Russian Government Avoid Using AMD and Intel Chips

Russia seems to believe that using Intel and AMD chips is unsafe, and the government wants home grown chips used in their computers. According to Russia’s Industry and Trade Ministry, they can replace Intel and AMD chips with domestically-produced micro processor called Baikal. The project of developing it will worth millions of dollars.

The Industry and Trade Ministry claimed that the Baikal micro processor can be developed by a unit of T-Platforms, a manufacturer of supercomputers, as soon as in 2015. The project will be supported by the state defense conglomerate Rostec and co-financed by the state-run technological giant Rosnano.

The developers reveal that the first products will be Baikal M and M/S chips, created on the basis of 64-bit nucleus Cortex A-57 manufactured by British company ARM. The chip will have frequency of 2GHz for personal computers and micro servers. Under the project, the Baikal chips will be installed on machines in the government bodies and in state-run companies, which acquire about 700,000 PCs every year worth $500 million, plus 300,000 servers worth $800 million. The experts estimate the total volume of the market at around 5 million devices worth $3.5 billion.

The Russian Federation got suspicious about Intel and AMD after the revelations of the American government’s spying program. At the time, Cisco routers appeared to have been intercepted and installed with bugs. Since then, the US tech industry is afraid that the other governments can follow Russia in response to the infamous US spying program.

China May Outsource to America

Do you think that things are cheaper in the third world? The Chinese don’t. Not anymore.

The local governments of the United States are trying to attract the Chinese companies to their states in the hope they will set up shop. According to the recent Yahoo news, the free market failed to provide states like Alabama with jobs, and in result the region suffered from a high unemployment rate. The problem was solved after the state began looking for investors from the Communist Henan Province in China.

The searches were successful – Henan’s Golden Dragon Precise Copper Tube Group has already opened a plant in Alabama in May 2014, and it is not the only one of its kind: the trend of the Chinese outsourcing to the US is being noticed across the country. Indeed, the Chinese companies have already invested a record $14 billion in the US in 2013. What is more important, they collectively employ over 70,000 Americans.

The market confirms that the rules have changed: Chinese workers are getting more and more expensive, while the energy prices in the United States are falling. So, now mayors and economic development officials can be seen lining up to welcome Chinese investors, though a few years ago they would have called them “Commie infiltrators”.

The researchers point out that it is in the more conservative Southern states, where obsession with blocking health care defined a higher number of people on welfare being at the forefront of attracting the Chinese. Today any market expert would admit that the United States has some advantages of cheaper Chinese manufacturing facilities: aside from access to cheap Mexican labor, companies that set up in the States will save a fortune on transport costs.

Facebook Was Down for Half an Hour

The social network was unavailable worldwide for 31 minutes, and users turned to other platforms – most of them did so to ask what’s going on or to complain. This was the longest outage on the website for 4 years. Users couldn’t access both the website and Facebook smartphone and tablet apps, and they decamped to other social media platforms to complain.

Facebook collapsed on Tuesday morning, showing visitors the error message saying: “Sorry, something went wrong. We’re working on getting this fixed as soon as we can”. You could be watching these lines for 31 minutes, until the website and apps were back to normal.

The company explained that they experienced a problem preventing people from posting to Facebook for a brief period of time. The specialists said they had resolved the issue quickly, and were back to 100% in half an hour. The company apologized for any inconvenience that may have caused in an official statement. However, it is unknown what caused the outage.

In the meantime, publishers saw referral traffic from the network fall off a cliff as the outage hit. However, people didn’t just shut down their browsers and get off their machines. Instead, they turned to other social networks to trawl for information on what had happened to Facebook. Twitter, for example, saw a huge increase in traffic. Some users even went to Google+.

The last time Facebook was down for any length of time was four years ago, when an error in error checking software took offline the main database for two and a half hours. At the time, it was also the worst outage for the period of over 4 years, and Facebook explained in the official statement that the problem at the time was caused by “an unfortunate handling of an error condition”. It turned out that an automated system for verifying configuration values somehow caused much more damage than it fixed.

Apple Reached Settlement on Book Cartel Case

Apple has recently reached some strange settlement with American states and other complainants in the infamous e-book pricing class action lawsuit. The settlement means that the company will be able to avoid a trial where it faced over $800 million in damages.

Nevertheless, Apple still hasn’t admitted that it ran a cartel to increase the price of e-books. The company has decided to reach the agreement as a backup in case it fails to win the appeal. US District Judge found that the software giant participated in a price-fixing conspiracy to prevent online retailer Amazon’s dominance in the e-book market.

Now the company is trying to appeal that decision and the new settlement will be contingent on the outcome of its appeal. According to the plaintiffs’ lead lawyer, any payment the company promises to make under the settlement agreement will depend on the outcome of that appeal. This means that if Apple wins the appeal, it won’t pay anything at all. The judge ordered the parties to submit a filing to seek approval of their settlement within one month.

The US Department of Justice sued Apple and 5 book publishers two years ago, accusing them of illegal cooperation to increase e-book prices. The company is still refusing to admit that it has done anything wrong.

