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A distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS attack) sees an attacker flooding the network or servers of the victim with a wave of internet traffic so big that their infrastructure is overwhelmed by the number of requests for access, slowing down services or taking them fully offline and preventing legitimate users from accessing the service at all. While a DDoS attack is one of the least sophisticated categories of cyberattack, it also has the potential to be one of the most disruptive and most powerful by taking websites and digital services offline for significant periods of time that can range from seconds to even weeks at a time. DDoS attacks are carried out using a network of internet-connected machines – PCs, laptops, servers, Internet of Things devices – all controlled by the attacker. These could be anywhere (hence the term 'distributed') and it's unlikely the owners of the devices realize what they are being used for as they are likely to have been hijacked by hackers. Common ways in which cybercriminals take control of machines include malware attacks and gaining access by using the default user name and password the product is issued with – if the device has a password at all. Once the attackers have breached the device, it becomes part of a botnet – a group of machines under their control. Botnets can be used for all manner of malicious activities, including distributing phishing emails, malware or ransomware, or in the case of a DDoS attack, as the source of a flood of internet traffic. The size of a botnet can range from a relatively small number of zombie devices to millions of them. Either way, the botnet's controllers can turn the web traffic generated towards a target and conduct a DDoS attack. Servers, networks, and online services are designed to cope with a certain amount of internet traffic but, if they're flooded with additional traffic in a DDoS attack, they become overwhelmed. The high amounts of traffic being sent by the DDoS attack clog up or takes down the systems' capabilities, while also preventing legitimate users from accessing services (which is the 'denial of service' element).  An IP stressor is a service that can be used by organizations to test the robustness of their networks and servers. The goal of this test is to find out if the existing bandwidth and network capacity are enough to handle additional traffic. An IT department using a stressor to test their own network is a perfectly legitimate application of an IP stressor. However, using an IP stressor against a network that you don't operate is illegal in many parts of the world – because the end result could be a DDoS attack. However, there are cyber-criminal groups and individuals that will actively use IP stressors as part of a DDoS attack. What's widely regarded as the first malicious DDoS attack occurred in July 1999 when the computer network at the University of Minnesota was taken down for two days. A network of 114 computers infected with Trin00 malware all directed their traffic at a computer at the university, overwhelming the network with traffic and blocking legitimate use. No effort was made to hide the IP address of the computers launching the traffic – and the owners of the attacking systems had no idea their computers were infected with malware and were causing an outage elsewhere. The world didn't have to wait long after the University of Minnesota incident to see how disruptive DDoS attacks could be. By February 2000, 15-year-old Canadian Michael Calce – online alias MafiaBoy – had managed to take over a number of university networks, roping a large number of computers into a botnet. He used this for a DDoS attack that took down some of the biggest websites at the start of the new millennium, including Yahoo! – which at the time was the biggest search engine in the world – eBay, Amazon, CNN, and more. By the mid-2000s, it was apparent that DDoS attacks could be a potent tool in the cybercriminal arsenal, but the world was about to see a new example of how disruptive DDoS attacks could be; by taking down the internet services of an entire country. In April 2007, Estonia was – and still is – one of the most digitally advanced countries in the world, with almost every government service accessible online to the country's 1.3 million citizens through an online ID system. But from 27 April, Estonia was hit with a series of DDoS attacks disrupting all online services in the country, as well as parliament, banks, ministries, newspapers, and broadcasters. People weren't able to access the services they needed on a daily basis. For complete details visit OUR FORUM.

