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Huawei throws the book at P8

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This week, Huawei unveiled the latest addition to its P series of smartphones, the Huawei P8. The dual-SIM, unibody device is available in four colours and is designed to resemble the pages, bindings and hardcovers of books.

Huawei Consumer Business Group yesterday unveiled the Huawei P8 smartphone, which it describes as “a perfect blend of technology, sleek styling, usability and revolutionary low light camera features”.

It says the P8 is based on a deep understanding of human-machine design, delivering a new level of usability for applications impacting everyday life “at work and at play”.

Introduced in 2012, the Huawei P series has redefined the style of the company’s phones. The P6 introduced a new and elegant sleekness in 2015, as the thinnest smartphone in the world, and last year’s P7 maintained that positioning.

The Huawei P8 design, on the other hand, is described as being “deeply rooted in literary tradition, combining elements of ancient manuscripts, illuminated books and the essence of sunlight in stained glass library windows”.

The one-piece aluminium body with diamond shape blasting craftsmanship is intended to highlight the texture of the metal and, says the company, “the design details of the Huawei P8 are said to evoke the pages, bindings and hardcovers of traditional books”.

The phone comes with four colour options: silver, gold, black and grey. The devices come in a translucent package and the unboxing experience is intended to evoke the experience of taking a book from the shelf.

Highlights, as supplied by Huawei, include:

  • • The nano-injection moulding process results in an industry-leading seamless tight junction connecting a 1.5mm thin plastic bar with one of the industry’s largest screens.
  • • The phone is 6.4mm thin, with dual SIM cards, and works seamlessly with a 4G network (where the service is available).
  • • The triple-layer shark-gill design enhances the reliability and robustness of the device.
  • • Inside, the new Kirin 930 64-bit Octa-Core chipset boosts performance by approximately 20 percent compared with other phones with similar levels of battery life.
  • • The body’s sleek back cover is constructed of steel, for reinforced structural rigidity.

“The Huawei P8 is designed to have a natural connection to human nature, providing solutions to common pain points and meeting consumers’ needs – both simple and complex,” read a company statement. “The Huawei P8 has a revolutionary touch screen experience that is innate to consumers.”

Double-tapping a knuckle captures a full-length screen shot, while drawing a circle on the screen quickly captures content. Additionally, a “search phone by voice” function allows users to call out to their misplaced smartphone, which will respond through its speaker to identify.

Power management tools create a bridge between the Huawei P8’s slim design, power efficiently and stunning performance. The device contains a 2680mAh battery and, with Kirin 930 Octa-Core 64-bit chipset, delivering performance that outpaces the smartphone market.

In loud environments users can increase volume up to 58 percent above normal level. In a windy environment, the smartphone can eliminate 90 percent of the sound of wind when using a headset or earphones with a single microphone. Additionally, hands-free functionality supports hands-free speaker calls within a range of 2 meters, while a built-in independent audio decoder chipset enables music volume to double while maintaining the same quality.

Considering the user habits as well as upcoming trends, the Huawei P8 provides a comprehensive line-up of solutions:

  • • For 4G SIM card users, the device features dual 4G SIM card support with two flexible card slots.
  • • Once the Huawei P8 has identified and connected with a Bluetooth device such as the Huawei TalkBand B2, the phone can be remotely unlocked without entering a password.
  • • With network roaming performance optimized for 4G, the Huawei P8 connects with network roaming services approximately three times faster than average phone models.
  • • Additionally, with an optional E-ink screen on the back of the phone, the metal back cover can switch to an eBook in just seconds.

“The goal of Huawei P8 is to become the most user-friendly smartphone for consumers globally” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer Business Group, “Through in-depth market research, Huawei has addressed the most pressing pain points for premium smartphone users today.

“Huawei seamlessly combines the best elements of style and durability in this device, delivering a revolutionary user experience – especially in terms of camera capabilities and network connectivity. Building on the outstanding market performance of Huawei’s P series, we fully believe the Huawei P8 will become one of the most popular smartphones of 2015.”

