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AI Bests Humans In Reading Comprehension Test

January 17, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

AI created by Chinese tech giant Alibaba and Microsoft have tied for first place on the Stanford Question Answering Dataset (SQuAD) this month, outperforming the human score for Exact Match (providing exact answers to questions). Alibaba and Microsoft announced the news separately on Monday.

According to the SQuAD website, it is a machine reading comprehension dataset comprising of questions pertaining to a set of Wikipedia articles. Answers to questions are usually a segment of text from a corresponding reading passage.

The leaderboard on SQuAD’s website shows Alibaba’s and Microsoft’s EM scores to be 82.44 and 82.65 respectively, which put both at first place. The scores are higher than a human’s, which is 82.304.

The results may not be surprising to some since AI-based systems have proven to be formidable, with Google’s AlphaGo defeating Ke Jie as the Go world champion last year. The systems are also expected to go into hospitals and act as our assistants, and Alibaba founder Jack Ma predicted AI-powered robots will head companies in 30 years.

But not everyone will agree on how intelligent AI-based systems really are yet. Just a little more than three months ago, Chinese researchers published a study saying AI-based systems are no smarter than a six year-old. A Chinese robot called AI-MATHS which did a version of a Maths paper at China’s college entrance exams was unable to beat the national average last year. The robot’s developers explained it was unable to comprehend certain words, causing marks to be lost.

Luo Si, Chief Scientist of Natural Language Processing (NLP) at Alibaba iDST commented:

“It is our great honor to witness the milestone where machines surpass humans in reading comprehension. That means objective questions such as ‘what causes rain’ can now be answered with high accuracy by machines. We are especially excited because we believe the technology underneath can be gradually applied to numerous applications such as customer service, museum tutorials and online responses to medical inquiries from patients, decreasing the need for human input in an unprecedented way.”

“We are thrilled to see NLP research has achieved significant progress over the year. We look forward to sharing our model-building methodology with the wider community and exporting the technology to our clients in the near future,” Si added.

Facebook Joins Forces With Xiaomi To Launch The Oculus In China

January 17, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Facebook’s Oculus has announced that is partnering with Chinese phone maker Xiaomi Technology in a deal to manufacture its new virtual reality headset.

Xiaomi has agreed to manufacture Oculus’s new headset, the Oculus Go, which was announced in October 2017.

As part of the deal Oculus has agreed to launch the Mi VR Standalone, a version of the headset exclusive to the Chinese market built with Oculus technology. Oculus has not detailed how the Mi VR Standalone will differ from Oculus Go, but said it will share the same core hardware features and design.

Oculus also revealed it is working with Qualcomm Inc. and will use the company’s Snapdragon 821 chipsets to power the mobile VR headset.

“We’ve worked closely with Qualcomm to deliver the highest possible level of performance to meet the high computing demands of the standalone VR product category,” said Oculus in a blog post.

The Oculus Go us set to release early this year, priced at $199.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Big Blue Still The Patent King

January 16, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

While the media attention has shifted away from Biggish Blue in the hardware world, there are signs that the company is still quietly getting on with it and inventing things.

IBM inventors received a record 9,043 patents in 2017, marking the company’s 25th consecutive year of U.S. patent leadership and crossing the 100,000-patent milestone. IBM is still the outfit which churns out that most patents. 2017 marks the 25th consecutive year that IBM has been named the leader in granted U.S. patents, with a record 9,043 patents

The new patents were granted to a diverse group of more than 8,500 IBM researchers, engineers, scientists and designers in 47 different U.S. states and 47 countries.

For example there was Maja Vukovic’s patent for a system that detects and counteracts cyber attacks.

Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and CEO said that for the past 25 years, IBM’s patent leadership has changed the way the world works with advancements critical to the modern era of computing.

“Today, nearly half of our patents are pioneering advancements in AI, cloud computing, cybersecurity, blockchain and quantum computing – and all are aimed at helping our clients create smarter businesses.”

