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Gaming sector cyberattacks rise by 167pc in one year, Akamai says

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Akamai said the growing value in gaming has attracted more criminals seeking to disrupt online games and steal valuable player accounts.

Cyberattacks targeting the gaming industry have risen rapidly amid the sector’s recent boom, according to a new report from Akamai Technologies.

Akamai said the gaming industry experienced a major boost from Covid-19 related lockdowns and social distancing. This growth hasn’t slowed down, but the rising value has attracted the attention of cybercriminals.

The company’s latest State of the Internet report said web application attacks on gaming companies and player accounts has grown by 167pc in the last 12 months, impacting millions of gamers around the world.

The report said these attacks put player accounts at risk of being compromised, which can result in the selling of gaming accounts and the theft of personal information such as card card details.

Akamai said the gaming industry is the most targeted sector for distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, with 37pc of all DDoS attacks hitting this sector. The company said this is an “overwhelming amount” as the second most targeted vertical is the financial sector at 22pc.

Large scale DDoS attacks can take games offline and affect thousands of players in a matter of seconds. The report said they can also be more targeted, increasing latency to give one player an advantage over others.

“As gaming activity has increased and evolved, so has the value of disrupting it through cyberattacks,” said Akamai senior strategist Jonathan Singer. “Cybercriminals typically disrupt live services and co-opt credentials to steal gaming assets.”

The report noted that changes in the gaming landscape are opening up new targets for cybercriminals. For example, the growth in cloud gaming has also increased the industry’s “overall attack surface”, creating new avenues for hackers.

The growth in microtransactions also represents an incentive for criminals, as many of these purchased products are linked to player accounts. It is estimated that the microtransaction market will reach a value of $106bn by 2026, creating a massive target for attackers.

“Basically, cybercriminals know there is value in gaming, and they will continue to invent ways of getting it or exploiting the flow of virtual funds,” Akamai stated in the report.

Last year, game publisher EA became the victim of a cyberattack, when hackers claimed to steal 780GB of data that included the source code of various games.

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk showcases humanoid robot – video | Technology

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Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, showcased his humanoid robot, Optimus, at the electric vehicle maker’s AI Day event. The billionaire has said a robot business will be worth more than its carmaking business. At the event a prototype of the robot walked on stage and waved to the audience. And a video of it carrying a box, watering plants and moving metal bars in the Tesla factory was shown.’Our goal is to make a useful humanoid robot as quickly as possible,’ Musk said at the event in Palo Alto, California.

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Linux 6.0 lands, Linus Torvalds hints at core changes in 6.1 • The Register

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Linus Torvalds has released a stable cut of version 6.0 of the Linux kernel.

“As is hopefully clear to everybody, the major version number change is more about me running out of fingers and toes than it is about any big fundamental changes,” Torvalds wrote in his release announcement.

Torvalds rated version 6.0 “one of the bigger releases at least in numbers of commits in a while”, thanks largely to the inclusion of “15k non-merge commits in there in total”.

But he expressed more enthusiasm for version 6.1 when reminding kernel contributors that the release of a stable kernel update means it’s time to get cracking on new additions.

“Tomorrow I’ll open the merge window for 6.1. Which – unlike 6.0 – has a number of fairly core new things lined up,” he wrote.

Those “things” include support for the Rust programming language, the addition of which was all-but-assured with a Saturday pull request. Optional disabling of Spectre mitigations for some Arm silicon will be added, in recognition of the pain that fixing the speculative execution mess can inflict on Arm-powered servers. Other changes make the performance hit from Retbleed fixes less painful.

CPU fault detection is another addition, a feature likely to be welcomed by those operating large fleets of Linux boxes.

Notable additions to Linux 6.0 include better ACPI handling and power management, which should save juice for users of Intel’s Sapphire Rapids CPUs.

In-kernel support for SMB3 should speed up file transfers and improve security by giving more users reasons to bin the insecure and long-deprecated SMB1.

Support for RISC-V advanced on several fronts. So did work to address the LoongArch architecture that China has backed as a candidate indigenous technology to reduce dependence on imported tech.

Intel’s discrete Arc graphics are acknowledged and support for some Arm-powered laptops has been improved.

And Linux wouldn’t be Linux without the addition of some obscurities, in this release that means ancient Atari personal computers scored code to improve their handling of VGA signals. ®

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What can Ireland do to make energy consumption more efficient?

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Chris Collins of Schneider Electric Ireland says the country has the tech to help cut emissions, it just needs to rethink its approach to energy use.

The rapid rise of energy costs in tandem with the cost-of-living crisis was certainly a focus of Budget 2023. But what about Ireland’s climate targets?

Understandably, many people were looking for help with high energy bills – a problem that will hopefully be only temporary. What is not temporary, however, is the climate crisis. And Ireland has legally binding targets to cut emissions by 51pc by 2030.

