Cyber Warfare Could Become A Specialist Combat Unit In The US

The saying goes that “to be prepared is half the victory”, this is never more the case in the modern day when everything can change in a split second. With the modern day battle happening months and even years before the first shot is fired, warfare happens every day on the internet attacking the minds and systems of countries with no warning. In response to this growing threat, cyber warfare could soon become a specialist combat unit within the United states military.

Currently, anything relating to cyber warfare is united as part of a “sub-unified command” beneath the U.S. strategic command, but reports are coming in that Defence Secretary Ash Carter may be looking at turning the cyber command unit into a full combatant command.

This would put cyber warfare on bar with the nine that currently operate within the U.S. military including six commands based on their geographical areas (Pacific, Europe, Africa, Middle East, Central and Southern command) and three based on their areas of specialty, such as the transportation command, strategic command (those in charge of nuclear forces) and special operations command groups. Moving out from strategic command to become the 10th COCOM (Combat Commander Exercise combatant command) would be a big step in realising the threat of cyber warfare and the steps that countries need to take to protect people beyond the lines of maps.

Eve Online Gears up for Biggest War It’s Ever Seen

Players of MMORPG Eve Online might have thought they had witnessed the greatest battle the game had ever seen following 2014’s battle at B-R5RB – a 20-hour firefight, during which 10,000 people vied for victory – which saw The Imperium rise to the prominence it still holds today, but trouble is brewing yet again in New Eden, and when tensions inevitably boil over, the ensuing battle is sure to make the Battle of B-R5RB look like handbags at dawn.

Resentment has been building ever since The Mittani – a prominent member of The Imperium – tried (and failed) to Kickstart a book on the Battle of B-R5RB, which triggered a number of aggressions within the community, and is predicted to end in the most bloody battle ever staged in Eve Online.

Eve Online subreddit user TheRealMartini has written a handy primer on the preamble to war:

  • “CCP [Eve Online’s developer] introduced a new system for capturing sovereignty – The new system now allows guerilla-like tactics to be used. Meaning sovereignty is no longer decided by who brings the biggest ships.”
  • “The Mittani’s failed Kickstarter – The Mittani (leader of The Imperium) attempted to get a book published about The Fountain War. This was met with a huge backlash from the rest of the EVE community, esp, /r/Eve, who felt he was trying to monetize his alliance members. After this, Imperium members were encouraged not to use /r/Eve, thus closing themselves off.”
  • “High Profile Imperium members defect – Not liking the direction the Imperium was taking a number of former high profile FC’s and spies leave the Imperium and join rival alliances.”
  • “The ‘I want isk’ financial backing for war – The Final piece. The website ‘i want isk’ (think Iron bank) begins paying alliances to go to war with the Imperium after coalition member SMA fails to pay a bill and accuses IWI of illegal activity.”

Anti-Imperium rebel group the Moneybadgers has already launched its first successful offensive against The Imperium, but the current dominant force in New Eden is expected to respond in kind. This means war. Get the popcorn.

Nerf’s Fully Automatic Blasters Fire at 30MPH!

Nerf are well-known toys for both grown-ups and children alike. From a fun play around in the back garden to all out warfare (without the bruises) Nerf are the go to for foam projectiles.  From foam bullets to the more recent foam ball based systems you can enjoy the battle in several ways, and it only looks to get better this year!

Nerf’s latest creation is the Rival Blaster series, rather than the traditional pellets that Nerf guns use, the rival series uses small balls more akin to musket balls or giant soft bb’s. The only hold back to the series though was that the first model, similar to the first models of the classic nerf guns, was spring-loaded. This changed in the Zeus, which used batteries to automate the gun to fire at 30MPH, but could still only fire one ball at a time. The next upgrade you can experience is the Khaos, designed for release in late 2016.

The Khaos will be the first fully automatic in the new Rival series. With a 40 round magazine, the gun will fire all of them with a single long press of the trigger. Be warned, you will require six D-sized batteries so it won’t be the lightest or easiest on your arms or your foes!

