US concerned Over Russian Activity Near Undersea Data Cables

Tensions between nations over Cyber warfare have increased dramatically over the last 5 years, from the US accusing China and Russia of systematically hacking into highly sensitive government systems through industrial means, to groups affiliated with IS and similar terrorist organisations who have cyber attacked various departments. Now, Washington is reportedly becoming concerned that Russia and its fleet of military submarines could in theory cut vital undersea cables that carry almost all global communications.

As yet there is no evidence to suggest Russia or any other country has attempted this, but, according to US intelligence, or lack of sometimes, who are monitoring a significant and increased “Russian activity along the known routes of the cables, which carry the lifeblood of global electronic communications and commerce”.

It was reported last month (Sep 2015) that a Russian spy ship “equipped with two self-propelled deep-sea submersible craft, cruised slowly off the East Coast of the United States on its way to Cuba — where one major cable lands near the American naval station at Guantanamo Bay”. US officials state this spy ship has the ability to launch submersible vehicles that in turn could cut data cables situated miles down in the sea.

The Pentagon is also concerned that Russia is attempting to hunt for cables at much greater depths than originally thought where such data lines are harder to both monitor and repair. The significance of these data cables is vast considering it has been estimated that they carry “global business worth more than $10 trillion dollars a day, including from financial institutions that settle transactions on them every second”

Is this all smoke and mirrors? Possibly, it’s difficult to know how much of this information is genuine and if so how much is actually being planned. If Russia succeeded in cutting vital cables then this would lead to a dramatic set of circumstances. One thing to bare in mind is that Putin quite likes the idea of censorship and could be looking at cutting Russia off from outside influences. What we do know is countries, for example Russia and China, have a vested interest in disrupting countries such as the US, but having said that, the US and others also have well-documented interests in intercepting gigantic amounts of data from other countries. It’s the same practice in a different pair of shoes, from both World Wars, the Cold War to modern-day cyber spying, countries want others data and will plot while both sides remain unsure of the final outcome.

Image source

CableMod Opens Direct Online EU Store for Modding Fans

Building a new PC system can be a very easy task if you don’t care much about how it looks in the end. But a lot of people do care and they want a perfect system where everything matches in colour and has the best possible setup with the components in use.

One thing that is boring and can destroy the looks of a great system are the default cables from your power supply. Adding sleeved and coloured cables to your setup can give it that final touch that lets you say, I’m happy with this build. It can also create envy among friends whose systems don’t look as great. Getting hold of professional-sleeved cables got a lot easier now for residents of the EU as CableMod just opened up their own online store that caters to just this market.

Initially, CableMod will be offering the newly announced Basic Cable Kits and more products will be added to shop when they become available in the near future. The first 12 available kits can be had for AXi/HXi/RM, G2/P2, PRO Series Black Edition, RMi/RMx, and XP2/XP3, KM3, FL2 models.

Have you sleeved your own cables in your system or bought a pre-sleeved kit like these? Or are you one of those satisfied with the default cables that came with your power supply? Let us know in the comments.

First Detailed Public Map of the U.S. Internet Infrastructure Released

The location of major cables has always been a secret, but now researchers hope that the knowledge of it will spark thoughts on how to keep it safe.

The Internet is a major part of people’s lives, in a forever changing world. It’s hard to think of as a whole entity yet it is possible to map the entire thing. Computer scientists at the University of Wisconsin have proved so by releasing the first map of the infrastructure that supports the heart of the US internet. It took Paul Barford and his colleagues four years to produce the map.

Barford told Smithsonianmag:

“The map shows the paths taken by the long-distance fiber-optic cables that carry Internet data across the continental U.S. The exact routes of those cables, which belong to major telecommunications companies such as AT&T and Level 3, have not been previously publicly viewable, despite the fact that they are effectively critical public infrastructure”

There may well be other maps in existence, yet none are in the public domain. Many attempts in the past have been deemed as illegal and a security risk. However, the map has been allowed because homeland security has made the map, the data being available to the public via a project dubbed as “Predict”

This is the map, the black lines are the cables. Red boxes represent where they connect to each other.

Thank you to smithsonianmag for providing us with this information. 

Pictures courtesy of virtuallyfromscratch 

NSA Surveillance Program Operating For a Very Long Time

NSA operations have been going on a long, long, long, long time, that is according to the latest revelations by both Edward Snowdon and also by a report from The Intercept, NSA/GCHQ’s top secret surveillance program “Project Echelon” has been spying on the US allies, enemies, and its citizens for last 50 years. It’s being called the first-ever automated global mass surveillance system.

A British investigative journalist by the name of Duncan Campbell wrote a magazine article in 1988 about the existence a surveillance program by the name of Echelon, which is essentially a giant and automated surveillance dragnet that indiscriminately intercepted phone and Internet data from communications satellites. This technique was a precursor to today’s tapping of undersea fibre optic cables by survey non-military targets; these include governments, organizations and businesses in virtually every corner of the world.

