Friday, 9 October 2015

IBM Breakthrough Improves Carbon Nanotube Scaling Below 10nm


IBM – Beneficial Scaling Abilities in Carbon Nanotubes

IBM has invested a great amount of time and effort in researching carbon nanotubes – CNTs in the past few years. The presence of single walled carbon nanotubes together with their marvellous semiconductor properties happened independently at NEC as well as at IBM with Big Blue being interested in capitalizing on the discovery for over a decade.

Researchers at IBM published a paper wherein they claimed to have demonstrated extremely beneficial scaling abilities in carbon nanotubes. Discussions were on, regarding the difficulties of scaling semiconductors since the distance between features tends to contract with each passing generation.

However the specific breakthrough which IBM tends to claim is in an area of chip design and not much has been discussed over it. In the case of conventional silicon, a known problem as semiconductors tends to shrink and the contact area from the metal and semiconductor has not been scaling.

Smaller contact area, generally lead to increased resistance which means higher heat. Manufacturers have battled against these developments with various methods. However the lack of contact scaling seems to be one of the main barriers in pushing silicon to ever smaller sizes.

Carbon Nanotube Technology – Solution to Problem

IBM is of the opinion that its carbon nanotube technology could solve that issue. EETimes has an amazing write-up of the technology, though it amusingly refers to EUV lithography as `already in place’, a declaration which would surprise Intel as well as TSMC. With the recent innovation,Shu-Jen Han, IBM Manager of nanoscale science and technology at its T.K. Watson Research Centre informed EE Times that `they know how to scale and it is no longer the limiting factor for carbon nanotube transistors.

 The new contacts are measured in angstroms and they have just 36 k-ohms of resistance inclusive of both ends’. The new method involves welding – nanowelding – nanotube with molybdenum prior to self-align as transistor channels. The last step is to heat the assembly to around 850C, melting the molybdenum off and developing carbide. Richard Doherty of Envision engineering is of the opinion that this solution gives IBM an exceptional advantage in scaling along the way to 1.8nm.

Group Evaluating Changes to Measuring Standards

IBM could be preparing the technology, in readiness at the 5nm node for the introduction at 3nm and below, according to EETimes. With the method which has already been proven in theory at 9nm, it seems to be a bit of a block to further scaling. However, there are some cautions pointed to these findings.

Firstly, the fact that IBM is presently capable of building p-type transistors utilising this method which does not mean that the technology seems useless. Several of the proposed near term solutions for enhanced silicon scaling depends on various materials for the p-channel and n-channel, though it positively presents additional complexity.

The International Technical Roadmap for Semiconductors had not been issued since 2013 and the group is presently evaluating changes to its measuring standards for formulating latest reports. However the 2013 data set is yet online and viewing it, the roadmap for near term introduction of carbon nanotubes is not very appealing.

How to Tackle the Network Intruders


Spotting intruders on Network

Spotting intruders on network could take a long time and according to Peter Woollacott, head of security firm Huntsman, he states that `the time between attacks and detection could stretch to 200 days. It tends to take so long since there is a shortage of capable security analysts but there seems to be huge amount of technology with provision for threat information’.

Analysis recommends one reason US retailer Target suffered one of the largest data breaks in American corporate history was due to the company’s threat detection systems overwhelmed its security staff with fake alarms and in the midst of all the noise they failed to recognize the real intruders.

There were some clues that infidelity site Ashley Madison had also been exposed by an insider who had taken data from its internal network. According to chief technology officer at Trend Micro, Raimund Genes, and thereason for so much data to siftthrough is due to the intruders changing their tactics.He added that they usually began with a social engineering attack and grab information from Facebook to sound believable, making it appear that they know you’.

Fake Familiarity to Trick People

This fake familiarity tends to trick the people in opening a booby-trapped email, enabling them to steal credential which are then utilised to get at a company network. Probably it could lead to a link which provides the attacker entry to a work computer.

Mr Genes states that for that reason, several firms tend to monitor what occurs on their internal network, a space which earlier they had presumed to be trustworthy. Several of the companies operate on a `castle and moat’ basis though this means that their defences being strong are largely outward facing.

 They could miss the attacks which could come from within, or perhaps by sappers channelling under the walls or vandals that have made their way in tricking them. Rotating their defences inward could resolve this issue. However, May Turner from security firm Solar Winds, states that watching all that internal traffic on an intranet is hard. The infrastructure has got very complex and there are a lot of moving parts.

