Tag: server

Hillary Clinton was silly but did nothing illegal

hillary-sillyHillary Clinton was jolly silly when it came to network security, but an FBI investigation said she did nothing wrong.

After all, if they locked Hillary up for being a bit insecure when it came to data, they would probably have to lock up every network manager, or owner of a corporate network in the country.

The FBI Director James Comey rebuked the Democratic U.S. presidential candidate for “extremely careless” handling of classified information.

Republicans, which hoped Hillary would have been jailed for her “crimes” are trying to make the best of it.  House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, the highest- ranking elected U.S. Republican, said in a statement that Comey’s announcement “defies explanation.”  Probably because it was not the explanation he wanted.

He is planning to haul Comey over the coals before the testify before the House Oversight Committee to see if he can squeeze a bit more mileage from the situation as the election arises. The issue then starts to get as dull as trying to find the other scandals that the Republicans try to pin on the Clintons.

However, what is clear is that as far as security is concerned, the Clinton’s cocked up. But it was the sort of cock up that people do when setting up networks.  Silly, risky, but not worth jailing the CEO or the network manager for.

“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of the classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” Comey said.

No reasonable prosecutor would bring charges, he said. Of course the Republicans would cheerfully dig up a few banjo picking red-neck prosecutors from its ranks, it is unlikely they would get anywhere.

The reason is that the courts are not interested in whether or not Clinton lied to anyone, they are interested if she knowingly set up an insecure server and leaked classified information.  The evidence says she didn’t.  She said up a private email network which did not meet the security standards of for government use and a few emails ended up on it. Lots of companies have done the same thing.  A few have been bitten, and some, like Clinton, were lucky to get away with it.

At a rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Tuesday night, Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, said the controversy should disqualify Clinton from being president and that her email system may well have been hacked by US enemies.

However, Trump must be aware that he is on shaky ground with that argument. After all, has he got total confidence that none of his companies have ever been hacked because network security was not up to par? There was a small matter of his voice mails being hacked by anonymous. His presidential campaign website, DonaldJTrump.com, was hacked and press releases replaced.  While Clinton’s site was a bit insecure at least it was not hacked. Is he saying that every company which has set up an insecure network should be jailed?  If that is the case he would have to be carting himself off too.

The issue here, which is being over looked by almost everyone, is the fact that corporates and politicians have a woeful ignorance of computer security. The issue is not trying drag these types into court, but to educate.


Intel shares expected to grow next year

alice_in_wonderland___eat_me__by_ariru_lunaticoo-d68i2fxBeancounters working for Barrons have added up the numbers and divided them by their shoe size and decided that Intel will grow like topsy next year.

Barron’s claims that Chipzilla’s shift to higher-growth businesses such as server chips and embedded chips for cars could drive a 25 increase in its shares in a year.

While there is a risk Intel could cut its financial guidance for the year when the chipmaker reports earnings on Tuesday, it is likely to return to sustainable growth by year’s end for the first time in seven years, the publication said.

Those who do not own shares in Chipzilla should wait until after the earnings call to buy shares, it added.

Intel has had a pants few years as demand for personal computer chips has dried up, Barron’s said, but growth in the company’s data centre group, which includes server chips, could eventually bring in more revenues.

The gap between the two businesses has closed over the past five years.

Last year, the data centre business’s operating profit was $7.8 billion, slightly below the $8.2 billion earned by Intel’s client computing division, which includes chips for desktop and notebook computers. In 2010, the data center division brought in just $4.4 billion, compared to the personal computer business’s $13 billion.

Meanwhile, the company’s Internet of Things division, which includes chips for cars, medical devices and factories, composed just four percent of revenue last year but is growing.

AMD finally gets its arm in

We_Can_Do_It!After more than a year of delays, AMD has finally released its ARM based enterprise server chip.

Dubbed the Opteron A1100 series these are not the X86 cores AMD has been producing for years and are designed for networking, storage, dense and power-efficient web serving, and 64-bit ARM software development.

The Opteron A1100 System-on-Chip (SoC), was formerly codenamed “Seattle” and was promised in the first half of last year and never showed up. Under the bonnet are off-the-shelf ARM Cortex-A57 processor cores, with integrated high-speed network and storage connectivity.

The SoCs have up to eight 64-bit ARM Cortex-A57 cores with up to 4MB of shared Level 2 and 8MB of shared Level 3 cache. They offer two 64-bit DDR3/DDR4 memory channels supporting speeds up to 1866 MHz with ECC and capacities up to 128GB, dual integrated 10Gb Ethernet network connections, 8-lanes of PCI-Express Gen 3 connectivity, and 14 SATA III ports.

