Subscribe to:

Subscribe to :: TheGuruReview.net ::

AT&T Urged To Sever Ties With Huawei Over National Security

January 17, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

U.S. lawmakers are pushing AT&T Inc, the No. 2 wireless carrier, to sever commercial ties to Chinese phone maker Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and oppose plans by telecom operator China Mobile Ltd to enter the U.S. market because of national security concerns, two congressional aides said.

The warning comes after the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump took a harder line on policies initiated by his predecessor Barack Obama on issues ranging from Beijing’s role in restraining North Korea to Chinese efforts to acquire U.S. strategic industries.

Earlier this month, AT&T was forced to scrap a plan to offer its customers Huawei handsets after some members of Congress lobbied against the idea with federal regulators, sources told Reuters.

The U.S. government has also blocked a string of Chinese acquisitions over national security concerns, including Ant Financial’s proposed purchase of U.S. money transfer company MoneyGram International Inc.

The lawmakers are also advising U.S. firms that if they have ties to Huawei or China Mobile, it could hamper their ability to do business with the U.S. government, one aide said, requesting anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

One of the commercial ties senators and House members want AT&T to cut is its collaboration with Huawei over standards for the high-speed next-generation 5G network, the aides said. Another is the use of Huawei handsets by AT&T’s discount subsidiary Cricket, the aides said.

 Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Tuesday he did not know anything about the details of the commercial cooperation cases, but added China hopes other countries would provide a fair operating environment for Chinese firms.

“We hope that China and the United States can work hard together to maintain the healthy and stable development of trade and business ties. This accords with the joint interests of both,” Lu told a daily news briefing in Beijing.

China Mobile, the world’s biggest mobile phone operator, did not respond to requests for comment.

AT&T declined to comment but said that it had made no decisions on 5G suppliers.

U.S. lawmakers who have in the past expressed concerns about the prospect of the deal between AT&T and Huawei either declined to comment or were not immediately available.

Huawei declined to comment, but earlier this week told Reuters that it sells its equipment through more than 45 of the world’s top 50 carriers and puts the privacy and security of its customers as its top priority.

National security experts fear that any data from a Huawei device, for example about the location of the phone’s user, would be available to Chinese government intelligence services.

In 2012, Huawei and ZTE Corp were the subject of a U.S. investigation into whether their equipment provided an opportunity for foreign espionage and threatened critical U.S. infrastructure – a link that Huawei has consistently denied.

“The next wave of wireless communication has enormous economic and national security implications. China’s participation in setting the standards and selling the equipment raises many national security issues that demand strict and prompt attention,” said Michael Wessel, a member of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, which was set up by Congress.

 U.S. lawmakers do not want China Mobile to be given a license to do business in the United States, the congressional aides said. China Mobile applied for the license in 2011, and the application is pending before the Federal Communications Commission.

Huawei and Chinese telecom firms have long struggled to gain a toehold in the U.S. market, partly because of U.S. government pressure on potential U.S. partners.

Two Republican lawmakers, Representatives Michael Conaway and Liz Cheney, introduced a bill this week that bars the U.S. government from using or contracting with Huawei or ZTE Corp, a Chinese telecommunications and equipment and systems company.

Google Pulls Nearly 60 Apps With Pornographic Malware

January 16, 2018 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Google yanked nearly 60 apps that contained hidden pornographic malware from its Play Store after a security research company found the code. Many of the games were aimed at kids.

Researchers at Check Point Software Technologies reported the malware last week. Dubbed AdultSwine, the malware displayed pornographic images that looked like ads but were designed to prompt users to download fake security software. The users were then encouraged to click on other links they would have to pay for.

Google moved immediately to kick the apps off of Google Play.

“We’ve removed the apps from Play, disabled the developers’ accounts, and will continue to show strong warnings to anyone that has installed them,” Google said in an emailed statement. “We appreciate Check Point’s work to help keep users safe.” Google added that the issue doesn’t exploit vulnerabilities in its Android security, and that users’ devices weren’t affected.

