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China Hesitates on Selling Armed Drones

An MQ-9 Reaper performs during an air show demonstration May 29, 2016, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Dennis J. Henry Jr.

More than 15 years after a U.S. Predator drone launched its first Hellfire missile, the United States remains reluctant to sell armed drones to even its closest allies. That hesitation in selling armed drones has left the door open for countries such as Israel and China to dominate military drone sales across the world. Now the U.S. government runs the risk of losing influence in a world of drone proliferation unless it reconsiders its policy on sales of military drones, according to a new report.

That U.S. reluctance to sell armed drones partly relies upon outdated assumptions based on preserving military drone technology as a unique weapon in the U.S. military’s arsenal, says Paul Scharre, project director for the 20YY Warfare Initiative at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). In a report titled “Drone Proliferation: Policy Choices for the Trump Administration,” Scharre and his CNAS colleagues argue that use of armed drones will continue to spread across the world regardless of whether or not the United States sells its own military drone technologies. They point out that more than 30 countries already have or are developing armed drones.

“Our current approach to exporting military drones and transparency regarding drone strikes is a bit of a holdover from the world of 15 years ago, when the technology was kind of special and the U.S. had a substantive lead relative to other countries,” Scharre says. “But in 2017, it doesn’t make sense when China is selling drones hand over fist to other countries, including U.S. partners.”

Israel has reigned as the world’s top exporter of military drones by accounting for 60 percent of international drone transfers in the past three decades. But China has taken the lead in selling armed drones and is not far behind in overall military drone sales. The global market for military drones was worth $8.6 billion in 2016 and could grow to $13.7 billion by 2026, according to a recent ReportLinker study. An even more bullish report by Statistics MRC suggested that the global market could surpass $22 billion by 2022.

Unleash the Armed Drones of War

The U.S. government has only approved sales of armed military drones to the United Kingdom and Italy so far. By comparison, China has taken the lead in selling armed drones to countries such as Egypt, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, and the United Arab Emirates. China has also sold its CH-4 drone–a military drone strikingly similar in design to the U.S. Reaper drone–to U.S. allies such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq.

U.S. reluctance to sell military drones has even extended to unarmed types. In 2014, the Obama administration shut down an attempt by the country of Jordan to acquire Predator XP drones. Scharre and his colleagues describe that decision as “surprising” given that Jordan has previously bought U.S. F-16 fighter aircraft and receives over $300 million in military aid from the United States each year. Rebuffed by the U.S. government Jordan ended up purchasing Chinese CH-4 drones for its military.

In early 2017, China announced a historic agreement to sell as many as 300 of its Wing-Loong II attack drones to Saudi Arabia. It also reached an agreement to open a Saudi production line for the Reaper-style CH-4 drones. Such deals may help China close the sales gap with Israel, which has reigned as the world’s top exporter of military drones by accounting for 60 percent of international drone transfers in the past three decades.

The drone deals between China and U.S. allies represent more than lost business opportunities for  U.S. defense contractors that produce military drones. They also represent a potential loss of influence in shaping the standards of behavior for using armed military drones.

Treating Drones Like Missiles

Current U.S. policy on drone sales takes its cue from the 30-year-old Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) rather than any specific international agreements about exporting drones. The MTCR’s voluntary framework aims to limit exports of unmanned ballistic missile technologies and similar delivery vehicles that could carry weapons of mass destruction such as nuclear weapons.

Previous U.S. policy has typically restricted sales of drones to other countries based on a strict interpretation of the MTCR that treats drones like missiles rather than aircraft. Such an interpretation makes little sense when the U.S. is willing to sell fighter jets but not unarmed drones to a close ally, Scharre says.

The CNAS report urges the Trump administration to loosen the U.S. policy on selling armed drones by simply adopting a different interpretation of the voluntary MTCR. That way the United States can remain relevant in broader discussions about the legal and moral issues surrounding armed drones and military drone strikes.

“We can place conditions on the use of U.S. drone systems and can train buyers on methods for avoiding civilian casualties,” Scharre explains. “There are sensible measures to put in place where we can shape what the world of drone proliferation will look like.”