The following information was supplied by Huawei

The Huawei P8 introduces a new philosophy for camera design leveraging a combination of hardware, software and proprietary algorithms to help users capture beautiful photographs, even in the worst lighting conditions. Features include:

  • • Industry-leading Optical Image Stabilizer technology up to 1.2°, enabling high-quality photos and videos, and managing camera shake so images are consistently sharp.
  • • The world’s first four-color RGBW sensor enhances brightness by 32 percent in high contrast lighting situations, reduces it by 78 percent in low light environments. DSLR-level independent image processor enabling noise reduction when shooting and intelligent detection of a high-contrast lighting environment.
  • • Four professional quality low-light shooting modes giving users access to a virtual photo and video studio to capture artistic inspirations.

For example, the Light Painting mode, one of the four professional quality low-light shooting modes, leverages the Huawei P8’s manual camera shutter to capture broad swaths of light. Light Painting mode can capture a rolling ferris wheel at night, showing the circular streams of light in an artistic photo. Users can also “light paint” their own freehand pictures using a small torchlight in the dark. Another industry first low light technology is the light check and preview mode. By giving users a preview of what the shot will look like, the device makes it easier to experiment creatively with light sources in the dark.

The Huawei P8’s Director mode is the industry’s first professional-level video capture function on a smartphone. It allows consumers to direct and control up to three other Android phones when shooting a video scene from four angles simultaneously, while also synchronize video clip editing.

The Huawei P8 also introduces a powerful new Selfie mode, which allows preset image enhancement settings to capture and customize everyone’s unique beauty, enabling even more people to get in on the fun.

Setting New Standards for Mobile Connectivity

During the process of researching and listening to the needs of elite smartphone users, Huawei has addressed emerging pain points around dropped calls and signal degradation. Building on Huawei’s DNA of world-class communications technology, the Huawei P8 has re-defined the industry benchmark for seamless network connectivity.

The Huawei P8 has re-defined the industry benchmark for seamless network connectivity through proprietary Signal+ technology. The compact and powerful dual-antenna design plus rapid switching technology allows the smartphone to instantly switch between antennas, ensuring a continuous strong network connection. Additionally, the devices’ Signal+ enhances the call connection rate, even when users are travelling on a train at a speed of up to 300 kilometres per hour.

For consumers who travel by air, it takes quite a bit of time to connect when landing at an airport; the Huawei P8 increases the speed of connecting to a roaming network. Based on international roaming test data from more than 20 countries and regions across Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America and North America with network roaming performance optimized for 4G, the Huawei P8 synchronizes with network roaming services approximately three times faster than an average phone.

Huawei’s extremely stylish P series has achieved great success around the world. Global sales of the Huawei P6 have totalled 5 million units in 60 countries and the Huawei P7 surpassed 4 million sales across more than 100 countries in just six months. The success of the Huawei P6 and P7 indicates a strong potential demand for the Huawei P8.

There are two versions of the Huawei P8; the standard device for €499 and the premium version for €599. It will initially be available in more than 30 countries including China, Columbia, France, Germany, Mexico, Spain, South Africa, Turkey, UAE and the United Kingdom.

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Which IoT horse should you back?

The emerging IoT is evolving at a rapid pace with more companies entering the market. The development of new product and communication systems is likely to continue to grow over the next few years, after which we could begin to see a few dominant players emerge, says DARREN OXLEE, CTOf of Utility Systems.

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But in the interim, many companies face a dilemma because, in such a new industry, there are so many unknowns about its trajectory. With the variety of options available (particularly regarding the medium of communication), there’s the a question of which horse to back.

Many players also haven’t fully come to grips with the commercial models in IoT (specifically, how much it costs to run these systems).

