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Does Steam Have A Security Issue?

July 28, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

A security problem with the Steam gaming on-demand system means that players and their personal details are at risk.

It is possible that one day we will report on which companies made it through the night without being hacked or without exposing their users.

For now, though, the opposite is the norm and today we are reporting about a problem with gaming system Steam that, you guessed it, has dangled the personal details of punters within the reach of ne’er-do-wells.

The news is not coming out of Steam, or parent Valve, directly, but it is running rampant across social networks and the gaming community. The problem, according to reports and videos, was a bad one and made the overtaking of user accounts rather a simple job.

No badass end-of-level boss to beat here, just a stage in the authentication process. A video posted online demonstrates the efforts required, while some reports – with access to Steam’s PR hot air machine – say that the problem is fixed.

A statement released to gaming almanac Kotaku finds the firm in apologetic clean-up mode.

Steam told the paper that some users would have their passwords reset, those being the ones who might have seen their log-in changed under suspicious circumstances, and that in general users should already be protected from the risks at hand.

“To protect users, we are resetting passwords on accounts with suspicious password changes during that period or may have otherwise been affected,” the firm said.

“Relevant users will receive an email with a new password. Once that email is received, it is recommended that users log-in to their account via the Steam client and set a new password.

“Please note that, while an account password was potentially modified during this period, the password itself was not revealed. Also, if Steam Guard was enabled, the account was protected from unauthorized log-ins even if the password was modified.”

The firm added its apologies to the community.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

IBM Buys Compose Cloud Services Company

July 28, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

IBM has added another stick to its pile, picking up a company called Compose to increase its standing in the cloud database-as-a-service (DBaaS) market.

The firm has come straight out with the news and explained how it expects to benefit.

Compose, it said, offers a bountiful on-demand business and will let IBM roll out DBaaS offerings to a presumably hungry market. IBM has a big focus on the cloud and likes to see action around its Bluemix platform.

IBM said that Compose is a player in the MongoDB, Redis, Elasticsearch and PostgreSQL DBaaS game, and that this honour will extend itself to the new parent and its punters.

“Compose’s breadth of database offerings will expand IBM’s Bluemix platform for the many app developers seeking production-ready databases built on open source,” said Derek Schoettle, general manager of IBM cloud data services.

“Compose furthers IBM’s commitment to ensuring developers have access to the right tools for the job by offering the broadest set of DBaaS and the flexibility of hybrid cloud deployment.”

IBM acquires @composeio as complement to Cloudant CouchDB, cloud data warehouse, dashDB, and more #bluemix services. https://t.co/2j4ASqisGi

— IBM Bluemix™ (@IBMBluemix) July 23, 2015

There is money behind this, and IBM said that the DBaaS market is likely to be worth almost $20bn by 2020 thanks to thousands of companies and their multitudes of demands for easy to grasp databases. This is not the first cloudy move the firm had made.

Compose, naturally, is keen on the arrangement and expects that its union with the veteran firm will increase the scale of its services, and allow customers more freedom to innovate.

“By joining IBM, we will have an opportunity to accelerate the development of our database platform and offer even more services and support to developer teams,” said Kurt Mackey, co-founder and CEO at the firm.

“As developers, we know how hard it can be to manage databases at scale, which is exactly why we built Compose – to take that burden off our customers and allow them to get back to the engineering they love.”

No financial terms were revealed.

Courtesy-TheInq

Unpatched Vulnerabilities Uncovered In Mobile IE

July 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Security researchers have provided details about four unpatched vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer for Windows Phone because Microsoft has not moved quickly enough to fix them.

The flaws could potentially be exploited to execute malicious code on computers when users visit compromised websites or open specially crafted documents. They were reported through Hewlett-Packard’s Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) program.

HP’s TippingPoint division, which sells network security products, pays researchers for information on unpatched high-risk vulnerabilities in popular software. The company uses the information to create detection signatures, giving it a competitive advantage, but also reports the flaws to the affected vendors so they can be fixed.

