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IBM Thinks Businesses Should Block TOR

August 28, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

IBM security research has found that people are using the so-called dark net to launch cyber attacks, force ransomware demands on punters and make distributed denial-of-service (DoS) attacks.

The dark net, accessed via Tor, is often tagged as a threat. The IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Quarterly 3Q 2015 report identifies a spike in bad traffic and leads with a warning.

The report introduces Tor as the network that takes people to the dark net. We might start calling it the ferryman and the passage across the river Styx, but things are complicated enough.

IBM said that Tor is used by “non-malicious government officials, journalists, law enforcement officials” and bad people alike. It is the latter that should concern us.

“This latest report reveals that more than 150,000 malicious events have originated from Tor in the US alone thus far in 2015,” the report said.

“Tor has also played a role in the growing ransomware attack trend. Attackers have evolved the use of encryption to hold data hostage and demand payment/ransom for the decryption code.”

We have been here before, and ransomware has been a feature of many a security alert this year already. We heard, courtesy of Bitdefender, that ransomware charges start at £320, and are a real pain to deal with. We also heard that it is Android mobile users in the UK who get the worst of the hackers’ grabbing-for-money treatment.

Back at the IBM report, and we find IBM X-Force on the issue. X-Force, which is nothing like X-Men, said that hackers push internet users who are easily fooled by flashy online advertisements into installing the new cyber nightmare. Ransomware, it warns, will separate you from your cash.

“A surprising number of users are fooled by fake/rogue antivirus [AV] messages that are nothing more than animated web ads that look like actual products. The fake AV scam tricks users into installing or updating an AV product they may never have had,” it explains, adding that in some cases people pay the money without thinking.

“Afterward, the fake AV keeps popping up fake malware detection notices until the user pays some amount of money, typically something in the range of what an AV product would cost.”

This establishes the subject as a mark, and the hackers will exploit the opportunity. “Do not assume that if you are infected with encryption-based ransomware you can simply pay the ransom and reliably get your data back,” said IBM.

“The best way to avoid loss is to back up your data. Regardless of whether your backup is local or cloud-based, you must ensure that you have at least one copy that is not directly mapped visibly as a drive on your computer.”

Tor nodes in the US spewed out the most bad traffic in the first half of this year, according to the report, adding up to about 180,000 attacks. The Netherlands is second with around 150,000, and Romania is third with about 80,000.

The bulk of this negative attention lands at technology and communications companies. You might have assumed the financial markets, but you were wrong. IBM said that ICT gets over 300,000 Tor thwacks every six months, manufacturing gets about 245,000, and finance gets about 170,000.

IBM said that the old enemy, SQL injection attacks, is the most common Tor-led threat to come at its customers. Vulnerability scanning attacks are also a problem, and IBM said that the use of the network as a means for distributed DoS attacks should “Come as no surprise”. It doesn’t.

“These attacks combine Tor-commanded botnets with a sheaf of Tor exit nodes. In particular, some of the US-based exit nodes provide huge bandwidth,” explained the report.

“Employing a handful of the exit nodes in a distributed DoS orchestrated by the botnet controller and originating at dozens or hundreds of bot hosts can impose a large burden on the targeted system with a small outlay of attacker resources, and generally effective anonymity.”

There is a lot more. The bottom line is that bad things happen on the dark net and that they come to people and businesses through Tor. IBM said that concerned outfits should just block it and move on, which is along the lines of something that Akamai said recently.

“Corporate networks really have little choice but to block communications to these stealthy networks. The networks contain significant amounts of illegal and malicious activity,” said Akamai.

“Allowing access between corporate networks and stealth networks can open the corporation to the risk of theft or compromise, and to legal liability in some cases and jurisdictions.”

That sounds fine to us, but won’t someone give a thought to those non-malicious government officials out there?

Courtesy-TheInq

Facebook Testing ‘M’, Personal Digital Assistant

August 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc is testing a personal digital assistant called “M” within its Messenger service that is capable of answering questions with live human help and performing tasks such as buying gifts online and making restaurant reservations.

M is “powered by artificial intelligence that’s trained and supervised by people,” David Marcus, vice president of Messaging products, wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday.

Rival services like Apple Inc’s Siri, Google Inc’s Google Now and Microsoft Corp’s Cortana rely entirely on technology to answer questions.

M is a hybrid backed by a team of Facebook employees with customer service backgrounds, called M trainers, who can also make travel arrangements and appointments, Marcus wrote.

