The continuing decline in desktop sales

Subject: General Tech | July 11, 2013 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: fud, desktops, pc sales

For the fifth quarter in a row, traditional desktops and laptop have seen a decline in sales globally.  This mostly represents a shift in purchasing habits as opposed to an actual decline in the sales of electronics.  Desktops have declined in sales since laptops became much more affordable and a decent alternative for light users who have no need for a powerful desktop.  Now that tablets and smartphones are capable of providing the same experience to many users as a desktop or notebook, consumers are purchasing those devices which has lead to the perceived drop in sales.  No matter what the various talking heads may claim the desktop is not dead, no tablet on the planet can play Crysis nor will it handle SPSS.  Check out the comments at Slashdot for more entertaining thoughts on the supposed death of the desktop.

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"Global personal computer (PC) sales have fallen for the fifth quarter in a row, making it the 'longest duration of decline' in history. Worldwide PC shipments totalled 76 million units in the second quarter, a 10.9% drop from a year earlier, according to research firm Gartner. PC sales have been hurt in recent years by the growing popularity of tablets. Gartner said the introduction of low-cost tablets had further hurt PC sales, especially in emerging economies. 'In emerging markets, inexpensive tablets have become the first computing device for many people, who at best are deferring the purchase of a PC,' said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, said in a statement."

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Source: Slashdot

Beiber can be used for evil

Subject: General Tech | May 29, 2013 - 02:31 PM |
Tagged: cell phone, security, fud

If you are feeling safe and secure using your cellphone in public, some research out of the University of Alabama will shatter that confidence for you.  It seems that it is possible to use sound as a trigger to activate malware from a distance, even over low quality speakers.  You already know about Shazam and other apps you can use to identify songs simply by holding up your cellphone and have it successfully connect to a remote database to get the song data, even in a loud room.  This research shows that a previously infected phone could have dormant malware installed which can be remotely activated simply by music with a hidden message contained within it, inaudible to human ears.  Pair this with the known Autoconnect to Saved WiFi Profiles vulnerability and your phone could very easily start leaking information you would much rather keep private.   Follow the links from The Register to read the research paper and reactions to it.

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"Security researchers have discovered that specific music, lighting, vibrations or magnetic fields could all be used as infection channels to trigger the activation of mobile malware on a massive scale.

The paper, titled Sensing-Enabled Channels for Hard-to-Detect Command and Control of Mobile Devices, was presented in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou earlier this month by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)."

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Source: The Register

A second tale of doom and gloom for the PC market

Subject: General Tech | April 15, 2013 - 02:53 PM |
Tagged: fud, sales

Last week we saw a report describing the downturn in PC sales and it has been repeated today in a report from Gartner.  With a global decline of sales this quarter totalling over 10% compared to the first quarter of 2012 the trend of falling PC sales continues for the fourth quarter in a row.  It seems that tablets and smartphones are making headway into the market and many people who would have purchased an inexpensive TV for surfing and other light-duty tasks are satisfied with a smaller mobile device.  In the US the decline was a hair under 10% and only Apple and Lenovo showed any growth.  Get the full global breakdown at DigiTimes.

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"Worldwide PC shipments totaled 79.2 million units in the first quarter of 2013, a 11.2% decline from the first quarter of 2012, according to Gartner. Global PC shipments went below 80 million units for the first time since the second quarter of 2009. All regions showed a decrease in shipments, with the EMEA region experiencing the steepest decline."

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Source: DigiTimes

Javascript + Adobe; you got your exploit in my vulnerability ...

Subject: General Tech | February 21, 2013 - 12:27 PM |
Tagged: Adobe, firefox, pdf, javascript, fud

What could possibly go wrong by combining two of malwares most favourite security holes into one?  With FoxIt recently sprouting leaks and Adobe's continual duct taping of it's Reader, reading PDFs online is a great way to catch something nasty. Then again, there is always malformed Javascript commands and links which are another very popular way to give your PC a cybernetically transmitted disease.  The new Firefox combines the two in their latest version, 19.0, which is currently in beta testing and it uses an open sourced Javascript add on to open PDFs online, which will likely improve the responsiveness and loading time of PDF links.  The real question won't be answered until use of this new add on becomes commonplace and we find out if the two combine into some a gaping new hole into your PC or if somehow mismatched vulnerabilities will combine to create an actual secure way to read PDFs.  Then again, maybe it will not introduce anything new at all.  More at The Register or grab the latest Firefox and try it yourself.

