Category: News

US extends its cyber laws to the rest of the world

police-stateThe US government has decided that the rest of the world will have to obey whatever quaint law that the US comes up with connected to cyber attacks.

President Barack Obama has today signed an executive order which claims to extend the US administration’s power to respond to malicious cyberattacks and espionage campaigns. Foreign hackers who action attacks against American businesses, institutions and citizens could find themselves fined.

I guess that if they do not pay up then a US copper will show up on another nation state’s soil and if the hacker is not white they will spray him with mace and fill him with more holes than a pasta colander before dragging him off to serve 2000 years in some prison.

Obama in an official statement. “Cyber threats pose one of the most serious economic and national security challenges to the United States, and my Administration is pursuing a comprehensive strategy to confront them.”

“As we have seen in recent months, these threats can emanate from a range of sources and target our critical infrastructure, our companies, and our citizens. This Executive Order offers a targeted tool for countering the most significant cyber threats,” he continued.

The new legislation will enable the secretary of the Treasury, along with the attorney general and secretary of State, to inflict penalties on cybercriminals behind hacking attacks which “create a significant threat to US national security, foreign policy or economic health or financial stability of the United States,” Obama said. Sanctions could include freezing of assets or a total ban on commercial trade.

We guess he does not mean China.  After all most US products are made in China and if there is a ban on commercial trade, Apple fanboys will not be able to get the latest iPhone.

It seems that most of the concern is focused on North Korea to discourage it carrying out another Sony attack.

The authorities will be limited to imposing the new sanctions solely in cases where the attacks are considered significant enough to warrant a penalty. Punishable attacks could include malicious security breaches of critical infrastructure, DDoS campaigns against computers and networks, or those that result in the “significant misappropriation of funds or economic resources, trade secrets, personal identifiers, or financial information for commercial or competitive advantage or private financial gain,” reads a fact sheet published by the White House.



Chinese watchdog furious at Google snub

fortuneA Chinese Internet regulator is furious that Google will no longer recognize its certificates of trust, which could stop Chrome browser users accessing sites approved by the authority.

Google said on its official security blog it would no longer recognise the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) certificate authorities, after a joint investigation between the company and CNNIC into a potential security lapse last month.

Google’s Chrome users may get a warning when attempting to visit sites certified by CNNICCNNIC, which plays a central role in administering China’s internet by allocating and certifying IP addresses and web domain names, urged Google to consider user rights and interests.

“The decision that Google has made is unacceptable and unintelligible,” the agency said in a statement on its website.

CNNIC’s certificates came under scrutiny after an official Google blog post said the Chinese agency had allowed Cairo-based MCS Holdings to issue unauthorised certificates for various Google domains.

That rendered connections between users and those websites vulnerable to ‘man-in-the-middle’ hacking attacks, Google said.

Microsoft and Mozilla also removed trust of those unauthorized certificates last week, following Google’s post.

“While neither we nor CNNIC believe any further unauthorized digital certificates have been issued, nor do we believe the misissued certificates were used outside the limited scope of MCS Holdings’ test network, CNNIC will be working to prevent any future incidents,” Google said on Wednesday.

CNNIC was welcome to reapply for recognition “once suitable technical and procedural controls are in place,” and CNNIC’s existing certificates would be trusted for a limited time through a whitelist.

MCS Holdings said in a statement on its website last week that the security lapse was the result of human error following testing of certificates issued to it by CNNIC, which was meant to take place in a controlled environment.


Integrated circuit demand picking up

ParisPissoirIntegrated circuit demand in China’s smartphone market is showing signs of a pick-up, at least those trying to sell their products to anyone other than Apple.

Digitimes said that inventories at non-Apple vendors have been getting better, showing signs that business is picking up.

Strong sales of Apple’s iPhone 6 devices in China resulted in excess inventory levels at other mobile device brands in the fourth quarter of 2014, the sources said. However, inventory digestion is near its end, the sources observed.

Downstream clients have stepped up chip orders prior to China’s Labour Day holiday, the sources noted. Rollouts of new smartphones and other mobile devices are also expected to stimulate demand, the sources said.

Taiwan-based IC design houses are expected to see their sales rebound starting March, the sources indicated. MediaTek, for example, will see its March revenues rebound to previous high levels.

MediaTek is expected to report weaker-than-expected performance in the second quarter, if the company fails to generate revenue growth of more than 20 per cent. Such a scenario also implies that overall smartphone demand from China and emerging markets is still grim.

MediaTek has estimated revenues for the first quarter of 2015 will register a 10-18 per cent decline. The company has not given its sales guidance for the second quarter.

IBM sells off supply chain software

LlamasoftFor the last few years IBM has bought companies as part of its overall strategy of re-engineering its business for its cloud and analytic push.

But at the same time as it bought companies it felt it needed, it’s also been quietly divesting itself of divisions it doesn’t feel it needs.

The most visible of these sell offs was IBM Microelectronics last year, but now it’s emerged that its sold off its Logic Tools supply chain design software.

Llamasoft bought this unit for an undisclosed amount – with the acquisition including LogicNet Plus, Inventory and Product Flow Analyst and the Transportation Analyst products.

It’s also bought the technology and support people that goes with the former IBM products. Llamasoft said it has already started providing software maintenance, support and services to all IBM’s former customer.

In a prepared statement, Llamasoft said that last year it was one of the fastest growing North American tech firms with 830 percent compound annual growth (CAGR).

UK works on military cyber attacks

DSTLThe British Defence Science and Technology Department (DSTL), is increasing its role to help prevent cyber attack against organisations and individuals here.

According to Professor Penelope Endersby, who heads up the lab: “Our adversaries present a real threat and it is therefore important that we too have the option to achieve military effects through and in cyberspace.”

DSTL, she said, is “developing new and novel capabilities to preserve the freedom of our armed forces to operate on a digital battlefield”.

The lab has opened a new facility called Cyber Evaluation and Assessment which she said will help government departments understand where vulnerabilities in the UK’s cyber defence capabilities may be.

DSTL will work with several unnamed government departments to create “cutting edge cyber capabilities for military operations”.

Quanta hit by Apple iWatch

WatchTaiwanese original developer manufacturer (ODM) Quanta may well find its profits depend on two variable products Apple is introducing – the Apple iWatch and the 12-inch Macbook.

A UBS analyst, quoted in today’s Taipei Times, thinks that Quanta will find putting the Apple kit together will be more expensive than first thought.

And products made by Quanta may not be available until the end of this calendar quarter. Another variable factor is that while Apple has received lots of press coverage for its smart iWatch, it’s entirely possible sales might not pan out to be as great as the hype suggests.

Quanta, like many of the major Taiwanese ODMs, operates on razor thin margins – for the last quarter of 2014 it amounted to a measly 1.26 percent.

Analyst Wang Wanli is quoted as saying in the Taipei Times that the Apple watch yield is less than 50 percent – compounded by the need to rush to market and get good production yields right away.