The ZDI team gives vendors 120 days to develop fixes before making limited information about the flaws reported to the public. That deadline was apparently reached for the four Internet Explorer vulnerabilities this week.

The ZDI advisories describe the type, impact and general location of the flaws, but intentionally leave out technical details that could help attackers create exploits for them. In other words, they don’t classify as full disclosure.

Three of the new ZDI advisories don’t have sufficient information for other researchers or hackers to easily rediscover the issues, said Carsten Eiram, the chief research officer at vulnerability intelligence firm Risk Based Security, via email. The fourth one, however, is a bit more detailed, he said.

That advisory, tracked as ZDI-15-359, covers a vulnerability that was used by security researcher Nicolas Joly during the Mobile Pwn2Own hacking contest organized by ZDI in November last year. As part of the contest rules, researchers disclose the vulnerabilities they use with ZDI, which then shares them with the affected vendors.

Microsoft said in an emailed statement that it would take “appropriate steps” to protect its customers, but noted that no attacks had been reported so far.

 

 

 

Microsoft Unveils ‘Send’ Mobile App

July 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft unveiled a mobile-minded alternative to email that’s focused primarily on short, quick messages.

Named Send, the new tool aims to deliver a simple experience much like that offered by text messaging or instant messaging software but without the need to know a co-worker’s mobile number or username. Instead, Send lets users quickly fire off a message to any co-worker using just their email address; no subject line, salutations or signatures are required.

“On my way,” might be one example, or “Are you in the office today?”

The app connects to Office 365 business and school email accounts to find frequent and recent contacts; users need only tap on one to start a conversation. A “Quick Reply” option allows for speedy responses.

That Office 365 connection, meanwhile, also means conversations are synced with Outlook, letting users continue them from anywhere. Messages sent using Send are treated internally like any other work email and comply with an organization’s email compliance policies, Microsoft said.

Send is now available free for iPhone through the Microsoft Garage in the U.S. and Canada. Versions for Windows Phone and Android are coming soon, as are additional IT controls. Currently the app works with Office 365 business and school email accounts, but Microsoft plans to make it more broadly available in the coming months, it said.

 

 

 

Microsoft To Open Source Radio Code

July 24, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft has begun to open source some more of its code, this time for the Microsoft Research Software Radio (Sora).

“We believe that a fully open source Sora will better support the research community for more scientific innovation,” said Kun Tan, a senior researcher on the Sora project team.

Sora was created to combat the problem of creating software radio that could keep up with the hardware developments going on around it.

The idea behind it is to run the radio off software on a multi-core PC running a basic operating system. In the example, it uses Windows. But then it would.

A PCIe radio control board is added to the machine with signals processed by the software for transmission and reception, while the RF front-end, with its own memory, interfaces with other devices.

The architecture also supports parallel processing by distributing processing pipelines to multiple cores exclusively for real-time SDR tasks.

Sora has already won a number of awards, and the Sora SDK and API were released in 2011 for academic users. More than 50 institutions now use it for research or courses.

As such, and in line with the groovy open Microsoft ethos, the software has now been completely open sourced, with customizable RF front-ends, customizable RCB with timing control and synchronization, processing accelerators and support for new communication models such as duplex radios.

The Sora source code is now up on GitHub. Use cases already in place include TV whitespace, large scale MIMO and distributed MIMO systems.

Microsoft has made a number of moves towards open sourcing itself over the past year. Most notably, The .NET Framework at the heart of most Windows programs was offered up to the newly created .NET Foundation.

It was announced yesterday that Google is releasing its Kubernetes code to the Linux Foundation to set up a standardized format for containerization.

Courtesy-Fud

Samsung Targets 10nm FinFET

July 23, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Samsung has put 10nm FinFET in its roadmap to stop its customers migrating to TSMC.
There were some rumours that Samsung may alter its schedule in order to prevent clients that might consider switching to 10nm chips from TSMC as that outfit is expected to skip the 14nm process and go straight to 10nm

Kelvin Low from Samsung Foundry confirmed in a video posted on YouTube that Samsung has formally added 10nm FinFET into the process roadmap, for chip designers working in mobile, consumer or networking market segment the new chips will provide significant performance and power consumption improvements.

