Has Facebook Suffered From a 46 Year Old Bug?

Facebook is certainly a phenomenon which has travelled to huge swathes of the globe and, in turn, gained huge adoption. From celebrities being able to instantly update followers regarding their latest escapades to Mr and Mrs Blogs posting various life events, including cat pictures, the tech giant has certainly been a force. But! Did you know Facebook has been around for 46 years?  Well, a new bug has been unearthed congratulating many users on reaching the milestone of “46 years of friendship on Facebook”.

As you would expect, this is slightly odd considering the social network has not even been around for 15 years, below is an image to illustrate the notification which many confused users have received.  So, what is going on?  Facebook has not disclosed the exact cause of the bug but has released the following statement.

We’ve identified this bug and the team’s fixing it now so everyone can ring in 2016 feeling young again.

There is speculation that the bug originates from Unix, let me explain, the aforementioned Unix “underlines many of the world’s servers and it keeps time by counting up from zero at one-second intervals from the date with which the clock began, this is also known as the epoch.  Therefore, this conveniently happens to be January 1st, 1970 at midnight Greenwich Mean Time, or 46 years ago today going by Eastern Standard Time.  Every second from that point on is known as epoch time and thus is why some gadgets may in theory switch to December 31st, 1969.

Has Facebook suffered from its very own Y2K or millennium bug?  If it has then it’s been very small considering it has been subsequently rectified at speed.  On a side note, even users who are significantly under 46 years of age have also seen this message, perhaps someone at Facebook has been on the New Year drink too soon.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III’s Engine is GPU Bound And Supports SLI on Launch

Call of Duty: Black Ops III’s release is less than 24 hours away and players have begun to pre-load the game. As with any last minute pre-order, it’s important to adopt a skeptical attitude and research the performance from first hand accounts. Unfortunately, due to embargoes, key information is usually kept secretive and it’s difficult to make a decision as an informed consumer. In an ideal world, people shouldn’t pre-order video games but this isn’t a realistic notion given the huge array of pre-order incentives and heavy marketing policy.

In the case of COD: Black Ops III, the developer has been surprisingly transparent regarding the game’s features and answered a number of key concerns. Firstly, the game will support SLI and ultra high resolutions:

Additionally, the engine is more GPU bound which means the CPU overhead should be reduced. Although, this doesn’t mean there won’t be a CPU bottleneck on older chips. In most cases, the performance drop on should be minimal if you’re running a relatively modern CPU from the last 5 years.

Sadly, it seems AMD users will have to wait for a driver update to properly utilize crossfire configurations:

Other notable features include mod support, user-created maps, dedicated servers and reduced mouse lag. When combined, this seems like a fantastic PC release which is surprising given Call of Duty’s history. However, only time will tell if this works properly throughout the game’s user-base.

The Privacy Question Of Windows 10

Windows 10 is out as of today (Wednesday 29th July 2015) and on the surface is a major improvement over the much maligned Windows 8. This should be excellent news for consumers, which it is to a large extent, but what is lurking under the hood in terms of privacy?

Well, according to the Windows 10 piracy and service agreement (even word knows where I am going with this as I typed privacy and this was changed to piracy) There are a few settings which you might want to take note of.

Data Sync

Firstly, Microsoft has implemented “Data Syncing” by default, this means when you sign in with your Windows account, the operating system immediately syncs settings and data to the companies servers. This includes your browser history, favourites and the websites you currently have open as well as saved app, website and mobile hotspot passwords and Wi-Fi network names and passwords.

You can opt out of this if you look under “settings” but just to be clear, you are already opted in to Data Sync unless you decide that you would rather not have your history on Microsoft’s servers.

Information Cortana shares

Like the idea of voice assistant “Cortana” you might also like to know what data is also shared within this feature, which includes information such as your device location, data from calendars, the apps you use, data from emails and texts, who you call, your contacts, how often you use your device (takes in a deep breath) What music you like, alarm settings, if you have the lock screen on, what you view and purchase, your voice input as well as nicknames, names of people and appointments, whether or not you’re building an underground lair aaannnndddd how often you interact with them on your device. Granted Cortana is designed to “learn” from analysing information, a lot of information as it turns out.

Microsoft’s encryption and collection of data

The terms and conditions also state that Microsoft will collect app use data for apps that run on Windows’ and ‘data about the networks you connect to” Windows 10 will also generate a unique advertising ID for each user on each device, this can and probably will be used by developers and ad networks to profile you. You can turn advertising profiling off in the settings, which might be worth a look.

