Richard Chirgwin

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Facebook cosies up to ESET for malware detection

Facebook, which earlier this year started partnering with F-Secure and Trend Micro for malware detection, has added Slovak vendor ESET to its suite of security products. The previous tie-ups, detailed here, are worth noting to put the new partnership in context. F-Secure and Trend both pointed Facebook users at their free online …
cloud

Alca-Lu security stuff goes virtual

Yet more of Alcatel-Lucent's portfolio has escaped its hardware prison to be virtualised: this time, it's the vendor's security solutions. Alca-Lu's Motive Security Guardian (MSG) – based on technology that came with Kindsight Security Labs, which it acquired in April 2013 – is to be turned into a virtualised service, the …
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GCHQ boffins quantum-busted its OWN crypto primitive

While the application of quantum computers to cracking cryptography is still, for now, a futuristic scenario, crypto researchers are already taking that future seriously. It came as a surprise to Vulture South to find that in October of this year, researchers at GCHQ's information security arm the CESG abandoned work on a …
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Google will see other clouds and raise them a PCI certification

Google has announced that it's obtained Payment Card Industry (PCI) certification for its cloud platform, chasing Microsoft and Amazon into the cloudy payment space. The Chocolate Factory outlined the certification in this blog post, also announcing WePay as the first developer using the system. WePay supplied the usual …
The Monash University Bionic Eye

Donors back boffins' wireless eye replacement

Monash University's work on a direct wireless sensor-to-brain interface to bypass optic nerve damage has had a boost with donations totalling AU$2 million that will help get the technology ready for human trials. The university has announced that Marc Besen and Monash chancellor Alan Finkel have each chipped in AU$1 million, to …

Interop lab cranks up speed for a 100 G Ethernet world

As standards bodies and vendors gear up for Ethernet to speed up all the way to all the way out to 100 Gbps, end users are also going to need confidence that their kit will do what it says on the box – and that it'll be interoperable. To that end, the University of New Hampshire's InterOperability Laboratory (IOL) has announced …

Hominid ancestors beat humans to the drinks cabinet, say boffins

Here's a surprise: the ability to metabolise alcohol evolved long, long before humans became brewers, wine-makers or distillers – about 10 million years before. In research published in PNAS (abstract here) in late November, a bunch of genetic detectives have worked backwards through the development of the enzymes that handle …

Boffins challenge Internet of Things' lust for power

The Internet of Things is going to vastly expand demand for the world's connectivity, and with it, there'll be a corresponding increase in the electricity devoted to computing and communications. The University of Melbourne's Centre for Energy Efficient Telecommunications is kicking off a new project to work out how that impact …

Japanese monster manifests new PETAFLOP POWER

Japan's ATERUI supercomputer has had its capacity doubled, leading the National Astronomical Observatory (NAO) of Japan to claim that it's currently word's the most power astronomical HPC facility. At Japan's Centre for Computational Astrophysics, ATERIU was already a top-100 machine, but the NAO says the CPU-replacement took it …

Vendors coalesce around 'MGBase-T' 2.5/5 Gbps Ethernet

The move beyond gigabit Ethernet is gathering pace, with a cluster of vendors gathering around the IEEE standards effort to help bring 2.5 Gbps and 5 Gbps speeds to the ubiquitous Cat 5e cable. Members of the MGBase-Talliance include Aruba Networks, Broadcom, Brocade, Delta Electronics, Freescale Semiconductor, Pulse Electronics …
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IETF takes rifle off wall, grabs RC4 cipher's collar, goes behind shed

The IETF is getting ready to finally kill off the venerable-but-vulnerable RC4 cipher. The group has issued a last call for comments before humming over a proposal that Internet-standard clients and servers need to quit using RC4 in Transport Layer Security (TLS). It's a simple enough change, but in the wide world of the …
Dunce

Australia dumbs down: Chief Scientist says research performance lags the world

Australia likes to flatter itself that it's good at sciences: the nation's scientists did, after all, invent WiFi and lots of other useful stuff. But when the nation looks in the mirror it should be honest and and admit it's wasting away, says a new report from the nation's Chief Scientist. In a report presented to the …
NBN Co Customer premises equipment