Samsung LSI division has already shown off its first 10nm wafers which was a symbolic message to major clients that Samsung is more than capable of getting its 10nm production lines up and running without much hassle. Low expected 10nm products to appear at the end of 2016

Courtesy-Fud

Is ARM Being Hurt By Apple?

July 23, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Investors in ARM are deeply worried about its close relationship to the fruity cargo cult Apple.

ARM released its results which looked great, but investors were looking at its close ties to Jobs’ Mob which posted results which were disappointing.

Shares dropped 3.1 per cent on the back of Apple’s results. Apple uses ARM’s processor designs in its range of iThings.

It seems odd as ARMs Revenues rose 22 per cent to $17.5m for its second quarter, while pre-tax profits increased 32 per cent to $90.9m, compared with the same period last year.

The chip designer signed 54 processor licences for the three months, a “record” number.

Simon Segars, ARM chief exec, said a diverse range of companies chose to license ARM’s latest processors in the second quarter and physical IP for future product developments.

“ARM has been investing in advanced technology products for mobile devices, automotive applications and enterprise infrastructure, and in Q2 ARM signed licences for many of these new products. This licensing activity will help to grow the royalty revenue opportunity for years to come,” he said.

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft To Acquire Cyber Security Firm Adallom

July 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft Corp plans to purchase Israeli cyber security company Adallom for $320 million, the Calcalist financial newspaper is reporting.

Adallom, which develops cloud security platforms, is expected to become the center for Microsoft’s cyber security business in Israel, the newspaper said.

Adallom could not be reached for comment and officials at Microsoft in Israel declined to comment.

The U.S. technology company has made several recent acquisitions in Israel, including security software developer Aorato for a reported $200 million. It also bought text analysis firm Equivio and the technology of digital pen maker N-trig.

Adallom has raised about $50 million from venture capital funds Sequoia Capitol and European Index Ventures as well as EMC Corp and Hewlett-Packard, among others, Calcalist said.

Adallom was founded in 2012 has 80 employees at its offices in Israel and the United States.

It offers users information security technology on remote servers. It can secure information stored on Salesforce’s, Microsoft’s or Google’s cloud services and protect it from cyber attacks.

 

 

TSMC Finally Goes 16nm FinFET

July 21, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

TSMC president and co-CEO Mark Liu has announced his outfit has begun volume shipment of chips based on its 16-nm FinFET manufacturing process.

He added that the ramping of the 16-nm process will be even more aggressive than that of its 20-nm process and he wants to gain foundry market share over the remainder of 2015 and well into 2016 on the back of the technology.

The foundry expects 16-nm processor shipments to begin contributing to revenue in the fourth quarter of 2015, since the process will ramp up during much of the third quarter.

TSMC moved quickly from 20-nm to 16-nm manufacturing claiming that 16 nanometer shared a similar metal backend process with 20 nanometer. In other words its 16 FinFET benefited from what it learnt doing 20-nanometer.

Liu also talked about the foundry’s 10-nm and 7-nm processes, saying that the recent product-like validation vehicle milestone was encouraging and that its plans are on-track.

TSMC plans to make 7-nm validation samples in the second quarter of 2017, just fifteen months after 10-nm validation.

Courtesy-Fud

Spam Rate Finally Falls Below 50%

July 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Spam emails have dropped to less than 50 percent of all email in June, the lowest in a decade, Symantec said Thursday in its latest Intelligence Report.

The levels of spam have been slowly falling since 2010 for multiple reasons. Network providers are more tuned into the problem and are taking action faster when there are issues on their services.

Also, unlike six or seven years ago, sending billions of messages per day from massive botnets isn’t as feasible anymore.

Law enforcement, along with companies including Microsoft, have aggressively gone after some of the largest botnets over the past few years and worked to technically shut them down. Although some botnet operators have been able in some instances to regain control, the increased attention makes it more difficult for them to work.

