Subscribe to:

Subscribe to :: TheGuruReview.net ::

Ericcson Re-commits Focus On Mobile Networks

June 28, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Ericsson has decided to squash its goal of winning more clients beyond the telecoms industry to refocus on selling networks to mobile phone firms in a move to cut costs and halt a dramatic fall in its share price.

The Swedish firm’s clients in its core business include Vodafone and Verizon but profits have plunged due to competition from Nokia and China’s Huawei and as telecoms companies make savings. Its shares have fallen 30 percent in two years.

Ericsson said in 2014 it would diversify so that by 2020 up to 25 percent of revenue would come from industries beyond telecoms, such as media, utilities and transport, from an estimated 10 percent in 2013.

But the plan has not worked and the company will drop the target as new chief executive Borje Ekholm repositions to focus on the core business of mobile networks.

“We will focus on telco clients and networks exclusively for now,” Ericsson’s new head of Digital Services Ulf Ewaldsson told Reuters in a recent interview.

The U-turn comes at a challenging time for Ekholm, who after only five months in the top job is being pressed by activist investor Cevian Capital, which has a $1 billion stake in the company, to make faster changes.

Ekholm unveiled a cost-cutting plan in March and announced up to $1.7 billion in provisions, writedowns and restructuring costs. He said this would include exploring options for its loss-making media arm and turning its managed services business around.

Investors welcomed the greater focus after years of disappointing investments from Ericsson, but they worry the new plan will not generate growth. Moody’s cut the company’s credit rating to junk in May, partly due to worries that the cost-cutting could hamper innovation.

Increasing dependence on telecoms operators could be risky as they are struggling to grow revenue due to fierce competition and so are unwilling to spend more on networks even as they prepare for 5G fifth-generation wireless broadband technology.

Ericsson has to prove it can remain relevant in an industry that has gone from over 10 major players to three in 20 years. Investors question whether it can do this under Ekholm who has been on the board for a decade while Ericsson lost ground.

Western Digital Re-submits 11th Hour Bid For Toshiba’s Chip Unit

June 28, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Western Digital Corp and U.S. private equity firm KKR & Co LP have resubmitted an offer for Toshiba Corp’s  flash memory chip unit, in an eleventh hour effort to stop the conglomerate from signing a deal with its preferred bidder.

Western Digital, which jointly runs Toshiba’s main semiconductor plant, has been at loggerheads with its Japanese partner over the sale of the world’s No. 2 producer of NAND chips, and is seeking a U.S. court injunction to prevent any deal that does not have its consent.

The resubmission adds to uncertainty about whether Toshiba will sign a pact by Wednesday with the firm’s preferred bidder – a group led by Japanese government investors and including Bain Capital that has offered around 2 trillion yen ($18 billion).

The crisis-wracked Japanese conglomerate is rushing to sell the unit to cover billions of dollars in cost overruns at its bankrupt Westinghouse nuclear unit and had set itself a deadline of Wednesday to sign what it has called a definitive agreement.

Wednesday is the day of Toshiba’s annual shareholders meeting and while an announcement of an agreement would look better at the meeting, the deadline is self-imposed.

Western Digital will provide debt financing to facilitate a sale as part of the resubmitted bid, the U.S. firm said in a brief statement on Tuesday.

Sources with knowledge of the matter said a state-backed fund, the Innovation Network Corp of Japan (INCJ), and the Development Bank of Japan (DBJ) which are currently part of preferred bidder consortium – would be invited to join the resubmitted offer.

The sources declined to be identified as the talks were confidential. It was not immediately clear if terms of the offer had significantly changed from one tabled earlier this month that Western Digital has said met Toshiba’s minimum requirement of 2 trillion yen.

An INCJ spokesman declined to comment. Representatives for KKR and DBJ were not immediately available for comment.

In response to Western Digital’s resubmission, Toshiba released a statement reiterating that it has reviewed all proposals and is currently finalizing an agreement with the preferred bidder.

The EU Proposes Ban On Encryption Backdoors

June 28, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

The EU has done a sensible thing and proposed that end to end encryption be preserved and never be backdoored.

This is the kind of proposal that we at the INQUIRER can get behind. Encryption is an important thing that we value. Unfortunately, various governments take an opposing view and think that they should have their own backdoor access to communications.

