HP Issues Security Patch For Keylogger Discovered In More than 460 Laptop Models

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 12, 2017 - 02:37 AM |
Tagged: synaptics, security patch, security, keylogger, hp, Cyber Security

HP has issued security patches for more than 460 models of the company's laptops and thin clients to address a hidden keylogger present in the Synaptics touchpad drivers. Discovered by security researcher Michael Myng while delving into the Synaptics Touchpad Software in an attempt to change the backlight behavior of the keyboard, the keylogger was reportedly built into the software stack to debug errors. While it shipped to customers disabled by default, an attacker that was able to achieve administrative privileges could change the appropriate registry value and enable keylogging to locally record all of the user's keystrokes without their knowledge. Further malicious code or local physical access could then be used to retrieve data for analysis of possible passwords, usernames, account numbers, and other personal information.

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Image courtesy Robbert van der Steeg via Flickr Creative Commons

HP claims in its security bulletin that at no time did it or Synaptics have access to customer data and that this security vulnerability is a "local loss of confidentiality" and should be acted upon as soon as possible by downloading the security patch for your laptop from HP or by running Windows Update.

According to the HP security bulletin, the vulnerability reportedly affects all Synaptics OEM partners including HP that have shipped systems with certain Synaptics Touchpad driver versions. In the case of HP this includes commercial / enterprise notebooks, tablets, thin clients, and mobile workstations from their G2, G4, G6, Elite X2, EliteBook, Thin Client, ProBook, Spectre Pro, Stream, X360, and ZBook Mobile Workstation series and consumer devices with Compaq, Beats, ENVY, OMEN, Pavilion, Spectre, Split, Stream, and even the 15" Star Wars Special Edition laptop!

While this is a serious security risk, there is no need to panic. You should apply the patch manually or through Windows Update as soon as possible, but so long as you have been and continue to follow security best practices (strong passwords, running anti-virus and anti-malware scans regularly, restricting physical access, and not running as administrator on your daily driver user account, ect) you should be safe as there are several steps that would need to be completed before an attacker could take advantage of this hidden keylogger, especially remotely. 

You can find the full list of affected laptops and their associated security patches on HP's support website. For a PGP signed version of the page you can email hp-security-alert@hp.com.

Source: BBC

Synaptics Unveils Clear ID In-Display Fingerprint Sensor Technology

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 12, 2017 - 12:00 AM |
Tagged: synaptics, security, fingerprint sensor, fingerprint, biometrics

Synaptics, the California-based "human interface solution developer" founded in 1986, is no stranger to PC input and interface devices with more than 5 billion units shipped to OEM partners and a large patent portfolio. Today, the company is getting into the lucrative smartphone market in a big way with its Clear ID In-Display fingerprint sensor which sits just under and scans a user's fingerprint through a standard smartphone display (including glass overlay and screen protector).

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Current sensors sit in a fixed position at OEM discretion and activate only when needed. Future in-display sensors will target larger areas and eventually the entire display.

Synaptics has designed and positioned the FS9500 fingerprint sensor at smartphones with so-called Infinity Displays and seeks to address the problem of where and how to mount a biometrics sensor (or even a camera for that matter, but that's a different problem) on smartphones that are moving towards edge to edge displays with no physical button area or bezels to mount front facing sensors! Rather than requiring an unusual cut out display (like the iPhone X) or settling for larger bezels, Synaptics has instead opted to take advantage of the large display area by laminating the thin fingerprint senor module to the underside of the display and using the OLED display itself as the light source to illuminate the user's fingerprint so that the optimized CMOS image sensor can scan the fingerprint from the reflected light bounced through the gaps in between pixels.

Synaptics claims it is using "Quantum Matcher" and "PurePrint" machine learning technology to enhance security as well as to adapt to different external lighting environments (e.g. direct sunlight), and as a result its fingerprint sensor is able to work faster and in more situations than competing 3D facial recognition systems. Specifically, the company claims its fingerprint sensor is able to accurately read a user's fingerprint in 0.7 seconds versus 1.4 seconds for a facial recognition camera biometrics sensor. The Clear ID In-Display fingerprint sensor is rated at an approximate 99% spoof rejection rate thanks to the AI-powered PurePrint technology that discerns real fingerprints from fakes along with an on-board encryption module that establishes an encrypted connection from the biometrics sensor to the phone.

