Categories
Game

Twitch says ‘server configuration change’ led to massive data leak

Twitch has released an update on a massive hack that appears to have exposed source code, streamer payment figures and other information. It said that data was exposed to the internet “due to an error in a Twitch server configuration change that was subsequently accessed by a malicious third party.” It added that its teams are working with “urgency” to investigate the attack. 

The Amazon-owned streaming site added that it has “no indication” that any login credentials, including passwords, were exposed. “Additionally, full credit card numbers are not stored by Twitch, so full credit card numbers were not exposed,” the company said.

Twitch also said that “out of an abundance of caution, we have reset all stream keys,” and provided a link to get a new one. Depending on the broadcast software you use, you may need to manually update your software to start a new stream. “Twitch Studio, Streamlabs, Xbox, PlayStation and Twitch Mobile App users should not need to take any action for your new key to work,” it wrote. “OBS users who have connected their Twitch account should also not need to take any action.”

However, if you haven’t connect your OBS account to Twitch, you’ll need to manually copy your stream from the Twitch Dashboard and paste it into OBS. “For all others, please refer to specific setup instructions for your software of choice.”

Yesterday, attackers said they stole the “entirety of Twitch.tv,” including the site’s mobile, desktop and console Twitch clients. It also accessed proprietary SDKs and internal AWS services, red-teaming tools and more. All of that information could make Twitch vulnerable to future attacks by letting potential hackers probe for weaknesses. 

The leak also shows creator payments in the millions for streamers like xQc, Nickmercs and Shroud. Several have confirmed that the figures are accurate. 

Twitch said that the investigation is ongoing. “We are still in the process of understanding the impact in detail,” the company wrote. 

Update 10/7/2021 4:54 AM ET: Twitch has reset all stream keys and advised users on how to update their software. That information has been added to the article. 

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Tech News

LG’s Quantum Dot NanoCell Mini LED TVs priced up for July debut

LG’s new flagship TVs will go on sale in July, the company has confirmed today, packing up to 8K resolution, Quantum Dot NanoCell color, and Mini LED backlight technology. Announced at CES 2021, the new line-up of 8K QNED99 and QNED95 series plus the with 4K QNED90 series run up to a whopping 86-inches in size.

There are a number of improvements LG wheels out to deliver its better picture quality, but one of the most significant is the smaller LEDs it relies upon for its backlighting. In the case of the 86-inch 8K TV from the QNED99 range, for example, there are around 30,000 LEDs behind the panel, organized in roughly 2,500 local dimming zones.

The result, LG says, is up to 10x the contrast ratio than a conventional LCD could manage.

Most affordable of the range is the LG QNED MiniLED 90 Series. Available in 65-inch, 75-inch, and 86-inch sizes, it uses a 4K panel with LG’s Alpha 7 Gen 4 AI processor for image and audio upscaling. There’s Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support.

LG uses webOS for the interface, and there’s built-in support for the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. Apple AirPlay 2 streaming is supported as well. 2.2 channel speakers are built-in, with 40W of power, while connectivity includes WiFi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0, four HDMI inputs, three USB 2.0, ethernet, and a digital audio output among others.

Pricing will start from $1,999 for the 65-inch 4K QNED90, then $2,999 for the 75-inch version, and finally $3,999 for the 86-inch model.

More expensive – but bringing more pixels – is the 2021 LG QNED MiniLED 99 Series. Again, LG is offering its 8K sets in 65-inch, 75-inch, and 86-inch sizes, all using Quantum Dot NanoCell panels. There’s the Alpha 9 Gen 4 AI processor with AI-powered upscaling, plus Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.

You get the same built-in assistant support for Google and Amazon’s tech, and AirPlay 2 streaming as well. The more expensive sets have an even more eye-catching design too, with super-slim bezels and a depth designed with wall-mounting in mind.

Pricing starts at $3,499 for the 65-inch 8K QNED99 TV, then $4,799 for the 75-inch model, and finally a hefty $6,599 for the largest 86-inch model.

Both ranges come with the new LG Magic Remote, which has gesture-based navigation, shortcuts to content, and Magic Tap support for compatible phones. For example, you could tap your LG Android phone to the remote to automatically start streaming content from it to the TV, or reverse mirror content in the opposite direction.

LG says the new QNED Mini LED TVs will go on sale in North America first, in early July 2021. That’ll be followed by additional regions around the world in the coming weeks.

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Categories
Computing

Lenovo 5i 14 Has Stylish Dual-Tone Chassis and LED Light Bar

Both the Lenovo 5i-14 Chromebook, as well as the Lenovo Flex 5i-13 Chromebook, are going the way of the original Samsung Galaxy Book Chromebook with a bold, unique look and design.

