The Sizzle

Issue 348 - Thursday, 9th March 2017


More WikiLeaks CIA stuff
Reactions to the WikiLeaks dump of the CIA's hacking tools are flooding in. Some good takes are from Brian Krebs and Errata Security. Apple has said they've patched all of the vulns exposed by the leak, Google has patched most of them and Samsung is looking into it. Even the developer of NotePad++ has patched his app, which has been caught up in this mess. Off the record reports out of the US government are saying that CIA contractors are the likely source of the leak, but they probably have no idea. Everyone's too busy trying to investigate Obama wiretapping Trump tower.

A big spamming operation has owned themselves, leaking 1.4b emails
1.4 billion email addresses have been leaked out on to the dark web by a pro spamming company, River City Media (actually more like 400m once all the shit ones are taken out according to haveibeenpwnd). MacKeeper (which I thought was malware, but is maybe legit now?) managed to stumble across (their words) some insecure, publicly available backups of River City Lab's data that lead to the full exposure of River City Media's spamming operations and how they were sending out so many damn emails. The good news is that the info was passed on to law enforcement and it looks like River City Labs, one of the world's most prolific spammers, will be shut down.

Too many people have access to telco metadata that legally shouldn't
Surprise, surprise, government agencies that really aren't supposed to be accessing the treasure trove of metadata Australian telcos collect, are still getting access. The Communications Alliance (a telco lobby group) submission to a government inquiry into whether telco collected metadata should be used in civil cases, has complained that agencies such as the RSPCA, EPA and local councils are citing powers in their own statues that force the telcos to give over data, even though these agencies aren't specifically outlined in the federal data retention laws. Meanwhile, Telstra is in favor of allowing civil cases to access the data it collects on its customers.

Microsoft rolls out some ARM based Azure servers, Intel shaking in it's boots
Microsoft has "dropped some fire" as the kids say, straight onto Intel's head, with the announcement it's going balls to the wall with ARM based servers for Azure. This is all nice and good and if you wanna know more, Anandtech has all the details. Intel sucks at smartphone/tablet CPUs and have stiff competition in the desktop/laptop space from AMD, leaving the server market where Intel can keep make fat stacks unopposed. Until now. Not that intel will die or anything, far from it, but their dominance in so many areas is slowly being chipped away. Bloomberg have a proper look at the whole "omg Intel is losing" angle.

Norway has heaps of electric cars
The Norwegian "Road Traffic Information Council" has announced that half of the new car registrations in Jan and Feb were hybrid or pure EV. I couldn't easily find stats for the same in Australia, but I'm gonna guess its around 1% or something abysmal like that. Big subsidies and tax breaks have helped Norway lead the world in reducing carbon emissions from personal vehicle use. Norway has the highest per capita electric car ownership, yet has a massive sovereign wealth fund built on top of the oil it extracts from the North Sea (unlike Australia who just pisses it all away).


Tesla rolled out a giant battery storage system for a Hawaiian island
Tesla's gone and chucked a bunch of batteries on an island again. This time it's Kauai in Hawaii, who have installed 272 Powerpacks, totalling 52 MWh, connected to a 13 MW solar farm of 55,000 solar panels. Now the island can reduce it's use of diesel generators and importing the fuel from the mainland. Good for them. Related - the VP of Tesla's energy division is currently in Australia for the launch of the Powerwall 2 and let slip that Tesla is in talks with Australian utilities to get some Powerpacks going on. He reckons Tesla could fix SA's power issues in 100 days. Just write it a big fat cheque and it'll do the rest.

NBN wants you to know that most of the reasons why your internet sucks isn't its fault
The NBN has published a blog post outlining why it's not its fault your internet is so damn slow. It explains how an ISP buys bandwidth from the NBN and if the ISP doesn't buy enough to share across the users in your area, a bottleneck is created. The diagram NBN included in this blog post is actually really useful to explain how the internet gets from "the cloud" to your domicile. I think this is the most useful thing the NBN has done in the past 3 years.

Crappy wi-fi, explained
And on the topic of slow internet, Arstechnica has a great piece explaining why Wi-Fi is awful and what you can do to make it not suck. It goes over things like the difference between wi-fi marketing and reality, why simply boosting the radio power isn't always the best solution, how having lots of devices on the one network slows things down and why mesh wi-fi, when configured properly, won't necessarily make things worse, even though there's more radios in the mix. It concludes that wiring everything up is the best way to go. Which it is. *kisses the good blue cable that is sometimes yellow or green*

Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Like The Sizzle? Like it on Facebook!

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