SiliconANGLE Extracting the signal from the noise. Tue, 09 Feb 2016 07:03:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Super Bowl 50 turned-out to be a streaming record breaker, but that’s not surprising Tue, 09 Feb 2016 06:50:05 +0000 It turns-out that this year’s Super Bowl featuring the […]]]>

It turns-out that this year’s Super Bowl featuring the Broncos and Panthers, some amount of drama, and the usual avalanche of highly expensive advertising, also broke some records.

According to CBS this year’s competition was the most streamed ever, with 3.96 million people streaming Super Bowl 50 across various devices. This works out at a total of 402 million minutes of coverage being watched, with each consumer watching on average 101 minutes. 1.4 million viewers was the average watching one full minute at a time.

Last year NBC broke the record when 1.3 million became the highest-ever number of concurrent viewers streaming the Super Bowl. Prior to this Fox reported that its live stream had been watched by a total of 1.1. million consumers, with an average of 528,000 people watching at any one time.

The trend in streaming is not a surprise, with most major events these days available to see online and not just through the TV. Providers such as CBS have also given us live stream options via their website, as well as offering sports apps for use on devices.

Facebook on the other hand reported last year’s Super Bowl was more popular than this year’s on its social media platform. According to Facebook over 60 million people discussed the game; 200 million people posted about the game, as well as offered comments and likes. This was not enough to beat 2015’s match-up between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks.

At the same time YouTube reported some equally big figures, stating in an official blog post that Super Bowl ads and teasers had been watched in total for over 300,000 hours while the game was on, although  ads and teasers have been watched for over 4 million hours, over 330 million times, in total before, after, and during the game, with 60%, according to YouTube, of people using mobile devices.

What else can YouTube tells us? The top three most watched ads are:

  1. Hyundai – The Chase – The 2017 Hyundai Elantra (Think The Revenant with a getaway car)
  2. Pokémon – 20 years of Pokémon (Just plain weird)
  3. MINI USA – MINI USA – (A car ad about stereotypes Mini hopes will fade out)
Photo Credit: Steven Jurvetson via Flickr
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Memories: Internet Archive’s new Malware Museum lets you relive viruses of old Tue, 09 Feb 2016 05:27:35 +0000 Before BitTorrent, Limewire and Napster piracy had a di […]]]>

Before BitTorrent, Limewire and Napster piracy had a different form, and that form was the floppy disk; first actual floppy disks (8 inch then later 5 1/4 inch), then later the not so floppy 3 1/2 inch disk.

Back in the 1980’s and well into the 1990’s, if you wanted to pirate software you obtained a copy of a software from a friend, and you then copied that software onto your own blank floppy disk; it may seem archaic in the age of online downloads, but it was widespread.

What many may forget about that first golden age of software piracy though, is that it was also the early days of the computer virus. But one group hasn’t forgotten.

The Internet Archive has launched The Malware Museum, a collection of malware programs, usually viruses, that were distributed in the 1980s and 1990s on home computers.

As the museum explains, once viruses infected a system they would sometimes show animation or messages that you had been infected, although they rarely caused any damage and were usually more of an annoyance, be it one that would then spread itself, either when you made a copy of the infected disk, or via the computer itself.

The good news is that while the Museum demonstrates the viruses via emulators, any destructive routines within the viruses have been removed so you’ll get the full experience without an added infection.


According to The Christian Science Monitor, most of the museum’s viruses come from the personal collection of Mikko Hyppönen, the Chief Research Officer at antivirus company F-Secure.

Hyppönen is said to have been collecting malware since 1991, and still has many early viruses in their original format, contained on five-and-a-quarter-inch floppy disks while others (particularly the 1980’s collection) were gathered by Jason Scott, a digital archivist and curator of the Internet Archive’s software collections.

The value of such a collection could perhaps be argued, in that their display doesn’t really do much, but likewise, history should be preserved. It is the goal of the Internet Archive to provide permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format.

It’s also a stroll down memory lane for those (really Generation X and older) who can remember those days; I can still remember the first computer virus I ever had in roughly the late 1980’s on an IBM XT clone with EGA monitor, twin 5 1/4 inch floppy drives and a 10mb hard drive: it was the marijuana virus and all it did was tell me my computer was stoned.

If you’re looking for a trip down memory lane, the full early malware experience can be viewed on the Internet Archive here.

Image credit: unknown author/Internet Archive


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Bitcoin stolen from lending startup Loanbase in alleged hack Tue, 09 Feb 2016 04:41:27 +0000 Bitcoin lending startup Loanbase, Inc. is claiming to h […]]]>

Bitcoin lending startup Loanbase, Inc. is claiming to have been hacked, although fortunately for customers and the company alike the amount stolen was not huge.

