COMPUTERS/INTERNET/SECURITY | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED


COMPUTERS/INTERNET/SECURITY

Jan 11 18:09

Scientists warn we're entering a 'digital dark age'

"The early 20th century is still largely based on things like paper and film formats that are still accessible to a large extent; whereas, much of what we're doing now — the things we're putting into the cloud, our digital content — is born digital. It's not something that we translated from an analog container into a digital container, but, in fact, it is born, and now increasingly dies, as digital content, without any kind of analog counterpart."

Computer and data specialists refer to this era of lost data as the "digital dark ages." Other experts call the 21st century an "informational black hole," because the digital information we are creating right now may not be readable by machines and software programs of the future. All that data, they worry — our century's digital history — is at risk of never being recoverable.

Jan 11 18:07

‘Smart underwear’ is here, and it’s ridiculous

Now your skivvies have a higher IQ than you do.

Skiin’s “smart underwear” is taking the wearables game to a whole new region, Mashable reports. The high-tech underthings, unveiled at this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show, have six sensors woven into the bras and undies that can track heart rate, temperature, pressure, motion, body fat and hydration levels.

Sure, $349 for eight pairs of thongs (available for preorder here) might sound like a bit of a splurge, but what’s more important than your health?

Plus, you’ll never go commando again.

Jan 11 18:04

Spectre and Meltdown are just the beginning

While I do believe Intel, AMD, ARM, and other hardware powerhouses will get better at responding to problems as they emerge, I’m not of the opinion we should consider complex CPUs “secure” in the near future?—?certainly not ones from Intel. Most are developed in secret, tested behind closed doors, and not transparently reviewed by outside, independent experts.

Where there is one bug visible, many more lurk in the black boxes of silicon that power our devices. What has changed is that now, hackers know where to look. This is only the beginning.

Jan 11 17:58

Flashback: Intel CEO Refuses To Answer Questions On Whether NSA Can Access Processors

Last Summer, shortly after the Snowden leaks began to escalate, Steve Blank, recognized as one of Silicon Valleys leading experts, noted that he firmly believed NSA has backdoor access into Intel and AMD chips. He noted how the leaks highlighted how backdoor “hacking” is the NSA’s go to technique because it is much easier than trying to crack encryption.

“Perhaps the NSA – legally compelling the chip vendors and/or Microsoft, or working outside of them – have compromised the microcode updates that affect most computers.” Blank wrote at the time.

Jan 11 17:26

Intel top brass smacked with sueball for keeping schtum about chip flaws

An Intel stockholder filed a class-action lawsuit yesterday accusing the chipmaker of artificially inflating its stock prices by omitting to tell anyone about the Spectre and Meltdown flaws in its products.

The complaint, brought by Intel shareholder Elvis Alvira, pits investors who acquired Chipzilla's shares between July 27, 2017, and January 4, 2018, against the corporation, its chief exec Brian Krzanich, and chief financial officer Robert Swan.

The precise accusation is that Intel deliberately misled or failed to disclose important information to shareholders, that being the existence of design flaws in its processor circuitry, and the potential performance slowdown workarounds to correct the issue would cause. The secrecy of this information, the complaint stated, meant that Intel's share price was artificially inflated.

Jan 11 17:24

OnePlus Android mobes' clipboard app caught phoning home to China

OnePlus has admitted that the clipboard app in a beta build of its Android OS was beaming back mystery data to a cloud service in China.

Someone running the latest test version of OnePlus's Oreo-based operating system revealed in its support forums that unusual activity from the builtin clipboard manager had been detected by a firewall tool.

Upon closer inspection, the punter found that the app had been transmitting information to a block of IP addresses registered to Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce and cloud hosting giant.

Jan 11 16:26

Google Sued Over “Open Hostility for Conservative Thought”

Last year, an engineer named James Damore blew a hole in Silicon Valley’s liberal bubble when he published a controversial 10-page memo blasting his employer, Google, for cultivating a culture of inane political correctness that was putting women’s “equality” ahead of basic common sense and wise business practices. In the memo, Damore made the argument that discrimination was not to blame (or at least, not entirely to blame) for the lopsided gender representation in the tech industry. Men, he argued, were more likely to be drawn into STEM fields and, as a whole, demonstrated greater aptitude for the work.

After his memo went viral, Damore was fired.

Now the young engineer is suing the search engine giant, claiming that he and others were regularly mocked and harassed for their conservative views.

