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Microsoft's CEO Looks To a Future Beyond Windows, iOS, and Android

Wed, 2020-01-22 19:00
The future of the next 46 billion devices. From a report: "What do you think is the biggest hardware business at Microsoft?" asked Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella last week during a private media event. "Xbox," answered a reporter who had been quizzing Nadella on how the company's hardware products like Surface and Xbox fit into the broader ambitions of Microsoft. "No, it's our cloud," fired back Nadella, explaining how Microsoft is building everything from the data centers to the servers and network stack that fit inside. As the reporter pushed further on the hardware point, a frequent question given Microsoft's focus on the cloud, Nadella provided us with the best vision for the modern Microsoft that moves well beyond the billion-or-so Windows users that previously defined the company. "The way I look at it is Windows is the billion user install base of ours. We continue to add a couple of hundred million PCs every year, and we want to serve that in a super good way," explained Nadella. "The thing that we also want to think about is the broader context. We don't want to be defined by just what we achieved. We look at if there's going to be 50 billion endpoints. Windows with its billion is good, Android with its 2 billion is good, iOS with its billion is good -- but there is 46 billion more. So let's go and look at what that 46 billion plus 4 [billion] looks like, and define a strategy for that, and then have everything have a place under the sun."

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Microsoft To Force Bing Search in Chrome for Office 365 ProPlus Users

Wed, 2020-01-22 18:18
Microsoft has announced that it will install a new Google Chrome extension for some Office 365 ProPlus customers that will force the browser to use Bing as the default search engine "to access relevant workplace information directly from the browser address bar." From a report: The Microsoft Search in Bing extension will be added to all new Office 365 ProPlus installations and when updating to newer releases. The only customers that won't have this Chrome extension installed automatically are those that already have set Bing as their default Chrome search engine. "Microsoft Search is part of Microsoft 365 and is turned on by default for all Microsoft apps that support it," Microsoft says. "Even after Bing is made the default search engine, your users can still change to a different default search engine in Google Chrome on their own."

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Here Is the Technical Report Suggesting Saudi Arabia's Prince Hacked Jeff Bezos's Phone

Wed, 2020-01-22 17:38
A report investigating the potential hack of Jeff Bezos' iPhone indicates that forensic investigators found a suspicious file but no evidence of any malware on the phone. Motherboard: It also says that investigators had to reset Bezos's iTunes backup password because investigators didn't have it to access the backup of his phone. The latter suggests that Bezos may have forgotten his password. The report, obtained by Motherboard, indicates that investigators set up a secure lab to examine the phone and its artifacts and spent two days poring over the device but were unable to find any malware on it. Instead, they only found a suspicious video file sent to Bezos on May 1, 2018 that "appears to be an Arabic language promotional film about telecommunications." That file shows an image of the Saudi Arabian flag and Swedish flags and arrived with an encrypted downloader. Because the downloader was encrypted this delayed or further prevented "study of the code delivered along with the video." Investigators determined the video or downloader were suspicious only because Bezos' phone subsequently began transmitting large amounts of data. "[W]ithin hours of the encrypted downloader being received, a massive and unauthorized exfiltration of data from Bezos' phone began, continuing and escalating for months thereafter," the report states. "The amount of data being transmitted out of Bezos' phone changed dramatically after receiving the WhatsApp video file and never returned to baseline. Following execution of the encrypted downloader sent from MBS' account, egress on the device immediately jumped by approximately 29,000 percent," it notes. "Forensic artifacts show that in the six (6) months prior to receiving the WhatsApp video, Bezos' phone had an average of 430KB of egress per day, fairly typical of an iPhone. Within hours of the WhatsApp video, egress jumped to 126MB. The phone maintained an unusually high average of 101MB of egress data per day for months thereafter, including many massive and highly atypical spikes of egress data. The digital forensic results, combined with a larger investigation, interviews, research, and expert intelligence information, led the investigators "to assess Bezos' phone was compromised via tools procured by Saud al Qahtani," the report states.

