The Internet - The first Worldwide Tool of Unification ("The End of History")

" ... Now I give you something that few think about: What do you think the Internet is all about, historically? Citizens of all the countries on Earth can talk to one another without electronic borders. The young people of those nations can all see each other, talk to each other, and express opinions. No matter what the country does to suppress it, they're doing it anyway. They are putting together a network of consciousness, of oneness, a multicultural consciousness. It's here to stay. It's part of the new energy. The young people know it and are leading the way.... "

" ... I gave you a prophecy more than 10 years ago. I told you there would come a day when everyone could talk to everyone and, therefore, there could be no conspiracy. For conspiracy depends on separation and secrecy - something hiding in the dark that only a few know about. Seen the news lately? What is happening? Could it be that there is a new paradigm happening that seems to go against history?... " Read More …. "The End of History"- Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)

"Recalibration of Free Choice"– Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: (Old) Souls, Midpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth, 4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical) 8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) - (Text version)

“…5 - Integrity That May Surprise…

Have you seen innovation and invention in the past decade that required thinking out of the box of an old reality? Indeed, you have. I can't tell you what's coming, because you haven't thought of it yet! But the potentials of it are looming large. Let me give you an example, Let us say that 20 years ago, you predicted that there would be something called the Internet on a device you don't really have yet using technology that you can't imagine. You will have full libraries, buildings filled with books, in your hand - a worldwide encyclopedia of everything knowable, with the ability to look it up instantly! Not only that, but that look-up service isn't going to cost a penny! You can call friends and see them on a video screen, and it won't cost a penny! No matter how long you use this service and to what depth you use it, the service itself will be free.

Now, anyone listening to you back then would perhaps have said, "Even if we can believe the technological part, which we think is impossible, everything costs something. There has to be a charge for it! Otherwise, how would they stay in business?" The answer is this: With new invention comes new paradigms of business. You don't know what you don't know, so don't decide in advance what you think is coming based on an old energy world. ..."
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)



Etiquette mavens say the book on manners must be rewritten, literally, to take into
account new technologies and social media (AFP Photo/Ed Jones)

A 2012 survey by Intel found that in several countries, a majority said they were put
off by "oversharing" of pictures and personal information on the
internet and smartphones (AFP Photo/Nicolas Asfouri)

German anti-hate speech group counters Facebook trolls

German anti-hate speech group counters Facebook trolls
Logo No Hate Speech Movement

Bundestag passes law to fine social media companies for not deleting hate speech

Honouring computing’s 1843 visionary, Lady Ada Lovelace. (Design of doodle by Kevin Laughlin)

Monday, January 22, 2018

AI, virtual reality make inroads in tourism sector

Yahoo – AFP, Emmanuelle MICHEL, January 21, 2018

Virtual reality now gives a first taste of the real thing in tourism (AFP Photo/
Gabriel BOUYS)

Madrid (AFP) - A hotel room automatically adjusting to the tastes of each guest, virtual reality headsets as brochures: the tourism sector is starting to embrace new technologies, hoping to benefit from lucrative personal data.

In a prototype of the hotel of the future on display at Madrid's Fitur tourism fair, receptionists have disappeared and customers are checked-in via a mirror equipped with facial recognition.

Once the client is identified, the room adapts itself automatically to all demands made at reservation: temperature, lighting, Picasso or Van Gogh in the digital frames hanging on the walls.

"Technology will allow us to know what the client needs before he even knows he wants it," says Alvaro Carrillo de Albornoz, head of Spain's Hotel Technology Institute, which promotes innovation in the sector.

Tracking guests

Some hotels already offer such experiences at a more basic level.

But the room prototype put on show by French technology consultancy Altran, aimed at luxury hotels, has incorporated cutting-edge speech recognition technology, allowing for instance a guest to order a pizza in 40 languages.

"Even the lock is intelligent -- it opens and closes via the WhatsApp application on the client's phone," says Carlos Mendez, head of innovation at Altran.

