‘Dronejacking’ may be the next big cyber threat

Next targets: Companies like Amazon, DHL and UPS are expected to use drones for package deliveries – becoming potential targets for criminals, the report said. — Deutsche Post/DHL

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WASHINGTON: A big rise in drone use is likely to lead to a new wave of “dronejackings” by cybercriminals, security experts warned.

A report by Intel’s McAfee Labs said hackers are expected to start targeting drones used for deliveries, law enforcement or camera crews, in addition to hobbyists.

”Drones are well on the way to becoming a major tool for shippers, law enforcement agencies, photographers, farmers, the news media, and more,” said Intel Security’s Bruce Snell, in the company’s annual threat report.

Snell said the concept of dronejacking was demonstrated at a security conference last year, where researchers showed how someone could easily take control of a toy drone.

”Although taking over a kid’s drone may seem amusing and not that big of an issue, once we look at the increase in drone usage potential problems starts to arise,” he said.

The report noted that many consumer drones lack adequate security, which makes it easy for an outside hacker to take control.

Companies like Amazon and UPS are expected to use drones for package deliveries – becoming potential targets for criminals, the report said.

”Someone looking to ‘dronejack’ deliveries could find a location with regular drone traffic and wait for the targets to appear,” the report said.

”Once a package delivery drone is overhead, the drone could be sent to the ground, allowing the criminal to steal the package.”

The researchers said criminals may also look to steal expensive photographic equipment carried by drones, to knock out surveillance cameras used by law enforcement.

Intel said it expects to see dronejacking “toolkits” traded on “dark web” marketplaces in 2017.

”Once these toolkits start making the rounds, it is just a matter of time before we see stories of hijacked drones showing up in the evening news,” the report said.

Other predictions in the report included a decrease in so-called “ransomware” attacks as defences improve, but a rise in mobile attacks that enable cyber thieves to steal bank account or credit card information.

The report also noted that cybercriminals will begin using more sophisticated artificial intelligence or “machine learning” techniques and employ fake online ads. — AFP

Source: The Star Online

Asia-Pacific Gateway 54Tbps subsea cable completes construction

NEC has announced the completion of the Asia-Pacific Gateway (APG) subsea cable between China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore, which provides capacity of more than 54 terabits per second.

The APG fibre-optic submarine cable — owned by a consortium of telecommunications carriers including China’s China Telecom, China Unicom, and China Mobile; Japan’s NTT Communications; South Korea’s KT Corporation and LG Uplus; Singapore’s StarHub; Taiwan’s Chunghwa Telecom; Thailand’s CAT; Malaysia’s Global Transit Communications; and Vietnam’s Viettel and VNPT — stretches 10,900km across the region.

“NEC is honoured to have been selected as the supplier for APG,” Shunichiro Tejima, executive vice president and head of the Telecom Carrier Business Unit at NEC, said.

“We hope to see our partnership with the consortium further enhanced through NEC’s ability to provide real-time technical support for the operation and maintenance of this advanced submarine cable.”

Back in 2012, Facebook also invested an undisclosed amount into the APG in order to “help support our growth in South Asia, making it possible for us to provide a better user experience for a greater number of Facebook users in countries like India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Singapore”.

Telecommunications carriers and consortiums are racing to build out subsea cable capacity across the Asia-Pacific region, driven by the rapid increase in data usage globally.

Australia’s incumbent telco Telstra acquired a 36,000km cable network system connecting China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the Philippines as part of purchasing Pacnet for $697 million in December 2014, and is also involved in a number of submarine cable projects: In May, it announced the Bay of Bengal Gateway (BBG) 8,000km 100Gbps submarine cable system, made up of three fibre pairs, which will connect Singapore, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.

Telstra, Singaporean telco Singtel, and Australian company SubPartners in March also entered a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to construct a high-capacity Perth-to-Singapore subsea cable. The cable, named APX-West, will be 4,500km long, with two fibre pairs providing a minimum of 10Tbps capacity each pair and two-way data transmission, expected to be complete by 2018.