In the meantime, it is known that the complainants are seeking up to $840 million in damages for their e-book customers. Still, the exact amount of claims will be decided at a trial in the middle of July. Five e-book publishers who are accused of being Apple’s co-conspirators (Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Penguin Group (USA), Macmillan and Simon & Schuster), has already agreed to pay over $166 million to settle antitrust charges.

South Korea and EU Will Develop 5G Together

South Korea and the European Union agreed to cooperate on developing 5G wireless network technologies and are expected to come up with a global consensus on standards. The countries have finally come to a conclusion on the need for a harmonized radio spectrum policy in order to ensure global interoperability of 5G networks, along with global technical standards.

The parties will also collaborate with the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, a group of telcom standards organizations, as well as with the International Telecommunication Union that sets global policies for spectrum use. The European Union and South Korea have decided to form a joint research and development group and cooperate on developing ICT services for the cloud and the Internet of Things, apart from many other areas.

This move was supposed to ensure a globally agreed definition and standard for 5G telecommunication networks in the future. The Vice-President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda arrived in Seoul a few days ago to sign the agreement, saying that the move would certainly speed up and make sure that the European Union wins the global race to create 5G network. Earlier in 2014, the Commission set 2020 as the goal to introduce 5G networks across Europe.

The new agreement would see the European Union and South Korea launching jointly funded research projects in two years. As for South Korea, the country is planning core 5G wireless technologies to be ready in time for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, while the world’s first 5G network services are expected to be introduced by 2020.

Of course, these plans put Samsung into the spotlight, as the company has already successfully tested technologies considered key to 5G back in 2013. The country’s major carriers SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus are currently fighting for the right to become the first 5G network provider.

Cheap Chinese Smartphone Carries Built-in Malware

Star N9500, a Chinese Android smartphone, which can be bought on Amazon, eBay and from other online retailers, has been found to contain a built-in trojan that pretends to be the Google Play Store. The smartphone closely resembles Samsung’s Galaxy S4 and is manufactured in China. The device is sold online through resellers in Belfast and Hong Kong.

The virus, known as “Uupay.D”, pretends to be the Google Play Store and comes pre-installed on the device, so that the user can’t remove it. One of the German security companies analyzed the smartphone purchased directly from the factory in China.

The trojan steals personal data from the device and sends it to an anonymous server in China. Moreover, it can install additional apps or malware without your knowledge. The experts admit that the options with this spy malware are almost unlimited. Users see nothing else than an app with the Google Play Store icon in the running processes. The malware allows the criminals to track your location, intercept and record phone calls, make purchases and send text messages. Finally, it could be used to break into online banking and similar services.

In the meantime, users are likely to be oblivious to the fact that their cheap and cool device could be stealing their information and live its own life, rating the smartphone five stars on Amazon and other online stores. You can buy Star N9500 across Europe two or three times cheaper than comparable devices from other manufacturers. Of course, the device has sold in the hundreds.

The security experts think that the low price of a device is a criminal tactic to entice users. The criminals may make money from the sale of stolen personal information. In is unclear at what stage the malware is introduced, but the buyers should beware in any case. Although very cheap offers online must make buyers suspicious, for some reason they don’t.

The statistics say that Android accounted for 97% of the malware targeted at mobile devices in 2013, which shows an increase of 20% from 2012. However, the Google Play Store, which is pre-installed on all Google Android devices, can only be blamed for 0.1% of the malware, because the majority of malware is downloaded by the users from third-party app stores like Chinese Baidu and Anzhi. Why do people go there? Just because access to Google Play is restricted in the country.

Nokia Paid Millions to Blackmailer, Police Didn’t Help

It became known that a few years ago, Nokia has paid millions of euro to a hacker who threatened to disclose an encryption key of the Symbian phones. Journalists revealed that seven years ago Nokia became a target of extortion and was forced to pay several millions of euro in ransom.

The National Bureau of Investigation confirmed that the Nokia blackmailing case is still listed as unsolved and keeps being investigated as aggravated extortion. The blackmailers had somehow obtained the code of a few kilobytes, which was the Symbian encryption key used for signing. This would have meant that all Nokia devices would have been jailbroken, thus allowing any hacker to place their own code under the bonnet.

Back in 2007, half of the smartphones in the world were made by Nokia and ran on Symbian. When the company paid the money, the hackers promised that the key would not be misused. Although it is not known exactly how the key ended up in the hands of the blackmailers, the security experts believe that it is fairly likely it was hacked.

The tech giant reported the matter to the police, and the cops began their investigation of the case. In the meantime, the company made the ransom payment in the Finnish city of Tampere – cash was left in a bag at a parking lot nearby an amusement park.

However, the drop off was botched – the blackmailer successfully got the bag, and the police just lost track of him – though it is a strange thing they just failed to track a bag with millions of euros just as if it were a common purse with a wallet containing a hundred bucks. They never found the hacker, and so the case is still considered unsolved. The only good thing here is that the blackmailer did honor the agreement, and the key was never revealed.

US Accused Russian Hacker of $100m Fraud

Evgeniy Bogachev, a Russian computer hacker, was accused a few days ago of organizing a worldwide conspiracy which targeted hundreds of thousands of PCs with malware, thus enabling him and his gang to steal over $100 million from US business and banks.