Which communication protocol should you consider for your IoT application? Depends on what you’re looking for. Here’s a summary of the main low-power, wide area network (LPWAN) communications options that are currently available, along with their applicability:

SIGFOX 

SigFox has what is arguably the most traction in the LPWAN space, thanks to its successful marketing campaigns in Europe. It also has strong support from vendors including Texas Instruments, Silicon Labs, and Axom.

It’s a relatively simple technology, ultra-narrowband (100 Hz), and sends very small data (12 bytes) very slowly (300 bps). So it’s perfect for applications where systems need to send small, infrequent bursts of data. Its lack of downlink capabilities, however, could make it unsuitable for applications that require two-way communication.

LORA 

LoRaWAN is a standard governed by the LoRa Alliance. It’s not open because the underlying chipset is only available through Semtech – though this should change in future.

Its functionality is like SigFox: it’s primarily intended for uplink-only applications with multiple nodes, although downlink messages are possible. But unlike SigFox, LoRa uses multiple frequency channels and data rates with coded messages. These are less likely to interfere with one another, increasing the concentrator capacity.

RPMA 

Ingenu Technology Solutions has developed a proprietary technology called Random Phase Multiple Access (RPMA) in the 2.4 GHz band. Due to its architecture, it’s said to have a superior uplink and downlink capacity compared to other models.

It also claims to have better doppler, scheduling, and interference characteristics, as well as a better link budget of 177 dB compared to LoRa’s 157 dB and SigFox’s 149 dB. Plus, it operates in the 2.4 GHz spectrum, which is globally available for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, so there are no regional architecture changes needed – unlike SigFox and LoRa.

LTE-M 

LTE-M (LTE Cat-M1) is a cellular technology that has gained traction in the United States and is specifically designed for IoT or machine‑to‑machine (M2M) communications.

It’s a low‑power wide‑area (LPWA) interface that connects IoT and M2M devices with medium data rate requirements (375 kb/s upload and download speeds in half duplex mode). It also enables longer battery lifecycles and greater in‑building range compared to standard cellular technologies like 2G, 3G, or LTE Cat 1.

Key features include:

·       Voice functionality via VoLTE

·       Full mobility and in‑vehicle hand‑over

·       Low power consumption

·       Extended in‑building range

NB-IOT 

Narrowband IoT (NB‑IoT or LTE Cat NB1) is part of the same 3GPP Release 13 standard3 that defined LTE Cat M1 – both are licensed as LPWAN technologies that work virtually anywhere. NB-IoT connects devices simply and efficiently on already established mobile networks and handles small amounts of infrequent two‑way data securely and reliably.

NB‑IoT is well suited for applications like gas and water meters through regular and small data transmissions, as network coverage is a key issue in smart metering rollouts. Meters also tend to be in difficult locations like cellars, deep underground, or in remote areas. NB‑IoT has excellent coverage and penetration to address this.

MY FORECAST

The LPWAN technology stack is fluid, so I foresee it evolving more over the coming years. During this time, I suspect that we’ll see:

1.     Different markets adopting different technologies based on factors like dominant technology players and local regulations

2.     The technologies diverging for a period and then converging with a few key players, which I think will be SigFox, LoRa, and the two LTE-based technologies

3.     A significant technological shift in 3-5 years, which will disrupt this space again

So, which horse should you back?

I don’t believe it’s prudent to pick a single technology now; lock-in could cause serious restrictions in the long-term. A modular, agile approach to implementing the correct communications mechanism for your requirements carries less risk.

The commercial model is also hugely important. The cellular and telecommunications companies will understandably want to maximise their returns and you’ll want to position yourself to share an equitable part of the revenue.

So: do your homework. And good luck!