Coming in July and June, and priced at $439 each, these new Chromebooks look quite different from many others from the outside. The Lenovo 5i-14 Chromebook has a dual-tone look and a narrow bezel display coming in either sand or storm gray.

It sports a 14-inch full HD display with 300 nits of brightness, as well as a user-facing stereo speaker system with a built-in amplifier. Configurations include up to the 11th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, with up to 512 GB of solid-state drive storage. There’s even a front LED light bar that changes color based on battery capacity.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Lenovo Flex 5i-13 Chromebook comes in abyss blue and iron gray. This is a convertible so battery life averages about 12 hours, and it can be configured with up to 8 GB of RAM and a 512 GB solid-state drive.

Both these Chromebook models support Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1, and they have a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A port and two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type C ports. You’ll also find Lenovo’s signature privacy shutter so you can disable the webcam manually when it is not in use. Note that only the Lenovo 5i-14 Chromebook has the LED bar, however.

A Lenovo Yoga Chromebook sitting on t he desk in front of a shelf.

Alongside these Chromebooks, Lenovo is launching some new monitors and accessories. The 15.5-inch full HD resolution Lenovo L15 USB-C Mobile Monitor lets you double the space of any device by plugging the monitor in alongside it. It has a carrying sleeve so you can make anyplace your mobile office.

The Lenovo LC50 Modular 1080p webcam is a new product that can magnetically fasten securely atop a monitor’s slim head. Both the Lenovo L32p-30 monitor and the Lenovo L27m-30 monitor round out the list. The first is a 4K display with HDR 10 technology, and the second is more budget-friendly, with a 75-hertz refresh rate. There’s even a stand to let you tilt and swivel it to fit your own setup.

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AI

The pandemic led to ‘significant’ increase in AI adoption across manufacturing, survey finds

Elevate your enterprise data technology and strategy at Transform 2021.


New research from Google Cloud and The Harris Poll reveals that the pandemic led to a significant increase in AI use across manufacturers. According to a survey of senior executives at over 1,000 companies, two-thirds of manufacturers that use AI in their day-to-day operations report that their reliance on AI is increasing, with 74% claiming that they align with the changing work landscape.

According to a 2020 PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, companies in manufacturing expect efficiency gains over the next five years attributable to digital transformations. McKinsey’s research with the World Economic Forum puts the value creation potential of manufacturers implementing “Industry 4.0” — the automation of traditional industrial practices — at $3.7 trillion in 2025.

Seventy-six percent of respondents to the Google Cloud report say that they’ve turned to “disruptive technologies” like AI, data analytics, and the cloud to help navigate the pandemic. Manufacturers told surveyors that they’ve tapped AI to optimize their supply chains including in the management (36%), risk management (36%), and inventory management (34%) domains. Even among firms that currently don’t use AI in their day-to-day operations, about a third believe it would make employees more efficient (37%) and be helpful for employees overall (31%), according to Google Cloud.

Manufacturing is undergoing a resurgence as business owners look to modernize their factories and speed up operations. According to ABI Research, more than 4 million commercial robots will be installed in over 50,000 warehouses around the world by 2025, up from under 4,000 warehouses as of 2018. Oxford Economics anticipates 12.5 million manufacturing jobs will be automated in China, while McKinsey projects machines will take upwards of 30% of these jobs in the U.S.

Ford is among the manufacturers using AI within its operations via a relationship with Google. Announced in February, the automaker plans to leverage Google’s expertise in data, AI, and machine learning as a part of Team Upshift, a six-year partnership and collaborative group launching in 2023. Ford says the initiative will accelerate modernization of product development, manufacturing, and supply chain management, including exploration of using vision AI for manufacturing employee training and even more reliable plant equipment performance.

“[This] will supercharge our efforts to democratize AI across our business, from the plant floor to vehicles to dealerships,” Bryan Goodman, director of AI and cloud at Ford, said in a statement. “We used to count the number of AI and machine learning projects at Ford. Now it’s so commonplace that it’s like asking how many people are using math. This includes an AI ecosystem that is fueled by data, and that powers a ‘digital network flywheel.’”

Barriers to adoption

Automotive OEMs, automotive suppliers, and heavy machinery are among the top three subsectors deploying AI, with companies in metals, industrial and assembly, and heavy machinery seeing the highest uptick. The five dominant areas where AI is currently employed in manufacturing spans quality inspection (39%), supply chain management (36%), risk management (36%), production line quality checks (35%), and inventory management (34%). And manufacturers peg assisting with business continuity (38%), helping employees increasing efficiency (38%), and helping employees overall (34%) as the top reasons they leverage AI.

