Richard Chirgwin

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China

Snake oil ads land China's top search engine in trouble

Chinese search engine Baidu is under investigation after a case of dodgy medical advertising hit the headlines. Healthcare advertising is a lucrative line for the company, with a Tencent Technology report last year putting its income from the sector in the vicinity of US$1.5 billion in 2014. Chinese government news agency …
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Microsoft wants devs to take notes on their families

Microsoft has GitHubbed a framework that could finally make an Internet-connected refrigerator useful: an application for family members to leave notes for each other. Well, actually FamilyNotes is a developer demonstrator with two aims: to give developers more examples of putting code together in the Universal Windows …

Greenpeace leaks TTIP texts, reveals strained negotiations

The controversial EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) treaty text has been leaked to Greenpeace. The documents have been posted at www.ttip-leaks.org, and in the main they've been picked over for their impact on environmental regulation. On that topic, European commentators are hitting the roof, …
Messerschmitt micro-car

Auto erotic: Self-driving cars will let occupants bonk on the go

A Canadian car safety expert has introduced the world to a surprising moral panic, warning that if people no longer have to drive their cars, they'll have sex in them instead. The idea that an autonomous vehicle might become a “shaggin' wagon”* comes from Barrie Kirk, Executive Director of the Canadian Automated Vehicles …

Qualcomm goes for the grey matter with neural net SDK

Qualcomm wants to stick a neural network in your hands, and has announced it will ship a software development kit (SDK) in the second half of this year to get the ball rolling. The deep learning SDK for the Snapdragon 820 processor will be, the company says, designed to take advantage of the SoC's “heterogenous compute …

Michigan electricity utility downed by ransomware attack

A water and electricity authority in the US State of Michigan has needed a week to recover from a ransomware attack that fortunately only hit its enterprise systems. Lansing's BWL – Board of Water & Light – first noticed the successful phishing attack on its corporate systems on April 25, and has had to keep systems including …

F-35s failed 'scramble test' because of buggy software

The F-35 warplane still needs reboots to get the aircraft airborne, a US Senate committee has heard, and troubling problems persist in the project's security. US Department of Defence director of operational test and evaluation J Michael Gilmore's latest evaluation of the project is in this written evidence (PDF) to the US …
Linux kernel development

'Charred Weasel' Linux

Linus Torvalds has honoured the LHC-frying weasel that died last week. The Linux lord paid his respects by naming this week's version of Linux, 4.6 rc6, "Charred Weasel" in this Git commit. Torvalds rates this week's effort, rc6 of Linux 4.6, as offering "nothing particularly scary". The only change he bothers to note in …
Apple a day  by Robert Holf https://www.flickr.com/photos/robbertholf/ CC 2.0 attribution https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Xiaomi takes aim at Apple, Qualcomm

Apple and Qualcomm will be doing a bit of looking-over-their-shoulder competitive analylsis: rising Chinese Chinese electronics manufacturer Xiaomi is prepping a smartwatch and mobile processor. The company's Mi smartwatch has left the rumour-mill, with a launch schedule to be formally announced at a company event on May 10. …
hands waving dollar bills in the air

If the Internet of Things will be SOOO BIG why did Broadcom just quit the market?

Cypress Semiconductor has made Broadcom an offer too good to refuse: US$550 million in cash for its wireless Internet of Things business unit. The deal covers the whole kit-and-kaboodle: Broadcom's Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Zigbee Internet of Things product lines, its WICED brand and developer community, and the relevant …
Lisa Harvey-Smith at ASKAP

One black hole, three galaxies, four BEELION solar masses – found by accident

Astro-boffins commissioning part of the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) array have incidentally spotted a monster 3.8-billion-solar-masses black hole created in a three-way galactic collision. In a paper accepted for publication at the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the CSIRO boffins, …

PCI DSS 3.2 lands, urges you to make haste slowly

The 2016 upgrade to the PCI's DSS standard, 3.2, has landed. As foreshadowed in February, the PCI Security Standards Council has eschewed “big bang” updates in favour of more digestible revisions to the standard. And those who adhere to a purist view of infosec probably won't be pleased. For example, as explained by the PCI …
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Marvell leans to Starboard

