Tesla On A Slow Road Out Of ‘Hell’ As Model 3 Quarterly Output Inches Up

The company delivered just 1,550 of the cars in the fourth quarter and fewer than 1,800 in all of 2017. The goal is to reach a weekly production ration of 5,000 Model 3s by the end of the second half.

Intel Claims Security Flaw Also Impacts Non-Intel Chips, Exploits Can’t Corrupt, Modify or Delete Data [Updated]

Intel this afternoon addressed reports of a serious design flaw and security vulnerability in its CPUs, shedding additional light on the issue that was uncovered yesterday and has since received extensive media coverage.

In a statement on its website, Intel says that it planned to disclose the vulnerability next week when additional software patches were available, but was forced to make a statement today due to “inaccurate media reports.”

According to Intel, the issue is not limited to Intel chips and the exploits in question do not have the potential to corrupt, modify, or delete data. Despite Intel’s statement, Intel chips are more heavily impacted, and it’s worth noting that Intel makes no mention of reading kernel level data.

Intel and other technology companies have been made aware of new security research describing software analysis methods that, when used for malicious purposes, have the potential to improperly gather sensitive data from computing devices that are operating as designed. Intel believes these exploits do not have the potential to corrupt, modify or delete data.

Recent reports that these exploits are caused by a “bug” or a “flaw” and are unique to Intel products are incorrect. Based on the analysis to date, many types of computing devices — with many different vendors’ processors and operating systems — are susceptible to these exploits.

Intel says it is working with several other technology companies including AMD, ARM, and operating system vendors to “develop an industry-wide approach” to resolve the problem “promptly and constructively.”

As outlined yesterday, the design flaw appears to allow normal user programs to see some of the contents of the protected kernel memory, potentially giving hackers and malicious programs access to sensitive information like passwords, login keys, and more. Fixing the issue involves isolating the kernel’s memory from user processes using Kernel Page Table Isolation at the OS level.

Despite reports suggesting software fixes for the vulnerability could cause slowdowns of 5 to 30 percent on some machines, Intel claims performance impacts are workload-dependent and will not be noticeable to the average computer user.

Intel has begun providing software and firmware updates to mitigate these exploits. Contrary to some reports, any performance impacts are workload-dependent, and, for the average computer user, should not be significant and will be mitigated over time.

Intel goes on to say that it believes its products are “the most secure in the world” and that the current fixes in the works provide the “best possible security” for its customers. Intel recommends that users install operating system updates as soon as they are available.

For Mac users, Apple has already addressed the design flaw in macOS 10.13.2, which was released to the public on December 6.

Update: Security researchers have now shared details about the two critical vulnerabilities impacting most Intel processors and some ARM processors. Called Meltdown and Spectre, the vulnerabilities offer hackers access to data from the memory of running apps, providing passwords, emails, documents, photos, and more.

“Almost every system” since 1995 is impacted according to ZDNet, including computers and smartphones. Meltdown can read the entire physical memory of the target machine, while Spectre is able to break the isolation between different apps. It’s knot known if hackers have exploited Meltdown and Spectre as of yet. Google’s Project Zero team was had a hand in unearthing the vulnerabilities and Google has also shared details on the exploits. Full research papers are available here.

Update 2: ARM and AMD have both issued statements following Intel’s press release. AMD says there is a “near zero risk” to AMD processors at this time, while ARM says its processors are vulnerable.

From AMD:

There is a lot of speculation today regarding a potential security issue related to modern microprocessors and speculative execution. As we typically do when a potential security issue is identified, AMD has been working across our ecosystem to evaluate and respond to the speculative execution attack identified by a security research team to ensure our users are protected.

To be clear, the security research team identified three variants targeting speculative execution. The threat and the response to the three variants differ by microprocessor company, and AMD is not susceptible to all three variants. Due to differences in AMD’s architecture, we believe there is a near zero risk to AMD processors at this time. We expect the security research to be published later today and will provide further updates at that time.

