Is your next logo something musical? Intel makes a big comeback. And fake ransomware groups? Don’t these guys have any ethics?
These stories and more on Hashtag Trending for Wednesday, April 5th.
I’m your host Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada and TechNewsDay in the US – here’s today’s top tech news stories.
What was that? It was the sound of the new logo for Wikipedia. That’s right. It’s a sound logo and as an article in FastCompany described it – it’s delightfully nerdy.
What’s the point? Glad you asked. Apparently the Wikimedia Foundation, wants to define its brand at a time when people are starting to use voice and speech to access their phones, tablets and of course, their smart speakers.
A spokesperson for the Wikimedia Foundation Mathoto Matsetela-Harman noted that 27 per cent of world’s online population use voice search on their mobile devices or smart speaker. And more and more people are getting the answers from Wikipedia content. So the logo will “reassure” listeners that the “information they are getting is accurate, reliable and verified by thousands of volunteers in the Wikimedia movement.”
The sound logo is the creation of Thaddeus Osborne, a Viginia based nuclear engineer who produces music in his spare time. It was picked from thousands of entries in a contest run by the foundation, looking for the sound of “knowledge growing”
It’s not the first-time sound logos have been used – the first audio trademark was registered in 1929. And whether it will join the ranks of well-known sounds like the sound your Mac or Windows computer make when they boot up or the McDonalds jingle or others that we associate with brands, it’s an idea that somehow sounds right…
Despite the overall industry experiencing 20 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) Intel’s revenue growth has been in the single digits since 2015, with decreasing market share and pressure on gross margins.
Some blame this on Intel’s failure to innovate and catch the mobile, data centre and even Artificial Intelligence markets – ceding these to Nvidia and rival AMD. And with a great deal of its manufacturing overseas, Intel was inordinately hit by supply chain issues that had rocked the industry.
But CEO Pat Gelsinger has devised a plan to return Intel to its past leadership position.
Gelsinger has made a 20 billion dollar bet, with contingency for more if necessary, to invest in foundries in the United States – bringing back production to the US and with that, greater control over supply chains. These new foundries will employ the technology made by Advanced Semiconductor Materials Lithography or ASML – a Dutch corporation that has the world’s most advanced chip manufacturing technology, which has been embargoed since 2019 so it cannot be licensed for use by Chinese manufacturers.
Intel also caught – or maybe caused – the wave of government support with the Biden adminstration’s Chips Act which may contribute as much as 3 Billion dollars per foundry.
The company is betting on this tech to produce a new set of chips called Sierra Forest, a chip with an astounding 144 cores, which Intel hopes will compete with AMD’s 128 core Bergamo chips.
According to an article in Nasdaq.com, the Sierra Forest chips scheduled for delivery in 2025 will be deployed a year ahead of schedule in 2024.
To pull this off, the company has had to strip back dividend payouts to shareholders, cut executive pay and even have some layoffs.
Will it be worth it? In the short run, nobody is certain. The slump in PC demand has cooled part of the market, but even in tough times, most analysts are predicting growth in cloud data centres and AI – two areas that are exactly what the new Sierra Forest chips are designed for.
Speaking of the tech slowdown, industry journal “The Next Platform” reports that forecasts for growth in on-premises hardware will be lower next year by close to 11 per cent. But spending on large cloud providers is expected to grow by close to 7 per cent.
While this is nothing like 20 per cent growth of recent years it’s still a major gap between shrinking on premises and expanding cloud services demand.
Noting that recessions don’t cause IT transitions, they accelerate them, the article shows a projected decline in non-cloud and dedicated on premises servers from 43 per cent to 32 per cent in 2027 with a corresponding increase in cloud for corporate infrastructure.
Even in Canada, which has been slower to adopt cloud, ITWC Research’s CIO Census showed a huge potential increase in cloud usage with CIO’s predicting that in two years, cloud will be the dominant infrastructure in Canada.
Source: The Next Platform
Fake ransomware attacks are the next big thing, according to an article in Bleeping Computer.
The gangs don’t actually mount an attack, they pick on those who they think have been attacked and then claim to be the attacker, or one of the attackers, and demand a ransom or they will publish and sell stolen data or even mount additional attacks on the company or its customers. It’s not a new idea – it’s been observed since 2019 and even given a name by incident response company Coveware, who call it Phantom Incident Extortion or PIE for short.
Bleeping Computer has identified called Midnight and says it has been targeting companies in the US since March 16th.
Midnight has claimed to be part of the Silent Ransom Group, a splinter of the Conti syndicate also known as Luna Moth. In another attack they have masqueraded as the Surtr ransomware group which was first reported encrypting data in its attacks in December of 2025.
The Kroll group, who specialize in investigation and risk consulting, note that this fake extortion and impersonating much more well-known groups is a way for relatively unsophisticated or low skilled attackers to use social engineering to extort victims.
So far, according to Kroll, the only real attacks mounted by these impostors have been relatively low-level denial of service – DDoS attacks, again a strategy that was used by a number of groups in years past.
It’s unclear how the group selects its victims or even where it gets data from. Some speculate that they could be partnering with other attackers or simply be tracking other groups and finding data on the sites these groups use to publish or sell data.
So companies are advised to be doubly careful if they receive ransom demands. The attacker may not be real.
It adds a whole new meaning to that phrase – “fake it till you make it.”
Source: Bleeping Computer
A new study explains why we get so fatigued by online meetings. We’ve all felt it, that awful, lethargic feeling that comes over during Zoom and Teams meetings. It’s not, as you may think, simply that your colleagues are droning on or that the meetings are pointless. That’s just part of corporate life.
Nope, according to this study there are actual physiological reasons why you feel so down and lethargic. Research published in the journal Trends and Cognitive Sciences says that important visual cues we rely on to communicate are rendered meaningless or disrupted over video calls.
According to Nikolaus Troje, a Canada research chair in reality research at Toronto’s York University, “This whole sophisticated dance that two people and their visual systems play when they communicate in the real world is just disrupted,” Or to put it even more simply. “It doesn’t work anymore.”
Troje says that we can’t get the same eye contact that we do in real life – the way we look at each other’s eyes in conversation. Even if we try to look into the spot just below the camera lens, so it looks like we are making eye contact, the effect is somehow artificial – even a little creepy.
Troje’s team is one of many working on new tech solutions that can somehow make the experience of virtual and hybrid meetings actually pleasant.
Solving this challenge might be a worth lot of money. HP’s CEO Enrique Lores noted in a keynote last week at HP’s Amplify conference that there are 90 million meeting rooms across the world and only ten per cent of them are even equipped for video calls. Making them work better is a multi-billion-dollar opportunity.
Source: Toronto Star
According to some reports, the site was infected as early as mid-March but the offending malware was not removed until April 1st.
No-one seems to know exactly who did the attack or even why. The main functions of this code are to communicate with a command and control server and to reload updates. As SANS researcher Johannes Ullrich noted, there are Chinese comments in the code, and the server it pings back to is in China so the source is likely Chinese. But the purpose is a little less clear. Ullrich notes that the “the code is very cobbled together and the clumsy inclusion of PHP points to a not-so-advanced, but maybe still persistent, threat actor.
Hard to understand? Not very clear in what it does? Persistent? Sounds like if belongs with income tax filing.
That’s the top tech news for today. Hashtag Trending goes to air five days a week with the daily tech news and we have a special weekend edition where we do an in depth interview with an expert on some tech development that is making the news.
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I’m your host, Jim Love, have a Wonderful Wednesday!