Look, this is awkward. We know you like your ad blocker, but we know you like INQ. And we need to eat. So please, pretty please, can you add us to your whitelist? We think we’re worth it.

Incisive Media publications, including INQ, are now blocking ad-blockers so that we can afford to continue to bring you the unique mix of hard-hitting, expert journalism with a touch of silliness that you love.

The internet isn’t free. If you don’t whitelist news sites, they’ll die, so go on… just for us…

The European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs has come to the conclusion that secure is better and has produced a PDF on the subject. It says that fundamental European rights should protect the individual and what they want to keep private.

“Article 7 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (“the Charter”) protects the fundamental right of everyone to the respect for his or her private and family life, home and communications,” it says.

“Respect for the privacy of one’s communications is an essential dimension of this right. Confidentiality of electronic communications ensures that information exchanged between parties and the external elements of such communication, including when the information has been sent, from where, to whom, is not to be revealed to anyone other than to the parties involved in a Communication.

“The principle of confidentiality should apply to current and future means of communication, including calls, internet access, instant messaging applications, email, internet phone calls and personal messaging provided through social media.”

In case you missed it there is a war going on over encryption. Governments believe that backdoors are silver bullets for tackling terrorism, while people who understand technology say that backdoors are a big problem that could undermine everyone’s security and ruin the internet for everyone.

Last year the House of Lords stood firm on the bad idea. “Law enforcement and the intelligence agencies must retain the ability to require telecoms operators to remove encryption in limited circumstances, subject to strong controls and safeguards, to address the increasing technical sophistication of those who would seek to do us harm,” said Earl Howe, the government’s deputy leader in the House of Lords, and minister of state for defense as he flapped about tackling terrorism.

Courtesy-TheInq

Anthem Agrees To Pay $115M Over Data Breach

June 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Anthem, the behemoth health insurance company, has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit over a 2015 data breach for a record $115 million.

The settlement still has to be approved by US District Court Judge Lucy Koh, who is scheduled to hear the case on August 17 in San Jose, California. And Anthem isn’t admitting any wrongdoing or that “any individuals were harmed as a result of the cyberattack.”

“Nevertheless, we are pleased to be putting this litigation behind us, and to be providing additional substantial benefits to individuals whose data was or may have been involved in the cyberattack and who will now be members of the settlement class,” an Anthem spokeswoman said in a statement confirming the settlement.

Assuming it’s approved, it would be the largest data breach settlement in history, according to the plaintiffs’ lawyers, who first announced the agreement Friday.

The funds would be used to provide victims of the data breach at least two years of credit monitoring and to reimburse customers for breach-related expenses. The settlement would also guarantee a certain level of funding for “information security to implement or maintain numerous specific changes to its data security systems, including encryption of certain information and archiving sensitive data with strict access controls,” the plaintiff attorneys said.

The 2015 breach resulted in the exposure and theft of nearly 80 million records, including client names, dates of birth, physical and email addresses, medical IDs and Social Security numbers. Using a stolen password, hackers were able to break into a database that contained information of former and current customers.

Although a mammoth breach at the time, the Anthem hack doesn’t compare in scale to breaches Yahoo has since reported. One of them, which occurred in 2014 and was revealed in September, affected 500 million user accounts. Then three months later, the company disclosed an even bigger breach that happened in 2013 and affected a billion user accounts.

Yahoo is facing its own data breach-related lawsuits. But for now, Anthem’s appears to be the most costly to date for a US company in terms of litigation payouts. In May, for example, Target agreed to pay $18.5 million to 47 states to settle claims stemming from a 2013 breach of credit card data. And Home Depot agreed to pay $19.5 million last year to settle a breach-related class action suit.

Facebook Teach Chatbots To Negotiate

June 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Chatbots are being taught how to drive a hard bargain in a new AI experiment carried out by Facebook’s Labs.

According to New Scientist, the research could lead to more effective personal assistants able to negotiate on our behalf, sorting out calendar clashes and the like.

French website Julie Desk is already offering this kind of AI diary management, but now Facebook has jumped on the bandwagon, looking at perhaps getting you a good deal on your next holiday, according to Mike Lewis from the social network’s boffin division.

The team trained bots on a database of over 5,000 text conversations between people playing a game where they had to divvy up an inventory of “things”. Each “thing” was assigned a value, with the values unique to each player and each item. So, for example, a ball might be worth four to one player, but only two to another.