Loanbase advised customers of the hack via email and its Facebook page on Sunday, explaining they had first detected unauthorized access early in the morning of Saturday, February 6.

The company says the hack came via a hole in a WordPress blog, and gave the hackers access to their SQL database, meaning that sensitive user information may have been accessed including e-mail addresses, phone numbers, names, and other sensitive information.

It’s not clear at this point what occurred next as Loanbase doesn’t describe what happened, but presumably, somehow the hackers used the data from the database to access Bitcoin wallets held by customers.

Loanbase says it believes the loss is “roughly” around 8 Bitcoins ($2,976) but could be as high as 20 Bitcoins ($7440), and all affected customers will be fully reimbursed the amount stolen.

Ticks and crosses

It must be said first and foremost that Loanbase should be praised for its full transparency in disclosing the hack, how it occurred, and more importantly what they are doing about it, which at the time includes taking their website down, resetting passwords, rejecting any withdrawals that have been approved but not processed, and implementing additional security procedures; many other companies can learn a lesson here.

The hack though does raise serious questions about how Loanbase has its Bitcoin wallets setup to begin with.

Let’s just presume that the hackers gained access to the wallets via access to a WordPress database: what information was in a WordPress database to begin with, and is WordPress the right platform to be using to run a financial services business?

Secondly, and most important, two-factor authentication (2fa) would have immediately limited access to stored Bitcoin, so it can only be presumed that it wasn’t in place for these customers; there is some suggestion that customers are given a choice of using 2fa or not with Loanbase but best practice in 2016 is to not give customers a choice as to whether they want to use 2fa or not, and to make it compulsory to avoid exactly what has happened here.

If you’re a customer affected by the Loanbase hack, you can follow the latest updates on what the company is doing on its Facebook page here.

Image credit: chodhound/Flickr/CC by 2.0
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AngelList raised $163m for early stage startups in 2015 as investors diversify portfolios Tue, 09 Feb 2016 04:13:02 +0000 Online fundraising site for startups AngelList LLC has […]]]>

Online fundraising site for startups AngelList LLC has published its annual year in review report, and despite a perceived slowdown in the venture capital space late in the year, 2015 turned out to be another big year in angel funding.

If you’re not familiar with AngelList, the site caters to early stage startups by providing a service where they’re are able to seek connections with early-stage “angel” investors, while also providing a board for companies to advertise positions available.

For the year 2015 AngelList raised $163 million for 441 startups funded by 3,379 investors, with a total of 770,000 companies now listed on a the site, including those seeking funding, and those who have already obtained it; this compares to $104 million in 2014 for 243 companies from 2,673 investors.

There are now 170 active investor syndicates listed on the site, that is groups of people who co-invest together, and includes well-known venture capital firms such as Sequoia, Kleiner Perkins, Khosla Ventures and more.

Forty percent of the rounds, or 170 startups, raised money in private deals totaling $89 million, while 40 percent of rounds included institutional money.

Despite being best known for raising money, AngelList is growing rapidly as an employment site, with its job board seeing 16,000 active companies and 250,000 actives candidates during the year, with job matches coming in at a staggering 548,000.

Not surprisingly software engineers and designers were the most popular positions companies were seeking to fill, with Javascript, Java and HTML skills being the most in demand for engineering positions, and UX and Photoshop for designers.


Like any bet, be it on a horse or indeed even parts of the stock market, angel funding has high risks involved. But likewise it also has the potential of much higher rewards for a shrewd investor who picks who he invests in well.

While the headline dollar numbers are great for AngelList, the more interesting part is the increasing number of individual investors, and there are likely two factors driving that growth: diversification, where investors are looking to invest in a broader range of startups; and market maturity, wherein much of the growth at the top of the market has already taken place and investors are looking for opportunities to get in on the ground floor so to speak with the next Atlassian, Facebook, or indeed even Google.

As late stage venture capital starts to slow, particularly as we are now seeing across the board valuation revisions (even with unicorns), Angel investing, particularly given it usually requires less capital to begin with, may well become more appealing in the year ahead.

Image credit: pictureartist/Flickr/CC by 2.0


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Hacker uses social engineering hack to access DoJ, releases employee files from DHS, FBI Tue, 09 Feb 2016 03:26:44 +0000 A hacker has released details of Federal Bureau of Inve […]]]>

A hacker has released details of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees following a successful social engineering attack against the Department of Justice (DoJ).

The files so far released include a DHS Staff Directory that has the name, title, email address, and phone number for some 9,355 employees ranging from security specialists, program analysts, InfoSec and IT, all the way up to director level, and 20,000 similar records from the FBI; the hacker claims to also have a trove of data from the DoJ but at the time of writing has not made this data publicly available.

The unnamed hacker spoke to Motherboard and described how he had used social engineering to gain access to the Department of Justice.