Jan 11 12:03

[Bug] macOS High Sierra App Store Preferences Can Be Unlocked Without a Password

Yet another password vulnerability has been uncovered in macOS High Sierra, which unlocks App Store System Preferences with any password (or no password at all).

Jan 11 10:36

Lights out at CES: Giant trade show plunges into darkness, knocks out Samsung, LG, and other booths

CES officials say the power outage at the Las Vegas Convention Center Wednesday morning was a result of Tuesday’s rain storm.

Jan 11 10:25

House Extends Controversial Surveillance Measure For 6 Years Despite Bipartisan Resistance

By Derrick Broze

Representative Justin Amash and a bipartisan coalition of 42 lawmakers failed to block a six-year extension of a controversial spying measure.

Washington D.C. – On Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of a six-year extension of section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a controversial law which allows the federal government to spy on American citizens. A bipartisan coalition of civil liberties advocates opposed the bill, but failed to stop the measure from passing with a vote of 256-164. Senator Rand Paul has now threatened a filibuster during the upcoming Senate vote...

Jan 11 09:53

Alt-Right Publisher Sues Twitter in Landmark Free Speech Case (Charles Johnson)

The lawsuit documents the social media giant’s unlawful censorship of Johnson – and the damages it caused Johnson – on several fronts. Johnson, who is represented by Robert E. Barnes of Barnes Law, details various causes of action demonstrating how Twitter’s actions violated the Unruh Civil Rights Act as well as the California and United States constitutions.

Johnson is seeking, among other relief, a declaratory judgment that Twitter has violated and continues to violate his free speech rights under the First Amendment of the US Constitution and/or Article I, section 2 of the California Constitution.

Jan 11 09:29

Google's Fact-Check Feature Targets Conservative Sites

The largest search engine in the world is now relying on hyper-partisan "fact checking" organizations such as Snopes and Politifact to provide disclaimers on articles primarily from conservative websites.

Jan 11 09:18

“The Internet’s Own Boy”

Nearly five years to the day of Swartz’s “suicide”, we are being told that his partner in programming James Dolan has “committed suicide” too.

Jan 11 09:11

Here's the deal with those robot pole dancers at CES 2018

The gist is that there's a strip club in Las Vegas where CES attendees are flocking to check out the novelty of robot pole dancers.

But the version of the story you're getting probably varies according to the source. You may have read that the robot dancers offer a glimpse into a future of robot-human cohabitation, when even the bedroom isn't off limits for automation. That narrative fits with the spate of recent news about new models of sex robots like Harmony. Indeed, if 2017 had been your typical humdrum anum, it might have been remembered as the year of the sex robot. (I have a hunch it will be remembered for other reasons.)

Jan 10 18:05

Cloud server giants mull dumping Intel after Spectre and Meltdown chip flaws found

Some of Intel Corp's data center customers, whose thousands of computers run cloud networks, are exploring using 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.

Jan 10 17:09

Why Is The FBI Afraid Of Encryption?

By Derrick Broze

FBI Director Christopher Wray declared the bureau’s inability to access encrypted electronic devices a “major public safety issue.”

New York City – On Tuesday the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations discussed the danger posed by encryption of electronic devices. Speaking at the International Conference on Cyber Security in New York, FBI Director Christopher Wray spoke about challenges that encryption presents to law enforcement...

Jan 10 13:22

The FBI Wants to Put You at Risk To Make Its Job Easier

The FBI doesn’t like encryption. They are concerned that they cannot properly investigate criminals.

Often they have enough evidence to justify a search of a suspect’s device. But they do not have the actual ability to search many encrypted smartphones and computers.

The only solution they can think of is to violate your rights, my rights, and the rights of tech companies. They want to force companies to make their products vulnerable to attacks, in order to make their investigations and prosecutions easier.

Jan 10 11:26

Police Drone Battle Continues After LAPD Approves New Purchase and Officer Training

By Nicholas West

The general concern over police spying continues to be addressed by the Los Angeles public. As I have been covering over the last several years, that concern heightened even further when the LAPD acquired drones from the Seattle PD and began to discuss guidelines for implementation. Despite assurances that any deployment would be only for extreme circumstances, a new donation of $31,500 by the Los Angeles Police Foundation has been approved, continuing the controversy over their eventual use...

