Chris Williams

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Chris is The Register's US bureau chief based in San Francisco, California. He writes about chips and code. You can contact him securely using his public PGP key [ A57B 6DAC 2FDD 335A 4A81 8654 7EF3 24FC 8FF5 C9E7 ] and look him up online at diodesign.co.uk or on Keybase.io or Twitter.

$10bn Oracle v Google copyright jury verdict: Google wins, Java APIs in Android are Fair Use

Google has won the latest round in its long-running battle with Oracle over the use of Java class library APIs in Android. A San Francisco jury today found that Google's reuse of Java's core software interfaces in its own mobile operating system should be considered Fair Use – meaning Google can avoid paying royalties to …
Google, photo by lightpoet via Shutterstock

Android security 'shame list'

Google may name and shame makers of Android phones, slabs and gizmos that do not push out security patches fast enough to people, it's reported. The ad giant is a bit cheesed-off that some manufacturers are being rather tardy in signing off and distributing patches for the lowest levels of its mobile operating system Its …
Chris Williams, 26 May 2016

123-reg email goes TITSUP

Comedy internet vehicle 123-reg has been busy today fixing its email systems – after some customers were unable to access their messages. The web hosting company – which accidentally wiped away hundreds of websites when it deleted dozens of virtual servers in April and went all wobbly earlier this month – said only a "small …
Chris Williams, 25 May 2016

Docker lets security bug sniffer dogs off the leash at container images

Docker has hit upon an idea that perhaps other platforms could potentially incorporate: scanning software components for publicly known vulnerabilities prior to deployment. Today, the software container biz will announce Docker Security Scanning, which scours private repositories in the Docker Cloud for recognized security …
Chris Williams, 10 May 2016

ImageMagick exploits spotted

Malicious images exploiting server-hijacking holes in ImageMagick have been spotted and documented by web host biz CloudFlare. As we reported last week, ImageMagick – a tool used by countless websites to process images submitted by users – has a pretty bad bug that allows images to execute commands on vulnerable systems. The …
Chris Williams, 09 May 2016

Nvidia Pascal GTX launch

Unless Nvidia has a massive last-minute change of heart, it will tonight unveil a couple of Pascal-powered GTX cards for gamers. Pascal is Nv's latest GPU design: word of it emerged in 2014, it finally arrived last month, and you can find deep dives into how it works and why here, and over here. So far Pascal has emerged in …
Chris Williams, 07 May 2016

Official: Microsoft's 'Get Windows 10' nagware to vanish from PCs in July

Microsoft's "Get Windows 10" nagware will be killed off in July, the tech giant has told us. The software has been worming its way into Windows PCs via Windows Update since last year using aggressive malware-like techniques and frequent pop-up reminders. It quietly downloads and installs Windows 10 automatically for you, and …
Chris Williams, 06 May 2016

'I thought my daughter clicked on ransomware – it was the damn Windows 10 installer'

At the end of April, Microsoft's Windows 10 nagware interrupted a live TV weather broadcast to urge meteorologist Metinka Slater to upgrade her computer. A week later, while playing Counter Strike: Global Offensive to 130,000 spectators on Twitch.tv, Erik Flom was blasted out of his match by the Windows 10 installer. This was …
Chris Williams, 06 May 2016
Node Knockout code

OpenSSL decryption reveal

When a bug is found in OpenSSL that allows eavesdroppers to decrypt people's traffic and steal their secrets, there's always a good deal of handwringing and yelps of despair. But how can a snooper on your network actually exploit a software flaw to decipher your packets and swipe your passwords? Cloudflare's Filippo Valsorda …
Chris Williams, 06 May 2016

Nvidia NVLink deep-dive

Our sister website, The Next Platform, has a detailed dive into Nvidia's NVLink technology – describing it as "transformative as SMP was for CPUs to GPU accelerators." NVLink glues Nvidia's high-speed number-crunching graphics chips to general-purpose processors, accelerating the rate supercomputers and other big machines can …
Chris Williams, 05 May 2016
Qualcomm

Android hijack bug in detail

Infosec biz FireEye has drilled into a security bug in Qualcomm's netd code that puts millions of Android devices at risk of hijacking by malicious apps. On May 2, Google pushed out a bunch of patches for its mobile operating system. As we reported, one of those fixes addresses a flaw labelled CVE-2016-2060, which can be …
Chris Williams, 05 May 2016

Server-jacking exploits for ImageMagick are so trivial, you'll scream

Code dive Samples of booby-trapped image files that exploit ImageMagick to compromise servers and other computers are well and truly out in the open now. On Tuesday, it emerged that ImageMagick – a popular software tool used by countless websites to process selfies and other submitted photos – has a bunch of critical security bugs. …
Chris Williams, 04 May 2016

IBM's quantum 'puter news proves Big Blue still doesn't get 'cloud'

