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Sweden asks EU to ban Bitcoin mining because while hydroelectric power is cheap, they need it for other stuff

Lighting and warming homes in winter, or ransoming encrypted files and buying drugs? Hmmm


The directors general of Sweden's Financial Supervisory Authority and Environmental Protection Agency have called upon both the EU and Sweden's government to ban cryptocurrency mining.

Kungstradgarden in Stockholm, Sweden

Since China banned Bitcoin ­(again), wannabe get-rich-quick artists have been looking for somewhere else to squander squillions of megawatt-hours minting imaginary internet money.

Cheap hydroelectric power makes the Nordics tempting, with Sweden alone using 1TWh on it last year, but they would rather keep it for other uses than ransoming encrypted files and buying illegal drugs. Some will doubtless call that selfish and short-sighted of them.

In an open letter to the EU, Erik Thedéen, director general of Finansinspektionen, and Björn Risinger, director general of Naturvårdsverket – the Financial Supervisory Authority and Environmental Protection Agency, respectively – call upon the EU and the Swedish government to ban energy-intensive cryptocurrency mining, and to legally prevent anyone doing it from calling it eco-friendly.

They point out that "Sweden needs the renewable energy targeted by crypto-asset producers for the climate transition of our essential services."

That all seems reasonable enough to us, and we also note that it gets very cold in winter up around those parts. If it happens, we wouldn't be surprised to see Norway and Iceland follow suit. ®

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Broadcom in talks to buy VMware: multiple reports

Michael Dell could be the key to any deal

Broadcom is in early talks to buy VMware, according to The New York Times, Bloomberg, and Reuters.

VMware is not commenting on the matter.

This one is interesting, because the three sources we've linked to above all say they've got the news from "a person familiar with the matter." All say the deal is nowhere near done, a price has not been discussed, and a transaction is far from certain to happen.

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Linus Torvalds debuts 'boring old plain' Linux kernel 5.18

Adds 'feature activation' for Intel silicon, but Chipzilla still isn't saying what that means

Linus Torvalds has released version 5.18 of the Linux kernel.

The maintainer-in-chief’s post announcing the release was typical of those he made for each of the eight release candidates: this time around he found no nasty surprises, additions were neither major nor complex, and no glitches impacted the development process.

Torvalds called for developers to "run boring old plain 5.18" before getting excited about the forthcoming version 5.19.

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Robotics and 5G to spur growth of SoC industry – report

Big OEMs hogging production and COVID causing supply issues

The system-on-chip (SoC) side of the semiconductor industry is poised for growth between now and 2026, when it's predicted to be worth $6.85 billion, according to an analyst's report. 

Chances are good that there's an SoC-powered device within arm's reach of you: the tiny integrated circuits contain everything needed for a basic computer, leading to their proliferation in mobile, IoT and smart devices. 

The report predicting the growth comes from advisory biz Technavio, which looked at a long list of companies in the SoC market. Vendors it analyzed include Apple, Broadcom, Intel, Nvidia, TSMC, Toshiba, and more. The company predicts that much of the growth between now and 2026 will stem primarily from robotics and 5G. 

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Deepfake attacks can easily trick live facial recognition systems online

Plus: Next PyTorch release will support Apple GPUs so devs can train neural networks on their own laptops

In brief Miscreants can easily steal someone else's identity by tricking live facial recognition software using deepfakes, according to a new report.

Sensity AI, a startup focused on tackling identity fraud, carried out a series of pretend attacks. Engineers scanned the image of someone from an ID card, and mapped their likeness onto another person's face. Sensity then tested whether they could breach live facial recognition systems by tricking them into believing the pretend attacker is a real user.

So-called "liveness tests" try to authenticate identities in real-time, relying on images or video streams from cameras like face recognition used to unlock mobile phones, for example. Nine out of ten vendors failed Sensity's live deepfake attacks.

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Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes

How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

"It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

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Conti: Russian-backed rulers of Costa Rican hacktocracy?

Also, Chinese IT admin jailed for deleting database, and the NSA promises no more backdoors

In brief The notorious Russian-aligned Conti ransomware gang has upped the ante in its attack against Costa Rica, threatening to overthrow the government if it doesn't pay a $20 million ransom. 