There are signs that the Trump administration could be open to exporting more U.S. military drones. On June 24, the Trump administration approved a $2-billion sale to India involving two dozen unarmed surveillance drones in the form of the Guardian drone, an unarmed maritime version of the MQ-9 Reaper. More armed drone sales could potentially follow.

Missile Test Launched by North Korea Was an ICBM

Missile Test-Launched by North Korea Was an ICBM, US Officials Confirm

North Korea did indeed test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) yesterday, as the nuclear-armed nation claimed, U.S. officials said.

“The United States strongly condemns North Korea’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile,” U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement yesterday (July 4). “Testing an ICBM represents a new escalation of the threat to the United States, our allies and partners, the region, and the world.”

North Korean state-run media asserted that the newly tested ICBM will allow the nation — which has repeatedly threatened to destroy the United States, South Korea and Japan — to deliver nuclear weapons to targets anywhere in the world. But that claim is likely overblown, according to Western experts.

The available evidence suggests that the missile splashed down in the ocean about 590 miles (950 kilometers) from the launch site after flying for 37 minutes, said missile expert David Wright, a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a science advocacy group in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“A flight time of 37 minutes would require it to reach a maximum altitude of more than 2,800 km (1700 miles),” Wright wrote in a blog postyesterday. “So if the reports are correct, that same missile could reach a maximum range of roughly 6,700 km (4,160 miles) on a standard trajectory. That range would not be enough to reach the lower 48 states or the large islands of Hawaii, but would allow it to reach all of Alaska.”

Missiles that can fly at least 3,400 miles (5,500 km) are regarded as ICBMs. Western analysts believe North Korea has been working to develop such a vehicle for quite some time, though the exact route the nation is taking has remained a mystery. (North Korea is famously secretive, so it’s hard to know much about its missile and rocket program with certainty.)

Yesterday’s test was therefore revelatory. It apparently involved a KN-17 missile, which Pyongyang has test-launched before, topped with a second stage to make “a brand-new missile that has not been seen before,” CNN reported, citing U.S. officials.

“The focus now is on the capability of that second stage, and how it technically contributed to making Pyongyang’s latest test its first ever intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch,” CNN wrote.

Partner Series Missile Test-Launched by North Korea Was an ICBM, US Officials Confirm This photo distributed by the North Korean government shows the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in North Korea’s northwest, Tuesday, July 4, 2017. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this photo. Credit: Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service/AP North Korea did indeed test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) yesterday, as the nuclear-armed nation claimed, U.S. officials said. “The United States strongly condemns North Korea’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile,” U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement yesterday (July 4). “Testing an ICBM represents a new escalation of the threat to the United States, our allies and partners, the region, and the world.” North Korean state-run media asserted that the newly tested ICBM will allow the nation — which has repeatedly threatened to destroy the United States, South Korea and Japan — to deliver nuclear weapons to targets anywhere in the world. But that claim is likely overblown, according to Western experts. The available evidence suggests that the missile splashed down in the ocean about 590 miles (950 kilometers) from the launch site after flying for 37 minutes, said missile expert David Wright, a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a science advocacy group in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “A flight time of 37 minutes would require it to reach a maximum altitude of more than 2,800 km (1700 miles),” Wright wrote in a blog postyesterday. “So if the reports are correct, that same missile could reach a maximum range of roughly 6,700 km (4,160 miles) on a standard trajectory. That range would not be enough to reach the lower 48 states or the large islands of Hawaii, but would allow it to reach all of Alaska.” Missiles that can fly at least 3,400 miles (5,500 km) are regarded as ICBMs. Western analysts believe North Korea has been working to develop such a vehicle for quite some time, though the exact route the nation is taking has remained a mystery. (North Korea is famously secretive, so it’s hard to know much about its missile and rocket program with certainty.) Yesterday’s test was therefore revelatory. It apparently involved a KN-17 missile, which Pyongyang has test-launched before, topped with a second stage to make “a brand-new missile that has not been seen before,” CNN reported, citing U.S. officials. “The focus now is on the capability of that second stage, and how it technically contributed to making Pyongyang’s latest test its first ever intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch,” CNN wrote.

Nokia launches world’s fastest routers to take on rival

SAN FRANCISCO: Nokia launched the world’s fastest network chips on Wednesday, breaking into the Juniper and Cisco dominated core router market and giving its existing network business a boost.