The mattress is equipped with sensors and records the movements of those sleeping, which could prompt hotel staff to offer them a coffee when they wake up.

Generally speaking, hotels are hoping to use artificial intelligence (AI) to get better knowledge of their clients via personal data provided on reservation or "beacon" technology used once the client is in the hotel or resort.

Restricted in some countries, the latter involves placing a beacon in the hotel that will detect customers' smartphones, meaning they will know how much time they spend in their rooms, for instance, or at what time they go to the pool.

AI algorithms

Fed with this data, AI algorithms will get to work, determining what the clients' habits are to lure them back again by offering a tailor-made experience, or sell them additional products.

If the algorithm "knows that when you come to the hotel with your wife, you don't eat at the restaurant but order room service, it will propose a special room menu with a bottle of champagne," says Carrillo.

Technology will know when to order more bacon for visiting Britons (AFP Photo/
YOSHIKAZU TSUNO)

"But if you come with your entire family, it will propose a reduction on kids' menus."

For Rodrigo Martinez, head of consultancy Hotel Servicers, these technological tools could also help improve hotels' productivity.

"All purchases can be made automatic," he says.

"For instance, if a huge amount of Brits are coming, the system will know that it has to order more bacon."

Virtual reality

Manufacturers of virtual reality (VR) headsets are also jumping onto the bandwagon.

At various Fitur stands, visitors are able to immerse themselves in the streets of Marrakech or amble along a portion of the Santiago de Compostela pilgrims' trail.

"We're in a completely pioneering phase," says Marcial Correal, head of the Spanish association for virtual travel agencies, who is promoting this tool to tourism professionals as the brochure of the future, without too much success so far.

"Professionals say 'how amazing' but they don't buy it. It's not in their marketing budget priorities."

Headsets themselves are not too pricey, between 50 and 600 euros ($60 and $730), says Cesar Urbina of virtual reality agency Iralta.

"Then there's content production, a little more than a normal video -- from 2,000 euros up to 150,000 euros."

Hotel chain Palladium, however, has decided to give it a go.

Its salespeople no longer have paper brochures on them to present their hotels to travel agents, they carry virtual reality headsets.

Using these, the agents can virtually visit rooms, pools or restaurants at every one of their hotels.

Ivan Corzo, head of marketing for Europe at the group, says this gives travel agents a better idea of what the hotels are really like.

They "tell us it helps them sell," he says.

"It's much more difficult to cheat with VR headsets," adds Urbina.

Morocco's tourism office is also using VR.

"Tourism is linked to experiences, sensitivity," says Siham Fettouhi, head of e-marketing at the office.

"Virtual reality can't replace the taste of local cuisine or the smell of the ocean. But it makes you want to explore more."

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Almost 2,000 people fell for the Microsoft helpdesk con last year

DutchNews, January 17, 2018

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Last year almost 2,000 people, mainly over-50s, were conned out of money by criminals claiming to work for the Microsoft helpdesk, police said in a new report

In total, they were conned out of €7m, police say, with two victims losing €38,000 and €98,000 respectively. In 2016, there were 1,100 cases of Microsoft helpdesk crime. 

The victims are phoned by someone, often with a heavy accent, claiming to work for Microsoft and alerting them to a problem with their computer. This could be a virus, an expired licence or an update. 

The victim is then asked to download a programme which allows the con artist to take over the computer to fix the programme. The victim is then asked to pay using untraceable methods. In some cases the conmen and women have been able to access their victims’ bank accounts, police said. 

Police say people should hang up immediately when phoned by someone claiming to be from Microsoft. The company itself says it never contacts people who have not requested help.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Cryptocurrency rivals snap at Bitcoin's heels

Yahoo – AFP, January 14, 2018

New crypto kids on the block are whizzing past bitcoin with breathtaking profitability
(AFP Photo/PIERRE TEYSSOT)
Paris (AFP) - Bitcoin may be the most famous cryptocurrency but, despite a dizzying rise, it's not the most lucrative one and far from alone in a universe that counts 1,400 rivals, and counting.

