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Does Amazon Plan To Develop Chips

February 20, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Amazon bought a home security camera outfit,  Blink last year. Analysts wondered why, but it turns out the outfit had some rather interesting energy-efficient chips.

Amazon paid about $90 million to acquire the maker of Blink home security cameras late last year. But Amazon did not need to sell another camera, and it was interested in the company’s chip tech.

According to Reuters, the online retailer is exploring chips exclusive to Blink that could lower production costs and lengthen the battery life of other gadgets, starting with Amazon’s Cloud Cam and potentially extend to its family of Echo speakers, one of the people said.

Amazon views its in-house devices as key to deepening its relationship with shoppers. The Cloud Cam and Echo currently need a plug-in power source to operate. Blink, which says its cameras can last two years on a single pair of AA lithium batteries, could change that.

Blink’s owner was Immedia Semiconductor which was started in Massachusetts by old hands from the chip industry. Chief Executive Peter Besen and two of his co-founders came from Sand Video, which had designed chips in the early 2000s that decoded a new and improved video standard.

In 2004 they sold Sand Video to Broadcom and remained there as executives, according to an Immedia website. The group left in 2008 to create Immedia, aiming to design chips for video conferencing, and later targeting laptop makers as potential customers.

Dan Grunberg, a co-founder who left Immedia in 2016, said that plan fell through. Laptop makers were unwilling to pay $1 per chip when cheaper options were on the market. So Immedia changed to cameras.

The Blink security camera, which hit the market in 2016, did not require a power cable like many rival products, making it easier to place around users’ properties. It was cheaper, too, starting at $99. Amazon’s wired Cloud Cam launched at $119.99, while Netgear Inc’s wire-free Arlo cost more still. Netgear said last week it plans to spin off its Arlo business.

As Blink’s sales rose on Amazon’s website, the retailer noticed and realized the camera’s chip was the secret sauce.

Having a proprietary chip design will make it harder for rival retailers to copy Amazon’s devices. And now that Amazon owns its chips, it can go straight to the manufacturers, cutting out middlemen chip designers such as Ambarella which has powered GoPro Inc products. Amazon has a division called Annapurna Labs that makes an unrelated kind of chip, and it was not clear which supplier it uses for chips that primarily process video.

Courtesy-Fud

Google Shipped Nearly 4M Pixel Phones, Analyst Says

February 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

Google won’t reveal the number of Pixel phones it shipped in 2017, but one analyst from the research firm IDC has a number: 3.9 million.

The analyst, IDC Research Director Francisco Jeronimo, said the figure includes both generations of the phone, the Pixel 1 and 2. For comparison, it’s a “tiny portion” compared with the entire 1.5 billion market size for smartphones altogether, Jeronimo said. And it’s just a sliver compared with the 77.3 million iPhones Apple sold in the last quarter alone.

A Google spokeswoman declined to comment.

Though the numbers are small, the good news for Google is that they’re growing. Jeronimo said Google doubled its Pixel sales in the last year.

Google debuted the Pixel, the search giant’s first branded phone, in October 2016, and unveiled the second generation of the device exactly one year later. The company has made a serious investment in hardware. In 2016, Google brought in former Motorola executive Rick Osterloh to lead its hardware division, which includes its Google Home smart speakers, Chromecast streaming devices and Google Wi-Fi routers.

The company also said last year it made a $1 billion investment in hardware maker HTC to bring to Google 2,000 engineers, many of whom worked on the Pixel. And the search giant’s hardware division keeps growing. Last week, Google said it’s folding Nest, the smart device maker, into the Google hardware team, after Nest was spun out into a separate company under Google’s parent Alphabet in 2015.

Will Qualcomm Succumb To Broadcom Higher Bid

February 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Broadcom plans to unveil a new $120 billion offer for Qualcomm to pressure the US rival to the negotiating table.

The move comes ahead of a Qualcomm shareholder meeting scheduled for March 6, when Broadcom is seeking to replace Qualcomm’s board of directors by nominating its own slate for election.

Broadcom is scheduled to meet with its advisers later to finalize an offer that values Qualcomm between $80 and $82 per share, two of the sources said. Broadcom’s previous $70 per share offer consisted of $60 per share in cash and $10 per share in stock.