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US Cops Have Wide Access To Phone Cracking Software, New Documents Reveal

Wed, 2020-01-22 16:46
Many police departments across the United States already have the ability to crack mobile devices, including the iPhone. From a report: Over the past three months, OneZero sent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to over 50 major police departments, sheriffs, and prosecutors around the country asking for information about their use of phone-cracking technology. Hundreds of documents from these agencies reveal that law enforcement in at least 11 states spent over $4 million in the last decade on devices and software designed to get around passwords and access information stored on phones. OneZero obtained documents from law enforcement agencies in New York, California, Florida, Texas, Washington, Colorado, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, New Mexico, and Massachusetts. These agencies included district attorneys' offices, local police departments, and county sheriffs' offices. The number of offices with access to phone-cracking tools across the country is likely far greater than what OneZero uncovered. Not all agencies responded to OneZero's request for documents. Some departments and offices claimed the records were exempt from public release. Others told OneZero they would need several months and thousands of dollars to provide the information.

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Chinese Academic Suspended After His 'Fully Independently Developed' Programming Language Found To Be Based on Python

Wed, 2020-01-22 16:07
One of China's top science research institutes has suspended an academic after finding that his "fully independently developed" programming language was based on a widely-used precursor, Python [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source]. From a report: Liu Lei, a researcher at the Institute of Computing Technology (ICT) at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, announced last week that his research group had "independently" developed a new programming language, named Mulan after the legendary heroine, and touted as having "applications for artificial intelligence and the internet of things." Days later, Mr Liu wrote an apology to domestic media for "exaggerating" his achievements. Mr Liu admitted that Mulan was based on Python, a programming language whose components are freely available under an "open-source" licence, and that it was primarily designed for teaching programming to children, not for AI applications.

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Tesla Surges Past $100 Billion Market Value, Usurping VW

Wed, 2020-01-22 15:25
Tesla's market value has climbed above Volkswagen AG's for the first time to more than $100 billion. From a report: The electric-car maker's shares jumped as much as 4.6% shortly after the open of regular trading Wednesday. At the early intraday high of $572.11, Tesla's market capitalization was roughly $103.1 billion, exceeding Volkswagen's $99.8 billion and trailing only Toyota Motor. While Musk's skeptics view as absurd Tesla being worth more than a carmaker that sold almost 30 times as many vehicles last year, Volkswagen's Herbert Diess isn't one of those cynics. He's been arguably the most vocal CEO running a traditional carmaker to acknowledge that Tesla's expansion heralds a radical shakeup of the more than century-old auto industry.

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UN Calls For Investigation Into Saudi Crown Prince's Alleged Involvement in Bezos Phone Hack

Wed, 2020-01-22 14:45
The UN has called for an immediate investigation into the "possible involvement" of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the hacking of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' iPhone in 2018, UN experts said in a statement Wednesday. From a report: "The information we have received suggests the possible involvement of the Crown Prince in surveillance of Mr. Bezos, in an effort to influence, if not silence, The Washington Post's reporting on Saudi Arabia," the statement said. "The alleged hacking of Mr. Bezos's phone, and those of others, demands immediate investigation by US and other relevant authorities, including investigation of the continuous, multi-year, direct and personal involvement of the Crown Prince in efforts to target perceived opponents." The UN statement concerns forensic investigations into the claim by Bezos -- the world's wealthiest man and owner of the Washington Post -- that the Saudi government carried out a cyberattack against him to extract large amounts of data from his phone, including nude photos sent to his mistress.

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India Likely To Force Facebook, WhatsApp To Comply With 'Traceability' Demand

Wed, 2020-01-22 14:08
New Delhi is inching closer to recommending regulations that would require social media companies and instant messaging app providers to help law enforcement agencies identify users who have posted content -- or sent messages -- it deems questionable, TechCrunch reported Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter. From the report: India will submit the suggested change to the local intermediary liability rules to the nation's apex court later this month. The suggested change, the conditions of which may be altered before it is finalized, currently says that law enforcement agencies will have to produce a court order before exercising such requests, sources who have been briefed on the matter said. But regardless, asking companies to comply with such a requirement would be "devastating" for international social media companies, a New Delhi-based policy advocate told TechCrunch on the condition of anonymity. WhatsApp executives have insisted in the past that they would have to compromise end-to-end encryption of every user to meet such a demand -- a move they are willing to fight over.