In September, Nextgen and Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks activated the $139 million North West Cable System (NWCS), now owned by Vocus Communications, a 2,100km fibre-optic submarine cable between Darwin and Port Headland.

The Australia-Singapore Cable (ASC) project, also acquired by Vocus after originally being a AU$170 million 50-50 joint-venture deal between Vocus and Nextgen, involves constructing a 100Gbps 4,600km subsea cable connecting Perth to Singapore and Indonesia.

The AU$400 million Trident subsea cable, backed by Beijing Construction and Engineering Group with the support of the China Development Bank, will connect the west coast of Australia with Singapore via Indonesia, and is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2018. It has a bandwidth of 28Tbps utilising 100Gbps coherent dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) technology, which is upgradeable to 400Gbps.

In April, the 14,000km 30Tbps capacity Hawaiki Submarine Cable connecting Australia and New Zealand to Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States also commenced construction, with an expected completion date of mid-2018.

The “FASTER” 10,000km subsea cable system connecting Japan with the west coast of the United States, consisting of six fibre pairs and making use of 10Gbps wave technology, is also being built, as is the Southern Cross Cable Network between California and Sydney.

Source: ZDNet

Waze just got a ‘lot’ better

What a waste: Drivers waste up to 55 hours a year looking for somewhere to park their car. — AFP Relaxnews

What a waste: Drivers waste up to 55 hours a year looking for somewhere to park their car. — AFP Relaxnews

Popular navigation app Waze is teaming up with INRIX to take the stress out of finding a parking lot a lot closer to your final destination.

It doesn’t matter how good the active safety and assistance features are on current cars if you can’t take advantage of them. A host of 2016 model-year vehicles can park themselves in a parallel or perpendicular space while simultaneously keeping an electronic eye out for on-coming traffic.

However, if you can’t find a parking space in the first place, the systems are redundant. And according to the latest Frost and Sullivan data, the average driver is currently wasting 55 hours a year looking for a parking space and that equates to a staggering US$600mil (RM2.48bil) in lost time and burned fuel in the US and Europe.

Waze already offers a list of parking lots sourced from its user community but by partnering with INRIX the app will now have a comprehensive list of facilities throughout Europe and North America.

“Driving from point A to B is only part of the journey,” said Alex Israel, vice president and general manager of parking at INRIX. “The addition of INRIX Parking enhances Wazers’ end-to-end driving experience.”

INRIX is one of the world leaders in connecting cars and is leveraging that information for insights on everything from congestion to parking. Its technology is appearing as standard in a host of carmakers’ ranges, from BMW to Volvo.

This initial coming together will only provide Waze users with navigation to car parks closest to their destination, but INRIX also has dynamic solutions that offer real-time information about pricing and use – i.e., how many spaces are available at a facility – plus algorithms that can calculate which on-street parking areas are the most and least likely to be in use.

“Driving around looking for spots impacts arrival times and adds unneeded frustration and stress to the entire driving experience,” said Flavia Sasaki Siqueira, Head of Business Development for Waze.

“Combining INRIX parking information with our own parking database expands reach and accuracy of the ‘where to park’ feature.” — AFP Relaxnews

Source: The Star Online

Xiaomi announces its first VR headset


Xiaomi is broadening its already expansive range of products by venturing into virtual reality for the first time.

The company today announced the Mi VR Play, an “entry-level” virtual reality headset that it hopes can open this new exciting medium to new audiences because not everyone has thousands of dollars needed to set up an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. Democratizing technology is the thesis behind most of Xiaomi’s competitively priced products, including the $550/$750 notebook announced last week that will rival Apple’s Macbook in China.

This new device recalls Google’s super-cheap and super-simple Cardboard VR headset. It is fairly basic in nature; you pop a smartphone into the lycra-built body then open Xiaomi’s Mi VR app, which contains VR content from selected partners that include Conde Nast Traveler and YouKu, “China’s YouTube.” Xiaomi pledged to invest $1 billion in video content, including VR, last year, so that library is sure to get bigger over time.

