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A Reminder from AMD: Our Processors Aren't Affected by New "SPOILER" Vulnerability

AMD has published a support article confirming its chips should be immune to "SPOILER," a new CPU vulnerability outlined by computer scientists at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the University of Lubeck. As explained in their paper, SPOILER takes advantage of "a weakness in the address speculation of Intel’s proprietary implementation of the memory subsystem." This makes it easier for memory attacks such as "Rowhammer" to be carried out, but evidently, only Intel users need worry.

We are aware of the report of a new security exploit called SPOILER which can gain access to partial address information during load operations. We believe that our products are not susceptible to this issue because of our unique processor architecture. The SPOILER exploit can gain access to partial address information above address bit 11 during load operations. We believe that our products are not susceptible to this issue because AMD processors do not use partial address matches above address bit 11 when resolving load conflicts.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 17, 2019 4:40 PM (CDT)

Valve Addresses Review Bombing on Steam by Removing Them from Review Scores

To mitigate the effects of review bombing, Valve announced Friday it has a built a tool that would identify and alert the moderation team of any game with "anomalous review activity." After a case of review bombing is confirmed, the reviews submitted under this time period would then be removed from the review score calculation. Gamers can opt out of this change, however, and "off-topic review bombs" will remain on the site for anyone curious enough to read them.

Once our team has identified that the anomalous activity is an off-topic review bomb, we'll mark the time period it encompasses and notify the developer. The reviews within that time period will then be removed from the Review Score calculation. As before, the reviews themselves are left untouched - if you want to dig into them to see if they're relevant to you, you'll still be able to do so. To help you do that, we've made it clear when you're looking at a store page where we've removed some reviews by default, and we've further improved the UI around anomalous review periods.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 17, 2019 9:30 AM (CDT)

A "Server Misconfiguration" Was Behind the Facebook Outage

Facebook and Instagram were down for about 14 hours earlier this week, and earlier reports suggested that the underlying cause was a BGP routing issue. As time went on without an official explanation, many started to suspect that the outage was related to an attack on the platform. But yesterday, Facebook tweeted that the trouble was a "result of a server configuration change." There's still no mention of the incident in Facebook's official newsroom, and some news outlets are starting to criticize the timeliness of Facebook's response and explanation. One security analyst told the BBC that "Facebook's motto always used to be 'move fast and break things'. That's fine when you're an innovative start-up, but when billions of people are using your site every month it's not a good way to run the business."

Yesterday, as a result of a server configuration change, many people had trouble accessing our apps and services. We've now resolved the issues and our systems are recovering. We're very sorry for the inconvenience and appreciate everyone's patience.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 15, 2019 9:00 AM (CDT)

Facebook is Under Criminal Investigation for Data Sharing Practices

Facebook's news coverage hasn't been particularly positive over the past few months, but they had a particularly bad day yesterday. Following a widespread outage that lasted over 14 hours, and likely cost the company millions in advertising revenue, the New York Times released a report claiming that the U.S. Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation into Facebook over their data sharing practices. According to their sources, two major handset manufacturers have already been subpoenaed. At this point, Facebook's public image seems to be in "it couldn't possibly get any worse" territory, hence their stock price barely budged in response to the incident and the story, and is still significantly up since to the beginning of March.

"It's already been reported that there are ongoing federal investigations, including by the Dept of Justice. As we've said, we're cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously. We've provided public testimony, answered questions, and pledged that we'll continue to do so."

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 14, 2019 10:00 AM (CDT)

Twitch Streamer Ninja Was Paid $1 Million by EA to Stream 'Apex Legends'

According to Reuters, Twitch streamer Ninja was paid $1 million to stream the battle royale game 'Apex Legends' to his 13 million followers on February 5, 2019. He also tweeted about the event to his fans. $1 million "is more than twice media reports of Ninja's monthly earnings from streaming his regular appearances on Fortnite." EA greatly benefited from the promotion as its "stock price and market value rose 16 percent, or $4 billion, in the three days after Apex Legends launched and a month later the game has 50 million users, a quarter of Fortnite's 200 million." Other popular Twitch and YouTube stars such as Shroud were compensated to play the game. Shroud recently fell off his scooter at 55 mph and severely injured his "keyboard" arm. He wasn't wearing safety equipment. His friend Just9n explains what happened in this NSFW video due to language. Shroud documented his injuries on his Twitter account.

