Richard Chirgwin

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Humanity can defeat SkyNet with BOOKS, says IT think tank

A group of researchers working for National ICT Australia reckons computer science courses need to look at artificial intelligence from an ethical point of view – and the popularity of sci-fi among comp.sci students makes that a good place to start. As the research team, which included NICTA's Nicholas Mattei, the University of …
Silicon micro-ring resonator

Photons link arms on chip to hasten march of quantum crypto

A multinational collaboration of boffins reckons it's come up with a chippable solution to one of the practical problems of quantum communications: getting a good source of entangled photons. While commercial quantum key distribution (QKD) devices already exist, getting as much of the process onto silicon is the foundation of …
Evil Android

Some Androids can be HOSED by WiFi Direct vuln

Google, which has been criticised by Microsoft for recent bug disclosures, is now downplaying a bug of its own. Core Security reckons there's a bug in the Android implementation of WiFi Direct, which if exploited would let an attacker force a reboot of a device. Google, however, isn't convinced it's critical, and isn't showing …
Puzzlecluster concept

Linux chaps want to recycle your mobe as a supercomputer

A Finnish group of phone developers, hoping to get the world interested in modular smartphones, has proposed a nifty idea for re-using their phone motherboards: turn them into clusters. The Linux-based Puzzlephone project wants to extend the life of smartphones by making more of the phone replaceable, on the premise that most of …

Watchdogs critical of Oz data retention regime

Ahead of parliamentary hearings this week into the Australian government's proposed data retention regime, privacy watchdogs have lined up to criticise the legislation. Australia's Privacy Commissioner Tim Pilgrim has warned that the data collected poses a serious threat to privacy, and recommends that mandatory data breach …
An example of side-channel instruction noise

Swots explain how to swat CPU SNITCHES

A variety of sneaky side-channel attacks have been demonstrated over the years: from measuring the amount of processor power devoted to encryption to using an antenna to pick up stray electromagnetic emissions from computers. Myth-of-recency headlines aside, learning what a computer is doing by listening to its electronics has …
Disney's Beagle Boys

Verizon posts WANTED poster for copper rustlers

Verizon is sick of having to refresh its copper network merely to replace stolen metal, and for the forth time since 2013 has posted a reward for information leading to arrests. The broadband brigands aren't fooling around, either. In the latest incidents more than 10,000 feet of copper were heisted by thieves, leading to the …

Nope. That's not our FAKE BOMB say Oz spooks and cops

For at least the third time in as many years, someone carrying real or fake explosives in a security training exercise has lost track of their cargo. Yesterday, that resulted in a full-scale security lockdown at Sydney's Circular Quay, the city's ground zero for tourism thanks to views of the city's iconic Harbour Bridge and …
The Valley - code

Your anonymous code contributions probably aren't: boffins

There's no such thing as an anonymous programmer: your coding style can unmask you, according to research led by Drexel University Comp. Sci. PhD student Aylin Caliskan-Islam. In work that has serious implications for anyone believing their open source project contributions are anonymous, the researchers find that as many as 95 …
Chicken Jalfrezi and rice with a beer. Pic by Shutterstock

Drinking to forget? OK. But first, eat a curry... QUICK!

If you've had the kind of Patch Tuesday that ends in a mass attack of BSODs, new vulns in Java and someone advertising your routes as traversing Norfolk Island, you're quite likely to head for the pub and thence to a curry. According to research published in Neuropsychopharmacology, is that one of curry's important active …
cloud

RHEL on VCE is ESA's new tech launchpad

The European Space Agency (ESA) has rolled Red Hat Enterprise Linux into its ESA Cloud, an ongoing cloud computing rollout. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is, as the company notes, just one of the platforms being used in the ESA Cloud. The cloud covers software development and testing; satellite data reprocessing; document management …
traffic light hacking

Australian traffic lights need better security says auditor-general

The Auditor-General of the Australian State of New South Wales (NSW) and the state's roads bureaucrats are at loggerheads over whether or not traffic signal infrastructure is vulnerable to attacks over the Internet. In a report on critical infrastructure security, the audit office asserts that “systems in place to manage traffic …
The F-35B in the hover. Credit: Lockheed