In 2000, the European Parliament appointed a committee to investigate the program which lead to the outcome of the same old “The NSA played by the rules” mantra. How do you sum these latest revelations up? A foreign affairs directorate special adviser managed it perfectly by concluding the following,

In the final analysis, the “pig rule” applied when dealing with this tacky matter: “Don’t wrestle in the mud with the pigs. They like it, and you both get dirty.”

If anyone attempts to challenge these practises then both parties will be slandered into oblivion, the only difference is, the good guy always looks worst. I am not surprised by these revelations because frankly, who the hell can be after so much has been leaked out. I also think there is now more than surveillance at stake, but the underpinning of democracy which is looking weaker by the day.

This is also where GCHQ and the NSA look stupid, if they are able to track everyone all of the time, how come the likes of Osama Bin Laden managed to hide for so long? How come there are many criminals, illegal activities and an escalation in gun violence in the US within a world which is perceived to be more under surveillance? After all, the perpetrator of the Charleston church shootings wrote a manifesto which was easily accessible online, if the words “It was obvious that George Zimmerman was in the right” does not look slightly psychopathic, then nothing will.

Thank You fossbytes and The Intercept for providing us with this information.

Cool Range of New Thermaltake Components @ Computex 2015

Computex 2015: Chassis, coolers and power supplies are all essential, but there’s so much more you can add to your build to enhance the style and functionality. Thermaltake know this and have revealed a range of cool products for your system. A selection of gorgeous sleeved PSU cables and colourful cable combs to help improve the overall style. There’s also a range of funky hard drive docks, in fact, they’re some of the best docks I’ve seen and now come with USB Type-C connectivity!

Their latest fan controllers look pretty cool too and are an idea match for the latest range of Thermaltake fans. We’ll bring you more information shortly, so stay tuned!

 

USA Intends to Provide Internet to Villages via Laser

According to US technology news website, TechnologyReview, several US communications carriers are going to pilot a technology which will see a laser beam internet up to speeds of 2 Gbps through the air – meaning underground cables don’t need to be laid. This advanced laser and millimeter wave technology is said to be a replacement for conventional fiber, utilized in situations where the population is sparsely populated – including remote US towns and African Villages.

Why not mobile technology? The reports claim that although mobile technology is generally a good alternative, cables will still need to be run to telephone towers tracing to the ‘internet backbone’  – providing a huge cost for manufacturers. This new laser and millimeter technology will allow these US communications carriers to beam a data transmission at a distance of up to 10 kilometers without the need to dig trenches or erect towers. The first countries to be testing this technology are the United States, Mexico, Nigeria and some parts of Africa.

AOptix is the original inventor of this capability, claiming that they believe laser communications will provide an ideal alternative to optical fiber – once again due to the costing nature of laying cables. Data shows that in New York City, the cost of laying just one kilometer of fiber optic cable can cost up to $800,000.

This isn’t a simple point a to point b device either. AOptix claims that you can set up multiple devices to be set as a relay, allowing for 10km worth of transmission to take place per unit. There are a few possible issues with this technology that they haven’t covered in their releases however. How much do these units cost and do they need line-of-sight?

The announcement of this new technology also could have military use, but we’re very interested to know if it needs direct line-of-sight to function.

Image courtesy of Chiphell

Chicago to Install New Cable That Can Prevent Power Outages

Nobody likes a power cut, they’re annoying and can cause a heck of a lot of problems in a major city such as Chicago. They can be caused by a whole number of factors, extreme storms, terrorism, faulty cables or human error just to name a few. There hasn’t been a solution of preventing power outages before and now the Obama administration wants to strengthen electricity infrastructures everywhere.  So as a result of this, Commonwealth Edison is soon to be laying down a superconductive cable system parallel to the current cable system that’s already underneath Chicago’s business center, the Loop.

The new cable is capable of carrying 10 times the amount of power than the current cables which is a huge benefit. Using these wires will enable the middlemen between the power plants and customers to redirect electricity around Chicago and the Loop if a substation has gone down, pretty cool right?

This particular project was funded with $60 million from the Department of Homeland Security, although the total cost will be much higher. The makers of the cable, American Superconductor, are also in negotiations with two more utilities.

Thanks to The Verge for supplying us with this information.

Images courtesy of Time.

No More Tangled Headphones as Physicist Unravels His ‘String Theory’

There are a number of things in life that are simply frustrating – traffic jams, paperwork and queues are just some, but high up on the frustration list for many is that simple act of tangled headphones. No matter how hard you tr, carefully wrapping up your headphones before placing them in your bag or pocket, somehow they manage to unwrap themselves and play a game of twister when out of sight so that when you next get them out, you have to spend five minutes trying to intricately undo the mass of knots that have miraculously appeared.

‘Tangle-free’ headphones have been around for a little while now and to be honest I think they’re just marketing junk as those cables still feel the need to wrap themselves around each other, leading you to the point at which you want to scream. This age-old problem however is no more as Robert Matthews, a physicist at the Aston University in Birmingham has unravelled this mystery and come up with a drop dead simple solution that appears to put an end to tangled headphones. Yes, that’s right, science and universities have come to the rescue once again for a solution to a trivial conundrum.