The object of the game, as in most games, is to score the most points, by acquiring the most objects with the highest personal value.

After learning, the bots were further trained with more matches, some against each other, some against humans. Working in natural language often led to a crappy deal. Working in totally selfish terms often led to a great deal, but often one made in utter gobbledegook.

The trick, therefore, was to find a way of combining techniques to produce something that would allow the bots to communicate with humans in a real world scenario. The result was a good (but not brilliant) negotiator who can work with humans on their terms.

Beyond doing work for you, a bot might be able to give you useful tips when doing a deal that perhaps you don’t want to hand over. Say you’re negotiating a house price, it could be able to tell you how much of your hand to play and what not to say.

Oliver Lemon at Heriot-Watt University explained that the use of natural language was essential as a user would need to be able to go back to a deal and work out why it did what it did – in other words, justification is important when you’re a bot.

Late last year we reported on UCLA students who had created a Judge Rinderbot.

Courtesy-TheInq

Young Star Helps Astronomers Solve Stellar Mystery

June 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Astronomers using the powerful Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile have precisely measured the rotating fountains of gas flowing out from a massive newborn star, revealing the complex interplay between the star’s magnetism and centrifugal forces.

Astronomers are still puzzled by the way massive stars form in interstellar space, the new study’s researchers said in a statement. When a massive rotating cloud of gas collapses under gravity, stellar fusion becomes possible, and a baby star is born. As angular momentum is conserved while the cloud shrinks, the resulting baby star should be spinning very fast, according to the laws of physics. 

To get a better idea of the conservation of angular (or rotational) momentum, imagine a spinning ice-skater. As ice-skaters spin with their arms outstretched, they spin slowly; when they bring their arms close to their bodies, they spin faster. Physics dictates that this concept should hold true for a shrinking cloud of star-forming gas: As it shrinks, it should spin faster.

But astronomers have found that stars in our galaxy spin much more slowly than the laws of physics predict they should. Therefore, there must be some mechanism that’s dissipating angular momentum from stars soon after they are born, the researchers said.

In the new work, published online June 12 in the journal Nature Astronomy, astronomers observed a massive newborn star called Orion KL Source I in the Orion Nebula and used ALMA to reveal the rotation of its powerful stellar winds. 

“We have clearly imaged the rotation of the outflow,” Tomoya Hirota, an assistant professor at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) and SOKENDAI (the Graduate University for Advanced Studies) and lead author on the paper, said in the statement. “In addition, the result gives us important insight into the launching mechanism of the outflow.”

Hirota’s team noticed that the outflow of stellar gases is rotating in the same direction as the star and that it emanates from Source I’s hot gas disk, and not from the star itself. This finding agrees with a theoretical “magnetocentrifugal disk wind model,” the researchers said.

In this model, gas is ejected from the rotating disk and is forced to move outward. Like a spinning lawn sprinkler, propelled by centrifugal forces, the water spirals outward, away from the sprinkler head, siphoning some of the star’s angular momentum. But in the case of this star, the spinning gases leaving the disk are also directed up and down along magnetic-field lines to create the spinning outflows that ALMA has detected. And the researchers believe that these flows are dissipating rotational energy from the baby star, slowing down its rotation, and therefore possibly explaining why stars in our galaxy rotate more slowly than expected.

“In addition to high sensitivity and fidelity, high resolution submillimeter-wave observation is essential to our study, which ALMA made possible for the first time,” Hirota said. “Submillimeter waves are a unique diagnostic tool for the dense innermost region of the outflow, and at that exact place, we detected the rotation.

“ALMA’s resolution will become even higher in the future,” Hirota added. “We would like to observe other objects, to improve our understanding of the launching mechanism of outflows and the formation scenario of massive stars with the assistance of theoretical research.”

Courtesy-Space

Amazon Files Patent For ‘Drone Towers’ Delivery Facility

June 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

One can argue that Amazon has some lofty ideas for drone delivery.

The e-commerce giant has filed a patent application for a “multi-level fulfillment center” that would allow drones to deliver packages in urban areas. Basically, it sounds like a giant robot-powered tower that would make it easy for drones to zip in and out as they deliver packages around a city.

There’s a “growing need and desire to locate fulfillment centers within cities, such as in downtown districts and densely populated parts of the cities,” Amazon says in the patent application, published Thursday by the US Patent and Trademark Office along with several other drone-related applications by the company.