US military finds F-35 software is a buggy mess

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) remains the problem child of the US military, with some operational tests abandoned in 2014, and buggy software proving a headache. The US military's Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E) has released its latest annual report, and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter chapter …

Turnbull says big telcos should subsidise bush comms

It looks like the federal government is getting its feet in a tangle, trying to reconcile the public good of the National Broadband Network with free-market doctrine. Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has floated his ideas of how to create a transparent mechanism to subsidise rural telecommunications, and it seems to …
The Mouse-Box - a PC in a mouse

Polish chap builds computer into a mouse

The specs aren't going to excite gamers, but Polish developer Przemysław Strzelczyk and his team have built a decent working computer into a Mouse. The Mouse-Box, currently at working prototype stage, packs a 1.4 GHz quad-core ARM CPU, a micro-HDMI port, WiFi up to 802.11n, accelerometer, gyroscope, two USB 3.0 ports and 128 GB …

Data centre hunger gives Ethernet switch market a boost

Market research outfit Infonetics reckons the data centre Ethernet market is set for a shake-up as 25 Gbps and 50 Gbps drive the migration from 10 Gbps products. Reporting on third quarter sales from 2014, the company's Data Center Network Equipment report says with Broadcom set to ship its 25G and 50G silicon, it's vendors are …

ONE in A HUNDRED reported bugs exploited, says Cisco

Cisco's latest annual security report has found a mix of the usual things and emerging trends: people are still naive, there's too much unpatched software out there, and there are new threat types emerging as attackers respond to defences. The report, here, notes that attackers are learning to tread more carefully. For example, …
slow_sign

Bush-first NBN build was back to front says NBN Co CEO

NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow has told a TasICT gathering that the original National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout plan, which prioritised regional areas to receive fibre first, was a mistake. Speaking to the IT industry group TasICT on Monday evening, Morrow added that the rollout schedules announced by the previous government had …

India pushes ahead with slimmed-down fibre rollout

India is pushing ahead with the Modi government's fibre vision, under which 20,000 rural villages will get fibre backhaul by December 2016. The country's Department of Telecommunications (DoT) says villages in the southern state of Kerala, Karnataka on the west coast, and Seemandhra on the Bay of Bengal will be the first …

New York State plots broadband future

New York governor Andrew Cuomo has decided that the 6 Mbps that's out of reach for a million residents of the state isn't good enough, and has created a half-billion-dollar fund to kick things along. The target, Cuomo says, is to get 100 Mbps speeds to everyone in the 141,000 square kilometre state. In his announcement, the …
Schematics of the Parkes FRB detection

MYSTERY RADIO SIGNAL picked up from BEYOND our GALAXY

The Australian Parkes radiotelescope – even though under threat from budget cuts – has produced its first chunk of science for 2015, and it's a substantial one indeed. The mighty Antipodean instrument has given astronomers their only real-time view so far of the unexplained phenomenon known as the Fast Radio Burst (FRB). FRBs …

THREE vans and FIVE people: that's what Telstra needs to fix one fault

The impact of weather on Telstra's ailing copper network has hit the headlines, with some parts of Canberra told they'll suffer outages well into February. The Fairfax Media reports that storms in early December led to 700 faults in the ACT and another 900 being logged in surrounding areas. The ACT isn't the only location where …
Suitcase bulging with cash

Alca-Lu's Chinese joint venture in corruption scandal

Alcatel-Lucent's operation in China, Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell (ASB), has been accused of graft by an HR manager who has since gone missing. According to a Caixin report, 45-year-old Jia Lining took to the WeChat messaging application to post accusations against “high-level” executives of ASB that they engaged in corruption …

Siri? Are you seeing another man?

A group of computer scientists from Italy and Poland reckon they can use steganography to hide covert messages in users' voice commands to Siri. What's interesting about the work, described in this paper at Arxiv, is that it doesn't involve installing new software on the target device. Rather, iStegSiri would exist as a man-in- …
Asteroid BL86 orbit diagram

Is is a Bird? Is it a Plane? NO! LOOK OUT it's an ASTEROID!

