'I plead guilty to DDoS conspiracy and these GCHQ b*stards were doing the SAME thing?'
Plus: 'Making Bill his adviser is the biggest joke I have heard in a long time'
Quotw This was the week when Microsoft finally announced who was going to take over from outgoing chief Steve Ballmer, awarding the heavy crown to Satya Nadella.
Bill Gates, who is stepping down as chairman but staying on the board as founder in the newly created role of "technology advisor", said in a video message that he reckoned it was going to be "fun" to work with Nadella on future products.
Ballmer said in a statement that Nadella had "strong technical skills and great business insights":
He has a remarkable ability to see what's going on in the market, to sense opportunity, and to really understand how we come together at Microsoft to execute against those opportunities in a collaborative way.
But it wasn't long before someone had crept out of the woodwork with some less complimentary things to say. That someone was Joachim Kempin, who was general manager of Microsoft Germany in the subsidiary's early days and rose to become a senior veep in charge of Microsoft's OEM business.
Already a known critic of Microsoft, the former exec was happy to once more give his interpretation of goings-on at the firm:
This reminds me of the pope - only gestures, and no real reform to be expected… Looks like they found their sheep, a follower.
Insiders say the guy has not done anything impressive at all. So he will struggle getting attention and respect.
Most interesting, he can neither spell CONSUMER nor DEVICE. He is a softie, and he is a big business serving guy. His stated goal is to bring innovation faster to market. No track record there either. The best way to do that is to sell some parts of the company and get rid of a lot of fat. He won’t do that either.
Kempin also didn't think much of the other shake-ups at the top, whether it was John Thompson's appointment to the chair or Gates' new role as tech advisor.
Most important, Bill is gone. But he and Steve will still be on the board. The new chairman is not very impressive. There will be a lot of shadow boxing between the CEO and the other guys.
Nadella won’t need tech advice. So making Bill his adviser is the biggest joke I have heard in a long time.
In ongoing Snowden revelations, allegations that British intelligence was running denial-of-service attacks against chatrooms used by Anonymous and Lulzsec have sparked a lot of controversy in the security world.
Apparently, a GCHQ unit known as the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTIRG) happily denied service to the chatrooms to scare off Anonymous users, although there's some confusion over whether the attacks were DoS or DDoS. The leaked slide admits "denial of service" attacks but then later uses DDoS, the acronym for distributed denial of service, as a title.
Either way, security experts have questioned the legality of using criminal methods against the "bad guys". Spyblog tweeted:
Did GCHQ have ISA warrant for DDOS attacks on Anonymous?… else 10yr prison offence Computer Misuse Act S3/3A.
While Andrew Miller, COO at Corero Network Security said that since the CIA and SOCA were among the victims of LulzSec attacks, it's not surprising they were hacked back:
We have to remember that cyber-spooks within GCHQ are equally if not more skilled than many black hat hackers, and the tools and techniques they are going to use to fight cybercrime are surely going to be similar to that of the bad guys. Legally, we enter a very grey area here; where members of Lulzsec were arrested and incarcerated for carrying out DDoS attacks, but it seems that JTRIG are taking the same approach with impunity.
The grey legal area was perhaps best illustrated by convicted LulzSec hacker Jake Davis, who said on Twitter:
I plead guilty to two counts of DDoS conspiracy and to my face these GCHQ bastards were doing the exact same thing - http://t.co/Y4vo1qeN4I— Jake Davis (@DoubleJake) February 5, 2014
Sources whispered to The Reg this week that Dell was starting its expected layoffs and claimed that more than 15,000 workers worldwide would be made redundant. The company denied the claims, saying that "a small percentage" of folks had accepted redundancy packages, but the sources said there were to be cuts in all departments:
It's going to be a bloodbath.
Aside from the denial of numbers, Dell has only said the following on the staff cuts:
Dell won’t go into specifics on figures and there won’t be any additional comment outside of the statements already provided.
Meanwhile, over in the wonderful world of app development, independent app-makers have taken up arms to defend the little guy against Candy Crush Saga-owner King's trademark of the word CANDY.
The gaming firm trademarked the name ostensibly to stop apps from trying to cash in on the runaway success of its candy-themed game, but developers who've been on the sharp end of the trademark and other small app-builders have accused the company of throwing its weight around unnecessarily.
In protest, a group of devs organised "Candy Jam", a scheme to get game-makers to put together as many games as possible with the words CANDY or SAGA in the title. The Candy Jam page said it had launched the protest:
Because trademarking common words is ridiculous, because ethics matter and because it gives us an occasion to make another game jam.
And finally, the inventor of the London wheel clamp has voluntarily shut down a numberplate recognition website after a run-in with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Trevor Whitehouse shuttered ANPRinabox.com after parking activists filed a complaint with the ASA about the site, which he'd claimed was capable of spotting tax dodgers, disabled people and, er, terrorists.
The clamp inventor said he "couldn't be arsed" to get in a row about the site, so he'd just closed it down:
We did not have the time or inclination to fight over a website we don't use anymore. If say I can make a wheel clamp that's the best in the world, I do it. In fact, I did it. If I say I can create mathematical algorithms to bring about prosecution for criminal offences or speeding between GATSO cameras, then I can.
It was far easier to get about my business and keep on being creative rather than arguing the toss.
But the complainant had a different tale to tell about the site:
ANPR in a Box claimed their cameras could automatically check whether a driver was disabled, assess whether a car's tax was up to date, determine the weight of an HGV and check whether a car has valid road tax or MOT.
One could only imagine the delight of MI5 to know such technology exists, and for less than £1,000! Unfortunately some suspicious minds out there queried these claims. Clearly, we've seen such technology on Spooks, but does it really exist?
The short answer is no. ®