The Guardian view on securing the internet: collective action needed

 

‘The attack serves, among other things, as a warning that nothing and nowhere is really secure.’ Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

Europol and the NHS are both warning people going back to work after the weekend to start up their computer with care. The cyber-attack on the UK health service, which also brought down systems in at least 150 countries, is an illustration of the vulnerability of the networks and software on which societies and economies now depend. In an ironical twist, it appears that the unknown writers of the “WannaCry” malware had themselves left a security holein their creation, which allowed the attack to be halted once their mistake was discovered.

We do not yet know how much damage WannaCry caused. People may have died; trauma units have been shut down and operations postponed. The attack serves, among other things, as a warning that nothing and nowhere is really secure.

The crucial weakness in Microsoft Windows that allowed the infection to spread had been identified years ago by the National Security Agency in Washington (and no doubt shared with Britain’s surveillance agency GCHQ). It seems to have informed no one else. Had it seen its duty primarily as defending friendly computer networks, as Edward Snowden has suggested it does, it might have issued a warning. It did not. Only when the hacking toolkit was itself stolen and published on the web did Microsoft respond with a patch that offered protection.A patient appointment letter from a London NHS hospital, next to a virus and spyware warning message on a laptop screen at a home in London,

Up-to-date computer systems were safe, but many others were not. The NHS, which has tens of thousands of computers running the obsolete Windows XP system, had not renewed its support contract with Microsoft. Despite the demand of the national data guardian, Dame Fiona Caldicott, they had not been upgraded. It’s clear from Dame Fiona’s letter that some of the system’s insecurities are the results of its users working their way around measures they find obstructive; but some must also be the result of financial pressure, which does not just affect the cost of software licences but the enormous expense of retraining and supporting users. The blame for software failures is thus widely distributed.

However, the costs fall entirely on the victims. In no other industry could the manufacturers take so little legal responsibility for the safety and reliability of the goods they sell. If the NHS had bought a fleet of ambulances whose only flaw was that the left front wheel fell off every time it hit a pothole, the makers would be sued. But if the manufacturer were a software company, it would simply charge extra for upgrading the wheels.

Computer software is difficult and complex. In the case of some neural networks, not even the programmers can trace, still less understand, how the conclusions emerge from the inputs. Yet we live in a world that depends on it. The connectivity that makes us vulnerable also knits the economy together. The strong encryption that is used to lock the files so that a ransom can be paid also underlies the security of a properly administered banking system.

The assault on the NHS is part of a growing pattern of international lawlessness that shows how optimistic were the libertarian dreams of the early internet culture. What has emerged instead is a kind of feudal system, where not just individuals but even powerful companies, banks and government agencies in their operations in cyberspace are no more than unarmed peasants dependent on Microsoft, Google or the other great baronies to protect them from the robbers and bandits waiting to exploit weakness. In exchange for this vital protection, they own our virtual lives. All of the obvious measures to guard us against the next attack – which is certainly coming – must be taken.

This is not the first ransomware attack on the NHS but it must be the last one that is successful. Though it will cost money, it is essential that the government takes digital security as seriously as it takes hygiene in hospitals. In the long run, however, we must also work for democratic control over the wider system of digital feudalism.

 

Microsoft Said to Plan Sales Reorganisation Focused on Cloud

 

HIGHLIGHTS
Microsoft is planning to announce a reorganisation as early as next week
Job cuts are likely to result from the changes
There may be other smaller personnel changes in company’s other parts
Microsoft Corp. is planning a global sales reorganisation to better focus on selling cloud software, according to people familiar with the matter.

The restructuring is scheduled to be announced as soon as next week and will impact the Worldwide Commercial Business under Judson Althoff and Jean-Philippe Courtois’ global sales and marketing group, the people said.Microsoft Said to Plan Sales Reorganisation Focused on Cloud

Job cuts are likely to result from the changes, said the people, who asked not to be identified speaking about unannounced plans. The shifts will be some of the most significant in the sales force in years and will also impact local marketing efforts in various countries, said one of the people. There may be other smaller personnel changes in other parts of the company too, one of other people said. A Microsoft spokesman declined to comment.

The company’s sales force has been trained for years to sell software for use on desktops and servers. Now it’s more important to convince customers to sign up for cloud services hosted in Microsoft’s datacenters. The Redmond, Washington-based company wants to accelerate this switch to add more revenue and catch cloud market leader Amazon.com.
Friday is the end of Microsoft’s fiscal year, the first in which Althoff and Courtois have run the sales and marketing organisations, taking over from Kevin Turner who left in 2016.

The Puget Sound Business Journal reported earlier than the company planned a companywide reorganisation around the cloud.