Improved filtering and blocking also means that fewer unsolicited marketing messages reach inboxes where people might click on a message to buy a product. Response rates to spam are notoriously low, so it means spammers must reach many inboxes in order to build a business.

That’s not to say spam is going to completely stop, but as the cost of entry into the spam business rises and the likelihood of a return falls, it’s less of an incentive.

In June, Symantec saw 704 billion email messages sent. Of those, 353 billion were classified as spam. At one of the peaks of the spam epidemic in June 2009, 5.7 trillion of the 6.3 trillion messages sent were spam, according to past data from Symantec.

Symantec noted that phishing and email-based malware fell in June, which is evidence that “attackers are simply moving to other areas of the threat landscape.”

 

 

AMD Misses Again

July 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Fabless chipmaker AMD has come up with a mixed set of results for the second quarter. The company managed to make as much cash as the cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street expected, but missed revenue expectations.

In fact its revenues were below the psychologically important billion figure at $942 million.

We knew it was going to be bad. Last week we were warned that the results would be flat. The actual figure was $942m, an 8.5 per cent sequential decline and a 34.6 per cent drop from the same period a year ago.

As you might expect, there are some measures of this not being AMD’s fault. The company is almost entirely dependent on PC sales. Not only have these fallen but don’t look like they are going to pick up for a while.

AMD’s Computing and Graphics division reported revenue of $379m, which was down 54.2 per cent, year-on-year. Its operating loss was $147m, compared to a $6m operating loss for last year’s quarter.

Lisa Su, AMD president and CEO, in a statement said that strong sequential revenue growth in AMD’s enterprise, embedded, and semi-custom segment and channel business was not enough to offset near-term problems in its PC processor business.  This was  due to lower than expected consumer demand that impacted sales to OEMs, she said.

“We continue to execute our long-term strategy while we navigate the current market environment. Our focus is on developing leadership computing and graphics products capable of driving profitable share growth across our target markets,” she added.

In the semi-custom segment, AMD makes chips for video game consoles such as the Nintendo Wii U, Microsoft Xbox One, and Sony PlayStation 4 consoles. That segment did reasonably well, up 13 percent from the previous quarter but down 8 percent from a year ago.

But AMD’s core business of processors and graphics chips fell 29 percent from the previous quarter and 54 percent from a year ago. AMD said it had decreased sales to manufacturers of laptop computers.

Figures like this strap a large target on AMD’s back with a sign saying “take me over” but AMD is not predicting total doom yet.

For the third quarter, AMD expects revenue to increase 6 percent, plus or minus 3 percent, sequentially, which is a fairly conservative outlook given the fact that Windows 10 is expected to push a few sales its way.

AMD supplies chips to the Nintendo Wii U, Microsoft Xbox One, and Sony PlayStation 4 consoles and these seem to be going rather well.

Courtesy-Fud

Did Microsoft Drop DVD Support In Windows 10?

July 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft has decided that there is no point putting Windows 10 on a DVD and insisting that people install from a Flash drive.

Windows 10 will be shipped on USB drives rather than traditional DVDs, although you might be able to find one on DVD if you ask Microsoft very nicely.

USB versions of Windows 10 Home and 10 Pro are listed for pre-order on Amazon already, running $120 and $200 respectively.

It is all fairly obvious. Most cheap PCs ship without a drive these days which has made home-made USB installation drives the only option. We can still remember the outcry when people complained about the number of floppy disks it took to install Windows 95.

Windows 98 came out on a CD drive to cut down the numbers. Now it seems that DVDs are now going the way of the dodo too.

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft Ends Windows 10 Previews As Launch Date Nears

July 16, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft has halted delivery of new preview builds of Windows 10, saying that it was “very close” to wrapping up the operating system.

“We’re suspending the availability of Windows 10 builds briefly while we prepare for [using the official roll-out process], and the next build that we flight to you will be delivered using the production channels,” said Gabriel Aul, engineering general manager for Microsoft’s OS group, in a revised blog yesterday. “We’re very close to our public release and we’re working very hard to get everything just right.”