The other patent applications, which were earlier spotted by The Mercury News, cover things like drone performance and noise control. Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Of course, patents are no guarantee this drone tower will become a reality, but Amazon’s been pursuing drone deliveries in recent years. In March, the company’s drone delivery arm, Amazon Prime Air, shipped its first package out in public in the US. Amazon, UPS, Google and others are also developing drone delivery tech in hopes of bringing shipments to customers more quickly and cheaply.

Will Tesla Be Next To Join The Already Crowded Music Streaming Business?

June 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Move over, Spotify. Eat it, Apple. Later, Tidal. Tesla wants to join the club.

That’s at least the latest from Recode, which cites music industry sources saying Tesla has held talks with all the major labels about licensing for a proprietary music streaming service.

What isn’t clear is when and if Tesla will rev this effort up, so to speak, or how broad it will be. Will this be just for its cars or for anyone with a phone?

Tesla, in a statement, didn’t address the rumor directly, but instead said its goal is, “to simply achieve maximum happiness for our customers.”

“We believe it’s important to have an exceptional in-car experience so our customers can listen to the music they want from whatever source they choose,” the company said.

Sony Music Entertainment, one of the industry’s major record labels, declined to comment. Meanwhile Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Of course, Tesla has a long history of going it alone. The all-electric car company created special software and chargers, despite already existing options. The company even created its own software to manage its manufacturing centers.

Honeywell’s JetWave System Aims To Lessen Flight Turbulence

June 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Turbulence may become a thing of the past if Honeywell is successful in its bid to get rid of it. Best known for making smart home products, Honeywell also works in avionics, and it’s showing off its new JetWave system for faster in-flight Wi-Fi and its vision for the connected aircraft.

While faster Wi-Fi means better video streaming and FaceTime chats for passengers, it could also be beneficial to pilots, who now have reliable connectivity and access to real-time weather data. That connection also means data about the condition of the plane can be beamed ahead to maintenance crews on the ground. The result could be fewer delays, faster turnaround times and a smoother flight for you with pilots able to chart a smarter course around trouble spots.

Honeywell predicts that by 2025, there will be 25,000 Wi-Fi-connected planes in the world. It’s already upgrading 20 airlines with its JetWave technology, including planes belonging to Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways. It boasts a maximum speed of 50 megabits per second, although it’s more realistically around 30Mbps, or triple the speed of your standard home broadband connection.

The Honeywell-customized Boeing 757 boasts faster Wi-Fi because of an antenna mounted to the top of the aircraft, allowing it to grab signals from satellites above. It’s less clumsy than the traditional system in which planes grab cellular signals from towers on the ground.

Honeywell, is the upstart in this game. GoGo, the leader in providing in-flight Wi-Fi service, also has a next-generation satellite system, called 2Ku, that it says outperforms all other services in the market. Other companies building their own high-speed satellite-based networks include Panasonic and Viasat.

In testing the system, pilots used the new GoDirect in-flight apps created by Honeywell, which show the flight plan they’ve created with multiple overlays.

With clear indications of where they’ll find turbulence using crowdsourced and up-to-date weather reports, they were able to make route modifications in a split second. Their flight plans updated in real time to reflect the changes.

Honeywell is also using this connectivity to introduce real-time tracking, although it faces a lot of competition. It has started trials with United Airlines in the US to stream black box data straight to the cloud. In the future, this will have the potential to help avoid situations such as the inability to locate Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which went missing in March 2014 and was never recovered.

 

Pokemon Go New Features Aims To Thwart Cheaters

June 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Niantic, the developer behind the wildly popular Pokemon Go game, has announced new features to help curb cheating in the game.

“Pokemon caught using third-party services that circumvent normal gameplay will appear marked with a slash in the inventory and may not behave as expected,” the company explained on the Silph Road subreddit.

While Niantic was not specific in the post about which third-party services are being targeted, tools such as GPS fakers that artificially place you in “busy” Pokemon areas or bots to catch Pokemon for you have already been identified as “cheats” in the game.

The company also was not clear about how ‘slashed’ Pokemon caught by cheating will behave, although various theories have been put forward by players in the subreddit, including “your moves will permanently become splash/struggle” or “it eats the pokemon around it in your inventory”.