 

I’M ADDICTED TO WATCHING ARCHIVE RAVE FOOTAGE ON THE INTERNET

Hi, my name is Louis Anderson-Rich and I am an archive rave addict.

Right, I see by the way your face has scrunched up that you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about so let me cut to the chase. Basically, like people who have been duped by Nigerian money scams, Yahoo Mail users and Bad Luck Brian, the Internet has sucked me in and fucked me over. Not in, like, a malicious way or anything but… The Internet is just such an addictive place isn’t it? And I have an addiction – I just can’t stop watching videos of old raves on the Internet.Image result for I'M ADDICTED TO WATCHING ARCHIVE RAVE FOOTAGE ON THE INTERNET

Whether it’s old episodes of The New Dance Show or videos of people losing it in a Doncaster warehouse, Sven Vath chewing his face off at Love Parade or Underground Resistance blowing people’s minds in 1992, I cannot fucking get enough. Just look at the sheer optimism in these videos. Here are people discovering dance music when it was a never-before-seen, cutting-edge youth revolution. And of course there’s all the sick 90s gear.

If I said “YouTube hole” to you, it might help you understand. We’ve all been trapped down one in the past, staring at a screen as if to see who blinks first. They’re characterised by recommended videos that are just too tasty to not click, and if you’ve told yourself “just one more Carpool Karaoke video” before inevitably missing your bus stop and cursing James Corden’s slimmed down face then you know what I’m talking about. But I’m at DEFCON 1 with this shit.

 

Blackstone warns of internet impact on US shopping malls

 

Blackstone, the world’s largest real estate investor, has warned that the outlook for America’s enclosed shopping malls is darkening quicker than experts expected as the growing online retail threat hammers their valuations.

More than 10 per cent of US retail sales are transacted online, according to Credit Suisse, forcing big chains to shutter thousands of stores in recent years. Retailers have announced plans to close 76m square feet of store space already this year, according to CoStar, a data provider, almost as much as that announced in the whole of 2016.

Retail woes are intensifying pressures on shopping malls, especially of the lower-end “enclosed” type in smaller American cities and towns, where tenants are moving out or demanding lower rents. The enclosed mall is the classic indoor commercial hub that emerged in the 1950s, rather than the malls built around an anchor grocery chain or department store.

“The retail industry is clearly facing headwinds. And it’s the first time we’ve seen secular rather than cyclical headwinds,” said Nadeem Meghji, head of North American real estate at Blackstone. “We’re now seeing pressures even on luxury retailers, which I didn’t expect to happen as fast as it has.”Image result for Blackstone warns of internet impact on US shopping malls

The market for second-tier enclosed malls has virtually frozen given how concerned investors are, but Mr Meghji estimated that in the past two years prices may have plunged as much as 40 per cent on average for the 1,100 enclosed regional malls in the US. Even for the top 50, prices have probably declined by 20 per cent, the Blackstone executive said.

The private equity firm’s $102bn real estate arm still owns some grocery shop-anchored malls in high-density population areas, but no longer has any exposure to the enclosed shopping mall sector.

“The internet has made the value proposition for a lot of shopping malls less relevant,” Mr Meghji said. “If you add in the factor that they actually tend to have higher operating costs due to security, electricity and so on, then they are high-cost rental spaces for retailers.”

However, Greg Maloney, chief executive for Americas retail at JLL, the real estate investment and management company, said the “doom and gloom” was overdone, pointing out that a retail property can be converted to alternative uses such as housing. He argued that overbuilding is the central challenge rather than internet shopping.

“People say the internet killed bricks-and-mortar retailers. But bricks and mortar killed itself,” he said. “People say they don’t know how we’ll survive, but we do it by adapting.”

Yet concerns about the march of online retailing are mounting in most parts of the retail industry. Sears, the department store chain founded in 1886, is emblematic of the challenges. In March it warned there was “substantial doubt” over its ability to continue operating, and its Canadian subsidiary filed for bankruptcy last month.

The US company managed to steady its shares with a fierce cost-cutting drive this year but many investors expect it to fall by the wayside. Given Sears’ long pedigree, that could deepen investor pessimism surrounding the industry, according to Larry Perkins, head of SierraConstellation Partners, a restructuring firm.

“The big names mark the tipping points, and everyone is now looking at Sears as it is such a marque name,” he said. “Its cultural significance is disproportionate, given its legacy and history.”

 

BlackBerry shares rocket on bullish analyst note

Shares of BlackBerry spiked 10 percent on Thursday after a note from Citron Research setting a 24-month price target of $20 per share.