Dozens of crypto units see the light of day every week, as baffled financial experts look on, and while none can match Bitcoin's $200-billion euro ($242 bilion) market capitalisation, several have left the media darling's profitability in the dust.

In fact, bitcoin is not even in the top 10 of the crypto world's best performers.

Top of the heap is Ripple which posted a jaw-dropping 36,000 percent rise in 2017 and early this year broke through the 100-billion euro capitalisation mark, matching the value of blue-chip companies such as, say, global cosmetics giant L'Oreal.

"Its value shot up when a newspaper said that around 100 financial institutions were going to adopt their system," said Alexandre Stachtchenko, co-founder of specialist consulting group Blockchain Partners.

Using Ripple's technology framework, however, is not the same as adopting the currency itself, and so the Ripple's rise should be considered as "purely speculative", according to Alexandre David, founder of sector specialist Eureka Certification.

Others point out that Ripple's market penetration is paper-thin as only 15 people hold between 60 and 80 percent of existing Ripples, among them co-founder Chris Larsen.

- They can't be best at everything -

But it still got him a moment of fame when, according to Forbes magazine, Larsen briefly stole Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's spot as the fifth-wealthiest person in the US at the start of the year.

Ether is another rising star, based on the Ethereum protocol created in 2009 by a 19-year old programmer and seen by some specialists as a promising approach.

Around 40 virtual currencies have now gone past the billion-euro mark in terms of capitalisation, up from seven just six months ago. The Cardano cryptocurrency's combined value even hit 15 billion euros only three months after its creation.

In efforts to stand out from the crowd, virtual currency founders often concentrate on the security of their systems, such as Cardano, which has made a major selling point of its system's safety features.

Others work on connected devices so "machines understand each other and are able to send each other value units, money, without going through a person or centralised third party", Stachtchenko said.

Some, like Monero, focus on guaranteeing anonymity, and others on share and bond issues, or on speeding up the confirmation time for transactions, like Litecoin.

"It is impossible for a cryptocurrency to be the best at all the various tasks," said Stachtchenko said.

Meanwhile financiers, established banks and regulators keep issuing stern warnings to the investment community to stay clear of cryptocurrencies.

Legendary investor Warren Buffett said that cryptocurrencies would "come to a bad ending" and that he would never stake money on them.

The South Korean government said it was working on a bill to ban cryptocurrency trading, but then backtracked.

Analysts meanwhile predict that rollercoaster ride of virtual currencies is set to carry on.

"When Wall Street bonuses hit bank accounts on January 15, I imagine we'll see a crypto buying spree of epic proportions" said Meltem Demirors, director of the Digital Currency Group, which invests in crypto businesses.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Bitcoin fever hits US real estate market

Yahoo – AFP, Leila MACOR, January 14, 2018

View of a beach from a condo building in Florida, where bitcoin fever has hit
 the real estate market (AFP Photo/Jose ROMERO, RHONA WISE)

Miami (AFP) - Bitcoin fever has hit the US real estate market, especially that of Florida, offering foreign investors a way to dodge currency controls at home and US economic sanctions.

As of the end of last year, the digital currency was listed as a way to pay for some 75 properties for sale, especially in south Florida and California, according to the real estate firm Redfin.

"Bitcoin accepted" is a message now seen in the description of homes for sale in the Miami area.

One seller is going even farther, saying he will take only bitcoin (33 of them to be exact) for his half-million-dollar downtown condo in the Florida metropolis.

Bitcoin has been on a roller coaster ride of late, shooting up to nearly $20,000 a piece in mid-December and then dropping sharply around Christmas. It started the year at around $14,000.

Its use in real estate transactions is novel, and agents are wary because of its high volatility.