The announcement comes shortly after Niantic’s unveiling of the largest update to the game so far, which brings multiplayer “raid battles” to Pokemon’s Gyms.

Is Google Poaching From Apple To Help The Pixel Phone

June 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Google has reportedly scooped up veteran chip architect Manu Gulati from Apple, fuelling speculation that the firm is designing custom silicon for its Pixel smartphones. 

Gulati has confirmed his move to Google on his recently updated LinkedIn profile, where he’s now listed as ‘Lead SoC Architect’ at the Mountain View firm.

His profile doesn’t give much else away, but Variety reports that Google has roped in Gulati to help it build custom chips for its future Pixel smartphones, as it looks to ditch Qualcomm in a bid to better take on the iPhone. 

Gulati certainly has the experience, having been instrumental in Apple’s efforts in building custom chips for the iPad, iPhone, and Apple TV, from the single-core A4 chip found inside the original iPad to the six-core A10X Fusion processor powering the new iPad Pro. 

What’s more, prior to joining Apple, Gulati worked for almost 15 years at chip makers AMD and Broadcom, giving him a total of 27 years of experience in the industry.

Coinciding with Gulati’s hire, Google has posted a number of job advertisements for chip design-related positions, including one for a ‘Mobile SoC CPU Architect’ and a ‘Mobile SoC Architect,’ who will “help define the architecture of future generations of phone and tablet chips.”

As well as shifting to custom silicon for its homegrown smartphones, Google is shifting OEM partners, according to 9to5Google. It reports that HTC has been binned in favour of LG, which has been roped in to build the next-generation Pixel XL, codenamed ‘Taimen’. 

It’s unclear why Google has ditched HTC in favour of LG, but the report notes that firm was perhaps dissatisfied with HTC’s manufacturing scale, given that both the Pixel and Pixel XL experienced severe shipping delays.

Courtesy-Fud

Electronics Makers Scrambling For Memory Chips As iPhone 8 Looms

June 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Global electronics makers are making a last dash to secure a stock memory chips to keep production lines running as Apple Inc’s  new iPhone 8 launch later this year threatens to worsen a global squeeze on supply.

While heavyweights such as Apple and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd- which is also the world’s top memory chip maker – will not be seriously hit, industry sources and analysts say some electronics makers are paying a premium to lock into longer-term contracts.

Others are placing orders earlier than before to ensure their perilously low inventories do no dry up completely.

“After the supply shortages emerged we brought forward our procurement decisions … to ensure a stable supply,” smartphone and personal computer maker LG Electronics Inc said in a statement, adding it had pushed up quarterly purchase decisions by about a month.

Chip manufacturing technologies are growing increasingly complex, raising investment costs yet providing less output growth as some suppliers struggle to improve yields. This has caused some chip prices to double or triple from a year earlier.

Some analysts say device makers could be forced to cut down on the amount of DRAM chips, which help devices perform multiple tasks at once, or NAND chips that are used for long-term data storage, on new products if the cannot get enough chips.

A chip supplier source told Reuters a handful of clients have moved to 6-month supply agreements, accepting higher prices than the customary quarterly or monthly deals, to make sure they get enough memory chips for their products.

“The problem will be more acute for the NAND market, where the iPhone remains a critical source of demand given the huge sales volumes and recent moves to increase storage capacity on the device,” said the source, who declined to be identified as he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Uber Reverses Course, Adds Tipping Feature To App

June 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Uber has finally decided to allow drivers to collect tips through its smartphone app, an about-face from previous company policy, as part of the ride-services firm’s broader effort to improve an often-contentious relationship.

San Francisco-based Uber Technologies Inc had for years opposed adding a tipping feature to its app despite drivers’ arguments the extra money would help compensate for decreasing wages. The issue had been a longstanding source of disagreement between Uber and its drivers.

Uber drivers are independent contractors, not employees, and lack paid sick leave and vacation, and must pay for car maintenance and other costs.

Beginning on Tuesday, drivers in Houston, Minneapolis and Seattle can collect tips, Uber said. The feature will be available to all drivers in the U.S. by the end of July.

Uber also rolled out other changes on Tuesday, including paying drivers while they wait for passengers and reducing the time passengers have to cancel a ride, as it begins a six-month push to improve drivers’ working conditions. The privately held company is valued by investors at $68 billion.

