Articles about Utility

Stealing, scamming, bluffing: El Reg rides along with pen-testing 'red team hackers'

Feature "Go to this McDonald's," Chris Gatford told me. "There's a 'Create Your Taste' burger-builder PC there and you should be able to access the OS. Find that machine, open the command prompt and pretend to do something important. "I'll be watching you." Gatford instructed your reporter to visit the burger barn because he …
Darren Pauli, 08 Dec 2016
World's tallest data center

The future of the data centre is within

Promo Future-proofing your data centre is no longer down to a choice of the right servers and storage, it’s now all about connectivity, location and the neighbours. The advantage – and the problem – with technology is that it’s always improving. Your latest server will always be replaced by a newer, faster model, and the next …
Marcus Austin, 06 Dec 2016
Game environments in Universe played by human demonstrators.

Elon Musk-backed OpenAI reveals Universe – a universal training ground for computers

Hoping to teach AI agents the common sense they need to solve arbitrary tasks without specific training, OpenAI on Monday will introduce Universe, a collection of virtualized video games, browser interfaces, and applications that serve as a training ground for code-based decision making. Universe is open-source middleware that …
Thomas Claburn, 05 Dec 2016
Image composite: Microsoft and StudioLondon http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-893620p1.html

SHIFT + F10, Linux gets you Windows 10's cleartext BitLocker key

Microsoft is working on a patch for a bug or feature in Windows 10 that allowed access to the command line and, using a live Linux .ISO, made it possible steal BitLocker keys during OS updates. The command line interface bypasses BitLocker and permits access to local drives simply by tapping the Shift and F10 keys. BitLocker …
Darren Pauli, 01 Dec 2016

Tobacco giant predicts the end of smoking. Panic ensues

Comment A few years ago, I interviewed Dr Craig Venter, the man who decoded the human genome, about his plan to save the planet. Venter’s goal was to create a drop-in substitute for hydrocarbon fuels, using genetically modified algae. His algae facilities would be located beside high CO2 sources, and churn out synthetic oil. This …
Andrew Orlowski, 30 Nov 2016
An upset woman with an empty wallet

Customer data security is our highest priori- ha ha ha whatever, suckers

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I would like it to be known that mine is bigger than yours. And yours is bigger than everyone else's. Only losers waste their time with small. We do big. The IT industry is notably keen on letting us know that everything they do is big, especially when it comes to data security breaches. Cyber-attacks on individuals are never …
Alistair Dabbs, 18 Nov 2016
Microsoft's Scott Guthrie addresses Connect: any developer, any app, any platform

Microsoft's development platform today: What you need to know

Connect 2016 At the Connect event under way in New York, Microsoft laid out its plans for developers targeting its platform – though what the "Microsoft platform" means has changed radically from what it used to be. The slogan today is "Any developer, any app, any platform," whereas a couple of years ago the theme was "Windows everywhere …
Tim Anderson, 17 Nov 2016
The Register Roundtable Room at The Soho Hotel

CIOs: VDI? Maybe, just maybe, it really will be different this time...

Register Roundtable Sometimes technology visions bubble along under the radar, quite often scorned then, following a change of name or emphasis, ubiquitous. Utility computing became the cloud, and we know how that’s taken off. Groupware became collaboration. Thin clients have morphed into VDI, and… Well, seems like a good time to get a bunch of …
Joe Fay, 11 Nov 2016

Mirai scan tool unleashed

Security researchers have released a Mirai IoT botnet scanning tool. The utility – aimed at consumers and small businesses – allows users to find out if devices on their network are either infected by or vulnerable to the Mirai malware. When users click on "Scan My Network Now", the scanner will discover their public IP …
John Leyden, 07 Nov 2016
Bot alert! Bot apps feature in the new Skype app

The Rosetta Stone of chatbot APIs: Upstart touts software bridge

Taking aim at the balkanized bot ecosystem, Message.io, a Y Combinator-backed startup, on Wednesday began offering private beta access to its bot platform. The 12-person company, based in Austin, Texas, aims to provide a single system for managing bot-based communication across multiple messaging services. Its bot syndication …
Thomas Claburn, 03 Nov 2016