Like the idea of encrypting your drive? It might be worth mentioning that your BitLocker recovery key will be backed up to your OneDrive account.

Disclosing data

Now for the killer privacy lacking feature, the following is what Microsoft defines as to who they might disclose your data to.

“We will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to protect our customers or enforce the terms governing the use of the services”

This is not clear when the criteria would be met and who they might disclose private data in folders to. Behind the glossy façade lays at the very least a few questionable policies which might infringe on basic liberties. If you’re using Windows 10, I would have another look at the settings to see what can be turned off, that is unless you’re happy with Microsoft’s new arrangements with its customers.

Thank You thenextweb, Microsoft Privacy and service agreement

Image courtesy of christianpost

Facebook Planning New Eco Data Centre?

Facebook is famed for its social networking, interactive features and breaking news, but along with these features comes the expansive data which Facebook processes each year at its four sizeable facilities which are located Iowa; Prineville, Oregon; Forest City, North Carolina; and Luleå, Sweden.

Facebook has deemed that it also needs a new facility with which to add to its collection and is planning to construct one which boosts its eco credentials. The centre in question is being built-in Forth Worth Texas and is estimated to cost $500 million dollars over a 110 acre site. To stand by its eco claims, Facebook is intending to entirely power its centre with 200 megawatt wind project which is being built on a nearby 17,000-acre site in nearby Clay County.

As you can see from the image below, the centre looks as if the designer looked at the alphabet and thought H will do. This latest project is a wider attempt at decreasing the environmental impact of Facebook’s carbon footprint according to Jay Parikh who is vice president of engineering. He also stated that the company aims to power its data centres with 50 percent renewable energy by the end of 2018.

This step by Facebook is part of a wider issue which could be a problem for the world in a generation, as more services are moved online, so is the need for servers, infrastructure and electricity which could have a major impact on the world. Eco is certainly the way to go but can only be fully implemented by high earning companies at present.  You can be also sure that when Facebook collects your data, it’s not harming the planet in any way.

Thank You Computerworld for providing us with this information

Image Courtesy of Computerworld and budillionaire

Rocket League – Killing Servers and Overheating Consoles!

Only good things happen when the sport of football is combined with racing within a PS4 game, the game Rocket league was updated with new monthly PS Plus update which sounds good for fans until the moment your console overheats along with the game servers.

Fans of this hybrid began to get stuck into the game so much so that a few hours later players were ejected from the battle. According to the developers, the servers suffered a “hug of death”. This is a technical term known as witticism. The update also caused the menu screen to work the PS4 so hard that the fans went into overdrive and shut many players’ consoles down.

A fan on Reddit summed it up with this post “Hello. This game just melted my PS4. It made the console to go on extreme temperatures even when not actually playing, but just browsing menus. Fan begged mercy until whole system crashed. This game isn’t clearly optimized for PS4 yet. Just a word of warning for fellow players”

As of writing this problem seems to be persisting but the dev team are working to improve the service of the game, until then, if you are a Rocket League player then make sure it does not blow your PS4 up.

Thank You The Games Cabin for providing us with this information

Image Courtesy of vg247.it

U.S. Navy Doesn’t Trust Lenovo With Their Weapon Systems

You don’t trust anyone with the control of your weapon systems and it looks like the U.S. Navy isn’t too pleased with Lenovo’s recent purchase of the IBM Server division.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Navy is looking at dropping the IBM servers from some weapon systems after the company’s server line was purchased by Lenovo Group Ltd, a Chinese company.

The last years headlines have shown more than once that security and threats don’t just come from software, but that hardware is an equal access point. With something as crucial as weapon systems, one can understand that the Navy wants to be on the safe side.

On the other hand, more and more reminders of us the cold war era. Russia developing their own CPUs because they don’t trust the west, the U.S. placing trade restriction on China forbidding the sale of the most powerful supercomputers to them, and now this story.

Lenovo spokesman Ray Gorman said that the company generally declined to comment on customer contracts and as such didn’t have anything else to say to this particular case and instead pointed the finger in the direction of the Ministry of Finance.

Lenovo paid a price of $ 2.1 billion when they bought IBM’s low-end x86 server business last year.

Microtronica Now Offering Gigabyte Server Solutions

German server specialist Microtronica has today announced a new distribution agreement across Western Europe with Gigabyte Technology Co., Ltd., a worldwide leader in motherboard design and high performance server hardware.