After tearing the PlayStation 5's guts apart earlier this week, Sony confirmed nearly everything we'd like to know on Friday about how its new console, launching November 12, will interface with PS4 games via backward compatibility. We should probably start with the big news that Sony has not cleared up just yet. Today, we received our first indication that PlayStation 5 will ship with something known as "Game Boost," which its Friday news post suggests "may make [select] PS4 games run with a higher or smoother frame rate." This suggestion doesn't come with a handy footnote pointing us to a list of affected games or features, however. Sony did not immediately respond to our request for clarification, so I'm left pointing to my recent deep dive with Xbox Series X's backward compatibility suite. What I found there was compelling: Most games play nearly identically on Xbox Series X as they do on Xbox One X, since console games are typically coded with hard limits on technical aspects. But in the case of games that launched on PS4 with "unlocked" frame rates and dynamic resolutions, well, the sky might be the limit. Will PS5 let those older, uncapped games tap into the full PS5 architecture or will certain CPU and GPU aspects be limited for compatibility's sake? I found that Xbox Series X was generally quite generous to the minority of games that could tap into increased horsepower, but there's no guaranteeing Sony will treat its older games the same way, in order to prioritize compatibility over upgrades. Additionally, will current-gen PlayStation VR games see their own boosts? "PSVR" is referenced repeatedly throughout today's new document but not in the brief mention of Game Boost. Existing PlayStation VR hardware seems to be entirely compatible with PS5, with Sony confirming once again that users will need a PlayStation Camera adapter to connect to PS5—and that those adapters will be free. How exactly PSVR owners will get those adapters remains to be seen. The matter of PS5 controller compatibility is a bit more complicated than Xbox Series' pledge of total forward and backward compatibility (with the exception of Xbox One Kinect, RIP). As has previously been hinted, PS5's new DualSense controller will work with older games, but PS4's DualShock 4 gamepad will not work with PS5 games. (Yes, you can still connect a PS4 DualShock 4 to play PS4 games on PS5. Whew, that's a mouthful.) In good forward-compatibility news, if you already bought an expensive add-on controller, Sony assures you that "specialty peripherals [from the PS4 era], such as officially licensed racing wheels, arcade sticks, and flight sticks," will work with PS5 software. When playing the PS4's library of PSVR games on PS5, Sony encourages users to stick with DualShock 4 as a gamepad, suggesting that the older gamepad offers the "best experience" in PSVR. This implies, but doesn't confirm, that DualSense will not work the same way as a DualShock 4 in PSVR games like Astro Bot, which relies heavily on gamepad motion sensing via tracking elements like its "light bar." You can also use existing PlayStation Move wands in PSVR games on PS5. Certain PS4 system features have been scrapped when moving forward to PS5. The DualShock 4's "share" button now brings up the PS5's built-in "create" menu, which appears to do all the stuff that "share" did on PS4 but with a few additional button shortcuts. And PS4 social features like tournaments, "in-game live," and second-screen app functionality have all gotten the axe. Complete details are posted on OUR FORUM.

Fortnite won’t be coming back to the App Store any time soon. On Friday, Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers refused to grant Epic Games a preliminary injunction against Apple that would force the game developer to reinstate Fortnite on the App Store, while simultaneously granting an injunction that keeps Apple from retaliating against the Unreal Engine, which Epic also owns. In other words, we now have a permanent version of the temporary restraining order ruling from last month. That means the state of affairs, in which Epic is banned from publishing new games on iOS and cannot distribute Fortnite on the App Store in its current form, will remain in place for the length of the trial — unless Epic decides to remove its own in-app payment mechanism that initiated the bitter legal feud in August. Rogers had previously suggested a jury trial might be appropriate as soon as next July, but ahead of today’s ruling, both parties said they would rather have the case decided by a judge. Today’s decision still prevents Apple from revoking Epic’s developer tools in a way that could have harmed its broader business. “Epic Games and Apple are at liberty to litigate this action for the future of the digital frontier, but their dispute should not create havoc to bystanders. Thus, the public interest weighs overwhelmingly in favor of Unreal Engine and the Epic Affiliates,” said the judge, keeping Epic’s Unreal Engine business from being harmed. “Epic Games is grateful that Apple will continue to be barred from retaliating against Unreal Engine and our game development customers as the litigation continues,” an Epic spokesperson said in a statement. “We will continue to develop for iOS and Mac under the court’s protection and we will