IBM inventors received in 2017 more than 1,900 cloud patents, including a patent for a system that uses unstructured data about world or local events to forecast cloud resource needs. The system can monitor data sources – including news feeds, network statistics, weather reports and social networks – to identify where and how cloud resources should be allocated to meet demand.

Another set of innovations helps solve one of artificial intelligence’s current limits: lack of personalization, which can hinder how AI communicates with people. Among the industry-leading 1,400 AI patents IBM inventors were granted in 2017 is a patent for a system that can help AI analyze and mirror a user’s speech patterns to improve communication between AI and humans.

IBM inventors also received 1,200 cybersecurity patents, including one for technology that enables AI systems to turn the table on hackers by baiting them into email exchanges and websites that expend their resources and frustrate their attacks. It could substantially reduce the security risks associated with “phishing” emails and other attacks.

IBM inventors also patented significant inventions in emerging areas like quantum computing, including a new way for improving a quantum computer’s ability to acquire and retain information – otherwise known as signal readout fidelity. This can lead to efficiency in the components necessary to build a quantum computing system.

Other patented innovations from IBM inventors in 2017 include:
• A machine learning system designed to shift control between an autonomous vehicle and a human driver as needed, such as in an emergency.
• A method that uses blockchain technology to reduce the number of steps involved in settling transactions between multiple business parties, even those that are not trusted and might otherwise require a third-party clearinghouse to execute.
• A technique that automatically elevates the security protection of a mobile device when it determines that device is located far from its owner and is likely under someone else’s control.

Courtesy-Fud

Amazon Alexa Arrives On Windows 10 PCs

January 11, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The expanding rivalry between Amazon and Google in the battle for virtual assistant dominance intensified at this year’s CES in Las Vegas.

While both have a strong claim as front-runners – with Amazon arguably leading the charge at this stage – it’s clear that Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana are lagging. Case in point: Several major PC makers launched Windows 10 hardware and trumpeted Alexa support as a major selling point. (Cortana will, of course, also be available since it’s built into Windows 10, but it is the arrival of Alexa that was a key selling pitch.

The Windows 10 devices launched this week with Alexa built include HP’s small form-factor Pavilion Wave PC; Acer’s Aspire; Spin, Switch and Swift notebooks; Asus’ 2018 ZenBook and VivoBook laptops; and Lenovo’s Thinkpad X1 Carbon and Yoga devices.

With these laptop and PC launches, Alexa is finding its way into a wider array of devices as virtual assistants gain a foothold in the office.

Alexa has benefited from the slow burning success of Amazon’s Echo smart home speakers, but that was only the start. At last year’s CES, Alexa was showcased in a range of products, from fridges to robotic vacuum cleaners, part of Amazon’s plans to position Alexa as an all-pervasive virtual assistant.

Though Toyota and Lexus plan to install the voice-activated assistant in select vehicles, the launch of PCs with Alexa highlights its move from the consumer world to the enterprise – much as the iPhone in 2007 moved quickly from individual users to become a mainstay of the workforce. (The Alexa for Business launch last year – an arena that would seemingly be a natural home for Microsoft – only underscores Amazon’s plans.)

With 25,000 Alexa skills already available, including a growing list targeted specifically at business users, Amazon is already forging deals with corporate partners. A range of companies, including Salesforce, SAP SuccessFactors, Concur, Ring Central and ServiceNow all plan to integrate their applications with Alexa for Business.

“As we begin 2018, Alexa shows the strongest partner ecosystem – with the most hardware partners and the most skills – and an increasing presence in the office with Alexa for Business,” said Forrester vice president and principal analyst J.P. Gownder.

Business support for Alexa – both at work and in customer-facing spots like hotels – represents a huge opportunity for Amazon, said Gownder. And it has the momentum that other virtual assistants lack currently.

“Cortana hasn’t made enough headway to stave off an aggressive, growing Alexa in business contexts at this point,” he said.

