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Facebook Employees Had Access to Millions of User Passwords Stored in Plain Text

In a new blog post entitled "Keeping Passwords Secure" Facebook VP Engineering, Security and Privacy Pedro Canahuati explains how the social media giant accidentally stored Facebook user's passwords on internal data storage systems in plain text. Pedro explains how "these passwords were never visible to anyone outside of Facebook and we have found no evidence to date that anyone internally abused or improperly accessed them. We estimate that we will notify hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users, tens of millions of other Facebook users, and tens of thousands of Instagram users." To keep your account safe, Facebook suggests changing your Facebook and Instagram passwords, pick strong passwords, use a password manager, and enable a security key or two-factor authentication. In recent months, Facebook has vowed to clean up its act as it has been accused of sharing user data, one click account takeover bugs, paying minors to harvest their data without parental consent, had its enterprise certificate revoked by Apple, access token hack, Cambridge Analytica, and many more fines and hacks. I would suggest picking a password so long and complex that Facebook employees would get tired from writing it down.

As part of a routine security review in January, we found that some user passwords were being stored in a readable format within our internal data storage systems. This caught our attention because our login systems are designed to mask passwords using techniques that make them unreadable. We have fixed these issues and as a precaution we will be notifying everyone whose passwords we have found were stored in this way.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 21, 2019 1:17 PM (CDT)

Facebook Unveils the Oculus Rift S

At GDC, Facebook unveiled their next PC virtual reality headset. Among other things, the Oculus Rift S features a "higher pixel density" and "improved optics," but doesn't divulge many technical details. According to UploadVR, the new headset now uses a single 2560x1440 LCD instead of dual PenTile 2160x1200 OLED displays. And instead of requiring external sensors, the new Rift uses built-in cameras for tracking. It also features "enhanced" comfort, integrated audio, a better passthrough feature to keep you from bumping into walls, as well as compatibility with the same game library as the previous Rift, along with the same hardware requirements. Facebook says that the Rift S is launching in Spring 2019 for $399 USD.

Oculus Rift S is our most advanced PC-powered headset. Take on VR's best games with improved resolution and comfortable new design. No external sensors. No complicated set up. Just hands-on action and interaction. Step into the game and the future of PC VR. Coming Spring 2019.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 20, 2019 10:47 AM (CDT)

Anthem Was Bioware's Second Best Launch

Following their trouble with Mass Effect: Andromeda, Bioware has a lot riding on their last big release: Anthem. Recent reports of low physical sales, as well as mixed feedback from the players in the game, suggested that the title might not be doing particularly well. However, a recent report from NPD claims that Anthem was the best selling game of February 2019, and that it was Bioware's 2nd best launch to date, behind only Mass Effect 3. Interestingly, the report also claims that monthly "video games hardware" sales are down about 12% year to year, while software sales are up 15%.

And that doesn't even include Anthem's PC digital sales. More importantly, it doesn't count the people who signed up for EA's Access Origin Premier service for $15 per month. That figure is likely significant since that membership now gets players access to a library of older games as well as Battlefield V and Madden NFL 19.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 20, 2019 8:41 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)

Study Claims 39% of Counter-Strike Servers are Infected With Malware

In spite of the battle royale craze and a more modern sequel, the original Counter-Strike is still a massively popular game. The FPS had nearly 15,000 concurrent players at the time of this writing, and there are still thousands of registered 3rd party servers. However, a recent study from Dr. Web clams that 1,951 CS 1.6 servers, which represents about 39% of the servers they analyzed, are infected with malware. The trojan propagates itself through vulnerabilities within the official Counter Strike client, and is used to promote other CS servers. Unlike previously reported incidents, this exploit requires no conformation on the user's end, and Dr. Web says they "have informed Valve about these and other vulnerabilities of the game, but as of now, there is no data on when the vulnerabilities will be fixed."