Costa Rican president Rodrigo Chaves said that the country is effectively at war with the gang, who in April infiltrated the government's computer systems, gaining a foothold in 27 agencies at various government levels. The US State Department has offered a $15 million reward leading to the capture of Conti's leaders, who it said have made more than $150 million from 1,000+ victims.

Conti claimed this week that it has insiders in the Costa Rican government, the AP reported, warning that "We are determined to overthrow the government by means of a cyber attack, we have already shown you all the strength and power, you have introduced an emergency." 

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China-linked Twisted Panda caught spying on Russian defense R&D

Because Beijing isn't above covert ops to accomplish its five-year goals

Chinese cyberspies targeted two Russian defense institutes and possibly another research facility in Belarus, according to Check Point Research.

The new campaign, dubbed Twisted Panda, is part of a larger, state-sponsored espionage operation that has been ongoing for several months, if not nearly a year, according to the security shop.

In a technical analysis, the researchers detail the various malicious stages and payloads of the campaign that used sanctions-related phishing emails to attack Russian entities, which are part of the state-owned defense conglomerate Rostec Corporation.

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FTC signals crackdown on ed-tech harvesting kid's data

Trade watchdog, and President, reminds that COPPA can ban ya

The US Federal Trade Commission on Thursday said it intends to take action against educational technology companies that unlawfully collect data from children using online educational services.

In a policy statement, the agency said, "Children should not have to needlessly hand over their data and forfeit their privacy in order to do their schoolwork or participate in remote learning, especially given the wide and increasing adoption of ed tech tools."

The agency says it will scrutinize educational service providers to ensure that they are meeting their legal obligations under COPPA, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

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Mysterious firm seeks to buy majority stake in Arm China

Chinese joint venture's ousted CEO tries to hang on - who will get control?

The saga surrounding Arm's joint venture in China just took another intriguing turn: a mysterious firm named Lotcap Group claims it has signed a letter of intent to buy a 51 percent stake in Arm China from existing investors in the country.

In a Chinese-language press release posted Wednesday, Lotcap said it has formed a subsidiary, Lotcap Fund, to buy a majority stake in the joint venture. However, reporting by one newspaper suggested that the investment firm still needs the approval of one significant investor to gain 51 percent control of Arm China.

The development comes a couple of weeks after Arm China said that its former CEO, Allen Wu, was refusing once again to step down from his position, despite the company's board voting in late April to replace Wu with two co-chief executives. SoftBank Group, which owns 49 percent of the Chinese venture, has been trying to unentangle Arm China from Wu as the Japanese tech investment giant plans for an initial public offering of the British parent company.

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SmartNICs power the cloud, are enterprise datacenters next?

High pricing, lack of software make smartNICs a tough sell, despite offload potential

SmartNICs have the potential to accelerate enterprise workloads, but don't expect to see them bring hyperscale-class efficiency to most datacenters anytime soon, ZK Research's Zeus Kerravala told The Register.

SmartNICs are widely deployed in cloud and hyperscale datacenters as a means to offload input/output (I/O) intensive network, security, and storage operations from the CPU, freeing it up to run revenue generating tenant workloads. Some more advanced chips even offload the hypervisor to further separate the infrastructure management layer from the rest of the server.

Despite relative success in the cloud and a flurry of innovation from the still-limited vendor SmartNIC ecosystem, including Mellanox (Nvidia), Intel, Marvell, and Xilinx (AMD), Kerravala argues that the use cases for enterprise datacenters are unlikely to resemble those of the major hyperscalers, at least in the near term.

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US fears China may have ten exascale systems by 2025

China refuses to share benchmarks, US sharpens focus on developing optimized software

The US is racing to catch up with China in supercomputing performance amid fears that the country may widen its lead in exascale computers over the next decade, according to reports.

The Frontier supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory is expected to be the first exascale system in the US once it is fully operational, but China already has two exascale systems up and running since last year, as reported on our sister site The Next Platform.

This lead may widen as the US has three exascale systems in the pipeline, while China aims to have up to 10 operational systems by 2025, says a report in the Financial times.

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