"I'd be blown away if a year from now we see hundreds of real estate transactions in bitcoins," said Jay Parker, Florida CEO for the Douglas Elliman brokerage agency.

Still, such transactions can be useful for foreigners who want to invest in the United States and cannot otherwise do so, said economist and bitcoin expert Charles Evans of Barry University.

"This seems to be driven by international investors who are circumventing inefficient banking and currency controls at home, and by US cryptocurrency enthusiasts," Evans told AFP.

"The governments in those countries restrict the amount of money that their residents are allowed to transfer abroad through the banking system. Bitcoin enables individuals there to bypass such restrictions," he added.

This could be a draw for investors, who even before the bitcoin rage were already hot on the real estate market in south Florida.

Nearly half of all foreign buyers of property in south Florida are from Latin America.

According to the National Association of Realtors, over the past five years, investors from Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina -- in that order -- have led purchases in this part of the state.

Money laundering?

Bitcoin offers another advantage for some foreign investors: it lets them dodge US economic sanctions.

Evans cited the example of Venezuela, which imposes strict currency controls and is enduring runaway inflation that surpassed 2,600 percent in 2017.

What is more, many senior officials in the government of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro have been hit by sanctions imposed by Washington, which considers his administration a dictatorship.

Evans said there is also a lot of interest in bitcoin among Iranians, whom he described as "doubly hit" with restrictions in Iran and international sanctions.

It is an open secret that money laundering fuels the real estate market in south Florida. But instead of hiding the practice, bitcoin could have the opposite effect.

The crypto currency "is a terrible medium for large-scale money laundering, because all bitcoin transactions are recorded in the publicly available transaction record known at the Blockchain," said Evans.

Although bitcoin has been associated with the drug trade and cyber attacks, Blockchain "leaves a lot of fingerprints," former Florida representative Jose Felix Diaz told Politico.

"So if you're using it for illegitimate reasons, the state and the federal government should have every tool at their disposal to go after you," Diaz said.

Last year, Diaz sponsored a bill-turned-law that includes bitcoin in Florida's laws for fighting money laundering.

Real estate agent Parker also said money laundering via bitcoin is far from posing a risk because "the beneficial owners of the real estate are always going to be able to be traced."

Parker said the fad of doing real estate deals in bitcoin could be as volatile as the currency itself.

"I think it's a gimmick. There's not much risk. The only risk is if the currency crashes before you can liquidate it," said Parker.

"I think the people that are using bitcoins to try to market their properties are doing it with the very purpose of getting you to write about it, getting their properties exposure," said Parker.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

New security flaw detected in Intel hardware

Finnish cybersecurity specialist F-Secure has reported another serious flaw in Intel hardware. It has nothing to do with the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities, but has a huge "destructive potential" too.

Deutsche Welle, 12 January 2018


F-Secure said Friday it had found a serious flaw in Intel hardware which could enable hackers to access corporate laptops remotely.

It said it detected an issue within Intel's Active Management Technology (AMT) "which is commonly found in most corporate laptops and allows attackers to take complete control over a user's device in a matter of seconds."

"The issue potentially affects millions of laptops globally," said F-Secure consultant Harry Sintonen, who discovered the flaw. "It's of an almost shocking simplicity, but its destructive potential is unbelievable."

Loss of confidentiality

F-Secure said once an attacker had the chance to reconfigure AMT (for which he would initially need physical access to the device in question), the device could be fully controlled remotely by connecting to the same wireless or wired network as the user.


A successful attack would lead to complete loss of confidentiality, integrity and availability, with the attacker able to read and modify all of the data and applications users have access to on their computers, even at the firmware level.

Related Article:


Facebook overhaul favours friends over news, adverts

France24 - AFP, Glenn CHAPMAN, 12 January 2018

Facebook is changing the way your News Feed looks -- and hopes you will spend
less time looking at it (AFP)

LAS VEGAS (AFP) - Facebook has announced a major change to how its news feed works, giving advertisers and media posts a back seat to what family and friends share on the leading social network.