Facebook has introduced several functions inside Messenger, which boasts more than 700 million users, to transform it into a standalone platform. Earlier this year, it rolled out games exclusively on Messenger and launched products for businesses to directly connect with consumers.

 

 

Amazon Expands Prime Now, Adds Alcohol Delivery

August 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon.com Inc announced that it will begin delivering wine, beer and spirits to U.S. customers for the first time as part of its speedy delivery service, Prime Now.

The online retailer is expanding Prime Now, its one- and two-hour service, to Seattle, where the company is headquartered, and offering alcohol deliveries there.

Amazon Prime, the company’s $99 per year shopping membership program, offers free two-day delivery on millions of items. It is a key testing ground for the retailer’s new services, ranging from TV and on-demand video to fast delivery.

Amazon has said it has “tens of millions” of Prime subscribers. Analysts estimate the program to have around 40 million users worldwide.

The company has steadily expanded Prime Now since it launched the service in New York City last year. It facilitates integration of the retailer’s grocery delivery service, Amazon Fresh, which has been slower to expand to new markets.

On-demand grocery delivery is a growing and competitive market in the United States. Instacart, a grocery delivery company, announced on Tuesday that it had expanded to Indianapolis, its 17th city. Other startups, like Postmates, which focuses on meal delivery, also deliver personal care goods and alcohol for customers using a network of couriers.

Prime Now customers can order using an app available on both iOS and Android devices. Orders are shipped from smaller warehouses, or hubs. An Amazon spokeswoman said the company opened two facilities in Seattle and Kirkland, Washington, to handle Prime Now deliveries.

 

LG To Unveil Upgraded G Pad Tablet

August 25, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Even if the tablet market is in stuck in a rut, vendors aren’t giving up on the product category. LG Electronics will debut the best model of its G Pad tablet series at the IFA trade show in Berlin next week.

LG’s latest tablet, the G Pad II 10.1, is more powerful and has a better screen than its predecessor,  but it also has a slightly smaller battery.

A quad-core 2.26 GHz Snapdragon 800 processor powers the G Pad II and its 10.1-inch screen has a 1200 x 1920 pixel resolution. That’s a big step up from the original G Pad 10.1, which had a Snapdragon 400 processor and an 800 x 1280 pixel screen.

The G Pad II also has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of integrated storage that can be expanded using the tablet’s microSD card slot. There is a 5-megapixel camera on the back and a 2-megapixel camera at the front.

Features that could turn out to be useful include a Reader Mode, which makes reading e-books more comfortable by reducing the blue light of the display backlight, according to LG. On the software side, the tablet comes preloaded with Microsoft Office and an additional 100GB of free OneDrive storage for two years.

LG didn’t reveal when the G Pad II 10.1 will go on sale, but said it will be available in North America, Europe and Asia. Pricing for the LTE and Wi-Fi models will be announced locally at the time of launch, the company said.

 

 

 

Google Including Tweets In Desktop Search

August 25, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

An earlier agreement between Google and Twitter that has placed tweets in Google search results on mobile devices since earlier this year has now been expanded to the desktop.

Relevant tweets will appear in desktop results for queries performed in English. The search doesn’t need to include the term “twitter” or twitter hashtags — if there are tweets that Google thinks are relevant, it will surface them anyway.

Last Friday, for instance, a search for “President Obama” returned recent tweets from Obama’s Twitter account near the top of the page, below a few news articles.

The tweets that appear will include photos and links that may have been contained in the tweet.

Google has provided links to tweets in its search results for a long time, but showing the actual tweets could potentially give a boost to Twitter at a time when it’s struggling to add new users.

Google noted the expansion on Friday in an update to its earlier announcement around the mobile rollout.

The company has said it will make the feature available in other languages besides English.

 

 

Are Both AMD And nVidia Readying To Release A 14nm GPU?

August 25, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD and Nvidia both appear to be certain to get their “14 nm” out next year.

According to TweakTown Nvidia is apparently dotting the “I” and working out where to put in the semi-colons for its Pascal GPU using TSMC’s 16nm FinFet node. AMD rumored has been wining and dining its old chums at GlobalFoundries to use its 14nm process for its Greenland GPU.

Although these sound like different technologies the “14nm and 16nm”  is difference how you measure a transistor. The outcome of both 14 and 16 should be a fairly same sized transistor with similar power features. TSMC calls its process 16nm FinFet, while Samsung and GloFo insist on calling it 14nm FinFet.

The dark satanic rumor mill suggests that the Greenland GPU, which has new Arctic Islands family micro-architecture, will have HBM2 memory. There will be up to 32GB of memory available for enthusiast and professional users. Consumer-oriented cards will have eight to 16GB of HBM2 memory. It will also have a new ISA (instruction set architecture).

