This week’s headline story: Y2K All Over Again!
Those of you with some years under your belt will remember the big Y2K scare. It was in 1999 when we were warned of the potential for all computers to fail on January 1, 2000, due to short-sighted engineers providing only two digit representation for years in many computer systems. A similar problem is occurring today with Internet routers. Many older routers limit their use of specialized, and expensive memory to just 512K. For the first time in Internet history, the lists of routable networks—also called border gateway protocol (BGP) tables—has surpassed 512K and many routers are crashing. Last week hosting provider Liquid Web along with eBay, LastPass and other large networks and websites suffered a series of disruptions and outages due to this issue. Fortunately, this problem can be solved more easily than the Y2K problem, with a simple change to router default settings, and a reboot. Just the same, you can expect more outages until the word or this problem and solution becomes more widespread.
Internet routers hitting 512K limit, some become unreliable [ars technica]
and elsewhere in Tech News.
- The downside of high school science requirements: More dropouts [ars technica]The big push to get K-12 students into science, technology, engineering and math may be having an unintended negative side effect. The US census has identified a higher dropout rate in states that have instituted higher educational standards for math and science.
- Harvard provides a glimpse at how the robot plague will overrun us all [Engadget]Harvard unleashes a swarm of self-organizing robots [Computerworld]Computer scientists at Harvard University have built an army of 1,024 bots that collaborate autonomously to create various shapes similar to the way ants link to form bridges or birds fly in formation. Provided with a digital image of a shape, the Kilobots, as they’re called, communicate using infrared light, and swarm into the shape. Check out the video in the show notes.
- Meet MonsterMind, the NSA Bot That Could Wage Cyberwar Autonomously [Wired]Edward Snowden is back with more top secret information about the NSA. Apparently the NSA has developed a cyber defense system named MonsterMind that can instantly and autonomously neutralize foreign cyberattacks against the US, and could be used to launch retaliatory strikes as well. Although details of the program are scant, Snowden told WIRED magazine that algorithms scour massive repositories of metadata and analyze it to differentiate normal network traffic from anomalous or malicious traffic. Armed with this knowledge, the NSA could instantly and autonomously identify, and block, a foreign threat.
- Premier League warns fans not to tweet goal videos, animated GIFs [ars technica]Britain’s Premier League is planning to “clamp down on fans posting unofficial videos of [soccer] goals online” and is developing technologies and working with Twitter to aid its quest. A Premier League representative stated that “I know it sounds as if we’re killjoys, but we have to protect our intellectual property.”
and in Information Security news this week..
- Grocery stores in multiple states hit by data breach [Computerworld]Grocery shoppers nationwide probably had credit card data stolen [ars technica]A data breach at Supervalu Inc., one of the largest grocery wholesalers and retailers in the U.S., could affect thousands of people who shopped at the company’s stores between June 22 and July 17. Affected retailers include Albertsons, Cub Foods, Jewel-Osco, Shop n Save, Star Market, ACME market and Shaw’s.
- Users told to patch critical flaw in Adobe Reader and Acrobat [Computerworld]Users of Adobe Reader, Flash and Acrobat are advised to apply a recently released security patch as soon as possible. The patch addresses a total of eight vulnerabilities, including one that is currently being exploited by attackers.
- Hackers transform a smartphone gyroscope into an always-on microphone [engadget]Researchers at Stanford University and defense firm Rafael have uncovered a way for hackers to utilize the gyroscope in an Android phone as an always-on microphone to eavesdrop on a targeted victim. Google is paying close attention and comments that “This early, academic work should allow us to provide defenses before there is any likelihood of real exploitation.”
and in Tech Industry news…
- Amazon undercuts Square and PayPal with its own mobile card reader [Engadget]Most of us have seen or at least heard about the square credit card reader that allows anyone with a smartphone or tablet to accept credit card payments. Paypal followed in Square’s footsteps with its own credit card reader, and now Amazon has released a credit card reader and service that undercuts both Square and Paypal with a flat charge of 1.75 percent per transaction.
- The news isn’t good for Windows Phone [Computerworld]Microsoft has its work cut out for it. While the global smartphone shipments hit a historic high of 301.3 million in the second quarter, the third-ranked operating system, Microsoft’s Windows Phone, saw its share of that pie stumble from 3.4% of the market to 2.5%. Android devices accounted for 84.7% of overall smartphone sales and Apple’s iPhone 11.7%.
- Samsung’s ‘Smart Home’ dreams get bigger with $200 million SmartThings buy [Engadget]Your home is likely the next battlegroud for the tech industry and Samsung isn’t going to miss out on the fight. The tech giant has just purchased home automation startup SmartThings for $200 million to compete with Google and Apple’s Smart Home initiatives.
- Rumor suggests Apple is working on its own reversible USB cable [ars technica]Don’tcha just hate having to twist USB cords around to figure out which end goes up to fit into the port? Thank goodness tech companies are working to solve this dilemma to save us all that time and effort. The new reversible USB Type-C connector allows users to plug in USB cords with either side up. Apple is working on a similar solution for its proprietary cords. Some day we’ll be able to tell our grandchildren about how rough we had it with the old fashioned USB connectors.
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