Marvell Tech and activist investor Starboard Value have reached a deal. Starboard Value has been agitating for board changes. Those were resisted by Marvell's wife-and-husband founding team of CEO Sehat Sutardja and president Weili Dai, who were ditched earlier this month. The agreement adds five independent directors to …

Smartphone growth? Not in Q1, says IDC

Prospects for handset-makers just got worse, with the smartphone market recording its worst quarterly growth ever. Remember how at the end of March, Gartner predicted a mere seven per cent smartphone growth for 2016, the first time the market hadn't managed double-digit growth? That forecast is starting to look like rose- …
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Ford Googles self-drivers

Google and Ford have kicked off an initiative to push autonomous car rules. Also linking arms in the “Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets” are Volvo, Uber, and Lyft, and former official of the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is going to the group's counsel and spokesperson. The group wants the …
Melted chocolate clock by Emily McCracken, CC2.0 license

Time for a patch: six vulns fixed in NTP daemon

Cisco has turned over a bunch of Network Time Protocol daemon (ntpd) vulnerabilities to the Linux Foundation's Core Infrastructure Initiative. The vulnerabilities, discovered during its ongoing ntpd evaluation, “allow attackers to craft UDP packets to either cause a denial of service condition or to prevent the correct time …
Facepalm by https://www.flickr.com/photos/the-magic-tuba-pixie/ cc 2.0 attribution generic https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Oz gummint seeks public input on 'site block' guidelines

The Australian government has decided it could do with some public input regarding the use of a controversial site-blocking law. No, it's not the “block the pirates” law that came into force last year. Rather, it's Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act, a provision that received little attention until the Australian …

Boffins believe buggy Binder embiggens Android attack surface

Bugs in Android's Binder inter-process communication (IPC) mechanism open up a mass of security bugs, according to University of Michigan boffins Huan Feng and Kang Shin. In a paper posted to Arxiv, the duo say developers aren't doing enough sanity checking between Binder server and clients. Specifically, they often forget to …

Qatari hack: Bank 'investigating' leak

After yesterday's allegations of a file leak, the Qatar National Bank has issued a neither-confirm-nor-deny statement about the data dump. As El Reg reported yesterday, a zipfile first posted appeared, disappeared re-appeared on Cryptome.org, leaving claims it contains personal data of the bank's customers in its wake. The …
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LibreOffice goes cloudy

LibreOffice can now run in the cloud, just like Office365. Crafted by the team behind Web desktop eyeOS, the Open 365 document collaboration and file synch service is open for beta now. The service, here, is based on LibreOffice, with file synch/share provided by Seafile. The beta comes with 20 GB of free storage – there's …

Kaspersky cracks CryptXXX, throws lifeline to ransomware victims

Kaspersky has announced it's decrypted yet another crypto-extortion racket. Writing here, the company's John Snow says Kaspersky bods can now untangle data after a CryptXXX attack. CryptXXX was described in mid-April by Proofpoint, which said it came from the authors of Reveton and was spreading thanks to its inclusion in the …
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Dell weaves more nets

Dell's followed up its open networking strategy with switches and software. The company has integrated its N-Series layer 2/3 switches with its Aerohive access point HiveManager NG software, letting a single cloudy management system cover wired and wireless environments. There's also two Open Networking top-of-rack switches, …
A Handful of Giant Weta by Mike Locke

US government tells Apple it has security problems that Apple fixed last year

Two years after the White House decided disclosure was better than bug-hoarding, the FBI has handed over its first notification to Apple. News of the bug report was given to Reuters, which says notifications describing the iPhone and Mac problems landed in Cupertino on April 14. The White House policy was articulated at the …
Godzila

Intel CEO Krzanich: PCs are things too!

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, presiding over flatlining performance, boardroom tumult and a one-in-ten slimming down of Chipzilla's workforce, has broken out the happy juice to promise better times ahead for the world's biggest sand-slinger. Krzanich has posted a blog in which he calls out the cloud (chips for data centres), the …
TwitterIPO

Honestly though, Twitter can't do anything right

Microblogging platform Twitter has disappointed investors, missing Q1 2016 revenue and user growth forecasts. Its share price has fallen 13.5 per cent in after-hours trading today to $15.35. The San Francisco company's GAAP net loss of US$79.7m was considerably better than the first quarter 2015 loss of $162.4m (and also …
cloud