"They did a fairly comprehensive job at pulling together all of the relevant game influencers in this genre," said Kevin Knocke, a vice president at esports infrastructure firm ReKTGlobal. "This was a really well coordinated poaching of the top influencers the likes of which has not been seen so far in esports," he said, suggesting that EA had also roped in streamers better-known for playing other blockbusters like "Call of Duty" or "PUBG". "We really wanted to create a day where you couldn't escape Apex if you cared about games and we wanted it to feel like an event was happening everywhere around the globe on that day," Drew McCoy, lead producer at the EA studio that created Apex Legends, said in an interview. "We had streamers from all over Europe, LatAm, North America, Korea, Japan so that we could get our message out there and people would see the game," he said.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 13, 2019 11:20 PM (CDT)

Gigabyte Factory Tour Shows Motherboard Manufacturing from Start-To-Finish

Gamers Nexus recently took a tour of the Gigabyte factory located on Nanping Road in Taiwan. At this location, Gigabyte manufacturers both video cards and motherboards. Although most of the SMT factory is automated, some of the components and wires must be installed by hand. It takes 40 - 50 minutes for a motherboard to be created and Gigabyte processes 600 - 800 motherboards per hour or about 5,000 per 8 hour workday. Make sure that you compare the Gigabyte tour to the MSI factory tour that Hardocp documented in 2007. I thought it was fascinating that the Gigabyte "museum" featured test equipment similar to what Hardocp observed over a decade ago. My, how things have changed!

Motherboard manufacturing is a refined process, but each board still takes upwards of an hour to finalize on the assembly line. About half of the assembly is now done by automated SMT lines, with the rest being manual quality checks and large component installation (like PCIe slots). As for how to make a video card, it follows exactly the same process -- the difference is just which board is being fed through the machines on each day.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 13, 2019 8:59 PM (CDT)

Facebook Outage Caused by BGP Routing Error

NETSCOUT has released a statement to BleepingComputer that the Facebook and Instagram outages were caused by a BGP routing error.

"'At approximately 12:52PM EST on March 13th, 2019, it appears that an accidental BGP routing leak from a European ISP to a major transit ISP, which was then propagated onwards to some peers and/or downstreams of the transit ISP in question, resulted in perceptible disruption of access to some well-known Internet properties for a short interval. While not malicious in nature, such events can prove disruptive on a widespread basis. It is very important that all network operators implement BGP peering best current practices (BCPs), including prefix-lists, max-prefixes, 'peer-locking' via AS-PATH filters, RPKI Origin Validation (RFC6811), and other techniques incorporated into the industry Mutually Agreed Norms for Routing Security (MANRS) detailed at .' -Roland Dobbins, NETSCOUT Principal Engineer"

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 13, 2019 5:30 PM (CDT)

Facebook and Instagram Are down

Facebook and Instagram are reportedly down. This probably means that your personal information will have to wait until both services are back up before it is harvested (sarcasm.) Facebook acknowledged the connection troubles on Twitter since it couldn't announce it on its own social media platform. Maybe this is part of Mark Zuckerberg's plan to shift Facebook to a "privacy-focused" platform?

We're aware that some people are currently having trouble accessing the Facebook family of apps. We're working to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 13, 2019 2:31 PM (CDT)

Facebook Acquires Interconnect IP Provider Sonics

Hot on the heels of Nvidia's Mellanox acquisition, EE Times reports that Facebook has acquired Sonics, a Silicon Valley-based IP provider that specializes in on-chip networking and power management. The report initially came from sources claiming "key Sonics executive members are now working for Facebook," but Facebook contacted EE Times shortly after the article went live and confirmed the acquisition. They said "we're rapidly developing new VR and AR products and deepening our technology expertise in silicon is an important step for our 10-year roadmap. We're excited to welcome the remarkable Sonics team and technology to AR/VR at Facebook." However, what's particularly interesting is what Facebook could do with the newly acquired company outside of standalone AR/VR headsets. The publication asked the social media giant if they intended to use Sonic's IP for datacenter chips, and Facebook said "It's too early to rule out anything. But our initial focus will be VR and AR." While that's certainly far from a confirmation, it's not a denial either, and the technology I see on an archived version of Sonic's website and their YouTube Channel seemingly lends itself to high performance datacenter chips. In other words, this could be evidence that Facebook is following in the footsteps of Amazon, and working on their own datacenter hardware to reduce their reliance on 3rd parties.