Jan 10 10:47

CPU bug patch saga: Antivirus tools caught with their hands in the Windows cookie jar

The problem arises because the Meltdown patch involves moving the kernel into its own private virtual memory address space. Usually, operating systems such as Windows and Linux map the kernel into the top region of every user process's virtual memory space. The kernel is marked invisible to the running programs, although due to the Meltdown design oversight in Intel's modern chips, its memory can still be read by applications. This is bad because it means programs can siphon off passwords and other secrets held in protected kernel memory.

Certain antivirus products drill deep into the kernel's internals in order to keep tabs on the system and detect the presence of malware. These tools turn out to trash the computer if the kernel is moved out the way into a separate context.

In other words, Microsoft went to shift its cookies out of its jar, and caught antivirus makers with their hands stuck in the pot.

Jan 10 10:34

Microsoft: No more Windows patches at all if your AV clashes with our Meltdown fix

Your antivirus must be compatible with Microsoft's Meltdown-Spectre fixes for you to get patches this month or in future.

Jan 10 10:15

BREAKING: Sr Network Security Engineer Reveals Twitter Ready to Give Trump's Private DMs to DOJ

Jan 10 07:35

Heartless Apple investors claim kids getting hooked on iPhones could be a GOOD thing (for them) amid growing addiction row

Apple investors are shrugging off concerns raised by two shareholders about kids getting hooked on iPhones, saying that for now a little addiction might not be a bad thing for profits.

Hedge fund JANA Partners LLC and the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) pension fund said on Saturday that iPhone overuse could be hurting children's developing brains, an issue that may harm the company's long-term market value.

But some investors said the habit-forming nature of gadgets and social media are one reason why companies like Apple, Google parent Alphabet Inc and Facebook Inc added $630 billion to their market value in 2017.

Jan 10 07:33

Thousands of Netflix customers targeted by phishing fraudsters as streaming service warns users to check for VERY convincing scam email

Netflix customers have been warned not to fall for a sophisticated new scam targeting subscribers to the video streaming service.

New South Wales Police alerted social media users on Wednesday, posting a screengrab of a fake email used in the scam.

The email is sophisticated and well-designed, and aims to fool Netflix customers into handing over their credit card details.

Jan 10 07:20

More stuff broken amid Microsoft's efforts to fix Meltdown/Spectre vulns

More examples have emerged of security fixes for the Meltdown vulnerability breaking things.

Patching against CVE-2017-5753 and CVE-2017-5715 (Spectre) and CVE-2017-5754 (Meltdown) borks both the PulseSecure VPN client and Sandboxie, the sandbox-based isolation program developed by Sophos.

PulseSecure has come up with a workaround for affected platforms, which include Windows 10 and Windows 8.1 but not Windows 7.

Sandboxie has released an updated client to solve compatibility issues with an emergency fix from Microsoft, as explained here. We've asked Sophos for comment.

Jan 10 04:59

FBI chief calls unbreakable encryption 'urgent public safety issue'

- The inability of law enforcement authorities to access data from electronic devices due to powerful encryption is an “urgent public safety issue,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday as he sought to renew a contentious debate over privacy and security.

Technology companies and many digital security experts have said that the FBI’s attempts to require that devices allow investigators a way to access a criminal suspect’s cellphone would harm internet security and empower malicious hackers. U.S. lawmakers, meanwhile, have expressed little interest in pursuing legislation to require companies to create products whose contents are accessible to authorities who obtain a warrant.

Wray’s comments at the International Conference on Cyber Security were his most extensive yet as FBI director about the so-called Going Dark problem, which his agency and local law enforcement authorities for years have said bedevils countless investigations. Wray took over as FBI chief in August.

Jan 09 19:33

Google’s New Fact-Check Feature Almost Exclusively Targets Conservative Sites

Google, the most powerful search engine in the world, is now displaying fact checks for conservative publications in its results.

No prominent liberal site receives the same treatment.

And not only is Google’s fact-checking highly partisan — perhaps reflecting the sentiments of its leaders — it is also blatantly wrong, asserting sites made “claims” they demonstrably never made.

Jan 09 16:27

Zero-day vulnerabilities hijack full Dell EMC Data Protection Suite

Security researchers have discovered a set of zero-day vulnerabilities within the Dell EMC Data Protection Suite Family products which allow attackers to fully hijack systems.