The new traffic routers can handle the greater demands of virtual reality programming, cloud-based internet services and next-generation mobile communications, the Finnish company said.

Nokia’s new products, which grew out of its 15.6 billion-euro ($17.5 billion) 2016 acquisition of Alcatel and its IP network gear business, should help it win business from companies such as Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon.

For these “web-scale” customers speed is everything and unlike Nokia’s traditional telecoms customers they are still increasing spending on network gear.

The routers are compatible with older products and will also serve Nokia’s existing customers who want speed but must still contend with legacy gear needed to run existing services.

“Nokia will have the highest-performance system capacity in the market, and a lot of those web-scalers, they just want speed,” Ray Mota, principal analyst at ACG Research, told Reuters.

The former Alcatel IP networks business is already the world’s No. 2 player in edge routers behind Cisco, having displaced Juniper Networks, which is now No. 3.

The Nokia business also competes with Huawei in router markets outside the United States, where the privately-held Chinese firm is barred for national security reasons.

Nokia executives expect to take market share from all the big competitors, including Cisco and Juniper as well as Huawei.

“Whether its web-scale or vertical markets (such as banks, transportation, energy and public sector), where we have been less exposed in routers, clearly we will gain share,” Nokia Chief Executive Rajeev Suri told Reuters in an interview.

“This gives us momentum in core routing.”

Simon Leopold, a financial analyst with Raymond James, said Juniper, which depends for around a quarter of sales from web-scale customers such as Facebook could be hardest hit. “There is at least headline risk to Juniper, once Nokia ships,” he said.

Shares of Juniper Networks fell 2.4% to $28.60, while Cisco fell 1% to $31.38. Nokia’s U.S.-listed shares dipped a little under 1%.

PETABITS

Nokia said it is introducing its latest FP4 silicon chipset capable of processing data at 2.4 terabits per second. The new chipsets are set to ship in the fourth quarter, with routers running FP4 chips ready in the first quarter of next year.

These will be built into routers to operate both ultra high-speed “core” networks at the heart of the biggest internet services and also “edge” networks that link datacenters to front-line customer services on mobile or fixed-line networks.

Telecom operators’ capital spending is rising by just 2-3% a year which means Nokia is turning to web-scale players whose spending on new network gear is growing by double-digits.

FP4 chips, which are manufactured for Nokia by Taiwan’s TSMC are designed using circuits as narrow as 16 nanometers apart, skipping 22- and 28-nanometer-sized circuits compared to the prior FP3 processor built at 40-nanometer scale, Nokia said.

Nokia is introducing the 7950 petabit-class router aimed at the core routing market to help it win business from customers such as Apple and Facebook. A petabit can transmit 5,000 two-hour-long high-definition videos every second.

For edge network customers, Nokia is introducing its 7750 router, offering the highest traffic capacity on the market.

Mota said the Nokia 7750 can deliver speeds of up to 4.8 terabits per slot, compared with Juniper’s 3 terabit edge router speeds, which had been the industry’s fastest. A terabit can transfer a high-definition Netflix TV episode in one second.
Beyond sheer speed, there is enough processing power head-room in its new chipset to offer built-in security features to fend off distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
BT managing director and chief network architect Neil McRae said the British telecoms operator, an early customer of Nokia’s new products, is already running thousands of 7750 edge routers and hundreds of 7950 systems in its core network.
“If you look at London, one of the busiest parts of our network, we need this platform today,” McRae said.