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With the biggest hurdle to the continued relevance of the fingerprint sensor on modern smartphones solved by placing it under the display itself, smartphone users are able to continue to enjoy the benefits of fingerprint biometrics versus the fancy new facial recognition systems (which are admittedly cool, but do seem a bit "gimmicky" to me) including being able to unlock the phone naturally by picking it up, not having to look directly at it before it will unlock, and being able to quickly unlock the phone even in bad lighting (too dark or too bright) situations.

If it works as well as they claim, it seems like a neat way to integrate a secure fingerprint reader. Fortunately, we should not have to wait long to see it in action with devices using the technology expected as soon as next year. Perhaps we will see more information or even product announcements and design wins at CES! (Also, how the heck is it almost CES already?? heh)

Interestingly, Synaptics is not the first company to attempt the under display fingerprint sensor, with Qualcomm showing off an "ultrasonic" sensor earlier this year and Samsung reportedly filing patents for a pressure sensitive in display sensor, but Synaptics may well be the first to actually deliver, and with a product that is faster and able to work with thicker "top stacks" (the distance between top of sensor and finger including the display, glass overlay, and screen protector) up to 1.5mm.

Source: Synaptics

Asus Reveals Specifications Of Snapdragon-Powered NovaGo Convertible Laptop

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 11, 2017 - 04:30 PM |
Tagged: Windows 10 S, snapdragon 835, qualcomm, NovaGo, asus

The Asus NovaGo was announced last week at Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Tech Summit, and now the company is sharing additional specifications on one of the first Windows On Snapdragon devices. Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 and running Windows 10 S, Asus is promising a convertible tablet with up to 22 hours of battery life capable of running most of your usual Windows applications (even non-Store / UWP apps so long as they are 32-bit and don’t require kernel mode drivers).

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Measuring 316 x 221.6 x 14.9mm, the Asus NovaGo TP370 is constructed of dark gray plastic (and some metal bits) and weighs in at just over 3.06 pounds (1.39 kg). The top half of the device is dominated by a 13.3” 1920 x 1080 LTPS “NanoEdge” display with 8.9mm bezels and also hosts the 720p webcam which isn’t great but does apparently support Windows Hello. The display offers 10-point multi-touch as well as stylus support in the form of the Asus Pen with 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity.

A 360° silver colored hinge connects the two halves of the PC and enables tablet and tent modes. The bottom half of the NovaGo holds most of the hardware of the device along with the external I/O ports. The NovaGo has a chiclet style keyboard with flat looking keys and the arrow keys nestled in the bottom right corner. The trackpad does appear to be fairly large though. There are two SonicMaster stereo speakers, two USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps) Type A ports, one HDMI video output, a audio combo jack, microSD card slot, Nano SIM slot, and DC power input (no USB Type-C charging here unfortunately).

Internal hardware centers around the 10nm Snapdragon 835 SoC and its X16 LTE modem. The Snapdragon 835 features eight Kryo 280 64-bit ARM cores clocked at up to 2.45 GHz, an Adreno 540 GPU at 710 MHz, Hexagonn 682 DSP, support for aptX audio and Aqstic audio codec, Spectra 180 ISP (which seems to be underutilized here with only a 1MP webcam in play), and platform security module. The SoC is paired with up to 8GB of RAM and 256 GB of UFS 2.0 flash storage (rated at up to 175 MB/s or 4000 Mbps).

The NovaGo has four antennas and supports Gigabit LTE (1 Gbps down, 150 Mbps up) and dual-band 802.11ac MU-MIMO Wi-Fi. Users can use a Nano SIM or eSIM (embedded SIM) functionality to connect to their wireless carriers with the eSIM able to be set up through the Windows Store by purchasing a data plan locally when traveling. A 52 watt-hour battery allegedly keeps the NovaGo running for up to 22 hours and sitting in connected standby for up to a month. Windows 10 S is bundled with the system, but power users can upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for free until September 2018.

Hexus.net reports that the NovaGo will be available in early spring 2018 and will hit the US, UK, Italy, France, China, and Taiwan first with other countries to follow later. There are several models at play with 4GB, 6GB, and 8GB of RAM as well as 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB of UFS 2.0 storage. The base model has a MSRP of $599 and the top end SKU has a MSRP of $799.

