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Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Corliss Group Latest Tech Review: Facebook to launch social network for cyber security experts

Facebook is launching a social network for cyber security professionals to share information about threats that could lead to cyber attacks, as the US government and companies search for new ways to co-ordinate their defences.

The world’s largest social network is stepping up its work in cyber security by teaming with other technology companies including Yahoo and online scrapbooking site Pinterest. The platform will enable companies to share clues about how hackers are behaving in the hope of preventing security breaches.

As cyber attacks hit companies from Sony Pictures to health insurer Anthem, the private and public sector are under pressure to work together to understand their adversaries. Hackers join forces and share tips to break into networks but so far, communication about cyber defence has often been haphazard.

Mark Hammel, Facebook’s manager of threat infrastructure, said ThreatExchange had been developed from a system that Facebook was already using internally to make it easier to catalogue threats to the site in real time.

Facebook’s decision to share the tool comes at a time when the company is trying to broaden its appeal beyond social interactions with friends and family and make the product a tool that is useful in the workplace. The company is also trying out a site and app called Facebook at Work, designed to facilitate internal collaboration between colleagues.

Mr Hammel said Facebook would give the cyber security service away for free, unlike some other threat detection systems.

“We feel that as our product’s footprint has grown, with the number of people using it to communicate, we have the ability to spend more time on broader security issues that affect the internet,” he said. He added Facebook was “really well positioned” with its “social sharing model” to direct a threat project such as this.

He added that Yahoo and Pinterest were good initial partners because they faced similar threats and had sizeable user bases. “Together, we’re protecting a pretty sizeable percentage of the internet,” he said.

The ThreatExchange comes after Barack Obama, US president, put information sharing at the heart of his cyber security proposals announced ahead of the State of the Union speech last month. He proposed legislation that would make it easier for companies to share information about cyber threats with the government.

The US government announced this week that it would be establishing a new agency, modelled on the National Counterterrorism Center with the aim of bringing together information from all arms of government during a cyber incident.

Mr Obama is expected to flesh out those proposals at a White House summit held at Stanford University on Friday, while appealing to the technology industry to do more to help.

The financial industry already leads the way in sharing information. The Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center — known as FS-ISAC — joined the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation, the post-trade services provider, last September to launch the first widespread not-for-profit intelligence service. The project is funded by 12 large companies from sectors including finance, energy and healthcare.

But many analysts say information sharing is a key challenge for cyber defences. Last year saw a steep acceleration in attacks on businesses. These included the largest ever breach of personal data at a retailer at Home Depot, as well as the attack on Sony Pictures that the FBI has said was orchestrated by North Korea.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Corliss Group: White House Cybersecurity Event to Draw Top Tech, Wall Street Execs

Government to Call on Companies to Help
Improve Information Sharing as Breaches Get More Sophisticated

President Barack Obama will convene top executives from Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and a number of other industries on Friday in a first-of-its kind cybersecurity “summit” taking place as the government and corporate executives each struggle to adjust to persistent and sophisticated breaches.

Mr. Obama will be joined at the Stanford University event by top officials at the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, and Federal Bureau of Investigation. The officials will call on companies to share more information with the government in an effort to combat future cyberattacks, a plea officials have made for months with limited success.

Mr. Obama’s presence at the event has drawn what has emerged as a Who’s Who of corporate leaders, reflecting a growing acknowledgment that many companies need to rethink their cyberdefenses.

Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook will deliver remarks about his company’s push toward a more secure payment system, a theme the White House is expected to try to reinforce for other companies throughout the event.

An Apple spokeswoman confirmed that Mr. Cook will be speaking at the summit. He is expected to focus on Apple’s experience with mobile payments. Apple introduced Apple Pay in October, touting a security feature aimed at reducing the chances of credit-card theft.

Mr. Cook will be joined at Stanford on Friday by the CEOs of Bank of America Corp., U.S. Bancorp, American Express, Kaiser Permanente, Visa Inc., MasterCard Inc., and PayPal who also will speak on panels at the daylong event, along with representatives from Facebook Inc., Google, Intel Corp., and a numerous other companies.

Input from these executives is notable, as they collectively hold health, financial, search-engine, and social-media records on tens of millions of Americans. A number of the firms, particularly the technology companies, have sparred with the federal government over privacy concerns in recent years.

To acknowledge those concerns, the White House is expected to make privacy a central theme at the summit, in addition to consumer protection and cybersecurity techniques.

In addition to remarks from Messrs. Obama and Cook, the seven-hour event will include multiple panel sessions, including separate discussions of public-private collaboration, consumer protection, and payment technologies.

The entire event will be live-streamed on the White House’s website.

Senior administration officials see the event as a continuation of two years’ worth of cybersecurity initiatives, but the issue has taken on more urgency in recent months as the number of cyberattacks has increased dramatically. And recent large-scale breaches at Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. and Anthem Inc. have led to an internal debate among government officials over whether the government should heighten its response to cyberattacks carried out by foreign countries.

Also notably, the White House’s list of panelists and speakers at the summit doesn't include representatives from many of the large companies that have suffered major breaches in recent years, such as Home Depot Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Target Corp., Sony, or Anthem. A senior administration official said these companies weren't excluded from panels at the event.

Also missing from the list of panelists and speakers are officials from the U.S. intelligence community, such as the National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency. Intelligence officials often collect information about cyberthreats, and the White House on Tuesday announced a new office that is meant to collect and analyze their data.

But many technology companies remain skeptical about the operations of these agencies, particularly the NSA. A senior administration official said officials from the intelligence agencies would be at the event but officials from the agencies like the FBI and DHS were tapped to speak because they interact directly with the public to discuss cyber issues.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Corliss Tech Review Group: ARM smartphone chip boasts 3x computing power

With the trend today of making every new smartphone thinner than the last one, most would have to make a compromise between aesthetics and productivity. Usually, a nice and thin smartphone means shorter battery life and limited processing capability.

Fortunately for us, manufacturers are now moving towards extended battery life and excellent processing power even in thin handsets. Case in point: ARM's next generation A72 processors.

ARM Holdings, a microchip designer based in Britain, has announced a new processor for tablets and smartphones that boasts improved graphics and processing capability. Their new Cortex-A72 chip design and other improvements in related technology came just in time to help the handheld device industry which struggles with cooling demand.

Corliss Tech Review Group noted that much of the advancement could be credited to big improvements made in manufacturing technology, particularly from the Asian contractors.

An event in San Francisco was held where ARM announced that the new chips pack thrice as much computing power when compared with those in use today. It is now totally possible for manufacturers to use these new processors from ARM to get superb performance minus the strain in the device's battery. In fact, the company claims that in thin profile designs, the new chip could allow for as much as 75% reduction in power consumption.

The company's vice president of marketing also mentioned that the device has "more than enough" computing power to support complex processes on tablets and smartphones even without an Internet connection. Most of the smartphone processes today that are data-heavy are usually being handled by remote servers and not the device's processor itself.

Devices with this new processor technology are expected to be available by early next year. But according to Corliss Tech Review Group, 10 companies, including MediaTek of Taiwan and Rockchip of China, have already licensed ARM's new technology.