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Court Overturns Patent Ruling That Would've Cost Nintendo $10 Million

Wed, 2020-01-22 13:00
After almost seven years, Nintendo has won a patent case that involved the original Wii. On Tuesday, the company announced that a federal court in Dallas ruled in its favor against iLife Technologies, overturning an earlier 2017 decision that would have forced Nintendo to pay out $10.1 million in damages. Engadget reports: The original suit, which was brought against Nintendo of America in 2013, alleged that the company used iLife's technology to create the Wii's motion-sensing controller. The patent that was at the center of the case described a technology designed to detect when a person falls and monitor babies for symptoms of sudden infant death syndrome. iLife had initially sought $144 million in total damages and an injunction against Nintendo. In this latest ruling, however, the court decided that iLife's claim wasn't specific enough.

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China's 500-Meter FAST Radio Telescope Is Now Operational

Wed, 2020-01-22 10:00
China's Five-hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) -- the world's largest and most sensitive radio telescope -- is now operational. The telescope was completed in 2016 -- 20 years after it was first proposed -- but has been undergoing testing and commissioning since then. Phys.Org reports: FAST's nickname is Tianyan, which means "Eye of the Sky" or "Eye of Heaven." It's built in a natural depression in Guizhou, Southwest China. Among other things, its scientific goals are to study pulsars. FAST has already discovered two of those, in August 2017. FAST's name is not exactly accurate. Though it does have a 500 meter diameter, only 300 meters of it is used at any one time. The telescope is active and can change so that one 300 meter segment is focused on the receiver. According to Xinhua, all the technical indicators from FAST are meeting or exceeding planned levels. FAST is a powerful radio telescope, and scientists think it will make some major discoveries, especially in its first couple of years. FAST will also perform two sky surveys, which will take about five years. It'll take another 10 years just to analyze all that data. Still, there's room for flexibility in the telescope's operational schedule to pursue any surprises that come up. The surveys will take up about half of the telescope's observing time, leaving room for objectives like searching for exoplanets with magnetic fields, which are probably crucial for life.

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Every Half-Life Game Is Now Free On Steam

Wed, 2020-01-22 07:00
With Half-Life: Alyx launching in March 2020, Valve is offering gamers the opportunity to play every Half-Life game on Steam for free. "This is basically a two-month-long trial; you won't get to keep these games," notes The Verge. "Every game is compatible with Windows, Linux, and macOS (though all of these games are 32-bit apps, which means they don't work on macOS 10.15 Catalina)." From the report: This promotion includes the original Half-Life (the Source version of the game with added physics to make it feel more modern to play, not the beautiful remaster Black Mesa) and its expansions, Half-Life: Blue Shift and Half-Life: Opposing Force. Also available for free is Half-Life 2 and its two episodic expansions. (According to Valve, Half-Life: Alyx takes place before the events of Half-Life 2.) Valve's Half-Life 2: Lost Coast, its tech demo for HDR lightning, isn't included in this promotion. You can view all the Half-Life games on Steam and start downloading them here.

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Smart Scale Goes Dumb As Under Armour Pulls the Plug On Connected Tech

Wed, 2020-01-22 03:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Today's example of smart stuff going dumb comes courtesy of Under Armour, which is effectively rendering its fitness hardware line very expensive paperweights. The company quietly pulled its UA Record app from both Google Play and Apple's App Store on New Year's Eve. In an announcement dated sometime around January 8, Under Armour said that not only has the app been removed from all app stores, but the company is no longer providing customer support or bug fixes for the software, which will completely stop working as of March 31. Under Armour launched its lineup of connected fitness devices in 2016. The trio of trackers included a wrist-worn activity monitor, a smart scale, and a chest-strap-style heart rate monitor. The scale and wristband retailed at $180 each, with the heart monitor going for $80. Shoppers could buy all three together in a $400 bundle called the UA HealthBox. The end of the road is nigh, it seems, and all three products are about to meet their doom as Under Armour kills off Record for good. Users are instead expected to switch to MapMyFitness, which Under Armour bills as "an even better tracking experience." The company also set the UA Record Twitter account to private, effectively taking it offline to anyone except the 133 accounts it follows. Current device owners also can't export all their data. While workout data can be exported and transferred to some other tracking app, Record users cannot capture weight or other historical data to carry forward with them.

