Finland submarine avoids US internet spying

Finland

Finland

Finland is aiming to capitalise on Germany’s privacy worries by setting itself up as a haven where online data will be safe from the prying eyes of foreign governments.

Cinia Group, a new state-owned telecoms company, is building a new submarine cable to link the Scandinavian country to German business and digital consumers.

It comes amid growing concern that the EU’s ‘Safe Harbour’ agreement, which allows personal and financial data to be exported to the US, does not protect privacy.

The route of the 685-mile cable has also been carefully planned to avoid waters where it would be more likely to be secretly wire tapped, in an effort to help build German confidence to use Finnish data centres.

The country is bidding to become the “Switzerland of the North”, where sensitive personal and financial data can be safely stored. Cinia has signed up its first customer for the new cable, the data centre provider Hetzner Online, which will pay €10m to use the link from early next year.

German privacy laws are particularly stringent due to its history of secret policing, and public concern about the internet was especially heightened there following the exposure of US spying by the former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

Chris Watson, head of TMT at the City law firm CMS, which advised on the deal, said: “Russia and China keep control of data in government hands – and we saw in the US how personal data was not secure from the spooks. This cable is the fundamental aorta of an entirely secure commercial alternative for keeping data safe.”

Amazon’s data centre business has sought to address German privacy concerns by building a data centre near Frankfurt, guaranteeing that sensitive information will not leave the country. However other internet companies including Facebook have sought to save money by locating data centres in Scandinavia, where cooling for the thousands of server computers they contain is readily available from icy water.

Source:  telegraph.co.uk

Microsoft security is worthless

Microsoft security is worthless:

Microsoft security is worthless

Microsoft security is worthless

A assessment of Dennis Technology Labs , users antivirus software Microsoft might want to think about installing other malware protection .

Dennis Technology Labs, the independent testing laboratory software based in London , released a quarterly assessment of nine screening programs most popular in the market and found that virus Microsoft Security Essentials detected 39 percent of all malware tested .

The Microsoft program , available for free download to anyone with a validated copy of Windows rated well below the other programs evaluated , all of which drew 87 percent or higher. Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 ranked first , protection against 99 percent of the virus. Avast! Free Antivirus 8 was rated the best free program not only detects 2 percent of malware.

“We are fully committed to protecting our clients consumer and business against malware ,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement . ” Our strong comprehensive solutions provide the necessary protection against malicious code and attacks. Supporting our antimalware partners helps in building a strong and diverse ecosystem to combat malware .”

Microsoft has a history of poor performance on tests of Dennis Technology Labs . A test from the beginning of this year found that it has lost 41 percent of all malware.  Microsoft has defended the performance of the product , saying it is not intended to be the only line of defense a user .

“We’ve had an epiphany a few years ago , back in 2011 when we realized that we had a higher calling and that was to protect all customers of Microsoft , ” Holly Stewart , senior manager of the Center Malware Protection Microsoft , told PC Pro . ” But you can not do that with a monoculture and you can not do that with an ecosystem of malware that is not attractive solid and diverse. ”

Stewart explained that instead of concentrating resources on your computer to have Microsoft ‘s own software will be able to identify all the latest viruses , which would focus on the search for new threats and send that information to other companies producing anti software virus .

This strategy makes sense if the ultimate goal is to keep users safe from malware Windows , but has the potential to leave some people believing that they have robust antivirus protection when you only have what Microsoft calls a ” baseline” from which users are encouraged to add additional virus protection .

$80 million and Hotfile shuts down

Hotfile shuts down after settling with MPAA for $80 million:

Hotfile shuts down after settling with MPAA for $80 million

Hotfile shuts down after settling with MPAA for $80 million

MPAA action has resulted in yet another major file-sharing site closing down. Visit Hotfile.com today, and you’ll see the above notice. It’s the result of a massive settlement with the MPAA, who were set to do battle with Hotfile in court next week. Under the terms of the settlement, Hotfile has agreed to pay damages amounting to $80 million.