The Dell EMC Data Protection Suite (.PDF), a product set for enterprises to protect data and critical applications, was the subject of a routine check and scan by Digital Defense.

However, the company's Vulnerability Research Team (VRT) stumbled across a set of severe vulnerabilities which permitted attackers to compromise products including Dell EMC Avamar Server, NetWorker Virtual Edition, and Integrated Data Protection Appliance.

Jan 09 16:23

And we return to Munich's migration back to Windows - it's going to cost what now?! €100m!

Munich City officials could waste €100m reversing a 15-year process that replaced proprietary software with open source following an official vote last year.

Munich officials in 2003 voted to migrate to an in-house custom version of Ubuntu Linux called LiMux and tailor digital docs to be compatible with LibreOffice. Now the councillors have decided that Munich will switch some 29,000 PCs to Windows 10 and phase out Linux by early 2023.

The cost of the U-turn could be even more catastrophic if another council vote by the end of 2018 fails to take a more reasoned tally. An approval would replace the open-source office suite LibreOffice with Microsoft Office.

That decision will cost the city upwards of €50m plus another €50m to revert to Windows 10, according to reports. The bill results from a combination of buying Windows 10 licences and converting some 12,000 LibreOffice templates and macros along with developing a new templating system for Microsoft Office.

Jan 09 16:10

Microsoft Says No More Windows Security Updates Unless AVs Set a Registry Key

Microsoft has added a new and very important detail on the support page describing incompatibilities between antivirus (AV) products and the recent Windows Meltdown and Spectre patches.

According to an update added this week, Microsoft says that Windows users will not receive the January 2018 Patch Tuesday security updates, or any subsequent Patch Tuesday security updates, unless the antivirus program they are using becomes compatible with the Windows Meltdown and Spectre patches.

Jan 09 16:01

Microsoft halts chip patches after some PCs can't reboot

The Windows updates patched the Spectre and Meltdown flaws. Some computers with chips made by AMD wouldn't turn on again after getting the update.

Jan 09 15:59

Microsoft Says Chip Fix May Significantly Slow Some Servers

Microsoft Corp. said fixes for security flaws present in most processors may significantly slow down certain servers and dent the performance of some personal computers, the software maker’s first assessment of a global problem that Intel Corp. initially downplayed.

Microsoft’s statement suggests slowdowns could be more substantial than Intel previously indicated. While Intel Chief Executive Officer Brian Krzanich on Monday said the problem may be more pervasive than first thought, he didn’t discuss the degree of impact -- only that some machines would be more affected than others.

Intel shares fell as much as 2.2 percent to $43.75 in New York trading on Tuesday. Microsoft stock rose 0.3 percent to $88.50.

Jan 09 15:56

Microsoft reveals how Spectre updates can slow your PC down

It’s bad news for older Windows 7 and Windows 8 machines

Jan 09 14:42

Your smartphone????is making you???? stupid, antisocial ???? and unhealthy ????. So why can’t you put it down???

Smartphones are "literally using the power of billion-dollar computers to figure out what to feed you," Mr. Harris said. That's why you can't look away.

Jan 09 14:36

Dems Humiliated Themselves With Their Own Study On Illegal Online Gun Sales

Gun-hating democrats who demanded a study into the sale of guns online were smacked with a dose of reality. They wasted two years attempting to buy guns illegally on the “dark web,” and the group of Democrats failed every single time.

Jan 09 14:22

TRUMP CLEARS PATH FOR ASSANGE TO LEAVE LONDON

In the past few days, a series of unexpected developments have cleared the path for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy in London without fear of arrest.

On Tuesday, WikiLeaks posted a tweet announcing the U.S. government had ended its eight-year-long grand jury proceedings against WikiLeaks that was expanded in 2017 to cover the WikiLeaks various “Vault” releases on CIA spy technology.

Jan 09 10:59

CES 2018: LG robot Cloi repeatedly fails on stage at unveil

A robot created by LG to help users control their smart home repeatedly failed on stage at its CES debut.

Cloi was meant to be the centrepiece of the South Korean firm's presentation where it was supposed to show how new artificial intelligence tech could enhance use of kitchen appliances.

Instead it gave no response to three consecutive commands beyond blinking.

Experts say the demo represented a "disastrous" debut for the bot, which was mocked on social media.

Jan 09 10:35

Hold on to your aaSes: Yup, Windows 10 'as a service' is incoming

Another year, another round of Windows 10 updates – most likely 1803 in March, and 1809 in September or thereabouts.