Other releases this year will include the Mastodon, a Mega blaster that will fire all 24 of the extra-large Nerf darts at the press of a button.

The Modulus series lets you chop and change your weapon based on your needs and preferences, but the Tri-Strike will let you do more than that. Supporting not just the elite darts, the Tri-Strike lives up to its name and lets you also fire four Mega darts and even a foam missile for those really tight spaces!

If you are not one for the strategic or modular approach then maybe the Hyper-Fire will tickle your interest. Featuring a drum which will hold 25 darts the Hyper-Fire will unleash up to five darts per second while in its fully automatic mode. Ouch.

So the only question we have left is where do we pre-order?

The Pentagon Wants $15bn Funding for Weaponised AI in 2017

The Pentagon has filed its fiscal budget for 2017, for which it is asking for between $12 billion and $15 billion to fund the development of artificial intelligence weapon technology, Business Insider reports.

“This is designed to make the human more effective in combat,” said US Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work at a Center for a New American Security conference on Monday. “We believe that the advantage we have is […] our people; that tech-savvy people who’ve grown up in the iWorld will kick the crap out of people who grew up in the iWorld under an authoritarian reign.”

While it will work closely with Congress to make its weaponised AI program cost-effective, the Pentagon’s work on artificial intelligence will be classified, the Deputy Defense Secretary added, saying, “I want our competitors to wonder what’s behind the black curtain.”

The project is set to include wearable devices, exoskeletons, co-operative systems to allow drones and manned planes to work together, huge drone mother ships to launch executive military missions, and “smart” missiles, that can autonomously identify and analyse new enemy targets to allow commanders to make real-time adjustments to the weapon’s trajectory.

While Work admits that there is “a lot of scepticism” within the Department of Defense regarding AI, he remains convinced that such weapons are “not only possible, but […] a requirement.”

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Dell’s Latest Tablet is Built to Withstand Extreme Conditions

Dell has expanded its Rugged line-up with a new Latitude tablet designed to operate in the harshest of environments. This model is resistant against mud, dust, sand, spillages and other hazards. The tablet can even be dropped from over four feet and has a temperature threshold between -20 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This device is capable of withstanding war zones, high-altitude mountains and industrial workplaces. According to Dell, the unit is,

“Designed for performance and reliability in the harshest conditions.”

In terms of specifications, the tablet features a multi-touch, 11.6 inch 1366×768 panel which can be easily viewed in direct sunlight. Furthermore, it is equipped with a 5th generation Intel Core CPU, Windows 8.1 (fully upgradable to Windows 10), up to a 512GB Solid State Drive and a battery lasting upwards of 12 hours. Dell also utilized a quad cooling solution to prevent throttling in hot locations. I can see this being useful during expeditions near volcanoes or climates with a blistering heat.

Pricing and availability is still unknown, but the niche nature of this device will incur a hefty price tag. Dell’s existing Latitude 12 Rugged laptop contains an Intel Core i3 CPU and 4GB of RAM which retails for $3,649. I wouldn’t expect the final price to be this high but the reinforced casing will undoubtedly increase manufacturing costs.

The Latitude 12 tablet is massive overkill for 99.99% of people but provides a vital service for those who require reliable hardware in tough situations.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8Koj_xvdRA

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Gears Of War: Ultimate Edition For PC Is Not a Port!

During the San Diego Comic Con panel held for the Gears Of War: Ultimate Edition, the Coalition Studio Head Rod Fergusson talked in more detail about the main differences between the PC version and the Xbox One version. After reiterating that the PC version will support a 4K resolution, with the addition of DirectX 12, including unlocked framerates and all the windows 10 features ranging from Xbox live, GameDVR and screenshots. The 2007 release was a port from Xbox 360, this new version is not a port of the Xbox One release.

This PC version is not a port. It’s enhanced greatly, and all the content is ”authored at a much higher rate”. There are even 4K textures all the way through the environment there were restrictions the team had when developing for the Xbox One, but once the team got around to working on the PC version they could take off those restrictions and bump up the game extremely and unlocked it fully giving the game a super crisp look.

