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Microsoft, Google, Intel and Mozilla want to move WebAssembly beyond the browser

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Microsoft has joined the Bytecode Alliance, a group aiming to expand WebAssembly beyond the browser and JavaScript to native applications for desktop and mobile platforms. 

The Bytecode Alliance, formed by Intel, Mozilla, RedHat and Fastly in 2019, has established itself as a non-profit organization. 

The organization is now incorporated by Fastly, Intel, Mozilla and Microsoft. The alliance has gained several key members too, including Arm, DFINITY Foundation, Embark Studios, Google, Shopify, and the University of California at San Diego. 

 SEE: Hiring Kit: Python developer (TechRepublic Premium)

The alliance says it wants to address the threat of software supply chain attacks, such as the breach of SolarWinds, because it includes tools and components from many parties. 

With WebAssembly, an assembly language, developers can write code in programming languages like C++ and Rust and compile it to WebAssembly (WASM), and then run it inside a browser without rewriting that code in JavaScript first. 

WASM is supported by all major browsers but it also promises to let developers write one app that runs outside the browser on multiple operating systems.  

“These organizations share a vision of a WebAssembly ecosystem that fixes cracks in today’s software foundations that are holding the industry and its software supply chains back from a secure, performant, cross-platform and cross-device future,” the Bytecode Alliance said in a statement.     

“Relying on a complex supply chain of components from other parties allows a defect anywhere in that chain to compromise the security and stability of the entire program,” noted Mozilla

The founding members shared a bunch of WASM tools with the Bytecode Alliance including runtimes, runtime components, and language tooling from multiple parties.  

Now with Microsoft, Google and Mozilla on board, the Bytecode Alliance has the support of three of the four major browser vendors. Safari-maker Apple is the one major browser vendor missing from the lineup. With broader support, it gives the alliance a better chance at long-term survival. 

“WebAssembly and the emerging WebAssembly System Interface (WASI) specification enable cloud-native solutions to become more secure by default and help solve computing challenges across a variety of environments, including the ‘tiny edge’ of systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) and microcontroller units (MCUs),” said Ralph Squillace, a Microsoft principal program manager of Azure Core Upstream and Bytecode Alliance board member. 

SEE: Programming languages: JavaScript has most developers but Rust is the fastest growing

WASI is  a system interface for WebAssembly that lets code outside of a browser talk to multiple operating systems.

Microsoft’s work on WebAssembly includes its release of Blazor WebAssembly, which allows C# and .NET developers to build apps that run in the browser with WebAssembly but work like a native desktop app, aka Progressive Web Apps. 

Blazor WebAssembly is one of four flavors of Microsoft’s Blazor project, which includes the supported Blazor Server render for web apps, an Electron renderer, and the recently released experimental Mobile Blazor Bindings for building native iOS and Android app using C# and .NET instead of JavaScript. 

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-google-back-bytecode-alliance-to-move-webassembly-beyond-the-browser/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

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Samsung raises spending in logic chip businesses to $151 billion

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Samsung Electronics has announced it will increase its investment in logic businesses through 2030 to a total of 171 trillion won, approximately $151 billion.

Back in 2019, the South Korean tech giant pledged to spend 133 trillion won through 2030 to its logic businesses.

Samsung said it was adding 38 trillion won to that original investment in order to accelerate advanced research and expand its production facilities.

The South Korean tech giant has two logic businesses, Samsung System LSI and Samsung Foundry. System LSI designs logic chips while Foundry is a contract chip production unit.

By adding more investment, expansion of its Foundry unit “will help fuel entire new industries built on next-generation technologies like AI, 5G and autonomous driving,” the tech giant said.

Samsung also announced that it has begun construction of a new production line at its plant in Pyeongtaek, South Korea.

The new line, called P3, is expected to be complete in the second half of 2022, the company said.

P3 will manufacture 14-nanometre DRAM and 5-nanometre logic semiconductors using extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography technology, Samsung added.

“The entire semiconductor industry is facing a watershed moment and now is the time to chart out a plan for long-term strategy and investment,” said Samsung vice chairman and head of its chip business Kim Ki-nam.

“For the memory business, where Samsung has maintained its undisputed leadership position, the company will continue to make preemptive investments to lead the industry.”

While the South Korean tech giant didn’t address the current global chip shortage directly in its announcement, sources told ZDNet that the construction plan for P3 is six months ahead of schedule. Due to this, the tech giant will likely continue to be flexible in what chips its manufactures at its production lines in Pyeongtaek plant going forward, the sources said.

Samsung is the world’s largest memory chip maker by revenue. In foundry, it is the second largest, behind Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). In terms of total revenue, Samsung is the world’s second largest chip firm, behind Intel.

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SoftBank posts ¥5 trillion profit off the back of strong Vision Fund gains

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SoftBank has reported net profit of ¥4.99 trillion for the year ended March, marking a sharp turnaround from the ¥961 billion loss recorded in the year prior.

The primary reason for the turnaround was the ¥4.03 trillion profit from its Vision Fund unit, which was a ¥5.4 trillion improvement from FY2019 when the Vision Fund unit lost ¥1.4 trillion due to various investments across consumer, real estate, and transportation underperforming that year.

According to SoftBank, the ¥4.03 trillion profit was the Vision Fund unit’s strongest annual performance ever.

The strong performance during FY2020 largely came off the back of gains from the recently-listed Coupang and DoorDash, which provided unrealised valuation gains amounting to $25.3 billion and $7.6 billion, respectively.