Intel Cloud Customers Ready To Flee Over Security Concerns

January 11, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Some of Intel Corp’s data center customers, whose thousands of computers run cloud networks, are looking for other microchips from the market leader’s rivals to build new infrastructure after the discovery of security flaws affecting most chips.

Whether Intel sees a slew of defectors or is forced to offer discounts, the company could take a hit to one of its fastest growing business units. Intel chips back 98 percent of data center operations, according to industry consultancy IDC.

Security researchers last week disclosed flaws, dubbed Meltdown and Spectre, that could allow hackers to steal passwords or encryption keys on most types of computers, phones and cloud-based servers.

Microsoft Corp said on Tuesday the patches necessary to secure the threats could have a significant performance impact on servers.

Intel will help customers find the best approach in terms of security, performance and compatibility, it said in a statement on Tuesday. “For many customers, the performance element is foremost, and we are sharply focused on doing all we can to ensure that we meet their expectations.”

Alternatives include Advanced Micro Devices, which shares with Intel a chip architecture called x86, or chips based on technology from ARM Holdings or graphics processing chips, which were developed for different tasks than Intel and AMD’s central processing units, or CPUs.

 For Gleb Budman’s company, San Mateo-based online storage firm Backblaze, building with ARM chips would not be difficult.

“If ARM provides enough computing power at lower cost or lower power than x86, it would be a strong incentive for us to switch,” said Budman. “If the fix for x86 results in a dramatically decreased level of performance, that might increasingly push in favor of switching to ARM.”

Infinitely Virtual, a Los Angeles-based cloud computing vendor, is counting on Intel to replace equipment or offer a rebate to make up for the loss in computing power, Chief Executive Adam Stern said in an interview.

 

Samsung Looks To Expand Digital Whiteboard

January 10, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Samsung debuted its take on the collaborative digital whiteboard at CES, launching its Flip display.

Digital whiteboards are getting a lot of attention from a number of large vendors, including Google, Microsoft and Cisco. All aim to replace traditional flip charts and whiteboards with touchscreen-enabled hardware designed to ease collaboration during meetings and brainstorming sessions.

Up to four different participants can interact with a Flip whiteboard at the same time, using either their fingers or a stylus to create or annotate content. Designed for use in meeting rooms, the 55-in. 4K display can switch from portrait to landscape orientation depending on company needs. It includes USB ports to enable connection to PCs and mobile devices, as well as wireless connectivity.

An integrated screen-sharing capability allows Flip content to be viewed directly from PCs and mobile devices, which would be useful for remote workers, in particular. Flip runs the Tizen operating system used in a variety of Samsung products, including its smart TVs, and contains 8GB of internal storage.

Samsung set the retail price for the Flip at $2,699; rival digital whiteboards are more expensive. Google’s Jamboard for G Suite, released last year, retailed for $4,999 at launch, while Microsoft’s SurfaceHub costs $8,999 for the 55-in. version.

However, those devices offer integration with each company’s respective business software suite, providing them with an advantage over Samsung’s Flip. Meanwhile, Cisco’s Spark Board integrates with its Spark collaboration software and supports video conferencing.

“The meeting room has become the new battleground for business communications and collaboration,” said 451 Research senior analyst Raul Castañon-Martinez. “Samsung Flip will face tough competition from Google and Microsoft. These players have an advantage with their business and productivity suites, which they integrate into their respective whiteboard products.”

He noted that Google and Microsoft are strong contenders as software providers while Samsung is already present in meeting spaces, thanks to its PBX phone systems and smartphones.

Competing with other feature-rich products is just one hurdle for those offering digital whiteboards, said Larry Cannell, research director at Gartner. Digital whiteboards have been around in some form for years and vendors have yet to convince substantial numbers of users to swap tried-and-trusted tools for digital alternatives.

“The challenge with these products isn’t necessarily integration with back-end software,” said Cannell. “Rather, they are still competing with in-room physical whiteboards and large sticky flipcharts.