Unlike some of the larger sites the MPAA and RIAA have gone after, Hotfile didn’t exactly have a stellar track record when it came to copyright takedowns. Prosecutors claimed that more than 10 million requests had been sent to Hotfile before the lawsuit was filed (back in 2011) and that only 43 user accounts had been terminated as a result. That’s not the kind of vigilance that keeps the Copyright monopoly off your back.

Hotfile also made things worse by offering what amounted to a cash incentive system for uploaders, who in turn responded by making copywritten content a substantial 10% of Hotfile’s total holdings. Hotfile did eventually put a copyright filtering mechanism in place, though not until well after the lawsuit had been filed. Clearly it turned out to be too little, too late to satisfy the MPAA.

Presiding Judge Kathleen Williams had already ruled that Hotfile wasn’t eligible for DMCA Safe Harbor protection, so net week’s trial would have been focused on sorting out the total bill for damages. Now that a settlement has been reached, all that remains to be seen is how much of the $80 million the MPAA will actually be able to collect from Hotfile.

That, and how much money actually makes it back to the supporting cast of folks who produced the content in question. After the lawyers and MPAA take their cut, there likely won’t be a whole lot left. But hey, a win against piracy is still a win — at least that’s what the MPAA always says.

Cheap GPUs rendering passwords useless

 

Cheap GPUs are rendering strong passwords useless:

 Cheap GPUs are rendering strong passwords useless


Cheap GPUs are rendering strong passwords useless

Think that your eight-character password consisting of lowercase characters, uppercase characters and a sprinkling of numbers is strong enough to protect you from a brute force attack?

Think again!

Jon Honeyball writing for PC Pro has a sobering piece on how the modern GPU can be leveraged as a powerful tool against passwords once considered safe from bruteforce attack.

Take a cheap GPU (like the Radeon HD 5770) and the free GPU-powered password busting tool called ‘ighashgpu’ and you have yourself a lean, mean password busting machine. How lean and mean? Very:

The results are startling. Working against NTLM login passwords, a password of “fjR8n” can be broken on the CPU in 24 seconds, at a rate of 9.8 million password guesses per second. On the GPU, it takes less than a second at a rate of 3.3 billion passwords per second.

Increase the password to 6 characters (pYDbL6), and the CPU takes 1 hour 30 minutes versus only four seconds on the GPU. Go further to 7 characters (fh0GH5h), and the CPU would grind along for 4 days, versus a frankly worrying 17 minutes 30 seconds for the GPU.

It gets worse. Throw in a nine-character, mixed-case random password, and while a CPU would take a mind-numbing 43 years to crack this, the GPU would be done in 48 days.

Surely throwing symbols in there keeps you safe, right? Wrong! Take a password consisting of seven characters, mixed-case/symbols random password like ‘F6&B is’ (note the space), that’s gotta be tough for a bruteforce attack. Right? A CPU will take some 75 days to churn through the possibilities, while a GPU is done with it in 7 hours.

What’s the solution? Well, Honeyball doesn’t know, and neither do I to be perfectly honest. What I do know is that this is a warning, and one that we need to take seriously. Unless we’re willing to move onto 15-16 characters, mixed-case/symbols random password (which will end up on Post-It Notes), passwords will soon only offer protection against honest people.

Computer that will never crash

Scientists invent a self-repairing computer that will never crash:

Scientists invent a self-repairing computer that will never crash Read more at http://venturebeat.com/2013/02/14/scientists-invent-a-self-repairing-computer-that-will-never-crash

