobs showed off his tablets, are now back.

Beancounters working for Deloitte have found that the sales of slates are expected to be down 10 per cent in 2017 compared to last year and there will probably be 165 million units leaving the shops.

This is a third less than the total number of slates shifted in 2014 when 230 million tablets were sold.

PC and laptops however are expected to stay at the same level as last year, and Deloitte has observed that the kids of today don’t want tablets any more. They either want a phablet, or a notebook.

Phablets were the thing that Steve Jobs told the world they did not want and yet it turned out they did. It might have been the reason he was telling us that was because he knew that they would kill off his tablet dream.

Paul Lee, head of TMT research at Deloitte, commented: “There are three consumer devices that are leading tablets by a large margin: TVs, smartphones, and computers. It seems unlikely that the tablet will ever displace these devices.”

IDC’s figures from last summer showed a big slump in tablet shipments, but also found that detachable sales were improving. Most analysts think that hybrid 2-in-1s will represent a fifth of all PCs by the year 2020.

Courtesy-Fud

The Email Privacy Act Re-introduced To Protect U.S. Citizens

January 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A bill has been reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would require law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant before they dig into users’ emails and other communications in the cloud that are older than 180 days.

The Email Privacy Act, reintroduced on Monday, aims to fix a loophole in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act that allows the government to search without a warrant email and other electronic communications that are older than 180 days and stored on servers of third-party service providers such as Google and Yahoo.

“Thanks to the wording in a more than 30-year-old law, the papers in your desk are better protected than the emails in your inbox,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation, digital rights organization, said in a blog post Monday.

The bill was passed by the House last year but stalled in the Senate. U.S. Reps. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan) and Jared Polis (D-Colo) said they are reintroducing the legislation because the Senate failed to act on it before the 114th Congress came to a close.

 If the legislation becomes law, government agencies will have to obtain a warrant based on a showing of probable cause to compel service providers to disclose emails and other electronic communications of Americans, regardless of the age of the mails or the means of storage. In the original version of the legislation, the government also had to notify the person whose account is disclosed, along with a copy of the search warrant and other information, within a stipulated period.

Privacy groups and tech companies backed the legislation when it was first introduced. But it failed to clear the Senate as it was bogged down with amendments such as the requirement of mandatory compliance by service providers without court oversight when law enforcement claimed an emergency as an exception for asking for user data. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) proposed an amendment that would expand the information that the FBI can obtain with a National Security letter without prior judicial oversight.

“Government access to communications without oversight of warrants is a dangerous path for any country that supports democratic values,” said Ed Black, CEO and president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, in a statement Monday.

“Rules on how the government can access electronic communications in criminal investigations have simply not kept up with advances in modern technology. Indeed, US law still treats data stored in the cloud differently than data stored on a local computer,” said Information Technology and Innovation Foundation vice president Daniel Castro in a statement.

Opposition to the bill came previously from a number of agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, which uses administrative subpoenas on service providers to work around people under investigation who don’t keep copies of incriminating mail after sending it or decline to share their content with the SEC.

IBM Is Still The Patent King

January 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

While the Tame Apple Press is still trying to spin Jobs’ Mob as the most innovative in the world, the crown belongs to the outfit that Steve Jobs mocked – IBM.

IBM received the most patents for the 24th year in a row and broke the US record in 2016.

It had 8,088 patents granted to its inventors over the 12 months covering areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), cognitive computing, cloud, health and cyber security.

No other company in US history has managed to get 8,000 patents in a single a single year. And to put that in perspective, that means that IBM invents 22 new things a day.

It also owns a third of the patents relating to AI, cognitive computing and cloud computing alone. The details were released by Ginni Rometty, IBM’s chairman, president and CEO who said:

“We are deeply proud of our inventors’ unique contributions to discovery, science and technology that are driving progress across business and society and opening the new era of cognitive business.”

There are nine other innovative companies in the top ten list and guess what? Apple does not even make the top ten.

The list goes IBM, Samsung, Canon, Qualcomm, Google, Intel, LG, Microsoft, TSMC and Sony.

Courtesy-Fud

EU Tougher Privacy Controls To Impact Messaging Services, Email Providers

January 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Online messaging and email services such as WhatsApp, iMessage and Gmail  will go up against tougher regulations on how they can track users under a new proposal presented by the European Union executive on Tuesday.

The web players will have to guarantee the confidentiality of their customers’ conversations and ask for their consent before tracking them online to serve them personalized ads.

The proposal by the European Commission extends some rules that now only apply to telecom operators to web companies offering calls and messages using the internet, known as “Over-The-Top” (OTT) services, seeking to close a perceived regulatory gap between the telecoms industry and mainly U.S. Internet giants such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft.

 Tuesday’s proposal would allow telecom companies to use customer metadata – such as the duration and location of calls – to provide additional services and make more money, something they are barred from doing under the current rules.

The review of the so-called e-privacy law will also force web browsers to have their default setting as not allowing personalized online advertising based on browsing habits. Instead, users will be asked to opt in to allow websites to place cookies on their browsers.

“It’s up to our people to say yes or no,” said Andrus Ansip, Commission vice-president for the digital single market.