"It would indicate to me that Facebook is indeed working on its own multicore, and probably heterogeneous, processor," Krewell said. Of course, that's what all the cool cloud players are apparently doing these days, he added. Mike Demler, senior analyst at the Linley Group, however, is the only one who suggested, "Yes, Facebook designs ASICs for its data centers, but they also may develop chips for Oculus VR headsets." Surprising to Krewell, though, is that Facebook bought the company rather than just licensing the technology. Linley has another theory. "If the Facebook team decided to use Sonics IP, and Sonics was running out of money, Facebook could have stepped in to ensure the continuity of its design project." He said this would be similar to what happened in the case of Intel's NetSpeed acquisition deal last year.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 13, 2019 12:51 PM (CDT)

Citrix Hacked by a Cyberespionage Group

Cloud service, VoIP and remote management software provider Citrix has reportedly been hit by an Irianian-linked hacker group. A little less than a week ago, Citrix posted a notice on their website saying the FBI believed "international cyber criminals gained access to the internal Citrix network." The press release wasn't particularly alarming, as it says that "there is no indication that the security of any Citrix product or service was compromised" even though hackers "may have accessed and downloaded business documents." However, a separate report from the cyber security firm Resecurity claims that the Iranian hacker group IRIDIUM was behind the attack, and that they had access to "6 terabytes of sensitive data stored in the Citrix enterprise network, including e-mail correspondence, files in network shares and other services used for project management and procurement." Even more worryingly, the security firm says they warned Citrix on December 28, 2018, but as far as I can tell, the company hasn't posted a public response until today. Citrix was reportedly the victim of a password spraying attack, where a small pool of commonly used passwords are used to brute force a large number of accounts, and Resecurity seems to think that this attack is a small component of a larger campaign.

The Iranian-linked group known as IRIDIUM has hit more than 200 government agencies, oil and gas companies and technology companies including Citrix Systems, Inc... Friday, December 28, 2018 at 10:25 AM - Resecurity reached out to Citrix and shared an early warning notification about a targeted attack and data breach. Based on the timing and further dynamics, the attack was planned and organized specifically during Christmas period. The incident has been identified as a part of a sophisticated cyberespionage campaign supported by nation-state due to strong targeting against government, military-industrial complex, energy companies, financial institutions and large enterprises involved in critical areas of economy... We forecast a continued growth of targeted cyber-attacks on supply chains of government and large enterprises organized by state-actors and sophisticated cyberespionage groups.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 13, 2019 9:41 AM (CDT)

Controversial Game Pulled by Steam after Outcry

Valve announced it would not be shipping one of its most controversial titles to date Wednesday, proving its "lax" policies still have limits. An official statement on the Steam blog suggests games may be assessed on a case-by-case basis, the fate of which could be directly proportional to how much negative media attention they generate. UK politicians have called for a government review of Steam.

While the game hadn’t officially launched yet, its product page was offensive enough to catch attention and widespread condemnation. A Change.org petition gathered nearly 8,000 signatures calling for the game’s removal from Steam. Valve, the company that owns Steam, delisted the title on Wednesday saying, "After significant fact-finding and discussion, we think ‘Rape Day’ poses unknown costs and risks and therefore won’t be on Steam."

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 10, 2019 5:55 PM (CDT)

Windows 10: New Study Shows Home Edition Users Are Baffled by Updates

With automatic updates being such a pain in the butt for Windows 10 users, UK researchers from the University College London sought to uncover precisely why with a study presented this week titled "In Control with No Control: Perceptions and Reality of Windows 10 Home Edition Update Features." They ended up constructing a detailed flow chart of Microsoft's update process, which was unsurprisingly very complex and revealed the two biggest issues: the "Active Hours" feature, and how often updates are delivered or the difference between monthly quality updates and semi-annual feature updates. The researchers’ biggest suggestion is that Windows should "obtain explicit permission for restarts consistently."

...among the 26 participants who were aware of the feature, 10 had not changed it from the default settings even though it clashed with their daily schedule. Not surprisingly, that resulted in about half of the survey respondents reporting that they had experienced unexpected restarts. The other noteworthy finding from the research is that users don't understand how often updates are delivered, nor do they appreciate the difference between monthly quality updates and semi-annual feature updates. That can lead to anxiety when an unexpected feature update takes well over an hour compared to the 12 minutes or less that a monthly cumulative update takes.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 02, 2019 1:15 PM (CST)