Step one was compromising the email account of a DoJ employee, although the hacker doesn’t detail exactly how this was done; presumably, it was via either a phishing or spear-phishing attack.

Having gained access the email account, the hacker then tried to use the same credentials to log into the DoJ portal but without success, then subsequently called the Department directly and socially engineered the access.

“So I called up, told them I was new and I didn’t understand how to get past [the portal],” the hacker said. “They asked if I had a token code, I said no, they said that’s fine—just use our one.”

Having then gained access, the hacker had full access to the DoJ intranet, including around 1 TB of employee data including military emails, and credit card numbers, but only grabbed 200 GB instead.

“I HAD access to it, I couldn’t take all of the 1TB,” the hacker noted.

Perhaps more disturbingly the hacker confirmed the hack by emailing Motherboard from the compromised account, meaning that not only was the intrusion not detected when it occurred, but the DoJ’s system completely failed to detect it for a significant time afterwards, giving the hacker even more time to do as he pleases within side the firewall.

“We are looking into the reports of purported disclosure of DHS employee contact information,” a Department of Homeland Security spokesperson said on the reports. “We take these reports very seriously, however, there is no indication at this time that there is any breach of sensitive information.”

Poor form

While it’s true that even with the best security intentions hacks do happen, social engineering attacks don’t hack servers, they hack people, and in this case, extraordinarily poorly trained public employees who were stupid enough to give this hacker access in the first place.

Seriously: the DoJ had a token code system in place to protect its data and a hacker rings a help desk, says he is new, and they given him a token code over the phone?

Incompetence doesn’t come close.

“Heads should roll” might be an overused cliche but it’s an appropriate one here because every employee from the moron who gave the token out over the phone, to his supervisor, and direct line of management heading up the organization chart needs to either resign or be fired, because something is seriously wrong with the Department’s training procedures for this to have occurred to begin with.

Image credit: ajturner/Flickr/CC by 2.0
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Is there a new networking solutions provider du jour for cloud architects? | #CUBEconversations Tue, 09 Feb 2016 02:00:56 +0000 How does a young company compete against a behemoth com […]]]>

How does a young company compete against a behemoth competitor with an 80 percent enterprise marketshare?

“We look for the agents of change,” said Plexxi, Inc.’s CEO Rich Napolitano, referring to the company’s strategy for attracting customers looking for novel IT Solutions. Despite speculation that Cisco Systems, Inc. will eventually acquire Plexxi, Napolitano seems quite confident steering the company on its own path to success.

He told Dave Vellante and Paul Gillin, cohosts of theCUBE, from the SiliconANGLE Media team, that there is a new kind of developer who thinks very differently about infrastructure — the cloud architect. According to Napolitano, cloud architects take a top-down view to solving specific problems rather than starting at the hardware level.

Napolitano added that the ease of use Plexxi provides is attractive to customers who want to focus on their enterprise/their application, instead of IT. “It’s really about allowing people to build, say, private clouds that are as easy to use and consume as public clouds,” he said

Do more paths mean better networking?

Napolitano said that Plexxi networking utilizes thousands of paths, and this diversity is key to its agility in coming up with the solutions their customers want. He uses the analogy of a trip from Boston to New York where you know of maybe three of four paths. “But there are probably thousands of ways to get there,” he said. “What if you could know that, and what if you could dynamically change your pathing? That’s the nature of what we’re doing, which is very different than anyone else.”

Watch the full interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s on-site event coverage

Photo by SiliconANGLE
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How the software-defined storage explosion is giving data legs | #CUBEconversations Tue, 09 Feb 2016 01:00:19 +0000 The explosion of software-defined storage has been cruc […]]]>

The explosion of software-defined storage has been crucial to the converging or leaning of IT in the past few years. What these new storage methods make possible for businesses and organizations is an area of increasing interest.

“The role of hardware has changed,” said Chris Farey, cofounder and CTO for StorMagic, a software-defined storage provider.

The need for expensive external boxes and loads of disks no longer prohibits companies that desire high-performance data storage, Farey told Stu Miniman, cohost of theCUBE, from the SiliconANGLE Media team. Now, he said, “You can put together some pretty impressive high-performance systems with maybe just a small amount of flash storage and just a small number of spindles of conventional hard disks,” he added.

Data here, there, and everywhere

The new software-defined storage allows data to be moved to the edge, analyzed, and manipulated there to accomplish tasks with unprecedented agility and speed. Diverse businesses and operations from retail stores to oil rigs and windmills are learning to analyse data at the edge to make improve customer experience, increase revenue, improve safety, and more.

Watch the full interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s on-site event coverage.