The solution comes with two simple steps. The first of these is to ensure the two ear buds are clipped together (this is where that random bit of rubber around your headphones comes into play) after which you clip the buds and the jack together as seen above, with the intention that holding them together stops the cable from threading through itself and creating the knots.

Matthews says

‘The study explains why your headphone cable mysteriously turns into one big jumbled mess while it’s in your bag or pocket. We’ve also struck upon an easy solution – simply clipping together the two ends of the cords makes the cable less likely to form a knot – saving the frustration of having to untangle it before plugging in. This was all about using hard science to tackle an everyday issue.

It was great to see how enthusiastic school students were to get to grips with the surprisingly complex science behind the phenomenon, and carry out experiments to study the effect and identify the solution.’

If you don’t quite believe that this simple ‘trick’ works, I’ve tried it with a couple of pairs of headphones myself and even when trying to mess the cable up in my hands, everything just falls out with no knots, tangles or swearing-in sight. Matthews may have just created the antidote to traumatic tangled cables syndrome.

Source and image courtesy: Daily Mail

Silverstone PP07 Sleeved PSU Extension/Adapter Cables Review

While I’m sure many of you love our big, in-depth technical reviews of hardcore graphics cards, extreme cooling solutions, gaming systems and more, I personally think it’s great to slow down and take a look at some of the finer details of system building, the finishing touches and the visual treats that can really complete your system. The Silverstone PP07 cables are just one of those type of components and if you love to get a clean-looking finish on your system, while also adding some practicality of extending your PSU cables then these could be the ideal product for you.

Silverstone have a great reputation for aftermarket solutions with their power supplies and cooling products and the PP07 are just the latest edition to their collection and I would expect they carry the same high level of quality that can be found across the entire Silverstone product range.

The cables are all sold separately and as you can see they each come in individual clear packets. There are more cables in the range, but we feel this is about all we really need for you day to day build and to get a general feel for the quality of the cables themselves.

First up we have the PP07-MBB 24pin motherboard cable. It’s worth pointing out all cables are female to male connections intended to be extensions, not replacement cables. The cable has a glossy black sleeving and as you can see it’s cables are individually braided giving a sleek premium effect but also making the cable easy to manipulate.

Next up we have the PP07-PCIB PCI-E 8pin to 8pin (6+2) cable, perfect for hooking up a graphics card and the 6+2 pin format makes is widely compatible with the bulk of GPU’s on the market today, just keep in mind that you will likely need more than one of these cables per GPU as many graphics cards these days feature a 6+6 / 6+8 / 8+8 power configuration.

The PP07-IDE6B is a straight forward 6pin to 6pin PCI-E cable, similar to the one above, but obviously more specific in that it only works on 6pin connections.

The PP07-BTSB is a SATA connection that takes 1 x 4pin MOLEX and gives you 4 x SATA power connections, extremely handy for cutting down on excess cables inside the chassis by converting a single power cable to run four HDDs or similar SATA powered devices.

Finally we have the PP07-EPS8B 8pin to 8pin (4+4) EPS12V motherboard cable, which should be compatible with the bulk other consumer motherboards thanks to the 4 + 4 pin design, typically we find that lower performance boards or smaller boards such as M-ITX feature only 4 pins, while many desktop solutions need 8pins, so it’s handy that this cable caters to both.

Performance

I’ve been using these cables as a complete set, sometimes just a few of them and other times the complete set for out chassis reviews here at eTeknix over the last two months, over that time I have had a lot of experience bending, flexing and generally giving these cables a hard time as I strive to get clean-looking builds for the review photos.

One thing I have noticed is that compared to some other extension cables I’ve used, the Silverstone cables are really stiff, this isn’t a bad thing, but it makes them handle very different to the often soft flex of other brands. This also means that they feel very durable and that is no bad thing, but it also makes them possitionable and much like a stiff pipe cleaner they can be bent to an angle of your desire and will typically stay bent. The cables are quite glossy and this gives them a nice premium look compared to the mostly matt finish or softer look of many other extension cables.

Final Thoughts

Of course there isn’t really a whole lot to say about this product, it has a simple task to complete in offering an extension to your current PSU cables and that is exactly what it does. There are many reasons why you may want to do such a thing, given that some older PSU designs have shorter cables, or at least cables that are too short for some of the larger full-tower chassis now that power supplies are often mounted in the bottom of a chassis meaning the 12v cable may not reach the top of the motherboard. There are also many visual reasons to add pro cables, as the effect of sleek black cables can really make or break the design of a build, especially those who favour modding their systems or having a side panel window to show off their components.

Silverstone are well-known for their high quality designs and build quality and these cables don’t disappoint on both those aspects, they’re really well made, they feel durable, they haven’t suffered any damage in the two months I’ve been using them even though I take them in and out of systems on a regular basis and I certainly intend to keep on using them for the forseeable future alongside several other pro cable kits that I use on a day to day basis.

If you want high quality cable extensions that look great, then you can’t go wrong with the Silverstone PP07 extensions, overall a very simple but effective product.

Thank you Silverstone for providing us with this sample.