In a troubling development today, IBM demonstrates it still hasn't quite grasped this cloud computing thing at all. Big Blue's boffins have built a quantum-computing processor featuring five superconducting qubits, and installed it in the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in New York. IBM is now inviting people to request access …
Chris Williams, 04 May 2016
Photo by MICHAEL VADON

Ex-HP boss Carly Fiorina sacked one week into new job

Carly Fiorina's astonishing career trajectory into oblivion remains on target tonight after her bid to be US Vice President was cut mercifully short. Just seven days ago, the ex-HP boss was chosen to be the running mate of Texan senator and Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz. On Tuesday evening, crushed into a sad paste …
Chris Williams, 04 May 2016

Extreme photo-bombing: Bad ImageMagick bug puts countless websites at risk of hijacking

A wildly popular software tool used by websites to process people's photos can be exploited to execute malicious code on servers and leak server-side files. Security bugs in the software are apparently being exploited in the wild right now to compromise at-risk systems. Patches to address the vulnerabilities are available in …
Chris Williams, 03 May 2016

Cavium snubs MIPS, picks 64-bit ARM for next-gen network SoCs

Cavium – the brains behind the chips in big-brand networking products – has plumped for the ARM architecture over MIPS in its next-generation network processors. It's a sign that more and more serious networking gear is likely to be ARM powered rather than MIPS in future. The Octeon-TX family of system-on-chips, announced …
Chris Williams, 02 May 2016

Intel loses its ARM wrestling match, kicks out Atom mobe chips

Intel has thrown in the towel on smartphone processors after losing round after round against the ARM architecture – the dominant brains of the mobile world. Intel today scrapped the development of its Atom processor codenamed Broxton, which was aimed at powering high-end smartphones and tablets. Broxton was expected to …
Chris Williams, 30 Apr 2016

Windows 10 handcuffs Cortana web search to Bing and Edge browser

The Cortana search box in the Windows 10 task bar will, from today, always use Bing and Microsoft's Edge browser to find stuff on the web. You can still configure your default browser to be something other than Edge, and you can set the default search engine to be something other than Bing on your Windows 10 PC. But if you …
Chris Williams, 29 Apr 2016

Slack login leak shame

Developers building chat bots for popular team messaging system Slack are leaking their access tokens all over GitHub. These credentials can be used to quietly log into organizations' private Slack chatrooms and silently snoop on conversations. According to web security biz Detectify, there's a lot of source code committed to …
Chris Williams, 28 Apr 2016

Microsoft's Windows 10 nagware storms live TV weather forecast

Microsoft's relentless Windows 10 nagware has interrupted a live TV weather forecast, urging meteorologist Metinka Slater to upgrade. The operating system suddenly popped up a box on screen insisting the station's computer be upgraded to the latest version – while Slater was on air describing thunderstorms rolling through Iowa …
Chris Williams, 28 Apr 2016

Vid: Snowden flick trailer

The trailer for Snowden – Oliver Stone's movie about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden – has been put on YouTube for everyone to take a look. And it looks ridiculous. The action flick seems to be aimed at people with an attention span short enough to find a Fast and Furious episode a marathon, and nowhere near long enough to …
Chris Williams, 27 Apr 2016

GCC 6.1 hits, uses C++14

Version 6.1 of granddaddy C/C++ compiler suite GCC was released today, and is described as a major update. According to Red Hat's Jakub Jelinek: The C++ frontend now defaults to C++14 standard instead of C++98 it has been defaulting to previously, for compiling older C++ code that might require either explicitly compiling …
Chris Williams, 27 Apr 2016

China's Dalek-like robots fear only one terrifying nemesis: Stairs

Pics What's the difference between China's "first" robot security guard AnBot and a Dalek? One is a ruthless, slow moving and slightly menacing autonomous machine fitted with a space-age anti-human weapon and designed to weed out all those who stand against its authoritarian rule – and the other stars in Doctor Who. AnBot was …
Chris Williams, 27 Apr 2016
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, speaking at the 2015 F8 conference

'I hacked Facebook – and found someone had beaten me to it'

A bug bounty hunter compromises a Facebook staff server through a sloppy file-sharing webapp – and finds someone's already beaten him to it by backdooring the machine. The pseudo-anonymous penetration tester Orange Tsai, who works for Taiwan-based outfit Devcore, banked $10,000 from Facebook in February for successfully …
Chris Williams, 22 Apr 2016

Bypass the Windows AppLocker bouncer with a tweet-size command

Video If you're relying on Microsoft's AppLocker to lock down your office or school Windows PCs, then you should check this out. A security researcher says he's found a way to potentially bypass the operating system's software whitelist and launch arbitrary scripts. AppLocker lets IT admins managing large networks of machines define …
Chris Williams, 22 Apr 2016