But despite the uptick in deployment of AI in the manufacturing industry, barriers threaten to slow adoption. Twenty-five percent of respondents say that they lack the talent to properly use AI, while 23% say they don’t have the IT infrastructure and over 20% say it’s too cost-prohibitive. Nineteen percent of manufacturers told Google Cloud that they consider AI an “unproven” technology, and 16% claim that they lack the necessary stakeholder buy-in, stymieing AI implementation efforts.

The Google Cloud findings come after Alation’s latest quarterly State of Data Culture Report, which similarly discovered that only a small percentage of professionals believe AI is being used effectively across their organizations. A lack of executive buy-in was a top reason, Alation reported, with 55% of respondents to the company’s survey citing this as more important than a lack of employees with data science skills.

“Even though some barriers exist, many companies believe they have the right IT infrastructure to successfully implement AI,” the coauthors of the Google Cloud report wrote. “As AI becomes more pervasive in solving real-world problems for manufacturers, we see a shift from ‘pilot purgatory’ to the ‘golden age of AI.’ The industry is no stranger to innovation — from the days of mass production to lean manufacturing, six sigma, and more recently, enterprise resource planning. And now, AI promises to deliver even more innovation.”

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Categories
Tech News

iPad Pro with Mini LED could be delayed up to July

For a company like Apple, delays in product shipments aren’t just embarrassing, they’re also costly for everyone involved in the production chain. Fortunately, those instances are rare and happen only in the most extreme conditions. Unfortunately, those conditions might be at play again with the latest-gen iPad Pros who might not be shipping until two months because of the very feature that defines this biggest and newest Apple tablet.

There were already worries that Apple would postpone its April event and delay the iPad Pros. That was mostly because of reports that Mini LED displays were in short supply due to various economic conditions, including the global chip shortage. In addition to the new Apple M1 processor, which is also found in the latest Macs, that Mini LED panel would be one of the defining features of the 5th-gen 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

That Mini LED feature, which Apple officially brands as “Liquid Retina XDR”, is promised to deliver brighter images and higher contrast ratios, meaning darker blacks. It is, unfortunately, also harder to make and now the reports say that the one and a half month delay could get a bit worse because of it.

Bloomberg’s sources claim that supply constraints could push shipments back to mid-July or even later. That’s already a long waiting time for a device that went into pre-order last month and is expected to officially launch in just a few weeks. Delivery dates for those pre-orders already stretch into June so another month of waiting will surely irk a few early buyers.

Of course, consumers won’t be the ones hit the hardest when missing such targets. While Apple missing $4 billion in revenue in the current quarter sounds inconsequential for such a large company, those delays will also cost assemblers and suppliers to miss their quarterly targets. Every one of those is probably hoping that when the new 12.9-inch iPad Pros do become available, they will fly off shelves to make up for lost time and profits.

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Categories
Security

The cybersecurity ‘pandemic’ that led to the Colonial Pipeline disaster

The cyberattack that forced the Colonial Pipeline offline is just one failure to address existing weaknesses and an escalating “ransomware pandemic,” experts tell The Verge. That leaves the nation’s energy infrastructure especially vulnerable, even though there are basic steps that could have been taken to prevent the crisis that’s unfolding now.

“Honestly, I think for anyone who’s been tracking ransomware closely, this really shouldn’t be a surprise,” says Philip Reiner, CEO of the nonprofit Institute for Security and Technology. “This is yet another example of what is really a ransomware pandemic that needs to be addressed at the highest level.”

An escalating threat from bad actors, like the criminal group DarkSide that’s believed to be behind the attack on Colonial Pipeline, is coinciding with more potential weak points in the energy sector’s cyber infrastructure. Reiner says ransomware poses growing risks to critical infrastructure beyond energy, including health care and financial systems. Hackers have targeted tech, too. A subcontractor for Apple was hit with a $50 million ransomware attack just last month. But the energy sector seems particularly vulnerable to all kinds of cyber threats.

“This is the kind of thing that keeps folks like us awake at night,” says Tucker Bailey, a partner and cybersecurity expert at consultancy McKinsey & Company. “We’ve known that the [vulnerabilities] have been there for a while.”

Almost half of all the East Coast’s fuel typically travels through the Colonial Pipeline, which has been shuttered since May 7th. The pipeline company’s IT system fell victim to ransomware, a type of cyber attack in which hackers demand payment to bring systems back online. DarkSide also stole data from the company and threatened to publish it online, Bloomberg reported.