Recently the team tested the game at 4K on a 70” TV and it was ”mindblowing” according to Ferguson, at $39.99 it’s a great deal to go back and get ready for Gears Of War 4.

It looks like Gears Of War ultimate Edition is going to look very über in terms of graphic fidelity and will take great advantage of current PC hardware.

Are you looking forward to experience Gears of War on the PC?

Thank you Dualshockers for providing us with this information

Chinese TV Thinks Gundam is Coming to Attack the Country

Chinese Central Television, the state-run propaganda machine of the Chinese government, has been stirring up fear of a potential war against Japan for some time now, but a recent news piece on the station suggests that the Japanese military might launch its most famous mecha against its citizens. That’s right: China thinks Japan will send Mobile Suit Gundam to kick some Cantonese butt.

On Tuesday, the Chinese Central Television show Focus Today ran a story about how Japanese Prime Minister Ahinzo Abe “clamours” for war against the Chinese nation, claiming that Japan, in alliance with the US, has a number of secret weapons at its disposal, with the implication being that Gundam is one of them.

Though the show makes no direct mention of Gundam during the report, it does show footage of the giant robot during a montage of military weapons that Japan might utilise in an offensive against its enemies (about 5 minutes in):

Tensions between Japan and China have been rising for the past thirty years, with the emergence of the latter as a global superpower, but I doubt those fears need to be exacerbated by the threat of a mecha attack.

In other news, Spike Spiegel will be commanding air assaults from the Bebop, and infantry will be comprised of Diclonus, commanded by the Fist of the North Star.

Thank you Kotaku for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Gundam Wiki.

Gears Everywhere! Gears Remastered & Gears 4 Announced!

Gears of War has been a gold mine for Microsoft, with a series of games followed by a range of merchandise, including a board game. Initially owned by Epic Games, the creators of the Unreal engine, Microsoft purchased Gears of War from them earlier this year.  Recently it has been rumoured that Microsoft are looking to relaunch the franchise with a series of HD remastered games, although they have been very careful not to release the details and to silence those who are responsible for leaking them.

This silence has now been broken. Gears Of War: Ultimate edition will bring not only the original game to the Xbox One but also visual upgrades and gameplay features from their latest Gears of Wars games. The Ultimate edition will also feature five campaign chapters that were never released on the Xbox.

In a slightly more shocking twist Gears of War 4 was also announced, with an initial date set somewhere in 2016. Find below the E3 gameplay demo shown for Gears of War 4.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-qwBBLPBJI

With so many Gears of War games coming out its looking more and more like a continuation of the series is coming. Something I am more than happy to look forward to.

Thank you ArsTechnica, Microsoft for the information.

Image courtesy of OnlySP.

What Happens if You Leak Microsoft Gear of War Secrets?

We’ve known for a while now that Gears of War was getting a remake, it’s been rumored for a while now, but finally we have proof. VMC Games is a company contracted to test out new games and like many other companies these contracts comes with an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). But what happens if you break this? Well apparently your Xbox One is removed completely from the online world.

NDAs have been around for a while, companies take them out so the only time anyone can speak about a topic or product is when its done formally through a press release of some kind. Used in everything from courtrooms to government offices, the name gives away that once you sign it, you do not speak about it. An unlucky VMC games tester has unfortunately found out the hard way that Microsoft does not approve of you breaking your contract with them.

By sending a screenshot to a friend about the Gears remake that he was testing, that’s right he was telling his friend what he was working on and then sent him a screen grab of the game, the employee has found that both his bosses and Microsoft are taking action. With both VMC Games’s legal department and no doubt Microsoft’s involved, the employee is in a lot of legal troubles, all the while coupled by the fact they are now banned from the VMC Games program and they are having their Xbox Live access removed. Break the NDA and you lose all access to online functions, both for your account and your Xbox apparently. So break their NDA and you’ll quickly find your online life removed from your Xbox for however long Microsoft deem it necessary.

