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TweakTown News Posts - Page 8

Engineers mess up causing Microsoft Azure downtime

By: Chris Smith | More News: Software | Posted: 2 days, 6 hours ago

Due to gaps in the deployment policies produced by engineers, Microsoft's Azure cloud service was taken offline during a period of time throughout November 2014. This information has been discovered thanks to a detailed mea culpa analysis by Microsoft themselves.

 

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Jason Zander, Azure team member, conducted a final root cause analysis (RCA) and published it recently, claiming that the engineers intended to push software changes to improve performance and reduce processor load of the services' front-end system. However an outage was caused, meaning customers being unable to connect to Azure's storage, virtual machine, website, Active Directory or management portal functions.

 

The coding succeeded well in improving performance in the testing phases, however the full roll-out was discovered to encounter two main issues. Usually Microsoft deploys these updates in waves, slowly increasing the updated infrastructures bit by bit rather than a full roll-out. However an engineer saw this update as a low risk exercise after a small testing phase and pushed it to everyone in one hit. Thanks to this blunder and subsequent outage, Microsoft are heavily enforcing staged deployments from now on.

Continue reading 'Engineers mess up causing Microsoft Azure downtime' (full post)

ICANN hit by spear phishing attack, employee credentials compromised

By: Michael Hatamoto | More News: Hacking & Security | Posted: 2 days, 7 hours ago

ICANN employees have fallen victim to a suspected spear phishing cyberattack that began in late November 2014, the group confirmed in a blog post. The social engineering attack mimicked emails that closely resembled communications from its own domain and targeted ICANN employees. Unfortunately, the attack was successful and several ICANN staff members had their credentials compromised.

 

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The compromised credentials were used to access ICANN's Centralized Zone Data System, providing criminals with access to names, postal addresses, email addresses, fax and phone numbers, usernames and passwords. The breach also hits the ICANN GAC Wiki, with only public information accessible to the cybercriminals.

 

Earlier in the year, ICANN boosted its cybersecurity, which the group said likely helped keep unauthorized access to a minimum from this attack.

Steve Carell's 'Pyongyang' thriller also canceled due to scandal

By: Michael Hatamoto | More News: Hacking & Security | Posted: 2 days, 7 hours ago

Sony has decided to withdraw "The Interview," due to terrorism threats from the Guardians of Peace hacker group - and Steve Carell's "Pyongyang" movie has been scrapped. The so-called "paranoid thriller" movie was written by Steve Conrad and originates from the "Pyongyang" graphic novel created by Guy Delisle.

 

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Not surprisingly, Carell wasn't overly amused with news Sony canned "The Interview" and his movie also was caught in the crossfire, tweeting the following message: "Sad day for creative expression. #feareatsthesoul"

 

The US government is set to officially blame North Korea for SPE's recent cyberattack, which has caused great harm to Sony - as employee personal information, medical data, and email conversations have been leaked online.

Uber exploring the use of biometrics, lie detectors to screen drivers

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Business, Financial & Legal | Posted: 2 days, 7 hours ago

With countless people, corporations and governments worried about Uber's screening process for its drivers, the ridesharing company is going much deeper into the screening process according to the company's new Head of Global Safety, Philip Cardenas.

 

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Cardenas has said that Uber is looking into multiple avenues for screening its drivers, something that involves biometrics, voice fingerprinting, and lie detector tests. Cardenas added that "scientific analysis and technology" will help fill in the blanks that pop up from the usual background check infrastructure across the world.

 

Uber isn't just adding additional layers of screening for its drivers, as it's also working on a new emergency system that would let you get in contact with your family, and Uber, if you're at risk. The ridesharing giant is also working on bettering its response network, where it hopes to provide "immediate" support if your ride goes awry.

Coolpad builds Android backdoor into devices sold in China

By: Michael Hatamoto | More News: Hacking & Security | Posted: 2 days, 8 hours ago

Chinese mobile manufacturer Coolpad is building backdoors into high-end Google Android-powered smartphones, according to Palo Alto Networks' Unit 42. The "CoolReaper" backdoor has been found on a variety of ROMs that were downloaded by security researchers. Coolpad is the No. 6 largest smartphone manufacture in the world, No. 3 inside of China, so this is an extremely troubling development.

 

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CoolReaper is able to download, install, or activate Android applications without needing owner consent or notification. It can also clear user data, uninstall applications, and disable system applications. Researchers also found that it can dial arbitrary phone numbers and send SMS or MMS messages from the phone.

 

"CoolReaper is the first malware we have seen that was built and operated by an Android manufacturer," according to the Palo Alto Networks' Unit 42 blog. "The changes Coolpad made to the Android OS to hide the backdoor from users and anti-virus programs are unique and should make people think twice about the integrity of their mobile devices."