Getting Down To Basics with Professionals

Hire the Full Music System from the DJ for Your Event If you have an event and want to entertain people with music, you should ensure a complete kit is available. There are various equipment that are required for full music system especially for an event. One way to be confident of an amazing event is to have the DJ equipment for hire. The DJ equipment for hire has all the items that you need to make a great event. People love music and want good music. There is nothing that can occupy the space of quality sound system . When you are planning for the occasion sound, kindly involve the DJ. The DJ will talk to you about the size of the audience and music requirement. The DJ will be of great use in planning for a successful day that has no hiccups. The DJ equipment includes speakers for hire. Others include mixers, projectors, and others. The DJ will assist you to get whatever you want. Music systems for larger and smaller events are available. Even when you went to hire the equipment for several days, and you will get them. They will supply the equipment on the evening if you have a night event. The clarity of the sound is ensured by supply of perfectly working equipment. The DJ regularly checks the equipment to ensure that no equipment supplied is at suboptimal working conditions. You are however required to supply the power to run the system. If you need power supply, they have generators that you can access for a small fee. A backup system is available to ensure that your event runs smoothly without the interferences of power supply. The speakers are positioned in every right place to make the most of the event. The patrons are to dance to their best with such a sound system.
Learning The Secrets About Businesses
You receive all the items hired to your venue. Booking the equipment in time gives you the assurance of availability at that time. In case you are running a chain of event, the DJ will assist you in planning for the delivery of equipment to every venue. To ensure that everything is in the right place, the equipment is delivered and installed by a professional crew. As the installation of the system is taken care of, you don’t have to worry. The DJ comes with the full crew to run the event on your behalf. After the event is over, the crew removes the setup and takes the equipment to the trucks. They are insured and you should not have any fear about liabilities. let the DJ help you and the event will be very successful.Looking On The Bright Side of Professionals

Finding Ways To Keep Up With Professionals

Ways In Which One Can Be Able To Hire Sound Equipment You will find that looking for any sound system will be a big deal in any event. You will require a system that will be appropriate when it comes to performing its duties and therefore it should be enough to do that. You will find that it will be important to consider looking for the right sound system which will be best when it comes to the task that you will be looking for. Here are some of the factors to be considered when looking at hiring the sound system. The first thing that many people go for is the cost incurred in the whole thing. You have to make a budget of the much you are able to pay so that you will be able to get the ideal thing. You will find that they will range differently and therefore you may require to know which one would work well for you. You will find those that are quite cheap and others will come at such a high price. You have to be careful so that you may not be conned while at it. Even the least of the system is able can be able to perform the work required of it. Ensure you will be able to know the quality that you are looking at in this case.
Smart Tips For Finding Experts
The next thing before you hire a sound system is to know the number of people who will be around for the event. The system must be able to attend to all the present members here clearly. The layout of the auditorium is also a key thing to be considered as well. Look at the time that will be required to set up the equipment as well as the time that will be needed to dismantle it too. You will find that these are the things required to be given to any company so that they may make the right preparations and at the right time.
What Do You Know About Speakers
You will find that the sound engineer will be able to tell the quality of the sound to be given in this case. You will find that they will be able to help you in case any equipment failed in what it is supposed to do. Look at the loudspeaker model to be sure of the model specification as well as know if it will be suitable for you. You will find that with the right brands it will be possible to deliver the right work required of them. You will find that it does not matter how cheap or expensive the work to be delivered is.

BlackBerry Deliver One Last Keyboard Phone

BlackBerry has a new phone in the works, and it will have a physical keyboard, according to reports that surfaced last week.

The company recently announced that it would exit the smartphone hardware market and transition to developing back-end mobile security software. However, BlackBerry CEO John Chen confirmed that one last device is in the pipeline in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

BlackBerry released the touchscreen-only DTEK50 handset this summer, saying at the time that it would be the last official BlackBerry device. However, the company has said that it would license its name to other companies, which then could produce devices under the BlackBerry brand.

The last BlackBerry device to feature an actual physical QWERTY keyboard was the Priv, which was released a year ago. It was the first BlackBerry device to utilize the Android operating system, but it largely faltered in the market.

It isn’t clear if the upcoming phone will run on BlackBerry OS 10 or Android. No details, including specs, availability or pricing, have been announced for the new device.

Not the End of the Line?

This sudden about-face could be a sign that BlackBerry isn’t ready to make a complete exit from the market, even though its latest efforts have been less than encouraging.

The Priv was positioned as a device that combines the best parts of BlackBerry security with the productivity and expansive mobile app ecosystem of Google’s Android. However, it has not fared well.

Although the BlackBerry Classic won praise for surpassing the average lifespan for a smartphone in today’s market, BlackBerry this summer announced that it would cease manufacturing it.

The upcoming keyboard phone could be more than an epilogue for the company, however.

“Everyone expected BlackBerry to fade off into the sunset on the handset side of the business,” said telecommunications analyst Jeff Kagan.