This was all caused by the fact that, after being tricked into thinking they were working on the same project, the employee sent a Snapchat of the screenshot which was then uploaded to the web before going viral. Not only has this damaged VMC Games reputation and potentially the trust of companies around the world with beta testers as a whole, but one person has lost a job all because a friend tricked them. These were not the only leaks I would like to add, several members of the Beta testing community have been found to have leaked footage and screen shots of the unannounced Gears of War project, and no doubt Microsoft will be making sure that their Xbox Ones are disabled with a swift hand.

What do you think about this situation? Do they deserve it for breaking the NDA, is removing Xbox live access going a little too easy on them?

Thanks to Kotaku and Engadget for the information.

Image courtesy of Pichost.

US Defense Department Develops Bullet That Can Change Direction Mid-Air

The US Defense Department has developed a laser-guided bullet that can change its trajectory in mid-air to follow a moving target. The .50-calibre EXACTO bullet – and acronym for EXtreme ACcuracy Tasked Ordnance – has an inbuilt sensor that can track its target from the mounted laser on the sniper rifle it’s fired from.

“The EXACTO system seeks to improve sniper effectiveness and enhance troop safety by allowing greater shooting standoff range and reduction in target engagement timelines,” reads DARPA’s statement on the advanced round, boasting that its “specially designed ammunition and real-time optical guidance system help track and direct projectiles to their targets by compensating for weather, wind, target movement and other factors that could impede successful hits.”

Source: WND

UK Banks Will Have Their Cyber Defenses Tested in Live Cyber War Games

Banks in the United Kingdom will have their network security tested over the next few months, as part of a live cyber war demonstration.

This will present banks and the UK government with better analysis of where the financial industry currently stands, with the threat of a major data breach frightening IT security experts. The Bank of England helped spearhead the project, while banks continue to have a close relationship with the GCHQ.

Here is what Stephen Bonner, KPMG cybersecurity team partner, recently noted:

“It’s the first time that banks are having their systems tested for security threats in a live environment as opposed to a simulated or isolated one.”

Global cybercrime ravages the economy, racking up £248 billion in costs each year, and the number is only climbing higher, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) claims.

Here is what Paul Docherty, Portcullis Computer Security technical director, recently said regarding the tests:

“A defender has to block every possible route of entry and the attacker only has to find one. That’s the position the banks are still in, the world is so connected now they have to look in every direction to protect themselves.”

Following the successful data breach of JPMorgan Chase in the United States, cybersecurity experts in the UK have become alarmed about a similar breach in the UK. Although financial institutions tend to have better security defenses against data breaches, stealing money – and compromising bank customers – remains a lucrative goal for criminals.

Image courtesy of Phoneworld.com.pk

UK Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Reaper Fleet in Afghanistan Increases


The UK Ministry of Defence recently confirmed the addition of five new MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), used for reconnaissance and combat operations.

The 10 Reaper UAVs are flying from the Kandahar airfield with a focus on supporting the International Security Assistance Force.  Despite combat operations ending at the end of the year, the Reapers will continue to utilize intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) in support of the Afghan government.

Here is what the MoD said in a statement:

“These aircraft provide real-time, life-saving video to ground commanders, which will continue to be vital to allied efforts to secure internal security in Afghanistan as we draw down allied forces from the country this year.”

In a statement, Philip Dunne, UK minister for defence equipment, support and technology noted:

“These new aircraft give the RAF enhanced force protection capability in support of UK, ISAF and Afghan troops.  As we focus on the drawdown of UK forces from Afghanistan, the ability to provide force protection will become increasingly important, and [the] Reaper allows us to provide this assurance remotely and without significant ground presence.”

The British Army has 450 Hermes UAVs already serving in Afghanistan, which has seen an increase in unmanned aircraft patrolling the skies.

The United States government garners criticism for its use of UAV drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but the RAF has utilized its smaller fleet more for reconnaissance and support.