NBN Co details fibre/copper divide in new rollout plan

NBN Co has reconfirmed what's been known ever since the 2013 election: fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) builds are more-or-less frozen, and all new builds will be under its multi-technology model. Two weeks after its revised corporate plan capped Australia's experiment with fibre-to-the-premises, the network builder has published a …
Bitcoin bloodbath

Bitcoin laid bare: Boffins beat anonymity

The cyber-libertarian poster-child Bitcoin, meant to usher in a new age of anonymous transactions, is rubbish at protecting users' IP addresses according to research from the University of Luxembourg. In this Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) conference paper by Alex Biryukov, Dmitry Khovratovich and Ivan Pustogarov of …
cloud

NSF goes cloudy with US$16 million super funding

The fatter-than-fat connections provided by America's ESNet to its research community are about to enable a more cloudy supercomputing approach for researchers, with the National Science Foundation has setting aside US$16 million to build new facilities in Indiana and Texas. According to the National Science Foundation (NSF) …
Ancient skull found in cave in northern Laos

Siemens issues emergency SCADA patch

Got Siemens SCADA? Get patching: the company has issued updates for software using its WinCC application to plug a bunch of remotely-exploitable vulnerabilities. According to the ICS-CERT advisory, versions of the company's SIMANTIC WinCC, SIMANTIC PCS7 and TIA Portal V13 (which includes a WinCC runtime) are all vulnerable. …

Twitter App Graph exposes smartphone spyware feature

App developers around the world are cursing Twitter for spilling the beans: spyware isn't a bug on iOS or Android, it's a feature. The world's favourite micro-blogging platform has quietly switched on a feature in which it looks at what other apps are running on a smartphone it's installed on. In the unlikely case that you'd …
Tesla's Elon Musk

Tesla confirms Australian launch date

Tesla, which earlier this year started scouting around for charging stations in Australia and has also popped up with displays in at least one Sydney mall, has confirmed December for its official launch. Renew Economy reckons the Sydney December 9 launch will include early Model S deliveries and announcements about where it will …
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Five-eyes partners dilute UN resolution criticising metadata collection

The “five eyes” surveillance partners – the USA, the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand – have joined forces to nobble a UN General Assembly committee's statements on digital privacy. While the General Assembly's human rights committee has adopted a non-binding resolution saying that “unlawful or arbitrary” mass surveillance …
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BT said to have pulled patent-infringing boxes from DSL network

BT's patent spat with US company ASSIA will start to be noticed by customers, with the carrier reportedly shutting down boxes that provide rate adaptation after it lost a crucial round of legal action. In December 2013, Britain's High Court ruled that BT had infringed ASSIA patents by developing DSL management platforms referred …
eyeofSauron

Snowden doc leak lists submarine'd cables tapped by spooks

Edward Snowden's latest document dump has confirmed the extensive list of submarine cables tapped by the NSA, GCHQ and others. A list of cables errily reminiscent to that The Register revealed in June has been made public by German broadsheet Süddeutsche Zeitung in a Google Drive dump here. As The Register's Duncan Campbell …
NBN Co Customer premises equipment

NBN Co makes it official - backhaul charges will fall

NBN Co has followed through on its promise to cut the price of its services with a 12.5 per cent snip off the price of its connectivity virtual circuit (CVC) as of 1 February 2015. Currently $20 per Mbps per month, the CVC will fall to $17.50 per Mbps per month under the new agreement, published in template form by the network …
NASA MMS screen grab

NASA preps mission to probe Earth's magnetic mysteries

Video Next March, all going well, NASA will launch a bunch of spacecraft to try and unravel the mechanism of what's called magnetic reconnection, a process by which Earth's magnetic fields connect and disconnect. It's not only a question of fundamental science: during magnetic reconnection, there's an explosive release of energy that' …

Boffins find Jackie Chan's SUPERCOP is good for something

Blu-Ray might not be setting the world afire, but boffins have turned up a surprising upside of the technology that can be applied to solar PV manufacture. It turns out the pit-and-peak pattern that encodes a movie on the disk helps improve light absorption if reproduced on the surface of a solar cell. Published in Nature …
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Disturbance in the force lets phones detect gestures with Wi-Fi

How would you like a phone that gives you gesture recognition - without needing to buy a new phone? That's the tantalising prospect offered by a project at the University of Washington (UoW), which uses the existing Wi-Fi capabilities of consumer-grade devices (laptops were used for the research paper) to work out peoples' …