Riverbed pitches cloudy SD-WAN suite following Ocedo buy

Riverbed's acquisition earlier this year of software-defined WAN business Ocedo has delivered its first fruit, with the launch of the company's SteelConnect product suite. The company's ambitious hope is to wean customers off the messy business of running routed networks. Instead, gateways at the customer site connect to …
A bigger Boson? CMS/CERN

CERN publishes massive data set

The CMS Collaboration at CERN has dropped its biggest data publication ever: more than 300 terabytes of particle collisions and accompanying analysis. Unless you've got access to a mighty broadband account, forget this one: at 25Mbps download speed, you'll need a little over three years to have the full dataset. And that's …

Thunderbird is GO: Mozilla prepares to jettison mail client

The Mozilla Foundation, which last year flagged its intention to push Thunderbird out of its nest, reckons it's identified possible new homes – including itself. In a report provided to Mozilla by Simon Phipps, the Software Freedom Conservancy and The Document Foundation are named as possible hosts for the project. Phipps …

Intel helps Redmond ingest Objective-C code

Intel has dropped a slab of code into Microsoft's Windows Bridge for iOS project, starting with APIs for vector maths, matrix maths, digital signal processing (DSP) and image processing. According to an announcement posted at Microsoft, Intel wants to make sure that developers working in Objective-C can run their code on Intel …
Plaster by Flickr user Aine under CC 2 license

Juniper patches Logjam, Bar Mitzvah, and various Java vulns

Juniper Networks sysadmins can add Junos Space network management patches to their to-do list. The gin palace says “any product or platform running Junos Space before 15.2R1” has the privilege escalation vulnerabilities, adding that “Attack vectors include: cross site request forgeries (CSRF), default authentication …

Vanity dating site BeautifulPeople popped

A December breach dismissed as minor at the time has turned ugly for dating-for-narcissists site BeautifulPeople. Security researcher and architect of HaveIBeenPwned, Troy Hunt, has told Forbes 'net scum are now offering data from a million BP users for sale. The site, which once, inexplicably and unforgivably, judged that El …
F-35

F-35's dodgy software in the spotlight again

America's toothless Tiger Moth, the F‑35, has copped another backhander from US government auditors: the US Government Accountability Office reckons its logistics software isn't ready for battlefield deployment. The GAO also warns that the US$16.7bn Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) could, instead, swallow anything …
Stanley Kubrick's The Shining

NSW Dept of Education IT system still in slow-motion collapse

The NSW state government's troubled education IT system rollout continues to plague its users, with Fairfax Media reporting enrolments at Sydney Institute of TAFE are in crisis. The system in question, Learning and Business Management Reform (LMBR), is a decade-long attempt to create a one-system-to-rule-them-all SAP …

Qatar bank 'hacked'

Documents purporting to be from the Qatar National Bank have been leaked on a file-sharing site. The document leak was briefly offered at Global-Files.net, but has since been deleted by the user. Whistleblower clearing house Cryptome is promising to re-host the files, but at the time of writing had not yet done so. According …

Utah declares 'war on smut'

The US state of Utah is trying a different approach to its long-standing campaign against online smut, passing a resolution that says pornography is a “public health emergency”. The rationale for the bill, according to its main provisions, is that “pornography is a public health hazard leading to a broad spectrum of individual …

Microsoft completes its Skype bot invasion with Web, OS X versions

Mac users have been wrapped up in the warm embrace of Microsoft's Skype Bot strategy. The Skype bots first hit at the Build conference at the end of March, with Redmond pitching them as bringing “expertise, products, services and entertainment” to Skype (really, truly nothing like Tay, okay?). It's part of Satya Nadella's " …

VXers pass stolen card data over DNS

The NewPosThings malware has spawned an offspring that exploits the DNS protocol to sneak data past firewalls. The VXers have reasoned DNS has a couple of advantages for data exfiltration. Since the enterprise network can't talk to the Internet without it, it's unlikely to be blocked; and since it's probably thought of as more …
Sulawesi Slender Root-Rat

Aussie boffin turns up REAL root-rat

If the newly-documented forest-dwelling rat happens to be an omnivore whose diet includes roots and it's described by an Australian-led team, of course it will get called a “root rat”. The “discovery” (I put it in scare-quotes because locals already knew about the creature – they led the biologists to it) was made by Museum …
carving of kiwi