It makes sense, AMD moved to HBM with its Fury line this year. Nvidia is expected to follow suit in 2016 with cards offering up to 32GB HBM2 as well.

Both Nvidia and AMD are drawn to FinFET which offers 90 percent more density than 28nm. Both will boost the transistors on offer with their next-generation GPUs, with 17 to 18 billion transistors currently being rumored.

 

Courtesy-Fud

Is Samsung Working On An 18 Inch Tablet?

August 24, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Samsung is working on a huge Android-based tablet that could be used in living rooms, offices, or schools, presumably as a coffee table.

According to Sam Mobile the SM-T670, codenamed ‘Tahoe’, is an Android 5.1 Lollipop-based tablet with an 18.4-inch display.

It will have a TFT LCD screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and be powered by an octa-core 64-bit 1.6GHz Exynos 7580 processor. It will have a rather low 2GB RAM, 32GB internal storage, a microSD card slot and a 5,700 mAh battery.  Face it though a tablet this big is not going to spend a lot of time being carried about or needing a battery.

Apparently it will have an 8-megapixel primary camera and a 2.1-megapixel secondary camera. It will be 451.8 mm wide, 275.8 mm tall, and 11.9 mm thick.  Strangely no one has mentioned the things weight.

Samsung is also said to be working on a Windows 10-based tablet with a high-resolution 12-inch display, a 13nm Intel Core M chipset, 4GB RAM, and an S Pen.

Courtesy-Fud

Swatch To Beef Up Its Smartwatch Offerings

August 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Swatch is making plans to add to its new smartwatch range, the Swiss watchmaker’s chief executive stated in a recent newspaper interview.

The Biel, Switzerland-based company is competing with Apple and other watchmakers in the budding smartwatch market.

“Our product is called Touch Zero One and that gives enough room for Zero Five, Zero Nine,” Nick Hayek was quoted as saying by Switzerland’s Tages-Anzeiger newspaper. “The Touch Zero One is not the end of the progression.”

Hayek told the paper Swatch would launch Touch Zero Two at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The Swiss company’s strategy appears primarily to revolve around including individual tech features in different models rather than going head to head with Apple to create all-in-one smartwatches combining many functions.

On top of its Touch Zero One, which can track the distance the wearer travels and help beach volleyball players measure the power of their hits, Swatch is planning to launch watches with an embedded “near field communication” chip this year.

 

AMD Still Losing Ground

August 21, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD is continuing to lose market share to Nvidia, despite the fact that its new best video card, the Fury is out.

AMD always had a get out of jail card when the last GPU market share numbers were out on the basis of it not having released anything. At the time NVidia had 76% of the discrete GPU market. This was when Nvidia’s best card was the GeForce GTX 980.

A lot happened in that time. There was the release of the Titan X in March, and before the GTX 980 Ti in June. AMD had its Hawaii architecture inside of the R9 290X, and the dual-GPU in the form of the R9 295X2. It was expected that the R9 390X might turn AMD’s luck around but that turned out to be another rebrand. Then there was the arrival of the R9 Fury X.

AMD has new products on the market: the R9 Fury X, R9 Fury, R9 390X and a bunch of rebranded 300 series video cards. But according to Mercury Research’s latest data, NVIDIA has jumped from 76% of the discrete GPU market in Q4 2014 to 82 per cent in Q2 2015.

AMD has 18 per cent of the dGPU market share, even after the release of multiple new products.

It is not that the Fury X isn’t selling well, but because of yield problems there will only 30,000 units made over the entire of the year.

AMD also rebranded nearly its entire product stack thus making no reason to buy a R9 390X if you own an R9 290X.

Sure there is 8GB of GDDR5 on board compared to the 4GB offered on most R9 290X cards, but that’s not enough to push someone to upgrade their card.

Tweaktown noted that  there was a big issue of the HBM-powered R9 Fury X not really offering any form of performance benefits over the GDDR5-powered GeForce GTX 980 Ti from NVIDIA. The 980 Ti beating the Fury X in some tests which it should not have.

Nvidia has plenty of GM200 GPUs to go around, with countless GTX 980 Ti models from a bunch of AIB partners. There is absolutely no shortage of GTX 980 Ti cards. Even if you wanted to get your paws on a Fury X, AMD has made it difficult.