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"Mozilla's Firefox web browser now includes a built-in PDF viewer - allowing users to bin plugins from Adobe and other developers.

The move to run third-party PDF file readers out of town comes after security holes were discovered in closed-source add-ons from FoxIt and Adobe. The new built-in document viewer is open source, just like Firefox, and is written in JavaScript."

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Source: The Register

Want some Raspberry Pi with a side of hashes?

Subject: General Tech | February 15, 2013 - 01:27 PM |
Tagged: WPAD, security, Raspberry Pi, fud

On this weeks Podcast, Ryan wondered what he could do with his new Raspberry Pi and Hack a Day has an idea for him, though it is a wee bit nefarious.  It seems that Travis over at MADSEC is using a Raspberry Pi in penetration testing, using the NetBIOS Name Service to get responses from the Web Proxy Auto-Discovery Protocol (WPAD); responses which can include LM hashes from Windows machines.  With the use of Rainbow tables you can crack those hashes and take control of existing accounts on the PCs.  This type of attack is well know, but automating the attack on something as small and easily modifiable as a Raspberry Pi adds a new layer.  Whether you use it for good or evil, you can read more about it at Hack a Day.

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"Plug in the power and Ethernet and this Raspberry Pi board will automatically collect Windows hashes from computers on the network. With a couple of RPi boards on hand [Travis] was searching for more hacks to try with them. This made a great little test to see how the board performs with the well established attack."

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Source: Hack a Day

OCZ might have made some money ... maybe ... we think so anyways ... possibly (UPDATED)

Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2013 - 01:20 PM |
Tagged: fud, ocz, income, doom

OCZ is hours away from being delisted from the stock exchange and it will be very difficult for them to make the deadline as they have to submit a plan detailing how they will provide an accurate accounting of their quarterly profits by Feb 28th.  This is a bit of a problem considering that they do not seem to have submitted an accurate profit statement since Q1 of 2012 at the most recent.  In Q2 Ryan Petersen originally forecasted profits between $110-120m but after Petersen left and Ralph Schmitt took over those predicted profits dropped drastically to somewhere around $65-$85m, not accurate enough for Wells Fargo to consider it a proper financial statement.  From what The Register has learned, OCZ cannot estimate Q2 or Q3 earnings at this time, nor are they quite sure what the economic impact incentive programme liabilities and inventory run-down charges will have.  Things do not look good.

UPDATE

We heard from OCZ that they have indeed been working hard with Crowe Horwath LLP on getting their preliminary results for 2012 and Q1 of 2013 ready for the market.  It was also brought to our attention that the Nasdaq is permitted to grant an extension of up to 180 days, which would be April 8th, for the Company to regain compliance with the SEC and other institutions.  This lessens the danger that OCZ faces and while the stock has tumbled a bit over the past few months as of this update they are at $2.09/share, flat for the days trading, traders are exhibiting confidence in the company.  According to Seeking Alpha last night it was announced that "The Company estimates that its quarterly revenue will range between $65 million to $85 million in each quarter for the second and third fiscal quarters of 2013."  That is still a wide variance but you should not count OCZ out quite yet.  We will continue to keep an eye on the market and OCZ's responses.

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"Stifel Nicolaus analyst Aaron Rakers noted there was no announcement of a filing of the required Nasdaq update plan today. Unless that is handed in on time, OCZ is out of Nasdaq and, as a result, getting bank credit will be much more difficult. Wells Fargo could wave goodbye and consign OCZ to the scrap heap in a forced asset sale. This is about as bad as it gets, but OCZ's survival is still possible."