The affected apps have so far been downloaded between 3 million and 7 million times, the researchers said, citing Google Play data.

Along with encouraging users to download scareware and pay for premium services, AdultSwine also stole credentials, according to Check Point.

It did this by contacting the developers’ Command and Control server once the app was downloaded, sending data about the infected device and receiving instructions on what to do next. The instructions include displaying the bogus ads, scaring users to install fake security apps and charging victims for services they didn’t request or receive.

It might, for example, show an ad saying “the user is entitled to win an iPhone by simply answering four short questions,” Check Point explained. “Should the user answer them, the malicious code informs the user that he has been successful, and asks him to enter his phone number to receive the prize. Once entered, the malicious code then uses this number to register to premium services.

Affected apps include Five Nights Survival Craft, with between 1 million and 5 million downloads, and Mcqueen Car Racing Game, which has been downloaded at least 500,000 times. A full list of apps can be found here.

South Korea To Ban Crytocurrency Trading

January 12, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

South Korea’s government has announced it will ban cryptocurrency trading, sending bitcoin prices plummeting and throwing the virtual coin market into turmoil as the nation’s police and tax authorities raided local exchanges on alleged tax evasion.

The clampdown in South Korea, a crucial source of global demand for cryptocurrency, came as policymakers around the world struggled to regulate an asset whose value has skyrocketed over the last year.

Justice minister Park Sang-ki said the government was preparing a bill to ban trading of the virtual currency on domestic exchanges.

“There are great concerns regarding virtual currencies and the justice ministry is basically preparing a bill to ban cryptocurrency trading through exchanges,” Park told a news conference, according to the ministry’s press office.

After the market’s sharp reaction to the announcement, the nation’s Presidential office hours later said a ban on the country’s virtual coin exchanges had not yet been finalized while it was one of the measures being considered.

A press official at the justice ministry said the proposed ban on cryptocurrency trading was announced after “enough discussion” with other government agencies, including the nation’s finance ministry and financial regulators.

Once a bill is drafted, legislation for an outright ban of virtual coin trading will require a majority vote of the total 297 members of the National Assembly, a process that could take months or even years.

The government’s tough stance triggered a selloff of the cryptocurrency on both local and offshore exchanges.

The local price of bitcoin plunged as much as 21 percent in midday trade to 18.3 million won (12,730.35 pounds) after the minister’s comments. It still trades at around a 30 percent premium compared to other countries.

Bitcoin BTC=BTSP was down more than 10 percent on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp at $13,199, after earlier dropping as low as $13,120, its weakest since Jan. 2.

 South Korea’s cryptocurrency-related shares were also hammered. Vidente and Omnitel, which are stakeholders of Bithumb, skidded by the daily trading limit of 30 percent each.

Once enforced, South Korea’s ban “will make trading difficult here, but not impossible,” said Mun Chong-hyun, chief analyst at EST Security.

“Keen traders, especially hackers, will find it tough to cash out their gains from virtual coin investments in Korea but they can go overseas, for example Japan,” Mun said.

Park Nok-sun, a cryptocurrency analyst at NH Investment & Securities, said the herd behaviour in South Korea’s virtual coin market has raised concerns.

Indeed, bitcoin’s BTC=BTSP 1,500 percent surge last year has stoked huge demand for cryptocurency in South Korea, drawing college students to housewives and sparking worries of a gambling addiction.

“Some officials are pushing for stronger and stronger regulations because they only see more (investors) jumping in, not out,” Park said.

By Thursday afternoon, the Justice Ministry’s announcement had prompted more than 55,000 South Koreans to join a petition asking the presidential Blue House to halt the crackdown on the virtual currency, making the Blue House website intermittently unavailable due to heavy traffic, the website showed.

nVidia Joins Forces With VW and Uber

January 12, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

GPU maker Nvidia has decided it needs more friends in the car industry and is teaming up with the super popular VW and Uber.