Scientists invent a self-repairing computer that will never crash

Scientists at University College London (UCL) have created a self-healing computer. The “systemic” machine, according to a report in the New Scientist, can instantly recover corrupted data. The invention is expected to have far-reaching consequences for physicians and the military. It could allow drones to recover from combat damage in a matter of seconds, or create a more realistic model of the human brain. The team behind the systemic computer built it to be able to respond to random and unpredictable events. Computers were originally designed to follow a linear set of instructions, and can only consider one thing at a time. “Even when it feels like your computer is running all your software at the same time, it is just pretending to do that, flicking its attention very quickly between each program,” Peter Bentley, a computer scientist at UCL, said in an interview with the New Scientist. Together with his colleague Christos Sakellariou, Bentley re-engineered a new computer that thinks more like the human brain. Anant Jhingran, who has been considered the brains behind IBM’s super computer “Watson,” said that new computing systems are designed to “mimic the real world better.” The vice president of products at Apigee, a “big data” analytics company, said IBM has spent years building computers that “observe and then react” like humans do. The trick is a safety in numbers approach: The new computer contains multiple copies of its instructions across its individual systems, so if one fails, it can access a clean copy and repair itself. In the future, Bentley’s team will incorporate machine learning, so if you’re sitting outside working and the temperature gets too high, the computer will respond to preemptively prevent a crash. The next generation of school kids may need to come up with a more creative excuse for failing to turn in work on time!

Universe Is A Computer Simulation

Physicists May Have Evidence Universe Is A Computer Simulation:

 Physicists May Have Evidence Universe Is A Computer Simulation


Physicists May Have Evidence Universe Is A Computer Simulation

Physicists say they may have evidence that the universe is a computer simulation. They made a computer simulation of the universe. And it looks sort of like us. A long-proposed thought experiment, put forward by both philosophers and popular culture, points out that any civilisation of sufficient size and intelligence would eventually create a simulation universe if such a thing were possible. And since there would therefore be many more simulations (within simulations, within simulations) than real universes, it is therefore more likely than not that our world is artificial. Now a team of researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany led by Silas Beane say they have evidence this may be true. In a paper named ‘Constraints on the Universe as a Numerical Simulation’, they point out that current simulations of the universe – which do exist, but which are extremely weak and small – naturally put limits on physical laws. Technology Review explains that “the problem with all simulations is that the laws of physics, which appear continuous, have to be superimposed onto a discrete three dimensional lattice which advances in steps of time.” What that basically means is that by just being a simulation, the computer would put limits on, for instance, the energy that particles can have within the program. These limits would be experienced by those living within the sim – and as it turns out, something which looks just like these limits do in fact exist. For instance, something known as the Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuzmin, or GZK cut off, is an apparent boundary of the energy that cosmic ray particles can have. This is caused by interaction with cosmic background radiation. But Beane and co’s paper argues that the pattern of this rule mirrors what you might expect from a computer simulation. Naturally, at this point the science becomes pretty tricky to wade through – and we would advise you read the paper itself to try and get the full detail of the idea. But the basic impression is an intriguing one. Like a prisoner in a pitch-black cell, we may never be able to see the ‘walls’ of our prison — but through physics we may be able to reach out and touch them.

Windows 8 Users Prefer Windows 7

Over Half Of Windows 8 Users Still Prefer Windows 7:

Over Half Of Windows 8 Users Still Prefer Windows 7

Over Half Of Windows 8 Users Still Prefer Windows 7

Windows 8 is finally launching next month. It’s do or die time for the folks at Microsoft, and they need this to be a hit. The response to Windows 8 has been relatively positive, but the new OS has had its fair share of detractors. It’s even rumored that Intel’s CEO privately stated that Windows 8 isn’t ready. A new survey indicates that more people may dislike Windows 8 than initially thought. Forumswindows8.com, the self-proclaimed “largest Windows 8 help and support forum on the Internet,” recently surveyed over 50,000 Windows 8 users. The survey covered everything from strengths and weaknesses to general thoughts on Windows 8 versus its predecessors. The good news is that Windows 8 isn’t universally hated. The bad news is that a majority of Windows 8 users still prefer its predecessor with 53 percent saying that they like Windows 7 more. In comparison, only 25 percent chose Windows 8 as their favorite. That being said, those surveyed dumped a fair amount of praise on the operating system. A majority of users (56 percent) chose the fast boot and shut down of Windows 8 as their favorite feature. Fifty percent of users listed the easy installation as their favorite. From there, the numbers drop somewhat dramatically with only 35 percent of users listing Internet Explorer 10 as their favorite feature. In what may be more damning than anything, only 23 percent of users listed the Windows Store as their favorite feature. The Metro WIndows 8 UI doesn’t fare much better with only 22 percent claiming the feature to be their favorite. These are the two big selling points of Windows 8. Without support from users, Microsoft doesn’t have much of a chance. The theme of hating the new UI carries over to the answers supplied by respondents when surveyed on weaknesses. A relatively small, but still significant, 18 percent say that Microsoft needs to improve the two UI style system on desktops. A much larger 35 percent say that the price of Windows 8, which is set at $199 after a promotional price of $69, is too high. Despite the complaints about the desktop version of Windows 8, Microsoft seems to have made the right move with their Surface tablet. Out of all of those surveyed, a sizable chunk of respondents (25 percent) said that they would choose the Microsoft Surface tablet over the competition. Overall, this survey represents something that Microsoft should be concerned about. They’re less than a month away from launch and people still prefer Windows 7. To some extent, it’s to be expected. Every new operating system is met with trepidation, but Windows 8 was supposed to be different. It represents a cool, hip new Microsoft that’s focused on the consumer and entertainment. We’ve reached out to Microsoft to find out if they have any plans leading up to launch to get people excited about  Windows 8. We also asked if they have any plans to help fix or allieve the complaints that the respondents had. We’ll update as soon as we hear back.

New spin on Single-Atom quantum computer

Researchers create single-atom silicon-based quantum computer:

Researchers create single-atom silicon-based quantum computer

Researchers create single-atom silicon-based quantum computer

A team of Australian engineers is claiming it has made the first working quantum bit (qubit) fashioned out of a single phosphorous atom, embedded on a conventional silicon chip. This breakthrough stems all the way back to 1998, when Bruce Kane — then a University of New South Wales (UNSW) professor — published a research paper on the possibility of phosphorous atoms, suspended in ultra-pure silicon, being used as qubits. For 14 years, UNSW has been working on the approach — and today, it has finally turned theory into practice. To create this quantum computer chip, the Australian engineers created a silicon transistor so small that “electrons have to travel along it one after the other.” A single phosphorous atom is then implanted into the silicon substrate, right next to the transistor. The transistor only allows electricity to flow through it if one electron from the phosphorus atom jumps to an “island” in the middle of the transistor. This is the key point: by controlling the phosphorus’s electrons, the engineers can control the flow of electricity across the transistor.

An artist's rendition of the single phosphorous atom (red circle) surrounded by its electron cloud

 

A team of Australian engineers is claiming it has made the first working quantum bit (qubit) fashioned out of a single phosphorous atom, embedded on a conventional silicon chip. This breakthrough stems all the way back to 1998, when Bruce Kane — then a University of New South Wales (UNSW) professor — published a research paper on the possibility of phosphorous atoms, suspended in ultra-pure silicon, being used as qubits. For 14 years, UNSW has been working on the approach — and today, it has finally turned theory into practice. To create this quantum computer chip, the Australian engineers created a silicon transistor so small that “electrons have to travel along it one after the other.” A single phosphorous atom is then implanted into the silicon substrate, right next to the transistor. The transistor only allows electricity to flow through it if one electron from the phosphorus atom jumps to an “island” in the middle of the transistor. This is the key point: by controlling the phosphorus’s electrons, the engineers can control the flow of electricity across the transistor. At this point, I would strongly recommend that you watch this excellent video that walks you through UNSW’s landmark discovery — but if you can’t watch it, just carry on reading. To control the phosphorus atom’s electrons, you must change their spin, which in this case is done by a small burst of microwave radiation. In essence, when the phosphorus atom is in its base state, the transistor is off; it has a value of 0 — but when a small burst of radiation is applied, the electrons change orientation, one of them pops into the transistor, it turns on; it has a value of 1. For more on electron spin and how it might impact computing. Now, we’ve written about quantum computers before — the University of Southern California has created a quantum computer inside a diamond, for example — but the key breakthrough here is that UNSW’s quantum transistor has been fashioned using conventional silicon processes. Rather than beating its own path, UNSW is effectively riding on the back of 60 years and trillions of dollars of silicon-based electronics R&D, which makes this a much more exciting prospect than usual. It is now quite reasonable to believe that there will be readily available, commercial quantum computers in the next few years.