From ARM:

I can confirm that ARM have been working together with Intel and AMD to address a side-channel analysis method which exploits speculative execution techniques used in certain high-end processors, including some of our Cortex-A processors. This method requires malware running locally and could result in data being accessed from privileged memory. Please note our Cortex-M processors, which are pervasive in low-power, connected IoT devices, are not impacted.

We are in the process of informing our silicon partners and encouraging them to implement the software mitigations developed if their chips are impacted.

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California suspect accepts extradition in Kansas ‘swatting’ case

(Reuters) – A California man suspected of making a hoax call that led police in Kansas to kill an unarmed man will not fight extradition to the Midwestern state, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Apple’s $29 Battery Replacement Program Could Lead to 16M Fewer iPhones Sold in 2018

Apple’s decision to offer $29 battery replacements to customers with older iPhones could cause iPhone sales to drop in 2018, according to Barclays analyst Mark Moskowitz (via CNBC).

Customers opting for a battery replacement instead of upgrading an iPhone could be a “mild headwind” for iPhone unit sales, potentially resulting in millions of fewer iPhone purchases during the year. Moskowitz believes up to 77 percent of iPhone users are eligible to upgrade their batteries.

In our base case scenario, 10% of those 519M users take the $29 offer, and around 30% of them decide not to buy a new iPhone this year. This means around 16M iPhone sales could be at risk, creating ~4% downside to our current revenue estimate for C2018.

It remains to be seen if and how the battery replacement program will impact sales in practice despite analyst predictions, as there are other considerations that drive upgrades, such as new features.

Apple began offering reduced-cost battery replacements following backlash from an admission that it slows down some older iPhone models with degraded batteries to prevent them from shutting down unexpectedly.

The power management issue impacts the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 7, and iPhone 7 Plus, but only in situations where battery health has declined. Affected iPhones see throttling during times of peak power usage, such as when running a benchmark.

iPhones that are running slower can be restored to their original condition with a fresh battery, which is why Apple has decided to offer $29 replacements from now until the end of 2018.

While Apple implemented power management features in older iPhones in an attempt to extend their lives as long as possible, some people have claimed that Apple is intentionally slowing devices to push its customers to upgrade, which the company says is not true. From Apple:

First and foremost, we have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades. Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that.

Though Apple may not have been aiming to get customers to upgrade their devices by implementing power management features, it’s an inevitable side effect, hence why the battery program could cut into sales somewhat. Apple is currently facing several lawsuits from customers who claim they upgraded after experiencing slower speeds on their older iPhones.

Apple plans to offer $29 battery replacements throughout the year, and according to internal documentation, all customers who ask for a battery replacement for an affected iPhone will receive one, regardless of battery health.
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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s CES appearance has been cancelled

If you hoped to attend a “candid conversation” with the FCC’s Ajit Pai at CES, I have bad news: he won’t be there. In a tersely worded statement, CTA head Gary Shapiro announced: “Unfortunately, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is unable to attend CES 2018. We look forward to our next opportunity to host a technology policy discussion with… Read More

Republican leaders say do not hold defense hostage to immigration

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House and U.S. Republican congressional leaders, speaking after talks with Democrats, said on Wednesday lawmakers should not hold funding for defense “hostage” to immigration policy.

Google faces revised gender-pay lawsuit

 Google is facing a revised class-action gender-pay lawsuit that alleges Google underpaid women in comparison with their male counterparts and asked new hires about their prior salaries, The Guardian first reported. The revised lawsuit also adds a fourth complainant, Heidi Lamar, who was a teacher at Google’s Children Center in Palo Alto for four years. The original suit was dismissed… Read More

Democrats: Positive meeting with Republicans on spending

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. congressional Democratic leaders said Wednesday they had a productive meeting with leaders of the Republican majority and White House officials about spending issues ahead of a Jan. 19 deadline to keep the government funded.