The pricing does seem to be on the more expensive side, but these devices are aimed at mobile professionals and businesses with expense accounts so it’s not that out of line, and if the build quality is there and the battery life gets close to the lofty promises I can see them catching on.

Also read:

Source: Asus

Qualcomm, HP, and ASUS announce first Windows on Snapgdragon devices

Subject: Mobile | December 5, 2017 - 02:30 PM |
Tagged: snapdragon x16, snapdragon tech summit, snapdragon 835, snapdragon, qualcomm, NovaGo, LTE, hp, envy x2, asus

Today at its Snapdragon Tech Summit, Qualcomm has announced the first round of Snapdragon-enabled devices running Windows from partners HP and ASUS.

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The HP ENVY x2 is a detachable 2-in-1 device reminiscent of the Microsoft Surface products or the Huawei Matebook-E that we recently took a look at. The 12.3-in screen is the same size as the current Surface Pro, but the HP option will have a more traditional 16:9 screen aspect ratio.  

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Built upon the Snapdragon 835 SoC, the Envy x2 will be available in configurations featuring up to 8GB of RAM, and up to 256GB of storage. The Envy x2 will also support an active stylus that is Windows Ink certified for activities such as note-taking and illustration.

For connectivity, the Envy x2 has a single USB-C port which will serve for both charging the tablet as well as connecting external devices.

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The ASUS NovaGo, however, features a more traditional thin-and-light notebook design with a 360-degree hinge. This means that users can take full advantage of the 13.3-in 1920x1080 screen in all sorts of different scenarios from traditional notebook mode to tablet mode. 

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Similar to the HP offering, the ASUS NovaGo will be available in configurations ranging up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of Storage. However, connectivity on the NovaGo includes 2x USB 3.1 Type-A ports, as well as an HDMI Port and Micro-SD card slot for memory expansion allowing for more options than the HP Envy x2. 

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Utilizing the Snapdragon 835 SoC, both of these devices will also feature cellular connectivity from the Snapdragon X16 LTE modem. This is a huge advantage for mobile users, who can simply add these devices to their cellular accounts and receive internet connectivity anywhere in the world, allowing them to simply turn on their device and start working instead of hunting for Wi-Fi hotspots.

Both of these devices will come preinstalled with Windows 10 S but will allow for a one-time upgrade to a full Windows 10 license which will allow users to install non-Windows store applications.

(For those asking in the comments, yes, this is the emaulation layer we have mentioned previously at work. Snapdragon-based Windows machines will be able to run MOST x86 (not x64) Windows applications, with some exceptions. Exceptions tend to stem from things like kernel-mode drivers that some software wants to install that won't work. Dropbox is an unfortunately example of this.)

Availability of both systems is expected just before the end of the year and pricing for both will range from $600-800 depending on the specific configuration.

It's just the beginning here at the Snapdragon Tech Summit, so stay tuned for more announcements from Qualcomm as the week progresses!

Source: Qualcomm

Qualcomm Showcasing Windows on Snapdragon and Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform on Tech Summit Live Stream

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | December 4, 2017 - 01:50 AM |
Tagged: windows on snapdragon, snapdragon 845, snapdragon, qualcomm, live stream

Qualcomm is preparing for its second annual Technology Summit, this time from the sunny shores of Maui, where it will unveil the roadmap and technologies that it will be driving into the ecosystem for 2018. Hosted by EVP of Qualcomm Technologies Cristiano Amon, this event will play host to not just Qualcomm personnel but several other key leaders in the hardware and software industry, backing Qualcomm’s play into flagship mobile, Windows, and more.

The PC Perspective team is on-site to cover the announcements, interview executives, and attempt to gauge the potential for this technology being presented. If you want to follow along at home, Qualcomm is hosting a live stream of the event on its website and of course will be tweeting all of the key details from its primary account. It starts bright and early at 8:30am HST in Hawaii but that translates into 10:30am PST and 1:30pm EST for those of you on the mainland.

