BadUSB was developed by a team of researchers to highlight the inherently flawed design of the USB specification. Once injected, this exploit allows full control to the users computer. The worst aspect of this vulnerability lies in the nature of the hack, it actually resides in the firmware of USB devices. Erasing or wiping a USB stick is the most common method of removing malware, but since this exploit resides in the firmware of the device, it renders traditional virus removal techniques useless. The hack goes far beyond just flash memory sticks and includes USB hubs, SD card adapters, SATA adapters, all USB input devices, webcams, and storage devices.
The concept of attacking a computer through USB devices certainly isn't new, the NSA has been known to utilize similar tactics via the Cottonmouth device leaked by Edward Snowden. A recent update on the severity of the issue was released at the PacSec security conference. Researchers tested eight USB controllers from leading manufacturers and determined that only half of them were safe from the attack. This is a better outlook than previous research that indicated all USB devices are vulnerable, but is a hollow comfort because users have no method of determining which devices are exposed to the nefarious firmware hacks. There is no known method for the common user to even detect an infection, let alone remove it.
The original researchers refused to publish the BadUSB code, but some other friendly sorts have published their own BadUSB code, purportedly for studying the problem and providing incentive for companies to fix the issue. The bad news? The code is now available to the public. The only recourse for end users is to simply not trust any USB device.
Mobile payments are growing in popularity among US consumers, and mobile payments could reach $142 billion in 2019, according to Forrester Research. The analyst firm spoke with PayPal, Visa, Verifone and other companies, and they reported a continued shift towards mobile payments - and while companies have struggled with mobile wallets - next-generation services are building momentum.
"It's not just that we have smartphones," said Denee Carrington, an analyst from Forrester. "It's that we're increasingly dependent or rely on or expect them to deliver more."
Apple Pay receives the majority of media attention related to mobile payments, but Google Wallet, CurrentC, and other services will continue to gain traction. Apple's dedication to the market will lead market acceleration, helping convince retailers to test accepting mobile payments at checkout.
The recent launch of World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, the fifth expansion for the popular MMORPG game series, received a large amount of attention. The game launched in Europe and the number of players trying to enter Draenor caused problems, and Blizzard added multiple entrance points to the game - and while this initially helped - North American users were met by a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.
"While that solution helped a ton for our North American launch, we ran into a few other issues, including a distributed denial of service attack, that resulted in increased latency," the company confirmed.
Blizzard was able to recover from the DDoS attack, which no group has claimed responsibility for, though there are still problems related to server load. The game company will continue to work on server time outs and other improvements to help ease server load - and make sure gamers are able to log in and play with minimal interruptions.
Supermicro has announced world-record setting performance in the STAC-N1 and STAC-A2 benchmarks. Supermicro's 3rd generation Hyper-Speed platform, in tandem with the Intel Xeon Phi co-processor, delivered the record-setting results from an incredibly slim 1U server. The results indicate a propensity for superior performance in HFT (high Frequency Trading) applications, which crave low latency and high performance. Performance consistency is a big key to delivering predictable and sustainable QoS for HFT applications. The Hyper-Speed platform nailed key requirements with the lowest mean latency, max latency, and jitter. The slim 1U platforms can be deployed with up to 3 Intel Xeon Phi co-processors, expanding the use-case for even more demanding workloads.
The Hyper-Speed Ultra provides an impressive stable of connectivity with 10 2.5" drive bays, 8 12Gb/s SAS 3 ports, 2 SATA 6Gb/s ports, and a range of PCIe connections. The platform also accepts 2 NVMe drives via the AOC-URN2-i2XT. The system is powered by dual E5-2643 v3 Haswell processors. Supermicro has several high-performance systems available, and the pending release of their ULLtraDIMM-enabled platforms may increase performance beyond their own world record. 3
We recently had a chance to take a Supermicro development system for a spin in our SanDisk ULLtraDIMM DDR3 400GB SSD Enterprise Review. We also feature full evaluations of a number of Supermicro and competing platforms in the Motherboard and Server categories of our IT/Datacenter section.
Sony will have two PlayStation 4 bundles available to interested gamers on Black Friday later this month, the company has confirmed. Game console bundles are a great way to boost sales, as Microsoft has learned with multiple Xbox One bundles throughout 2014.
The PS4 Grand Theft Auto V bundle will include a 500GB PS4 console, free copy of GTA V, and a digital download voucher for The Last of Us Remastered, available for $399.99. The 500GB PS4 is $399 by itself, so gamers are receiving two free games with the bundle.
The other PS4 bundle features a 500GB PS4 unit, LittleBigPlanet 3 and Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham for $399.99.
