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Top Stories for the Week Of May 31, 2017

  • Episode 506
  • May 31, 2017

Here are the stories we're following for the week of Wednesday May 31, 2017

A new-found exploit in Windows' NTFS implementation will crash the machine by simply including a short string within an image tag on a web site.

It’s been a bad month for Windows 7 users. The widespread WannaCry ransomware hit a ton of Windows 7 machines, and now a new bug has been discovered that will slow down and crash Windows 7 and Windows 8.

The bug allows a malicious website to try and load an image file with the “$MFT” name in the directory path. Windows uses “$MFT” for special metadata files that are used by NTFS file system, and Windows 7 and Windows 8 fail to handle this directory name correctly.

The bug has been tested on a Windows 7 PC with the default Internet Explorer browser. Using the filename “c:\$MFT\123” in a website image, the test caused the machine to slow down to the point where you have to reboot to get it working again. Some machines may even bluescreen eventually, as the file system locks to that file and all other apps are unable to access files. The strange bug doesn’t affect Windows 10 users, and it’s similar to an old problem in Windows 95 and Windows 98 where references to “c:\con\con” would crash a machine.

The NTFS bug appears to have been discovered early last week, and has been reported to Microsoft. It’s not yet clear when Microsoft will deliver a fix for the problem, but it affects Windows Vista (which is unsupported), Windows 7, and Windows 8 machines.


Sent to us by: Jeff Weston

A French school is using facial recognition to find out when students aren’t paying attention.

A business school in Paris will soon begin using artificial intelligence and facial analysis to determine whether students are paying attention in class.

The software, called Nestor, will be used in two online classes at the ESG business school beginning in September. LCA Learning, the company that created Nestor, presented the technology at an event at the United Nations in New York two weeks ago.

The idea, according to LCA founder Marcel Saucet, is to use the data that Nestor collects to improve the performance of both students and professors. The software uses students’ webcams to analyze eye movements and facial expressions and determine whether students are paying attention to a video lecture. It then formulates quizzes based on the content covered during moments of inattentiveness. Professors would also be able to identify moments when students’ attention waned, which could help to improve their teaching.


Sent to us by: Jeff Weston

A new-found malware on Android devices could be on your phone.

A new malware called 'Judy' is now infecting millions of Android smartphones globally close on the heels of 'WannaCry' holding PCs at ransom.

According to security solutions firm Check Point, the malware — Judy — uses infected devices to generate large amounts of fraudulent clicks on advertisements, generating revenues for the perpetrators behind it.

The total spread of the malware campaign on Google Play (Google's official app store) may have reached between 8.5 and 36.5 million users, Check Point said on its blog.

The auto-clicking adware (Judy) was found on 41 apps developed by a Korean company. However, it wasn't clear which countries have been impacted by the Judy malware.

"Some of the apps (that were infected) we discovered resided on Google Play for several years, but all were recently updated. It is unclear how long the malicious code existed inside the apps, hence the actual spread of the malware remains unknown," it added.

After Check Point notified Google about this threat, the apps were swiftly removed from the Play store, the blog said.


Sent to us by: Robbie Ferguson

Intel has already surpassed AMD's ThreadRipper.

Intel has unveiled its new X-series platform: Up to 18 cores and 36 threads.

AMD announced its new high-end desktop platform (HEDT), their 16-core 32-thread "ThreadRipper" a couple of weeks ago. Now, at Computex in Taipei, it's Intel's turn to update its HEDT platform, and it is one-upping AMD in the process. The Intel platform, consisting of the new X299 chipset and new X-series processors, will go all the way up to 18 cores and 36 threads.

The HEDT segment is aimed at gamers, video streamers, and content creators with deep pockets or an insatiable desire for more concurrent threads than the mainstream processor segment has to offer. The value proposition for this segment is always a little skewed, with the chips being as much prestige parts as anything else. Straightforward gaming workloads may struggled to make full use of the chips' resources, but serious Twitch streamers, for example, can make good use of the extra cores. Software developers are another group that can make good use of all those cores.

The Skylake-X chips will also expand Intel's numbering system: Intel is adding a new i9 branding that slots in above the i7 branding for the high-end processors.

Don't worry: there will be some entry level X chips as well, starting with Intel's i5 line of processors. The 7640X boasts 4 cores and is under $250.

The eight-core, 16-thread Intel chip costs $599, whereas AMD's corresponding part is $499. The Intel chip does have twice as many memory channels, so it's not exactly like-for-like, but we'd expect that you'll be paying at least a little bit more for an Intel processor and an Intel motherboard than a roughly similar AMD system.


Sent to us by: Robbie Ferguson



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