Microsoft's IFTTT competitor goes live for suits & sysadmins alike

Programming-lite service ifttt.com has won plenty of fans with its ability to link services and devices, then automate things with “if this, then that” statements. And now Microsoft's having a waft at a similar service with the formal debut of a new service dubbed “Flow”. If you've used Outlook's rules feature, which filters …
Simon Sharwood, 01 Nov 2016
Newspapers

FCC backs Google Fiber

The FCC has put its weight behind Google in the Chocolate Factory's fight to bring Fiber to Louisville, Kentucky, US. In a filing [PDF] to a Kentucky district court, the US comms watchdog says it believes Google should have the right to string its fiber data lines on city utility poles with the ability to lift up or move …
Shaun Nichols, 31 Oct 2016
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In its current state, Ubiquiti's EdgeSwitch won't have much of an edge on anyone

REVIEW Members of the IT community rave about networking kit vendor Ubiquiti. You'll find praises sung both on Spiceworks and amongst vExperts for their UniFi devices. Unfortunately, my recent purchase of Ubiquiti's latest offering, their EdgeMax EdgeSwitches, has proven that Ubiquiti are also capable of putting out gear that is …
Trevor Pott, 27 Oct 2016
Traditional lattice pylons in the UK countryside

Existing security standards are fine for IoT gizmos in electrical grids

IoT World Congress Putting Internet of Things sensors into electricity distribution grids works just fine - and security is catered for by existing broad standards, Luc Hossenlopp, CTO of Schneider Electric’s energy division, told the Internet of Things World Congress today. Addressing a packed auditorium at the Fira de Barcelona conference …
Gareth Corfield, 25 Oct 2016
Privacy image

Gartner's seers pass judgement on storage industry leaders

Gartner has published a distributed file systems and object storage magic quadrant with the top three suppliers being Dell EMC, followed by IBM and Scality. The research consultancy defines distributed file systems and object storage as "software and hardware solutions that offer object and/or scale-out file technology to …
Chris Mellor, 21 Oct 2016

Meanwhile, in America: Half of adults' faces are in police databases

Images representing 117 million American adults – almost half the grownups in the country – can be found in the facial recognition databases maintained by US law enforcement agencies, according to a study conducted by the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law School. That figure is expected to grow as facial …
Thomas Claburn, 20 Oct 2016
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Chicago DC for Digital Realty

Digital Realty has decided to build a new data center in Chicago, and claims the facility will be the eighth largest in the world. The new bit barn will offer "698,000 square feet and 54 megawatts of utility load" and will be 12 stories tall. Chicago's financial services community is the target for the new facility, which is …
Simon Sharwood, 19 Oct 2016
Australian Parliament House Canberra

Australia's new data breach disclosure laws have a rather floppy definition of 'breach'

After years of discussion a draft of Australia's proposed data breach disclosure laws has landed and, to The Register's mind, it leaves a lot of wriggle room for those who would keep breaches secret. The draft Privacy Amendment (Notifiable Data Breaches) Bill 2016 (PDF) doesn't make it compulsory to report a breach. “It would …
Simon Sharwood, 19 Oct 2016

Spinal Tap’s bass player sues former French sewer

Actor, writer and director Harry Shearer, who played Derek Smalls in the band Spinal Tap, is suing the owners of the movie This Is Spinal Tap over royalties. The 1984 film is often cited as the best comedy of all time. The band was formed in 1978, and was lampooning TV the following year. In his lawsuit, Shearer claims the …
Andrew Orlowski, 18 Oct 2016
Hammer, spanner and screw

FreeBSD 11.0 lands, with security fixes to FreeBSD 11.0

If you were one of the sharp-eyed users who downloaded FreeBSD 11.0 from the project's FTP servers before official release, it's time to upgrade again. The release version has landed and it's not the same as the bootleg. As Glen Barber posted at the end of September, “the final 11.0-RELEASE will be rebuilt and republished on …
A skull atop money