Stop the IoT revolution! We need to figure out packet sizes first

While the world gets excited about Internet-of-stuff saving people from the exhaustion that follows putting down a smartphone or using a remote control to adjust the thermostat, there's a bunch of research still needed to get more serious applications like sensor networks bedded down. It's not just that the world is choosing …
Cellular antenna. Source: Vxla/Flickr

Qualcomm joins Ericsson, Telstra in 450 Mbps LTE demo

Telstra has again demonstrated technology that will let lucky LTE users consume the entire 15 GB of its largest consumer post-paid broadband plan in less than 5 minutes. A repeat of the May 2014 demonstration of the same speed in conjunction with Ericsson, the latest demo brought Qualcomm into the fold. Qualcomm provided the …
Glorious future of China

Huawei's and ZTE's SDN embrace: soft power in vendor-land

China's network hardware sector has taken another step into the world of openness with ZTE joining the Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) project. As ZTE and (even more enthusiastically) Huawei cosy up to the world of open networking, Vulture South is moved to wonder whether there isn't an exercise of “soft power” emerging. ZTE is …

100 IT workers face the axe at CSIRO

The Staff Association at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) reckons that among the nearly 900 jobs being cut from the science agency, IT and comms is to lose at least 119. The group has put together an analysis of documents provided to it by management under the agency's enterprise …
Concept pic of the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle during re-entry. Credit: ESA

ESA's spaceplane cleared for lift-off in February 2015

Arianespace has put the launch of its IXV spaceplane back on the schedule, announcing a February 2015 date for the flight. The launch was recently postponed, but the organisation now says it's agreed with French space agency CNES that IXV – the Intermedia eXperimental Vehicle – will ascend to space on February 11 2015. The IXV …
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Crypto protocols held back by legacy, says ENISA

The EU Agency for Network Information and Security (ENISA) has updated its 2013 crypto guidelines, designed to help developers protect personal information in line with EU law, and has sternly told crypto designers they're doing it wrong, in two reports released late last week. At the protocol level, cryptography suffers from …
cloud

OIF and ONF to co-operate on standards

The Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) has started work on APIs for the software-defined networking era. The work is a follow-on from the joint meeting of OIF and the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) that identified what's missing in optical transport APIs to let user applications talk to the underlying network. The ultimate …
Homer Simpson confronts rigged voting machine

E-vote won't happen for next Oz election

Australians won't have the chance to vote electronically any time soon, after a parliamentary committee put the idea on ice. Beloved of netizens for at least 20 years, 'net voting – as distinct from other ways in which IT&T change our electoral processes – was pitched to the committee on the basis that people “would rather be …
Galaxy simulation

Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data

The Illustris Project, a universe-scale simulation created in 2013 at MIT and unveiled in May 2014, is now offering its first data products as downloads for researchers. The large-scale cosmological simulation of galaxy formation, as it describes itself, has half a petabyte containing 12 billion resolution points and in a full …
Bittorrent Sync 2.0 screenshot

Bittorrent wants to sink Dropbox with Sync 2.0

Bittorrent is taking Sync out of beta with an alpha version of Sync 2.0. (Look, it's not Vulture South's fault. That's what the outfit says, right here.) The premium version it's announced – US$39.99 a year – claims unlimited-size file storage, and is pitching the strong crypto and distributed storage as offering better …
The particle tube deconstructed at LHC

CERN's 2014 Xmas gift from the Large Hadron Collider: Two new baryons

Analysis of Large Hadron Collider data collected in 2011 and 2012 has turned up two new subatomic particles: a couple of baryons that are six times as massive as a proton. The atom-smasher's LHCb experiment produced data that looks a lot like particles designated Xi_b'- and Xi_b*- which were first predicted by Canadian particle …
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Greening the copper with NFV, lower power optics from GreenTouch

The GreenTouch group, which researches less power-hungry networking technologies, is pitching an NFV-style home gateway architecture as one way to curb broadband networks' appetite for electrons. The vendor-and-research partnership was set up in 2010, and now lists nearly 50 member organisations listed. Leading its latest …
cloud

