Categories
Computing

Future Intel Laptops Could Mandate 8-Megapixel Webcams

Tired of a miserly low-resolution webcam on your Intel-powered laptop? That could soon be a thing of the past, if leaked specifications for Intel’s Evo 4.0 platform are anything to go by, as much better picture quality is apparently in the offing.

According to NotebookCheck, the fourth generation of Intel’s Evo platform — which could be introduced with the upcoming Raptor Lake series of processors pegged for the third quarter of 2022 — will mandate 8-megapixel cameras on all laptops running this spec. In other words, if laptop manufacturers want to work with Intel to be Evo-accredited, they will need to up their webcam game.

Riley Young/Digital Trends

High resolution isn’t the only thing that could become a requirement. NotebookCheck claims other specs are likely to be part of the Evo 4.0 specification, including an 80-degree field of view, plus a passing grade on the VCX benchmark.

What is VCX, you ask? Well, Intel is now part of the VCX forum (short for Valued Camera eXperience), which scores laptop webcams based on certain benchmarks. These include texture loss, motion control, sharpness, dynamic range, the camera’s performance under various lighting conditions, and more. At the end, a final score is given. And it now seems that Intel will be expecting manufacturers’ webcams to hit a minimum score (as yet unknown) in order to pass muster.

Interestingly, NotebookCheck’s report says that any webcams placed below the user’s eye line will be awarded negative points in the VCX test. Someone better tell the Huawei MateBook X Pro.

With Intel’s Raptor Lake series set for later in 2022, could we see some of these webcam improvements in this year’s Alder Lake-based laptops? That’s certainly possible. Intel will allegedly have VCX benchmark scores ready by the first quarter of 2022, so we might see a few devices appear that meet these standards before Raptor Lake steps into the limelight. Just don’t bet the farm on it.

Alongside Intel, Microsoft has also reportedly begun enforcing minimum standards for its partner devices. Like Intel, the company wants manufacturers to hit certain specs for webcams, microphones, and speakers. With two giants of the industry pushing manufacturers to up their game, we could finally be able to bid flimsy webcams and crackly mics adieu.

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Categories
Security

Biden admin’s bug fix mandate aims to prevent the next major cybersecurity attack

The Biden administration is requiring civilian federal agencies to fix hundreds of cybersecurity flaws, as reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal. As the WSJ states, the BOD 22-01 directive from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) covers around 200 known threats that cybersecurity experts discovered between 2017 and 2020, as well as 90 more flaws that were found in 2021. Federal agencies have six months to patch older threats and just two weeks to fix the ones that were discovered within the past year.

The WSJ report points out that federal agencies are usually left to their own devices when it comes to security, sometimes resulting in poor security management. The goal is to force federal agencies to fix all potential threats, whether they’re major or not, and establish a basic list for other private and public organizations to follow. While zero-day vulnerabilities that exploit previously unknown openings get major headlines, addressing “the subset of vulnerabilities that are causing harm now” can get ahead of many incidents.

Previously, a 2015 order gave federal agencies one month to fix threats deemed “critical risk.” This was changed in 2019 to include threats categorized as “high risk,” as pointed out by the WSJ. The new mandate distances itself from prioritizing specific threat levels and instead acknowledges that small holes can quickly cause larger problems if hackers can find a way to take advantage of them.

“The Directive lays out clear requirements for federal civilian agencies to take immediate action to improve their vulnerability management practices and dramatically reduce their exposure to cyber attacks,” says CISA director Jen Easterly. “While this Directive applies to federal civilian agencies, we know that organizations across the country, including critical infrastructure entities, are targeted using these same vulnerabilities. It is therefore critical that every organization adopt this Directive and prioritize mitigation of vulnerabilities listed in CISA’s public catalog.”

CISA’s newly released list of known vulnerabilities notably includes the Microsoft Exchange Server flaw. In March, emails from over 30,000 US governmental and commercial organizations were hacked by a Chinese group, thanks to four known security holes that, had they been patched, would’ve prevented the attacks. CISA’s list requires patching the “Microsoft Exchange Remote Code Execution Vulnerability” and is calling on federal agencies to install available SolarWinds patches by May 2022.

The Solarwinds Orion Platform is also on the list, which was the victim of a major hack in late 2020 that compromised US government agencies. The CISA notes that the “SolarWinds Orion API is vulnerable to an authentication bypass that could allow a remote attacker to execute API commands.”

Cybersecurity has been a priority for President Biden since he entered office. In May, he signed an executive order to help prevent future cybersecurity disasters. The order mandates two-factor authentication across the federal government, establishes a protocol for responding to cyberattacks, and forms a Cybersecurity Safety Review Board, among other safety measures.

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