Catch up on this week’s round-up of the latest hosting and tech news. Here’s what we’ve uncovered since our last edition.
Google goes greener
While most companies are struggling to become carbon-neutral, Google met that milestone thirteen years ago. This week it announced that it’s gone much further, having cancelled out its entire carbon footprint, a feat achieved by offsetting all its carbon emissions since the company was formed.
Not satisfied even with that, the company now has a new target. By 2030, it aims to run its entire operation, including its many datacentres, on carbon-free energy, using a combination of solar and wind power and by increasing the storage capacity of its batteries. At the same time, it hopes to reduce energy consumption by using AI to forecast demand and optimise supply. The company expects to employ 12,000 people to help it meet that target.
In a bid to cut global reliance on fossil fuels, Google has also stated that it will stop creating AI solutions for oil and gas exploration, a move that could impact the availability of fossil fuels and speed up the adoption of climate-friendly energy sources.
Magento 1 stores fall victim to hack
Infamous hacking cartel, Magecart, has attacked nearly 2000 eCommerce stores built using the outdated Magento 1 CMS platform. In the largest attack of its kind, the cybercriminals have managed to steal personal data, including customer payment card information, with one store alone losing the details of thousands of customers.
The automated attack used a technique called ‘web skimming’ where a site’s checkout page is infected by malware. The malware itself is injected onto the page via a third-party script. Once installed, it steals information inputted by users as they checkout. In this particular instance, the third-party script was installed through a vulnerability in the Magento admin panel whereby the Magento Connect feature was used to download and install the malware.
The attack also shows these sites had been deliberately targeted. Magento 1 has been obsolete since last year and no longer receives support or updates. There are still 95,000 sites using the Magento 1 platform and these remain vulnerable, with Russian hackers selling the web skimming software online and posting instruction videos showing how easy it is to use. Owners of these sites are advised to upgrade to Magento 2.
Bug killing tech unveiled at gadget show
In the year of the pandemic, there are no prizes for guessing what type of new technology will be hitting the headlines. This was certainly the case when microbe mauling hardware stole the limelight at Berlin’s IFA tech show this week.
One product certainly on-trend was the Puricare, an attractive though rather industrial-looking, battery-powered facemask from LG that keeps bugs out by purifying the air you breathe in. Acer, meanwhile, unveiled its Swift 5 laptop, which got less interest in the ‘Swift’ than it did for the fact that it had a germ-repellent touchscreen.
LG made its mark again in the kitchen with its InstaView refrigerator. Ideal for clean fridge obsessives, you can prevent microbes entering by viewing the inside through a screen and on the occasions that it is opened, its UVnano system will exterminate any unwanted viral intruders before they ruin your salad. Finally, for those that don’t want to fork out on a Puricare, you can keep your old facemasks clean using Bob, a small but very smart kitchen-top dishwasher that, aside from washing the cutlery, uses UV to sterilise your favourite face covering.
Nvidia buys ‘crown jewel’ of UK tech
Cambridge-based chip designer, ARM Holdings, whose microchips are used in most of the world’s smartphones, has been snapped up by Nvidia, the US manufacturer that makes graphics chips. Although the company was founded and is based in the UK, it had previously been sold to Japanese outfit, Softbank, in 2016. The company is valued at around £31bn, a rise of £6bn on what Softbank paid for it.
Considered one of the crown Jewels of the UK tech industry, there had been calls for the company’s ownership to be brought back to the UK. However, while this didn’t happen, the acquisition will see the continuation of the ARM brand and the company will remain based in the UK.
Nvidia aims to use ARM’s expertise to develop a pioneering research facility that makes chips for artificial intelligence, with a particular emphasis on driving innovation in robotics, automated vehicles, healthcare and life sciences.
Underwater datacentre resurfaces to tell tales
A purposely submerged datacentre, placed off the shore of Orkney by Microsoft, has revealed some interesting findings after two years underwater.
One of the major discoveries was that the datacentre had an exceptionally low rate of hardware failure. A typical datacentre would have seen 8% of servers fail over that time period; however, in the one recovered from Orkney, the failure rate was less than 1%. Out of 864 servers, a mere 8 failed. Although research is on-going, two potential explanations are the lack of human interference and the fact that the atmosphere inside the capsule was 100% nitrogen. The lack of oxygen, which comprises 21% of normal air, may have prevented components from becoming oxidized and corroded.
Researchers are increasingly interested in the possibility of underwater datacentres. Housed in cold temperatures, they need less cooling than their land-based alternatives and they could potentially be moved in case of natural disasters. Self-contained in petrol tanker-sized capsules, they could be grouped in clusters to form much larger facilities and be powered by offshore wind farms.
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