Thank you to Flight Global for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Defence Industry Daily

Canadian Ex-Defence Minister’s Claims About Alien Technology & Wars

Canadian Ex-defence Minister Paul Hellyer

Apparently we have Aliens living amongst us. That is the view and opinion of Canadian ex-defence minister Paul Hellyer, who claims that at first he believed there to be only 2 to 12 different species of aliens. Now however he claims that due to reports he has received that number could be as high as 80 different species of aliens out there. Mr Hellyer went onto say in an interview conducted on Russia Today. He goes on to claim that the reason we haven’t had any contact with these numerous species is because they are waiting for our consent.

Mr Hellyer also claims that the Aliens have shared some technology with us such as the Kevlar vest and the Microchip. However the reason we haven’t received more technology from the different species of aliens out there is because man invented the Atomic bomb. With his quote being;

“Man was stupid enough to invent the atomic bomb. Aliens are frightened that we’re going to use it again (and again) and that this will affect the whole balance of the cosmos.”

Mr Hellyer believes that the aliens could help us live greener and safer and according to Hellyer some could all ready be living amongst us. With several “Edward Snowden” like whistle blowers out there who have all ready released information on government cover ups into aliens existing. However when asked about his own alien experience, Mr Hellyer went onto say that he has seen a U.F.O but when asked what it looked like, he replied as saying it looked like a star. So perhaps if we stop the wars and give the aliens our consent to help us I might still get to ride around on a hover board just like the ones in Back to The Future II.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pg6VTzacb9I[/youtube]

Ex-defence Minister Paul Hellyer’s interview on Russia Today

Thank you CNET for the information provided

Image courtesy of Alphasmagazine.com

Samsungs Share Of The SSD Market Set To Grow

To say that there is not a fierce battle going on between vendors in the SSD market would be telling one huge lie. The SSD market as we know it today is as competitive as ever and there is one name that it appears is dominating over everyone else. Since their introduction into the SSD market Samsung have been slowly dropping the prices of their drives making it harder and harder for anyone else out there – especially the smaller manufacturers such as OCZ and Patriot – to get their foot in on the sales.

Most of this price drop ability comes down to the simple fact that Samsung have the capability to produce every single major part of their drives on site and as a result can sell their drives at a price that is far more attractive to the end-user. As a result of this market take over, some of the smaller vendors are slowly pulling out of the consumer market as they can generate the revenue and are instead focussing on the OEM and enterprise markets instead. For Samsung this is even better news at it means that even though their drives may not be the fastest or best performing on the market, with fewer options to choose from, the slightly cheaper drives are more attractive for many users.

As far as budget drive prices go, Samsung’s 840 EVO is currently selling in the UK starting at around £80 for a 120GB model with 250GB reaching up to around £145 and the massive 500GB drives fetching £250. Compared to the other budget drives on the market, some of these prices are very hard to compete with and with brand awareness also a major factor to take into account, with products ranging from washing machines to TVs as well as notebooks, it’s no wonder a large number of entry-level consumers are turning to Samsung for their first step on to the SSD market.

Source: Fudzilla

 

The USA Nearly Nuked Itself In 1961 – Could Have Killed Millions

A secret document recently declassified and uncovered by investigative journalist Eric Schlosser reveals that the U.S military nearly nuked North Carolina in 1961 in an incident that could have killed millions. The Guardian reports that the two bombs which were accidentally dropped on Goldsboro, North Carolina on January 23rd had a payload of 4 megatons each. The bombs were released as a B52 bomber broke up in mid air from entering a tailspin after experiencing difficulties. One bomb was not triggered at all thanks to a fully functional safety mechanisms working properly but on the second bomb the only thing that stopped its triggered detonation was a vulnerable low voltage safety switch because all three other safety mechanisms had failed.

Had the detonation of taken place millions could have died and lethal radioactive fallout would have reached large cities like Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia and even as far as New York. According to the newly declassified document a senior engineer at Sandia national laboratories stated that “one simple, dynamo-technology, low voltage switch stood between the United States and a major catastrophe”.

“The US government has consistently tried to withhold information from the American people in order to prevent questions being asked about our nuclear weapons policy…We were told there was no possibility of these weapons accidentally detonating, yet here’s one that very nearly did.” Stated Eric Schlosser.