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Amazon To Ramp Up Counterfeit Reporting To Law Enforcement

Wed, 2020-01-22 00:45
Amazon is planning to give more data on counterfeit goods to law enforcement in a further crackdown on fakes listed on its e-commerce sites. Reuters reports: In the past, the world's largest online retailer has informed authorities of counterfeit peddlers when it thought it had enough information for police to pursue a culprit. Now, the company plans to disclose merchant information to European and U.S. federal authorities every time it confirms a counterfeit was sold to customers, increasing the frequency and volume of reporting to law enforcement, according to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Why the new program was happening now was not immediately clear. In recent weeks, Amazon has held meetings with government authorities and related organizations to discuss its new counterfeit reporting strategy and how the company can further their enforcement efforts, the person said. The hope has been that Amazon's coveted data will help law enforcement make connections about criminals. According to the source, Amazon will report a merchant's name, company name, product and contact information to authorities, after it confirms a business was selling fakes, closes the seller's account, and the account holder does not make a successful appeal via Amazon's typical processes.

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Boeing Officially Stops Making 737 Max Airplanes

Wed, 2020-01-22 00:02
Boeing confirmed that it has stopped building 737 Max airplanes in Renton, Washington, as it waits to get permission for the plane to fly again following two deadly crashes that killed 346 people. CNN reports: Boeing will not furlough or lay off workers because of the shutdown, but pain will ripple through its supply chain and could hurt America's economic growth. Boeing would not release a headcount for people who had been working on the plane. The company said the employees will be reassigned to other duties during the shutdown, and there are a number of reasons for that. The 737 Max has been grounded since March following two fatal crashes that killed all 346 people on board. Although Boeing couldn't deliver the 737 Max planes to customers, the company continued to build the jets, albeit at a slightly reduced pace of 42 a month. It now has about 400 completed jets parked in Washington and Texas, waiting to be delivered to airlines around the world. The company hoped that the plane would fly again before the end of 2019. But in December Stephen Dickson, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, announced approval would not come until some time in 2020. Shutdown plans were announced a week later.

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AMD Launches Navi-Based Radeon RX 5600XT To Battle GeForce RTX 2060 Under $300

Tue, 2020-01-21 23:20
MojoKid writes: Today AMD launched its latest midrange graphics card based on the company's all new Navi architecture. The AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT slots in under $300 ($279 MSRP) and is based on the same Navi 10 GPU as AMD's current high-end Radeon RX 5700 series cards. AMD's Radeon RX 5600 XT is outfitted with 36 compute units, with a total of 2,304 stream processors and is essentially a Radeon 5700 spec GPU with 2GB less GDDR 6 memory (6GB total) and a narrower 192-bit interface, versus Radeon RX 5700's 8GB, 256-bit config. HotHardware took a Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5600 XT around the benchmark track and this card has a BIOS switch on-board that toggles between performance and silent/quiet modes. In performance mode, the card has a 160W power target, 14Gbps memory data rate, a Boost Clock of 1,750MHz and a Game Clock of 1,615MHz. In silent/quiet mode, things are a bit more tame with a 135W power target, 12Gbps memory, and 1,620 MHz/1,460MHz Boost and Game Clocks, respectively. In the gaming benchmarks, the new Radeon RX 5600 XT is generally faster than NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 2060 overall, with the exception of a few titles that are more NVIDIA-optimized and in VR. Though it lacks the capability for hardware-accelerated ray tracing, the new AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT weighs in $20-30 less than NVIDIA's closest competitor and offers similar if not better performance.

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Wine 5.0 Released

Tue, 2020-01-21 22:40
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BleepingComputer: Wine 5.0 has been released today and contains over 7,400 bug fixes and numerous audio and graphics improvements that will increase performance in gaming on Linux. With the release of Wine 5.0, WineHQ hopes to resolve many of these issues, with the main improvements being: -Builtin modules in PE format: To make games think Wine is a real Windows environment, most Wine 5.0 modules have been converted into the PE format rather than ELF binaries. It is hoped that this will allow copy-protection and anti-cheat programs to not flag games running under Wine as being modified. -Multi-monitor support: Multiple displays adapters and multi-monitor configurations are now supported under Wine. -XAudio2 reimplementation: XAudio2 libraries have been added back to Wine and will use the FAudio library for better compatibility. -Vulkan 1.1 support: "The Vulkan driver supports up to version 1.1.126 of the Vulkan spec." Here are the release notes, download locations for the binary packages (when available) and source.

