Tag: aurora

Tesla settles autopilot lawsuit

Tesla has settled the lawsuit against its former director of Autopilot Programs, Sterling Anderson, for stealing proprietary information about the Autopilot programme and recruiting fellow Tesla engineers to work with him at Aurora Innovation.

The lawsuit was settled with Tesla withdrawing its allegations without damages and Aurora agreeing to make itself available for an audit by a third party to make sure it doen’t have proprietary information from Tesla’s Autopilot program.

Aurora also agreed to cover the cost of the audit for up to $100,000. The startup claims that it had already ordered its own audit, which found no material Tesla confidential information.

As for the allegations of poaching employees, Aurora has agreed not to reach out to Tesla employees for a year and to release the names of former Tesla employees who have joined the startup already.

It seems rather odd that Tesla appears to be backing down having made such a bit noise against the outfit. It does appear as if the whole legal project went off half cocked from the outset.  The tech press did a quite shufty at all the Aurora employees on LinkedIn and it is  clear that Tesla has nothing to moan about.

A handful of Autopilot engineers joined Aurora while almost a dozen former Uber engineers working on self-driving have joined the startup, including Drew Bagnell, a Carnegie Mellon University who was part of Uber’s autonomous driving leadership until last December.


Futuristic Intel chips under the bonnet of supercomputer

tm40-whirlwindA supercomputer being installed in the Argonne National Laboratory will have more than 70 core Knight’s Hill architecture and some other fairly sexy interconnect.

According to the Platform the project – dubbed “Aurora” – will be the first time in 20 years that a chipmaker, as opposed to a systems vendor, has been awarded the contract to build a leading-edge national computing resource.

Aurora will reach a peak performance of 180 petaflops and will be so powerful it can calculate the existence of rice pudding and income tax before it is switched on in 2018.

The machine will be a next-generation variant of Cray’s “Shasta” supercomputer line, which it has been designing in conjunction with Intel since the chip maker bought the Cray interconnect business three years ago for $140 million.

The new $200 million supercomputer is set to be installed at Argonne’s Leadership Computing Facility and will be part of a trio of systems aimed at bolstering nuclear security initiatives.

Aurora, with its 180 petaflops peak will pull 13 megawatts. This is an 18X performance improvement in performance with just 2.7x the power.

HBGary Aurora emails say Chinese hackers got to Morgan Stanley

The Chinese hackers who took out Google were probably not trying to bring down the west as we know it after all.

Secret emails which have just been made public indicate that the same Chinese hacking crew which got Google also tried to take out Morgan Stanley.

Morgan Stanley was the little  outfit which was involved in bringing the Western economy to its knees with its sub-prime mortgage policy. We would have thought that any good revolutionary outfit would have wanted to keep that baby up and running to keep up the good work destabilising democracy.

However it seems that the Chinese hackers were interested in keeping Morgan Stanley offline.

According to emails obtained from a US security consultancy by “hacktivists” Anonymous, Morgan Stanley was “hit hard” by the attack, although it did not want the attack to be known.

In fact the whole attack would have remained secret if Security outfit HBGary CEO Aaron Barr had not bragged that he could identify Anonymous members by analysing social networks.

Anonymous subsequently posted thousands of HBGary’s emails online, saying “it would appear that security experts are not expertly secured”. Barr resigned yesterday.

Among the emails was one from Phil Wallisch, a senior security engineer at HBGary, as saying he read an internal Morgan Stanley report detailing the Aurora attacks.

The HBGary emails don’t indicate what information may have been stolen from Morgan Stanley’s databanks or which of the world’s largest merger adviser’s multinational operations were targeted.

As yet Morgan Stanley is still not saying anything about the attacks. Currently it has enough on its plate having to answer tricky questions about why it has been foreclosing on homes of soldiers serving overseas or overcharging thousands for mortgages.

Radio jammed by massive solar flare

The cloud of supercharged particles emitted by a series of three solar flares is, as feared, disturbing radio communications.

The China Meteorological Administration (CMA) reports that shortwave communications have been disrupted by the flares, of which the third, on Tuesday, was the biggest in over four years. With flares categorised as C Class, M Class and X Class, it’s well into the X Class range.

And while there’s some debate about how much disruption the flare will cause, a similar coronal mass ejection (CME) cut the power to millions of people in Canada in 1973.

And the current storm is set to continue, according to space weather forecasters.

“An increase to unsettled to active conditions, with a chance for minor storm periods is expected late on day one into day two (18 February),” reads a forecast from the US’ NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center.

“The increased activity is forecast due to the expected arrival of the CME associated with the X2 flare that occurred on 15/02/11. Day three (19 February) is expected to be quiet to active as the disturbance subsides.”

