Tech Letter

Fresh Technology Insights

Author: Robert Vinet (page 2 of 29)

AT&T suspends broadband data caps during Coronavirus event

AT&T is the first major ISP to confirm that it is suspending all broadband usage caps for millions of American customers.

Karl Bode, Vice »

Telecom experts told Motherboard this morning that broadband caps and overage fees don’t serve any real technical purpose, and are little more than a glorified price hike on uncompetitive markets. We in turn reached out to ten of the nation’s biggest ISPs, only one of which (Mediacom) was willing to go on the record.

In the wake of that report, AT&T has confirmed to Motherboard that the company will be suspending all usage caps until further notice.

“Many of our AT&T Internet customers already have unlimited home internet access, and we are waiving internet data overage for the remaining customers,” a company spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg is reporting that Housebound Italian kids are straining networks with Fortnite, with an increase to “internet traffic of more than 70%.”

Apple has reopened all it’s stores in China after Coronavirus closures

Mark Gurman, Bloomberg »

Apple Inc. has reopened all 42 of its stores in China after it was forced to close them last month due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

The closures were one of two primary reasons Apple cited for pulling its revenue forecast for the March quarter. China is Apple’s third biggest market.

What is an HDR monitor? High dynamic range explained

Custom PC magazine out of the UK has a wonderful, easily understood, explanation of the current high dynamic range (HDR) monitors that are all the rage.

Google’s online office suite, G Suite, has over 2 billion monthly active users

Ina Fried, Axios »

Google’s G Suite, which includes Gmail, Google Docs, Hangouts, Meet and other apps, quietly passed a major milestone at the end of last year: It now has more than 2 billion monthly active users, G Suite boss Javier Soltero told Axios Wednesday.

More »  9to5Google, SlashDot

UK introduces 2% tax on search engines, social media services, and online marketplaces

Adrian Potoroaca, TechSpot »

The UK has announced that starting in April, it’ll tax revenue made from digital services like online marketplaces, search engines, social media platforms, streaming services, and pretty much any other online company that derives value from UK users.

The Digital Services Tax (DST) will apply to multinational companies that register revenues of £500 million ($641 million) on an annual basis, but only if £25 million ($32 million) of that is derived from UK users. The UK wants to tax the latter chunk at a rate of 2 percent.

[…]

By comparison, Spain and France are looking to tax digital revenue at a rate of 3 percent, but the latter country has been persuaded by other EU members to hold off on applying the new rules until the end of this year, when the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) will have to reveal a preliminary draft for international tax rules that are supposed to bring 137 countries on the same page.

More » Gov.UK, Protocol, The Register, Engadget, SiliconANGLE, CNet

EU to introduce ‘right to repair’ legislation that will force electronics manufacturers to create products that last longer, include as many recycled materials as possible, and are easier to reuse, repair, and recycle

Jennifer Rankin, The Guardian »

The European commission wants to drastically increase recycling of electronic goods, which are often difficult to repair, replace batteries or upgrade. Less than 40% of electronic waste in the EU is thought to be recycled.

Billed as “the right to repair”, the European commission will extend an eco-design law to cover phones, tablets and laptops, setting technical standards so these goods consist of changeable and repairable parts. The current eco-design directive sets energy efficiency standards for computers, TVs, dishwashers and washing machines.

Virginijus Sinkevičius, European commissioner for the environment, said the “circular economy” plan was a new economic model for the continent.

“The linear growth model of ‘take, make, use discard’ has reached its limits,” he told reporters. “With the growth of the world population and consumption, this linear model pushes us closer and closer to a resource crisis. The only way ahead is decoupling economic growth from extraction of primary resources and their environmental impacts.”

More » Engadget, TechCrunch, The Verge, XDA-Developers

Microsoft coordinated worldwide effort across 35 countries to take down the Necurs botnet, one of the largest known to date, which had infecting 9 million computers

Catalin Cimpanu, ZDNet »

After Microsoft has taken control of existing Necurs infrastructure, the company and its industry partners have been able to sinkhole the botnet and receive information about all the bots located across the world.

As a final step part of this effort, Microsoft says it’s now working with ISPs and CERT teams to notify users who have been infected so that they can remove the malware from their computers.

More » Microsoft, The Hacker News, SecurityWeek

Australia sues Facebook for breaching the privacy of over 300K Australians in the Cambridge Analytica scandal

Facebook could face millions of dollars in fines over allegedly breaching the privacy of over 300,000 Australian citizens caught up in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Josh Taylor, The Guardian »

The Australian information commissioner Angelene Falk has alleged Facebook committed serious and repeated interferences with privacy in contravention of Australian privacy law because data collected by Facebook was passed onto the This is Your Digital Life app by Cambridge Analytica for political profiling, which was not what it was collected for.

Data included people’s names, dates of birth, email addresses, city location, friends list, page likes and Facebook messages for those who had granted the app access to the messages.
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“We consider the design of the Facebook platform meant that users were unable to exercise reasonable choice and control about how their personal information was disclosed,” Falk said.

“Facebook’s default settings facilitated the disclosure of personal information, including sensitive information, at the expense of privacy.”

More » Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, Reuters, News.com.au, Seeking Alpha

Demand for smartphones halves in China in February 2020 due to Coronavirus

Reuters »

In total, mobile phone brands sold a total of 6.34 million devices in February in China, down 54.7% from 14 million in the same month last year, data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology showed (CAICT).

It was also the lowest level for February since at least 2012, when CAICT started publishing data.

[…]

Android brands, which include devices made by Huawei Technologies and Xiaomi accounted for most of the drop, as they collectively saw shipments decline from 12.72 million units in February 2019 to 5.85 million, the data showed.

Shipments of Apple devices slumped to 494,000, from 1.27 million in February 2019. In January, its shipments had held steady at just over 2 million.

More » Apple Insider

Intel CPUs and chipsets have a serious hardware flaw that’s not fixable

Dan Goodin, Ars Technica »

Virtually all Intel chips released in the past five years contain an unfixable flaw that may allow sophisticated attackers to defeat a host of security measures built into the silicon. While Intel has issued patches to lessen the damage of exploits and make them harder, security firm Positive Technologies said the mitigations may not be enough to fully protect systems.

The flaw resides in the Converged Security and Management Engine, a subsystem inside Intel CPUs and chipsets that’s roughly analogous to AMD’s Platform Security Processor. Often abbreviated as CSME, this feature implements the firmware-based Trusted Platform Module used for silicon-based encryption, authentication of UEFI BIOS firmware, Microsoft System Guard and BitLocker, and other security features. The bug stems from the failure of the input-output memory management unit—which provides protection preventing the malicious modification of static random-access memory—to implement early enough in the firmware boot process. That failure creates a window of opportunity for other chip components, such as the Integrated Sensor Hub, to execute malicious code that runs very early in the boot process with the highest of system privileges.

More » Positive Technologies, The Register, ZDNet, Thurrott

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