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On Call Friday is here. We'd suggest an adult beverage or two to celebrate, but only if you BYOB. While you fill your suitcase, may we present an episode of On Call in which a reader saves his boss from a dunking.
Our tale comes from a reader Regomised as "Ed" and is set earlier this century. Ed was working as a developer in a biotech lab. He rarely spoke to the director, but did speak to the director's personal assistant a lot.
This PA was very much a jack of all trades (and master of... well, you get the drift). HR? He was in charge of that. Ops? That too. Anything technical? Of course. Heck, even though the firm had its very own bean counter, one had to go through the PA to get anything paid or budgets approved.
The United Kingdom and Australia have signed a Cyber and Critical Technology Partnership that will, among other things, transport criminals to a harsh penal regime on the other side of the world.
Australian foreign minister Marise Payne and UK foreign secretary Liz Truss yesterday inked the document in Sydney but haven't revealed the text of the pact.
What we do know is that the two nations have pledged to "Increase deterrence by raising the costs for hostile state activity in cyberspace – including through strategic co-ordination of our cyber sanctions regimes." That's code for both nations adopting the same deterrents and punishments for online malfeasance so that malfeasants can't shop jurisdictions to find more lenient penalties.
A man found guilty of using the Coinhive cryptojacking script to mine Monero on users' PCs while they browsed the web has been cleared by Japan's Supreme Court on the grounds that crypto mining software is not malware.
Tokyo High Court ruled against the defendant, 34-year-old Seiya Moroi, on charges of keeping electromagnetic records of an unjust program. That unjust program was Coinhive, a "cryptojacking" script that mines for Monero by pinching some CPU cycles when users visit a web page that includes the code. Moroi ran the code on his website.
The European Commission will introduce legislation next month designed to turn the continent into a center of chip expertise and manufacturing.
The EC will propose the European Chips Act in early February, which will boost Europe's infrastructure for the production and supply chain of chip manufacturing, said Ursula von der Leyen, president of the commission, in an address to the World Economic Forum on Thursday.
The goal is to raise Europe's market share of global chip production to 20 per cent by 2030, which would mean quadrupling the EU's current output, she said, and would involve state aid to build "first of a kind" production facilities.
Russia has floated the prospect of Putin a ban on cryptocurrencies.
The Bank of Russia, the nation's central bank, yesterday published a Consultation Paper [PDF] titled "Cryptocurrencies: Trends, Risks, and Regulation" that ponders the impact of unbacked cryptocurrencies and stablecoins on Russia's economy.
The document opens by noting that Russian citizens have not missed the crypto investment boom, and transact an estimated $5 billion a year with the digi-dollars, while the nation has become a major centre for crypto-mining.
730 million 5G subscriptions have been ordered in China, according to operational statistics published this week by the nation's big three carriers: China Telecom, China Unicom, and China Mobile.
That total means 396.5 million new 5G packages were activated during 2021, more than doubling the 333.5 million services in operation as of January last year. The actual market could be even larger, as the three report subscriptions which could cover multiple devices or people.
Demand for other communications services continued to grow in China across 2021.
Space Entertainment Enterprise (SEE), a UK-based media company, has commissioned Axiom Space in Texas to build an inflatable space station module for orbital media production.
On Thursday, the media firm, which claims to be working on "the first ever Hollywood motion picture filmed in outer space," reportedly involving Tom Cruise, said it has hired Axiom Space to create SEE-1.
SEE-1 is envisioned as a media production module that will "allow artists, producers, and creatives to develop, produce, record, and live stream content which maximizes the Space Station’s low-orbit microgravity environment, including films, television, music and sports events."
NASA has put its orbiting Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory into safe mode due to a suspected faulty reaction wheel, the first time this type of failure has occurred in its 17 years of operation.
NASA this week confirmed Swift was powered down on January 18. A team of scientists and engineers from Pennsylvania State University working at the Mission Operations Center (MOC) for Swift asked astronomers to hold off from requesting observation time as all science operations have temporarily halted.
“The mission team is investigating a possible failure of one of the spacecraft's reaction wheels as the cause,” NASA said in a statement. “The team has powered off the suspected wheel. The observatory and all its instruments are otherwise healthy and operating as anticipated. The observatory will remain in safe mode as a precaution while the team further investigates the issue.”
Crypto.com on Thursday said in a roundabout way that an unidentified person stole or attempted to steal as much as $34m in cryptocurrency from customer accounts.
In an update on the cyberattack reported earlier this week, the Singapore-based firm said it "learned that a small number of users had unauthorized crypto withdrawals on their accounts."
That small number, the biz revealed, amounted to 483 Crypto.com customers.
PCs coming out this year with Microsoft's integrated Pluton security chip won't be locked down to Windows 11, and users will have the option to turn off the feature completely as well as install, say, Linux as normal, we understand.
The first Windows 11 PCs with Pluton built-in were shown at CES earlier this month. Major PC chip houses – think Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm – are said to be embedding Pluton inside their just-launched or upcoming microprocessors.
Pluton can act as a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) or as a non-TPM security coprocessor. It's a way for Microsoft to specify exactly how it wants a TPM component to be present in microprocessors so that Windows 11 can use the hardware as a root-of-trust and secure its stuff.
Small and medium-sized managed service providers (MSPs) could find themselves subject to the Network and Information Systems Regulations under government plans to tighten cybersecurity laws – and have got three months to object to the tax hikes that will follow.
Plans to amend the EU-derived Network and Information Systems Regulations (NIS) are more likely than ever to see SMEs brought into scope, as The Register reported last year when these plans were first floated.
NIS is the main law controlling security practices in the UK today. Currently a straight copy of the EU NIS Directive, one of the benefits of Brexit leapt upon by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is the new ability to amend NIS's reporting thresholds.
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