Top US spooks are advising businesses to upgrade to Vista or Windows 7, claiming that other operating systems do not cut the mustard when it comes to security.
According to a best practices sheet which the National Security Agency sends out, both Windows 7 and Vista provide substantial security enhancements over earlier Windows workstation operating systems such as XP.
Many of these security features are enabled by default and help prevent common attack vectors, it says. In addition, implementing the 64-bit mode of the OS on a 64-bit hardware platform substantially increases the effort of an adversary to attain a system or root compromise. For any Windows-based OS, verify that Windows Update is configured to provide updates automatically, the leaflet claims.
The leaflet is clearly written for those who are using old Windows XP machines and the NSA thinks should be upgrading.
However some of those older machines will not run Vista or Windows 7, and you would think that someone like the NSA would suggest something else, like Linux, which probably could manage an older machine.
It is not as if the NSA did not look at other operating systems. OS-X gets a mention in the briefing.
The paper said that businesses should configure any Mac OS X system to automatically check for updates. When notified of an available update, provide privileged credentials in order to install the update. Apple’s iPad should be kept up-to-date as well.
“A good practice is to connect the iPad to an iTunes host at least once a month or just prior to any travel where the iPad will be used,” the NSA said.
What will be a surprise is how the NSA seems to only be interested in supporting proprietary software. Linux use is not even considered in the spook’s best practices package.
ARM has unveiled its next generation “Eagle” processor, which will fit into everything from smartphones, energy-efficient servers and tablets.
The Cortex-A15 is said to be five times better than the standard A8 chips found in today’s high-end smartphones. However it claims the new chip will consume no more power.
The Eagle will initially be available in 32nm or 28nm formats and will deliver clock speeds of up to 2.5GHz.
“The launch of the Cortex-A15 MPCore processor marks the beginning of an entirely new era for the ARM Partnership. It brings together more than 20 years of ARM expertise in low-power design with a host of new and very aggressive high-performance technologies,” said Mike Inglis, EVP and GM, processor division, ARM.
“The Cortex-A15 MPCore processor will become the next major step along the industry’s energy efficient computing roadmap and open up a wide range of new application possibilities for our Partners,” he added.
The chip is also compatible with other Cortex-A processors, which means it can be used for immediate access to an established developer and software ecosystem, including Android, Adobe, Flash Player, Linux, Microsoft Windows and Ubuntu.
It also offers hardware support for virtualisation. This could lead to smartphones with “multiple personalities”, where the owner has one virtual machine for business purposes and another for personal use.
British company ARM kicked off the week at Computex by declaring that even if the X86 model isn’t dead, Intel’s aim of domination in the smartphone market doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell.
The splendidly named Tudor Brown – one of the founders of ARM and now its president – confirmed that Intel is an ARM customer, has several ARM licences and has been a customer “for a long time”.
But responding to a question from TechEye asking how it felt to have a customer competing aggressively with ARM, Brown – also wearing a rather splendid tie – said that Intel was “trying to retrofit its technology” for the smartphone and embedded marketplace and that didn’t work in this market.
Brown said that the market ARM was pursuing these days was far bigger than the traditional market has been. He estimated there would be 10 billion ARM devices for the smartphone and similar market by 2014, and the automotive market was even bigger.
“Almost all phones are using ARM technology,” he claimed – nine out 10, he said. And many phones had two or more ARM devices in them.
Leading microprocessor companies, he said, are adopting ARM and its graphics techology Mali for their devices. ARM devices are in 30 percent of set top boxes and a 32-bit ARM sells for less than one dollar.
Those kind of economics, he suggested, put Intel’s efforts to grab that market in the shade. ARM, he said, was working with every major operating system supplier in the world and built dedicated extensions in Android V2.2 Froyo that was announced last week.
He also disclosed that the next ARM project after its Cortex-A designs was codenamed Eagle. Although reluctant to spell out steps quite yet, he said that it was a higher performing device. As far as we can tell it’s in the frame for this year.
British company ARM turned in its first quarter results and said the figures showed a 50 percent increase in shipments of chips based on its designs into mobile devices.
It turned in revenues of $143.3 million and pre-tax profit of $37.6 million for the quarter, compared to revenues of $120.9 million and pre-tax profit of $23.9 million the year before. Its operating margin was 40 percent for the quarter, compared to 23.9 percent in the same quarter last year.
It said it had granted four processor licences for mobile phone and computing applications and a “major semiconductor company” became the second lead licensee for “Eagle”, the next iteration of its Cortex-A processor. The “major semiconductor company” isn’t Intel.
ARM said that smartphone growth will continue, giving it more opportunities in the future as machines based on its technology become products.
Apart from its mobile business, ARM said it had increased its share in consumer electronics and embedded products, and successfully grew in the digital TV, disk drive and microcontroller market. Sales of those were up by over 80 percent, quarter on quarter, year on year.
It signed up 13 licensees for a number of apps including intelligent sensors, smart energy meters and solid state drives.
Warren East – pictured above, not full size – who is ARM’s CEO, said: “Shipments of ARM based chips increased more than 50 percent compared with a year ago, driven by strong growth from smarter mobile devices, digital TVs, disk drives and microcontrollers and leading to record royalty revenues.