With these ambitious targets in mind, the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications was allocated more than €1bn in Budget 2023.

A €337m chunk of this will go towards grants for energy efficiency. According to Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath, TD, this represents the “highest funding ever” committed to energy efficiency.

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan, TD, added that a key priority over the coming months is “to scale up and speed up our transition to renewable energy systems”. This, he said, would “a real lasting solution” to the fossil fuel crisis that is causing so much hardship for people.

But is this action enough to respond the climate crisis? In general, Ireland’s progress on reaching its emissions targets leaves a lot to be desired.

A report published recently by the Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland (SEAI) showed that Ireland’s energy-related emissions increased by 5.4pc in 2021, following a brief reduction at the beginning of the pandemic.

Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency warned that “urgent” measures are needed for Ireland to meet its climate targets, based on greenhouse gas emissions projections for the period 2021 to 2040. So what should be done?

‘We have a lot of catching up to do’

According to Chris Collins, Ireland country president for Schneider Electric, “we have a lot of catching up to do” and we will need “more than significant cuts to stay within the legal limits”.

This is something most of us already know. Indeed, Collins made a very similar statement in August when Eurostat published estimates indicating that emissions had risen across the whole of Europe in the first quarter of this year – with Ireland experiencing the third highest increase in the EU.

Following on from those earlier comments, Collins told that there are a number of things the Irish Government should focus on immediately to see results.

“The most immediate thing we can do to drive our sustainability agenda is to focus on reduction, using existing technology to cut out the inefficiencies in our existing infrastructure,” he said, adding that a lot of energy consumed in buildings is wasted.

Chris Collins Schneider Electric headshot.

Chris Collins. Image: Schneider Electric

“We can attack this waste through digital technologies that help our homes, commercial buildings and factories make better decisions on how they use their energy.

“Government-led legislation and support in the form of energy incentives and rewards are valuable ways to cement this progress made by businesses and create a more cohesive strategy for Ireland.”

Ireland needs to invest in digitisation as “a sustainability enabler” so homes as well as businesses can minimise energy waste through tech such as smart thermostats.

“Energy efficiency might sound like an outworn concept but it’s one of the fastest-growing ways to cut carbon emissions and save the planet,” said Collins.

Technology will be an incredibly useful asset for sustainability overall, he added. “The good news is we do not have to wait for this technology to get developed, it’s already here.”

Ireland needs the ‘courage to think differently’

However, Collins said that leveraging tech’s potential regarding sustainability would require “courage to think differently about how we digitise at all stages of planning, construction and operation”.

“There is plenty of technology available to help, from electric fleet vehicles to digital technologies that make electricity usage more visible, connected, controlled and smart – cutting waste.”

Besides using tech to track and cut energy waste, what other suggestions does Collins have for Ireland? He reckons that one of the biggest obstacles to Ireland’s transition to clean, renewable energy is providing capital investors and developers certainty during the planning and reviewing process.

“It is taking too long for projects to be reviewed and [enter] into production, worsened by the current global supply chain challenges. Once approval is given, components still need to be built, prolonging the wait even further.”

He also recommended that the State start thinking about building grid resilience and creating micro grids around some of the larger cities.

“Data centre operators also need to start thinking about investing in their own renewable energy generation assets on site to power themselves and use battery storage and smart grid solutions to feed excess power back into the national power grid,” he added.

‘Ireland as a nation is behind on its climate goals, but the ambition and opportunity are there’

For its part, Schneider Electric is working with customers in Ireland such as Interxion by Digital Realty, Eirgrid and University College Dublin to help improve their energy management and efficiency. Other partners and customers in Ireland include windfarms, tech multinationals and life sciences manufacturers.

“We are working with a major pharmaceutical manufacturer in Ireland to deploy digital assets that measure and monitor their electrical infrastructure and help them make operating decisions that reduce their consumption and maximise the life and efficiency of their assets,” said Collins, citing one example.

As for Schneider Electric’s own internal operations, Collins said the company has “measured and published sustainability targets for over 15 years” and has committed to becoming fully carbon neutral on its end-to-end footprint by 2040.

“Here in Ireland, we are moving to a new net-zero building in Galway from November. The building will have electrified heating and hot water, electric vehicle power stations, and we are also looking into the prospect of having onsite renewable energy generation including solar and wind power coupled with local energy storage.”

Despite the fact that Ireland has a lot of work to do in meeting its climate goals, Collins is relatively optimistic about embracing the challenge that lies ahead and becoming “a leader in the green energy revolution”.

“Ireland as a nation is behind on its climate goals, but the ambition and opportunity are there, and businesses are leading the way. The Covid pandemic highlighted the need to digitise.

“The fact that carbon emissions reduced significantly during the lockdown can inspire us to rethink energy use and our approach to consumption – efficiency, smart usage – as well as generation – offshore wind and solar – particularly as the world faces the ongoing energy crisis.”

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