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Source: The Register

Samsung tops Apple for both buying chips and malware

Subject: General Tech | January 23, 2013 - 01:17 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, apple, andriod, Malware, fud

The good news for Samsung last year is that it bought $23.9bn worth of semiconductor orders in 2012, while Apple ordered a mere $21.4bn which implies that Samsung is buying more chips than Apple, or perhaps is just getting a worse deal.  If the information from Gartner that The Inquirer picked up on is correct, Samsung accounted for 8% of the total semiconductor market in 2012, a very impressive feat.  That is more than Dell and HP's market share combined which supports the theory that the falling sales we saw in PCs was not reflected at all in the smartphone and tablet markets. 

Unfortunately that success comes at a price as Samsung's OS of choice, Android, is expected to see more than one million malware threats by the end of 2013.  According to Trend Micro there were about 350,000 malware threats over 2012 with only one in five Android devices actually having any sort of security software installed.  Perhaps it is time to start thinking more about protecting your phone, especially if you have banking apps or the so called "pay by bonk" enabled on your phone.

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"Apple, thanks in large part to its hugely popular iPhone and iPad products, was the largest consumer of semiconductor chips, that is, until 2012. Gartner claims that Samsung has overtaken Apple to become the largest semiconductor user with eight percent of all chips sold going to the firm."

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Source: The Inquirer

That safe and secure Foxit plugin you use?

Subject: General Tech | January 14, 2013 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: pdf, foxit, security, fud

The Register has some bad news about that PDF reader you prefer to Adobe's software, a new vulnerability which does not even stem from booby-trapped document but from a long link name.  It seems that you can cause a buffer overflow in Foxit simply by copying the entire URL into a fixed-sized buffer when the user clicks on a PDF which "pretty much lets you write to a memory location of your choice".  5.4.4.1128 and older version are vulnerable and we have yet to hear from the creators of Foxit.  Looks like no PDF reader is safe at this point.

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"A new security bug in the popular Foxit PDF reader plugin for web browsers allows miscreants to compromise computers and install malware. There's no patch for this zero-day vulnerability.

Italian security researcher Andrea Micalizzi discovered that the latest version of the software crashes if users are tricked into clicking on an overly long web link. The plugin is kicked into action by the browser to handle the file and promptly bombs."

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Source: The Register

NVIDIA's 310.90 Driver - more performance, less vulnerabilities

Subject: General Tech | January 9, 2013 - 12:46 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, geforce, graphics drivers, fud

Say what you will about AMD's driver team but they don't tend to release drivers that allow some to elevate their privileges on their PCs.  That was unfortunately the Christmas present NVIDIA offered Windows users who installed 310.70, similar to the gift they offered Linux users last summer.  According to The Register, the new driver no longer contains that security hole, which makes upgrading to the newest driver more important than usual.  That is not the only reason to grab the new driver, NVIDIA reports that 310.90 provides 26% faster performance in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and up to 18% faster performance in Assassin’s Creed III as well as improvements to 400, 500 and 600 series cards in most other games. 

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"The vulnerability allows a remote attacker with a valid domain account to gain super-user access to any desktop or laptop running the vulnerable service," HD Moore, the developer of Metasploit and chief security officer at Rapid7, told SecurityWeek.

"This flaw also allows an attacker (or rogue user) with a low-privileged account to gain super-access to their own system, but the real risk to enterprises is the remote vector," he added."

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Source: The Register

AMD won't be selling its self whole for now

Subject: General Tech | November 14, 2012 - 12:59 PM |
Tagged: fud, amd

AMD did not refute The Register's report that they are in talks with J.P. Morgan, only that there are no plans to sell the company right now.  The possibility that some intellectual properties might be for sale to the right bidder at the right price was not completely refuted though.  AMD is not just tasked with keeping PC users interested in their company they also have shareholders to answer to, who recently have had less to thank the company for than the enthusiast crowd have.  Recent announcements for new chips for the server room as well as the integration of an ARM processor into future AMD chips could be good news for AMDs bottom line in the future but for short term gain they may need to look at new licensing agreements or selling off some assets.

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"Soon after we clicked Publish on this story, we received a comment from an AMD spokesman. "AMD's board and management believe that the strategy the company is currently pursuing to drive long-term growth by using AMD's highly-differentiated technology assets is the right approach to enhance shareholder value," he wrote. "AMD is not actively pursuing a sale of the company or significant assets at this time.""

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Source: The Register