“From my experience, most digital whiteboards have ended up being most used as fancy digital projectors,” he said.

Despite the launch of new hardware by some major vendors in the past year, customer demand is “still building momentum,” Castañon-Martinez said. That is likely to change over the next year or two as hardware becomes increasingly integrated with collaboration and productivity software.

Intel’s Mobileye Software Going In Millions Of Vehicles

January 10, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Intel Corp Chief Executive Brian Krzanich announced 2 million vehicles from BMW, Nissan Motor Co Ltd and Volkswagen AG would use its unit Mobileye’s autonomous vehicle technology to crowdsource data for building maps that enable autonomous driving.

The world’s largest chipmaker bought Israeli firm Mobileye last year to compete with peers such as Qualcomm Inc and Nvidia Corp and tap the fast-growing market of driverless cars.

Intel will also tie up with SAIC Motor Corp Ltd, which will use Mobileye technology to develop cars in China, the chipmaker said.

Krzanich also said Intel had not received any information of customer data being compromised so far after the company confirmed last week that the security issues reported by researchers in its widely used microprocessors could allow hackers to steal sensitive information from computers, phones and other devices.

Security researchers had disclosed two security flaws exposing vulnerability of nearly every modern computing device containing chips from Intel, Advanced Micro Devices Inc  and ARM Holdings.

Microsoft Accelerates Latest Windows 10 Upgrade

January 9, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft has rolled out 2017’s final Windows 10 feature upgrade to customers faster than it did the year’s first revision, according to data from a Windows app ad network.

Data from AdDuplex, a Lithuanian company whose technology is embedded in thousands of Windows apps, showed that October’s Fall Creators Update (FCU) had been installed on about 54% of all measured Windows 10 personal computers by Dec. 20.

Windows 10’s FCU, also known as version 1709 in Microsoft’s yymmnumeric format, launched Oct. 17. In the nine weeks from then until Dec. 20, AdDuplex reported, more than half – 53.6% to be exact – had upgraded to FCU from an earlier version.

Other editions still proliferated on customers’ PCs. The April feature upgrade, dubbed Creators Update and labeled 1703, powered 34%. Even older versions, including 2016’s only feature upgrade, the Anniversary Update (1607) and the soon-to-be-retired-from-support 1511, accounted for 11% and 1%, respectively.

The quick shift to FCU stood in contrast to the lethargic transition to Creators Update earlier in 2017. Eleven weeks after Creators Update’s April 5 debut, AdDuplex measured its share of all Windows 10 PCs at just 36%, barely more than a third. Its predecessor, the Anniversary Update, or 1607, continued to power the majority of Windows 10 PCs (59%) at the time.

Microsoft controls the pace of Windows 10 feature upgrades adoption, at least in the opening months after each release. While some users do actively seek out the upgrade to download and install, most wait for Microsoft to offer it to their PC, at which point the rest is usually automatic.

The Redmond, Wash. developer has been clear that it does not open the upgrade spigot all the way at the start. Instead, it provides each feature upgrade to an increasing number of PCs as time ticks by, beginning with the subset of the newest systems that theoretically should have the fewest problems installing the code. The staged-release model – while not new, not even Microsoft’s invention – lets developers gauge installation success, correct any problems, and then continue the rolling release.

That the FCU was handed to customers faster than its predecessor could be explained several ways.

After five releases, Microsoft may have found its legs, able finally to get a majority of its Windows 10 users onto a feature upgrade in little more than two months, and thus prove that it can execute its rapid development and release strategy. Or the FCU was simply in better shape at launch than the spring’s Creators Update; the contrasting timelines reflected the better-quality FCU.

Do Retro Games Resonate With Gamers

January 9, 2018 by  
Filed under Gaming

Almost half of all gamers in Europe like to go back and play games from their youth.

The latest data comes from ISFE and Ipsos Connect’s GameTrack consumer survey, and is based on a question posed by GamesIndustry.biz.