Extreme adds switches and partners

Extreme Networks has launched a quartet of switches and a management appliance, in what it says is an expansion of its software defined network (SDN) strategy. Back in June, the company launched its OpenStack SDN platform. That launch wrapped a bunch of API toolkits together with NetSight management and Purview optimisation …
iVEC's Magnus supercomputer

IVEC's Magnus crashes Top 50

The Pawsey Supercomputing Centre is all smiles after the SC14 announcement that its upgraded Magnus iron has landed in the world's top fifty supercomputers. The 35,712-core Haswell-based Cray XC40 cracked 1,097 teraflops on the Linpack benchmark, which put it at position 41 on the list. At the end of September, the machine's …

Apple slapped in YET ANOTHER patent battle

Apple has to fork out US$23.6 million to a former pager company after a jury decision in the US District Court, Eastern Texas. Mobile Telecommunications Technologies, which had filed a variety of patents back in the 1990s when it operated the SkyTel pager network, wanted US$237 million from Cupertino but didn't get it. Its …
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Hewlett Foundation lays out MEELLIONS on security

The Hewlett Foundation has found US$45m in its other jacket, and has anointed three lucky US universities to spend on security research. MIT, Stanford and UC Berkeley will share the simoleons, in a program MIT says is designed to generate a “robust marketplace of ideas”, whatever that is. On a more pragmatic basis, the …
Cat yawning

Netflix tags March 2015 for ANZ launch

Netflix has finally unbagged the cat, giving a date for its long-mooted, sometimes-denied Australia and New Zealand launch: March 2015. Apart from the usual shopping-list of titles, the Internet-streaming net-neutrality-warrior says it'll be including 4K content in its service, which will cause a wry and bitter laugh among …

Boffins train robots to pull apart LCD screens – without breaking them

Computer scientists at the University of New South Wales are teaching robots to rip apart computers for recycling. Of course, while it's easy to use a machine to disassemble something, their trick is to do it while preserving key components. Which isn't quite as easy as it sounds. The group, comprising researchers from UNSW's …
NASA Nature Run screen grab

NASA launches new climate model at SC14

After 75 days running on the 43,000-core, 1.21 petaflop Discover supercomputer cluster at the Goddard Centre for Climate Simulation, producing 4 PB of data, NASA has put together a global model showing how atmospheric carbon dioxide – CO2 – gets distributed in air currents around the world. Youtube Video The model is based on …
The concrete blocks available for our rocket motor testing

'Pirate block' proposal back on Oz agenda

Australia's government is once again rumoured to favour the idea of ordering ISPs to block Websites accused of hosting copyright-infringing content, or linking to it. In the wake of its confirmed-then-denied-then-confused messages over whether or not its data (miscalled “metadata” to confuse citizens and journalists) retention …
Nvidia

Nvidia doubles Tesla grunt at SC14

Nvidia's SC14 eye-catcher is the next increment in its HPC GPU accelerator, the Tesla K80. The successor to the Tesla K40, the K80 is pitched as double-your-everything: twice the performance and twice the memory bandwidth. Unsurprisingly, the company reckons its target will be data analytics and scientific computing applications …

The optic NERVE of it: Intel declares WAR on InfiniBand

It's no surprise when Intel announces a new processor architecture – that's its main game, after all. However, along with the Knight's Bridge chips released at SC'14, the company seems to have declared war on the HPC mainstream, announcing an optical comms architecture designed to compete with InfiniBand. The Omni-Path …
CSIRO's giant titanium bugs

CSIRO carves out another 75 jobs

The CSIRO has had to announce yet more staff cuts after one of its divisions failed to meet an external funding target. According to the CSIRO Staff Association, the digital productivity flagship is one of the agency's targets for the cuts, along with researchers in agriculture and advanced manufacturing. The latter is the home …
Another tree anchors the cable

NBN Co screws lid on FTTP coffin

NBN Co has set in place the new rollout principles announced last week, in the form of a new corporate plan. Published yesterday, the 2014-2017 plan lays out the company's expectations now that the “multi-technology mix” has been set in stone. In the event that NBN Co is able to complete its negotiations for access to Telstra's …

Simon's says quantum computing will work

One of the hard parts of quantum computing is turning laboratory qubits into a calculation of anything. Now, South African scientists claim they've tested a handful of qubits against a 20-year-old algorithm to demonstrate that yes, a quantum computer can run it “faster” than a classical machine. Regular readers of quantum- …