Cookies are placed on web surfers’ computers and contain bits of information about the user, such as what other sites they have visited or where they are logging in from. They are widely used by companies to deliver targeted ads to users.

Online adverstisers have warned that overly strict rules would undermine many websites’ ability to fund themselves and keep offering free services. They say the data they use can not identify the user and is therefore low risk, making asking for consent every time too onerous.

The proposal scraps the obligation on websites to ask visitors for permission to place cookies on their browsers via a banner every time they land on it if the user has already consented through the privacy settings of the web browser.

The “cookie banner” has been lambasted as ineffective because people tend to accept them without necessarily reading what that entails.

Companies falling foul of the new law will face fines of up to 4 percent of their global turnover, in line with a separate data protection law set to enter into force in 2018.

The proposal will need to be approved by the European Parliament and member states before becoming law.

Yahoo Renames Itself, To Become Altaba

January 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Yahoo Inc has announced that it would rename itself Altaba Inc and Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer would resign from the board after the closing of its deal with Verizon Communications Inc.

Yahoo has a deal to sell its core internet business, which includes its digital advertising, email and media assets, to Verizon for $4.83 billion.

The terms of that deal could be amended – or the transaction may even be called off – after Yahoo last year disclosed two separate data breaches; one involving some 500 million customer accounts and the second involving over a billion.

 Verizon executives have said that while they see a strong strategic fit with Yahoo, they are still investigating the data breaches.

Five other Yahoo directors would also resign after the deal closes, Yahoo said in a regulatory filing on Monday.

The remaining directors will govern Altaba, a holding company whose primary assets will be a 15 percent stake in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and 35.5 percent stake in Yahoo Japan.

The new company also named Eric Brandt chairman of the board, effective Jan. 9.

Should Virtual Reality Become More Of A Open Platform?

January 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Tim Sweeney has urged virtual reality platform holders to ensure their devices and marketplaces are open to other providers in order to avoid the same monopoly that affects a significant portion of the smartphone market.

Speaking to Glixel, the co-founder of Epic Games said he say “a lot going on that’s wrong” in other tech sectors, and points to Apple as a prime example. While he thinks its fine for the firm to be the only distributor of its hardware, he disagrees with their monopoly on distributing software and collecting in-app revenue.

His added that virtual reality pioneer Oculus seems to be operating in a similar way to Apple, adding that this is “the wrong model” for virtual reality and something Sweeney “argued passionately against”.

“When you install the Oculus drivers, by default you can only use the Oculus store,” he said. “You have to rummage through the menu and turn that off if you want to run Steam. Which everybody does. It’s just alienating and sends the wrong message to developers. It’s telling developers: ‘You’re on notice here. We’re going to dominate this thing. And your freedom is going to expire at some point.’ It’s a terrible precedent to set.”

Sweeney believes that ultimately the open platforms will win as they will have a better selection of software. He praised HTC Vive for being such a platform and noted that the device is currently outselling Oculus two-to-one around the world, a trend he expects to continue.

The Epic Games founder acknowledged that his firm is making a closed-platform game for Oculus in the form of Robo Recall, a title that stemmed from Unreal Engine’s Bullet Train VR demo. However, he attributed this to the fact that the game is funded by Oculus and could never have been built on a budget based purely on sales.

“The Oculus store… is an awesome store [but] should run on all PC and VR devices,” he said. “Oculus would do best if they tried to bring users into their store by supporting HTC Vive and Oculus Rift and any other PC hardware that comes out. I think if they don’t do that, they’re going to pretty quickly fail, because you’re not going to want to buy a multiplayer game that you can’t play with half of your VR friends.”

Sweeney previously spoke out about the need for open virtual reality platforms during his keynote at the latest Steam Dev Day, saying: “It would be really tragic if we let the future metaverse, that binds all humanity together into shared online environments, were a closed platform controlled by a giant corporation.

“As always, they’d use it to spam you with advertising, they’d use it to gather information about your private life and sell it to the highest bidder, and they’d act as the universal intermediary between all users, content creators, and transactions, ensuring that everything has to be approved by them.”

 

Courtesy-GI.biz

Will AMD Unlock RYZEN ?

January 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

A set of new AMD Ryzen slides that have surfaced recently has confirmed that the entire Ryzen CPU lineup will have an unlocked multiplier and be ready for launch by the end of Q1 2017.

Although AMD has mostly been talking about its high-end 8-core/16-thread Ryzen SKU, there will be a full line of Zen-based Ryzen CPUs, including the rumored 6-core/12-thread and 4-core/8-thread version, probably coming with different clock speeds.

The newest set of slides confirms that every AMD Ryzen CPU will actually be unlocked, which means an unlocked multiplier, which should also make them quite overclocking friendly. Of course, the actual overclocking potential is still unknown but we hope there will be plenty of it.

The slide also reveals that AMD will actually have all-new lineups of both system integrators and OEM systems as well as an extensive lineup of 3rd party cooling solutions.

As mentioned by Robert Hallock, AMD is not targeting the very last day of Q1 2017 as the launch date so hopefully, these will come pretty soon.

As we wrote earlier, AMD’s CTO, Mark Papermaster, has confirmed that the company expects Ryzen to have a four-year lifespan, which is quite common for a new architecture.

Courtesy-Fud

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