Richard Chirgwin

Contact Mail Follow Twitter RSS feed
Silicene's structure

Silicene takes on graphene as next transistor wonder-stuff

University of Texas boffins have offered up another material they reckon is a hot bet for future generations of Moore's-law-beating super-fast transistors: silicene. Throwing its hat into the ring as an alternate to the popular wonder-stuff graphene, silicene – a single-atom-thick layer of silicon atoms – is, like graphene, hard …

Siemens sighs: SCADA bugs abound

Another security advisory covering Siemens industrial kit has reached the public, this time covering wireless industrial networking hardware. ICS-CERT advises that the Ruggedcom range of 802.16e (Wimax, for those with long memories) switches from the company carries a range of vulnerabilities that let attackers scam admin …
Clockwork Orange

G.Fast sand-slinger says it's slung bits at 500 Mbps over 200 metres

Hold on to your cabinets: G.Fast chip shipper Sckipio has doubled the reach of its chipsets, and has demoed greater than 500Mbps speeds for a distance of 200 metres. To put that in perspective, 500Mbps over a distance of 200 metres equates to about one-third of a Usain*. The company is chuffed, because that's double the rather …

Australia's (current) PM Tony Abbott again calls for metadata trove laws to pass, ASAP

Australia's current prime minister Tony Abbott has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the head of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to renew his call for the country's data retention regime to pass parliament as soon as possible. Relying on briefings from law enforcement and intelligence agencies, Tony Abbott stated that there …
eyeofSauron

Avoiding data retention will be as easy as eating a burger

A handy line of questioning by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam has outlined the biggest shortcoming of the Attorney-General's Department's artificial distinction between “metadata” and “content”, while also giving those who wish their online activities to be harder to track handy hints on how to circumvent the planned retention …

Intel silicon photonics modules can't take the heat of the HPC kitchen

Chipzilla's first foray into silicon photonics has hit a snag, with Intel reworking its expected production runs to fix “quality issues” with its first modules. The company's 100 Gbps-and-beyond project is designed to push optical transmission right down to the system level. Using optical signals between system components like …

Singapore wants nation-wide internet of things, hold the internet

The government of Singapore, famously keen on connectivity, has issued a tender seeking a fibre network to connect an island-wide sensor network. The sensors will include surveillance cameras, according to AsiaOne, and are due to be rolled out by the end of the year. There will also be sensors in drains to provide flood …

US DoJ okays IEEE's patent troll BAN-HAMMER

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has okayed new IEEE standards licensing rules designed to end some of the seemingly-endless lawsuits over standards-essential patents - and the trolls aren't happy. A key step in bringing the new rules into effect, a “Business Review Letter” from the DoJ, has been completed with the department …
NBN FTTN cabinet

Opticomm wants peer relationship with NBN Co

Fibre infrastructure provider Opticomm is hoping the federal government will help it push NBN Co into standardising its retail service provider interfaces. Th company, which specialises in building fibre networks in greenfields housing developments, recently upgraded its core network, anticipating customer growth in the wake of …
Confused computer keyboard

Cisco simplifies software licences, by selling them under THREE programs

Cisco reckons it's unravelled the secret to the popularity of open source networking software projects: licence management in the world of proprietary kit is a pain in the neck. To deal with that, The Borg has decided to try out a revised licensing model on the world, under the banner Cisco ONE. Cisco's picked off a couple of …

AWS Go-ing Google's way

The Go language, familiar to those working in the wonderful world of Docker, is inching its way into the Amazon Web Services environment. In what'll be seen as a big win for the language, AWS is working on adding Go to its existing suite of SDKs – Java, C#, Ruby, Python, JavaScript, PHP and Objective C. Created by Google …
Angry-looking cat. Pic by  Guyon Morée from Beverwijk, Netherlands. licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Google boffins PROVE security warnings don't ... LOOK! A funny cat!

The revised SSL warning interface introduced in Chrome 37, designed to teach users more secure behaviours, was only a partial success – according to the Chrome security team's own analysis. Confusing security warnings serve only to make users more insecure and normalise risky behaviours, according to Google. To try and beat that …

BURIED: Oz gov won't reveal telcos' guess at data retention costs

Australian federal government data retention plans remain in disarray, with the parliamentary committee investigating the legislation being told that the government is not going to had over the costings it's received from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which asked telcos to provide them on Christmas Eve. In what Australian Labor …
eyeofSauron

Telstra: we don't collect the metadata the government wants now

Yet again, the coaching that spooks and bureaucrats have given Australia's Attorney-General George Brandis has proven to be at odds with the realities of the telecommunications industry. In today's hearing into the government's metadata retention scheme, dominant telco Telstra said it does not retain any IP address assignments …
Clouds in blue sky

Big Switch pitches third fabric iteration in six months

Big Switch Networks is sticking to its start-up sprint, announcing the third iteration of its virtual networking environment since it initial release in July 2014. The challenge for the company will one day be the same as it is for every once-was-a-startup company: it's far easier to build the momentum that grabs the market …
Handshake

Trans-Pacific trade treaty close to signoff says USA

The US Trade Representative Michael Froman has tried to reassure the country's lawmakers that the interminable negotiations over the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) will conclude during 2015. However, as chief negotiators meet in New York with the hope of securing signatures by the middle of March, there's speculation that what …

Cisco says GHOST is more Casper than Sleepy Hollow

Cisco has put forward at least a partial response to 2015's first branded bug, GHOST, saying that in The Borg's world, the glibc vulnerability is probably of relatively low severity. That would, at least, explain why it's not being hunted with quite the urgency of something like Heartbleed in 2014: right now, Cisco's advisory …
Clouds in blue sky

Who's afraid of a virtual switch? Not big bad Brocade

The burgeoning market for bare-metal Ethernet switches isn't bothering Brocade, according to A/NZ senior director Gary Denman. Speaking to the media over a brace of start-of-year announcements, Denman said the bare-metal market, championed by Web giants like Facebook, remains a niche model. While Brocade is aware that companies …
hitahi t7k500 hard disk drive

Boffin finds formula for four-year-five-nines disk arrays

Forty-five disk drives, ten parity drives, and 33 spare disks: that's the optimum array size to protect data for four years with no service visits, according to a study published at Arxiv. The problem the study addresses is that the world's rush towards hyperscale data centres puts an awful lot of disks in one place, and the …
George Brandis

Australian spookhaus ASIO could retain private data FOREVER

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) has told the government it's forgotten to set down how long ASIO is allowed to keep metadata handed over by telecommunications companies. The Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2014 requires that carriers hold data for two years. …
NASA animation of BL86 plus moon

Passing asteroid MOONS the HUMAN RACE

Space-watchers peering at the fly-by asteroid 2004 BL86 will have missed a detail that NASA caught: the flying mountain has its own moon. Future discoveries excluded, BL86 is expected to be the Earth's nearest-and-largest encounter for quite some years, until it approached its moon hadn't been seen. As Space.com states, the …
White House drone

'Boozed up' US drone spook CRASHED UFO into US White House

A drone crashed into the US White House because the government staffer flying the thing had hit the bottle, according to the New York Times. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency employee had already 'fessed up to careering the drone into the grounds of Prez Obama's gaff, sparking a security scare. The NYT has now fleshed …

Government's rushed NBN migration plan off to the ACCC

Industry objections notwithstanding, the federal government has okayed Telstra submitting its revised NBN migration plan to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). In spite of industry concerns that the arrangements favour the incumbent, communications minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the finalisation of …

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 …
Clouds in blue sky

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 …