pursue all avenues to end Apple’s anti-competitive behavior.” “Our customers depend on the App Store being a safe and trusted place where all developers follow the same set of rules,” an Apple spokesperson said in a statement. “We’re grateful the court recognized that Epic’s actions were not in the best interests of its own customers and that any problems they may have encountered were of their own making when they breached their agreement. For twelve years, the App Store has been an economic miracle, creating transformative business opportunities for developers large and small. We look forward to sharing this legacy of innovation and dynamism with the court next year.” Apple and Epic met in federal court again in September for another round, where the merits of the Fortnite developer’s antitrust case against Apple were argued before Rogers for a second time since Epic filed its lawsuit in August. Epic had a particularly rough go of it, as Rogers singled out the company for what she characterized as dishonest behavior that may prove the company poses a security risk to the iOS platform. “You did something, you lied about it by omission, by not being forthcoming. That’s the security issue. That’s the security issue!” Rogers told Epic, according to a report from CNN. “There are a lot of people in the public who consider you guys heroes for what you guys did, but it’s still not honest.” Rogers also brought up the fact that walled gardens and their standard 30 percent cuts are commonplace in the game industry, with console makers like Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony implementing similar rules. Rogers said the case should likely go to a jury to decide and suggested a trial time frame of next summer. “It is important enough to understand what real people think,” said Rogers. “Do these security issues concern people or not?” The other benefit of a jury trial is that it may result in a stickier, more definitive ruling. The likelihood this case sees numerous appeals is high, and appellate courts are more likely to uphold a jury decision when appealed. That could avoid the case bouncing between courts for years to come. “I know I’m just a stepping stone for all of you,” Rogers added. Learn more by visiting OUR FORUM.

According to the complaint which was voiced at a closed-door meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO), China’s trading partner was taking measures that are “clearly inconsistent with WTO rules, restrict cross-border trading services and violate the basic principles and objectives of the multilateral trading system”, RT reported. The US said at the meeting that its action against Chinese apps was in defense of its national security. It has pointed to the WTO’s General Agreement on Services which allows for such action in cases “relating to the supply of services as carried out directly or indirectly for the purpose of provisioning a military establishment”. China has argued that TikTok’s data collection was standard practiсe for thousands of apps worldwide and that Washington’s actions were a “clear abuse” of the relevant articles. US President Donald Trump has accused TikTok of threatening America’s national security and gathering data for Beijing via the app’s parent company ByteDance. Both Beijing and the firm denied those allegations. Trump has targeted the popular Chinese apps with a series of orders that aim to ban US entities from doing business with them or downloading them from American app stores. In addition, the Trump administration wants to force the sale of TikTok to a US buyer by November 14. ByteDance has already started discussing the transfer of the app’s ownership to US tech giant Oracle. A new company, TikTok Global, would oversee US operations. Trump has approved the deal, which, according to him, will provide “100 percent” security.
Via fna, Pic archive

The modular and most adaptive version of Windows 10 is currently called ‘Windows 10X’ and it’ll be arriving on traditional single-screen laptops in the first half of 2021. Windows 10’s modular version was first announced in October 2019 and Microsoft originally said that the Surface Neo would be the first device to run the new OS. However, everything has changed after Microsoft started preparing Windows 10X for single-screen devices in an effort to meet the current needs of the customers. Microsoft has also removed the Surface Neo listing to clarify it’s not coming this holiday season. At the moment, we’re not sure if Microsoft will publish the beta builds of Windows 10X to the testers in the Insider, which raises fresh questions and concerns about exactly how the OS might work. Windows 10X is also known as Windows Lite internally and it’s based on Windows Core OS, which modularizes Windows Shell and other components. This new operating system is designed to run on both single-screen and dual-screen form factors, and it’s also modern without legacy components. In addition, Windows 10X comes with a new user interface that ditches live tiles support for icons and it also allows Windows Update to happen seamlessly in the background. According to sources, Microsoft is currently planning to deliver Windows 10X sometime in the first half of 2021 without native support for Win32 apps. The first single-screen Windows 10X PCs are also set to arrive