The noted short seller sees new life in BlackBerry as an internet-of-things provider and a key player in the autonomous car market.

Citron is bullish on BlackBerry’s QNX operating system, which it says is a “potential game changer in autonomous driving.” It names QNX’s customers, which include Audi, Bentley, BMW, Buick, Chervolet, Chrysler, Ford, Hyundai, Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen and more. Citron compared BlackBerry with Nvidia noting that the two companies are participating in markets with plenty of growth potential.

 BlackBerry shares rocket on bullish analyst note

The firm addressed the bear case, in which BlackBerry’s QNX technology may be quickly outclassed by tech titans such as Apple and Google, which are also investing in autonomous car technology. “Citron believes if anything this validates BlackBerry’s position and makes it ripe as an acquisition target for countless suitors,” it said. “Qualcomm recently purchased NXP for its exposure in Automotive, Internet of Things, security and Networking.”

Citron said it’s also bullish on BlackBerry because of its potential to have a big role in the internet of things, particularly as a company known for its security. Internet of things devices have a long history of being insecure, and BlackBerry is working to change that

Friday The 13th: The Game Patched On PC And Xbox One, But Killer Wait Times Persist On PS4

The launch of Friday the 13th: The Game has gone about as smoothly as, well…a kegger at a certain abandoned summer camp. The PC and PS4 have been beset with server issues, the Xbox version launched without the game’s day one patch, and the game is, generally speaking, a buggy mess on all platforms. But hey, at least Gun Media and developer IllFonic are trying to do something about the situation, issuing patches for both the Xbox One and PC. Like a nubile skinny dipper trying to escape Jason in the woods, these updates probably have a hopeless task ahead of them, but let’s check out what they contain all the same.

The Xbox One patch mostly seems to bring the game in line with the PS4 version of Friday the 13th. Basically, it’s the day one patch the Xbox somehow didn’t get at launch:WWGfriday13th11

Xbox One Update

  • New intro cinematics for Tommy Jarvis spawn, Game Intro, and Game Outro.
  • Fixed crash for VoIP that would during gameplay
  • Fix for out of memory crash with a bug in the texture system bloating out textures after playing a couple of rounds.
  • Fixed getting stuck when interactive with drawers.
  • Fixed getting stuck when climbing through windows
  • Fixed camera getting stuck when interactive with doors, windows and drawers.
  • Fixed Jason getting stuck in a chop loop when breaking down doors.
  • Fixed Jason getting off aligned when breaking down doors. He will no longer keep popping back in a new position.
  • Fixed environment and grab kills being off.
  • Fixed environment and grab kill jittering.
  • Made knife pickup grab animations more accurate.
  • Fixed some knife pickups from not working.
  • Fixed the shotgun and flare gun sometimes not firing.
  • Fixed weapon swapping from floating.
  • Fixed firecrackers going through the world
  • Fixed physics on car. No longer can a group of counselors push it around.
  • Fixed getting in and out of a car where animations would get off sync.
  • Fixed players standing up in the car.
  • Fixed pocket knife not working when getting pulled out of the car.
  • Fixed more than one player being able to get into the driver’s seat at the same time.
  • Fixed physics on boat. No longer can a group of counselors push it around.
  • Fixed getting in and out of a boat where animations would get off sync.
  • Fixed players standing up in the boat.
  • Fixed more than one player being able to get into the boat driver’s seat at the same time.
  • Fixed HUD getting stuck when getting in and out of Armour.
  • Fixed blood getting stuck on screen when dying.
  • Fixed blood getting stuck on screen when coming back as Tommy Jarvis.
  • Fixed repair mini-game getting stuck on screen when getting hit with a weapon while doing the mini-game.
  • Fixed exploit where users were able to go into combat stance and then sprint sliding around the character but not burning any stamina.
  • Fixed Jason sliding around when getting stunned.
  • Fixed counselors sliding around when playing the falling animation.
  • Fixed Jason grabbing someone out of a car and them becoming a ghost.
  • Fixed driving the car getting out of sync with the server / host then teleporting the player back to where they got into a car.
  • Made session invitations a lot more reliable.
  • Fixed crash where you would exit a match and then start a new Private Match.
  • Added movable hair to the female characters.
  • Optimized all maps to have a nice performance increase on Xbox One when action gets intense.
  • Did a warmer lighting pass to increase visual quality.
  • Fixed crash when getting grabbed by Jason.
PREVIOUSSLIDE 1/1
WWGfriday13th9
(Photo: Gun Media/New Line Cinema)

Meanwhile, the PC update seems to be a bit more substantial. It makes some changes to how profiles are saved, tunes up the audio, and improves Jason and Counselor spawning.