Additional retailers, companies adopting Apple Pay mobile pay system

By: Michael Hatamoto | More News: Business, Financial & Legal | Posted: 2 days, 8 hours ago

Major retailers, banks and start-ups are reportedly jumping on the Apple Pay mobile payment bandwagon, according to recent media reports. TD Bank, USAA, Commerce Bank, Barclaycard and SunTrust are financial institutions willing to test Apple Pay, while Staples, Albertsons and Winn-Dixie are retailers also interested.

 

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"Retailers and payment companies see Apple Pay as the implementation that has the best chance at mass consumer adoption, which has eluded prior attempts," said Patrick Moorhead, president f Moor Insights & Strategies, in a statement to the New York Times. "They believe it will solve many of the problems they had before with electronic payments."

 

Apple keeps its numbers confidential, but it appears there is growing adoption among iPhone owners - Whole Foods says there have been more than 150,000 Apple Pay transactions in the past three months. Meanwhile, Apple Pay has accounted for 50 percent of McDonald's mobile payment transactions last month.

Continue reading 'Additional retailers, companies adopting Apple Pay mobile pay system' (full post)

Valve is region locking cheap games purchased from Russia on Steam

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Gaming | Posted: 2 days, 8 hours ago

For those who don't know, Russia is experiencing some problems with its currency, the Russian ruble. This has forced Valve to take preventative measures for its digital distribution service, Steam, so that people don't buy super cheap games in Russia and gift them to people.

 

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Valve has now region locked titles from the country according to reports from Engadget and NeoGAF, which is a first for Valve. This stops gamers from exploiting the low Russian currency, acquiring countless games at super cheap prices, and then gifting them to people. Secondly, it stops people using a VPN, and simply buying the games for themselves.

 

Apple has also performed a similar move, closing down its Russian online store as it was not able to keep up with the constant shift in the price of the ruble.

AMD's 'Dynamic Frame Rate Control' has "mind blowing" power savings

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Video Cards | Posted: 2 days, 10 hours ago

According to "AMD_Chris" on various forums, AMD is working on an impressive new feature dubbed "Dynamic Frame Rate Control". DFRC would allow gamers to put a lock on the total frame rate their video card can render, which can result in a huge amount of power savings.

 

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The feature would most likely see AMD variably adjusting the clock speeds of the cards in order to hit the desired frame rate, such as 60FPS. It might sound like V-Sync, but it's nothing like it as DFRC stops your GPU from cranking things up internally to render 100FPS, when you're only receiving as much as your monitor can put out, which is 60Hz, or 60FPS most of the time.

 

DFRC will underclock your GPU once you hit 60FPS (or whatever frame rate you choose), allowing the card to not pull as much power from the wall. AMD_Chris says that "the power savings were mind blowing" and we would agree, if your card is rendering 120FPS+ in a more basic game and you've got DFRC set to 60FPS, the power savings would be fairly large. We can't wait to test this new feature, that's for sure - what about you?

Nintendo could use shape-shifting LCDs from Sharp on a new product

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Gaming Consoles | Posted: 2 days, 10 hours ago

It looks like Nintendo has a product in its pipeline that could be really quite interesting, where the Japan Times is reporting Nintendo is interesting in purchasing "free form" LCDs from Sharp.

 

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According to Japan Times' sources, Nintendo would use Sharp's shape-shifting LCDs in a new successor to the Nintendo 3DS, or a sleep mapping device, or something else entirely. Sharp's new display technology rearranges circuitry throughout the display, which allows for screens to form in shapes that completely break the usual square or rectangular shape we've all become accustomed to over the years.

AnandTech has been purchased by the same firm who owns Tom's Hardware

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Business, Financial & Legal | Posted: 2 days, 11 hours ago

Purch, a "leading content and commerce company" has announced it has acquired AnandTech for an undisclosed sum of money. Purch is the company that acquired Tom's Hardware all those years ago. AnandTech will reportedly remain "editorially independent" from the deal.

 

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AnandTech's current editor-in-chief, Ryan Smith, said "AnandTech has grown by leaps and bounds over the past several years, but we were nearing what's possible as an independent company. The challenge has always been that there are very few players in the publishing space these days who value deep, high-quality content. We wanted a partner that understood our values, had a sound business model to ensure AnandTech's legacy would continue for years to come, and would allow us to grow and expand our readership without compromising the quality that made us who were are today. Purch provides all of these things. I am beyond excited about what we'll be able to do with their support."

 

Anand Shimpi, who now works for Apple and was the founder of AnandTech in 1997 when he was just 14 years old, said "AnandTech represents much of my life's work over the past 18 years. I am happy to see it end up with a partner committed to taking good care of the brand and its readers. I wouldn't have had it any other way."

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