Next week, a half-kilometre chunk of rock is going to provide a show for amateur and professional astronomers alike. NASA reckons the asteroid 2004 BL86 flyby, at just three times the Earth-Moon distance, will be the nearest pass by any known object for quite some time to come. The next asteroid to pass similarly close will be …
NBN Co Customer premises equipment

NBN's basement-dive begins in earnest

NBN Co, the entity building Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) has started identifying which apartment blocks are to get its fibre-to-the-basement (FTTB) rollout, with 43 blocks totalling 6,000 premises on the current plan. Around 2,000 of the premises in Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney (the latter receiving the bulk of …
The F-35B doors open from the side. Credit: JSF Program

Snowden doc leak 'confirms' China stole F-35 data

China now knows what most people in the west are catching up with: that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is a lemon. The latest round of managed information release by Edward Snowden via Spiegel (one of a series) includes the snippet that Chinese security services copied “terabytes” of data about the aircraft. The release states …
turbine

For pervasive 5G and IoT, prepare for wind turbines on cells

As growing user populations and hunger for mobile capacity drive ever-smaller cell sizes (even before the advent of 5G), electricity becomes a problem. A group of researchers from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology reckon renewables will be the only way to power the small cell networks of the future. In this …
The NGTS telescope array

Earth-bound exoplanet hunter's eyes blink open

The European Space Observatory (ESO) is reporting “first light” from the world's latest exoplanet hunter, an Earth-based optical instrument in Chile. The Next Generation Transit Survey (NGTS) at the ESO's Paranal observatory in the north of the country will, like NASA's Kepler space telescope, try to detect exoplanets as they …
Random numbers

Security? Don't bother until it's needed says RFC

All-or-nothing approaches to security are part of what's making it so hard to achieve acceptable protection, a new RFC suggests. Written by Viktor Dukhovni of Two Sigma, RFC 7435 argues that the way current systems fail is a discouragement to good security. A binary failure – if two peers in a conversation don't have the same …

Got a GE industrial Ethernet switch? Get patching

GE is the latest industrial kit vendor to send users patching to protect against hard-coded credentials in Ethernet switches. IOActive disclosed the vulnerability to ICS-CERT, which issued this advisory (details here CVE-2014-5418 and here CVE-2014-5419). The vulnerability occurs in various GE Multilink managed Ethernet …
padlock

ISO floats storage security standard

The International Standards Organisation reckons the world needs help securing its data, so has published a new storage security standard to cover it. Because The Register isn't about to shell out 198 Swiss Francs to read the whole thing, we're constrained in our ability to tell you exactly what it contains, but we note that the …

Australia tries to ban crypto research – by ACCIDENT

While the world is laughing at UK PM David Cameron for his pledge to ban encryption, Australia is on the way to implementing legislation that could feasibly have a similar effect. Moreover, the little-debated Defence Trade Control Act (DTCA) is already law - it's just that the criminal sanctions it imposes for sending knowledge …
IBM's new mainframe

MAINFRAMES are SO NOT DEAD: IBM's launched a new one

At least twenty years after pundits first pronounced the death of the mainframe, IBM has released a new one. Of course, the proof of the pudding will be in the market, but IBM will be hoping that the billion dollars it's poured into developing the new z13 mainframe will get the big end of town as excited as Big Blue itself is. …
Cellular antenna. Source: Vxla/Flickr

5G needs new connectivity methods, say Spanish boffins

While millimeter-wave radio frequencies are hyped as the future of high-speed wireless networks, they're severely range-limited. A group of Spanish boffins has proposed using user context information like location to help mobile devices get the best speed. As they explain in their paper at Arxiv, it's not enough just to run an …

BATMAN LASER builds smaller, faster hard drives

Swiss boffins working at the Paul Scherrer Institute have explained a mechanism allowing magnetic bits to be switched using lasers, and have turned up an accidental nano-scale Batman logo. The boffins, as part of an international team with collaborators in Germany, the Netherlands and Japan, reckon their work could let storage …
cloud

OVS to add virtual networking to code-base

The Open vSwitch (OVS) community has announced that it's adding virtual networking to its project. As explained in this post, the Open Virtual Networking (OVN) project is designed to provide a “lightweight control plane” to support familiar virtual networking abstractions – in particular, Layer 2/3 networking only, so as not to …

Attackers planting banking Trojans in industrial systems

Trend Micro researcher Kyle Wilhoit says the latest attacks on SCADA and industrial control networks are turning out to carry rather pedestrian banking Trojans, and have been on the rise since October 2014. Talking to DarkReading, Wilhoit said rather than Stuxnet-style attacks, ne'er-do-wells are dropping banking Trojans into …