The group led by Bogachev infected machines with malware that captured passwords and account numbers. In result, they stole millions of dollars from victims. The members of the hacking group come from Russia, Ukraine and the UK. At the moment, the leader of the gang is not in custody, while charges of conspiracy, wire, bank and computer fraud, as well as money laundering were filed against Bogachev in Pittsburgh.

These hacking charges come weeks after the officials of the United States revealed cyber-espionage charges against 5 Chinese army hackers who are now arrested and accused of stealing trade secrets from various US companies. In the meantime, the indictment against the Russian hacker concerns only one victim, Haysite Reinforced Plastics of Erie, in northwestern Pennsylvania. The indictment states that the gang managed to steal about $824,000 from its bank accounts on one day three years ago. No further comments have been provided by the officials with the business, but it is known that the accounts were with Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank.

Another civil complaint provided other brief descriptions of victim entities. Their list even includes an unspecified American Indian tribe in Washington state, apart from a pest control company in North Carolina, an insurance firm, a company that runs assisted living centers in Pennsylvania, a police department in Massachusetts, a couple of Florida businesses, one restaurant and a local bank.

As for the losses the gang incurred, the Florida bank is known to have lost about $7 million via an unauthorized wire transfer, while the Massachusetts police department lost only $750 when one of its officers decided to pay a ransom demanded by the malware which infected its PCs.

A week ago, a federal judge in Pittsburgh granted a temporary restraining order against Evgeniy Bogachev and the other members of his group, demanding that they cease illegal activities – that order was recently unsealed along with the charges.

Hackers Demand Money from Domino’s Pizza

Cyber attackers have demanded a ransom of €30,000 from the pizza network after stealing personal data on over 600,000 French and Belgian customers of Domino’s Pizza. The personal details were allegedly stolen last week, and Domino’s France admitted that 592,000 French and 58,000 Belgian customer records were exposed to the hack.

Hackers left a message on text-hosting service Pastebin, saying that they have all customers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, emails and passwords. Domino’s France admitted that though they do use an encryption system for information, the company suffered a hack by seasoned professionals who could decode the encrypted data including passwords. Domino’s Pizza recommended all customers to change passwords for security reasons.

In the meantime, the hackers decided they rather need money than the list of favorite toppings of the customers. A group called Rex Mundi demanded €30,000 to not publish the data online.

Domino’s Netherlands responded they would not be paying the ransom, because no financial data had been stolen. It is also known that Domino’s France and Belgium are not part of the same franchise group as Domino’s Pizza in the United Kingdom, which holds the master franchise in Australia, New Zealand, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Monaco. However, it is unclear whether details of users from Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Monaco were compromised as well.

The data was stolen from the Domino’s franchise in France and Belgium, and even there no credit card or financial data of the customers was compromised. The security experts point out that it is just another example of how customer information, if not properly secured, can fall into the wrong hands. In this case, it is good that financial data was stored separately, but the theft of personal information has never been good news anyway.

By the way, it wasn’t the first time that Rex Mundi tried to extort money from multinational corporations by stealing user private details. Two years ago, the hacking ring stole and published online loan-applicant details from customers of AmeriCash Advance.

A number of other online services, including Feedly and Evernote, have recently been targeted for extortion. The hackers normally demand money to avoid being taken offline by DDoS attacks.

iOS8 May Help You Find Your Car

The media is talking about a new feature in the iOS8, scheduled to release this fall, which can help the absent-minded remember where they parked their car. Actually, this feature for iPhone has been discussed for almost a year, but like many other things, nothing was introduced so far. 

However, the experts have found some new icons inside the Maps app, which indicate that the feature of finding a lost car was in development and may still be worked on. This is supposed to be a testing tool for the Maps app which, using the M7 chip, could analyze where your car is parked. In simple words, when you park the car, the phone registers its location and when you return to the parking lot, it can assist you with finding the car since it remembers the vehicle’s location – of course, unless your iPhone’s battery died while you were shopping, and the charger was left inside your car.

So, Apple’s latest mapping software features 6 images that are expected to be dedicated to the parked car location – purple pins with a car-shaped glyph. The experts believe that it’s one of the many features cut from the first public beta of iOS 8 late in development. However, the idea has a couple of problems. First of all, it relies on the use of Apple maps, which has been criticized a lot, as it can’t even find an Apple store, or its own backside with both front and rare sensors. The maps could think your car is somewhere in Mexico or even in the middle of the ocean, while you know for sure that it’s in your garage. Another problem is that if the feature is GPS-based, then it will find it difficult to tell you which floor your car is parked on.

In the meantime, the biggest problem is that other services have already got a very good system of finding a parked car – several years ago. For instance, Google Maps for Android started introducing floor plans of large commercial areas back in 2013, while Nokia has had an indoor positioning system using actual 3D models. It was a few years ago that Broadcom introduced a new chip which supported indoor positioning systems.

As you can see, the feature might be not as innovative as Apple could have believed, so this may be the reason why they delay it for such a long time – perhaps, the company just decided to not bother at all, since it is already too late.