The results also show that 41% of consumers are eager to go back and experience games that they missed first time around.

The figures confirm the motivation behind the success of retro gaming products such as the NES and SNES Mini consoles, plus the popularity of remakes such as last year’s Crash Bandicoot.

However, the majority of gamers disagree that classic games are better than modern titles (only 22% agreed with the statement), while 45% are of the belief that realistic graphics are an important part of a great game.

The survey also specifically spoke to users of recent retro products, including the NES and SNES Mini, Crash Bandicoot, the Sega Forever project and more. It’s unsurprising that these consumers are more enthusiastic about going back and experiencing classic games (66% like to revisit games from their youth, while 67% like to play older games that they missed). 49% of these consumers also admit that nostalgia is one of the key reasons behind why it buys the games and consoles that they do.

41% of retro gamers are also of the belief that older games are better than current ones, with just 23% disagreeing with that statement (the rest neither agree or disagree). However, a number do find themselves disappointed with their trips down memory lane, with 38% stating that classic games are never as good as they remember.

The question (which combines online sampling with over-the-phone and face-to-face surveys) was posed to gamers from the UK, Spain, France and Germany. In terms of individual territories, French gamers are narrowly the more nostalgic consumer, although the results are relatively consistent across each market.

You can find out more information about the GameTrack survey here.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Hacker Exploit The Nintendo Switch

January 8, 2018 by  
Filed under Gaming

A homebrew kit could be the key to getting more games onto the Nintendo Switch, as hackers have figured out how to crack the console through its Nvidia chipset.

Nintendo consoles are notoriously locked-down in order to keep software and game development limited to Nintendo’s in-house or approved third-party developers; homebrew games have not been welcome even though Nintendo has been more supportive of indy titles.

But at the 34C3 hacking conference in Germany, hackers Derrek, Naehrwert and Plutoo demonstrated how they had managed to crack into the kernel of the Switch thanks to the use of a Nvidia Tegra X1 chip, which is well documented and has easily accessible debugging and diagnostic tools.

Through some hard work, as reported by wololo.net, the hackers got past the Switch’s security layers on the Tegra X1’s System Memory Management Unit (SMMU).

This essentially allowed the hackers to have higher privileges on the Switch than Nintendo allows, which would provide the means to run non-Nintendo approved software on the hybrid console.

While the hackers are keeping their kernel exploits under wraps, likely to prevent others from stealing it or for the effective backdoor to be slammed shut by Nvidia or Nintendo, they are planning to release a homebrew kit to allow for extra software to be run on the Switch.

This is good news for people bored of gaming gems like Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But it’s worth noting the exploit and subsequent homebrew will only work on Switch consoles running firmware version 3.0.0.

The use of ‘off-the-shelf’ components like the Tegra X1 is one way to fuel the rise of such hobby hacking, as there’s often a lot of information on how such hardware works; this is in direct contrast to some of the custom chipsets the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One X have, though we doubt that prevents curious hackers from poking them with a metaphorical stick.

Courtesy-TheInq

Is Google Hiding Money In Bermuda

January 8, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Tech leviathan Google is up to its tax tricks again.

According to a report on Bloomberg, Google shifted $19.2 billion to paradise island Bermuda in 2016, and managed to shave more than $3 billion off the tax it would pay in the Netherlands, if it wasn’t so fast on its feet.
This is how it works.  It moves money from an Irish company to a Dutch shell company which then lobs ot into an account in Bermuda.

The transaction was only revealed today because Google filed papers in the Netherlands on the 22nd of December last.

Naturally, Google came out with the usual bland statement that it pays all taxes and obey all laws in the known universe.  

Bloomberg quotes a company spinner as saying: “We remain committed to helping grow the online ecosystem.”  

Whatever that means.