Personally, we prefer the Radio 4 Shipping Forecast.

And more flares are likely to be on the way. Region 1158 – where this week’s biggest originated – is expected to produce more M-class flares over the next few days, and could produce an M5 or greater x-ray event. There’s also a chance of isolated M-class activity from Region 1161.

There’s a danger to astronauts on the International Space Station, says NASA, and even to air passengers and crew.

But, hey, those of us in reasonably northerly or southerly latitudes could at least be in for a pretty light show – especially if the lights do indeed go out.

“Further Northern Lights (aurora) displays are possible some time over the next two nights if skies are clear and the activity peaks in your local night-time,” says the British Geological Survey.

Microsoft releases names and prices for Aurora

Software Imperium Microsoft has announced the final names and pricing for Windows Small Business Server (SBS) 2011.

SBS 2011 is the catchy name for what has become known in the trade as “Aurora”.

The Imperium apparently thinks that Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials is a little more sexy than a golden dawn – they are probably right.

It will hit the shops in the first half of next year and set you back $545.

Like the name suggests,  Windows SBS 2011 Essentials is targeted at small businesses that want to deploy their first server.

Redmond tells us that it ships with a lump of security software to protect your data, lets you organise and access business information from virtually anywhere, supports business applications, and connects to online services such as Office 365, hosted e-mail, collaboration, and CRM.

The software can be used by up to 25 users and requires no CALs for user access.

What has been known as SBS 7 will be known as Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard. Priced at $1,096, with CALs going for approximately $72, it is slated for release in December 2010 . It is aimed at small businesses with up to 75 users that want enterprise-class server technology, automatic daily server backups, and features like e-mail, Internet connectivity, internal websites, remote access, as well as file and printer sharing. Licensing is consistent with previous versions of Windows SBS 2008 Standard, which required a Server License and CALs for each user.

Last, but not least, there will be a server add-on known as Windows Small Business Server 2011 Premium Add-on. Priced at $1,604, with client-access licenses going for approximately $92, it too is slated for release in December 2010 from Microsoft and February 2011 from OEMs and System Builders.

The add-on is an additional server that provides support for SQL Server-based LOB applications and access to Window Server 2008 R2 technologies.

It will have Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard as well as SQL Server 2008 R2 for Small Business.

The Imperium has two more Windows Server products on the way which go by the codename Vail which is the second version of Windows Home Server. Apparently there is a second one which has a codename Breckenridge.

It looks like it is a version of Windows Home Server Vail which is designed to function as storage server. The Imperium has not said when these will hit the shops. 

Symantec warns Google Aurora hackers are back

The Chinese hackers who targeted Google in what was called “Operation Aurora” – which caused a huge rift between Google and the Chinese government – are back in action according to security firm Symantec.

New signs that the same hackers who compromised Google’s source code and endangered Chinese human rights activists have appeared, utilising an Adobe zero-day vulnerability in PDFs known as Adobe Reader ‘CoolType.dll’ TTF Font Remote Code Execution Vulnerability. 

This type of attack means that anyone who downloads the exploited PDF file will find a downloader DLL in their Temp folder, which subsequently downloads additional malware. It effectively bypasses the need to run an executable file, making it a much bigger threat, since most people are cagey about .exe files, but not about .pdf files.

Symantec pointed out a number of similarities between this attack and the Aurora one on Google, Adobe, Yahoo, and a number of other big names, including Symantec itself.

It caught a number of socially engineered emails being sent out that are written in a very similar style to those used to load up the Hydraq trojan in the Aurora attacks and said that this confirms its suspicions that those hackers did not simply fade away, but still in operation.

This spells bad news for the net. Insecurity experts agreed that Aurora was one of the most elaborate and sophisticated of its type in history. McAfee, now owned by Intel, said: “We have never ever, outside of the defense industry, seen commercial industrial companies come under that level of sophisticated attack. It’s totally changing the threat model.”

Google reported the attacks in January of this year, revealing that between the middle and end of 2009 it was subject to a large-scale attack which primarily employed a previously unknown vulnerability in Internet Explorer as well as another in source code revision software Perforce.

The attacks led to a bitter exchange between Google and the Chinese government, where Google accused Beijing of being behind the attacks, which were allegedly aimed at spying on human rights activists and stealing Google’s source code.

It strained their relationships so much that Google gave China an ultimatum: allow an uncensored version of Google’s search engine or watch the company close up shop there for good. After months of holding ground they eventually reached a compromise, allowing a censored version of Google to link to an uncensored one.

Google employed Symantec as part of its investigations into the Aurora attack, so news from them that the hackers are still at large and potentially planning another big attack is very worrying indeed.

Update- Typo fixed. Hi Reddit!