However, “BlackBerry is going to be focused on working with other handset makers with their technology inside,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

Keying It In

Google and Apple were able to bring the smartphone to the masses with touchscreen-enabled devices, but that leaves open the door for another market segment.

“Not everyone likes touchscreens, so there is a niche market for a BlackBerry with a physical keyboard,” said William Stofega, program director for mobile phones at IDC.

“There are executives and others who like the physical keyboard, and if BlackBerry can make a case that they can fill this need, then they can have a small part of the market,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

More importantly, “BlackBerry can still make money serving its legacy tail, and this move appears aimed at that market,” said Steve Blum, principal analyst at Tellus Venture Associates.

“Assuming they’re contracting out manufacturing and they have a reasonably accurate sales forecast, there’s no reason not to keep targeting their legacy market, so long as it’s at least minimally profitable,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

With partners doing the manufacturing, the risk could be low, added Stofega.

Bigger Plans

The Priv may not have appealed to the BlackBerry faithful, but if done right, a BlackBerry device running Android — made under license — could be a win-win.

“If the new device turns out to be an Android phone, or if there’s an Android version, then it could turn out to be a way toward finding a niche in that much larger market,” said Tellus’ Blum.

“There are consumers who prefer physical keyboards, and BlackBerry could use its considerable brand equity to capture that corner of the Android universe,” he pointed out.

Still, past results should be seen as portents of BlackBerry’s chances of scoring big with a niche device.

“They have failed at everything in the last decade since Apple iPhone and Google Android took over the leadership positions,” said Kagan. “The growth curve is like a wave, and BlackBerry missed it many years ago and has not recovered.”

Microsoft Inches Toward a World Without Passwords

Microsoft on Tuesday announced the general availability of its phone sign-in for customers with Microsoft accounts — a system that could be the beginning of the end for passwords.

The new system requires that customers add their accounts to the Microsoft Authenticator app, which comes in both iOS and Android versions, noted Alex Simons, director of program management of the Microsoft Identity Division.

After supplying a username, a member will get a mobile phone notification. Tapping “approve” on the app will authenticate the member’s information.

The new phone sign-in process is easier than two-factor authentication, according to Simons. 2FA requires users first to enter passwords, and then to enter a code delivered via text or email.

The new process is safer than password-only systems, which can be forgotten, stolen for use in a phishing scheme, or otherwise compromised, he said.

Microsoft Authenticator

Microsoft Authenticator, introduced last summer, started out as a replacement for earlier authentication apps, both for enterprise use in Azure AD and consumer use in regular Microsoft accounts. The initial version allowed fingerprint authentication in place of passcodes, and offered support for wearables including Apple Watch and Samsung Gear.

Setting up Microsoft’s new phone-in system is easy. If customers already have Microsoft Authenticator for their personal accounts, they can select the dropdown button on the account tile and select “enable phone sign-in.”

Android users will be prompted to set up the authenticator. iPhones will set up the authenticator automatically. Users who don’t have a phone available can elect to access their accounts using a password.

Microsoft has not made the phone sign-in system available to Windows Phone users.

Windows Phone makes up less than 5 percent of the active Authenticator Apps user base, Simons noted, so the company has prioritized iOS and Android. When the system achieves success on those two platforms, Microsoft will consider making it ready for Windows Phone.

Password Problems

The idea of moving away from passwords has been around for years, in part due to their vulnerability to hacking.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Cloud Platform General Manager Julia White discussed the idea of moving away from passwords at the Government Cloud Forum in November 2015.

Microsoft then employed Windows 10 Password to give customers a smart card level of threat detection, using the card as the first level of protection, then Windows Hello for confirmation through biometrics, such as face recognition, iris scanning or fingerprints.

Better Than 2FA?

The new functionality from Microsoft is not groundbreaking, but it represents a true upgrade from traditional password authentication methods, suggested Rik Ferguson, vice president for security research at Trend Micro.

“This technology is definitely an improvement over using authenticator apps to generate one-time passwords, which can still be hijacked through a man-in-the-browser attack,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

The new app represents true two-factor authentication in the same way Apple uses its Trusted Device authentication or Google uses its prompts.

Using interactive prompts or using an out-of-band trusted device like a smartphone rather than one-time passwords from an authenticator app or SMS does away with having data pass through the same browser, Ferguson added.

