The tech industry is still dealing with the fallout of the Spectre and Meltdown bugs as companies scramble to patch the vulnerability.
A consequence of such hasty actions is that the patches are 1.) introducing new bugs, 2.) breaking some AMD-powered computers, and 3.) most computers that are patched will see permanent performance impact.
There is a rumor that IBM is looking to reduce global services headcount by another 10,000 employees as news of a new CFO is announced.
To complete this wonderful news cycle, it seems that Boston might be the front-runner to host Amazon’s HQ2.
- Verizon acquires autonomous threat detection startup Niddel
Niddel’s primary product, Niddel Magnet is a subscription service that uses machine learning to locate infected or compromised machines inside an organization. It works completely autonomously and doesn’t require customers to generate their own code, rules, searches or even any kind of content.
“Using machine learning to improve information accuracy significantly reduces false positives and significantly improves our detection and response capabilities,” Alexander Schlager, Verizon’s executive director for security services explained in a statement. Those capabilities were one of the primary reasons the company made the acquisition.
- Google acquired Redux, a U.K. startup focused on audio and haptics
Alphabet, the umbrella corporation of Google, Inc. etc., has quietly acquired a UK-based startup called Redux, reports Bloomberg.
Redux was founded in 2013 out of Cambridge, and built technology that uses vibrations to turn surfaces of phones or tablets into speakers or provide haptic feedback.
The acquisition is reflected on Crunchbase, and in confirmed transfer of shares within U.K. regulatory filings. Google has made no mention of the acquisition as of yet.
- Accenture: Large-scale agency M&A is ‘not our game’ as we have ‘amazing momentum’
However, Pierre Nanterme, the chairman and chief executive of Accenture, gave a strong signal on his most recent quarterly earnings call that he is not interested in large-scale M&A.
“This is not our game at Accenture,” he said in response to a question from a Wall Street analyst about whether Accenture Interactive might make “larger deals, rather than tuck-ins”.
Nanterme explained: “Our game is to drive organic growth on top of acquisitions of very specific companies with very specific and differentiated capabilities.
“And then what Accenture is offering to these companies we’re acquiring is our unique access to the best brands in the world and our unique geographic footprint.”
Accenture to acquire Germany based visualization firm Mackevision
Accenture has entered into an agreement to acquire Germany-based Mackevision, a leading global producer of 3D-enabled and immersive product content. The acquisition will add visualization capabilities to Accenture Interactive’s digital services portfolio – strengthening its ability to create compelling, next-generation customer experiences and industrial, extended reality applications. The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions. Financial terms of the transaction are not being disclosed.
- Japanese scientists just used AI to read minds and it’s amazing
But the scientists from Kyoto developed new techniques of “decoding” thoughts using deep neural networks (artificial intelligence). The new technique allows the scientists to decode more sophisticated “hierarchical” images, which have multiple layers of color and structure, like a picture of a bird or a man wearing a cowboy hat, for example.
“We have been studying methods to reconstruct or recreate an image a person is seeing just by looking at the person’s brain activity,” Kamitani, one of the scientists, tells CNBC Make It. “Our previous method was to assume that an image consists of pixels or simple shapes. But it’s known that our brain processes visual information hierarchically extracting different levels of features or components of different complexities.”
- Why Oracle can’t buy its way to success in the cloud wars
For such modern cloud applications, Oracle proves a poor fit. Not only does the company offer a comparatively malnourished catalog of cloud services compared to leading vendors like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud, even its former strengths become weaknesses in the brave new cloud world. For example, one of its best selling points—vertical scale—proves its Achilles Heel in modern application infrastructure, where horizontal scale at levels simply impossible in an Oracle environment becomes the norm.
Oracle’s immediate answer seems to be to stick to its old game plan, leveraging its legacy database to broker a role in modern workloads. It’s not working. As Rishidot Research’s founder and chief research advisor Krishnan Subramanian has called out, “[Oracle] needs to shore up higher order services…to compete effectively with AWS and Azure. They cannot just rely on their database service as the path to cloud success and they need to compete with AWS on the breadth and depth of higher order services.”
- Intel reveals possible slowdowns from ‘Meltdown’ processor fix
Your personal computers will be less than 10 percent slower after you install the Spectre/Meltdown fix, Intel has revealed in a blog post. Intel has come to that conclusion after assessing the performance changes in computers using 6th, 7th and 8th Generation Intel core processors with Windows 10. Systems equipped with 8th generation (Kaby Lake, Coffee Lake) chips and SSDs will be the least affected, with the expected impact being less than 6 percent. Devices using the 7th Gen Kaby Lake-H mobile processors will be around 7 percent slower, while the performance impact on systems with the 6th Gen Skylake-S platform is approximately 8 percent.
Depending on how you use your computer, you may not even notice a difference. Based on Intel’s benchmark results, though, you will notice some slowdown if you browse the web and use applications, and it’s safe to say that most people do. Obviously, if you use your computer for heavy applications, the slowdown will be more noticeable.
- Why Microsoft’s Cosmos DB may displace AWS’s cloud databases
While Oracle, MySQL, and Microsoft SQL Server stand supreme at the top of the database heap, their cloud competitors have been gaining steam—and fast. It’s probably not yet accurate to say that databases like DynamoDB and Azure Cosmos DB are gaining ground on the old guard, given that Oracle remains more than 100 times as popular as Cosmos, for example. But for new applications largely born in the cloud, these cloud-first databases dominate.