For those who came in late, VW was Hitler’s favourite car company which got into hot water when it was discovered to be lying to various authorities over diesel emissions in its cars. Uber is  still reeling from the side effects of intense sexual harassment investigations, sketchy global business practices, unhappy drivers, discrimination within the company ranks, and sexist behavior within its board. 

Nvidia already has partnerships in the industry with companies such as carmaker Tesla and China’s Baidu, makes computer graphics chips and has been expanding into technology for self-driving cars.

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang told the assembled throngs at the CES technology conference in Las Vegas that Uber’s self-driving car fleet was using its technology to help its autonomous cars perceive the world and make split-second decisions.

Uber has been using Nvidia’s GPU computing technology since its first test fleet of Volvo SC90 SUVs were deployed in 2016 in Pittsburgh and Phoenix.

Uber’s autonomous driving program has been shaken this year by a lawsuit filed in San Francisco by rival Waymo alleging trade secret theft.

Nvidia said development of the Uber self-driving program had, nevertheless, gained steam with one million autonomous miles being driven in just the past 100 days.

With Volkswagen, Nvidia said it was infusing its artificial intelligence technology into the German automakers’ future lineup, using its new Drive IX platform. The technology will enable so-called “intelligent co-pilot” capabilities based on processing sensor data inside and outside the car.

So far, 320 companies involved in self-driving cars – whether software developers, automakers and their suppliers, sensor and mapping companies – are using Nvidia Drive, formerly branded as the Drive PX2, the company said.

Huang added that Baidu and German auto supplier ZF Friedrichshafen had selected Nvidia Drive for their AV computing platform development in China.

Nvidia added that its first Xavier processors would be delivered to customers this quarter. The system on a chip delivers 30 trillion operations per second using 30 watts of power.

Nvidia will collaborate with Silicon Valley startup Aurora – co-founded by the former head of Google’s autonomous program, Chris Urmson – to build a new self-driving hardware platform using the Xavier processor, Huang said.

Courtesy-Fud

Will Intel Going To Court Over The “Meltdown” And “Spectre” Fiasco

January 12, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel is facing multiple class-action lawsuits over the ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ vulnerabilities affecting all of its x64-64x processors from the last decade.

The chip design flaws, which affect everything from iOS and macOS to Linux and Windows, could lead to hackers extracting important protected information such as passwords and encryption keys from programmes and operating systems if exploited.

Although reports claim the flaws have not yet been exploited, The Guardian reports that Intel has, perhaps unsurprisingly, quickly been whacked by a handful of class-action lawsuits, with three separate suits having been filed by plaintiffs in California, Oregon and Indiana.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensation from the chip giant, citing the security vulnerability as well as Intel’s failure to disclose it in a timely fashion. 

They also cite the alleged computer slowdown that will be caused by the fixes needed to address the security concerns, although Intel disputes that this will be the case.

“Intel continues to believe that the performance impact of these updates is highly workload-dependent and, for the average computer user, should not be significant and will be mitigated over time,” it said in a statement earlier this week.

“While on some discrete workloads the performance impact from the software updates may initially be higher, additional post-deployment identification, testing and improvement of the software updates should mitigate that impact.”

Lawyer Bill Doyle of Doyle APC, who is representing plaintiffs Steven Garcia and Anthony Stachowiak who filed suit in the northern district of California, said: “The security vulnerability revealed by these reports suggests that this may be one of the largest security flaws ever facing the American public.

“It is imperative that Intel acts swiftly to fix the problem and ensure consumers are fully compensated for all losses suffered as a result of their actions.”

More lawsuits are expected to follow, and it’s expected that most big cloud service providers, such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft, will likely seek some form of compensation from Intel.