The frequency and severity of attacks against utility systems is on the rise, according to the National Regulatory Research Institute. Fifty-six percent of utility professionals surveyed by Siemens in 2019 said they had experienced at least one attack over the previous year that led to an outage or a loss of private information. More than a third of the 796 “cyber incidents” reported to the Department of Homeland Security between 2013 and 2015 took place in the energy sector.

A collision of a couple key factors could drive those numbers up. First, there are more state actors, cybercriminals, and hacktivists targeting critical infrastructure, according to experts. Second, an increasingly digital power sector opens up more opportunities for hackers to attack.

“As everything is becoming more computerized, the controls for our critical infrastructure are also more computerized and steps need to be taken to ensure that they are protected from cyber attacks,” says Leslie Gordon, acting director for homeland security and justice at the watchdog Government Accountability Office (GAO). She says what happened to Colonial Pipeline is “an example of a failure to protect critical infrastructure.”

Companies are regularly failing to practice even basic security hygiene, which leaves critical infrastructure open to attack. Good security hygiene can include relatively simple things like requiring multi-factor authentication, having response plans ready, and keeping backup systems in place. With Colonial Pipeline, failing to keep its network segmented — so that bad actors can’t easily hop from one piece of the system to the next — was a big problem that shows a lack of cyber hygiene, according to Reiner. Colonial’s IT system was attacked, but that was connected to the company’s operating system, so it shut that down, too.

“One of the things we see here is another example of basic steps not being taken in order to secure your systems,” Reiner says. “Cyber hygiene, or the lack thereof, is really one of the greatest causes of cyber crime. It’s not so much that these guys are so good. It’s just people leave very basic things undone.”

President Joe Biden is expected to announce an executive order that could require contractors the federal government works with to take those kinds of safety measures, and last month, the administration launched a 100-day plan to tackle “increasing cyber threats” to the US electric system. It includes working with utilities to build up their capacity to stop, detect, and respond to attacks. The Department of Energy also launched new research programs in March to make the energy sector more resilient to hazards, both physical and cyber.

But a workforce shortage is another lingering problem for the energy sector that could jeopardize those plans. There’s an estimated shortage of 498,480 cybersecurity workers in the US, a 2019 report found. The Transportation Security Administration, which oversees pipeline security, is short on inspectors and lacks a strategic workforce development plan to help it “carry out its pipeline security responsibilities,” a 2018 report by the GAO found. Three years after the agency recommended that the TSA fill that gap, the GAO says that has yet to happen (although the TSA reports that it’s in the middle of completing a workforce plan).

Until these basic problems are solved, the threat of cyberattacks will loom large over the energy system and other critical infrastructure. And while the attacks are virtual, the consequences can be quickly felt on the ground. The longer the Colonial Pipeline stays out of commission, the bigger the risk of gas stations, jet fuel, and even home heating oil running dry. The pipeline company did not respond to The Verge by time of publication but said in a statement that it’s bringing parts of its pipeline online in stages — with hopes that most operations will be restored by the end of the week.

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Categories
Game

PlayStation Play at Home serves up game freebies led by Horizon Zero Dawn

Sony revived its PlayStation Play at Home promotion this month by giving away free copies of Ratchet & Clank for PS4 (which is still available if you haven’t yet claimed it), and now the company is detailing what’s next for Play at Home. When Sony announced its return back in February, it confirmed that it would have more freebies to give away to PlayStation gamers, but few of us probably imagined it would be giving away as many games as it announced today.

Beginning on March 25th, Sony will be handing out a slate of indie titles. Abzu, Enter the Gungeon, Rez Infinite, Subnautica, The Witness, Astro Bot Rescue Mission, Moss, Thumper, and Paper Beast will be free to claim and keep starting on the 25th at 8 PM PDT/11 PM EDT, and they’ll be available until April 22nd at 8 PM PDT/11 PM EDT.

That’s a pretty impressive mix of PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR titles, so be sure to claim them during the month that they’re free. In addition to offering these free games, Sony is offering an extended three month trial to Funimation. That kicks off on March 25th and runs through April 22nd as well, so be sure to claim that as you add this collection of games to your library.

We’re going to have to wait until April to get what is arguably the biggest freebie, though. From April 19th at 8 PM PDT/11 PM EDT until May 14th at the same time, PlayStation users will be able to claim Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition. This, as the title suggests, comes with the base game along with all of the DLC that was released for it, so if you’ve been a patient gamer in regards to Horizon Zero Dawn, it looks like your decision to wait is paying off big time.

Sony says that it will have more to share soon, but it’s unclear if that means more content drops are coming in the future. We’ll let you know when Sony announces more, but in the meantime, be sure to claim Ratchet & Clank before that offer runs out on March 31st at 8 PM PDT.