NZ government scraps e-voting trial

New Zealand's online voting trial, slated for local government elections this year, has collapsed with the national government scrapping the plan. Associate minister for local government Louise Upton yesterday sent a statement to Radio NZ saying they couldn't “meet legislative requirements” in time for the elections. Last …
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IBM expands Ustream

I stream, you stream, so IBM's upgrading Ustream. Big Blue's adding content delivery chops to its Ustream suite, which it acquired in January 2016. The Ustream eCDN (enterprise content distribution network) software is designed to sit behind the firewall, handling the caching and on-network distribution of video from a single …
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Four hundred MILLION vulnerable Androids are out there

There's still too many unpatched Android devices, Google reckons: to wit, 29 per cent of mobes and tablets running The Chocolate Factory's operating system are running out-of-date code. In among the self-congratulation in Google's second Android Security Annual Report, we find that only 71 per cent of devices are running …
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Hyundai, Cisco auto tie-up

Driving cars to the internet is Hyundai and Cisco's new joint ambition. Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins visited Seoul to kick off the relationship, which Hyundai says will see the Korean company focus on in-vehicle networking, leaving connections to the outside world to the Borg. The two companies are also backing an unnamed South …
Super Pressure Balloon overhead in Victoria

Windy Wanaka wallops NASA's Super Pressure Balloon launch

Weather has again delayed the fourth launch of NASA's super pressure balloon (SPB) from Wanaka in New Zealand. The giant windbag, meant to stay aloft for around 100 days at 33.5 km altitude, has been waiting for the weather to turn in its favour since the beginning of the month. The problem is that even six knots of wind at …

European Union set to release anti-competition hounds on Google

The European Union looks to be formulating plans to charge Google with anti-competitive conduct over the Android operating system. The move coincides with a flank attack on Google, with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp filing a complaint about the legality of the Alphabet subsidiary's search and news services. The grounds for the …
Sensor descends down a hole in the ice as part of the final season of IceCube. Credit: NSF/B Gudbjartsson

They Came From Beyond Our Galaxy And Landed In The Ice!

“Big Bird”, a neutrino spotted in December 2012, probably started its life nine billion years ago in a quasar far, far away: so says the international team of boffins who run the IceCube detector beneath the Antarctic ice. By 2013, the IceCube collaborators believed they'd spotted extragalactic events: now they believe which …

Netflix's $1.81 billion Q1 disappoints markets

Netflix is pleased with its first quarter results, but has warned it will face headwinds in Q2. Its first quarter 2016 results (PDF) showed revenue at US$1.81 billion, strongly ahead of last year's $1.4 billion first quarter. That result fell short of the $1.97 billion analysts had expected, and its forecast of $1.96 billion …
Prison

Chinese con-artists cop to US military counterfeit chip switch caper

Chinese national Daofu Zhang has pleaded guilty to conspiring to buy top-end field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) stolen from a US Navy base and replacing the swiped silicon with counterfeit duds. Last Friday, in Connecticut's New Haven federal court, Zhang, 40, admitted offering to purchase military-spec chips from a US …
Stanley Kubrick's The Shining

Intel readies jobs axe

Reports suggest Intel is about to shed over 1,000 jobs. The weak PC market is the reason for the axe-wielding, looks like taking a big toll on Intel, with The Oregonian reporting it's preparing for a big round of layoffs. Intel has big facilities in Portland, Oregon, the aforementioned newspaper's home. The paper's report, …
Kick Me by https://www.flickr.com/photos/pasukaru76/ public domain https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/

Big Content seeks to ban Kickass Torrents from Australia

Australia's music industry wants Kickass Torrents blocked by local internet service providers. The Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) has announced legal action in the Federal Court against the site, under last year's amendments to the Copyright Act. Those amendments, in Section 115A of the Act, allow a right to …
Canary

Belgian boffins breed 'digital canaries' to test your random numbers

Belgian boffins have proposed adding what they call “Canary Numbers” to random number generators (RNGs), in the hope and expectation they will fall off the twig if something goes wrong. In this International Association for Cryptologic Research (IACR) paper, Vladimir Rozic, Bohan Yang, Nele Mentens and Ingrid Verbauwhede write …