Software

AWS is creating a 'new open source design system' with React

No documentation yet, but big ambitions for UI components tailored for AWS services


Amazon Web Services has released AWS UI, which the cloud services biz describes as "the first step in a larger process of creating a new open source design system."

The context for this is the open-sourcing of the user interface code for the .NET Porting Assistant, a tool to scan Windows-only .NET Framework applications to discover what needs fixing in order to port them to .NET Core, the open-source version of .NET that runs on Linux.

AWS seems keen to persuade customers to move away from Windows, and referred in its post to the "performance, cost savings, and robust ecosystem of Linux."

Although the Porting Assistant for .NET was already open source, the code for the tool's user interface, which is built using React and Electron, was previously not available. React is a popular JavaScript framework originally developed by Facebook, and Electron is a project for building cross-platform desktop applications with JavaScript, HTML, and CSS.

Why not build a .NET porting tool with .NET? Since .NET Framework applications only run on Windows, you might wonder why AWS would not take advantage of the ability to run .NET Core code on the desktop using Windows Forms, Windows Presentation Foundation, or UWP. Although this is possible, AWS appears to be standardising on JavaScript/TypeScript and to some extent React for its cross-platform user interface components, getting the benefit of being able to share libraries between web and desktop.

This direction is now explicit, with the first release of AWS UI, described as "a collection of React components that help create intuitive, responsive, and accessible user experiences for web applications."

Although the AWS UI project is released under the Apache 2.0 open-source licence, the source code is not yet on GitHub or similar, but only available as NPM packages.

The company said: "AWS UI's source code and documentation has not been open sourced or released yet. For now the best way to obtain the list of available components and parameters for the components is to look into the package within node_modules. If you need additional help with AWS UI please file an issue, we will be happy to provide the help you need."

There is a comprehensive collection of more than 50 components, from basics like button, text input, checkbox, progress bar, and table, to complex items like a code editor and a wizard component with configurable steps. The code is written for the most part in TypeScript.

There are other NPM packages that are also part of AWS UI, including collection-hooks, which control the state of some UI components via React hooks; design-tokens, which assist with building new custom components that are consistent with AWS UI; and others for global styles and test utilities.

Why is AWS creating "a new open source design system," (in its own words)? We are speculating, but as a cloud services company AWS is not in the business of creating client applications but does have an interest in making its services easy to consume.

There is an AWS SDK for all sorts of languages, from C++ to Python, from Java and .NET to Android and iOS. Maintaining support for these diverse systems is essential, but for some of its services the complexity of building the client is still a barrier to adoption.

One example is the Chime SDK, its video, audio and chat solution, which is why alongside support in the SDK there is also a set of React components that provide higher-level components for developers building applications using Chime. React is a good choice because, in combination with solutions like Electron, it covers a wide range of platforms.

One odd thing in all this is that the actual UI for the .NET Porting Assistant is as plain and ugly as hell. Considering its purpose, that is not really a problem, but we can presumably hope for more impressive examples of AWS UI in due course. ®

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UK government reviewing stake in BT owned by French tycoon Patrick Drahi

First use of National Security and Investment Act powers as Altice owner looks poised to increase stake further

The UK government has kicked off a national security assessment on the investment in BT by French telco tycoon Patrick Drahi, who via his Altice UK organisation topped up his stake to 18 percent late last year.

Announced today, the probe is understood to be one of the first such uses of new powers the UK government granted itself under the National Security and Investment Act, which came into force at the start of the year.

In a statement, the government said the acquisition by Altice UK in December of a further 6 percent of shares in BT was called in for a full national security assessment by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.

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Minimal, systemd-free Alpine Linux releases version 3.16

A widespread distro that many of its users don't even know they have

Version 3.16.0 of Alpine Linux is out – one of the most significant of the many lightweight distros.

Version 3.16.0 is worth a look, especially if you want to broaden your skills.

Alpine is interesting because it's not just another me-too distro. It bucks a lot of the trends in modern Linux, and while it's not the easiest to set up, it's a great deal easier to get it working than it was a few releases ago.

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Verizon: Ransomware sees biggest jump in five years

We're only here for DBIRs

The cybersecurity landscape continues to expand and evolve rapidly, fueled in large part by the cat-and-mouse game between miscreants trying to get into corporate IT environments and those hired by enterprises and security vendors to keep them out.

Despite all that, Verizon's annual security breach report is again showing that there are constants in the field, including that ransomware continues to be a fast-growing threat and that the "human element" still plays a central role in most security breaches, whether it's through social engineering, bad decisions, or similar.

According to the US carrier's 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) released this week [PDF], ransomware accounted for 25 percent of the observed security incidents that occurred between November 1, 2020, and October 31, 2021, and was present in 70 percent of all malware infections. Ransomware outbreaks increased 13 percent year-over-year, a larger increase than the previous five years combined.

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Slack-for-engineers Mattermost on open source and data sovereignty

Control and access are becoming a hot button for orgs

Interview "It's our data, it's our intellectual property. Being able to migrate it out those systems is near impossible... It was a real frustration for us."

