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BT pushes ahead with plans to switch off telephone network

Consultation next month following plan to shift Brits over to VoIP


BT is forging ahead with plans to shut its traditional telephone network in Britain, with the intention of shifting all customers over to IP telephony services by 2025.

The closure of the public switched telephone network (PSTN) is part of plans by BT toward internet-based voice calls via a fibre network. As such it will be looking to close a chunk of exchanges.

Yesterday, Openreach wrote to its communications providers about the move. The broadband division will open consultation next month on the withdrawal of its Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) products, which are reliant on the PSTN.

In an email, seen by The Register, it said:

"This is a truly significant change for the industry and represents a move from an analogue to a digital, fibre led future. These changes will affect how you do business with Openreach."

BT: Let us scrap ordinary phone lines. You've all got great internet, right?

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The consultation will seek feedback on the process and timeline for the withdrawal of WLR and related products.

Cathy Gerosa, head of Regulatory Affairs at representative body for providers, the Federation of Communication Services, noted many of its members have a large WLR presence. She said many do business directly with Openreach for managing that. "This gives them a direct route in for ordering products and for chasing when things go wrong.

"With the move to fibre-only, the B2B [comms providers] are likely to be pushed one place down the chain... and will have less direct control over the services that they offer."

An Openreach spokesman said: "In May, we’ll consult with industry around the process of withdrawing WLR and related products.

"This follows plans by BT to upgrade its customers from analogue (PSTN) to digital (all IP) telephone services by 2025.

"We’ll be working with our Communication Provider customers over the coming months as we consider the move to IP voice services - where broadband rather than voice becomes the primary service."

Other communications companies in Germany, Japan, Sweden, are already in the process of moving voice to run over IP. Orange has set a goal of having all IP (digital) networks by 2020, and Deutsche Telekom aims to migrate all its lines in Europe to digital by the end of 2018.

Openreach also plans to pass three million homes and businesses with fibre-to-the-premise by 2020. ®

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SUSE announces new distro for those who miss the old CentOS: Liberty Linux

Run like RHEL

Official details remain scant, but SUSE Liberty Linux is a new member of the growing tribe of CentOS Linux replacements. The new distro is a SUSE rebuild of CentOS 8, aimed at near-perfect RHEL 8 compatibility.

Since Red Hat killed off CentOS Linux and replaced it with CentOS Stream, there's been renewed activity in the world of drop-in RHEL replacements. Now a new entrant has joined AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux, as SUSE enters the fray with its own rebuild of Red Hat's freely-available source code.

As it has only appeared on SUSE's website over night, we don't have a demo version at time of writing, so here is what we know so far.

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Red Cross forced to shutter family reunion service following cyberattack and data leak

Director-general pleads with cyber-scum: leave this data alone, because the people involved have suffered enough

Humanitarian organization the International Red Cross disclosed this week that it has fallen foul of a cyberattack that saw the data of over 515,000 "highly vulnerable people" exposed to an unknown entity.

The target of the attack was the organisation's Restoring Family Links operation, which strives to find missing persons and reunite those separated from their families due to armed conflict, migration, disaster, detention and other catastrophic events. The service is free, but is currently offline.

Among the stolen data were names, locations, and contact information. The org said the data originated from at least 60 Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies around the world.

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McAfee and FireEye rename themselves ‘Trellix’

To evoke support for growing things, not the 1990s vendor of web-pages-made-easy-ware

LogoWatch Newly combined security outfits McAfee and FireEye have revealed a new name: "Trellix".

Readers may find the name familiar, as another tech company used the same name in the 1990s and early 2000s when it offered intranet and web published tools such as Trellix Web.

In 2001, this press release announced that Trellix had licensed tech from a company called Pyra Labs, which operated a service called "Blogger". Yes, that Blogger – the platform Google acquired in 2003 and which was quickly found to have serious security problems. A year after the Pyra Labs news, we reported that Trellix was acquired by Interland, which rated it as possessing "the best technology in terms of novice users creating professional quality websites".

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Singapore gives banks two-week deadline to fix SMS security

Edict follows widespread bank phishing scam claiming well over $6.3 million

A widespread phishing operation targeting Southeast Asia's second-largest bank – Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) – has prompted the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to introduce regulations for internet banking that include use of an SMS Sender ID registry.

Singapore banks have two weeks to remove clickable links in text messages or e-mails sent to retail customers. Furthermore, activation of a soft token on a mobile device will require a 12-hour cooling off period, customers must be notified of any request to change their contact details, and fund transfer threshold will by default be set to SG$100 ($74) or lower.

MAS has also offered a vague directive requiring banks to issue more scam education alerts, and to do so more often.