It could signal trouble for media outlets hungry to pull in readers and advertising revenue, but Facebook says the tweak will result in a healthier experience for users.

The change to the way Facebook ranks posts will put more weight on social interactions and relationships, according to News Feed product manager John Hegeman.

"This is a big change," Hegeman told AFP.

"People will actually spend less time on Facebook, but we feel good about that because it will make the time they do spend more valuable, and be good for our business in the end."

For example, a family video clip posted by a spouse will be deemed more worthy of attention than a snippet from a star or favorite restaurant.

"We think people interaction is more important than passively consuming content," Hegeman said.

"This will be one of the more important updates that we have made."

In tests since October in countries like Slovakia, Guatemala and Bolivia, media outlets saw a significant drop in clicks from Facebook.

The social media giant is seeking to fix a problem with ad revenue topping out, Olivier Ertzscheid, a tech researcher at the University of Nantes, told AFP.

"Those who want visibility are going to have to pay to keep getting it," he said. "It could also produce a bit of pull toward Facebook's other sites, like Instagram (for brands)."

Facebook shares fell 5.4 percent as trading opened on Friday after the changes were announced on Thursday.

'More meaningful' interactions

Facebook co-founder and chief Mark Zuckerberg has said that bringing people together and strengthening communities in the real world are priorities.

The news feed ranking update, which is set to roll out globally in the coming weeks, is expected to support that goal.

"As we roll this out, you'll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media," Zuckerberg said in a post at his Facebook page.

"And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard -- it should encourage meaningful interactions between people."

Google, Twitter and Facebook have come under fire for allowing the spread of bogus news -- some of which was directed by Russia -- ahead of the 2016 US election and in other countries.

Facebook has introduced a series of changes intended to address the problem.

"We are doing a ton of work to reduce the frequency of bad content on Facebook," Hegeman said.

"This update is more about amplifying the things people value."

He cited academic research indicating that interacting with loved ones is crucial to a person's wellbeing, while reading news articles or watching shared videos may not be.

"There is really no silver bullet here to determine what is most meaningful, but we are trying to mine the signals to get the best representation that we can," Hegeman said.

Known for setting annual personal goals ranging from killing his own food to learning Mandarin, Zuckerberg's stated mission for this year is to "fix" the social network, including by targeting abuse and hate, and making sure visiting Facebook is time well spent.

"I'm changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions," Zuckerberg said Thursday.

Friday, January 12, 2018

EU unveils supercomputer plan to rival China

Yahoo – AFP, January 11, 2018

China overtook the United States in numbers and performance for supercomputers in
a ranking last November, followed by Switzerland and Japan in third and fourth place

The EU unveiled plans Thursday to raise one billion euros to build superfast computers that catch up with China and others to boost Europe's economy, make medical advances and fight hacking.

China overtook the United States in numbers and performance for supercomputers in a ranking last November, followed by non-EU Switzerland and Japan in third and fourth place.

"It is a tough race and today the EU is lagging behind: we do not have any supercomputers in the world's top ten," said Andrus Ansip, the European Commisssion vice president for the digital single market.

The European Commission, the EU executive, said it would contribute around 486 million euros ($580 million) for a "High Performance Computing (EuroHPC) infrastructure", that would then be matched by EU nations.

"We want to give European researchers and companies world-leading supercomputer capacity by 2020," Ansip said in a statement.

Brussels says it will help develop artificial intelligence and applications to improve health, security and engineering, plus help forecast hurricane routes and simulate earthquakes.

European scientists and industry risk yielding secrets or sensitive information as they increasingly process data outside the EU to perform tasks in the absence of the best supercomputers, the commission said.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Paris prosecutors probe Apple over 'planned obsolescence'

Yahoo – AFP, 8 January 2018

Apple admitted that it intentionally slowed down older models of its iPhones over time

Paris prosecutors have launched a probe of US tech giant Apple over suspected "planned obsolescence" in some of its iPhone models, a judicial source told AFP on Monday.