This matters because, as Gartner analyst Thomas Bittman has written, there’s a pronounced (and accelerating) shift from private datacenters to public cloud environments: “New stuff tends to go to the public cloud, while doing old stuff in new ways tends to go to private clouds. And new stuff is simply growing faster.” Not just a little bit faster, either: We’re talking about a 20X growth rate for the public cloud versus a 3X growth rate for private datacenters, by his analysis. Of course, legacy workloads dwarf these new cloud-friendly applications, but that won’t be true for long.
- Barry Padgett Appointed as New SAP Ariba President
SAP announced two leadership changes Thursday, with Alex Atzberger moving to president of SAP Hybris and Barry Padgett taking over the helm at SAP Ariba, according to a press release. SAP Hybris solutions “comprise the omnichannel customer engagement and commerce business at SAP” and include offerings for commerce, marketing, sales, service and revenue. Padgett, who joined SAP through the acquisition of Concur, will focus on the oversight of SAP’s business network strategy as Ariba’s new president.
“Positioning these proven leaders, both with deep customer empathy and a business vision rooted in a beautiful customer experience, will have a tremendous, positive impact for customers worldwide,” said Robert Enslin, member of the Executive Board of SAP SE and president of Cloud Business Group, SAP. “The business acumen and expertise both Alex and Barry bring to their respective roles, coupled with the engineering innovation agendas already underway, will greatly advance SAP’s leadership pursuits in the areas of procurement, customer engagement and commerce.”
- Signal Partners With Microsoft to Encrypt Skype Messages
The newest Skype preview now supports the Signal protocol: the end-to-end encrypted protocol already used by WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Google Allo, and, of course, Signal. Skype Private Conversations will support text, audio calls, and file transfers, with end-to-end encryption that Microsoft, Signal, and, it’s believed, law enforcement agencies cannot eavesdrop on.
- Intel Fumbles Its Patch for Chip Flaw
Intel is quietly advising some customers to hold off installing patches that address new security flaws affecting virtually all of its processors. It turns out the patches had bugs of their own.
The glitch underscores the complexity of Intel’s challenge as it scrambles to fix the unprecedented vulnerabilities, which were disclosed more than a week ago.
In a confidential document shared with some customers Wednesday and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Intel said it identified three issues in updates released over the past week for “microcode,” or firmware—software that is installed directly on the processor. The updates are separate from patches produced by operating system companies such as Microsoft Corp.
- AMD Hits a Snag Over Patch for Chip Flaw
Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday said some customers found their AMD-powered computers were unusable after applying the latest security patches for the Windows operating system.
On an online support page, Microsoft said it would “temporarily pause” sending updates to some devices running AMD processors. After investigating, the software giant said it found “some AMD chipsets do not conform to the documentation previously provided to Microsoft.”
- Oracle app server hack let one attacker mine $226,000 worth of cryptocoins
These attackers aren’t stealing data from victims, however—at least as far as anyone can tell. Instead, the exploit is being used to mine cryptocurrencies. In one case, according to analysis posted today by SANS Dean of Research Johannes B. Ullrich, the attacker netted at least 611 Monero coins (XMR)—$226,000 dollars’ worth of the cryptocurrency.
The attacks appear to have leveraged a proof-of-concept exploit of the Oracle vulnerability published in December by Chinese security researcher Lian Zhang. Almost immediately after the proof of concept was published, there were reports of it being used to install cryptominers from several different locations—attacks launched from servers (some of them likely compromised servers themselves) hosted by Digital Ocean, GoDaddy, and Athenix.
- China Swats Jack Ma’s Ant Over Customer Privacy
Chinese internet regulators scolded the country’s leading mobile-payments company for compromising its customers’ privacy, putting pressure on firms to better protect personal data in a society subject to heavy state surveillance.
The Cyberspace Administration of China said Wednesday that it had summoned representatives of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. affiliate Ant Financial Services Group to dress them down for automatically enrolling users in its credit-scoring system.
- IBM names James Kavanaugh as CFO
IBM chief financial officer Martin Schroeter will move to a new role and will be replaced by company veteran James Kavanaugh, effective immediately.
Schroeter, who has been with the company for more than 25 years and has been finance chief for the last four years, will become senior vice-president for global markets.
His replacement, Kavanaugh, joined IBM in 1996 from AT&T and is currently a senior vice-president heading IBM’s transformation efforts.
While the announcement was unexpected, the logic behind the move is not and Kavanaugh would be a logical replacement for Schroeter, said Stifel analyst David Grossman.
- IBM reportedly will reassign 30,000+ staffers in services division and possibly cut 10,000 jobs
According to a report in The Register Thursday, IBM is planning to reassign more than 30,000 staff from its Global Technology Services division, which primarily offers hardware and infrastructure consulting services, to other roles within the company.
That amounts to about 30 percent of GTS’ overall staff, who are set to be “productively redeployed,” according to a leaked document (pictured). About 10,000 of the affected staff are said to be based in the U.S., The Register added.
The staff reassignments, expected to take place later this year, could ultimately see about 10,000 jobs lost through “attrition,” with no plans to replace departing employees. However, the overall head count could be even higher, as a document leaked to The Register shows that 5,000 staff have yet to be assigned new positions, which means they could ultimately be laid off. And of those that have been reassigned, some may only be moved to “short term” positions, said one unnamed employee.
- Amazon could be leaning toward Boston for new HQ2
Boston has already been floated as a prime candidate for the new HQ2 because it is one of the U.S. cities where Amazon has research and development operations. Amazon, according to The Business Journals, has almost 1,000 workers in Boston who focus on Amazon Web Services, Audible, Alexa and speech-recognition software. Later this year, the opening of its Fort Point office will add 900 employees to the company’s Boston ranks.
Photo: Robert Szadkowski