The chip features an ARM TrustZone compliant crypto/compression co-processor, along with a Cortex A5-based system control processor. Each pair of Cortex A57s is linked to its own 1MB of L2 cache, hence the “up to” 4MB of shared L2 cache listed in the slide. Though the top-end A1100s feature eight Cortex A57 cores, quad-core models will also be offered that have a quartet of cores and their accompanying L2 cache disabled.

There will be three initial A1100-series Opterons. At the top end, the A1170 has 8 cores, with a max CPU frequency of 2GHz. The mid-range A1150 has a similar core configuration, but clocks in at a lower 1.7GHz peak. The A1120 has four cores and 2MB of cache, but also clocks in at 1.7GHz. All of the chips have the same memory limits and operating temperature range. The top two chips have higher 32W TDPs due to their higher core counts, versus the quad-core A1120’s 25W.

Pricing for the top-end Opteron A1170 will hover around the $150 mark it is not clear what the cheaper models will cost.

The Opteron A1100 series SoCs also work with both DDR3 or DDR4 memory types. DDR3 memory will be for lower-cost, and potentially lower-clocked solutions.

Intel disappoints with results

disappointment-valleyChipzilla reported strong quarterly profit last night but the news was overshadowed by concerns about slowing revenue growth in its highly profitable data centre business.

Chief Executive Brian Krzanich tried to deal with the slump in PC chips by focusing on the business of supplying chips for high-end servers.

The world’s largest chipmaker reported data centre revenue of $4.31 billion in the fourth quarter ended December 26. Given the amount of focus Intel had been placing on high-end servers Wall Street had expected Intel to make $4.42 billion.

Revenue in the business rose only 4 percent from the preceding quarter, compared with the 8 percent growth in the third quarter.

What the figures showed was that companies were not upgrading their own data centre because they are planning a cloud push soon. This means that they will keep their old servers running and not upgrade them to the latest Intel chips.

In October, Intel warned that its 2015 revenue growth forecast for the data centre business would be lower because companies were slashing spending due to weak macroeconomic growth.

Intel forecast revenue of $14.1 billion, plus or minus $500 million for the first quarter ending March. This is down 6 percent from the fourth quarter, the company said.

Krzanich said on a post-earnings call said that the first quarter outlook reflects some caution for overall demand, particularly in China, we continue to expect solid growth in the business in 2016.

Revenue in the personal computer business fell about 1 percent to $8.76 billion from a year earlier.

Intel completed its $16.7 billion purchase of programmable-chip maker Altera in December, a deal that adds a new class of products to Intel’s portfolio.

The company’s net income fell to $3.61 billion from $3.66 billion in the fourth quarter. Net revenue rose to $14.91 billion from $14.72 billion. Analysts on average had expected a revenue of $14.80 billion.

Shareholders were disappointed and Intel’s shares fell 4.7 percent to $31.20.

Sparc returns to Ellison’s eyes

oracle-founder-larry-ellisonAfter seeing its Sparc processor as its red-headed stepchild, Oracle has started getting motivated about the chip again.

It has been talking about selling a Sparc M7 processor since 2014, It’s a RISCy business.

Oracle has done so with all the speed and motivation of an archaeologist on his way to a dig at Palmyra.

Now suddenly Oracle’s chief oracle, Larry Ellison, is talking about the 64 bit CPU’s security defences.  Yesterday, Ellison was sitting in front of lots of slides which suggested that the M7 will have the ability to tag regions of memory so software hijacked by hackers cannot read or write data.

It should render vulnerabilities such as Heartbleed useless to attackers.

The M7 has a defence mechanism called Silicon Secured Memory (SSM) which seems incredibly similar to Oracle’s Application Data Integrity (ADI) technology.

When an application requests some new memory to use via malloc(), the operating system tags the block of memory with a version number, and gives the app a pointer to that memory. The pointer also contains the version number, which is stashed in the top four bits.

When a pointer is used to access a block of memory, the pointer’s version number must match the memory block’s version number, or an exception will be triggered.

This would stop all major Adobe Flash and Internet Explorer exploits.

Ellison reckons it would have stopped the OpenSSL Heartbleed and QEMU Venom buffer-overrun attacks dead. He was keen to stress this feature will be always switched on and available.

“We’re pushing security down into the silicon. This gets us ahead of the bad guys,” Ellison told his audience.