It comes after a complaint by the association Stop Planned Obsolescence (HOP or Halte a l'Obsolescence Programmee) that followed Apple's admission last month that it intentionally slowed down older models of its iPhones over time.

The investigation was opened on Friday and is being led by anti-trust and consumer protection specialists in the French economy ministry.

When contacted by AFP, Apple France gave no comment on the matter.

Planned obsolescence is a widely criticised commercial practice in which manufacturers build in the expiry of their products so that consumers will be forced to replace them.

It is decried by consumer groups as being unethical and is suspected of being particularly prevalent in the electronics industry, which produces mountains of unrecyclable waste each year

To tackle the problem, France passed landmark legislation in 2015 known as "Hamon's law" which made the practice illegal and -- in theory -- obliged retailers to say whether replacement parts were available.

The law, named after former Socialist minister Benoit Hamon, stipulates that a company found to be deliberately shortening the life of its products can be fined up to five percent of its annual sales while executives can face up to two years in jail.

Activists of the Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions and Citizen's 
Action stand outside an Apple Store during a protest against tax evasion in 
December 2017 in Marseille, southern France

'Wide-scale tax evasion'

Last month Apple confirmed what critics had suspected for years: that it intentionally slows performance of older iPhones as their batteries weaken with age.

The company said this was to extend the performance of the phone, which uses less power when running at slower speeds, and was to prevent unexpected shutdowns due to a low battery charge.

It denied incorporating planned obsolescence.

However in late December the company issued an apology for slowing older models and said it would discount replacement batteries for some handsets.

"We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologize," Apple said in a message to customers on its website on December 28.

"We've always wanted our customers to be able to use their iPhones as long as possible. We're proud that Apple products are known for their durability, and for holding their value longer than our competitors' devices."

Critics have accused Apple of nudging iPhone users to upgrade to newer models by letting them think it was the handsets that needed replacing, rather than just the battery.

HOP believes Apple could be liable for a fine in line with the value of all of its iPhone sales in France since Hamon's law came into force on August 17, 2015.

The California-based group also faces a class-action suit in the United States.

In another headache for Apple in France, the company announced last week that it has filed a lawsuit against the Attac activist group after about 100 of its supporters occupied the tech giant's flagship store in Paris last month, protesting alleged "wide-scale tax evasion" by the firm.

French prosecutors have also launched a probe into Japanese printer maker Epson for alleged planned obsolescence in its products.

Related Articles:

"...Then there was Steve Jobs. He was a wild card. What he did had little to do with technology, for that would have happened anyway soon enough. Instead, it had to do with the paradigm of the business of music on Earth. He freed it, and the paradigm of how music is obtained and heard will never be the same. However, Steve Jobs did basically one thing for all of you, and then he died. Do you see any kind of connecting of the dots to some of the inventors who come and give you the one thing, then leave? If he had lived, would there be more? Yes, but you’re not ready for it. Consciousness has to support what happens.  ...."

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Top tech lobby joins legal battle to keep 'net neutrality'

Yahoo – AFP, January 6, 2018

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai pushed the rollback
of net neutrality (AFP Photo/ALEX WONG)

Washington (AFP) - The lobby group for some of the most powerful US tech firms said Friday it would join the legal challenge to the planned rollback of "net neutrality" rules requiring internet service providers to treat all online traffic equally.

The Internet Association -- a group which includes Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft, among others -- announced it would support legal efforts to block the rollback voted last month by the Federal Communications Commission.

The association gave no specifics but suggested it would seek to intervene in lawsuits expected by several attorneys general, including from Washington and New York states.

Internet Association president Michael Beckerman said the FCC action voted December 14 "defies the will of a bipartisan majority of Americans and fails to preserve a free and open internet."

He said the association "intends to act as an intervenor in judicial action against this order and, along with our member companies, will continue our push to restore strong, enforceable net neutrality protections through a legislative solution."