 

Quantum encryption Unbreakable

With quantum encryption, in which a message gets encoded in bits represented by particles in different states, a secret message can remain secure even if the system is compromised by a malicious hacker.

Cryptography

Cryptography

 

No matter how complex they are, most  secret codes turn out to be breakable. Producing the ultimate secure code may require encoding a secret message inside the quantum relationship between atoms, scientists say.  Now cryptographers have taken “quantum encryption” a step further by showing how a secret message can remain secure even if the system is compromised by a malicious hacker.Artur Ekert, director of the Center for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore, presented the new findings here at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  Ekert, speaking Saturday (Feb. 18), described how  decoders can adjust for a compromised encryption device, as long as they know the degree of compromise.  The subject of subatomic particles is a large step away from the use of papyrus, the ancient writing material employed in the first known cryptographic device. That device, called a scytale, was used in 400 B.C. by Spartan military commanders to send coded messages to one another. The commanders would wrap strips of papyrus around a wooden baton and write the message across the strips so that it could be read only when the strips were wrapped around a baton of matching size. Later, the technique of substitution was developed, in which the entire alphabet would be shifted, say, three characters to the right, so than an “a” would be replaced by “d,” and “b” replaced by “e,” and so on. Only someone who knew the substitution rule could read the message. Julius Caesar employed such a cipher scheme in the first century B.C.  Over time, ciphers became more and more complicated, so that they were harder and harder to crack. Harder, but not impossible.  “When you look at the history of cryptography, you come up with a system, and sooner or later someone else comes up with a way of breaking the system,” Ekert said. “You may ask yourself: Is it going to be like this forever? Is there such a thing as the perfect cipher?”  The closest thing to a perfect cipher involves what’s called a one-time pad.  “You just write your message as a sequence of bits and you then add those bits to a key and obtain a cryptogram,” Ekert said.”If you take the cryptogram and add it to the key, you get plain text. In fact, one can prove that if the keys are random and as long as the messages, then the system offers perfect security.”  “If the keys are as long as the message, then you need a secure way to distribute the key,” Ekert said.  The nature of physics known as quantum mechanics seems to offer the best hope of knowing whether a key is secure.  Quantum mechanics says that certain properties of subatomic particles can’t be measured without disturbing the particles and changing the outcome. In essence, a particle exists in a state of indecision until a measurement is made, forcing it to choose one state or another. Thus, if someone made a measurement of the particle, it would irrevocably change the particle.  If an encryption key were encoded in bits represented by particles in different states, it would be immediately obvious when a key was not secure because the measurement made to hack the key would have changed the key.  This, of course, still depends on the ability of the two parties sending and receiving the message to be able to independently choose what to measure, using a truly random number generator — in other words, exercising free will — and using devices they trust.   But what if a hacker were controlling one of the parties, or tampering with the encryption device?  Ekert and his colleagues showed that even in this case, if the messaging parties still have some free will, their code could remain secure as long as they know to what degree they are compromised.  In other words, a random number generator that is not truly random can still be used to send an undecipherable secret message, as long as the sender knows how random it is and adjusts for that fact.  “Even if they are manipulated, as long as they are not stupid and have a little bit of free will, they can still do it,”.