Research group hopes to improve Internet hardware

A research group at Stanford University is testing ways to improve Internet network hardware, thanks to permission from major companies to access important hardware features. According to Technology Review, the group was allowed to write code that could access flow tables and change instructions. “In the last 10 years, there’s been no transfer of ideas into the [Internet] infrastructure,” said Nick McKeown, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science. “What we’re trying to do is enable thousands of graduate students to demonstrate ideas at scale. That could lead to a faster rate of innovation, and ultimately these ideas can be incorporated into products.” (Technology Review)

Net neutrality could go wireless

Network neutrality for wireless carriers could become an issue during US President-elect Barack Obama’s administration, according to CNet. Net neutrality proponents this week expressed hope that Obama, who has spoken in favor of net neutrality in the past, would help extend the idea to wireless communications. Currently, major carriers such as Verizon and AT&T forbid P2P file sharing. But industry leaders say that net neutrality could clog wireless networks, where there isn’t as much space as wired broadband.  (CNet)

Army tries to turn science fiction into reality

Virtual humans, mind-controlled weapons, and realistic holograms are among the technologies that the US Army is working to develop, according to DoDBuzz. Dr. John Parmentola, the director of research and laboratory management with the Army’s science and technology laboratory, recently revealed some of the lab’s cutting-edge projects. They include picking up electrical patterns on the brain’s surface and amplifying them to a device that will respond to thoughts such as ‘turn on,’ and quantum ghost imaging, which renders images by pairing photons that only reflect off each other to create holograms. The lab also plans to test its virtual humans, which can realistically interact with actual humans, through massively multiplayer online games such as World of Warcraft. Attendees at the Army Science Conference in Orlando, Fla., next month can learn more about the projects firsthand. (DoDBuzz)

Faster, more durable SSDs debut

SanDisk unveiled a new flash file system for solidstate drives (SSD) that it says can operate 100 times faster than previous SSDs, and introduced two metrics in an effort to standardize the industry. The company said its ExtremeFFS  operates on a page-based algorithm, which means  no fixed coupling exists between physical and logical locations. When a sector of data is written, the system puts it in the most efficient location; doing so greatly improves random write functions and prolongs the drive’s life span, historically two of the main drawbacks for SSDs.  The two metrics touted by SanDisk are virtual rpm (vRPM), which measures SSD performance against hard disk drives, and long-term data endurance (LDE), which measures SSD life spans. Background information on vRPM and the LDE proposal are on SanDisk’s Web site. (Computerworld)

iPhone tethering plans coming soon

AT&T confirmed that  it’s in talks to offer tethering plans for iPhone users, according to reports. Tethering, which is currently available on the BlackBerry, would let users connect their laptops to their iPhones for Internet access, effectively turning the smart phone into a wireless modem. AT&T chief executive officer Ralph De La Vega first revealed the plans at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco on Thursday. (PCWorld)

WiFi Protected Access cracked

Security researchers have developed a way to partially crack WiFi Protected Access (WPA) to obtain data sent from a router to a laptop, according to reports. Erik Tews and Martin Beck, whose methods will be presented at the PacSec conference in Tokyo next week, cracked WPA encryption by using a “mathematical breakthrough” to get the Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP) key. Some of the code used in the attack has been added to the Aircrack-nt hacking tool. (The New York Times)

Intel has answers for social networking

Intel took the unusual step of addressing the social networking market when chief executive officer Paul Otellini demonstrated networking prototypes at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco on Thursday. Otellini, who said that available social networking platforms are inadequate for businesses, showed off a system that would help new employees integrate into their workplaces through the use of wikis, calendars, and communication tools. He added that such systems need security and manageability in enterprise settings, an area in which current platforms fall short. (Internetnews)

Tool looks for porn on computers

Australians law enforcement officials are beta-testing a tool to help find out immediately whether a computer contains illegal images such as child pornography, according to reports. Simple Image Preview Live Environment (SImPLE) is a Linux-based application that runs off a CD, launching its own desktop environment that copies potentially illegal images onto a DVD. Developed at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia, the tool’s designers say officers can use it regardless of their computer training backgrounds. (The Register)

USB device avoids man-in-the-middle attacks

IBM is trying a different tactic to deter man-in-the-middle attacks on banking transactions. Last week the company introduced a device it said acts as “security on a stick,” called the Zone Trusted Information Channel (ZTIC). The device plugs into a USB port and creates a direct SSL channel to a bank’s transaction server, bypassing the computer’s software with a pass-through proxy. “This solution effectively moves all the cryptographic and critical user-interface processes away from a consumer’s PC onto the ZTIC device, creating a trusted communication endpoint between the banking server and the user,” IBM said in a statement. (Ars Technica)

Microsoft ends support for 15-year-old OS

As of 1 November, Microsoft has stopped issuing embedded licenses for Windows  3.1.1, ending the system’s lifespan at 15 years. According to Ars Technica, the antiquated operating system still saw use in embedded systems such as cash registers and airline entertainment systems. Devices running the old system didn’t have much security risks because current malware is designed for much faster systems. (Ars Technica)


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