Courtesy-TheInq

Intel Cloud Customers Ready To Flee Over Security Concerns

January 11, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Samsung Starts Mass Producing 10nm DDR4

January 11, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Samsung confirmed that it has started mass production of second generation 10-nanometer class, 8-gigabit (Gb) DDR4 DRAM.

Samsung claims that the new 8Gb DDR4 will offer the highest performance and energy efficiency for a DRAM chip.

Samsung Electronics’ president of Memory Business, Gyoyoung Jin, said in a statement: “By developing innovative technologies in DRAM circuit design and process, we have broken through what has been a major barrier for DRAM scalability. Through a rapid ramp-up of the second-generation 10nm-class DRAM, we will expand our overall 10nm-class DRAM production more aggressively, in order to accommodate strong market demand and continue to strengthen our business competitiveness.”

The fresh 10nm-class 8Gb DDR4 claims to be not only 30 percent more productive over the firm’s first-generation 10nm-class 8Gb DDR4, but boasts 10 percent better performance levels and 15 percent better energy efficiency. This, Samsung claims, is thanks to the use of an advanced, proprietary circuit design technology.

“The new [chip] can operate at 3,600 megabits per second (Mbps) per pin, compared to 3,200 Mbps of the company’s 1x-nm 8Gb DDR4”, the company said.

“To enable these achievements, [we have] applied new technologies, without the use of an EUV process. The innovation here includes use of a high-sensitivity cell data sensing system and a progressive ‘air spacer’ scheme.”

This newly devised data sensing system can be found in the cells of the new DRAM chip enabling “a more accurate determination” of the data stored in each cell, which apparently leads to a considerable increase in the level of circuit integration and manufacturing productivity.

The new 10nm class DRAM uses an air spacer that has been placed around its bit lines to decrease parasitic capacitance.

Samsung said that using the air spacer facilitates not only a higher level of scaling, but also rapid cell operation, advances that the firm plans to use in future chip developments and to accelerate faster introductions of next-generation DRAM chips and systems, including DDR5, HBM3, LPDDR5 and GDDR6.

These would be used in enterprise servers, mobile devices, supercomputers, HPC systems and high speed graphics cards, the firm said.

Courtesy-Fud

Intel’s Mobileye Software Going In Millions Of Vehicles

January 10, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

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

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

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

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

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

Intel Said To Release Patch This Week For Security Flaw

January 10, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel has developed and is rapidly issuing updates for all types of Intel-based computer systems — including personal computers and servers — that render those systems immune to the”Spectre” and “Meltdown.”

Intel paid hundreds of millions of dollars to recall its Pentium processors after the 1994 discovery of the “FDIV bug” that revealed rare but real calculation errors. Meltdown and Spectre are proving damaging to Intel’s brand, sending the company’s stock down more than 5 percent.

This time though Chipzilla and its chums claim to have made significant progress in deploying updates as both software patches and firmware updates. Besides when you are talking 15 years of chips being affected there was never going to be any way Intel would have done a recall.

Intel has already issued updates for the majority of processor products introduced within the past five years. By the end of next week, Intel expects to have issued updates for more than 90 percent of processor products introduced within the past five years. Also, many operating system vendors, public cloud service providers, device manufacturers and others have indicated that they have already updated their products and services

The question is whether this update will transform PCs into shadows of their former selves and make them as slow as asthmatic ants with a heavy load of shopping

Intel continues to believe that the performance impact of these updates is highly workload-dependent and, for the average computer user, should not be significant and will be mitigated over time. While on some discrete workloads the performance impact from the software updates may initially be higher, additional post-deployment identification, testing and improvement of the software updates should mitigate that effect.

Others are not so certain and want to see some benchmarks before declaring Intel safe. Intel said it continues to work with its partners and others to address these issues, and Intel appreciates their support and assistance. Intel encourages computer users worldwide to use the automatic update functions of their operating systems and other computer software to ensure their systems are up-to-date.

System updates are made available by system manufacturers, operating system providers and others.