However the new system doesn’t necessarily make logins more secure, Trend Micro Cloud Security VP Mark Nunnikhoven told the E-Commerce Times.

Microsoft’s approach substitutes “something you know,” the password, with “something you have,” the phone, he said, but it is not as strong as genuine two-factor identification.

Linux Securing Your System Bit by Bit

As daunting as securing your Linux system might seem, one thing to remember is that every extra step makes a difference. It’s almost always better to make a modest stride than let uncertainty keep you from starting.

Fortunately, there are a few basic techniques that greatly benefit users at all levels, and knowing how to securely wipe your hard drive in Linux is one of them. Because I adopted Linux primarily with security in mind, this is one of the first things I learned. Once you have absorbed this lesson, you will be able to part with your hard drives safely.

As you might have deduced, the usual way of deleting doesn’t always cut it. The most often-used processes for deleting files — clicking “delete” in the operating system or using the “rm” command — are not secure.

When you use one of these methods, all your hard drive does is mark the area where the deleted file used to be as available for new data to be written there. In other words, the original state of the bits (1s and 0s) of the deleted file are left intact, and forensic tools can recover the files.

This might seem like a bad idea, but it makes sense. Hard drives are designed to optimize hardware integrity, not security. Your hard drive would wear out very quickly if it reset the bits of a deleted file to all 0s every time you deleted a file.

Another process devised with hard drive lifespan in mind is “wear leveling,” a firmware routine that saves each new file in a random location on the drive. This prevents your drive from wearing out data cells, as those near the beginning of the drive would suffer the most wear if it saved data sequentially. However, this means it is unlikely that you ever would naturally overwrite a file just through long-term use of the drive.

So, what does it mean to “securely wipe” a hard drive?

Moving Raw Bits

Secure deletion involves using a program to overwrite the hard drive manually with all 0s (or random data). This useless data overwrites the entire drive, including every bit of every saved and deleted file. It even overwrites the operating system, leaving nothing for a malicious actor to exploit.

Since the command line is usually the simplest way of going about manual operations like this, I will go over this method. The best utility for this is the “dd” command.

The “dd” commamd can be used for many things besides secure deleting, like making exact backups or installing Linux distributions to USB flash drives, but what makes it so versatile is that whereas commands like “mv” and “cp” move around files as file objects, “dd” moves data around as a stream of raw bits. Essentially, while “mv” and “cp” see files, “dd” only sees bits.

What “dd” does is very simple: It takes an input and sends it to an output. Your Linux system has a stream of 0s it can read located at /dev/zero. This is not a normal file — it’s an endless stream of 0s represented as a file.

This will be our input for a wipe operation, for the purpose of this tutorial. The output will be the device to be overwritten. We will not be overwriting an actual running system, as 1) you probably wouldn’t want to; and 2) it actually wouldn’t work, because your system would overwrite the part of the system responsible for performing the overwrite before the overwrite was complete.

Securely erasing external storage devices, like USB flash drives and external hard drives is pretty straightforward, but for wiping your computer’s onboard hard drive, there are some extra steps involved.

The Live-Boot Option

If you can’t use a running system to wipe an onboard drive, how do you perform the operation? The answer is live-booting. Many Linux distributions, including those not explicitly specialized for the purpose, can be loaded and run on a computer from a connected USB drive instead of its onboard drive. When booted this way, the computer’s onboard drive is not accessed at all, since the system’s data is read entirely from the USB drive.

Since you likely installed your system from a bootable USB drive, it is best to use that. To live-boot, we have to change the place where the computer checks to find an operating system to run by entering the BIOS menu.

The BIOS is the firmware code that is loaded before any part of any OS is run, and by hitting the right key at boot time, we can access its menu. This key is different on different computers. It’s usually one of the “F” keys, but it might be something else, so it might take a few tries to figure it out, but the first screen that displays should indicate where to look.

Once you find it, insert the live-boot USB, reboot the computer directly into the BIOS menu, and select the option to change the boot order. You should then see a list of storage devices, including the inserted USB. Select this and the live system should come up.

Locating the Right Address

Before we do any deleting, we have to figure out which address our system assigns to the drive to be deleted (i.e., the target drive). To do that, we will use the “lsblk” command, for “list block devices.” It returns information about attached block devices, which are essentially hard drive-type devices.