Broadcom plans to offer Qualcomm a higher-than-usual breakup fee in the event regulators thwart the deal, according to the sources. Typically, such break-up fees equate to approximately three percent to foue percent of a deal’s size.

All this is off the record and Broadcom Chief Executive Officer Hock Tan may decide to significantly change the terms at the last minute.

Broadcom has said it is very confident a deal can be completed within a year of signing an agreement. Qualcomm has said that the regulatory review processes required around the world would take more than 18 months and be fraught with risks. Already Chinese companies have dropped hints to their politicians that they will be in trouble dealing if such a super company is formed.

Qualcomm has told its shareholders that Broadcom’s hostile bid is aimed at acquiring the company on the cheap.

Qualcomm reported quarterly profit and revenues last week that beat analysts’ expectations as demand surged for its chips used in smartphones and cars.

Qualcomm is also trying to clinch an acquisition of its own, proposing to buy NXP Semiconductors NV for $38 billion. The deal was approved by European Union antitrust regulators last month, and only China has yet to approve it. Qualcomm expects the government’s blessing later this month.
The NXP deal still faces an uncertain future as some of its shareholders, including activist hedge fund Elliott Management, have asked Qualcomm to raise its offer. Qualcomm is expected to decide later this month.

Courtesy-Fud

Adobe Confirms Another Zero Day Exploit Impacting Flash

February 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Adobe Has finally issued a warning about a Flash zero-day flash that hackers linked to North Korea have reportedly been exploiting since November. 

Security researchers and South Korean authorities have long warned that cyber attackers based in the North have been tapping into an Adobe Flash zero-day flaw.

They believe that hackers associated with the authoritarian government in Pyongyang are using the zero-day vulnerability to launch attacks on South Korean researchers working on projects about North Korea.

After the serious flaw was uncovered, the South Korean Computer Emergency Response Team (KR-CERT) warned citizens that an “attacker may be able to convince a user to open a Microsoft Office document, web page, or spam mail containing a Flash file”.

Attackers have been embedding a dodgy Flash SWF file into seemingly innocent looking Word and Excel documents in order to infect victims’ computers. But the researchers have slammed Adobe for not doing enough to tackle the flaw.

During this time, Adobe has not offered much insight into the flaw, but experts at KR-CERT have offered recommendations while Adobe works on a patch. They include removing Flash Player completely and using the Firefox web browser.

Simon Choi, a security researcher based in South Korea, has spent much of his time exploring the flaw. He believes that North Korean hackers first started using the flaw in November 2017.

“Flash zero-day vulnerability made by North Korea has been used from mid-November 2017. They attacked South Koreans who mainly do research on North Korea,” he wrote on Twitter yesterday.

Adobe has finally got round to issuing an advisory based on the flaw (CVE-2018-4878), which is rated as critical. The company promised to release a patch on 5 February.  

“Adobe is aware of a report that an exploit for CVE-2018-4878 exists in the wild, and is being used in limited, targeted attacks against Windows users,” it explained.

“These attacks leverage Office documents with embedded malicious Flash content distributed via email.”

Courtesy-TheInq

Apple Watch Sets Record For Shipped Devices

February 8, 2018 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The electronics giant, Apple, has shipped 8 million Apple Watches in the fourth quarter of 2017, Canalys research shows, which the firm said is a record for wearables sold by a company during a quarter. Fitbit was the previous record holder, Canalys told CNET, shipping 6.1 million units in the fourth quarter of 2015.

“Apple has won the wearables game,” said Jason Low, senior analyst at Canalys. The company shipped 18 million Watch devices throughout 2017, a 54 percent increase on 2016.

While Android Wear competitors, like the Samsung Gear S3 and Huawei’s Watch 2, are compatible with both Androids and iPhones, Apple’s Watch devices don’t work with Android phones. “Despite innovative designs, such as the rotating bezels and circular screens employed by other vendors, Apple has pulled far ahead as it continues to focus on its core iPhone user base,” Low added.

Apple’s 2017 wearable success is in large part thanks to its September-released Watch Series 3, which added cellular connection — allowing you to make phone calls from your Watch — to the product range. Canalys said the Watch did particularly well in the US, Australia and Japan, where major carriers sold it over the holiday season.