Courtesy-Fud

AT&T Plans To Launch 5G Wireless Service Later This Year

January 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

The next generation of cellular technology will deliver a massive boost in speed, more ubiquitous coverage and a responsiveness quick enough to handle remote surgery or autonomous vehicles. It’s supposed to the fuel that drives all other innovations at CES 2018. Despite the numerous company announcements and field trials from the wireless industry, we don’t seem to be that much closer to 5G, which is widely expected to roll out in a big way by 2019.

AT&T is hoping to speed up the timetable. The company said on Thursday that it plans to launch its mobile 5G network in a dozen markets in late 2018, along with a single device able to tap into that network. This is different from Verizon’s plan to offer 5G service as a replacement for home broadband service this year — AT&T’s 5G will look more like the typical cellular service you enjoy now.

If it meets its deadline, AT&T would be the first carrier in the US to launch a mobile 5G service, which has the ability to eventually transform our world through broader, faster and more reliable coverage. The promised speeds are far faster than what most people can get at home (download a season’s worth of “Stranger Things” in seconds), but 5G will also better power the growing family of connected devices in our lives. The launch of 4G gave us Uber, Snapchat and live-streaming video — 5G potentially opens the door even wider to new innovations.

That promise has the carriers engaged in a war of words over 5G. Verizon struck first in 2015 by saying it would the first to launch field trials of 5G, and is on track to deliver a type of fixed 5G service later this year. T-Mobile has mocked both Verizon and AT&T has fueling the hype and potentially disappointing customers. Now AT&T is looking up the timeline again.

AT&T, however, is light on details. Gordon Mansfield, vice president of radio access network and device design for AT&T, said that while there would be a single type of device able to tap into the 5G network, he wouldn’t comment on what the gadget would look like. Whatever the form, the device is expected to use 4G for most of its normal connection, and switch to 5G when the extra speed is appropriate — think a download, live-streaming video or another bandwidth-intensive app.

He also declined to say which markets would get 5G coverage. The company has rolled out the confusingly named “5G Evolution” markets over the past year — cities with the infrastructure for higher wireless speeds, but isn’t actually 5G. The company calls 5G Evolution the foundation for 5G, although Mansfield wouldn’t say if one of the 23 metro areas would be in the dozen 5G markets.

Here’s a list of the “5G Evolution” markets: Atlanta; Austin; Boston; Bridgeport, Connecticut; Buffalo, New York; Chicago; Fresno, California; Greenville, South Carolina; Hartford, Connecticut; Houston; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Louisville; Memphis; Nashville; New Orleans; Oklahoma City; Pittsburgh; San Antonio; San Diego; San Francisco; Tulsa and Sacramento, California.

Chinese AI Chipmakers Joining Forces

January 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

China’s major AI chipmakers, including HiSilicon, Cambricon Technologies, Horizon Robotics and DeePhi Tech,have signed up under the glorious TSMC umbrella

According to Digitimes they are expected to make a killing in 2018 from their launch of various AI (artificial intelligence) chipsets, mostly ASICs and NPU (neural processing unit) chips, for a variety of applications in the second half of 2017.

TSMC will make the chips and its AI chip foundry services are expected to grow exponentially in 2018 along with volume shipments of the AI chips by the China makers, according to industry sources.

Huawei’s HiSilicon chip design arm worked out the Kirin 970 as the new flagship SoCwith built-in AI computing capabilities and it was adopted in Huawei’s Mate 10 and M10 Pro smartphone models launched in mid-October 2017. Official production of the Kirin 970 chips kicked off in mid-2017 using TSMC’s 10nm FinFET process at a monthly capacity of 4,000 pieces of 12-inch wafers, placing Huawei among TSMC’s top-5 customers.

Huawei is working on sprucing up AI capabilities on smartphones and wants to capture a 40 percent share of the China smartphone market. Huawei requires stable and sufficient supply of AI chips and even has to seek second supply sources other than TSMC, the sources said.