PC Update

To optimize the database further, we have moved character profiles to the save file system, persisting in the cloud instead. However, this means that:

  • Counselor Perk and Clothing selections will have to be assigned again.
  • Jason grab kill selections will have to be assigned again.

Improvements

  • Added a Random option in the lobby.
  • Turned intro volume down.
  • Increased effectiveness of Jason and Counselor spawn preference options. Shuffling the possible Jason list 3x as much to help randomness.
  • Disabled inhale sound effect for breathing while in a hiding spot.
  • Made dead body stingers less obnoxious: Ignored while being pursued by Jason; 10s cooldown; Will not fire for witnessed nearby deaths.

Fixes

  • Fixed issue where you have infinite stamina.
  • Fixed a few areas where the player couldn’t reach with Jason. Also fixed a stuck spot on Packanack.
  • Fixed perk roller UI sometimes getting stuck if there is an error talking to the database.
  • Fixed session heartbeat requests to be more resilient to service failures.
  • Fixed some bugs with incremental Steam stats achievements. NOTE: These do not always update while the game    client is open, sometimes taking until you exit the game before Steam shows progress.
  • Fixed character hair stretching at lower frame rate.
  • Fixed inverted mouse look and mouse sensitivity options not working on the input settings UI.
  • Fixed Jason not always aborting the knife throw when stunned.
  • Fixed a case where it was possible to get stuck in a knife throw.
  • Fixed some visibility issues with the door interaction icons.
  • Fixed some placement issues with dropped items.
  • Fixed Jason’s mask floating when knocked off.
  • Fixed Jason not always cancelling shift or morph if they hit a car in reverse.
  • Fixed an issue with the hiding spot exit code.
  • Fixed Counselors potentially getting stuck inside of a wall if hit while climbing through a window at the perfect time.
  • Fixed Rotate Minimap With Player not updating when changed until a map change.
  • Fixed some server specific crashes.
  • Fixed people being able to share settings save games.

The PS4 version of Friday the 13th hasn’t received a patch, which is unfortunate, as it’s arguably the version people are having most trouble with. Players continue to report excessively long wait times for games on PS4 over a week after launch. Xbox One and PC are having similar problems, although to a somewhat lesser degree. But hey, if you do manage to connect to a game, we do have some handy tips for how to slaughter campers most effectively!

Friday the 13th: The Game is available for PC, Xbox One, and PS4. You can check out limited impressions of the game, right here.

 

Amazon reportedly working on proper Android ‘Ice’ smartphones with Google’s apps

 

Amazon might be taking another shot at building its own smartphones, according to a new report from NDTV’s Gadget 360And unlike the company’s failed Fire Phone, the new smartphones — allegedly branded “Ice” — would have access to the full line of Google services and apps, including the Play Store.

The report notes that the Ice line would be targeted at emerging markets like India, instead of the more US-facing focus of the original Fire Phone. As such, the rumored specs for one of the Ice phones fall in line with that goal: a screen between 5.2 and 5.5 inches, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, and a Snapdragon 435 processor. Gadget 360 claims that this specific model would retail for roughly $93 at launch, although that price could change before launch.

Per Gadget 360’s source, the Ice phone doesn’t have Alexa support, but, like the price, details aren’t finalized which means software, too, could change in the future.

The original Fire Phone was a failure for a multitude of reasons, including a focus on gimmicky features, an expensive price tag, exclusivity to AT&T, and a bizarre operating system. It sold extremely poorly, even with Amazon slashing prices only weeks after launch. But perhaps the biggest failure was the dearth of apps by not using Google Mobile Services, in essence leaving customers with a confusingly skinned Android phone that didn’t really run any Android apps. It sounds like Amazon is taking a different approach with the Ice line, by embracing Google’s services and targeting a different slice of the smartphone market than the Apple-and-Samsung-dominated high-end segment.

If the Ice rumors are true, Amazon could have a big opportunity in emerging market places. Google has made no secret of its desire to put Android phones in the hands of “the next billion users” with initiatives like Android Go and Android One; an Amazon hardware push would certainly go a long way toward getting Google

 

Ukrainians cheer on first day of visa-free EU travel

Ukrainians on Sunday (11 June) celebrated the first day of visa-free access to the European Union, with thousands crossing the border as President Petro Poroshenko proclaimed a dramatic “exit” from Moscow’s grip.

The move is symbolic for Kyiv, where a pro-EU revolt in 2014 toppled the previous Russia-backed government and was followed by Moscow’s annexation of the Crimea peninsula sparking a protracted ongoing conflict with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

“The visa-free regime for Ukraine has started! Glory to Europe! Glory to Ukraine!” Poroshenko tweeted early Sunday as many travellers started crossing the border and posting selfies.