The company calls this "Windows as a service", the idea being that users get a constant flow of improvements.

Jan 09 09:21

CES 2018: Intel announces 'major breakthrough' in quantum computing chip

Intel's CES 2018 keynote focused on its 49-qubit quantum computing chip, VR applications for content, its AI self-learning chip, and an autonomous vehicles platform.

Jan 09 07:56

APPLE INVESTIGATED BY FRANCE FOR 'PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE'

French prosecutors have launched a probe over allegations of "planned obsolescence" in Apple's iPhone.

Under French law it is a crime to intentionally shorten lifespan of a product with the aim of making customers replace it.

In December, Apple admitted that older iPhone models were deliberately slowed down through software updates.

But it insisted it was because the phones' battery performance diminished over time.

The French investigation is being led by the economy ministry's consumer protection agency.

It follows a legal complaint filed in December by pro-consumer group Stop Planned Obsolescence (Hop).

Hop said France was the third country to investigate Apple after Israel and the US, but the only one in which the alleged offence was a crime. Penalties could include up to 5% of annual turnover or even a jail term.

Webmaster's Commentary: 

Here is one human being hoping for a coviction which incudes jail time for eac and every Executive in Apple's upper management system who signed off on it; unfotuntely,this case is most likely devolve into a minor annoyance until it is turned around in behalf of the plaintiff for pennies on the dollar.

Jan 08 16:45

Spectre and Meltdown make anything with chip in it vulnerable, but Raspberry Pi is safe

So why isn’t Raspberry Pi vulnerable?

Well, as a matter of course, Raspberry Pi runs on an ARM Cortex-A53, making it safe from Meltdown. However, most devices with ARM and AMD cores also use caching and speculative execution, which means they’re vulnerable to Spectre. Raspberry Pi doesn’t, making it one of the few devices on the market that’s free and clear.

The Raspberry Pi blog has an excellent post up explaining exactly how their devices are safe from Meltdown and Spectre. It turns out that the basic lack of caching and speculation in Raspberry Pi is enough to keep things good. If you’re interested, they have an extensive walk-through of the internal logic which Raspberry Pi uses instead of these two techniques. As they conclude,

Jan 08 14:48

See Which U.S. Cities Robots Are Making Humans Irrelevant! We Will Face Extermination!

The robots are coming... what’s your opinion on this? Are robots and automation good or bad? Or is it how the technology is used that really matters?

Jan 08 13:48

EXCLUSIVE: Huma Abedin backed up her emails to Anthony Weiner's laptop after leaving the State Department – even though she said on oath and to FBI agents that she did no such thing

Huma Abedin backed up copies of her emails with Hillary Clinton to her pervert husband Anthony Weiner's laptop, DailyMail.com can disclose - conflicting with her account to the FBI and in court that she did not preserve the conversations.

An examination by DailyMail.com of emails released by the State Department shows that backup copies of many of Abedin's work-related messages with Clinton were created in the dates after Clinton left the State Department in early 2013.

The emails, released at the end of December, show that they had been put on Weiner's laptop by a BlackBerry archiving program.

A tech expert told Dailymail.com that Abedin would have to have activated the backup program and may well have plugged her device into the laptop - raising further questions over her testimony to the FBI.

Jan 08 12:50

Police State: Thousands of Americans’ Electronics Illegally Searched at Border

Over 30,000 people had their electronic devices searched without probable cause or a warrant by Customs and Border Protection in 2017. This is a 50% increase from 2016.

Jan 08 12:22

How an AI ‘cat-and-mouse game’ generates believable fake photos

At a lab in Finland, a small team of Nvidia researchers recently built a system that can analyze thousands of (real) celebrity snapshots, recognize common patterns and create new images that look much the same — but are still a little different. The system can also generate realistic images of horses, buses, bicycles, plants and many other common objects.

The project is part of a vast and varied effort to build technology that can automatically generate convincing images — or alter existing images in equally convincing ways. The hope is that this technology can significantly accelerate and improve the creation of computer interfaces, games, movies and other media, eventually allowing software to create realistic imagery in moments rather than the hours — if not days — it can now take human developers.

Jan 08 10:45

Windows 10 WARNING: Some users unable to boot PCs after emergency Meltdown-Spectre patch

SOME WINDOWS 10 users have been left unable to start-up their machine following an emergency update pushed-out by Microsoft to patch the Meltdown-Spectre vulnerability earlier this month.