Machine Power for Information Collection – Essential

On daily operations each device on the network tends to generate information on what it is doing. The image is more complicated by the way modern threat intelligence systems monitor as well report the activity on the intranet which could sum up to million if not billions, with each daily event in need of analysis.

Turner state that the importance lies in understanding what is happening on that network and whether the events seem to be normal. The patterns are probably unique to that network so more traditional approaches established around signatures of known attacks could be less useful.

Gradually companies as well as large organisations are revolving to tools which tend to watch traffic flows around their networks, alerting their staff to irregularities. Several modern attacks those which begin with emails hoaxed to look like they have come from some known person do not resemble an attack since they have used your login name and password.

 It seems like you are logging in. On the contrary, the cyber thieves utilise the stolen identifications to navigate the network and obtain valuable resources. Mr Woollacott is of the opinion that machine power to do some of the information collection is essential. Anomaly detection is great, it is very powerful though it needs to be utilised in combination with high speed procedures

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Global Nuclear facilities 'At Risk' of Cyber-Attack


Cyber-Attacks on Nuclear Power Plants on the Rise

According to a report, the danger of serious cyber-attack on nuclear power plants across the globe is on the rise. It has stated that civil nuclear infrastructure in several nations are not well equipped to defend against such outbreak.

 The report had mentioned that most of the control systems for the organization were insecure by design due to their age. Circulated by the influential Chatham House committee, the report considered cyber defences in power plants across the world over an 18 month period. It stated that cyber criminals, state sponsored hackers as well as terrorists were increasing their online activity which would mean that the risk of a significant net based attack would prevail.

 This kind of attack on nuclear plant though on small scale or unlikely, should be taken seriously due to the harm which would follow if radiation was released. Besides, it is said that even a small scale cyber security instance at a nuclear facility would lead to a disproportionate effect on public opinion as well as the future of the civil nuclear industry.

Research, unfortunately carried out for the study indicated that the UK’s nuclear plants and the related organization did not seem to be adequately protected or prepared due to the industry being converted to digital systems recently.

Increase in Digitisation/Growing Reliance on Commercial Software

Increase in digitisation and growing reliance on commercial software is giving rise to the risk that the nuclear industry tends to face. There seems to be a `pervading myth’ that computer systems in power plants were isolated from the internet due to which, they were immune to the type of cyber-attacks which has evaded other industries.This air gap between the public Internets and nuclear system seems easy to breach with `nothing more than a flash drive’.

It observed that the destructive Stuxnet computer virus infected Iran’s nuclear facilities through this route. The researcher also came across virtual networks together with other links to the public internet on nuclear structure networks.

Some of these seemed to be unknown or forgotten, by those in charge of these organisations. Search engines which had hunted out critical structures had indexed these links making it easy for attackers to locate ways in to networks as well as control systems

Security with Cyber Security – Priority for Power Station Operators

According to chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, Keith Parker, he states that `security inclusive of cyber security is an absolute priority for power station operators. All of Britain’s power stations are designed with safety in mind and are stress tested to withstand a huge range of potential incidents. Power station operators tend to work closely with national agencies like the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure and other intelligence agencies, to be aware of emerging threats always’.

He added that the industry’s regulator continuously monitors plant safety to protect it from any outside threats.The first international conference with regards to cyber threats facing plants and manufacturing facilities was held in June this year by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

 Yukiya Amano, director of the IAEA had informed during the conference, that both random as well as targeted attacks were directed at nuclear plants. In a keynote address to the conference he commented that `staff responsible for nuclear security needs to know how to repel cyber-attacks and to limit the damage should the system be penetrated.

Google's Algorithm for Happiness


Mindfulness Skills Enhance Emotional Intelligence

Chade-Meng Tan, one of the company’s first engineering employees in Mountain View, a few years ago, noticed that several of his colleagues were stressed out and unhappy at work. Hence he decided to work on something in connection with it.

 He convinced his superiors to permit him in creating a course which would teach employees mindfulness skills enhance emotional intelligence and promote well-being and he transitioned to the HR department to run it.

With his employer’s approval he named it Search Inside Yourself, a corny name which also was the title of his book with regards to the course’s techniques. At the festival of 2015 SXSW in Austin Texas, Meng taught the scientifically proven secret of happiness in three easy steps.

Step One – Calm your mind

With the introduction of his first piece of advice, Meng led the SXSW audience through a small collective breathing exercise in order to calm the fluffy particles in the snow globes in our skulls. He believes of finding easy options of taking a pause during the course of the day and be aware of one’s breath.