These were the words of communication and collaboration platform Mattermost's founder and CTO, Corey Hulen, speaking to The Register about open source, sovereignty and audio bridges.

"Some of the history of Mattermost is exactly that problem," says Hulen of the issue of closed source software. "We were using proprietary tools – we were not a collaboration platform before, we were a games company before – [and] we were extremely frustrated because we couldn't get our intellectual property out of those systems..."

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UK government having hard time complying with its own IR35 tax rules

This shouldn't come as much of a surprise if you've been reading the headlines at all

Government departments are guilty of high levels of non-compliance with the UK's off-payroll tax regime, according to a report by MPs.

Difficulties meeting the IR35 rules, which apply to many IT contractors, in central government reflect poor implementation by Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and other government bodies, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said.

"Central government is spending hundreds of millions of pounds to cover tax owed for individuals wrongly assessed as self-employed. Government departments and agencies owed, or expected to owe, HMRC £263 million in 2020–21 due to incorrect administration of the rules," the report said.

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Internet went offline in Pakistan as protestors marched for ousted prime minister

Two hour outage 'consistent with an intentional disruption to service' said NetBlocks

Internet interruption-watcher NetBlocks has reported internet outages across Pakistan on Wednesday, perhaps timed to coincide with large public protests over the ousting of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The watchdog organisation asserted that outages started after 5:00PM and lasted for about two hours. NetBlocks referred to them as “consistent with an intentional disruption to service.”

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Suspected phishing email crime boss cuffed in Nigeria

Interpol, cops swoop with intel from cybersecurity bods

Interpol and cops in Africa have arrested a Nigerian man suspected of running a multi-continent cybercrime ring that specialized in phishing emails targeting businesses.

His alleged operation was responsible for so-called business email compromise (BEC), a mix of fraud and social engineering in which staff at targeted companies are hoodwinked into, for example, wiring funds to scammers or sending out sensitive information. This can be done by sending messages that impersonate executives or suppliers, with instructions on where to send payments or data, sometimes by breaking into an employee's work email account to do so.

The 37-year-old's detention is part of a year-long, counter-BEC initiative code-named Operation Delilah that involved international law enforcement, and started with intelligence from cybersecurity companies Group-IB, Palo Alto Networks Unit 42, and Trend Micro.

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Broadcom buying VMware could create an edge infrastructure and IoT empire

Hypervisor giant too big to be kept ticking over like CA or Symantec. Instead it can wrangle net-connected kit

Comment Broadcom’s mooted acquisition of VMware looks odd at face value, but if considered as a means to make edge computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) more mature and manageable, and give organizations the tools to drive them, the deal makes rather more sense.

Edge and IoT are the two coming things in computing and will grow for years, meaning the proposed deal could be very good for VMware’s current customers.

An Ethernet switch that Broadcom launched this week shows why this is a plausible scenario.

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Ex-spymaster and fellow Brexiteers' emails leaked by suspected Russian op

A 'Very English Coop (sic) d'Etat'

Emails between leading pro-Brexit figures in the UK have seemingly been stolen and leaked online by what could be a Kremlin cyberespionage team.

The messages feature conversations between former spymaster Richard Dearlove, who led Britain's foreign intelligence service MI6 from 1999 to 2004; Baroness Gisela Stuart, a member of the House of Lords; and Robert Tombs, an expert of French history at the University of Cambridge, as well as other Brexit supporters. The emails were uploaded to a .co.uk website titled "Very English Coop d'Etat," Reuters first reported this week.

Dearlove confirmed his ProtonMail account was compromised. "I am well aware of a Russian operation against a Proton account which contained emails to and from me," he said. The Register has asked Baroness Stuart and Tombs as well as ProtonMail for comment. Tombs declined to comment.

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UK opens national security probe into 2021 sale of local wafer fab to Chinese company

Government has power to unwind transactions such as sale of Newport facility to China-controlled Nexperia

The UK’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has commenced a full national security assessment of Newport Wafer Fab’s acquisition by China-controlled entity Nexperia.

The Fab is the UK’s largest chipmaking facility and produces up to 32,000 wafers a month. In August 2021 it was acquired by a Dutch outfit named Nexperia that is controlled by Chinese company Wingtech.

Issues including global semiconductor shortages demonstrating the importance of sovereign capacity, the many credible accusations that Chinese firms practice industrial espionage, China’s desire to become self-sufficient in semiconductors, and general China-related security concerns all made the sale a hot political issue. So hot that when news of the sale emerged, UK prime minister Boris Johnson promised a national security assessment, overriding business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng who had previously said the deal wasn’t worthy of a probe.

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Ransomware grounds some flights at Indian budget airline SpiceJet

Incident comes a week after 'SAP glitch' kept some planes on the taxiway

Indian budget airline SpiceJet on Wednesday attributed delayed flights to a ransomware attack.

SpiceJet said the attack was quickly contained and rectified with flights again operating normally.

The company later was forced to clarify that its definition of “normally” meant flights delayed by ransomware had a cascading effect on its schedule, so while it whacked the ransomware passengers could still expect disruptions.

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