Aul promised that the suspension would be short, but that disk images — large files in .iso format that testers can use to do a “clean” install of the OS — would also be deferred. “We really need Insiders to be using, stressing, and validating our distribution and upgrade processes,” Aul said in explaining the .iso pause.

Pre-release activation keys will no longer validate the previous preview builds shipped as .iso files, Aul added. He did not say whether activation codes would be provided at some future point for those who wanted to test Windows 10 after the official launch, and do a fresh install rather than an in-place upgrade from Windows 7 or 8.1.

If new activation keys are not offered down the line, people who wanted to dive through a loophole — one acknowledged and apparently approved by the Redmond, Wash. company — to obtain a free copy of Windows 10, even if they didn’t qualify for the free upgrade, may be out of luck.

The build and .iso suspensions signal that Microsoft will soon declare Windows 10 at the “release to manufacturing” (RTM) milestone, an important waypoint because that code will be handed to device makers for pre-loading on new hardware. Earlier rumors had pegged RTM for last week, but that didn’t happen.

 

 

Facebook Said To Be Developing A Virtual Assistant

July 16, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook is rumored to be developing a virtual assistant for its Messenger app.

According to a report in The Information, the world’s largest social network is working on the virtual assistant, which has been internally dubbed Moneypenny, presumably after the fictional secretary in the James Bond books and movies.

Facebook is developing the service that would enable users to ask real people for help researching and ordering products and services, the report noted, citing three unnamed sources.

Messenger is Facebook’s mobile instant messaging app, which is designed to work with voice and text. The app reportedly has more than 700 million monthly users.

Facebook declined to comment on the report.

Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, said it makes sense for Facebook to venture into the realm of virtual assistants after the success of Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana.

If the report is accurate, the question is how Facebook would weave together a “virtual” assistant with the ability to ask “real people” for help.

Moorhead suggested that a live person could be contacted if the virtual assistant wasn’t coming up with the information that the user needed.

It also could be that if, for instance, a user asks for information about a certain bicycle, the virtual assistant could check for comments about it from the user’s Facebook friends or the entire Facebook user community.

“It makes sense that they would try this, for sure,” said Moorhead. “The best assistants have mountains of information on us that can be used to improve context. And Facebook has more personal data than anyone other than Google.”

 

 

Enterprise Customers May Save Faltering Tablet Market

July 15, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

With global tablet sales waning, there is a bright spot for hardware manufacturers: Business purchases of tablets for workers in jobs such as retail sales or field work.

Forrester predicted that tablets used for enterprises will grow to 20% of the entire market by 2018, up from 6% in 2010. These include Apple iPads as well as Windows and Android tablets that are generally purchased and managed by a company on behalf of workers, either for solo use or shared with others.

That level of growth is impressive compared to the recent sales dip for the iPad, which sold 12.62 million iPads in the second quarter, a drop of 23% compared to the same period a year ago, Forrester analyst JP Gownder noted in a blog.

“Clearly, all is not well in tablet-land,” Gownder said.

In a separate report, Gownder noted a nose-dive in Android tablet prices, which recently went from below $200, then to less than $100 and even under $50 — “stripping away profit margins.”

Forrester and other analyst firms have noted the general tablet decline, attributed mainly to consumers keeping older tablets and to the growth of bigger smartphones with displays that are larger than 5-in., sometimes called “phablets,” that reduce the need for smaller tablets. The Galaxy Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus are examples of such smartphones.

IDC noted the tablet slowdown last October, and predicted slowing growthfrom 2016 through 2018.

The bright spot — tablets purchased by companies — is being driven by various factors, Gownder said, including a vendor focus on enterprise services and apps. Microsoft and Dell, among other partners, will benefit with Windows 10 on tablets, while the Android for Work initiative will help address Android security concerns with tablets, he said. And Apple has partnered with IBM to provide iOS apps for tablets that matter in workplaces.

The desire by workers to use tablets and bring their own devices to work has helped push company purchases, he said. The tablets are being used in various ways by different workers, including package delivery drivers, sales associates and field technicians and even by restaurant customers to review menus at their tables.