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Categories
Tech News

ARM just showed 2021’s smartphone CPUs, led by the powerful Cortex-X1

ARM has announced the next generation of smartphone processors, set to deliver up to 20 percent or greater performance than the prior generation. It includes something special: a new Cortex-X1 design, an optimized version designed for “ultimate performance.”

In the smartphone industry, ARM designs its Cortex CPUs, Mali GPUs, and Ethos machine-learning processors, then licenses them to companies like Qualcomm. (This differs from the PC chip business, where AMD and Intel keep their designs proprietary—and Intel manufactures its own CPUs as well.) Those chip designers, in turn, are permitted to customize and enhance them, depending upon their license terms.

The new cores—the Cortex-A78, the Mali-G78, and the Ethos-N78—will debut in smartphones shipping in 2021, ARM executives said. The company is promising that the Cortex-A78 will deliver 20 percent greater sustained performance over the prior generation; the Mali-G78, 25 percent better overall performance; and the Ethos-N78, 25 percent more performance efficiency. 

arm a78 overview perf slide ARM

Then there’s the ARM Cortex-X1, which ARM is promising will deliver 30 percent peak performance over the prior Cortex-A generation. This, according to ARM, represents a new category of “off roadmap” performance, requiring specific engineering collaboration with partners. It sounds like we’ll be hearing more about the first fruits of the Cortex-X1 partnership within the coming weeks.

“It answers the question of how much performance can be pushed for this generation when you’re not so constrained by the usual power area constraints,” Paul Williamson, vice president and general manager of ARM’s client line of business, said of the Cortex-X1. “It’s really targeting flagship smartphones and larger-screen devices. And given the silicon area and dissipated power, it’s not really something we expect to see in every device.”

Smartphone makers have a choice between using the new ARM cores to maximize performance, or to deliver better battery life with the same performance as the prior generation. This is actually the angle Williamson took when explaining the new cores, as the three deliver “more out of the same power budget as last year,” he said.

More on the Cortex-A78

Williamson said the A78 was specifically designed for the demands of 5G, with use cases that included how fast applications launch, and how responsive webpages are when scrolling. “Sustained performance in a device with limited power will avoid power throttling in really high-performance applications,” Williamson said. “So you’ll get less lag and less framerate drops.”

arm cortex a78 peformance ARM

A summary of the ARM Cortex-A78’s performance.

Like the prior Cortex-A77, the Cortex-A78 will consist of what ARM calls its big.LITTLE octacore architecture, with four high-performance A78 cores and four A55 cores optimized for long battery life. ARM said that a Cortex-A78 core running at 3GHz would deliver 20 percent more sustained, single-core performance than the Cortex-A77 core running at 2.6GHz, assuming 1 watt per core. The performance is based on simulated estimates.

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Tech News

iPads and Chromebooks led PC market growth in 2020

A few years ago, almost every market analyst and tech news site repeated the mantra of the death of tablets that no longer have any place in a consumer market filled with large phones. Today, tablets have apparently become one of the strongest contenders in the global PC market, helping continue that market’s growth after languishing for years. Of course, the pandemic is partly to thank for that but a bit more interesting is how Apple’s tablets have played an important role there as well.

Although it will probably contest the association, Apple’s Macs have always been lumped together with other PCs when it comes to surveying sales and market growth. The interesting trend in the past quarters, however, is that tablets have slowly become part of that group as well, including Apple’s iPads and Samsung’s Android tablets. That is pretty much a vindication of Apple’s push to portray its iPads, especially the iPad Pros, as the next generation of computers rather than the mere consumption devices they were in the past.

The tablet market experienced a 54% growth in Q4 of 2020 compared to the same period the previous year and a 28% growth when comparing totals between 2019 and 2020. Apple is, unsurprisingly at the top of it all, with nearly 40% of the pie. Samsung is a distant second, almost making it to 20%, followed by Amazon whose sales experienced a holiday boost in the fourth quarter of last year.

Even more impressive, however, is the growth spurt of Chromebooks that experience a 287% increase in shipments when comparing the last quarter of 2020 and 2019. While Lenovo still leads the overall global PC market, HP is rated as the top Chromebook maker for 2020.

Canalys explains the surge of Chromebooks and the resurgence of tablets as a change in market trends brought about by a change in lifestyles, work, and education last year. There has been a growing need for more accessible computing devices that tablets deliver as well as more economical educational computers like Chromebooks. The market analyst doesn’t expect this trend to change anytime soon and might, in fact, see even more detachable tablets launched, including Microsoft’s Windows 10X Chrome OS rival.

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