Microtronica enriches its server portfolio with unique products provided by this innovation-driven solution manufacturer, ranging from server and workstation motherboards to various formats of rackmount systems.

“We’re excited to give our customers more choice when they obtain hardware based on various technologies such as general purpose GPUs, Intel and alternative CPU vendors, as well as storage-specific designs ranging from SMB up to data center- specific appliances.”, says Doede Douma, general manager, Microtronica EMEA. “With a broad selection of field-proven, high performance products from an industry leader, our expanded portfolio will allow us to better serve the needs of today’s cloud service providers and virtualized data centers.”

Thomas Yen, EMEA sales director Gigabyte, says: “Microtronica is our first pan-European distributor for server products, which tells a great deal about how important they are to us. We are really excited to work with their extended regional network, and we are therefore fully committed to support their business.”

Microtronica is an IT components distributor, addressing system integrators, IT resellers and PC and Server manufacturers. Its portfolio includes desktop PC, server, network, and mobility components. Microtronica is a division of Arrow Electronics, based in Centennial, Colorado.

Netflix Soon to Secure Video Streams via HTTPS

The video streaming giant, Netflix will soon be using the HTTPS protocol to encrypt its customer streams. A great plan that helps ensure that what they watch stays secret. This change will leave Amazon as one of the largest encrypted sites.

Turning on HTTPS on Netflix’s vast network of servers has been an impressive feat by the Netflix tech teams; This was because the demands of implementing TLS are rather severe in comparison to standard HTTP.

Each Netflix server has a 64bit Intel Xeon processor and runs the FreeBSD operating system. A single server can store up to 120 terabytes of data and can server up to 40,000 long length connections. This means the server can use up to 40 gigabits per second of bandwidth.

Netflix attempted to change this six months ago. They changed several dedicated servers to use the TLS protocol to a select set of end users. They compared the performance results with a similar range of end users and the same amount of dedicated servers and saw as much as a 53% capacity hit. The end result of the test finding that this was because of the extra power that encryption requires. The change meant that some of the streaming optimizations were lost.

On Wednesday the director of streaming standards, Mark Watson announced that it was ready to begin rolling out HTTPS for both the website and the content itself. Browser tests will be at scale in the next three months and the full website should be complete in the next coming year.

The performance impact has been restricted due to some TLS optimizations that the Netflix engineers crafted for high performance FreeBSD applications.

Netflix’s entry into the HTTPS world comes as security advocates have been calling on all websites to encrypt their traffic. The force behind these requests is that if HTTPS is used then it can stop state sponsored attacks that countries such as the US and China launch from the internet backbone.

Thank you to The Register for this information

Pro-ISIS Hackers Take Down French TV Station

TV5Monde, a French TV station that broadcasts around the world, was attacked by ISIS and taken down for around three hours before it could get its stations broadcasting again.

The reports indicate that the stations Facebook page and website were also taken down by the attackers, having network director Yves Bigot stating that the station’s operations were “severely damaged”. However, TV5Monde’s broadcasting, Facebook page and website are now back online.

A similar attack was also registered in the US and like the latter, the jihadist group used the site to issue threats against French soldiers and reveal the identity of their relatives.

France is said to provide air support for anti-ISIS ground forces that recently liberated the Iraqi city of Tikrit, and declared that ISIS must be “wiped out” after the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

The methods used to hack TV5Monde are not clear just yet, but it is confirmed that the attack was issued by the same “Islamic State Hacking Division” who took credit for US military base attacks.

The conclusion was drawn based on the fact that the hackers ‘introduced’ themselves as the “CyberCaliphate” on TV5Monde’s Facebook page.

Thank you Endgadget for providing us with this information

Intelligence Agencies Point to Russian Involvement in Recent White House Hacking

The recent White House power outage has turned into being something more than that. CNN reports that US officials have admitted that the White House’s network has been hacked in the process, but the affected computers were part of a non-classified network serving the executive office.

Still, the attackers were able to access sensitive information, such as the president’s real-time daily schedule. CNN also reports that the attackers used an account on the State Department network to phish their way into the White House.

“We’re constantly updating our security measures on our unclassified system but we’re frankly told to act as if we need not put information that’s sensitive on that system. In other words, if you’re going to do something classified, you have to do it on one email system, one phone system.” Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security adviser, told CNN.

The Secret Service and Intelligence Agencies are already investigating the matter, but it looks like clues point to Russia being behind the attack, or at least the hackers originate from the aforementioned country.