in the second quarter or Spring of 2021. To make room for Windows 10X launch, Microsoft also appears to be considering changes to its Windows 10 upgrade cycle. Going forward, Windows 10 will receive only one feature update per year and next year’s feature update is expected to arrive after Windows 10X launches in the market. After the launch of Windows 10X in Q2 2021, Microsoft will begin rolling out the first feature update for Windows 10. In the spring of 2022, we’ll see the first big Windows 10X feature update that will add support for dual-screen hardware, such as Surface Neo and Lenovo ThinkPad Fold. Unfortunately, Microsoft has reportedly removed the virtualization technology from the internal builds of Windows 10X. This would have allowed Win32 apps (desktop or classic apps) to run smoothly in a container. Microsoft is not satisfied with the performance of Win32 apps on Windows 10X due to limitations. For example, some Win32 apps are struggling to access the native features available outside the container, which includes screen sharing and alerts when apps are minimized to the taskbar. This is the opposite of the Windows 10X ethos, which is supposed to offer both performance and compatibility at the same time. As a result, Windows 10X internal builds have dropped support for Win32 apps. You can only run UWP and web apps natively, which would turn Windows 10X into a proper lightweight OS for Chromebook-like devices. Microsoft will allow early adopters to stream Win32 apps via a web service, which works only when you have an internet connection. While the plans are always subject to change, Microsoft has internally decided not to move forward with the dual-screen model for another year. For more on this visit OUR FORUM often.

FEDERAL AGENTS from the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department used “a sophisticated cell phone cloning attack—the details of which remain classified—to intercept protesters’ phone communications” in Portland this summer, Ken Klippenstein reported this week in The Nation. Put aside for the moment that, if the report is true, federal agents conducted sophisticated electronic surveillance against American protesters, an alarming breach of constitutional rights. Do ordinary people have any hope of defending their privacy and freedom of assembly against threats like this? Without more details, it’s hard to be entirely sure what type of surveillance was used, but The Nation’s mention of “cell phone cloning” makes me think it was a SIM cloning attack. This involves duplicating a small chip used by virtually every cellphone to link itself to its owner’s phone number and account; this small chip is the subscriber identity module, more commonly known as SIM.  SIM cards contain a secret encryption key that is used to encrypt data between the phone and cellphone towers. They’re designed so that this key can be used (like when you receive a text or call someone) but so the key itself can’t be extracted. But it’s still possible to extract the key from the SIM card, by cracking it. Older SIM cards used a weaker encryption algorithm and could be cracked quickly and easily, but newer SIM cards use stronger encryption and might take days or significantly longer to crack. It’s possible that this is why the details of the type of surveillance used in Portland “remain classified.” Do federal agencies know of a way to quickly extract encryption keys from SIM cards? (On the other hand, it’s also possible that “cell phone cloning” doesn’t describe SIM cloning at all but something else instead, like extracting files from the phone itself instead of data from the SIM card.) Assuming the feds were able to extract the encryption key from their target’s SIM card, they could give the phone back to their target and then spy on all their target’s SMS text messages and voice calls going forward. To do this, they would have to be physically close to their target, monitoring the radio waves for traffic between their target’s phone and a cell tower. When they see it, they can decrypt this traffic using the key they stole from the SIM card. This would also fit with what the anonymous former intelligence officials told The Nation; they said the surveillance was part of a “Low-Level Voice Intercept” operation, a military term describing audio surveillance by monitoring radio waves. Even if law enforcement agencies don’t clone a target’s SIM card, they could gather quite a bit of information after temporarily confiscating the target’s phone. They could power off the phone, pop out the SIM card, put it in a separate phone, and then power that phone on. If someone sends the target an SMS message (or texts a group that the target is in), the feds’ phone would receive that message instead of the target’s phone. And if someone called the target’s phone number, the feds’ phone would ring instead. They could also hack their target’s online accounts, so long as those accounts support resetting the password using a phone number. But, in order to remain stealthy, they would need to power off their phone, put the SIM card back in their target’s phone, and power that phone on again before returning it, which would restore the original phone’s access to the target’s phone number, and the feds would lose access. Read this entire posting on OUR FORUM.