Termination fees for terminated people now against the law

The US state of New York has had to pass a law to stop telcos and utility companies from charging fees to the deceased. Governor Andrew Cuomo said that bill A.8630A /S.6485-A, signed into effect earlier this week, will impose a $1,000 fine to any phone, internet, cable, or power operator that attempts to charge a recently …
Shaun Nichols, 30 Sep 2016

Human rights orgs take Five Eyes nations to court

Human rights organisations have today made the most direct legal challenge against the UK and USA's surveillance activities since they were first revealed in 2013. Despite the outcry against surveillance which followed the outpourings of rogue NSA sysadmin Edward Snowden, and a few successful legal challenges, the utility and …
Welders wearing protective clothing fixing welding and grinding industrial construction oil and gas or water and sewerage plumbing pipeline outside on site. Photo by Andrea Slatter/Shutterstock

British Gas wins pre-paid smart meter patent lawsuit

British Gas has won a patent infringement claim brought against it by Smart-Tech, the holder of a certain smart meter patent. Had BG lost, it would have had to pay out tens of millions of pounds in royalties. The case, heard in May in London's High Court, revolved around a Meter-Tech patent filed in the year 2000 titled “A …
Gareth Corfield, 28 Sep 2016
AT&T's non-BPL AirGig

AT&T tries broadband over power lines again

AT&T has charged up the paddles, yelled “clear!”, and fired the defibrillator into one of telecommunications' worst ideas: broadband over power lines (BPL). Except, as chief strategy officer John Donovan stressed in a media call, this isn't BPL, it's kind of wireless-broadband-near-powerlines. The Reg wasn't invited to the …
Drones hover above a smart city. Photo by shutterstock

Beautiful, efficient, data-sucking Smart Cities: Why do you give us the creeps?

Huawei Connect “Smart Cities” have been heavily promoted by tech giants like IBM, and the idea excites the pulse of fad-chasing technocrats and wonks. Huawei has also heavily promoted the vision, and the commercial logic to do so is sound. It is clearly hoping to shift its high end network management gear into a market where the customers …
Andrew Orlowski, 02 Sep 2016
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Ditch tape and fly into the public cloud with us, beams bullish Actifio

Comment Actifio can store its virtualised copy data in the public cloud, calling its facility OnVault and saying it replaces tape and dedplicated disk data graveyards. Its press release thunders away, saying that the term "vault" comes from the practice of locking away tape media literally in a physical vault for compliance …
Chris Mellor, 02 Sep 2016
Big bill

Surge pricing? How about surge fines: Pennsylvania orders Uber to cough up $11.4m

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has upheld an $11,364,736 fine, the largest in its history, against Uber for running an unlicensed taxi operation and obstructing attempts to investigate the firm. The PUC issued the fine in May after finding that Uber had provided 122,998 trips to paying customers without receiving …
Iain Thomson, 01 Sep 2016
Child sized crash test dummies at the TRL

Crash test dummy? Love the excitement of breaking an OS? Fedora 25 Alpha has landed

If you're a chronic complainer and nit-picker with a spare machine and a willingness to suffer multiple crashes, weird screen artefacts and possible data loss: Fedora 25's alpha has landed ahead of its anticipated November 2016 release. If you want to help the developers by breaking stuff, don't risk dual-boot on OS X if you' …
bee

USBee stings air-gapped PCs: Wirelessly leak secrets with a file write

Video Mordechai Guri, the Israeli researcher who has something of a knack for extracting information from air-gapped PCs, has done it again – this time using radio frequency transmissions from USB 2 connections. Dubbed USBee, the technique turns a computer's USB ports into mini RF transmitters by modulating the data fed at high …
Iain Thomson, 31 Aug 2016
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Software-defined networking is dangerously sniffable

Software-defined networking (SDN) controllers respond to network conditions by pushing new flow rules to switches. And that, say Italian researchers, creates an unexpected security problem. The researchers were able to persuade their SDN environment to leak information that sysadmins probably don't want out in public, …
UK border control at Heathrow. Photo by 1000 words/Shutterstock editorial use only

Paper mountain, hidden Brexit: How'd you say immigration control would work?