Before running the command, take note of the target drive’s storage size, and detach all devices connected to your computer EXCEPT the drive storing the system you are live-booting from. Then, run “lsblk” with no arguments or options.

$ lsblk

The only device that should appear is your onboard hard drive and the live-booted USB. You will notice that “lsblk” returns a name (under “NAME”) beginning with “sd” and then a letter, with branching lines to the same name appended with a number. The name the branches originate from is the name of the “file” serving as the address of the drive in the /dev directory, a special directory that represents devices as files so the system can interact with them.

You should see an entry with the size of the USB drive hosting the live-boot system and a path under “MOUNTPOINT”, and (only) one other entry with the size of your target drive with no mount point listed. This second entry gives you the address for the output of “dd”. For instance, if your target drive corresponds to the name “sdb”, then that means /dev/sdb is the address.

However, to identify the address of an external drive you want to delete, run “lsblk” once with no device attached, check the (single) entry against your onboard drive’s size and make a note of its address, connect your target drive, run “lsblk” again, and check that its size corresponds to that of one of the entries in the output.

The output of the second “lsblk” command should now return two entries instead of one, and one of them should match target’s size. If your system is configured to automatically access inserted drives, you should see a path including “/media” under “MOUNTPOINT”, but otherwise the target drive should list nothing in that column.

As these addresses correspond to hard drives, it is important to be EXTREMELY careful to give the right one, because otherwise you will delete the wrong drive. As I noted earlier, if you accidentally give the address of your running system as the output, the command will immediately start writing zeros until you stop it (by hitting “Ctrl-c”) or your system crashes, resulting in irrecoverable data loss either way.

For example, since the letters are assigned alphabetically starting (usually) with the running system, if a single connected external drive is the target, it probably will be addressed as /dev/sdb. But, again, check this carefully, because it may be different for you.

Foiling Identity Thieves

Now we’re ready to delete. All we do is invoke “dd,” give /dev/zero as the input, and give our target (for this example, /dev/sdb) as the output. “dd” is an old command from the time before Linux, so it has a somewhat odd syntax. Instead of options prepended with dashes (“-“), it uses “if=” for “input file” and “of=” for “output file.” Our command, then, looks like this.

$ dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdb

Depending on how big the target drive is, and how fast your processor is, this could take a while. With a powerful processor wiping a 16-GB flash drive, this could take as little as 10 minutes. For an average processor writing over a 1-TB drive, though, it could take a whole day. You can do other things with your computer (though not with that terminal), but they probably will be slower, as this is a comparatively processor-intensive task.

Though this is probably not something you’ll do often, knowing how definitely will serve you well in the rare instances when need to. Identity theft from forensically analyzing discarded drives happens all the time, and this simple procedure will go a long way toward defending against it.

Microsoft Working together for Expands Linux Container Support in Windows Server

Microsoft has decided to expand its support for Linux containers in the next release of Windows Server.

Linux containers and workloads will work natively on Windows Server, said Erin Chapple, general manager for the server operating system, in an online post last week.

The company also will extend Window Server’s Hyper-V isolation capability, which was introduced in the 2016 release of the operating system.

“This means customers will no longer have to deploy two separate container infrastructures to support both their Windows and Linux-based applications,” Chapple wrote.

What’s more, Windows Bash also is coming to the next edition of Windows Server. That’s good news for developers.

“This unique combination allows developer and application administrators to use the same scripts, tools, procedures and container images they have been using for Linux containers on their Windows Server container host,” Chapple explained.

Slimmer Nano Server

Microsoft also has improvements in store for the container performance of its Nano Server productm Chapple noted.

Nano Server, introduced in 2015, is a purpose-built operating system designed to run born-in-the-cloud applications and containers.

“The idea was to make it tiny, and allow each developer to add only the necessary elements for their specific micro-services to it,” explained Ben Bernstein, CEO of Twistlock.

“It’s more compliant, stable and secure,” he told LinuxInsider. “The image does exactly what the developer adds to it and nothing more — no weird under-the-hood elements.”

The next release of Windows Server will focus on making Nano Server the very best container image possible, Chapple wrote.

Customers will see Nano Server images shrink in size by more than 50 percent, which will decrease startup times and improve container density, she noted.