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There are definite announcements coming that you should expect during the live stream. First, Qualcomm will be updating its flagship mobile platform to the Snapdragon 845, a potentially significant bump over the 835 shipping today. We have already seen rumors of several next-gen Android smartphones using the SD 845 including Samsung’s Galaxy S9. The company announced the SD 835 and corresponding technology in November of 2016 at the first Tech Summit, so expect Qualcomm to follow suit for the SD 845 this year.

More exciting to many might be the pending release of the much-hyped Windows on Snapdragon hardware. We have been talking about it for more than a year now, but we have it on high authority that we are past theory and will be seeing real hardware from real vendors with real prices and real time tables. These Windows 10-based notebooks and convertibles should include Gigabit-class LTE, extended battery life, and a true Windows 10 experience. But details up to this point have been sparse – hopefully this week we’ll have much more definitive information in our hands.

That’s all I can say for sure we’ll see at the Qualcomm Tech Summit, but who knows, the company may have some more surprises in store for us. The company has a lot of technology in development in areas like self-driving cars, mobile connectivity, IoT, VR; any of which could make for an interesting addition to our pre-CES flurry.

Source: Qualcomm

Whose is longer, AMD's Ryzen Mobile or Intel's Kaby Lake-R?

Subject: Mobile | November 30, 2017 - 03:07 PM |
Tagged: hp, Envy x360, ryzen mobile, Ryzen 5 2500U

The Tech Report have been spending quite a bit of time with the Ryzen powered HP Envy x360, contrasting its performance to Intel based laptops.  They have moved from performance to battery life, something which means a great deal to those who travel with laptops or simply want to use the laptop without getting tangled in cords.  Their focus in this look at battery life is the impact of using an external screen only, with the built-in display disabled.  They chose a 2560x1440 display and tested the Envy against a Acer Swift 3 with an Intel i5-8250U to see how long the battery lasts without needing to power the integral display.  The results are quite striking and show a large difference in power efficiency.

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"As we've continued testing AMD's Ryzen 5 2500U APU over the past few days, we've been confronted with the problem of comparing battery life across laptops with different screen sizes. Many readers suggested that I should take each machine's internal display out of the picture by hooking them up to external monitors. While I wanted to get real-world battery-life testing out of the way first, I can certainly appreciate the elegance of leveling the playing field that way. Now we have."

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HP's Ryzen Mobile Powered Envy X360 Is Available Now

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | November 20, 2017 - 08:25 PM |
Tagged: windows hello, stylus, ryzen mobile, Ryzen 5 2500U, hp, convertible, amd

Last month AMD formally launched its Ryzen Mobile APUs with partners Acer, HP, and Lenovo announcing that systems using the new processors would be out by the end of the year. The first system to become available for purchase appears to be the HP Envy X360 convertible notebook which is available with a Ryzen 5 2500U APU. The 15.6” 2-in-1 starts at $574.99 (at time of writing) and thankfully appears to take full advantage of the AMD processor.

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The HP Envy X360 was spotted by Anandtech who noted that the notebook is currently being sold at HP.com as well as brick and mortar Best Buy stores. The notebook is part of the company’s higher end Envy brand. It weighs in at 4.75 pounds and measures 14.16” x 9.8” x 0.77”. The 360° hinge allows the touchscreen display to flip around to lay flat with the underside of the keyboard enabling tablet mode. The top half with thin bezels holds the 15.6” 1920 x 1080 display and IR capable Windows Hello camera. The bottom half holds the rest of the hardware and features a backlit island-style keyboard with numpad, a wide trackpad, and the various I/O ports around the edges including USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 with DisplayPort 1.4 and USB Power support (for charging), two full size USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, HDMi, and a headset jack. Other features include Bang and Olufsen audio with dual speakers and a stylus that can be used with Windows Ink, One Note, and other apps.

Internal specifications include the above-mentioned Ryzen 5 2500U, up to 16 GB of dual channel 2400 MHz memory, and mechanical and solid-state storage options. The base model of this laptop starts at 8 GB DDR4 at 2400 MHz (2 x 4GB) and 1TB of 7200 RPM hard drive storage. Users can configure the notebook with up to a 1TB NVMe SSD or a combination of SATA hard drive and NVMe M.2 drives. The HP Envy X360 also features Intel 802.11ac Wi-Fi and it is all powered by a 3-cell 55.8 Wh battery. The APU is a 15W TDP chip with four Zen-based CPU cores (eight threads) running at 2 GHz base and up to 3.6 GHz boost, a RX Vega-based GPU clocked at up to 1100 MHz with 8 CUs (512 cores), and 6 MB of cache (2MB L2 and 4MB L3).