It’s congruent with what Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a call to investors last week. “It was our best quarter ever for the Apple Watch,” he said, “with over 50 percent growth in revenue and units for the fourth quarter in a row and strong double-digit growth in every geographic segment.”

In terms of volume, Apple’s closest competitor is Chinese company Xiaomi and its inexpensive Mi Bands: In 2017’s third quarter, Apple held 23 percent of the market, compared to Xiaomi’s 21 percent. Fitbit wasn’t far behind though, with a market share of 20 percent.

SAP Goes Deeper Into The Clouds

February 8, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

The maker of expensive management software which is so esoteric few people know what it does has designed to invest $2.4 billion to get more practical about clouds.

SAP has announced a $2.4 billion acquisition of Callidus to help it boost revenues from its cloud platform and CEO Bill McDermott said it would streamline its overall business this year to bolster margins.

The German company is midway through a strategic transition, aiming to force the pace on developing its S/4 HANA cloud platform, which now counts 7,900 customers, and wean customers off software sold under license and installed at offices and factories.

The shift has squeezed margins in recent years because the cloud business model is based on subscriptions which take longer to pay off – in contrast to one-off, up-front software licence payments that was the thrust of its business for decades.

McDermott claimed his cloudy strategy was now bearing fruit after SAP broadly stabilised its operating margins in the fourth quarter at 35.2 percent.

Acquiring U.S. sales software firm Callidus will help SAP become the market leader in front-office software used in sales and marketing, building on its strength in back-office software that is used by companies to maintain control over far-flung multinational operations.

McDermott said SuccessFactors, the human resources application acquired by SAP for $3.4 billion in 2011, would be entirely migrated to the cloud this year.

“This year, the entire company will be on one platform,” McDermott told Reuters after SAP announced 2017 results that met its twice-raised guidance but came in just shy of analyst expectations.

He described Callidus as a “tuck-in” deal that would not move the needle on revenues but that he valued for the company’s market leadership and innovation.

As Callidus was on the cloud, it would help SAP achieve a 2020 goal of having “predictable” revenues of 70 to 75 percent of the total. These grew by one percentage point to 63 percent in 2017.

“We did that to get another cloud revenue stream in the mix,” McDermott said.

SAP reiterated a forecast for 2020 of non-IFRS operating profit of 8.5 to 9.0 billion euros on revenue of 28 to 29 billion euros.

The world economy is “about as good as it gets”, the 56-year-old American said, pushing back against fears that rising trade protectionism could hurt globally diversified businesses like SAP.

All of SAP’s regional businesses are growing at double digits, McDermott said, highlighting “hyper growth” in China.

SAP said it expected total non-IFRS revenue of 24.6 to 25.1 billion euros for 2018, in line with Wall Street Predictions.

But the outlook also highlighted that the company expects margins to increase faster in 2018. Revenue is set to grow by around 5 to 7 percent, excluding currency translation effects, it said while operating profit is poised to increase by 8 to 11 percent.

It forecast 2018 non-IFRS operating profit of 7.3 to 7.5 billion euros, adding that the implementation of IFRS 15, a new accounting rule on revenue recognition, would add 200 million euros to profits.

Courtesy-Fud

Snap Chat User Base Grows, Shares Soar

February 7, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Snap Inc surprised investors with a rebound in user growth for its Snapchat messaging app, showing resilience amid competition with Facebook Inc’s Instagram and sending shares up nearly 30 percent.

Paired with higher-than-expected revenue and improved margins, the user growth signaled loss-making Snap could be turning a corner as it grapples with other social media companies adding Snapchat-like features, analysts said.

Snapchat’s daily active users rose to 187 million in the quarter ended Dec. 31 from 178 million in the third quarter, beating analysts’ average expectation of 184.2 million users, according to financial data and analytics firm FactSet.

Daily active users rose 18 percent from a year earlier, reversing a trend of slowing growth. The figure is closely watched by investors who hope user growth can be translated into advertising revenue.

Chief Executive Evan Spiegel credited improvements to the version of Snapchat that runs on Android phones, saying the retention rate of new Android users rose by nearly 20 percent compared to a year earlier

“Our business really came together towards the end of last year,” Spiegel said in remarks prepared for a conference call with analysts.