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APNIC: Big Tech's use of carrier-grade NAT is holding back internet innovation

IPv4 limits apps to simple interactions, and in 2021 IPv6 adoption growth was just three per cent

Carriers and Big Tech are happily continuing to use network address translation (NAT) and IPv4 to protect their investments, with the result that transition to IPv6 is glacial while the entire internet is shaped in the image of incumbent players.

That's the opinion of Geoff Huston, chief scientist at regional internet registry the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC).

Huston's opinion was published in the conclusion to a lengthy post titled "IP addressing in 2021" that reports on IPv4 and IPv6 usage across last year.

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Google sours on legacy G Suite freeloaders, demands fee or flee

Free incarnation of online app package, which became Workplace, is going away

Google has served eviction notices to its legacy G Suite squatters: the free service will no longer be available in four months and existing users can either pay for a Google Workspace subscription or export their data and take their not particularly valuable businesses elsewhere.

"If you have the G Suite legacy free edition, you need to upgrade to a paid Google Workspace subscription to keep your services," the company said in a recently revised support document. "The G Suite legacy free edition will no longer be available starting May 1, 2022."

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SpaceX Starlink sat streaks now present in nearly a fifth of all astronomical images snapped by Caltech telescope

Annoying, maybe – but totally ruining this science, maybe not

SpaceX’s Starlink satellites appear in about a fifth of all images snapped by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), a camera attached to the Samuel Oschin Telescope in California, which is used by astronomers to study supernovae, gamma ray bursts, asteroids, and suchlike.

A study led by Przemek Mróz, a former postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and now a researcher at the University of Warsaw in Poland, analysed the current and future effects of Starlink satellites on the ZTF. The telescope and camera are housed at the Palomar Observatory, which is operated by Caltech.

The team of astronomers found 5,301 streaks leftover from the moving satellites in images taken by the instrument between November 2019 and September 2021, according to their paper on the subject, published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters this week.

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AI tool finds hundreds of genes related to human motor neuron disease

Breakthrough could lead to development of drugs to target illness

A machine-learning algorithm has helped scientists find 690 human genes associated with a higher risk of developing motor neuron disease, according to research published in Cell this week.

Neuronal cells in the central nervous system and brain break down and die in people with motor neuron disease, like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, named after the baseball player who developed it. They lose control over their bodies, and as the disease progresses patients become completely paralyzed. There is currently no verified cure for ALS.

Motor neuron disease typically affects people in old age and its causes are unknown. Johnathan Cooper-Knock, a clinical lecturer at the University of Sheffield in England and leader of Project MinE, an ambitious effort to perform whole genome sequencing of ALS, believes that understanding how genes affect cellular function could help scientists develop new drugs to treat the disease.

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Need to prioritize security bug patches? Don't forget to scan Twitter as well as use CVSS scores

Exploit, vulnerability discussion online can offer useful signals

Organizations looking to minimize exposure to exploitable software should scan Twitter for mentions of security bugs as well as use the Common Vulnerability Scoring System or CVSS, Kenna Security argues.

Better still is prioritizing the repair of vulnerabilities for which exploit code is available, if that information is known.

CVSS is a framework for rating the severity of software vulnerabilities (identified using CVE, or Common Vulnerability Enumeration, numbers), on a scale from 1 (least severe) to 10 (most severe). It's overseen by First.org, a US-based, non-profit computer security organization.

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Sniff those Ukrainian emails a little more carefully, advises Uncle Sam in wake of Belarusian digital vandalism

NotPetya started over there, don't forget

US companies should be on the lookout for security nasties from Ukrainian partners following the digital graffiti and malware attack launched against Ukraine by Belarus, the CISA has warned.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said it "strongly urges leaders and network defenders to be on alert for malicious cyber activity," having issued a checklist [PDF] of recommended actions to take.

"If working with Ukrainian organizations, take extra care to monitor, inspect, and isolate traffic from those organizations; closely review access controls for that traffic," added CISA, which also advised reviewing backups and disaster recovery drills.

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Version 7 of WINE is better than ever at running Windows apps where they shouldn't

Improved graphics card, multi-monitor, Direct3D, and 64-bit support

Version 7 of the WINE compatibility tool for running Windows programs on various *nix operating systems is here, bringing notably improved 64-bit support.

WINE has come a long way. It took 18 years to get to version 1.0 and another nine years to get to version 2, but since version 3 in 2018, it's averaged roughly one major release per year. The project is now mature, stable, and quite functional. A lot of Windows programs work fine that formerly didn't. It's not limited to Linux – it also supports macOS and FreeBSD, and Linux relatives ChromeOS and Android.

This may in part be due to its corporate backing. The project has had several business sponsors over the decades, including Corel, which invested substantial effort to help port WordPerfect Office, and later Google, which did the same so that the now-cancelled Picasa would work better on Linux.

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