Only those with biometric passports – containing a microchip with personal data, including fingerprints – can take advantage of the visa-free travel for the time being, for stays of up to 90 days every six months that don’t include work.

The exemption does not apply to Ireland or Britain, nor to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, which are part of the EU’s Schengen passport-free area despite not being members of the bloc.

Later on Sunday, Poroshenko met with Slovak counterpart Andrej Kiska on the Slovak-Ukrainian border, unlocking a mock “door to the EU” painted like a Ukrainian passport.

“We have waited so long for this,” he said. “I am sure that this day, 11 June, will go down in the history of Ukraine as a final exit of our country from the Russian empire and its return to the family of European nations.”

“Welcome to Europe,” Kiska told the crowd. “I want to call on you to continue carrying out reforms.”

“Today we bring down the barrier between the people of Ukraine and the people of the European Union,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a video address.

“Ukraine has delivered reforms its citizens were asking for and we of the EU have kept our promise. This is what we call a win-win solution.”

“It feels so good”

The EU approved the visa-free travel last month after long delays and Kyiv’s embattled reforms, fulfilling a key promise to cement ties with Kyiv following the broad trade and political association agreement sealed in 2014.

Kyiv is now seeking to boost European integration with cheaper rail links and more low-cost air connections with EU cities, Poroshenko said on Saturday.

Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin cheered on Twitter after passengers on flights from Ukraine were able to enter Warsaw, Budapest, Frankfurt and other airports.

“#Bezviz (no visa) is just the beginning!” he wrote, himself crossing the border to Hungary and posting photos from the passport control area.

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

By midday, thousands had crossed the border into EU countries, the foreign ministry’s consular department wrote on Twitter. Only four people were denied entry.

“I’m going abroad for the first time in a decade, and it feels so good,” said Ukrainian Ulyana Golosyak who crossed the border to Poland from western Ukraine despite her husband accompanying her in case of complications.

View image on Twitter

“He thought something could happen that I would be turned back and would need to be picked up,” she told AFP. “I’m happy I can cross the border with this passport.”

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

BlackBerry KEYone goes on sale in Netherlands

BlackBerry’s latest Android offering – the KEYone – is now available to purchase in the Netherlands. Multiple third-party retailers like belsimpel and mobiel.nl have the phone listed on their website for around €600.

Of course, the handset is also available on contract, with pricing starting as low as €0.

The KEYone is already available in a handful of key markets, including the US, UK, and Canada. Recently, Canadian carrier Telus starting selling the phone to its consumer customers as well. Over in the UK, Carphone Warehouse has also started offering the handset.

 

Google for Jobs Starts Rolling Out in Search on Desktop and Mobile

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Job hunters will be able to go to Google and see help-wanted listings
  • The feature is available only in English, on both desktop and mobile
  • Google will also show employer ratings from current and former workers

Google is trying to turn its search engine into an employment engine, with a feature called Google for Jobs.

Beginning Tuesday, job hunters will be able to go to Google and see help-wanted listings that its search engine collects across the Internet. The feature is available only in English, on both desktop and mobile. The results will aim to streamline such listings by eliminating duplicate jobs posted on different sites. Google in its announcement post says “People from all walks of life, experiences and backgrounds have undergone a job hunt at some point in their lives. Whether you’re a young adult looking for your first job, a veteran hoping to leverage your leadership experience in civilian life, or a parent looking for a job with better pay to support a growing family, we hope this new experience on Google will help make the job search simpler and more effective.”

Google will also show employer ratings from current and former workers, as well as typical commute times to job locations. Google for Jobs will further let job seekers filter job openings based on category, date posted, and full-time or part-time employment, and other options.Google for Jobs Starts Rolling Out in Search on Desktop and Mobile

This detailed jobs information is a departure from the way Google’s main search engine has traditionally shown only bare-bones links to various help-wanted sites.
Google is teaming up with a variety of help-wanted and employer-rating services, including LinkedIn, Monster, WayUp, DirectEmployers, CareerBuilder, Glassdoor, and Facebook.

First announced at Google I/O 2017 in May, the Google for Jobs feature will be initially limited to the US market. There’s no word as to when the feature will be rolled out to other markets.

ALSO SEEGoogle for Jobs Is Now Live; at Least for Some Users

By the end of May, the Google for Jobs feature had become available for limited users in the US.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai had at the I/O 2017 Keynote revealed the motivation behind the new feature – according to the company, almost half of US employers were having issues filling open positions while job seekers weren’t even aware about a job opening.