The HP Envy X360 15z Touch convertible laptop is available now starting at $574.99 and going up to $1374.99 fully loaded with Windows 10 Pro.

In all this looks to be a good design win for AMD is a promising start for the future of Ryzen Mobile. Thankfully the APU appears to be running at its full 15W TDP and is not being held back by single channel memory like past AMD mobile chips have allegedly been. I am looking forward to seeing what AMD’s other partners have to offer. Until then though, we have a Ryzen 7 1700 powered Asus ROG gaming laptop to ponder about!

Source: AnandTech

Meet Eve V, the crowdfunded laptop

Subject: Mobile | November 20, 2017 - 04:18 PM |
Tagged: Eve V, Surface Pro, crowdfunding, thunderbolt 3

The Eve V exists because of a successful Indiegogo campaign run by a motivated group of techies who wanted to create their own competitor to the Surface Pro.  Physically the design is very similar, a 12.3" tablet with a magnetically attached keyboard and a kickstand and the price range is similar, from $800 for the base model to $2000 for the kitchen sink.  That price includes the keyboard and active stylus, something Microsoft's Surface does not. The hardware is similar, as will be the benchmarks, it is in the extra features that the Eve V stands out.  The Eve V not only has an extra USB 3.0 port, it also has a USB 3.1 Type-C port and a separate Thunderbolt 3 port for a monitor or even an external GPU. 

Check out more about this tablet, from it's clicky keys to standard wall charger at Techspot.

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"For a first-generation product, the Eve V is remarkably solid. It's especially impressive when you consider its direct competition - the Surface Pro - is well entrenched in the Windows tablet market and known to be an excellent option."

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Source: Techspot

ASUS ROG Announces the Ryzen powered Strix GL702ZC

Subject: Mobile | November 20, 2017 - 02:23 PM |
Tagged: ryzen 7 1700, asus, ASUS ROG, Strix GL702ZC, amd, gaming laptop, RX580, freesync

The ASUS ROG Strix GL702ZC is the first Ryzen powered gaming laptop we have seen, featuring the Ryzen 7 1700 desktop CPU along with a 4GB RX580 GPU.  This means that the 17.3" IPS 1080p monitor is Freesync capable with a maximum 60Hz refresh rate.  That resolution and refresh rate will ensure even AAA titles can play with your graphics settings cranked.  

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In addition to the previously mentioned components,the GL702ZC ships with 16GB DDR4-2400MHz, a 256GB SATA III SSD, a 1TB 5400rpm HDD, USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C connectivity and 802.11ac 2x2 Wi-Fi along with Bluetooth 4.1.  The base model retails for a competitive $1500.

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PR below the fold.

Source: AMD
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Huawei

Overview

Despite their large global presence in smartphones, Huawei isn't a brand widely known to US consumers. While this has improved year by year with the introduction of unlocked phones from and their Mate brand, I don't think that most Americans realize how big of a consumer electronics company Huawei is.

One of the more recent categories that Huawei has entered is the Windows notebook and tablet market. Starting with the announcement of the original MateBook at Mobile World Congress in 2016 (see our subsequent review here), the MateBook line was expanded this year to include two traditional notebook form factors—the thin-and-light MateBook X, and the more mainstream MateBook D.

With the introduction of these new products, the 2-in-1 tablet formerly known as just the MateBook has been slightly revised and renamed to the MateBook E, the product that we are looking at today.

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Huawei MateBook E  (configuration as reviewed)
Processor Intel Core m3-7Y30
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 615
Memory 4GB LPDDR3
Screen 12-in 2160x1440 IPS
Storage

128GB SanDisk SATA SSD

Wireless Intel 8275 802.11ac + BT 4.2 (Dual Band, 2x2)
Connections 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type C
Audio combo jack
Battery 33 Wh
Dimensions 278.8mm x 194.1mm x 6.8mm (10.98" x 7.64" x .27")
2.43 lb (1100 g) 
OS Windows 10 Home
Price $699 - Amazon.com

Click here to continue reading our review of the Huawei MateBook E!