At some point in the next few years we will be in a post-Brexit world, and the UK will have regained complete control of its borders. Or maybe not. At this juncture, it's worth taking a long hard look at how that might work. Spoiler: it won't. And that's because of two things, law and logistics. Those immediately affected by …
John Lettice, 22 Aug 2016

Systemd adds filesystem mount tool

The developers behind Systemd, the alternative to sysvinit, have added a mount tool to their user space bootstrapper. The mount tool landed during the weekend in this merge. It gives Systemd users a systemd-mount command, letting the mount command pull in dependencies and use auto-mounting logic. Developer Lennart Poettering …

UK's mass-surveillance draft law grants spies incredible powers for no real reason – review

IPBill An independent review into bulk surveillance powers in the forthcoming Investigatory Powers Bill has warned that there is no proven case to let British snoops hack the planet. The study group examined the UK government’s Operational Case for Bulk Powers [PDF], which provided the government’s reasons for needing the most …
LInux nutella

Linux malware? That'll never happen. Ok, just this once then

Russian security outfit Dr. Web says it's found new malware for Linux. The firms says the “Linux.Lady.1” trojan does the following three things: Collect information about an infected computer and transfer it to the command and control server. Download and launch a cryptocurrency mining utility. Attack other computers of …
Simon Sharwood, 11 Aug 2016
Baby tries to drink from a water hose. Photo by Shutterstock

Ready for the Internet of Things big data firehose?

Today’s cities, transportation networks and even theme parks are filling up with wireless sensors designed to sniff, hear and feel what’s going on in their environment. They’re generating an unprecedented amount of data on everything from temperature to rainfall, vibration and location, and they’re sending it all back to central …
Danny Bradbury, 04 Aug 2016
Android icon desktop toys

Calling all Droids: BlackBerry’s giving away the Hub

Any modern Android device running Marshmallow will soon be able to run BlackBerry’s Hub, launcher and its other PIM software previously restricted to BlackBerry devices. The Canadian company will sell them through the Google Play Store for non-BlackBerry devices for free, or a 99 cent per month subscription. The deal includes …
Andrew Orlowski, 03 Aug 2016
Steve Jobs with OS X interface designers in 2001 shortly before the beta release

OS X file guard tool in alpha

A new OS X utility called FlockFlock that monitors file-system accesses for malicious activity is available as an alpha release for experienced developers to test. Written by computer forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski, the open-source software hopes to thwart "ransomware, spyware or other malicious programs that might …
Team Register, 03 Aug 2016
Ink hands

What's ordered in Vegas, doesn't stay in Vegas? $6.7m of printer ink 'stolen by office worker'

A Las Vegas woman stole printer ink worth $6,715,531 from her employer and sold it to a reseller on the other side of America, it is claimed. When Jennifer McCain-Bray worked as a purchasing analyst for the Las Vegas Valley Water District – a public utility – she ordered millions of dollars of extra printer ink and toner, had …
Iain Thomson, 30 Jul 2016
A crying child

Stop us if you've heard this one before: Telcos try to kill net neutrality

A group of US telcos has formally asked the courts to overturn the Open Internet rules put in place by the FCC, America's broadband nanny. A series of petitions filed by the likes of AT&T, CTIA and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) asked the court to throw out a June verdict from a district court …
Shaun Nichols, 29 Jul 2016

Windows 10 pain: Reg man has 75 per cent upgrade failure rate

Comment As your humble HPC correspondent for The Register, I should probably be running Linux on the array of systems here at the home office suite. But I don't. I've been a Microsoft guy since I bought my first computer way back in 1984. You, dear readers, can rip me for being a MStard, but it works worked well for my business and …
Tesla crash