Many owners of popular game servers also raise money from players by selling various privileges such as protection against bans, access to weapons, etc. Some server owners advertise themselves independently, while others purchase server promotion services from contractors. Having paid for a service, customers often remain oblivious as to how exactly their servers are advertised. As it turned out, the developer nicknamed, "Belonard", resorted to illegal means of promotion. His server infected the devices of players with a Trojan and used their accounts to promote other game servers. The owner of the malicious server uses the vulnerabilities of the game client and a newly written Trojan as a technical foundation for their business. The Trojan is to infect players' devices and download malware to secure the Trojan in the system and distribute it to devices of other players. For that, they exploit Remote Code Execution (RCE) vulnerabilities, two of which have been found in the official game client and four in the pirated one. Once set up in the system, Trojan.Belonard replaces the list of available game servers in the game client and creates proxies on the infected computer to spread the Trojan. As a rule, proxy servers show a lower ping, so other players will see them at the top of the list. By selecting one of them, a player gets redirected to a malicious server where their computer become infected with Trojan.Belonard.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 14, 2019 11:36 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)

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)

Dell Technologies Gains Global Market Share in Server and Storage in Q4 2018

According to research from IDC, Dell Technologies has been gaining market share on Hewlett Packard Enterprises (HPE) in the worldwide server and storage market. In Q4 2018, Dell captured 18.7% global share of the server market, up from 17.5% in 2017. This created $4.43 billion in server revenue which represents more than a 20% increase over the $3.68 billion Dell made year over year (YoY). HPE grew its revenue by 10.5% YoY as its market share fell to 18.1% in Q4 2018. HPE made $4.2 billion in revenue in Q4 2018. Globally, the server market in Q4 2018 grew 12.6% to $23.6 billion. In the storage market, Dell again dominated as it increased its market share from 19.3% to 20.6% YoY. Dell made close to $3 billion in revenue; a 15% increase YoY. HPE trailed Dell with $2.6 billion in revenue in the global storage market. HPE's market share fell from 19.2% to 18% in Q4 2018. The global storage market grew 7.4% to $14.5 billion in Q4 2018.

Winslow said Dell's broad storage and serer portfolio is winning deals for his company over HPE, including a recent healthcare organization that added Dell servers for the first time that had previously bought HPE. "Dell has the technology there in spades - whether its blade technology, rack technology, a phenomenal hyper-converged portfolio, a full portfolio for structured and unstructured data -- and they continue to improve on it under Jeff Clarke," said Winslow, adding that his company's Dell business is up 43 percent year over year.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 11, 2019 2:33 PM (CDT)

Microsoft HoloLens Was the Star of MWC

Mobile device manufacturers released a slew of new handsets and MWC this year, but Forbes' Patrick Moorhead thinks that Microsoft's HoloLens 2 was one of the most impressive devices at the show. The new headset doubles the field of view of the original Hololens without sacrificing pixel density, and features eye-tracking hardware that makes AR feel "more natural." Microsoft also worked on some of the original Hololens' smaller but glaring flaws. The new headset, for example, uses carbon-fiber to keep weight down, is far more comfortable than its predecessor, and works with glasses. Microsoft also introduced some cloud services that supposedly help compensate for Hololens' relatively low-power processors, though how well a cloud rendering service will work for such a latency sensitive device remains to be seen.

Microsoft says it will enable developers to design MR apps capable of mapping, designating, and remembering precise "points of interest" that are accessible not only in HoloLens but in Android and iOS devices. In my controlled demo, I used iOS and Android devices to work on the same object at the same time as HoloLens 2. The second, Remote Rendering, is designed to render high-quality 3D models on MR and mobile devices, without the need to simplify the models for the hardware. It functions by rendering the content in the cloud and streaming it to edge devices in real-time. Think about rendering 100M polygons versus a million. I'm not too sure what WiFi wireless capabilities are built in, but they will need to be high quality to ensure low latency streaming of Remote Rendering content. It's all about the ecosystem, Microsoft totally gets it, and currently leads the pack in AR. HoloLens is getting more and more real. The second iteration takes what was good about the first headset, and makes it even better - bigger, more vibrant display, more comfortable, and more immersive. It's not perfect, but it doesn't have to be. The PC wasn't perfect when it was invented; it only needed to be better than the typewriter and calculator. HoloLens 2 represents another leap forward for mixed reality, and then potential use cases are mind-boggling. Congratulations Microsoft.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 08, 2019 11:32 AM (CST)