Jan 08 10:28

Ross Ulbricht Appeals Double-Life Sentence For Building a Website to The Supreme Court

By Aaron Kesel

Imprisoned Silk Road creator, Ross Ulbricht, has one last chance at reducing his sentence with an appeal to the Supreme Court. After that, his options in court for appealing his double-life sentence (for victimless crimes) will be extinguished.

Ross Ulbricht was arrested in 2013 for running the infamous darknet marketplace Silk Road. Ross admitted in trial that he helped create the site but denies that he was the only “Dread Pirate Roberts” (DPR) admin of Silk Road. Ross claims he sold the website and stated he was set up as the “ultimate fall guy.”...

Jan 08 10:25

MELTDOWN AND SPECTRE: INTEL’S SEISMIC IT DISASTER AND A LOOK AT SOME IMPLICATION FOR BANKS

The press has greatly under-reported the two security holes, called Meltdown and Spectre, that can without exaggeration be characterized as affecting just about every computing device in use today (with very rare exceptions, like the Apple Watch). And because the media has so badly dropped the ball, your humble blogger will start with a high-level introductory piece, in the hopes that the IT and security experts in our readership will chime in, ideally in comments, with more information and ideas.

Jan 08 09:25

What could possibly go wrong? Amazon's Alexa can now control your microwave - and will soon expand to conventional ovens

Amazon’s smart assistant can now add ‘cooking’ to its ever-expanding set of home skills.

The firm has revealed that Alexa users in the US can now control their microwave ovens with simple voice commands, by stating phrases such as: ‘Alexa, defrost three pounds of chicken.’

While the functionality is limited to microwaves for now, Amazon says support for ‘other cooking devices,’ including conventional ovens, is on the way.

Jan 08 08:04

Handling of CPU bugs disclosure 'incredibly bad': OpenBSD's de Raadt

"Only Tier-1 companies received advance information, and that is not responsible disclosure – it is selective disclosure," De Raadt (below, right) told iTWire in response to queries. "Everyone below Tier-1 has just gotten screwed."

Details of the bugs were published on the Web on 3 January though there had been an understanding that disclosure would only take place on 9 January, that being the day when Microsoft is scheduled to release its monthly security updates.

The reason for this is because the bugs mainly affect Intel CPUs and Windows is the operating system that has the biggest share of such processors.

Jan 08 07:50

"Spare Us The Thought Police!" Germans Rage As New Hate Speech Law Backfires

According to Germany's top-selling, and most popular newspaper, Bild, the new German law meant to curtail online hate speech is "stifling free speech and making martyrs out of anti-immigrant politicians whose posts are deleted."

The law which took effect on Jan. 1 can impose fines of up to 50 million euros ($60 million) on sites that fail to remove hate speech promptly and threatens the profitability of such social media giants as Twitter and Facebook.

"Please spare us the thought police!" read the headline in Wednesday's Bild above an article that called the law a "sin" against freedom of opinion enshrined in Germany's constitution, Reuters reported.

Jan 08 07:18

It gets worse: Microsoft’s Spectre-fixer bricks some AMD PCs

Microsoft’s fix for the Meltdown and Spectre bugs may be crocking AMD-powered PCs.

A lengthy thread on answers.microsoft.com records numerous instances in which Security Update for Windows KB4056892, Redmond’s Meltdown/Spectre patch, leaves some AMD-powered PCs with the Windows startup logo and not much more.

Users report Athlon-powered machines in perfect working order before the patch just don’t work after it. The patch doesn’t create a recovery point, so rollback is little use and the machines emerge from a patch in a state from which rollback is sometimes not accessible. Some say that even re-installing Windows 10 doesn’t help matters.

Jan 07 18:20

Here come the lawyers! Intel slapped with three Meltdown bug lawsuits

Just days after The Register revealed a serious security hole in its CPU designs, Intel is the target of three different class-action lawsuits in America.

Complaints filed in US district courts in San Francisco, CA [PDF], Eugene, OR [PDF], and Indianapolis, IN [PDF] accuse the chip kingpin of, among other things, deceptive practices, breach of implied warranty, negligence, unfair competition, and unjust enrichment.