Image courtesy of Three Lions/Getty Images

Company of Heroes 2 PC Review

This week I’ve been getting lost in a part of the gaming world I know little about, real-time strategy. I’ve tried and failed at this genre before and I’ve yet to find a game that really hooked me, even then I think the last one I moderately enjoyed was C&C Generals! But I have heard great things about Company of Heroes and when presented with a chance to test out this latest edition in the series I just couldn’t help myself. Of course this isn’t just me sharing my preferences for gaming but a warning that I am a complete n00b at CoH2 and may not fully grasp the source material, you have been warned.

The game takes place in the legendary setting of World War II, in which you will span several legendary encounters from the perspective of the games new faction the Soviet Red Army. This sees you crossing the Eastern Front and the campaign features 14 challenging missions for you to pick your way through. Personally I found the game to be quite challenging in more ways than one and for the purpose of my own enjoyment I had to bump it down to Conscript difficulty (easy) just to get anywhere, although this could be my lack of experience with this type of game.

There is a tutorial mission included also for newcomers to the series and while it is a nice addition, it leaves many questions lingering in my opinion. There are many minor systems and tweaks that can be made to characters, gameplay elements and tactics while you’re playing and these are mostly unexplained and I get the feeling that while they may not be completely necessary to win they would likely offer something extra to more experienced fans of the series.

There are some interesting stories and scenarios throughout the game and the feeling that your often fighting a losing battle is ever-present, in fact it is often the case that the mission is to just hold out before retreating instead of actually winning the battle. This is further brought to life in the cut scenes and while they’re far from winning an Oscar in terms of CGI or acting quality they work well to set the pace and highlight some of the aspects of how the Soviet Army treated their soldiers.

The settings of the missions allow for some other new experiences too and the weather can have a big impact on certain battles, most importantly because your soldiers can freeze to death and its important to move between shelter and heat sources on some missions and this was by far my favourite feature as it added urgency to the mission and you felt the need to keep groups moving tightly together to stay alive outside of gun fights.

The game features plenty of great little features that make it enjoyable to play, plenty of weapons and vehicles make for a dynamic battle field and the pace of gameplay can be pretty frantic at the best of times too. Soldiers will call out enemies and the whole experience feels very involving but it’s often let down by some poor AI. Squads will struggle to find a route, or they will try fire at enemies through a wall or worst of all you may see them spinning around on the spot, stuck and lost for the rest of the game or until someone kills them.

Graphics look really nice and there are some extensive graphics settings options to allow you to tweak snow, shadows, AA, lighting, textures, physics and more and this ensures that even low powered systems can get in on the action, but the game can also take advantage of a high-end system and some of the visual effects do look rather cool. The camera can be spun 360 degrees to give you the best view of the fight but while you can also tip the camera I found that doing so highlights some poor level models and buildings that look awful from any other Y-Axis angle than the default one.

Overall the campaign took me about 15 hours to pick my way through and while it was enjoyable it wasn’t as entertaining as the Theatre of War missions. Theatre of War offers solo, co-of and AI battles, it offers more missions than the main campaign and the objectives are often a little more fun and engrossing than the main missions. Multiplayer also offers you even extra gameplay for your money and it’s also a great way to avoid the iffy AI by adding that human element to the game, naturally I got my butt handed to me but it was nice to see a more dynamic and evolving style of gameplay take place.

Overall I really enjoyed this game, while I have no intention of playing the campaign again I can certainly see myself returning to the Theatre of War missions a few more times to fine tune my skills. I still suck pretty bad at the game but there is a certain joy to be found in commanding tanks, having mortars blast holes in frozen rivers to trap enemies and sending forward groups of engineers with flamethrowers that will keep me entertained for quite some time.

I may not know much about strategic war games, nor do I feel I know a huge amount on the specific battles portrayed in this title, but I do know this is still a great game and while it lacks a few refinements in the AI it’s still an enjoyable experience.