Shares traded at $17.73 after the bell, up 26 percent after trading even higher earlier. They had not traded above Snap’s initial public offering price of $17 since July 10.

“This was a monster quarter relative to bearish expectations,” analyst Daniel Ives of GBH Insights said, cautioning however that “competitive headwinds abound with Instagram front and center.”

Nearly a year after Snap’s March IPO, analysts and investors have been watching to see if Snap can boost user growth amid competition from larger rival Instagram, which has added photo filters and other Snapchat-mimicking features.

To make its app more friendly to users and advertisers, Snap launched a redesigned app in November, splitting “friends” from content feeds.

The Venice, California-based company posted a net loss of $350 million, or 28 cents per share, compared to a loss of $170 million, or 20 cents per share, a year earlier. It was Snap’s fourth quarterly earnings as a public company.

 

The Demand For iPhone Replacement Batteries Is Strong

February 7, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

Apple Inc has seen “strong demand” for replacement iPhone batteries and may offer rebates for phone owners who paid full price for new batteries, the company said in a Feb. 2 letter to U.S. lawmakers.

Apple confirmed in December that software to deal with aging batteries in iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE models could slow down performance. The company apologized and lowered the price of battery replacements for affected models from $79 to $29.

In the letter released Tuesday, amid nagging allegations that it slowed down phones with older batteries as a way to push people into buying new phones, the company said it was considering issuing rebates to consumers who paid full price for replacement batteries.

The letter, released by the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, also said Apple provided a phone-slowing software update in January 2017 but did not disclose it until a month later.

In the letter, Apple said it had known about battery problems caused by a manufacturing defect as early as fall 2016.

Senator John Thune, a Republican who chairs the committee, said in a statement that “consumers rely on clear and transparent disclosures from manufacturers to understand why their device may experience performance changes.”

Thune said that in discussions with the committee “Apple has acknowledged that its initial disclosures came up short. Apple has also promised the committee some follow-up information, including an answer about additional steps it may take to address customers who purchased a new battery at full price.”

Apple did not immediately comment on Thune’s statement. The company also sent a letter in response to Representative Greg Walden, a Republican who chairs the Committee on Energy and Commerce in the U.S. House of Representatives. Apple told the committee that it would consider extending its reduced-cost battery replacement program beyond 2018 if it can’t find a way to prevent sudden shutdowns in older iPhones without throttling processor speeds.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission said they were investigating whether Apple violated securities laws concerning its disclosures that it slowed older iPhones with flagging batteries, Bloomberg reported.

In a statement last week, Apple said it had “received questions from some government agencies” and was duly responding to them. The company had “never, and would never, do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades,” the statement said.

Consumers so far have filed some 50 proposed class action lawsuits over Apple’s latest iPhone software update, which they allege caused unexpected shutdowns and hampered the performance of iPhone models of the SE, 6 and 7 lines.

Government agencies in countries ranging from Brazil to France and Italy to South Korea are also investigating Apple following complaints.

Phone Makers To Introduce Diamon Screens Next Year

February 6, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

If dropping your smartphone and ruining the screen is your worst device nightmare, you’re not alone.

Phone makers use chemically strengthened Gorilla Glass, shatterproof coatings and sometimes sapphire crystal toppers to help ward off cracks should your phone take a tumble. Now, one company says it’s working with a phone maker to test the first phone screen made with diamond glass.

You just have to wait until 2019.

Screen breakage is a common concern. Akhan’s diamond glass uses a nanocrystal pattern that randomly arranges the crystals, instead of lining them up along their crystal planes — that arrangement discourages deep cracks from forming and damaging the materials underneath.

Made with lab-grown diamonds, Akhan Semiconductor’s Miraj Diamond Glass promises to be stronger than other materials used to cover the phone’s fragile electronic display. It can be applied in conjunction with other materials, like Gorilla Glass, as a top layer.

When I first learned about diamond glass last year, Adam Khan, Akhan’s CEO, promised that we’d see it in its first device by the end of 2017. We didn’t.

Now, Khan says that the promising new technology is being actively tested with device makers, the identities of which Khan isn’t ready to reveal. Akhan’s partners are stress-testing the diamond glass’ strength, and making sure the surface transmits electrical signals well, so your finger can navigate the touchscreen without a glitch.