Read more: TechCrunch

‘Nougat’ – New version of Android crowned

Newest sweet treat: Google shared the event in a Twitter message tagged #AndroidNougat and containing a looped snippet of video of the undraping of an Android statue standing atop giant nougat and nut bars. — Google

Newest sweet treat: Google shared the event in a Twitter message tagged #AndroidNougat and containing a looped snippet of video of the undraping of an Android statue standing atop giant nougat and nut bars. — Google

SAN FRANCISCO: Google’s newest mobile operating system will be called Nougat, continuing a tradition of naming Android software after sweet treats, the tech giant said.

Google had invited people to send in suggestions at its annual developers conference in May, and revealed the winning Android name at a playful ceremony at its campus in the Silicon Valley city of Mountain View.

Nutella was thought to be a favourite, but Nougat won the day.

Google shared the event in a Twitter message tagged #AndroidNougat and containing a looped snippet of video of the undraping of an Android statue standing atop giant nougat and nut bars.

The technology giant has been letting developers work with the new mobile operating system, which is expected to be released later this year.

Alphabet-owned Google’s Android operating software is a computing phenomenon that powers the vast majority of smartphones sold across the world.

There were 1.16 billion smartphones shipped in 2015 that are powered by Android, according to research group Gartner. That accounted for 82% of the market, dwarfing the 225.85 million for Apple’s iOS.

Cupcake, the first version of the operating software to carry the name of an enticing desert, was released in 2009.

It was followed by Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, KitKat, Lollipop and current-generation Marshmallow. — AFP

Source: The Star Online

Apple invests $1B in China’s largest taxi app

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Apple made the bombshell announcement today that it has invested $1 billion in China’s top ride hailing app. Didi Chuxing (formerly called Didi Kuaidi) is often described in U.S. media as Uber’s Chinese rival, but it already dominates the market by far. The company claims it fulfilled one billion rides last year and holds 87 percent of the country’s private ride-hailing market.

In an interview with Reuters, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “We are making the investment for a number of strategic reasons, including a chance to learn more about certain segments of the China market. Of course, we believe it will deliver a strong return for our invested capital as well.”

Didi Chuxing told Reuters that this is its single largest round of funding so far. It claims to currently complete more than 11 million rides a day and have over 14 million drivers on its platform. The company’s other major investors include Tencent and Alibaba, two of China’s largest Internet companies, and SoftBank.

According to a WSJ report from February, the company was then in the process of finalizing a round for $1 billion at a valuation of $20 billion. A Didi Chuxing representative said Apple’s investment is part of the same round, but declined to confirm the valuation. TechCrunch has also emailed Apple for more information.

In a press release, Didi Chuxing founder and CEO Cheng Wei said, “The endorsement from Apple is an enormous encouragement and inspiration for our four-year-old company. DiDi will work hard with our drivers, riders and global partners, to make available to every citizen flexible and reliable mobility choices, and help cities solve transportation, environmental and employment challenges.”

China is on its way to becoming Apple’s biggest iPhone market, but the company has faced a few recent setbacks there. After years of giving it a relatively free rein for a U.S. tech company, the Chinese government ordered the closure of iBooks Store and iTunes and Movies just six months after the services launched in China.

Furthermore, while Apple’s sales in China are still growing, it’s at a much slower rate than before as the Chinese economy becomes sluggish and the smartphone market in general faces less demand. Concerns about Apple’s reliance on China prompted activist shareholder Carl Icahn to sell his entire stake in the company earlier this year.

Investing in Didi Chuxing allows Apple to grab a foothold in the Chinese tech market that reaches beyond iPhones—and also gives it a new platform for its other technology. For example, if Didi Chuxing uses CarPlay, that gives Apple another outlet to sell software services in China beside the iPhone, as well as valuable data to tailor apps and maps for Chinese users. Didi Chuxing is also a major potential customer once Apple’s self-driving car comes to fruition.

Source: TechCrunch