Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for July 7th, 2017

From a Reuters report, shared by a few readers on Twitter: Germany’s BSI federal cyber agency said on Friday that the threat posed to German firms by recent cyber attacks launched via a Ukrainian auditing software was greater than expected, and some German firms had seen production halted for over a week. Analyses by computer experts showed that waves of attacks had been launched via software updates of the M.E.Doc accounting software since April, the BSI said in a statement. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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You’d think the military’s email service mail.mil would be more secure than Gmail and other free alternatives, but that’s apparently not the case. A Motherboard investigation in 2015 revealed that while it does have systems in place to protect classified messages, it doesn’t even use STARTTLS — a 15-year-old encryption technology that prevents emails from being intercepted in transit. That exposes unclassified emails to surveillance and leaves them vulnerable as they make their way to recipients. Now, after getting a lot of flak over the lack of security, Pentagon says it will finally start encrypting soldiers’ emails… but not until July 2018. See, Gizmodo discovered that the military’s email service doesn’t use STARTTLS, because it would prevent the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) from screening each message for malware, phishing attempts and exploits. A letter from DISA, which oversees the military’s emails, says its detection methods developed using national level intelligence “would be rendered ineffective if STARTTLS were enabled.” To be able to implement the technology and make it a default feature, it would have to migrate to a “new email gateway infrastructure, ” and migration won’t be done until July next year. DISA has revealed its plans to migrate the military’s email service in a letter addressed to Senator Ron Wyden, who questioned the agency for not using a “basic, widely used, easily enabled cybersecurity technology.” Wyden said in a statement that the move is definitely a step in the right direction, but he’s also pretty unhappy that it’ll take DISA a year to migrate. “Protecting the communications of American servicemen and women should be a priority, ” he said, “so I hope the agency accelerates its timeline.” Source: Gizmodo , Motherboard

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After blackouts left 1.7 million residents without electricity, Elon Musk famously guaranteed that Tesla could supply 100 megawatts of battery storage in 100 days. The company has announced it will do just that, supplying a Powerpack battery storage system that can run over 30, 000 homes. The 100-megawatt project “will be the highest power battery system in the world by a factor of three, ” tweeted CEO Elon Musk. It will back up the 315 megawatt Hornsdale Wind Farm, charging during low energy usage and providing electricity for peak hours. Though the company seemed destined to get the job, the South Australian government picked it after a “competitive bidding process, ” Tesla said. It added that the size of the system will be enough to cover the 30, 000 or so homes in the region that were affected by blackouts. Tesla’s Powerpack battery storage system (AOL/Roberto Baldwin) Those power outages set off a political conflagration that culminated in a very testy press conference with South Australia’s Premier and the Federal Environment Minister. Shortly afterwards, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull unveiled a $1.5 billion plan to expand the power grid to run an additional 500, 000 homes, including backup battery storage. That was when Tesla Energy head Lyndon Rive stepped in and made his “100 megawatts in 100 days” pledge, and (his cousin) Musk upping the ante by promising the system would be free if they didn’t achieve the goal. Musk confirmed that he’d keep the promise, telling Australia’s ABC News that “if South Australia is willing to take a big risk, then so are we.” The 100 day pledge reportedly begins once the grid interconnection agreement is inked, and Musk estimates that it will cost him “probably $50 million or more” if the installation isn’t completed in time. This will be the highest power battery system in the world by a factor of 3. Australia rocks!! https://t.co/c1DD7xtC90 — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 7, 2017 Via: Elon Musk (Twitter) Source: Tesla

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Enlarge / Alexander Ljung, CEO and co-founder of SoundCloud, seen here in 2013. (credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images) SoundCloud announced Thursday that it would be closing its San Francisco and London offices—firing 173 employees, or around 40 percent of its staff. The Berlin-based company has been struggling for years: it reported losses of over €51 million ($58.1 million) in 2015 —losses that  have steadily grown since 2010. In January 2017 financial statements, the company said the losses “give rise to a material uncertainty about the Group’s ability to continue as a going concern.” Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The Game Boy Camera, released in 1998, wasn’t even close to the weirdest peripheral for Nintendo’s classic handheld console and even earned a Guinness World Record for the smallest digital camera in the world. Its 2-bit, 128 x 128 pixel CMOS sensor managed very grainy black-and-white shots, making it far more fun than technically impressive. And yet, a Dutch researcher and tinkerer just used one to catch some charmingly blocky photos of the moon and Jupiter. Astrogphrapher Alexander Pietrow used a universal cell phone mount to strap one of the 29-year-old monochrome workhorses to an appropriately old telescope (built in 1838) in Leiden University’s Old Observatory and aimed at at the stellar bodies. The resulting photos are barely detailed — Jupiter is half a dozen pixels wide — but they’re blocky in a charming throwback to the original Game Boy’s 8-bit graphical style. Pietrow even managed to pick out three of the gas giant’s moons, singular pixels in a field of star dots. (Note that the image below has been blown up 400 percent to make it visible, since the Game Boy Camera takes photos at a whopping 112 x 128 pixel resolution.) Maybe it doesn’t do much for astronomy as a field, but it’s a lovely reminder that space still fascinates at any resolution — that we still find meaning when stretching for the cosmos with the crudest of tools. Via: PetaPixel Source: Alexander Pietrow

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After stumbling in 2016 Samsung appears to be back on track in 2017, as it just announced projected earnings for the second quarter that would show its highest operating profit ever. The company won’t provide a detailed breakdown for a few more weeks, but it’s estimating an operating profit of 14 trillion Korean won ($12.11 billion US). Analysts cited by Bloomberg and Reuters believe the figures got a boost from the well-received Galaxy S8 , as well as the RAM, processors and display components Samsung makes. This means the company is likely to continue the record-breaking streak from Q1 , and that’s before it launches the Galaxy Note 8 later this year. Plus, it could be in line to build OLED screens for a new iPhone, which could be a lucrative endeavor. If things keep going like this, we may have to pull an old image out of the archives . Source: Samsung

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