On a lighter note, he states that if it tends to be too hard then just think about nothing for a little bit. His book provides more details, focusing on what mediation is and how to start practising on it, quoting a study of mindfulness training which reduces reported anxiety by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Meng does not seem to be the only one to recommend that meditation and mindfulness is good for mental health.

Matthieu Ricard, the monk, for instance whom the press has named as `the world’s happiest man’, had written a book about himself. There seems to be some evidence that mindfulness could help to fend off negative thoughts and according to a recent review of 209 studies it was found that the practice could help to treat depression, stress and anxiety. It is worth mentioning that handling depression as well as anxiety is not essentially the same as boosting happiness. Meng’s choice of happiness advice seems to have growing scientific acceptance.

Step Two – Log moments of joy

This means saying to oneself while sipping coffee or laugh at a friend’s joke or while purchasing a shirt that `I am having a moment of joy’. When negative things occur in our life throughout the day we simply hold on to them while the good things are more fleeting and momentary.

Meng states that by consciously accepting the good things, we increase our chances and when we reflect on the day’s happenings, we conclude that it was a happy one. The theory of observing positive experiences counterbalances or outweighs negatives, makes instinctive sense. We could relate to the power of single though short-lived event spoiling a whole day but seldom does the opposite seem to be true.

Step Three – Wish other People to be Happy

According to Meng, selfless thoughts are advantageous since we tend to obtain a lot of joy in giving more than in receiving. Meng makes powerful arguments for the - `I think’ self-evident need to pervade your life with compassion but quotes on study on people acting for others, backing his claim that `kindness is a source of happiness’.

Recent research had made attempts in exploring this effect including one by positive psychology researcher Barbara Fredrickson which ended that we require a 3:1 positive-to-negative ratio of thought in order to free our minds from the tar-paper effect of thinking negative. But this study has proved to be debated with some questioning the mathematical claims made in paper.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Snapchat will let Brands Advertise on Your Face


Snapchat – Sponsored Lenses

Snapchat will be launching a new advertising format which will enable brands to advertise on people’s selfies. This features is known as `Sponsored lenses’, a latest attempt in Snapchat in order to get revenue from its audience comprising of the youth.Snapchat has launched its first new lenses feature in September, permitting users to cover animations on their faces comprising of massive heart eyes, wrinkles as well as vomit rainbows.

The lenses feature seems active while taking a selfie. Tapping and holding on the reflected image of the face tends to instantly outline map of it and prompts to pick from eight various interactive filter which ranges from simple Photo Booth-style effects to the ones with animations and sound.

Each new ones tend to replace an old one each day and can be utilised on photos or videos. Snapchat has now signed a number of appealing parties which will be replacing vomit rainbows as well as old people’s faces with sponsored animations. As per The Financial Times, it is said that the first of these lenses would probably make its appearance on the platform in time for Halloween, though there has been no indication on which brands would be on board.

Developing New Sponsored Animation

According to a spokeswoman from Snapchat who informed FT states that `the sponsored lenses enable Snapchatters to express themselves and connect with a brand in a really creative and dynamic way’. Another source had apparently reported that Snapchat has been charging up to $750,000 for brands to reach its whole user-base during the course of a big holiday or $450,000 on any normal day.

Moreover, the addition of sponsored content would be added over the top of selfish with personal snaps that would leave some with a feeling of discomfort. Snapchat would probably be developing new sponsored animation and the FT claims Hollywood studios would probably be the first to sign up.

This does not seem to be the first move into in-app advertising of Snapchat. It had teamed up earlier in the year, with communication super group WPP and the Daily Mail to operate on a content marketing collaboration known as Truffle Pig. Besides this, it has also been trailing advertisements in Discover news services such as CNN and Cosmopolitan since January 2015.

Launched Around Halloween

The latest sponsored lenses would be launched on or around Halloween and the prices would be high according to Financial Times report. Taking into account that Snapchat tends to have hundreds of millions of active users every month, the money could ideally go a long way.

Though there is no information on how different or same it would be to the prevailing lenses, Snapchat would be developing them in-house and according to the report it says that the first would probably be from Hollywood studios. This is the fourth revenue stream for Snapchat, besides Discover and the ads placed in daily stories as well as paid replays.

 However, this seems to be unique from the others and rather than passively observing, sponsored lenses are about engaging with brands which will exactly be in your face. Probably as Snapchat has put it across the Financial Times as `sponsored lenses enable Snapchatters to express themselves and connect with a brand in a really creative and dynamic way’.