Mobile World Congress 2015 isn't too far away, with the mobile-centric conference kicking off on March 2, 2015 - but we're seeing the beginnings of Sony teasing the world of its upcoming flagship, the Xperia Z4.
Sony looks to be dumping in quite the mouthful of specifications into the Z4, where we can expect a 5.5-inch QHD panel, pumping out 2560x1440. Inside of the Z4, we should expect Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 20-megapixel rear-facing camera, support for wireless charging, and IP68 waterproofing.
Ubisoft has had a hard week, with the troubled launch of Assassin's Creed: Unity causing some serious headaches, but now Ubisoft North American President, Laurent Detoc, has sat down with IGN to have a chat, with some interesting things being said. The thing is, this chat happened nearly a year ago, so don't be fooled that this was a recent chat.
Detoc told IGN that the company would break its annualized schedule for Assassin's Creed "if it's not good enough". Detoc continued: "If we think we've ended up with a 70 percent Assassin's Creed game, we're not going to ship it. That damages the brand. I'm not going to give you the names of products, because you know them as well as I do, but if you start to make games at 70 percent, even with a big brand, eventually people are going to change their mind about that brand. They won't want it anymore. That's what saves the recurrence. There are 30 million people or so who have been playing Grand Theft Auto. Last year, to pick a round number, we had about 10 million people playing Assassin's Creed. When we come up with an Assassin's Creed the next year, there's another 10 million brand new people who might be interested in the new setting, because of the new history, or the new naval battles and the pirates. It's a variation on gameplay from even last year".
"You bring something fresh, but you have to bring quality too," he added. "There's a lot of people who can play your game. We have fans who come back to the franchise and we're very thankful for them, because we think we're giving them a good game to play, and they give back to us when they buy it. But there's a lot more people out there who we can sell games to. I like to think that we don't delay everything. It's the reason for the delay that really matters. It's a lot easier to predict the release of an Assassin's Creed, because we understand what it takes. It's a lot easier to predict a franchise that has more recurrence, for sure, than a new IP".
Human Element, if you haven't heard about it yet, is developed by fresh LA-based studio Robotoki. Robert Bowling, the ex Creative Strategist of Call of Duty, and the Lead of Infinity Ward, formed the studio in 2012 - but have only just announced that they have now abandoned the free-to-play design of Human Element, which will now launch as a premium product in November next year.
With Robotoki dropping the free-to-play side of Human Element, it has agreed to end its agreement with Nexon, a free-to-play giant, laying off a portion of its staff. Bowling said in a statement with Gamasutra: "As the game evolved we realized that the elements that make Human Element the most fun would be hindered by keeping it a free-to-play experience. Therefore, we made the decision to switch to a premium experience for our players; which also meant that working with the premier publisher in free-to-play was no longer the best partnership fit for the game we were creating".
A Nexon America rep chimed in, saying: "Nexon and Robotoki have come to a mutual decision to end their publishing agreement for the game Human Element. As development of the project progressed the direction of the game naturally evolved, and it no longer aligns with the Nexon portfolio".
Elite: Dangerous floats into orbit on December 16, with Fronter Developments only just announcing today that they are dropping the promised offline mode, something they promised with its Kickstarter all the way back in December 2012.
CEO of Fronter Developments, David Braben, explains: "A fully offline experience would be unacceptably limited and static compared to the dynamic, ever unfolding experience we are delivering". Elite: Dangerous' offline mode would've allowed gamers to play the game, without needing to be connected to the server, and the game's persistent online universe.
Some backers aren't happy with the news, taking to the forums to show their displeasure. Executive Producer on the game, Michael Brookes, siad that "the galaxy mechanics" that the game uses are all on Elite: Dangerous' online servers, and that "The data set and processes are huge and not something that would translate offline without considerable compromise to the vision".
It wasn't long ago that we teased that AMD could be using SK Hynix's next-gen memory on its next-gen Radeon R9 390X GPU, but this new memory is now shipping from SK Hynix in the form of 8GHz GDDR5, in 4Gb single sticks.
As it stands, AMD's best GPU; the Radeon R9 290X, has its memory frequency hitting around 5-6GHz, while NVIDIA's enjoys things a little higher, at 7GHz. SK Hynix's new chips increase the frequency up to 8GHz, in 4Gb chips, which should see some deliriously fast GPUs on offer for the next-gen.
With AMD's Radeon R9 390X rumored to have a 4096-bit bus, this memory shipping could indicate we're closer to seeing a next-gen GPU not only from AMD, but NVIDIA. AMD's R9 290X has a 512-bit memory bus, but this new HBM RAM could really kick things up a notch, especially with AMD partnering up with SK Hynix before the rumors of the next-gen GPUs even began.