Jan 07 18:19

Qualcomm joins Intel, Apple, Arm, AMD in confirming its CPUs suffer hack bugs, too

Qualcomm has confirmed its processors have the same security vulnerabilities disclosed this week in Intel, Arm, AMD and IBM CPU cores.

The California tech giant picked the favored Friday US West Coast afternoon "news dump" slot to admit at least some of its billions of Arm-compatible Snapdragon system-on-chips and newly released Centriq server-grade processors are subject to the Meltdown and/or Spectre data-theft bugs.

Jan 07 18:18

Security hole in AMD CPUs' hidden secure processor code revealed ahead of patches

Cfir Cohen, a security researcher from Google's cloud security team, on Wednesday disclosed a vulnerability in the fTMP of AMD's Platform Security Processor (PSP), which resides on its 64-bit x86 processors and provides administrative functions similar to the Management Engine in Intel chipsets.

This sounds bad. It's not as bad as you think.

The fTMP is a firmware implementation of the Trusted Platform Module, a security-oriented microcontroller specification. Cohen said he reported the flaw to AMD in late September last year, and the biz apparently had a fix ready by December 7. Now that the 90-day disclosure window has passed seemingly without any action by AMD, details about the flaw have been made public.

Jan 07 18:17

WD My Cloud NAS devices have hard wired backdoor

If you have a Western Digital My Cloud network attached storage device, it's time to learn how to update its OS because researcher James Bercegay has discovered a dozen models possess a hard-coded backdoor.

The backdoor, detailed here, lets anyone log in as user mydlinkBRionyg with the password abc12345cba.

WD mostly markets the My Cloud range as suited for file sharing and backup in domestic and micro-business settings. But several of the models with the backdoor are four-disk machines suitable for use as shared storage in small business and also capable of being configured as iSCSI targets for use supporting virtual servers. Throw in the fact that some of the messed-up machines can reach 40TB capacity and there's the very real prospect that sizable databases are dangling online.

Jan 07 10:05

Introducing: digital warfare through the IDF's new intelligence unit

An application that recommends to a company commander the safest route to a Hamas target and software that displays for a battalion commander bird's-eye satellite footage of the village he is preparing to enter in southern Lebanon. These are just some of the technological advances that are being developed by the IDF's new Unit 3060—a development unit attached to the Military Intelligence Directorate that was unveiled for the first time Wednesday.

Jan 07 09:46

From ‘Russian meddling’ to Iran regime change: Social media as tools of US policy

As US-based social media companies crack down on dissent at home in the name of fighting phantom ‘Russian meddling,’ Washington seeks to leverage them for regime change in places like Iran.
If social media platform Twitter can ban German politicians for incitement (of race hate), then why doesn’t it apply the same sanction on President Trump over his incendiary comments regarding Iranian protests?

Arguably, Trump’s incitement is far graver. He is recklessly encouraging violence in a whole nation. The arrogance is astounding and yet Twitter and other US news media just go along with it. So too do European leaders and media.

Trump and his administration have been full-on in public statements egging on protests which broke out in Iran last week. Trump’s denouncing of the Iranian government as “brutal and corrupt” and urging “time for change” is a brazen incitement to sedition.

Jan 06 22:18

Battlefield soldiers to get Alexa-style assistant telling them who to kill

Now US scientists are developing a similar Artificial Intelligence system which may accompany all soldiers on the battlefield within just 10 years. Like the fictional JARVIS - which stands for “Just A Rather Very Intelligent System” - the technology will allow soldiers to converse with their omniscient companion to interpret threats in the field and analyse data with lightning speed. At the heart of the project is the need to offer troops a simple-to-use sidekick, to whom they can ask open-ended questions and receive considered answers quickly.

Jan 06 21:33

Home Assistant Adopter Beware: Google, Amazon Digital Assistant Patents Reveal Plans for Mass Snooping

Internet giants Amazon and Google are slashing prices and offering supposed deals on their “digital assistants” this holiday season, but a study of patent applications associated with the devices reveals plans for massive surveillance of users’ homes, Consumer Watchdog warned today.

Consumer Watchdog said that a study of patent applications filed by Amazon and Google with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reveals a vision for an Orwellian future in which digital assistants eavesdrop on everything from confidential conversations to your toilet flushing habits to children’s movements and the books on bedside tables. They would know when you go to sleep and whom you wake up with.

The patents reveal the devices’ possible use as surveillance equipment for massive information collection and intrusive digital advertising.

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