Week Ending: 18th September - A Roundup in I.T. & Tech News

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This week has brought some unexpected September sun, as well as continued COVID-19 challenges, but also some big news in the world of I.T. and Tech.

In this week’s blog we delve in to Facebook’s new Climate Science Information Centre, we take a look at the huge ecommerce cyberattack which took place on almost 2,000 online stores, we explore Microsoft’s underwater data centre resurfacing and we are impressed with IBM’s Mayflower Autonomous Ship.

Let’s bring you up to date.

Facebook has launched a Climate Science Information Centre

Social media giant, Facebook, has launched a Climate Science Information Centre to promote “authoritative voices, factual information and truthful figures and data on climate change”.

The Climate Science Information Centre is a dedicated space on Facebook and has been created to share factual resources from the world’s leading climate organisations, along with actionable steps individuals can take in their everyday lives to combat climate change. Plus, the space shares articles from high-quality publishers and climate science news.

Facebook’s plan is to first roll out the Climate Science Information Centre in the United States, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom then the rest of the world later down the line.

The tool has been modelled on Facebook’s Covid-19 Information Centre which was launched during the pandemic to stop false narratives and harmful misinformation spreading online.

Facebook has continued to face allegations that it allows false claims around climate change through a policy that exempts opinion articles from its external fact-checking system.

In response, the company has said that it prioritises handling of misinformation that poses an immediate threat of harm, like bogus coronavirus cures or hate speech that could incite violence.

Facebook’s global policy chief Nick Clegg said the company would continue exempting false claims about climate change posted by politicians, although these are often among the most popular content on the platform.

Hopefully, Facebook’s Climate Science Information Centre will be as effective as its Coronavirus Information Centre which directed more than two billion people to information from health authorities, and more than 600 million clicks from people wanting to know more.

Discover more here.

Magento has been hit with a cyberattack

Thousands of online stores across the globe have been hit by a major cybersecurity attack as a result of the stores using an outdated and unprotected ecommerce software, Magento.

During the cybersecurity attack, almost 2,000 stores using Magento were affected. The attack meant that a malicious code intercepted payment information of unsuspecting customers.

The attack has been described by Sansec, global leaders in eCommerce security, as the ‘largest documented campaign to date’ and ‘a typical Magecart attack.’

Researchers at Sansec found that the affected stores were using Magento version 1. Earlier this year, it was announced that this version was reaching its end-of-life. However, the software was still being used by around 95,000 stores worldwide before the attack happened this week.

In addition, Sansec reported that many of the affected stores had no history of security incidents, this suggests that a new attack method had been used to gain server access.

The cyberattack was colossal. Sansec detected 1,904 distinct Magento stores had a unique keylogger on the checkout page, far larger than any other attack Sansec has recorded since it started monitoring the software in 2015.

Alarmingly, this is not the first time this year that Magento software has been flagged as a security risk. In May 2020, the FBI noticed that hackers were taking over online stores and stealing customers’ payment card data by exploiting a three-year-old vulnerability in a Magento plugin.

Adding to the seriousness, Magento lacks the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard compliance which online traders need to be in line with. As a result, some payment providers have announced they will no longer support merchants using Magento version 1.

Magento’s version 1 cyberattack further highlights the importance of keeping your company’s software up to date.

Find out more about the cyberattack here.

Microsoft’s underwater data centre resurfaces

Do you remember two years ago, when Microsoft sank a data centre off the coast of Orkney? This week, that data centre has resurfaced, and Microsoft researchers are now assessing how well it has performed and are finding out about its energy efficiency.

The first finding for the researchers was that the cylinder packed with servers has a lower failure rate than a conventional data centre. When the data centre was pushed off the seabed after being placed there in 2018, only eight out of the 855 servers on board the underwater data centre failed. This compares extremely well against a conventional data centre.

Microsoft predicts that this greater reliability might be connected to the fact that there were no humans on boards, plus, the fact that nitrogen rather than oxygen was pumped into the capsule.

Ben Cutler, who led the project said:

“Our failure rate in the water is one-eighth of what we see on land. We think it has to do with this nitrogen atmosphere that reduces corrosion and is cool, and people not banging things around.”

The second finding has been that the underwater data centre is environmentally friendly. All of Orkney’s electricity comes from wind and solar power and there was no issue in keeping the centre supplied with power over Microsoft’s two-year underwater project.

In conclusion, the underwater data centre has revealed that if there are no humans around there are fewer failures when it comes to servers, it’s sustainable and it’s a reliable, safe place where organisation can store their data.

Find out more here.

The IBM Mayflower Autonomous Ship sets sail from Plymouth

A crewless ship, the IBM Mayflower Autonomous Ship has, this week, set sail from Plymouth harbour.

The AI-driven ship, which has been two years in the making, was lifted into the water on Wednesday, and will travel to Plymouth, Massachusetts, after spending six months gathering data about the state of the ocean.

It’s final transatlantic crossing is planned for 19th April 2021.

Steered by a robot-trained ‘AI Captain’, the high-tech vessel is a grass roots initiative led by marine research non-profit ProMare and IBM engineers. Working in tandem with oceanographers and other vessels, the ship provides a flexible, cost-effective, and safe option for gathering critical data about the ocean. It can spend long durations at sea, carrying scientific equipment and making its own decisions about how to optimize its route and mission.

The ‘AI Captain’ will be able to sense, think and make decisions at sea without having to rely on a human captain or onboard crew. It also has its own twitter account.

In addition to this, IBM’s Mayflower is loaded with all kinds of tech including a lidar, radar, camera, and multiple GPS antennas, to help with its decision-making process.

How impressive? And you can even track the ships current location on the MAS400 website.

Find out more here.

Those were just some of this week’s top stories but if you want more content, follow us across our four social media channels: