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Western allies blame Russia for global cyber attack

Monitoring Desk

The United States and Britain on Monday warned of a global cyber attack targeting routers and other networking equipment, blaming Russian government-backed hackers for the campaign on government agencies, businesses and critical infrastructure operators.

Washington and London issued a joint alert, saying the widespread, global campaign began in 2015 and could be escalated to launch offensive attacks.

The alert comes two months after the United States and Britain accused Russia of carrying out the damaging “NotPetya” cyber attack in 2017 that unleashed a virus that crippled parts of Ukraine’s infrastructure and damaged computers across the globe.

American and British officials said the attacks affected a wide range of organizations including internet service providers, private businesses and critical infrastructure providers. They did not identify any victims or provide details on the impact of the attacks.

“When we see malicious cyber activity, whether it be from the Kremlin or other malicious nation-state actors, we are going to push back,” said Rob Joyce, the White House cybersecurity coordinator.

The Kremlin did not immediately respond to a request for comment late on Monday. Moscow has denied previous accusations that it carried out cyberattacks on the United States and other countries.

US intelligence agencies last year accused Russia of interfering in the 2016 election with a hacking and propaganda campaign supporting Donald Trump’s campaign for president. Last month the Trump administration blamed Russia for a campaign of cyber attacks stretching back at least two years that targeted the US power grid.

Britain and the United States said they issued the alert to help targets protect themselves and persuade victims to share information with government investigators so they can better understand the threat.

“We don’t have full insight into the scope of the compromise,” said Jeanette Manfra, a cybersecurity official for the US Department of Homeland Security.

The alert is unrelated to the suspected chemical weapons attack in a town in Syria that prompted a US-led military strike over the weekend targeting facilities of the Russian-backed Syrian government, Joyce said.

US and British officials warned that infected routers could be used to launch future offensive cyber operations.

“They could be pre-positioning for use in times of tension,” said Ciaran Martin, chief executive of the British government’s National Cyber Security Centre cyber defence agency, who added that “millions of machines” were targeted.

Some private-sector cybersecurity experts have criticized the US government for being too slow to release information about cyber attacks. Monday’s announcement appears to reflect a desire to publicize a threat quickly and widely even before officials completely understand its breadth.

A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there had been a steady increase in Russian cyber attacks in recent years.

“It’s harder to track, attribute and respond immediately to a cyber attack … than it is to know who fired a missile,” the official said. REUTERS


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Facebook fuels broad privacy debate by tracking non-users

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters): Concern about Facebook Inc’s (FB.O) respect for data privacy is widening to include the information it collects about non-users, after Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said the world’s largest social network tracks people whether they have accounts or not.

Privacy concerns have swamped Facebook since it acknowledged last month that information about millions of users wrongly ended up in the hands of political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, a firm that has counted US President Donald Trump’s 2016 electoral campaign among its clients.

Zuckerberg said on Wednesday under questioning by US Representative Ben Luján that, for security reasons, Facebook also collects “data of people who have not signed up for Facebook.”

Lawmakers and privacy advocates immediately protested the practice, with many saying Facebook needed to develop a way for non-users to find out what the company knows about them.

“We’ve got to fix that,” Representative Luján, a Democrat, told Zuckerberg, calling for such disclosure, a move that would have unclear effects on the company’s ability to target ads. Zuckerberg did not respond. On Friday Facebook said it had no plans to build such a tool.

Critics said that Zuckerberg has not said enough about the extent and use of the data. “It’s not clear what Facebook is doing with that information,” said Chris Calabrese, vice president for policy at the Center for Democracy & Technology, a Washington advocacy group.


Facebook gets some data on non-users from people on its network, such as when a user uploads email addresses of friends. Other information comes from “cookies,” small files stored via a browser and used by Facebook and others to track people on the internet, sometimes to target them with ads.

“This kind of data collection is fundamental to how the internet works,” Facebook said in a statement to Reuters.

Asked if people could opt out, Facebook added, “There are basic things you can do to limit the use of this information for advertising, like using browser or device settings to delete cookies. This would apply to other services beyond Facebook because, as mentioned, it is standard to how the internet works.”

Facebook often installs cookies on non-users’ browsers if they visit sites with Facebook “like” and “share” buttons, whether or not a person pushes a button. Facebook said it uses browsing data to create analytics reports, including about traffic to a site.

The company said it does not use the data to target ads, except those inviting people to join Facebook.


Advocates and lawmakers say they are singling out Facebook because of its size, rivaled outside China only by Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google, and because they allege Zuckerberg was not forthcoming about the extent and reasons for the tracking.

“He’s either deliberately misunderstanding some of the questions, or he’s not clear about what’s actually happening inside Facebook’s operation,” said Daniel Kahn Gillmor, a senior staff technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union.

Zuckerberg, for instance, said the collection was done for security purposes, without explaining further or saying whether it was also used for measurement or analytics, Gillmor said, adding that Facebook had a business incentive to use the non-user data to target ads.

Facebook declined to comment on why Zuckerberg referred to security only.

Gillmor said Facebook could build databases on non-users by combining web browsing history with uploaded contacts. Facebook said on Friday that it does not do so.

The ACLU is pushing US lawmakers to enact broad privacy legislation including a requirement for consent prior to data collection.

The first regulatory challenge to Facebook’s practices for non-users may come next month when a new European Union law, known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), takes effect and requires notice and consent prior to data collection.

At a minimum, “Facebook is going to have to think about ways to structure their technology to give that proper notice,” said Woodrow Hartzog, a Northeastern University professor of law and computer science.

Facebook said in its statement on Friday, “Our products and services comply with applicable law and will comply with GDPR.”

The social network would be wise to recognize at least a right to know, said Michael Froomkin, a University of Miami law professor.

“If I’m not a Facebook user, I ought to have a right to know what data Facebook has about me,” Froomkin said.



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Britain mulls over to launch retaliatory cyber attack on Russia

Monitoring Desk

LONDON: Britain would consider launching a cyber attack against Russia in retaliation if Russia targeted British national infrastructure, the Sunday Times reported, citing unnamed security sources.

Britain’s relations with Russia are at a historic low, after it blamed Russia for a nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England, prompting mass expulsions of diplomats.

Russia has denied involvement, and on Saturday also condemned strikes against Syria by Western powers, which Britain took part in.

Cybersecurity has become a focal point of the strained relations. On Thursday, a British spy chief said that his GCHQ agency would “continue to expose Russia’s unacceptable cyber behaviour”, adding there would be increasing demand for its cyber expertise.

The Sunday Times also said that British spy officials had been preparing for Russia-backed hackers to release embarrassing information on politicians and other high-profile people since the attack on the Skripals. REUTERS


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Android Auto is finally ready to go wireless

Monitoring Desk

NEW YORK: It’s safe to say that the advent of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay has been a huge boon to consumers. Both systems offer unparalleled ease of use when compared with an auto manufacturer-designed system.

While Apple has offered wireless connectivity for CarPlay in certain vehicles for months now, Android Auto required that in order to use it, your phone had to be physically connected to the vehicle via USB. Not anymore… mostly. Google is finally ready to offer Android Auto over Wi-Fi despite working with JVC and Kenwood, each of which released head units at CES in January that were compatible with the feature.

According to Google, for Android Auto wireless to work, you need to have either a Nexus or a Pixel phone running Android 8.0 (Oreo), a vehicle capable of running Android Auto v3.1 and a cable to set the system up.


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SMRC S1 mini pocket drone with camera

Over the last year, we introduced many pocked drones with different shapes and features. SMRC S1 comes with a square shape like the Eachine E55.

Flying cameras are often advertised as “Selfie drones”, but this is a bit exaggerated. The truth is that you can’t buy anything under $500 in compliance with the term.

In addition to the HD video recording, the SMRC S1’s on-board camera can transmit live-video stream to your phone.

Thanks to the barometric air-pressure sensor, the drone is capable to autonomously maintain its flight altitude at the desired level. This feature is very helpful for beginner pilots.

SMRC S1 drone features and specs

  • Compact size with foldable arms;
  • 6-axis gyro-stabilization;
    • 2MP camera with WiFi real-time image transmission (FPV);
    • Headless flight mode;
    • Altitude hold (auto-hover);
    • Dual control mode (RC and phone APP);
    • 3D flips and rolls;
    • Up to 8 minutes flight time;
    • Black, Red, Silver and Green color options.

    Folded, it measures only 70 x 70 x 27 mm, so you can take it with you everywhere.

    According to the manufacturer’s specs, the built-in 300mAh LiPo battery allows up to 8 minutes of play time.

    As you can see in the image bellow, the remote controller has 8 buttons and 2 control sticks. While the left shoulder button allows to toggle between speed rates, the right one allows to enable 3D flip mode.

  • Included with the SMRC S1 mini foldable quadcopter

    • Remote controller;
    • Phone holder;
    • 3.7Vm 300mAh LiPo battery (built-in);
    • USB charging cable for drone;
    • 1 pair of spare propellers;
    • Screwdriver;
    • English user manual.

    Using this “L9331RM” coupon code you can get one from here for only $30.99 (including free shipping). There are 4 color options (red, green, silver and black).

Courtesy First Quad Copter

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Broadcom board approves to buyback $12 billion of shares

Monitoring Desk

Chipmaker Broadcom said on Thursday it would buy back up to $12 billion of its common stock, sending its shares up 4.5 per cent to $250 in extended trading.

The company, which last month ended its efforts to acquire rival Qualcomm, said the repurchase program is effective immediately until the end of Broadcom’s fiscal year 2019.

Broadcom moved back to the United States from Singapore earlier this month, following US President Donald Trump’s decision to block its $117 billion offer to buy Qualcomm on national security concerns.

The San Jose, California based company has about 411 million outstanding shares and a market value of about $98.71 billion as of Thursday’s close.






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Destiny-2s second expansion ‘Warmind’ to launch on May 8th  

Monitoring Desk

Bungie today announced the name and release date of its second Destiny 2 expansion. The expansion, which will likely cost $19.99 like December’s Curse of Osiris, is called Warmind, and it’s expected to revolve around the game’s mystical artificial intelligences that

have long been a core part of the franchise’s backstory. It launches on May 8th. The warmind in

question is rumored to be a character named Charlemagne or possibly Rasputin, a prominent AI

from the original Destiny. Bungie is planning an official live stream on Twitch to reveal more info on April 24th.

A fair chunk of Destiny 2 players likely already paid for Warmind, as part of the game’s collector’s edition sold last year. Everyone else will have to make a determination whether they want to stick with the Destiny universe, which has been plagued by constant controversy since the game’s September 2017 launch. Bungie has made a series of minor and major changes to the game to address criticism — mainly that the game is not as fun, deep, or rewarding as the first — and restore health to its player base, which appears to have dwindled significantly over the past six months.

But the issues facing the game feel more systemic, and Bungie will likely have to make even more drastic changes with the larger, more substantial expansion planned for September. The company acknowledges this, writing in the announcement post, “For now it’s all hands on deck to make sure we deliver on our promise to restore Destiny 2 to the hobby we all love.”

That said, Bungie did reveal more of its developer roadmap today and revealed some positive changes its making with Warmind and future expansions. Most notably, the developer will no longer restrict competitive multiplayer maps to only those who buy the new expansion, a move it made with Curse of Osiris that gated content behind a paywall and resulted in painfully long queue times for certain playlists.

The Warmind launch, which also coincides with the launch of the game’s third season, will also bring private Crucible matches, a vault space increase, seasonal multiplayer rankings, and much-needed boosts in power to the game’s coveted and rare exotic weapon class. All of those are welcome changes and go a long way in repairing some of the game’s biggest issues.

Down the line, Bungie is planning this summer to bring back the daily bounty system, which diehard fans had been calling for to give players tasks to complete if they login every day. In September, with season four and the presumed launch of the still-unannounced third expansion, Bungie is planning to make changes to “weapon slot systems.” We don’t know exactly what that means, but one of the biggest issues the game faces today is how weak and unexciting players feel in the competitive multiplayer modes, primarily because flashy, one-hit-kill weapons like sniper rifles and shotguns were shuffled into a special restricted “power weapon” slot.

How Bungie addresses this with those weapon slot changes, and how those changes impact the speed and fun factor of multiplayer combat, will have a big effect on whether Destiny 2 can reclaim the popularity and longevity of its predecessor.


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Huawei Mate 20 have no match in the market

Monitoring Desk

The rivalry between Android and iOS users is a classic tug of war and there’s a strong sense of commitment and loyalty from users of each platform. Over the years, iPhones have crushed Android smartphones in terms of performance and speed, and the latest iPhone 8 series and iPhone X continue the streak but not as fiercely as their predecessors.

Several high-performing Android smartphones have gained an edge over the latest iPhones, a shocker for many Apple fans. On the popular benchmarking platform, AnTuTu, which tests the phones’ performance, the latest iPhones, iPhone 8 and iPhone X, were the first ones to breach the 200,000 mark

While Samsung beat that record score as the Galaxy S9+ crossed 260,000 in some tests, another Android smartphone that is soon to be launched has a nasty surprise for all the flagships in the world.

As spotted by the Chinese tech news blog CNMO, AnTuTu benchmark scores for Huawei’s unannounced Mate 20 crushed the likes of iPhone X and Galaxy S9+. As per the screenshot shared by the blog, the Mate 20 scored a whopping 356918 on AnTuTu.

The report further reveals the Mate 20 is powered by Huawei’s in-house Kirin 980 chipset based on TSMC’s 7nm architecture, which is a step-up from the current 10nm process standard. The phone’s RAM configuration among other details remains a mystery for now.

Huawei Mate 20 is not expected to launch anytime soon. If the rumors are true, we might see the flagship smartphone arrive sometime this fall or late-summer if we’re lucky.

Huawei Mate 20 will succeed the current-gen flagships, P20 and P20 Pro smartphones, which were launched just last month. Huawei P20 series immediately became the hot topic for featuring the best cameras and top-of-the-line specs for performance.

The new phones are powered by Kirin 970 chipset paired with 4GB RAM (in P20) and 6GB RAM (in P20 Pro). The handsets are quite advanced, complete with dedicated NPU (Neural Processing Unit) and Google ARCore support.

Despite being one of the best smartphones in the world, the P20 series are restricted from being sold in the US due to the hostility from the US government. Even if the Mate 20 launches later this year, the handset won’t make it to the second largest smartphone market in the world.


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Facebook didn’t do enough, Zuckerberg apologizes for mistakes

Monitoring Desk

WASHINGTON: Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg swapped his trademark T-shirt and jeans for a dark suit and a purple tie on Monday as he met U.S. lawmakers to apologize for the social network’s misuse of its members’ data and to head off possible regulation.

His apologies precede two days of congressional hearings this week, where Zuckerberg will be asked how 87 million Facebook users’ data was improperly shared with a political consultancy, Cambridge Analytica.

He will also likely face questions about ads and posts placed by Russian operatives, in what U.S. authorities believe was an attempt to influence the U.S. 2016 election.

“We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake,” he said in written remarks released by the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee on Monday. “It was my mistake, and I’m sorry.”

If Zuckerberg does not provide satisfactory answers this week, Congress is more likely to push new laws to strictly regulate Facebook. Anticipating such a move, the company has already said it favors new legislation that would make social networks disclose who is behind political ads, much as TV and radio stations must already do.

Tighter regulation of how Facebook uses its members’ data could affect its ability to attract advertising revenue, its lifeblood. Facebook shares closed up 0.5 percent on Monday. They are still down almost 17 percent from highs hit in January, amid a broader tech selloff, partly because of investor concerns about regulation.

Zuckerberg traversed Capitol Hill on Monday surrounded by police and trailed by packs of reporters ahead of his scheduled appearance before three congressional committees on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Zuckerberg held meetings with the top Republican and Democratic senators on the Commerce and Judiciary committees that will question him on Tuesday in a joint meeting. He faces further grilling from the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday.

On Monday, he was pictured in one photo showing his mobile device to Senator Bill Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee. He did not respond to questions from reporters as he entered and left the building.

Nelson told reporters after the meeting: “The message I wanted to convey to him is that if we don’t rein in the use of social media, none of us are going to have any privacy anymore.”

He met Senator John Thune, the Commerce Committee’s Republican chairman, later in the day. He also met Chuck Grassley, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Republican chairman, and the leading Democrat on that committee, Dianne Feinstein.

Top of the agenda in this week’s hearings will be Facebook’s dealings with Cambridge Analytica, a London-based company that counts U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign among its past clients, or go-betweens. Cambridge Analytica has disputed Facebook’s estimate of the number of affected users.

Lawmakers are also expected to press Zuckerberg closely on the 2016 election, which he anticipated in his written testimony.

“It’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm…” he said. “That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy.”

Zuckerberg’s testimony said the company was “too slow to spot and respond to Russian interference, and we’re working hard to get better.” He vowed to make improvements, adding it would take time, but he was “committed to getting it right.”

Facebook disclosed in September that Russians under fake names had used the social network to try to influence U.S. voters in the months before and after the 2016 election, writing about inflammatory subjects, setting up events and buying ads.

In February, U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 Russians and three Russian companies with interfering in the election by sowing discord on social media.

The company’s data practices are under investigation by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

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What’s the Best CPU Temperature? Is your processor too hot?

The CPU is the processor inside your computer that’s responsible for most of the day-to-day number crunching. In short, it’s the part that does most of the work to make Windows and applications run.

The ideal temperature is as cool as possible (which usually means room temperature), since a hot-running CPU could cause problems ranging from unwanted system crashes to physical damage to the processor itself. You can keep it cool by controlling fan speeds.

Most modern CPUs, including AMD’s Ryzen, have a protection feature that automatically shuts them down if they get too hot, so actual damage is unlikely.

You can check the specifications of your particular CPU at CPU World, which details the maximum operating temperature for many processors. In general you should consider 60 degrees Celcius the absolute maximum for long periods, but aim for 45-50 degrees to be safe.

if you’re not sure which CPU you have, check out our guide to finding your PC’s specs.

How to check your CPU temperature

Allowing your PC to run hot for long periods of time still isn’t a good idea as it could lead to premature failure of the CPU or other components

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Download SpeedFan and it will let you check not just your CPU temperature but any other sensors in your computer, such as ambient case temperature, hard drive temperature, and more.

Look for Core 0, Core 1, Core 2 and Core 3 temperatures – each core of the CPU will have its own thermistor, but they will all have roughly the same readings as below.


You can leave it running in the background while you play a game or run any other application. Then, after a few minutes, you can switch back to SpeedFan and check your temperatures.

If you want to find out more about how to use it, check out our in-depth guide to using SpeedFan to check the temperature of your CPU and other components.

How to lower your CPU temperature

If they’re too hot, you’ll need to look at ways to improve cooling.

If you have a laptop, make sure any fans aren’t clogged up with dust (use a vacuum carefully to suck dirt and debris out) and invest in a laptop cooling stand. This can be either a passive design that acts like a giant heatsink, or an active one with its own cooling fans built in.

To clean a desktop, make sure again that fans and filters aren’t too dusty, and that internal cables aren’t obstructing airflow.

You might also consider replacing your CPU cooler, especially if your PC has a standard Intel heatsink and fan. Aftermarket coolers can be inexpensive (around £15) yet offer much better cooling power.