Tesla autopilot driver 'was speeding' moments before death – prelim report

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released its preliminary report into the Tesla crash that killed Joshua Brown, a 40-year-old Ohio man who was using the car's Autopilot function at the time of his death. Brown was driving down US Highway 27A in Florida when a truck hauling a 53-foot trailer packed with …
Iain Thomson, 28 Jul 2016

Pokemon GO-ZILLA: Safety fears after monsters appear in Fukushima danger zone

Japan's Tokyo Electric Power Co is upset that Pokemon Go players on the hunt for monsters are being lured into the Fukushima Nuclear Exclusion Zone. The fictional creatures were apparently spotted close to the destroyed Daiichi nuclear reactors by Tepco officials. The presence of the collectible cyber-animals could tempt …
Shaun Nichols, 27 Jul 2016

White House to bung electric car industry $4.5bn in loans

The White House has said the US federal government will underwrite loans totaling $4.5bn to expand the use of electric cars. But before you go rushing to Elon Musk asking for a set of Falcon doors, note that it is only for building out charging infrastructure. The Department of Energy has expanded its existing loan program to …
Kieren McCarthy, 22 Jul 2016
Twilight Zone, 'Time Enough At Last'

Free Windows 10 upgrade: Time is running out – should you do it?

Microsoft's free Windows 10 upgrade offer runs out this Friday, 29 July 2016, one year after the initial release, and a few days before the Anniversary Update. "This is more than a one-time upgrade: once a Windows device is upgraded to Windows 10, we will continue to keep it current for the supported lifetime of the device – …
Tim Anderson, 22 Jul 2016

She wants it. She needs it. Shall I give it to her or keep doing it by myself?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? “Give it to me pleeeese!” she begs, staring longingly into my eyes. “I’m desperate and will do anything.” It’s 5:30am and we are the only people in the office. I stutter that I’m not at liberty to satisfy her demands right there and then. It’s too early for me. Could she wait a while? She takes a step towards me and begins …
Alistair Dabbs, 22 Jul 2016
VirtualBox 5

VirtualBox 5.1 debuts

Well that was quick. Mere days after announcing a release candidate, Oracle has emitted VirtualBox 5.1 Big Red reckons the following new features are worth getting excited about: Improved Performance: Significantly improved performance for multi-CPU virtual machines and networking. Bug Reporting Tool: New utility able to …
Simon Sharwood, 14 Jul 2016
CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope

SAP squashes clickjack bugs

SAP has released patches to fix 36 vulnerabilities, most of them (24) involving clickjacking. Tuesday’s patch update also contains fixes for several dangerous vulnerabilities, according to security specialists ERPScan. One particularly noteworthy flaw affects a utility industry-specific module. A separate code injection …
John Leyden, 13 Jul 2016
Gunther Oettinger, EU digital commissioner. Photo by Shutterstock - must mark as editorial use only

EU operators’ 5G manifesto misses the point

Never before have events coincided so neatly to demonstrate the gap between mobile operators’ thinking about 5G, and how future networks will really be deployed for disruptive effect. While Europe’s leading MNOs were presenting a backwards-looking "5G Manifesto" to the European Commission, veiling pleas for net neutrality …
Wireless Watch, 13 Jul 2016
Bad tech buyers

This local council paid HOW MUCH for an SD card?!

An unnamed local council has entered the hall of shame for making the most eye-watering tech purchase of 2015 - coughing up a 1095 per cent margin on an SD memory card. This is according to the annual poll of 200 procurement heads from 24 industries by pricing bench markers KnowledgeBus, which found average margins paid had …
Paul Kunert, 29 Jun 2016

Visiting America? US border agents want your Twitter, Facebook URLs

The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency wants to collect links to social network accounts of people visiting the Land of the FreeTM. Under new proposals, each traveler filling out an I-94 travel form or applying for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) visa will be asked for "information associated …
Iain Thomson, 27 Jun 2016