During the full-year results presentation, SoftBank CEO and chairman Masayoshi Son reused the “golden goose” motif mentioned during the third-quarter presentation when saying SoftBank would need similar results from other unlisted companies in the Vision fund portfolio if it is to maintain the same profit trajectory. 

“We call ourselves an investment company. We don’t do any gambling or focus on one-time gains from market rallies — that’s not what we are looking for. We like to be looking at continuous gains through AI for new technologies,” Son said during the results presentation.

In addition, SoftBank also separately announced it was tripling the size of its Vision Fund 2, from $10 billion from $30 billion.

SoftBank Corp, the conglomerate’s telco, also improved its performance from the year prior, increasing its net sales by 7% year-on-year to ¥848 billion. This led to a 4% year-on-year jump in the segment’s total income, which rose to ¥848 billion.

During the year, SoftBank Corp also saw its mobile subscriber base grow by 3% to 47.2 million while its broadband services gained 300,000 more customers.

Meanwhile, SoftBank’s soon-to-be-sold chip segment, Arm, posted a ¥33.9 billion loss. This is despite Arm’s net sales, increasing by 6% year-on-year to ¥210 billion, which comprised of $1.28 billion in technology royalty revenue and $702 million in non-royalty revenue.

The loss was mainly due to charges that arose from increases being made to the share-based remuneration of Arm employees following the agreement for SoftBank to sell Arm to Nvidia.

The $40 billion sale is still pending as the UK’s competition regulator is currently in the midst of an investigation into the deal. Providing comment on the pending sale, Son said he remained “hopeful” that the transaction will close while adding an Arm IPO could be in the cards if the deal cannot be completed.

During the full year to March 2021, SoftBank also earned ¥422 billion through selling two-thirds of its T-Mobile shares and ¥601 billion on equity method investments from Alibaba.

At the same time, SoftBank lost ¥477 billion from prepaid forward contracts that used Alibaba shares, the company said.

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Incremental improvements are not enough as Biden signs order boosting US cyber posture

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United States President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Wednesday to boost the cyber posture of the federal government.

The order points to recent incidents including the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, Exchange vulnerabilities that led to the FBI removing web shells from US servers, and the SolarWinds attack.

The order said the federal government must lead by example.

“Incremental improvements will not give us the security we need; instead, the federal government needs to make bold changes and significant investments in order to defend the vital institutions that underpin the American way of life,” the order states.

“The federal government must bring to bear the full scope of its authorities and resources to protect and secure its computer systems, whether they are cloud-based, on-premises, or hybrid.

“The scope of protection and security must include systems that process data (information technology) and those that run the vital machinery that ensures our safety (operational technology).”

The order mandates that agencies have 180 days to implement multi-factor authentication and encrypt data both at rest and in transit “to the maximum extent” available under federal records and other laws. Agencies that cannot meet the deadline will need to provide a written explanation why not.

“Outdated security models and unencrypted data have led to compromises of systems in the public and private sectors,” the White House said in a fact sheet.

“The Federal government must lead the way and increase its adoption of security best practices, including by employing a zero-trust security model, accelerating movement to secure cloud services, and consistently deploying foundational security tools such as multifactor authentication and encryption.”

A Cybersecurity Safety Review Board will be established under the order and be constituted by federal officials from the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, CISA, NSA, and FBI, as well as private-sector representatives to be determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security. The board will be chaired and co-chaired by one federal and one private-sector member.

The board will meet following a “significant” cyber incident and analyse what happened and make recommendations.

“When something goes wrong, the Administration and private sector need to ask the hard questions and make the necessary improvements,” the White House said.

“This board is modelled after the National Transportation Safety Board, which is used after airplane crashes and other incidents.”

A standardised playbook for incident response will also be created, as will a “government-wide endpoint detection and response system” and mandate to maintain logs to help in incident detection, investigation, and remediation.

“Slow and inconsistent deployment of foundational cybersecurity tools and practices leaves an organisation exposed to adversaries,” the fact sheet states.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Colonial Pipeline restarted operations.

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/biden-signs-order-boosting-us-cyber-posture-saying-incremental-improvements-are-not-enough/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

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Phishing, ransomware, Web app attacks dominate data breaches in 2021, says Verizon Business DBIR

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Web applications represented 39% of all data breaches in the last year with phishing attacks jumping 11% and ransomware up 6% from a year ago, according to the Verizon Business Data Breach Investigations Report.

The report, based on 5,358 breaches from 83 contributors around the world, highlights how the COVID-19 pandemic move to the cloud and remote work opened up a few avenues for cybercrime.

Verizon Business found that 61% of all breaches involved credential data. Consistent with previous years, human negligence was the biggest threat to security.

Each industry in the DBIR had its own security nuances. For instance, 83% of data compromised in the financial and insurance industry was personal data, said Verizon Business. Healthcare was plagued by misdelivery of electronic or paper documents. In the public sector, social engineering was the technique of choice.

By region, Asia Pacific breaches typically were caused by financial motivations and phishing. In EMEA, Web application attacks, system intrusion and social engineering were the norm.

Here are some more figures to ponder in the Verizon Business DBIR:

  • 85% of breaches involved a human element.
  • 61% of breaches involved credentials.
  • Ransomware appeared in 10% of breaches, double the previous year.
  • Compromised external cloud assets were more common than on-premises assets in incidents and breaches.
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Verizon Business DBIR 2021

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