The attackers are said to have covered their tracks by routing their activity through a lot of servers throughout the world.

Thank you Endgadget for providing us with this information

Chinese Ministry of Commerce Approves Lenovo’s IBM x86 Unit Acquisition

The Chinese government has approved Lenovo’s acquisition of IBM’s x86 low-end server unit, with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce recently giving Lenovo its blessing.

The United States government is still investigating the $2.3 billion (£1.3 billion) acquisition, though will likely approve it.  Lenovo hopes to complete the deal by the end of 2014, giving it time to begin rolling out servers to businesses.  The IBM brand should continue alongside the LenovoEMC network storage devices and other similar products.

Lenovo is the No. 1 global PC manufacturer, but has struggled to keep up with Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and other server manufacturers.  If the deal is approved, however, it’s possible U.S. federal departments and the military will shy away from Lenovo products.

It appears the US government wants to just torment the Chinese government as both sides go back and forth regarding cyberespionage and spying antics.  The US and other western nations spent years calling out Beijing for its organized cyberattacks and intellectual property theft – but was left with egg on its face after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed mass surveillance abuses.

Meanwhile, Lenovo has greatly expanded its product portfolio, becoming extremely popular among consumers and in the workplace.  In the consumer market, expect a bigger western push of tablets and smartphones – while the company also pushes its retail partners and value-added resellers (VARs) to promote Lenovo servers for companies.

Thank you to TechRadar for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Business Insider

Lenovo’s Server Purchase of IBM in Limbo Due to Security Concerns

The U.S. government is studying the proposed sale of IBM’s low-end server offer to Chinese PC manufacturer Lenovo, concerned of possible national security problems.

Earlier in the year, both companies announced the $1.75B (£1.03B) deal, but there were concerns among U.S. legislators.  Both the Committee on Foreign Investment members and U.S. security officials have concerns that x86 servers used in server rooms could give Chinese spies access to data.

The deal will likely be approved, but there are growing political concerns between Washington and Beijing over spying concerns.

Both IBM and Lenovo are speaking with U.S. legislators to get the deal finalized and approved by regulators.  Company officials from IBM and Lenovo re-filed an approval application, hoping to get more time for an in-depth investigation.

IBM will offer server maintenance “for an extended period” once the deal is completed, which should help ease concerns.

Lenovo, the No. 1 global PC manufacturer, faced similar concerns when the company purchased the PC business from IBM in 2005.  However, Lenovo PCs were later banned from U.S. military and State Department classified networks because of security problems.

Thank you to the Wall Street Journal for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Breakfast News

Long Live Halo CE! New Servers Set To Replace GameSpy

Good news everyone! Despite the impending closure of the long-running GameSpy servers, the Halo: Combat Evolved community as well as the development team at Bungie have taken steps to keep their classic FPS up and running. The game may have seen better days, but it still has a lot of fans, it’s online multiplayer is still great fun and the modding community is far from done with it.

A new patch will see the game switch to a new master server which will be hosted by Bungie as well as fixing a few in game bugs to make sure the game keeps running smoothly in the future.

This is pretty awesome of them, especially given that the company no longer makes money from the title and it’s a great way of showing they still care about the fan base they worked so hard to accumulate.

Check out the full press release below.

Bungie is pleased to present a new update to Halo PC (and Custom Edition). The patches and dedicated servers are linked below. In a couple days once more servers have come online, the auto-update notice will be displayed in game.

As you might have heard, the Gamespy service that has provided our server list these 11 years is shutting down at the end of the month, and prior versions of the game will no longer be able to browse for internet multiplayer games. Community member btcc22 has valiantly written a new server-browser application for Bungie to host and support in-game via this patch.

This update also contains a number of other small bugfixes, mostly relating to security or compatibility with newer hardware. Big thanks to community members Technut and kornman00, and btcc22 again, for helping to catalog and investigate these problems, making the job of fixing them much easier, and to the community who has helped test the patches.

Bungie believes in creating lasting social experiences, and while we’re all enormously excited for the upcoming release of Destiny and hope you’ll join us for that ride, we’re also gratified by the ongoing enthusiasm for the original Halo, and glad to be able to help keep a good thing going.