Before diamond glass can come to a phone, the partners need to work out the details of production and manufacturing using a new material like diamond. They need to make sure that the diamond glass coating gets applied evenly on top of the cover material, which could be Gorilla Glass or a proprietary make.

They’re also working to minimize the diamond glass’ reflectance, which means how much light it bounces back at the user. Phone screens with higher reflectance are harder to read because you’re interfering with glare. That prompts you to turn up the brightness to combat the glare, which then drains the phone’s battery faster.

While diamond glass could come to any device with a screen, Khan says his company’s only working with one vendor in each category, starting with a single phone and single aftermarket screen protector. If all goes well, it could expand into fitness bands and beyond.

2019 is a long time to wait for a phone that wants to sooth your fears of shattered glass. Don’t expect it to be cheap, either. The process of making and applying lab-grown diamond to a phone’s cover material comes at a cost. Expect it to debut on a pricier handset that promises a “shatterproof” screen, similar to the Motorola Moto Z2 Force, which I dropped 28 times to see if its screen would crack.

Apple Takes Smartphone Lead Away From Samsung

February 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

Apple has leaped past Samsung as the world’s leading shipper of smartphones, according to two industry reports.

Though IDC and IHS Markit had differing numbers for the fourth quarter of 2017, the result was the same: Apple handsets surpassed Samsung in shipments for only the second time in history.

“The new models from Apple played a key role in moving Apple ahead of Samsung in Q4,” said Ryan Reith, vice president for IDC’s Mobile Device Tracker report.

According to Apple’s own numbers, it’s selling about 10 iPhone per second — most of which are iPhone X’s.

Apple yesterday announced quarterly revenue of $88.3 billion, an increase of 13% year-over-year — an all-time record. International sales accounted for 65 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

Apple once before surpassed Samsung in handset shipments – in the fourth quarter of 2016. But that was considered an anomaly by analysts at the time.

“Apple had a good holiday quarter [in 2016], but it was also the same time Samsung was going through that whole issue with the Note 7 and the battery issue. So Samsung was having its own issues, while Apple was doing well,” Reith said. “There was no anomaly this quarter. There’s no question [Apple is] gaining traction.”

Apple shipments, Reith said, are driven by holiday sales because their new product release cycle comes just prior to that season.

“There’s a good chance they could see a soft first half of 2018. That’s not because they’re doing anything wrong,” Reith said. “That’s mainly because of the way the fanbase follows their new product. They rush out to buy the new product and then it sort of tapers off a little bit as you get closer to the September announcement for new products.”

While Apple may have passed Samsung, overall smartphone shipments declined 6.3% in the fourth quarter of 2017, and shipments for the whole year decreased just under 1% due to higher-priced “ultra-high-end flagship” models, IDC said.

IHS Markit research saw the market slightly different, with shipments dipping a bit less  (4.5%) from Q3 to Q4 while increasing 3.5% for the year.

Leading the market in the fourth quarter, Apple shipped 77.3 million smartphones, 1.2% fewer than in 2016, according to IHS. Samsung shipped 74.3 million units, down  2.2%.

Apple accounted for 20% of all smartphones shipped in the fourth quarter. Samsung followed at 19%, according to IHS.

IDC also pegged Apple’s shipments at 77.3 million in Q4, but it saw that as a 1.3% decrease year-over-year.

Although demand for the new higher priced iPhone X may not have been as strong as many expected, the overall iPhone lineup appealed to a wider range of consumers in both emerging and developed markets, IDC said. Apple finished second for the full year in 2017 shipping 215.8 million units, up 0.2% from the 215.4 million units shipped in 2016.

“Apple continues to prove that having numerous models at various price points bodes well for bringing smartphone owners to iOS,” IDC said.

Sprint Showing Signs Of Improvement, Beats Earnings Estimate

February 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

Sprint Corp reported quarterly revenue on Friday that beat analyst projections, as the No. 4 U.S. wireless carrier raised its free cash flow outlook for the 2017 fiscal year.

Shares rose 3.7 percent to $5.29 in early trading, a day after sliding 5.7 percent to their lowest in a year and a half.