Initially, AMD told users its chips were not subject to the same sort of attacks as Intel’s chips, but the company has since updated its stance to say its chips are only affected by some of the announced hacks, and these could be fixed with a simple software update. Engineers at Google originally detected the flaw and wrote in a blog post it could affect Intel, AMD, and ARM chips.  Apple has confirmed all its Mac systems and iOS devices are affected.

The Fruity cargo-cult said it had released mitigations to defend against Meltdown in iOS 11.2, macOS 10.13.2, and tvOS 11.2. It will release mitigations in Safari to defend against the Spectre bug “in the coming days.”

The Tame Apple Press has been doing its best to claim that Apple is less affected than anyone else because no one had been hacked using the exploit.  One magazine even wrote the whole thing off as just a “scare.”

Courtesy-Fud

Is Google Hiding Money In Bermuda

January 8, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Tech leviathan Google is up to its tax tricks again.

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

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

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

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

Whatever that means.

Courtesy-Fud

With Digital Downloads Rising, Is It Game Over For Video Game Retailers

January 8, 2018 by  
Filed under Gaming

2017 ended up as a solid year for games retailers.

It got hairy at times. Earlier in the year, GAME issued a profit warning and its share price plunged to a worrying level – before a surprise intervention from Sports Direct arrested the slide (the sports retailer bought up a chunk of GAME’s shares).

Over in the US, GameStop’s profit was hit by lagging Xbox One sales – results that would have been worse had it not been for the sale of Kongregate, which added $7.3m to its bottom line.

The first half of 2017 was concerning, and it was following a disappointing Christmas 2016, which suffered significantly from the under-performance of key titles, in particular Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.

Then things took a turn for the better.

Nintendo Switch was the hero the market needed. Strong launch sales were set back by stock shortages, but that was quickly rectified in time for Christmas. Switch has been a dream for the High Street. The lack of space on the machine’s internal hard-drive means that it has become a very physical-friendly product (IHS estimate that only 20% of Switch game sales are digital), and the variety of accessories has created a plethora of add-on products for retailers to sell.

Then came Call of Duty: WWII, which is on track to be the most successful Call of Duty of the generation.

Those two, combined with continued strong sales of PS4 hardware and software, meant that 2017 was a solid year for the market. In the UK, where physical sales had been declining, overall sales of physical software was flat compared with the year before.

Furthermore, 2017 saw an increase in downloading across the board. This was particularly notable in the AAA console space, where anecdotal reports stated that between 30 – 45% of AAA game sales were now being made via Xbox Live and PSN.

This trend is only likely to accelerate. We are already seeing publishers behave more aggressively in pushing digital retailers alongside physical ones, and we can expect that to increase.

2018 is also likely to see a decline in PS4 sales. We are now into the fourth year of PS4 and Xbox One, and Xbox (physical) sales have already begun to slide. PS4 will likely follow as this generation starts to show its age.

Talk of PS5 and Xbox ‘Two’ is already beginning to surface – with some developers already working on next generation specs – but even the most optimistic of analysts do not expect to see anything before late 2019.

So with digital adoption accelerating, the current generation showing its age and with no major hardware launches on the horizon, 2018 can look bleak for the physical retail market.

It is worth observing that physical games retailers are not oblivious to the market trends. Most major retailers have been transitioning their business models and diversifying, whether that is through events, esports, digital, content, accessories, technology and so on.

Therefore, retailers like GAME and GameStop don’t necessarily need to sell as many games or consoles in 2018 as they did in 2017 to enjoy a strong year.

However, physical game sales remain the bedrock of these businesses, and any significant downturn will have a negative effect. GAME, for one, is aware of this, which is why it has repeatedly told its shareholders of its short store leases, allowing the firm to reduce its store base rapidly if needed.

So what can games retailers bank on in 2018 to keep sales buoyant?

The most obvious product is Nintendo Switch.