Roger Wolfson
Online Services Engineering Lead

Halo PC 1.0.10
Halo CE 1.0.10
Halo PC Dedicated Server 1.0.10
Halo CE Dedicated Server 1.0.10

Patch notes:
Bumped version to
Moved Gamespy services to use new non-Gamespy server
Fixed a family of index-out-of-bounds bugs which had been exploited to crash clients
Made banlist parsing not case-sensitive
Removed halt on cache file verify error
Removed some verbose debug logging of gamespy connections
Fixed handling of video cards with >= 2GB of memory
Enabled refractive Active Camo on Nvidia cards, which had previously used an alpha fade. (AMD cards already have this)
Updated 2003-era upper bound on the video resolution picker. Use at your own risk; the game is untested at 4800×3600.
Updated chatbox settings to work with newer resolutions
Models node limit updated to 63
Fixed reading sv_ban_penalty from init.txt
Disabled executable_is_valid checksum from strings.dll
Allowed network access in devmode
Fixed parsing of custom map names containing a “.”

Edit: The CD Key database is now online too, to assist people in creating meaningful banlists for their dedicated servers.

Thank you Bungie for providing us with this information.

Cross-Platform DDoS Botnet Warning Released By Security Researchers

A new DDoS Botnet has the ability to infect both Microsoft Windows along with Linux-based systems, according to the Poland Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT). Unlike many cyber-based attacks, this botnet is only interested in launching DDoS attacks to knock certain servers and websites offline.

The Linux-based botnet reportedly handles dropping servers, while the Windows-based botnet easily hijacked consumer PCs. “Most servers that are injected with these various scripts are then used for a variety of tasks, including DDoS, vulnerability scanning, and exploiting,” according to security expert Andre Dimino, in a blog post. “The mining of virtual currency is now often seen running in the background during the attacker’s ‘downtime.'”

Seeing DDoS attacks to turn zombie PCs into an effective botnet isn’t Earth-shattering news, but this cross-platform attack is relatively unique. As bitcoin mining and launching attacks to impact certain companies is easily done when using unsuspecting machines.

Thank you Tweak Town for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of itproportal.com

Server-Free Internet Could Become A Reality In The Future

Researchers at Cambridge University have developed a proof-of-concept for a new server-free Internet architecture. The prototype was developed as part of the €5.2 million project PURSUIT that comprises representatives from European research institutes, universities and telecommunication companies. The revolutionary new Internet architecture is designed to meet the ever-growing traffic requirements of web services and security concerns of Internet users.

As of today, online data is stored on servers residing at different locations around the globe. Data requests made by client devices like PCs, tablets or smartphones are fulfilled by the geographically closest server, making the information exchange quick but server dependent. This centralized approach opens the door to problems like server attacks and traffic overloading. Also, users have less control over how and when their data is accessed.

PURSUIT users wouldn’t have to face these security and privacy problems as the architecture does away with the need of individual computers connecting to dedicated servers. Instead, it uses a peer-to-peer information sharing technique which enables individual computers to copy and republish data on receipt.

This, if deployed, would replace the existing client-server based TCP/IP networking model and could radically change the way information is stored, searched and shared online. Users would be able to fetch the requested data (or smaller data fragments) from a wide range of computers around the world and online search engines would look for URIs (Uniform Resource Identifiers) rather than URLs (Uniform Resource Locators).

The project builds upon other successful projects like TRILOGY and PSIRP, and won the Future Internet Award 2013 at FIA (Future Internet Assembly) in Dublin, earlier this year.

Thank you TechSpot for providing us with this information.
Video courtesy of TechSpot

“The Pirate Party” Of Russia Offers NASA Use Of Their Dedicated Servers To Host Website

It’s common knowledge that he US government has shut down many national services, NASA’s website read that it has been shut down “due to the lapse in federal government funding.” This is a big set back for many people in the US, both in terms of their jobs and their daily lives, but having major sites such as NASA close down is a loss to all who use it.

Set to mark their 55th birthday this week, NASA was set to celebrate, yet the funding issues and closures by the government has left all of the 18,000 NASA employees stuck in limbo and many major missions now hang in the balance too as funding dries up.

“We would like to offer you bulletproof collocation or dedicated servers on our hosting platform till the end of the crisis. We stand for Internet privacy, and as the result you would not have to worry about programs such as PRISM and other illegal activities of secret services of different countries. Your traffic, your activity and the activity of your users will be in safety,”

It’s a great way for the party to gain some PR and it was a good gesture to see such a major website get back online. Unfortunately NASA doesn’t seem to have taken them up on the offer as the website is still down. Hopefully agreeable terms to the financial crisis in the US can be found soon.

Thank you Ria for providing us with this information.