The company has sought to strengthen its balance sheet by cutting costs and mortgaging a portion of its airwaves and equipment, but industry analysts have raised concerns about how it can adequately fund network improvements after merger talks with rival T-Mobile US Inc ended last year.

Sprint now expects $2.5 billion to $2.7 billion in operating income, up from its previous estimate of $2.1 billion to $2.5 billion. It expects adjusted free cash flow of $500 million to $700 million, compared to previous estimates of breaking even.

“We think recent weakness in shares is reflective of lowered investor expectations, while in-line to slightly better financial results could provide some near-term relief,” said Matthew Niknam, an analyst at Deutsche Bank, in a research note.

On the post-earnings conference call, Sprint Chief Executive Officer Marcelo Claure said Sprint would launch a mobile 5G network in the United States by the first half of 2019.

The company is also looking for ways to reduce the number of executives at the top, he said. Sprint cut costs by about $260 million in the quarter, excluding $100 million of hurricane-related charges.

Claure said “becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of (SoftBank Group Corp) could be a possibility” but that the decision would be up to SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son. Japan’s SoftBank owns a majority of Sprint and has been increasing its stake.

For the quarter, Sprint reported net additions of 184,000 phone subscribers who pay a monthly bill, compared to additions of 368,000 a year earlier.

Net operating revenue in the third quarter ended Dec. 31 was $8.24 billion, down from $8.55 billion a year earlier.

 

Will Apple Drop The iPhone X In The Summer

January 31, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

It appears that Apple is starting to doubt that its policy of charging its users double for a product which was pretty much the same as an earlier model has proved to be a disaster and it is set to walk away from the iPhone X.

That is the news from the analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who normally has a good feel for the doings of Apple. He recently issued a new investor note claiming that Apple’s 2018 lineup will feature two brand new versions of the iPhone.

One model is said to feature a 6.5-inch OLED display while the second will reportedly boast a 6.1-inch LCD display. Naturally, both devices will feature edge to edge displays and will use Face ID for user authentication as opposed to Touch ID.

However, he warned that Apple might opt to discontinue the current iPhone X entirely if sales remain underwhelming. In fact, he is pretty sure that the iPhone X will be ‘end of life’ in the summer of 2018, instead of being retained as a lower-cost option in the following year.

If Kuo’s projection pans out, this will represent a marked shift in Apple’s iPhone sales strategy. Going back nearly a decade, Apple has always positioned older iPhone models around as a wallet-friendly alternative for users who weren’t keen on paying a premium for Apple’s flagship. This means that the 6.1-inch iPhone with an edgeless LCD will become the more affordable version of the current iPhone X. However, it looks like this will not be the case.

The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus will stick around for at least another generation too.

Courtesy-Fud

Researchers Find Dark Caracal Malware Targeting Android Devices

January 29, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

Researchers have uncovered a new malware espionage campaign that has allegedly turned thousands of Android phones into spying machines.

Researchers at mobile security firm Lookout worked with digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on the investigation, which uncovered a group of hackers they christened Dark Caracal (‘a secretive cat native to Lebanon’, according to Wikipedia).

While Lookout has been tracking mobile security events worldwide since 2007, this is one of the most prolific it has seen to-date. The platform appears to be run from the offices of Lebanon’s General Security Directorate (GSD) in Beirut.

Although Dark Caracal has targeted desktop, it prioritises mobile devices as the attack vector. It is one of the first advanced persistent threat (APT) actors to work with mobile on a global scale. Lookout is aware of “hundreds of gigabytes of exfiltrated data, in 21+ countries, across thousands of victims”.

Most of the victims are in the Middle East and Europe, although others have been tracked in North America, Asia and Africa.

Dark Caracal has mostly targeted “individuals and entities that a nation state might typically attack, including governments, military targets, utilities, financial institutions, manufacturing companies, and defense contractors”, Lookout claims.

The attackers used malware, mostly installed through phishing techniques, to take control of Android smartphones and use them to monitor victims while also stealing data.

Lookout found Dark Caracal after the EFF released its Operation Manual (another cat) report, which highlighted a campaign targeting individuals who spoke out against Nursultan Nazarbayev, the President of Kazakhstan. They were able to link the group back to the GSD because Dark Caracal had failed to properly secure its own command and control servers.