Photo by SiliconANGLE
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Blizzard’s game design philosophy is “easy to learn, hard to master,” says CEO Mike Morhaime Mon, 08 Feb 2016 23:24:02 +0000 Warcraft and StarCraft creator Blizzard Entertainment I […]]]>

Warcraft and StarCraft creator Blizzard Entertainment Inc turned 25 years old this week, and in a recent interview with GamesBeat, co-founder and CEO Mike Morhaime looked back on how the studio got to where it is today, as well as the design philosophies it has always tried to follow.

When asked whether Blizzard intentionally set out to make accessible games in traditionally hardcore genres, Morhaim explained that the studio wants its games to be easy to pick up yet also full of complexity.

“We do always approach our games from a standpoint of—We’re trying to make these games for everyone, even if they’re not already familiar with a genre, and especially if they’re not already an expert at the genre,” Morhaime told GamesBeat. “We want anybody to be able to play a Blizzard game and have the tools they need to enjoy it. We apply that to everything we do.”

“It’s part of our values – easy to learn, difficult to master. Having something that is easy to learn doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have depth. It can still have depth. You just don’t have to throw all the depth at the player when they first sit down.”

One of the more recent examples of this philosophy is Blizzard’s successful digital collectible card game (CCG), Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Compared to many older CCGs like Magic: The Gathering, Hearthstone is relatively simple to pick up and start playing almost immediately.

When you create a new Hearthstone account, the game starts you off with only one class, Mage, and it guides you through a short and rather seamless tutorial that gradually introduces you to core concepts of the game, including how mana is earned and spent, how to play minions and spells, and how to use a combination of cards to defend yourself and attack your opponent.

After getting through the tutorial, players can unlock other classes by beating each of them while playing against an AI player. As players earn more experience with each class, they also gradually unlock all of their basic cards, giving them more tools and added complexity as they progress. They also have the opportunity to earn a few free card packs along the way.

After that, however, Hearthstone basically releases players into the wild to fend for themselves, which is where the real complexity of the game sets in.

You can read the full interview with Morhaime at GamesBeat.

Photo by SobControllers 
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To build or to buy? The clouding of IT | #CUBEconversations Mon, 08 Feb 2016 23:00:33 +0000 As cheap, efficient, public cloud offerings continue to […]]]>

As cheap, efficient, public cloud offerings continue to whet people’s appetites for plug and play IT, companies are rushing to meet the demand.

“It’s going to be on like Donkey Kong” for ready-to-use infrastructure this year, said VCE Co., LLC President Chad Sakac. Owned by EMC, VCE provides converged infrastructure and solutions.

Sakac told Stu Miniman, cohost of theCUBE, from the SiliconANGLE Media team, that the company is striving to offer the best in both departments. He said that buildable infrastructure blocks, racks, and appliances are extremely important to VCE’s business model, but that buyable, turnkey infrastructure is an area of intense interest right now. He sees VCE as well positioned to lead the race.

“We’re the group that basically delivers on a business outcome when a customer says, ‘I’m sick and tired of building stuff. I just want to buy it and consume it,'” he said.

Instant gratification

Hyper-converged infrastructure is growing, and Sakac sees the growth of public cloud as responsible for the shift to turnkey IT. He said that public cloud has “crystallized” people’s thinking so that now they are desiring similar ease of use and readiness across the board. People are gravitating toward companies that can simply sell businesses converged infrastructure and manage it for them.

“We’re the leader of doing that for customers around the world and growing extremely rapidly,” he said.

Watch the full interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s on-site event coverage

Photo by SiliconANGLE
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Will software-defined revolutionize data protection? | #CUBEconversations Mon, 08 Feb 2016 21:00:31 +0000 Add data protection to the list of IT areas where softw […]]]>

Add data protection to the list of IT areas where software-defined is reducing bulk and boosting usability.

Loss of large data sets can be disastrous for organizations. The latest software technology offers new ways to ensure against it without taking up physical space or hiring more staff. Joseph King, chief technology officer and VP of technology services at CAS Severn, Inc., spoke about the strides his company is making in software-defined data protection.

He told Dave Vellante, cohost of theCUBE, from the SiliconANGLE Media team, the shift away from purpose-built hardware to hardware has allowed the company to refine and target a streamlined data protection product to customers.

“We didn’t want to go to market with three or four different things. We wanted to go to market with one,” King said. CAS Severn offers data protection that non-IT experts can use to recover data in a matter of minutes or hours, where it used to take days. “We can keep it very straightforward and based off of software,” he said.

Real-world usability

Joining the conversation was Bijaya Devkota, CIO and director of technology at Charles County Public Schools. He corroborated the ease of use King spoke about. A user of the new technology, Devkota talked about how the move from tapes to disks “saves us a lot of time, a lot of manpower, and a lot of resources.”

Watch the full interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s on-site event coverage.

Photo by SiliconANGLE
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