The Friday Tech Takeaway - 23.03.18
Europe proposes 3% tax on digital companies
The European Commission has proposed new rules on taxation in an attempt to increase the tax taken from digital businesses that it claims pay significantly less tax than traditional businesses. http://www.eenewseurope.com/news/europe-proposes-3-tax-digital-companies
Prof Stephen Hawking's ashes will be interred alongside Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin
The ashes of British physics ace Professor Stephen Hawking will be placed in Westminster Abbey after a special service of thanksgiving for his life.
SECURITY (breaches, hacks, etc.)
City of Atlanta's IT gear infected by ransomware nasty
IT systems used by the City of Atlanta, in the US state of Georgia, have succumbed to a ransomware attack, cutting off some online city services and potentially putting the personal information of employees and citizens at risk. https://twitter.com/Cityofatlanta/status/976920585434423296
Expedia's Orbitz Says 880,000 Payment Cards Compromised in Security Breach
Chicago-based online travel booking company Orbitz, a subsidiary of Expedia, has revealed that one of its old websites has been hacked, exposing nearly 880,000 payment card numbers of people who made purchases online. The data breach incident, which was detected earlier this month, likely took place somewhere between October 2016 and December 2017. https://www.theverge.com/2018/3/20/17144482/orbitz-data-breach-credit-cards
Windows Remote Assistance exploit lets hackers steal sensitive files
A critical vulnerability has been discovered in Microsoft's Windows Remote Assistance (Quick Assist) feature that affects all versions of Windows to date, including Windows 10, 8.1, RT 8.1, and 7, and allows remote attackers to steal sensitive files on the targeted machine. https://krbtgt.pw/windows-remote-assistance-xxe-vulnerability/
Pre-installed malware found on five million popular Android phones
Dubbed RottenSys, the malware - disguised as a 'System Wi-Fi service' app - came pre-installed on millions of brand new smartphones manufactured by Honor, Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO, Vivo, Samsung and GIONEE—added somewhere along the supply chain. All affected devices were shipped through Tian Pai, a Hangzhou-based mobile phone distributor, but researchers are not sure if the company has direct involvement in this campaign. https://research.checkpoint.com/rottensys-not-secure-wi-fi-service/
Facebook confirms Cambridge Analytica stole its data
In a statement Facebook said that in April 2015 Dr Aleksandr Kogan, a lecturer at Cambridge University's Department of Psychology, published an app on its site called thisisyourdigitallife, and said it was "a research app used by psychologists." But instead of just using it for research, Facebook claims it was used for commercial purposes by Cambridge Analytica and others. https://youtu.be/FXdYSQ6nu-M
AMD acknowledges newly disclosed flaws In processors
AMD has finally acknowledged 13 critical vulnerabilities, and exploitable backdoors in its Ryzen and EPYC processors disclosed earlier this month by Israel-based CTS Labs. It has promised to roll out firmware patches for millions of affected devices ‘in the coming weeks.’
Microsoft to re-enforce March patch
The Microsoft advisory also mentions two planned actions to address the attack. On April 17th, 2018, an update to Microsoft’s RDP client “will enhance the error message that is presented when an updated client fails to connect to a server that has not been updated.” And on May 8th, or perhaps later, “An update to change the default setting from Vulnerable to Mitigated” will arrive.
Top Security Execs at Google, Facebook, and Twitter announce departures
In the span of three days, news broke that high-ranking security at executives at three of the Internet's most important tech firms —Google, Facebook, and Twitter— announced plans to leave their respective companies. News of the first departure broke two days ago when the NY Times reported that Alex Stamos, the chief security officer (CSO) at Facebook, had clashed with the company's leadership over Russian manipulation efforts on the platform and had decided to leave the company.
Computer the size of grain of salt embeds in everyday objects
IBM says it has developed the world's smallest computer – one that is smaller than a grain of salt. Announced at the company's Think 2018 technology event, the IBM-designed edge device architecture and computing platform is a system-on-chip (SoC) with a processor, SRAM, storage, a communication module, and a photovoltaic cell for power. https://www.ibm.com/events/think/
Lattice launches 12Gbps wireless connector
Typical applications include mobile accessories, tablets, notebooks, action and surveillance cameras. The development is similar to that of startup Keyssa although Keyssa wireless connectors operate at up to 6Gbps, according to an August 2017 press release on the company's website.