“Looking at the servers, who had registered it when, in conjunction with being able to identify the stolen content of victims: That gave us a pretty good indication of how long they had been operating,” Michael Flossman, Lookout’s lead security researcher, told Reuters in an interview. However, they cannot say for certain whether their work definitively links the GSD to Caracal, or if it is the work of a rogue employee.

Major General Abbas Ibrahim, director general of the GSD, said ahead of its publication that he could not comment on the report without seeing its contents.

Courtesy-TheInq

Samsung To Launch Galaxy S9 On February 25th

January 26, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung has officially chosen Feb. 25 as the date it will launch its next big phone, all but confirmed to be called the Galaxy S9.

We already knew the global smartphone titan would drop the device at Mobile World Congress — better known by its initials, MWC — next month in Barcelona, the world’s largest show for all things mobile. What we didn’t have was a launch date. If you’re keeping tabs, this Unpacked event shares the same time and weekday as Samsung’s past phone unveilings at MWC: the Sunday night before the show officially kicks off.

Samsung’s invitation shows a large purple “9” on a black background, highlighting the words “The camera. Reimagined.” The invitation doesn’t offer much in the way of hints, but it does give credence to rumors that the S9 will improve its camera performance. One or both of the S9 phones are expected to use a dual-camera setup, the second to do so after 2017’s Galaxy Note 8.

MWC, which runs from Feb. 26 to March 1, is a crucial opportunity for brands to showcase their new phones for 2018, and Samsung will be its most important anchor by far. While Samsung has a long history of introducing Galaxy devices at MWC, it’s also unwrapped them at standalone events later in March. Last year’s absent Galaxy S8 was the elephant in the room.

Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus rumors have been mounting, painting a picture of a large-screen, slim-bezel phone with the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor and a dual-camera setup (at least the larger S9 Plus). Rumors also include Samsung’s own version of Apple’s Face ID secure face unlocking, and an in-screen fingerprint reader.

Whatever the Galaxy S9 phones bring will do battle against the iPhone X, 8 Plus and 8 handsets in 2018. Although we likely won’t see the S9s go on sale until March, they’ll spend more than half the year as major Android contenders to Apple’s top phones, especially if they hit the market before other Android rivals.

For example, LG heavily hinted that it may wait until after MWC to introduce its next top-tier phone, expected to be called the LG G7, and it’s suggested that it will debut an LG V30 variant instead. Huawei is also rumored to forgo an MWC phone launch. The Nokia brand, which has cryptically promised something “awesome” for the mobile show, could produce a challenger as well, though rumors are sparse.

The rumors are sure to pile up in the next month as we approach Unpacked. And of course, we’ll bring you all the details as we cover the event live from Barcelona.

Will 200nm Wafer Be A Supply Issue In 2018

January 25, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

A lack of foresight by semiconductor fabrication companies means they are holding to ransom their customers because tools and wafers are tight.

Malcolm Penn, at Future Horizons, and who used to play drums in the 60s group band Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames (pictured – Fame), said that an analysis of the market in 2016 – for which full figures are now available – showed that substrate suppliers were reluctant to add new capacities, despite the upturn in the worldwide economy that they failed, Fudzilla thinks, deliberately, didn’t see. Substrate manufacturers have something of a grip on firms that make semiconductor wafers, so it is a bit of a domino effect.

Chips are important for the immediate and maybe the long-term future to all of us, worldwide. Penn said at the conference in London this week that customers are “now paying a premium” just to get supplies of the wafers.

As Fudzilla reported earlier, semiconductor companies don’t seem to have a vision and just scrabble around, trying to make ends meet.

China, Penn claimed, is a wild card, as always.

CapEx forecast by region is a revelation, according to Future Horizons. 

Future Horizon estimates that in 2018, the biggest semi players will be China, Europe, Japan, Korea, the USA, SEA/ROW and, last, Taiwan. Korean firm Samsung will spend $14 billion this year, after spending $26 billion last year.

EUV lithography is almost upon us, but, perhaps more worryingly, this year, 200mm capacity will be very tight. Suppliers of tools and the fabs for 200mm are playing, Fudzilla thinks, a capacity game in order to up profits for themselves.  So, nothing changes, really. 

Courtesy-Fud

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