AMD Baffin, Banks and Weston GPUs Spotted

AMD looks to be preparing things behind the scenes for their Radeon 400 series of GPUs. After a number of AMD GPUs have been spotted shipping out of Hong Kong and India, a number of new GPUs have shipped out of Canada where AMD has their Markham office with the telltale AMD labelling. Of course there is the flagship Polaris part, the Baffin XT but also the yet to be revealed Banks Pro and Weston[XT] and Weston Pro. Both Weston and Banks are northern islands in the Artic, right in line with the Northern Islands lineup for the 400 series.

Carrying the C981 label, Baffin XT is exactly what I suspected it to be, an R9 390X replacement part. This is because it carries a G5 moniker with 4GB of memory, pointing to either GDDR5X or GDDR5. The most likely configuration in my mind is GDDR5X with 256bit bus which should be enough considering AMD’s new delta colour compression techniques. The 4GB VRAM buffer does cast doubt though if it will be a Hawaii class chip, rather it may be a Tonga replacement.

Moving on we have two Weston hips, both based on the C729 die, with one being the XT and the other the Pro variant. The Banks is based off the C728 die instead but all three chips utilize GDDR5(X) and have 2GB’s worth. These 3 actually first appeared back in September 2015 and the C7xx moniker gives it away as either 28nm parts or pre-GCN 4. The 4500Mhz GDDR5 clock gives these cards away as either Oland or Cape Verde, probably making them rebrands for the budget segment. Either way, it looks like AMD will be making some major announcements at GDC next month.

A New Digital Currency In Development

Digital currencies have been gaining popularity in recent years due to the notion of a stateless payment method which is not influenced by any bank or country. This is perhaps why the big sharks are now starting to circulate around this notion of an online payment, as it’s been announced that Citibank has built its own digital currency based on Bitcoin and the blockchain.

According to Kenneth Moore, who is the head of Citigroup Innovations Lab, has stated that “we have up and running three separate systems within Citi now that actually deploy blockchain distributed ledger technologies. They are all within the labs just now so there is no real money passing through these systems yet, they are at a pre-production level.”

On paper this seems like a fantastic idea for funding and expertise to enter the Bitcoin field, the problem is however that if Citibank develop and release a currency, they will own it, and if they own it then the government will notice it, and if they notice it then this will fall under regulations which govern banks. If this happens, the currency will not be so free and more influenced. Only time will tell as to what will be the makeup of digital currencies in the next ten years or so. Just on a side note, it makes me wonder if the whole notion of “Online” is a dream for institutions seeking control. After all, people moved from real money to online money as a preference, if online money is influenced, where will people move to?

Thank You to IBT for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Miles Worker

Up to $900 Million Stolen Online in Biggest Bank Robbery Ever

In a 21st Century bank job, thieves don’t even need to step foot on the premises, let alone have a getaway car primed: all you need is a computer and the right software. According to a report from The New York Times, tech security firm Kaspersky has been tracking a monumental bank heist that could have netted thieves up to $900 million.

A group of unknown hackers from Russia, China, and Europe targeted a series of banks over a number of years with a bespoke sophisticated software program to siphon over $300 million from accounts. The banks in question have been made aware of the theft, but have chosen not to disclose them. Kaspersky suggests that over 100 banks could have been targeted, and that the total bounty could amount to a figure beyond $900 million.

Chris Doggett, Managing Director of Kaspersky North America, said, “This is likely the most sophisticated attack the world has seen to date in terms of the tactics and methods that cybercriminals have used to remain covert.”

Source: BGR

Apple Pay to Rumoured Launch in the UK in First Half of 2015

Apple Pay is said to be launching in the UK during the first half of next year according to The Telegraph. Banks are reportedly in discussions with Apple, with some questioning the use of users personal and financial information.

“It is understood the bank is uncomfortable with the amount of personal and financial information Apple wants to collect about its customers. Some executives fear Apple Pay and the data it delivers to Apple could serve as a beachhead for an invasion of the banking industry. 

Sources accepted no major bank will want to miss out on Apple Pay, however, as early signs from the United States suggest it may be the service to finally convince consumers to pay with mobile phones.”

Apple Pay has been met with great success in the US, with a significant number of high profile retailers and banks agreeing to take part in the service. Customers have welcomed it too, praising its ease of use and security.

Source: MacRumors

Barclays Announces Video Banking

Barclays has announced that from 8th December, a select number of its customers will be able to talk directly to banking staff at any time of day.

The service will allow customers to speak face-to-face with a Barclays staff member, possibly one they’ve spoken to before, about their account and other banking matters. Barclays is posting the service as a way to bring the in-store experience completely online.

“While many of our customers are increasingly using digital channels to complete routine transactions, for the important moments, you just can’t beat face-to-face conversations, yet traditional branch opening hours don’t always give customers that choice.” – Steven Cooper, Barclays CEO of Personal Banking.

Primer account customers will be able to take advantage of the new service first, while all customers will eventually receive access throughout next year.

Let’s hope they don’t get the same abuse Amazon’s Mayday service has encountered.

Source: BBC News

US Launch Their Largest Ever Hacking Fraud Case

Five men in Russia and Ukraine have been charged after it was found they were running an operation that allegedly stole more than 160 million credit and debit card numbers, including those from many major US companies that included Nasdaq, Visa, Dow Jones and JC Penney over a period of seven years, making this the largest ever hacking fraud case ever launched in the US.

US attorney for the District of New Jersey, Paul Fishman said that the case was “the largest ever hacking and data scheme breach in the United States”.

The scale of the case just gets more and more ridiculous as the damage done on just three of the corporate victims totals around $300m (£196m) in losses according to prosecutors. While other victims included the Heartland Payment Systems, French retailer Carrefour, Dexia Bank Belgium and 7-Eleven, so pretty much ever major company out there may have been stung on one level or another, as 160 million credit card and debit card numbers is a LOT of bank accounts to be compromised in a seven year period.

The defendants are known as Vladimir Drinkman, Aleksander Kalinin, Roman Kotov and Dmitriy Smilianets, all from Russia, and Mikhail Rytikov, a Ukrainian. All five have been charged with taking part in a computer hacking conspiracy to commit wire fraud, although given the vast scale of the evidence it doesn’t seem like they’ll have much trouble proving their case.

“This type of crime is the cutting edge,” said Mr Fishman. “Those who have the expertise and the inclination to break into our computer networks threaten our economic well-being, our privacy, and our national security.”

The team used techniques such as hacking SQL databases, uploading malware and phishing sites that could use “sniffer” software to find valuable personal data. The credit card details were sold for around $15 – $50 each according to prosecutors.

They were obviously good at what they did to get away with this for so long on such a massive scale, but it seems they got too greedy and the law caught up with their trail in the end.

Thank you BBC for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Telegraph.