Mellanox to upgrade Monash University's HPC fabric

The Monash University R@CMon high-performance CloudX OpenStack computing cloud is to get a back-end upgrade thanks to Mellanox. R@CMon is a 2,300-plus core machine, one of the eight nodes that forms Australia's National e-Collaboration Tools and Resources (NeCTAR) research cloud, with preconfigured IaaS configurations of …

Welcome to 'uber-veillance' says Australian Privacy Foundation

Regulators are way behind the game when it comes to wearable and IoT privacy, and users are willingly conspiring with companies that don't care about them to help create a society of “uber-veillance”. That's the grim conclusion reached by Australian Privacy Foundation (APF) board member and University of Wollongong researcher …
Friends Reunited, new homepage, credit Friends Reunited screengrab

Computers know you better than your friends

Your Facebook Likes provide a signal to your personality so accurate, a computer can know you better than everyone but your very nearest and dearest, claim Cambridge boffins. In a study published at PNAS (abstract here, PDF here), the researchers used Facebook Likes as the signal to model a computer-based “personality judgement …
Visual Studio

Microsoft thinks of the children with VS2013 Git release

Microsoft has clambered aboard GitHub's educational effort, tossing Visual Studio Community 2013 and a few other goodies into the mix. The Github Student Development Pack was launched last year, targeting aspiring devs aged 13 and over. Visual Studio Community 2013 (launched in 2014, natch) is already free, so the aim is …
NBN Co Customer premises equipment

NBN migration arrangements favour Telstra, say competitors

With the Australian government's multi-technology model for the National Broadband Network (NBN) set in stone, competitors to dominant carrier Telstra are concerned that proposed transition arrangements give the incumbent too much power while crimping the reach of regulator the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The …
ANU's Manjin Zhong

Boffins' quantum USB stick trumps fibre optic reliability

The lifetime of quantum memories – a crucial component of practical quantum computing and communications – is typically less than a second. Now, work led by the Australian National University has turned up quantum states that last as long as six hours. That “coherence time” – how long an entangled state can be preserved – is …
Cosmic rays hitting Earth

India digs deep to bury neutrino-hunting chamber

India is joining the world of exotic particle research, announcing US$235 million worth of funding for a neutrino observatory in the country's south. Approval for the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO), proposed in 2013, means construction of the underground complex can now begin. The 1,300 metre deep cavern under the …
slow_sign

Australia's Akamai ranking has nothing to do with the NBN

There's never any shortage of ways for Australia to feel inadequate about its broadband performance, and speed comparisons are a perennial favourite. With Akamai's latest State of the Internet report hitting the Internet at the end of last week, Australians are in for another bout of soul-searching: while our year-on-year …
Photo of Kim Jong-un using an archaic computer

SURPRISE: Norks' Linux distro has security vulns

Well, that didn't take long: mere days after North Korea's Red Star OS leaked to the west in the form of an ISO, security researchers have started exposing its vulnerabilities. According to this post at Seclists, the udev rules in version 3.0 of the US and the rc.sysint script in version 2.0 are both world-writable. Both of …

Dread Pirate Roberts suspect's defence holed below the waterline

The judge presiding over the pretrial of alleged Silk Road kingpin Ross Ulbricht has smacked down the accused's attempts to have some charges dropped ahead of the start of next week's trial. Judge Katherine Forrest's decision was given orally during December with the court stating its reasoning would be published in full, which …
big droplets falling from rain cloud

Cray, IBM to boost NOAA's super powers

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has launched the next phase of an upgrade process which it says will increase the power of its supercomputing systems tenfold. The upgrade, to be carried out by IBM and Cray, is due for delivery by October, and when it's completed the administration's two hunks of …
The SPIDER instrument prior to launch

Antarctic boffins hope stratospheric gravity wave hunter returns to Earth

Boffins in Antarctica are nervously watching the skies for the planned descent of an instrument package hoisted into the stratosphere on January 1 with the aim of seeking out gravity waves. The experiment, called SPIDER, combines a polarimeter designed to look for signals that would either validate or exclude “GUT-scale” (grand …