Now it seems that next year could be a lot worse for AMD. Nvidia will have its GP100 and GP104 out next year powered by Pascal. This will cane AMD’s Fiji architecture. Then Nvidia will swap to 16nm process when its Maxwell architecture is already power efficient. Then there is the move HBM2, where be should see around 1TB/sec memory bandwidth.

All up the future does not look that great for AMD.

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft’s Edge Browser Not Winning Over Windows 10 Users

August 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft’s new Edge browser is being used by a small percentage of those running Windows 10 — between one-sixth and one-third — according to data from a pair of analytics vendors.

The early returns on Edge not only hint at Microsoft’s failure to get the earliest adopters to rely on the new browser, but also question Mozilla’s contention that Windows 10′s setup will result in defections from its own Firefox, or by association, other non-Microsoft browsers.

During July, Edge accounted for just 0.14% of all browsers tracked by California-based Net Applications. With Windows 10′s user share standing at 0.39% for July — and because Edge works only on Windows 10 — the browser was run by about 36% of its potential users (0.14% divided by 0.39%).

Net Applications measures user share using visitor tallies to its customers’ websites. The result is a rough estimate of the percentage of the world’s online users who run a specific browser.

Data from StatCounter, an Irish metrics vendor, also showed that Edge was far from the universal browser of choice among people who have upgraded to Windows 10.

Over the first 16 days of August, Edge’s global average daily usage share was 0.7%, far below the 4.4% average daily share of Windows 10. In other words, StatCounter pegged Edge as accounting for about 16% of the online activity of all Windows 10 owners.

The low percentages of Windows 10 users currently running Edge signaled that Microsoft has not made its case for the new browser, at least among those who have jumped on the OS and its free upgrade. That’s troubling, since Microsoft has positioned Edge as its browser of the future, and put in considerable effort to making it more compliant with standards, while relegating Internet Explorer (IE) in general, IE11 specifically, to a legacy support position.

 

 

 

Google Unveils New Wi-Fi Router For Home

August 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Google Inc has unveiled a Wi-Fi router, the latest move in the company’s efforts to get ready for the connected home and draw more users to its services.

The cylinder-shaped router, named OnHub, can be pre-ordered for $199.99 at online retailers including the Google Store, Amazon.com Incand Walmart.com.

The router comes with in-built antennas that will scan the airwaves to spot the fastest connection, Google said in a blog post.

With the router, users will be able to prioritize a device so that they can get the fastest Internet speeds for data-heavy activities such as downloading content or streaming a movie.

The router can be hooked up with Google’s On app, available on Android and iOS, to run network checks and keep track of bandwidth use among other things.

Google said OnHub automatically updates with new features and the latest security upgrades, just like the company’s Android OS and Chrome browser.

The router is being manufactured by network company TP-LINK, Google said, hinting that ASUS could be the second manufacturing partner for the product.

The product launch comes days after Google restructured itself by creating Alphabet Inc, a holding company to pool its many subsidiaries and separate the core web advertising business from newer ventures like driverless cars.

Making products for the smart home is one such venture.

Google last year bought Nest, a smart thermostat maker, for $3.2 billion, aiming to lead the way on how household devices link to each other and to electricity grids.

The global market for “Internet of Things”, the concept of connecting household devices to the Internet, will nearly triple to $1.7 trillion by 2020, research firm International Data Corp said in June.

 

 

Mozilla Unveils App For Creating Web Pages On Smartphones

August 19, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

The Mozilla Foundation intends on insuring that the Web remains a platform where anyone can create content, rather than just a place to consume information and services created by others.

The non-profit organization has unveiled an easy-to-use app for Android devices, called Webmaker, that allows users to create Web pages and simple apps from their smartphones, which are quickly becoming the predominant technology used to use the Internet, especially in less wealthy countries.

“We want the next two billion people coming online to understand that the Web is theirs to read, write, and participate in,” said David Ascher, Mozilla’s vice president of products.

Currently, about 40% of the world’s population — or a little over 3 billion people – enjoys Internet access. Webmaker was designed to give these usersa way to create their own presence online. Webmaker also could set the stage for bringing more local content on the Web, Ascher said.

While social networking sites such as Tumblr and Instagram offer the ability to create content for mobile devices, Webmaker was designed to provide more flexibility in terms of how users can present information, by not locking them into a single format.

The foundation says it designed the software to be as easy to use as possible.

After signing in, users are provided with a blank page and the ability to add text, images or photos. Additional pages can be then be added. A user is given a map to stitch together pages in a way that best fits their needs.

When the app is finished, it is stored on the Webmaker.org site, where it can be accessed from either a phone or a computer browser.