An Uber spokesman declined to say why the company reversed its tipping policy, though he pointed to a company blog post that called the change “long overdue.”

Lyft Inc, which is Uber’s chief ride-services competitor in the U.S., has long allowed drivers to collect tips through its app. Lyft said on Monday its drivers have collected a total of $250 million in tips during the company’s lifetime, $50 million of which was collected in the last couple of months.

Uber was already facing pressure to allow tipping in New York City. The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission in April said it was planning to propose a rule no later than July that would require Uber to add a tipping feature to its app.

In March, Uber executives outlined a series of improvements for drivers, including a new navigation system and fairer approach to reviewing driver performance, in response to years of complaints by drivers about their pay and treatment.

The changes come as Uber works to repair the damage to its reputation following an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment, bullying and other employee concerns. Uber earlier this month fired 20 employees, including executives, for their behavior. Last week, Chief Executive Travis Kalanick announced he was taking a leave of absence for an unspecified length of time.

Honda Factory Hit By WannaCry Ransomware

June 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Honda Motor Co confirmed that it halted production at a domestic vehicle plant for a day this week after finding the WannaCry ransomware that struck globally last month in its computer network.

The automaker shut production on Monday at its Sayama plant, northwest of Tokyo, which produces models including the Accord sedan, Odyssey Minivan and Step Wagon compact multipurpose vehicle and has a daily output of around 1,000 vehicles.

Honda discovered on Sunday that the virus had affected networks across Japan, North America, Europe, China and other regions, a spokeswoman said, despite efforts to secure its systems in mid-May when the virus caused widespread disruption at plants, hospitals and shops worldwide.

Production at other plants operated by the automaker had not been affected, and regular operations had resumed at the Sayama plant on Tuesday, she said.

The spread of the WannaCry ransomware which locked up more than 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries has slowed since last month, but security experts have warned that new versions of the worm may strike.

Rival automakers Renault SA  and Nissan Motor Co were also affected by the virus last month, when the automaking alliance companies stopped production at plants in Japan, Britain, France, Romania and India.

Ransomware-as-a-Service Now Targeting Macs

June 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Security researchers have found the first evidence of ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) affecting Apple machines, dubbed ‘MacRansom.’

Fortinet’s security research team, FortiGuard Labs, uncovered the tool, which uses a web portal hosted in a TOR network (an anonymous network that bounces the signal around a relay of volunteer computers, to conceal the source); an increasingly-popular form of attack. The variant is not readily available through the portal, and instead, buyers must contact the author(s) directly to build the ransomware.

MacRansom uses a basic delivery vector, in that the owner of the machine must agree to run a programme from an unidentified developer before the infection takes place, or have it physically installed from an external drive. If they do so, the ransomware will check two things: if it is being run in a non-Mac environment, and if it is being debugged. If either condition is not met, it will terminate.

The next step is to create a launch point (the file name purposefully mimics a legitimate file). The ransomware will run on every start up and encrypts on a specified trigger time. When that time comes, the ransomware begins to encrypt files on the computer – in what FortiGuard notes is a slightly unusual but still effective method. A maximum of 128 files will be locked.

FortiGuard was looking for any RSA-crypto routines; however, like the delivery vector, the ransomware itself is not very sophisticated and instead uses a symmetric encryption with a hardcoded key. Two sets of keys are used: ReadmeKey (0x3127DE5F0F9BA796), which decrypts the ransom notes and instructions, and TargetFileKey (0x39A622DDB50B49E9), which performs the encrypt/decrypt on the user’s files.

TargetFileKey is altered with a random number generator: the encrypted files cannot be decrypted once the malware has terminated, in other words. It also has no function to communicate with the command and control server, so there is no readily-available copy of the key to use. While recovery of the TargetFileKey is still technically possible using a brute force attack, FortiGuard is ‘sceptical’ of the author’s claim to be able to decrypt the hijacked files.

Users are instructed to contact a specific email address and send some of their encrypted files, which will be decrypted as proof. The author asks for 0.25 Bitcoin (about £540) to unlock all of the files.

Ransomware is still not common on Mac computers, and most found there today is significantly less advanced than that targeting Windows. However, MacRansom can still capably encrypt files.

FortiGuard believes that MacRansom is being developed by copycats, as it contains code and ideas that appear to have been taken from previous ransomware targeting OS X.

Courtesy-TheInq

Next Page »