ZDNet - Linus Torvalds released the next version of the Linux kernel and, while are things are better with the chip security problems Meltdown and Spectre, more work needs to be done.
Linus Torvalds, Linux's primary creator, had good and bad news about the chip security problems Meltdown and Spectre. The good news is the lead up to the Linux 4.15 was "quiet and small, and no last-minute panics, just small fixes for various issues". The bad news? "It's not like we're 'done' with Spectre/Meltdown."
On the Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML), Torvalds explained, "The bulk of the 4.15 work is all the regular plodding 'boring' stuff. And I mean that in the best possible way. It may not be glamorous and get the headlines, but it's the bread and butter of kernel development, and is in many ways the really important stuff."
Torvalds continued, "While Spectre/Meltdown has obviously been the big news this release cycle, it's worth noting that we obviously had all the *normal* updates going on too, and the work everywhere else didn't just magically stop, even if some developers have been distracted by CPU issues. In the *big* picture, 4.15 looks perfectly normal, with two thirds of the full 4.15 patch being about drivers ... not by CPU bug mitigation."
But, trying to mitigate the Meltdown and Spectre problems still ate up a lot of time and the problems are still far from done. First and foremost, like all operating system developers, Linux is waiting on Intel's hardware designers to complete their firmware and microcode patches.
In its latest quarterly report, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich stated Intel will "restore confidence in data security with customer-first urgency, transparent and timely communication." We're still waiting.
ZDNet - Chrome 64 gets a stronger pop-up blocker ahead Google's new ad-blocking system that begins on February 15.
Google has released Chrome 64 for Windows, Mac, and Linux, bringing a stronger pop-up blocker, over 50 security fixes, and more mitigations for the Spectre attack.
The 'abusive experiences' that the blocker targets are practices often used by shadier sections of the web, including ads or parts of a page that create bogus site warnings and error messages, 'close' buttons that that do something other than close a page element, and play buttons that open third-party sites offering to download an app.
Nasdaq - The noise around blockchain technology is deafening, and business leaders everywhere are trying to glean the technology's relevance to them.
Verticals such as finance, supply chain and healthcare are obvious targets for distributed ledger technology (DLT), and publishers, utilities and governments are also ramping up their interest in adoption. Companies in many other sectors are dabbling too.
One organization that is helping businesses learn and evaluate blockchains is Hyperledger , an open-source collaborative effort hosted by the Linux Foundation. The group counts organizations such as Change Healthcare, Daimler, IBM, Cisco and Intel as "premier" members and it has launched nine projects to date, including the Hyperledger Fabric, Sawtooth and Iroha blockchain frameworks.
Brian Behlendorf, Hyperledger's executive director, believes that blockchain technology is poised to become foundational in some industries.
ZDNet - The UK government is warning organisations that they must prepare for new data protection laws now -- or face the consequences when they come into force.
Under half of businesses are aware of upcoming data protection laws they'll be subject to in just four months' time -- or what the new legislation means for how information security is handled.
A lack of awareness about the forthcoming introduction of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) -- a new set of rules from the European Union which aims to simplify data protection laws and provide citizens across all member states with more control over their personal data -- has led the UK government to issue a warning over businesses' lack of preparation for the change.
GDPR comes into force on 25 May 2018 and those who are found to misuse, exploit, lose, or otherwise mishandle personal data could potentially face huge fines: up to four percent of company turnover. Organisations could also face penalties if they're hacked and attempt to hide what happened from customers.
But, despite the risks associated with not being GDPR compliant, a government survey has found that many organisations aren't prepared -- or even aware -- of the legislation and how it will impact their security strategy.
Only one in four businesses in the construction sector are aware of GDPR, and awareness in manufacturing is also low. The finance and insurance sectors are said to have the highest awareness of the legislation.
Overall, the report says just under half of businesses -- including one-third of charities -- have made changes to their cybersecurity policies as a result of GDPR. Such preparations can include creating or improving cybersecurity procedures, hiring staff, and making concentrated efforts to update security software.
The advertising-to-cloud-computing giant said its new Netherlands and Montreal cloud computing regions will open in the first quarter of 2018, followed by Los Angeles, Finland, and Hong Kong.
Like other cloud infrastructure companies, Google orders its cloud computing resources into regions which are then subdivided into zones, which include one or more datacenters from which customers can run their services. It currently has 15 regions made up of 44 zones.