Oracle reckons its M7 has broken “world record results in over 20 benchmarks.” The M7 is a 4.13GHz 32-core, 256-hardware-thread CPU with 64MB of on-chip L3 cache. It can scale up to 512 cores and 4,096 threads, and address up to 8TB of physical RAM. The CPU architecture is Sparc V9.

New Servers

The chips will be seen in the following new servers:

SPARC T7-1 32-core 4.1GHz M7 CPU, up to 512GB of RAM, four 10GbE ports, up to eight 600GB or 1200GB 2.5in SAS-3 drives, or up to eight 400GB SSDs or four 1.6TB NVMe drives. Oracle Solaris 11.3 or later recommended.

SPARC T7-2  Two 32-core 4.1GHz M7 CPUs, up to 1TB of RAM, four 10GbE ports, up to six 600GB or 1200GB 2.5in SAS-3 drives, or up to six 400GB SSDs or four 1.6TB NVMe drives. Oracle Solaris 11.3 or later recommended.

SPARC T7-4  Two or four 32-core 4.1GHz M7 CPUs, up to 2TB of RAM, four 10GbE ports, up to eight 600GB or 1200GB 2.5in SAS-3 drives, or up to eight 400GB SSDs or eight 1.6TB NVMe drives. Oracle Solaris 11.3 or later recommended.

SPARC M7-8 Two to eight 32-core 4.1GHz M7 CPUs, up to 4TB of RAM, up to 24 low-profile PCIe 3.0 (x16) slots. Oracle Solaris 11.3 or later recommended.

SPARC M7-16  Four to 16 32-core 4.1GHz M7 CPUs, up to 8TB of RAM, up to 48 low-profile PCIe 3.0 (x16) slots. Oracle Solaris 11.3 or later recommended.

SuperCluster M7  in lots of flavours

Time can be hacked and needs three patches

HawkingWWENetwork Time Protocol (NTP) one of the oldest Internet protocols, makes a good attack vector to bring down a company, according to researchers from Boston University.

NTP is pretty tough but contains several flaws that could undermine encrypted communications and even jam up bitcoin transactions.

NTP has a rate-limiting mechanism, nicknamed the “Kiss O’ Death” packet that will stop a computer from repeatedly querying the time in case of a technical problem. When that packet is sent, systems may stop querying the time for days or years.

The researchers have used these flaws to make an organisation’s servers to stop checking the time altogether.

Time is pretty important. In 2012, two servers run by the US Navy rolled back their clocks 12 years, and thought it was 2000.

Computers that checked in with the Navy’s servers and adjusted their clocks accordingly had a variety of problems with their phones systems, routers and authentication systems.

If a computer’s clock is rolled back an expired SSL/TLS certificate could be accepted as valid for which the attacker has the decryption key, according to their technical paper.

Sharon Goldberg, an associate professor at Boston University’s computer science department said that the KOD vulnerability was found just reading the specifications of the NTP protocol. The researchers wondered what you could do with it.

With just one computer, the researchers suspect such a spoofing attack could be conducted on a large scale across NTP clients found using network scanners such as nmap and zmap.

The spoofing is possible because most NTP servers don’t use encryption when talking to their clients. Two other flaws were also found. In a type of denial-of-service attack, an attacker could spoof Kiss O’Death packets to look like they’re coming from an NTP client. The time server then tries to slow down those queries, sending a response that causes the NTP client to stop updating its clock.

The third flaw allows an attacker who interfering with unencrypted NTP traffic to shift a computer’s clock forward or backwards on a reboot.

Fortunately fixes for the problems are available now. The latest version of NTP released on Tuesday is ntp-4.2.8p4, and administrators are advised to patch as soon as possible. The only problem is that the old versions of NTP have been sitting there for more than a decade and they are not something that people thing to patch.

World faces Zombie data centre crisis

zombieIf global warming was not enough, it seems that the world is waking up to the fact that it has a plague of zombie data centres.

A new study says that 30 percent of all physical servers in data centres are comatose, or are using energy but aren’t doing anything useful.

According to Jonathan Koomey, a research fellow at Stanford University, the problem has been around for a while, as the percentage hasn’t changed since 2008.

He used data collected by TSO Logic, an energy efficiency software vendor, from nearly 4,000 physical servers in customer data centres. They decided that a server is considered comatose if it hasn’t done anything for at least six months, which would be an interesting definition if applied to a human.

Koomey said it was not a technical matter as much as a management problem but  more work is needed to confirm or refute those numbers.