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Amazon Boss Jeff Bezos' Phone 'Hacked By Saudi Crown Prince'

Tue, 2020-01-21 22:00
According to the Guardian, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos had his phone "hacked" in 2018 after receiving a WhatsApp message from the personal account of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. From the report: The encrypted message from the number used by Mohammed bin Salman is believed to have included a malicious file that infiltrated the phone of the world's richest man, according to the results of a digital forensic analysis. This analysis found it "highly probable" that the intrusion into the phone was triggered by an infected video file sent from the account of the Saudi heir to Bezos, the owner of the Washington Post. The two men had been having a seemingly friendly WhatsApp exchange when, on May 1 of that year, the unsolicited file was sent, according to sources who spoke to the Guardian on the condition of anonymity. Large amounts of data were exfiltrated from Bezos's phone within hours, according to a person familiar with the matter. The Guardian has no knowledge of what was taken from the phone or how it was used. [...] The disclosure is likely to raise difficult questions for the kingdom about the circumstances around how U.S. tabloid the National Enquirer came to publish intimate details about Bezos's private life -- including text messages -- nine months later. It may also lead to renewed scrutiny about what the crown prince and his inner circle were doing in the months prior to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post journalist who was killed in October 2018 -- five months after the alleged "hack" of the newspaper's owner.

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First Case of New Coronavirus Detected In US

Tue, 2020-01-21 21:20
The first case of an infection with a new coronavirus has been discovered in the United States. NPR reports: A man from Washington state returned home after a trip to Wuhan, China, on Jan. 15, sought medical attention on Jan. 19 and now is in isolation at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Wash. State health officials say his condition is quite good and even referred to him as "healthy." But testing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the 20th confirm that he is infected with the Wuhan coronavirus. The man arrived back in the U.S. prior to the implementation of screening at three domestic airports on Friday. As of yesterday, over 200 cases of the virus have been reported in China.

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Notorious Crime Gang Targets Internet Routers Using Tomato Firmware

Tue, 2020-01-21 20:40
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Internet routers running the Tomato alternative firmware are under active attack by a self-propagating exploit that searches for devices using default credentials. When credentials are found, the exploit then makes the routers part of a botnet that's used in a host of online attacks, researchers said on Tuesday. The Muhstik botnet came to light about two years ago when it started unleashed a string of exploits that attacked Linux servers and Internet-of-things devices. It opportunistically exploited a host of vulnerabilities, including the so-called critical Drupalgeddon2 vulnerability disclosed in early 2018 in the Drupal content management system. Muhstik has also been caught using vulnerabilities in routers that use Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) or DD-WRT software. The botnet has also exploited previously patched vulnerabilities in other server applications, including the Webdav, WebLogic, Webuzo, and WordPress. On Tuesday, researchers from Palo Alto Networks said they recently detected Muhstik targeting Internet routers running Tomato, an open-source package that serves as an alternative to firmware that ships by default with routers running Broadcom chips. The ability to work with virtual private networks and provide advanced quality of service control make Tomato popular with end users and in some cases router sellers. The exploits use already infected devices to scan the Internet for Tomato routers and, when found, to check if they use the default username and password of "admin:admin" or "root:admin" for remote administration. The exploit causes Tomato routers that haven't been locked down with a strong password to join an IRC server that's used to control the botnet. The infection also causes the routers to scan the Internet for servers or devices running WordPress, Webuzo, or WebLogic packages that are vulnerable.

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AR is the 'Next Big Thing', Says Apple CEO Tim Cook

Tue, 2020-01-21 19:31
Apple chief executive Tim Cook believes augmented reality, or technology that overlays virtual objects onto the real world, is "the next big thing" that is poised to "pervade our entire lives." From a report: Shanahan asked Cook about major developments in tech he expects in the next five to 10 years. "I'm excited about AR," said the Big Tech CEO, citing augmented reality as an emerging tech space to watch. "My view is it's the next big thing, and it will pervade our entire lives." [...] Cook also sees applications for AR helping with hands-on tasks. "You may be under the car changing the oil, and you're not sure exactly how to do it. You can use AR," he said. Interestingly, the tech CEO sees benefits for AR and connecting people, more than other available technologies. "I think it's something that doesn't isolate people. We can use it to enhance our discussion, not substitute it for human connection, which I've always deeply worried about in some of the other technologies."

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