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Ms Office hack attacks up 4X

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Exploits, software that takes advantage of a bug or vulnerability, for Microsoft Office in-the-wild hit the list of cyber headaches in Q1 2018. Overall, the number of users attacked with malicious Office documents rose more than four times compared with Q1 2017. In just three months, its share of exploits used in attacks grew to almost 50% – this is double the average share of exploits for Microsoft Office across 2017. These are the main findings from Kaspersky Lab’s Q1 IT threat evolution report.

Attacks based on exploits are considered to be very powerful, as they do not require any additional interactions with the user and can deliver their dangerous code discreetly. They are therefore widely used; both by cybercriminals looking for profit and by more sophisticated nation-backed state actors for their malicious purposes.

The first quarter of 2018 experienced a massive inflow of these exploits, targeting popular Microsoft Office software. According to Kaspersky Lab experts, this is likely to be the peak of a longer trend, as at least ten in-the-wild exploits for Microsoft Office software were identified in 2017-2018 – compared to two zero-day exploits for Adobe Flash player used in-the-wild during the same time period.

The share of the latter in the distribution of exploits used in attacks is decreasing as expected (accounting for slightly less than 3% in the first quarter) – Adobe and Microsoft have put a lot of effort into making it difficult to exploit Flash Player.

After cybercriminals find out about a vulnerability, they prepare a ready-to-go exploit. They then frequently use spear-phishing as the infection vector, compromising users and companies through emails with malicious attachments. Worse still, such spear-phishing attack vectors are usually discreet and very actively used in sophisticated targeted attacks – there were many examples of this in the last six months alone.

For instance, in late 2017, Kaspersky Lab’s advanced exploit prevention systems identified a new Adobe Flash zero-day exploit used in-the-wild against our customers. The exploit was delivered through a Microsoft Office document and the final payload was the latest version of FinSpy malware. Analysis of the payload enabled researchers to confidently link this attack to a sophisticated actor known as ‘BlackOasis’. The same month, Kaspersky Lab’s experts published a detailed analysis of СVE-2017-11826, a critical zero-day vulnerability used to launch targeted attacks in all versions of Microsoft Office. The exploit for this vulnerability is an RTF document containing a DOCX document that exploits СVE-2017-11826 in the Office Open XML parser. Finally, just a couple of days ago, information on Internet Explorer zero day CVE-2018-8174 was published. This vulnerability was also used in targeted attacks.

“The threat landscape in the first quarter again shows us that a lack of attention to patch management is one of the most significant cyber-dangers. While vendors usually issue patches for the vulnerabilities, users often can’t update their products in time, which results in waves of discreet and highly effective attacks once the vulnerabilities have been exposed to the broad cybercriminal community,” notes Alexander Liskin, security expert at Kaspersky Lab.

Other online threat statistics from the Q1, 2018 report include:

  • Kaspersky Lab solutions detected and repelled 796,806,112 malicious attacks from online resources located in 194 countries around the world.
  • 282,807,433 unique URLs were recognised as malicious by web antivirus components.
  • Attempted infections by malware that aims to steal money via online access to bank accounts were registered on 204,448 user computers.
  • Kaspersky Lab’s file antivirus detected a total of 187,597,494 unique malicious and potentially unwanted objects.
  • Kaspersky Lab mobile security products also detected:
    • 1,322,578 malicious installation packages.
    • 18,912 mobile banking Trojans (installation packages).

To reduce the risk of infection, users are advised to:

  • Keep the software installed on your PC up to date, and enable the auto-update feature if it is available.
  • Wherever possible, choose a software vendor that demonstrates a responsible approach to a vulnerability problem. Check if the software vendor has its own bug bounty program.

·         Use robust security solutions , which have special features to protect against exploits, such as Automatic Exploit Prevention.

·         Regularly run a system scan to check for possible infections and make sure you keep all software up to date.

  • Businesses should use a security solution that provides vulnerability, patch management and exploit prevention components, such as Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business. The patch management feature automatically eliminates vulnerabilities and proactively patches them. The exploit prevention component monitors suspicious actions of applications and blocks malicious files executions.
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