IDC estimated the number of physical servers worldwide last year at 41.4 million; that figure is expected to grow to 42.8 million by the end of this year.

A study last year by the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC), with the help of major vendors, estimated that in the U.S. alone data centres used 91 billion kilowatt-hours of electrical energy in 2013.

That use is expected to increase 53 percent by 2020.

It estimated that electrical usage could be reduced by 40 percent by getting rid of zombie servers and improving energy efficiency. That figure represents only half of the technically possible reduction in energy use.

It is the smaller data centres which were the problem rather than the big clouds.

Lenovo explains its server buy

The Chinese maker of IBM cast-offs, Lenovo has been explaining why it thinks that Biggish Blue’s server business could make it shedloads of cash.

IBM disposed of its server line to Lenovo because it could not make much cash out of it. However Lenovo, on the other hand, believes there is ample opportunity for it and partners to continue selling and expanding SMB server market share.

Chris Frey, vice president of North America Commercial Channels and SMB at Lenovo told CRN  that there were shedloads of companies needing local servers to support the SMB customer. This work is not going to head into the cloud and he saw a significant growth opportunity in the tower and rack business.

Lenovo is paying $2.3 billion for IBM’s x86 server unit, which includes System x, BladeCenter, Flex System blade servers and switches, NeXtScale, iDataPlex and associated software, blade networking and maintenance operations. It is also paying $2.9bn for Google’s Motorola Mobility handset unit, expanding its global smartphone capacity.

The Chinese company is probably going to be luckier at getting its hardware sold than Big Blue anyway. While the rest of the world was moaning about declining PC sales, Lenovo was increasing its PC market share to 18.5 percent against second-placed HP, which has 18.6 percent and saw its sales grow.

In its earnings report released last week, Lenovo posted its first $10 billion quarter and 19th consecutive quarter of growth, driven mostly by global PC sales and smartphone sales in Asia. Lenovo sold five devices per second in the last three months of 2013.

Over the next year Lenovo is expected to place greater emphasis on its own server line as well as the acquired IBM products, its storage devices developed with EMC/Iomega, and Windows 7- and 8-based desktops and mobile computers. 

Lenovo shareholders don’t like its “buy everything” plan

While Lenovo seems to be buying every tech company in the world this week, it seems that its shareholders are not happy bunnies.

Shares in Chinese technology giant Lenovo slumped more than 14 percent in Hong Kong, after it agreed to buy struggling handset maker Motorola from Google for $2.91 billion.

The news followed another deal where Lenovo bought IBM’s low-end server business for $2.3 billion.

Shareholders are apparently spooked about Motorola’s profitability and think it was a truly dumb idea to pay such a large amount money to acquire Motorola.

Lenovo in 2013 become the world’s biggest PC maker, eight years after buying IBM’s PC business.

However, investors do not think the Motorola brand is strong enough to boost Lenovo and the handset maker has been on a downward trend for the past two years.

Under Google, Motorola failed to gain traction in a rapidly evolving smartphone market now dominated by Samsung and Apple. Google lost an arm and a leg on Motorola after buying it for $12.5 billion in 2011.

Having said that, Lenovo has shown that it is jolly good at integrating loss making operations in the past and the smart money is riding on the fact it will do it again.  



Lenovo gets the rest of IBM’s X86 hardware

As we expected Lenovo has managed to buy IBM’s low-end server business for $2.3 billion.

The Chinese outfit famously bought a huge chunk of Biggish Blue as the outfit turned into a software services company and got out of hardware ten years ago.

Lenovo turned the money-losing ThinkPad business for $1.75 billion, eventually becoming the world leader in personal computers in 2012.

The deal would increase Lenovo’s share in the server market to 14 percent from two percent and will need clearance from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which protects US national security.

Lennovo’s purchase of IBM’s notebook division faced scrutiny before approval, and this time it is expected to be easier. Lenovo was well known in the United States and the System X server, among the systems to be bought by Lenovo, is based on commoditised technology and components from the land of the free.

The ever shrinking not-so-big-Blue said this month it would spend more than $1.2 billion to build up to 15 data centres on five continents to expand its cloud services and reach new clients and markets.

It also wants to invest more than $1 billion to establish a new business unit for Watson to offer cloud services to businesses and consumers.

Lenovo wants to remodel itself as a force in mobile devices and data storage servers. However first it will have to turn around IBM’s low-margin server business which has been posting losses for the last seven quarters as clients move to the cloud.