The console will be heading into its second year, where sales will likely accelerate (Nintendo anticipates 20 million shipments over its 2018/2019 financial year, bringing the total to more than 36 million consoles in the market by April 2019). This creates a big audience for retailers to capitalise on.

However, there are some lingering concerns. Last year’s sales performance was boosted, globally, but Zelda, Mario Kart 8, Splatoon 2 and Super Mario Odyssey. These were the four major system sellers for the console during the year. 2018 currently lacks a killer app for Switch (with the exception of Pokémon, which only has a tentative 2018 date and may arrive in 2019). It’s common for Nintendo to limit the window between announcing a product and releasing it, and the firm is planning one of its ‘Direct’ video presentations later this month. Yet, as it stands, there is uncertainty over what software will drive Switch sales during the first part of the year.

The other key product is Red Dead Redemption 2. This is a major launch for Spring 2018 and may well be the biggest game of the year. The last Red Dead Redemption (2010) sold 15 million units globally, yet that was in an age before GTA V. GTA V has shifted more than 86 million games worldwide (by comparison, GTA IV – which came out in 2008 – sold around 30 million). It’s very unlikely Red Dead Redemption 2 will get close to GTA V’s massive figure, but even half-way will be a major, major boost to the market, and anticipation for Rockstar’s next open world epic is enormous.

Of course, there will likely be a strong download element to Red Dead this time around – especially as Rockstar has spent the last five years training its audience to download things through its Grand Theft Auto Online mode (a similar phenomena happened last year around Destiny 2, which performed very strongly over Xbox Live and PSN).

It’s also worth noting that the Red Dead and Rockstar names alone do not guarantee success. As we have seen with Star Wars: Battlefront II and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, if gamers are unhappy for whatever reason, they will vote with their wallets irrespective of the brand name attached to the product. Red Dead Redemption 2 has the ingredients to be a major hit, but nothing is certain in this business.

Beyond Nintendo Switch and Red Dead Redemption 2, Ubisoft’s big March game is Far Cry 5, Xbox has a slightly stronger slate with Crackdown 3 and Sea of Thieves, and Sony is expected to launch Spider-Man and God of War. Yet little is known about the back half of the year at this stage. Companies such as Take-Two, Ubisoft and Square Enix have teased some special projects for the year, but what they are remains a mystery.

As a result, 2018 will likely remain a difficult year for games retailers. GAME and GameStop’s new growth areas are showing signs of life, and both companies are on solid financial footing. Yet any significant downturn in physical game sales will take a heavy toll, and the market will be relying – once again – on just a handful of products to see them through.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Were Physical Games Sales Flat In The UK In 2017

January 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Gaming

23.7 million physical video games were sold in the UK during 2017, the latest data from GfK reveals.

It is pretty much identical to last year’s number of 23.8m – a decline of 0.4%.

In terms of revenue, the amount of money made by physical games has risen slightly by 2.1%. This is due to an increase in game pricing over 2017, driven partially by the higher priced Nintendo Switch games. In total, £792m was made from physical software sales in 2017.

We have requested additional sales figures for UK hardware and accessories from GfK, which will likely show some growth for the UK physical retail market overall.

The best-selling game of the two weeks over Christmas and New Year was Call of Duty: WWII, which has now scored nine consecutive weeks at the top of the charts. It equals the number of consecutive weeks Modern Warfare 2 spent at the top of the charts, and if it gets two more weeks, it will match Call of Duty: Black Ops III as the most No.1s overall for a Call of Duty game.

Call of Duty: WWII has already well passed Infinite Warfare’s lifetime sales, and was the UK’s second best-selling game of 2017. The best-selling game was FIFA 18, which was the No.2 over Christmas and New Year. FIFA 18 has been on sale for five weeks longer than Call of Duty: WWII.