Cambricon Technologies released three new AI processor IPs in November 2017: the Cambricon-1H8 for lower consumption computer vision application, the higher-end Cambricon-1H16 for more general-purpose applications, and the Cambricon-1M autonomous driving applications.

While licensing AI processor IPs to end device vendors, Cambricon is selling chips to those in the cloud market. The company has newly debuted MLU100 AI chips to support inference application by datacenters and small- to medium-size servers, and MLU200 chips to support training applications at AI R&D centers of enterprises. These two AI chips will be manufactured using TSMC’s 16nm process.

Horizon Robotics officially rolled out two Gauss-based AI processors, 1.0 Journey and 1.0 Sunrise, in December with the former for image processing and the latter supporting smart city applications with low power consumption. The company plans to introduce Bernoulli-based processor in 2018 and Bayes-based processor in 2019 with higher-performance AI chips.

Horizon has recently raised around US$100 million in series A+ financing led by Intel Capital to support its development of a prototype driverless car and driving technology innovations. The company aims to have its AI chips applied to more than 100 million IoT (Internet of Things) devices by 2020 before realizing the goal as a leading supplier of autonomous driving chipset solutions by 2025.

DeePhi Tech plans to debut two system chipsets in 2018, one for AI cloud services and the other for AI terminal devices applications, with the latter to adopt the firm’s in-house-developed Aristotle architecture and manufactured using TSMC’s 28nm process.

Courtesy-Fud

Security Researcher Discover Old Mac OS Zero-Day Flaw

January 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Apple’s bad luck seems to be continuing into 2018, with a researcher uncovering a previously-undiscovered macOS flaw that’s thought to be around 15-years-old. 

While the flaw isn’t hugely devastating, it shows how companies like Apple fail to identify and fix security problems. Wccftech, which broke the story, described it as “sloppy”.

The researcher, who goes by the name of ‘Hobbyist Hacker’, claims that cyber crooks can tap into the flaw to get access to macOS systems, execute arbitrary code and gain root permissions.

Described as a local privilege escalation (LPE) vulnerability, it affects an extension of MacOS called IOHIDFamily. Hackers are able to deploy a “root shell”.

That’s not all, though. Crooks can also use the vulnerability to target the System Integrity Protection (SIP) and Apple Mobile File Integrity (AMFI) security programmes.

For the exploit to be a success, attackers have to log users out of the system. And by that point, it’s likely most people will have become alarmed.

There is a sneaky side of the vulnerability, though. To avoid detection, attackers can target the exploit when users shut down or restart their computers.

The researcher explained: “Needs to be running on the host already (nothing remote), achieves full system compromise by itself, but logs you out in the process.

“Can wait for logout though and is fast enough to run on shutdown/reboot until 10.13.1. On 10.13.2 it takes a fair bit longer (maybe half a minute) after logging out, so if your OS logs you out unexpectedly… maybe pull the plug?”

Luckily, the vulnerability doesn’t affect other Apple products, including iOS. The company has yet to comment on the situation, and you can find more details here.

Courtesy-TheInq

Amazon Ships Crosses 5B Packages Shipped In 2017

January 4, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Online retailer Amazon.com Inc announced that it has shipped over 5 billion items worldwide via its subscription-based Prime service in 2017 while adding more new members than ever before.

The e-commerce giant, which revealed its Prime shipment numbers for the first time, did not give comparable full-year shipment number for 2016.

Amazon claimed that its Fire TV Stick and voice-controlled smart device Echo Dot were the best-selling products among U.S. Prime members from any manufacturer in any category across all of its product offerings.

Amazon Prime, which offers its users services like free two-day shipping for certain purchases, unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Prime Video, has been attracting more subscribers every year.

The company said it shipped over 1 billion items worldwide via Prime during the holiday season in 2016.

Amazon Prime, which entered countries including Mexico, Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Singapore last year, now is present in 16 countries around the world.

Shares of the Seattle, Washington based company were up 1.5 percent at $1,187 in afternoon trading.

 

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