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Tech and Hosting News Round-Up

Welcome to our latest round-up of news from the technology and hosting world. Here’s what we’ve discovered this week.

US Treasury hacked

When a state-sponsored cyberattack robbed a leading security outfit of its arsenal of security tools, it was only a matter of time before they were likely to be used in an attack – especially as some of those tools were purposely designed to carry out pseudo-cyberattacks to test advanced defence systems. 

The first potential victim of such a sophisticated attack is the US Treasury, which said one of its network tools was being compromised by malicious actors and that the attack has the potential to exploit wider government systems. It has since ordered federal agencies which connect to its tool to immediately disconnect to prevent the attack spreading.

Although the US hasn’t publicly named who the perpetrators are, many experts believe both the attack on the security outfit and the treasury are Russian backed. Russia, meanwhile, has said the claims are baseless.  

Phish butty

It’s not something Subway wanted on the menu, but its UK customers are currently being sent phishing emails as part of a major scam. The emails, which appear to come from the brand’s loyalty card scheme and look convincingly like an order confirmation, contain links that, if clicked on,  download malware to the user’s device.

According to the security news site, Bleeping Computer, the malware being downloaded by victims is called TrickBot, which is designed to steal personal data from infected devices and can install other viruses, including ransomware.

Subway has acknowledged that the system which manages its email campaigns has been compromised and that this led to a phishing campaign that used the customers’ names and email addresses. However, it added that there is no evidence of user accounts being hacked and that the email system doesn’t hold banking data.

Goodbye Silicon Valley, Hello Texas

Silicon Valley has been the hub of the US and the world’s IT industry for decades. Now, it seems, it is losing its appeal for the big businesses that grew up there and they are moving out – mainly to Texas. Over the last year, Elon Musk began migrating his major projects to Texas, including SpaceX, while computer manufacturer, Hewlett-Packard, is building a new campus in Houston to go alongside existing facilities in Plano and state capital, Austin.

Austin is also the new destination for the latest mover and shaker, Oracle, one of the world’s largest software developers. The company, whose owner, Larry Ellison is the world’s 8th richest person and worth over $82 billion, said the move would position Oracle for better growth and provide its employees with greater flexibility about where and how they work.

Perhaps more of an enticement is that the cost of living is much lower in Texas and that, unlike California, there is no state income tax.

Cloud collective aims to bring seamless revolution

When everyone creates things independently, it’s never easy for end-users to make them work together seamlessly. In IT, this has been an issue for years, but now a group of leading businesses is joining forces to create the Modern Computer Alliance (MCA). The MCA is a collective that aims to provide a solution ‘from silicon to the cloud, that is truly differentiated’. It wants to reshape the vision of computing, to give users the choice of applications they need and enable them to integrate seamlessly.   

The MCA will bring together IT giants including Google, Intel, VMware, Citrix, Dell, Slack and Zoom, who will collaborate to devise new standards and business processes while addressing the evolving needs of customers.

Firms like VMware will help develop advanced cloud security and improve integration and interoperability between apps, such as Box and Slack. Google will provide cloud services to the group, while Dell will develop a better Chrome OS experience for users of its computers. Intel, meanwhile, will look to provide the processing needed to serve these new requirements.

Sorry, Mr Spielberg, computer says no

The ways producers make decisions about which movies and TV series to invest in may be changing. That’s because a film’s audience appeal and the size of its audience can now be determined using artificial intelligence. What’s more, the AI tool can read the script and make decisions in seconds.

The script often determines a movie’s age ratings, with bad language, violence, drugs and sex lowering the number of people who can watch. The new tool allows the rating to be discovered automatically before shooting starts, enabling scripts to be modified to lower age ratings or for writers to create a script around a specific age rating in order to boost potential revenues.

The tool was developed by training artificial intelligence to recognize violence, substance abuse and sexual content in over 900 different movies. This enables it to scan a script’s dialogue and action descriptions using neural networks, to classify sentences and phrases as positive, negative, aggressive, violent or drug and sex related. As a result, producers can better decide the degree of violence, etc, they want to include.

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