Targeting Pain Points

Reducing the size of an operating system inside a container is important for reserving resources for the primary application running in the virtual box.

“Ideally, you’d want the underlying operating system to be zero, because you want it entirely out of the way,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

“This isn’t there yet,” he told LinuxInsider, “but it’s very thin and gets out of the way as much as possible.”

The size of Windows containers is one of three pain points with Microsoft’s implementation of the technology, noted Amir Jerbi, CTO of Aqua Security.

“The size of Windows containers compared to Linux containers is very big — over 1 gigabyte,” he told LinuxInsider. “This will reduce that by 50 percent.”

Running Linux containers natively on Microsoft server and Linux tools on Windows make things simpler for shops using both operating systems, Jerbi added.

Linux Dominates Containers

Microsoft’s container strategy aligns the company with current customer demand, Jerbi said.

” Organizations are looking to normalize operation processes and tools,” he noted. “Having a single platform that runs both Windows and Linux containers helps with that.”

Microsoft’s moves reflect its recognition of the state of the container space.

“In reality, 99 percent of container images are Linux images,” observed Twistlock’s Bernstein.

“Since we are talking about containers that act as micro-services and, in turn, engage with each others’ containers, a Windows-containers-only environment is not realistic,” he pointed out. “For Microsoft to bootstrap any usage of Windows containers, it must support usage of existing Linux images.”

Containers have become important for developing software in today’s application environments. They can shorten development cycles. They allow software to be run anywhere — on premises or in the cloud. They also can simplify the development process because of the multitude of ready-made images.

“Studies show that containers boost productivity,” Bernstein said, “which is why software product companies want to adopt them.”

Google Gives Up Scanning Personal Gmail

Google recently announced the end of its policy of scanning user emails for targeted advertising purposes — a controversial practice that riled privacy advocates and spurred legal challenges.

Gmail is the world’s most widely used email provider, with more than 1.2 billion users.

Google attributed its decision to gains it has made in the enterprise. Its G Suite business over the past year has more than doubled in size to 3 million paying corporate customers, who are not subject to the scanning process.

“G Suite’s Gmail is already not used as input for ads personalization, and Google has decided to follow suit later this year in our free consumer email service,” said Diane Greene, senior vice president at Google Cloud. “This decision brings Gmail ads in line with how we personalize ads for other Google products.”

Ads are based on user settings, and users can disable personalization, Greene noted.

G Suite will continue to be ad-free, she said.

Legal Fight

The policy change represents a major step forward for online privacy, said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which has challenged the Google practice in court.

“EPIC opposed Google scanning email from the start and won several significant battles, including the 2014 decision to end scanning of student emails,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Keep in mind also that Google was scanning the email of non-Gmail users, which raised problems under federal wiretap law and was the frequent target of lawsuits.”

Rotenberg cited a specific case One case that is pending appeal before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Marquis v. Google, is a class action, Rotenberg noted. It was launched by a resident who alleged his AOL account had been scanned for advertising purposes.

The suit argues that the practice amounts to wiretapping, because Massachusetts is a two-party state that requires both parties’ consent prior to recording any information.

A settlement was reached late last year in a California class action brought by Daniel Matera and Susan Rashkis, who accused Google of violating federal wiretapping and state privacy laws by scanning non-Gmail accounts for advertising purposes.

As part of that settlement, Google agreed to pay US$2.2 million in legal fees, but a federal judge earlier this year rejected the agreement.

Enterprise Concerns

As Google makes further inroads into the cloud business, it recognizes that customers are going to be very wary of anything that threatens their privacy and security when compared against incumbent cloud services providers, noted Jeff Kaplan, managing director of ThinkStrategies.

“Google has always assumed that its users accept the implicit cost of using its free app,” he told TechNewsWorld, which is “that they will be targets of its ads and other search engine marketing mechanisms.

“However, as it tries to build its enterprise business, Google has recognized it must abandon this tactic to remain competitive with other enterprise and collaboration alternatives, such as Microsoft Office 365,” Kaplan said.

It’s not likely that the new privacy objective will harming Google’s ability to generate revenue, said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research.

“Google gathers tons of information from other sources,” he told TechNewsWorld, “and already has massive amounts of data on just about everything, including individuals.”