Physical sales of FIFA are actually down quite notably compared with the 2017 edition. The number of FIFA 18 units sold in the UK is 16.2% down compared with FIFA 17, however, digital sales have not been taken into account.

Indeed, it wasn’t an especially happy Christmas for EA. Take Star Wars: Battlefront II, the company’s big Christmas shooter is down 51% compared with sales of last year’s Battlefield 1 (which was on sale for four weeks longer by the end of the year) and 49% compared with the first Star Wars Battlefront (the first EA one, anyway).

Sales of the new Need for Speed is also down 11% compared with its 2016 predecessor. Although, once again, digital numbers will likely have made up for some of this decline (if not all of it).

It may have been a tough few months for EA, but it was a strong end of the year for Ubisoft. Assassin’s Creed Origins is up 32% in sales compared with last year’s Watch Dogs 2, and 13% up compared with Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (which was on sale for a week longer back in 2016). Nintendo also had a strong end to the year, with Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart 8: Deluxe and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild all in the Top Ten come New Year. All three games sold over 300,000 copies a piece so far, with Mario Kart 8 ending the year as the No.1 Switch title (just narrowly ahead of Super Mario Odyssey).

The late release of the year, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, performed strongly. The boxed version didn’t feature a disc (it’s just a code in a box), but still debuted at No.4, dropping to No.8 and ending the year at No.11. It is likely that digital will have made up the bulk of sales, but it still performed well as a Christmas gift.

Here is the GfK/UKIE Top Ten for the Week Ending December 30th.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Security Researcher Discover Old Mac OS Zero-Day Flaw

January 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy-TheInq

WhatsApp End Support For Windows, BlackBerry Phones

January 4, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

Messaging platform WhatsApp has discontinued support for older phone operating systems including Windows Phone 8, BlackBerry OS and BlackBerry 10.

“These platforms don’t offer the kind of capabilities we need to expand our app’s features in the future,” the company said in a support note. “If you use one of these affected mobile devices, we recommend upgrading to a newer OS version, or to a newer Android running OS 4.0+, iPhone running iOS 7+, or Windows Phone 8.1+ so that you can continue using WhatsApp.”

The move is a testament to BlackBerry and Microsoft’s inability to make much of an impact in today’s smartphone market. China-based TCL took over the BlackBerry brand in 2016, and Microsoft has largely stepped out of the market.

WhatsApp says it’s not possible to transfer chat history between platforms, but you can attach your chat history to an email.

The company informed users of the decision to stop supporting certain systems back in February 2016.

 

North Korea Accused Of Crytocurrency Theft

January 3, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

North Korea has expanded its reason for hacking, alleges its Southern counterpart.

North Korean hackers known as Andariel breached a server at a company in South Korea to steal 70 Monero coins last summer, Bloomberg reported Tuesday, citing analysis from the South Korean government. The coins, supported bymusicians such as Mariah Carey and Fall Out Boy, are valued at a total of $25,000 (£18,440 or AU$31,880).

The news comes as reports surface of North Korea turning to cryptocurrencies as a source of funding for the government at a time when international sanctions against the reclusive state are tightening. Last month, the US accused North Korea of having orchestrated the WannaCry cyberattack which crippled over 300,000 servers worldwide in May, although the state denied any involvement. Victims of the attack found their computers locked and had to pay a ransom in Bitcoin in order to retrieve their files. The potential of Bitcoin to be used by the North Koreans as an “economic weapon” is also thought to be one reason the South Korean government wants to launch a crackdown on cryptocurrencies and is fighting the trend so aggressively.

The Monero cryptocurrency is designed for those with a keen preference for privacy, as it’s harder to trace (claimed to be “untraceable” by its creators) than competitors like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Monero for this reason is an easier currency to launder, said Kwak Kyoung-ju, head of South Korean government’s Financial Security Institute, according to Bloomberg.

“Andariel is going after anything that generates cash these days,” Kwak told the publication. “Dust gathered over time builds a mountain.”

Next Page »