Webmaker can run on smartphones with Android 4.0 or newer. Initially, Webmaker is available in four languages, Bengali, Brazilian Portuguese, English and Indonesian. Additional languages will be supported in future releases.

 

 

 

Microsoft Tests News Reading App

August 18, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft is quietly working on an app thats geared toward people who want help keeping up with today’s barrage of news.

The app, called NewsCast, hasn’t been formally announced, but it was first spotted by Neowin’s Brad Sams. It takes in articles from around the Web and starts reading summaries of them to users in an ongoing playlist. Users can save articles for reading later and view the full text of any article NewsCast pulls in using a built-in browser or a distraction-free reading view.

It’s all designed to keep users up to date on the latest news while they’re commuting and don’t want to be staring at tiny text on their phone.

According to a publicly accessible webpage for the app, NewsCast is a proof-of-concept product from the Bing News and Speech teams and seems to be testing only inside Microsoft. The teams are “trying to validate several hypothesis”[sic] with the app, though it’s not clear what they’re testing. Collecting feedback from users is a major focus of NewsCast’s current build — tapping a feedback button in the app opens an email that includes a three-question survey about what users like, dislike and want from it in the future.

Microsoft isn’t the only tech company going after mobile news summaries. Facebook is reportedly testing its own Twitter-like news app, and Yahoo has received accolades for its News Digest app, which gives users bite-sized summaries about current events.

 

 

TSMC Will Produce 16nm FinFET+ Processors Very Soon

August 18, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

TSMC has mentioned that it will be looking to commence production of its 16nm process in the third quarter now it looks like it is happening.

The outfit told the Taiwan Stock Exchange that its 16nm chips “smoothly entered” volume production as expected.  It sounds like someone in TSMC’s PR department has been reading 40 Shades of Grey again.

Production of a 16nm  node was underway, with higher yields expected later this quarter. Nvidia wants to get its GP100 Pascal GPU manufactured on this node as it switches to 16nm next year.

TSMC’s 16nm FinFET+ node will deliver twice the density and 65 percent higher speed at 70 percent less power than the current 28HPM process.

So far there has been a shortage of dates mentioned. We think that it will be the first quarter of 2016, with the hardware becoming available in the second quarter.

Both will still be behind Samsung which is going be 14nm fairly soon.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Was Android Used To Destroy Java?

August 18, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Oracle has added more allegations to its court filing against Google, claiming that it has “destroyed” the market for Java.

The case stems from the use of Java libraries in the original Android operating system design. While these are open source, a clueless judge ruled that the APIs allowing third parties to use the libraries are subject to copyright and it is those libraries which Google is accused of infringing.

As regular readers will know, we have labelled this what in journalistic circles we like to refer to as ‘a heap of old horse shit’ that sets a dangerous precedent for the whole industry. However, Oracle is continuing to glove-slap for satisfaction.

The latest papers filed, which Google is yet to contest the addition of, work best if dictated with a single violin playing somberly in the background.

“Although all of these new Android versions are dependent upon the infringing Java code, applications written for these new Android versions are not compatible with the Java platform, because they do not run on the Java platform or on devices implementing the Java platform,” the filing said.

“Similarly, applications written for the Java platform do not run on the versions of Android made available since October 2010. Accordingly, given the widespread dominance Android has achieved with its continued unauthorized use of the 37 Java API packages over the past few years, Android has now irreversibly destroyed Java’s fundamental value proposition as a potential mobile device operating system by breaking the ‘write once, run anywhere’ principle on which Java was built.

“Google’s increasing domination of the mobile device market with Android, and its continuing failure and refusal to make Android compatible with the Java platform, has destroyed the potential value of a licensed derivative version of the Java platform in the mobile device market.”

Cutting to the chase, what Oracle is basically saying is that Google used them, then spat them out, leaving them unappealing to others, which makes them sound like a fallen woman in a Thomas Hardy novel.

The defense is likely to be that Java is an ageing, exploit-ridden system that has to be regularly patched up, and that forking from it was the best thing to do for customers. But, as ever with these epic battles, it’s going to be down to who has the best lawyers. Or the biggest yacht.

Oracle argues that the meteoric rise of the Android platform, and its market dominance, based on thousands of lines of Java code and yielding billions in ad revenues, means that the Ellison yachting fund is due a top-up.

Google has consistently claimed that, even if the APIs are copyright-able, ‘fair use’ is at play. Twice the court has sided with Google, and twice the decision has been overturned on appeal by old men who probably smoke cigars but think that the World Wide Web gives you cancer.

Courtesy-TheInq