Last month's vote capped a heated partisan debate and is just the latest twist in a battle over more than a decade on rules governing internet service providers.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai, who pushed the latest effort, has argued that the neutrality rule enacted in 2015 served to stifle investment and innovation in a fast-evolving sector.

But net neutrality backers have argued that clear rules are needed to prevent internet service providers from blocking or throttling services or websites for competitive reasons, and that the rollback would increase the power of a few dominant providers to control what users see online.

Lawsuits could not be filed until the FCC's order was published, which occurred this week. Some lawmakers have also begun efforts to invalidate the FCC's action.

The battle over net neutrality has raged for over a decade in the FCC and the courts, with both sides contending they represent "internet freedom."

The 2015 net neutrality rules were backed by then-president Barack Obama and endorsed by a 3-2 Democratic majority at the time. But the election of President Donald Trump reversed the FCC party majority and it quickly reversed course.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Flawed computer chips and how to fix them

Digital Journal – AFP, 5 January 2018


As tech giants race against the clock to fix major security flaws in microprocessors, many users are wondering what lurks behind unsettling names like "Spectre" or "Meltdown" and what can be done about this latest IT scare.

What is Meltdown? And Spectre?

These are the names given to two flaws which have been detected in most of the micro processors in use today, be it on computers, tablets, smartphones or game consoles. They are among the first flaws ever found to affect the running of every IT system in the world.

Meltdown appears for now to affect mostly chips built by US giant Intel, according to sector specialists Kaspersky Labs and Symantec.

The flaw could allow attackers to break down the barrier between user apps and the heart of the operating system, according to Kaspersky Labs, "enabling them to potentially steal data from the memory of running apps".

Anybody exploiting the flaw would get access to a complete cartography of all the files present in the device's memory at the time of the attack, by hijacking a process that was originally designed to optimize processor performance.

The Spectre threat is potentially even bigger because it concerns all chip makers: AMD and AMR as well as Intel.

What is a micro processor?

It's the central element of computers, smartphones and other digital devices, allowing them to function by carrying out instructions and handling programme data.

A processor is made up of a number of transistors. The more transistors there are, the higher the chip's capacity to handle data.

These chips are called micro-processors because processor sizes have come down significantly to integrate them into small devices. Processor power is measured in bits, a gauge of how many pieces of information a processor can handle at any one time.

What are the dangers?

Potentially they are enormous. Hackers who know what they're doing could, for example, use Meltdown to gain access to all information stored on a remote server, or cloud, so long as they rent space on the same server.

The stakes are highest for the protection of sensitive data such as passwords, pictures, personal documents and e-mails.

Cloud storage sites represent a particularly grave risk because once such a server is vulnerable, so are all data hosted there.

This is why Microsoft, Amazon or OVH have been scrambling to install updates to restore data protection on their servers.

This is one way of dealing with the threat, but chip maker patches may also 
do the trick LEON NEAL, AFP

Experts point out, however, that it takes a very high level of technical skill to exploit the Spectre and Meltdown flaws, limiting the risks somewhat.

Michael Schwartz, an IT expert quoted in German daily Tagesspiegel Friday, said that a hacker must find out which programmes are currently running before triggering an assault, "which is why it's not that easy to launch mass attacks".

What possible protection?

For now, the only way to beef up defences is to install the security updates offered by the chip makers themselves, or by the operating systems providers: Microsoft for Windows, Apple for iOS and Google for Android and Linux.

These updates for now mostly concern Meltdown. Spectre appears, for now, to be more difficult to patch.

Either way, these updates are little more than tinkering. The safest solution would be to upgrade to a last-generation processor, a switch that will take much longer to implement because it only happens when users buy new devices.

In the meantime retail users, said Schwartz, "shouldn't panic and just behave as they would normally.

"If you follow the usual security recommendations and don't open unknown attachments or click on strange links, then you are in no immediate danger."