Posts Tagged ‘software’

Dutch govt dropping Kaspersky software over spying fears

May 15, 2018

The Dutch government is phasing out the use of anti-virus software made by Russian firm Kaspersky Lab amid fears of possible spying, despite vehement denials by the Moscow-based cyber security company.

The Dutch Justice and Security ministry said in a statement late Monday the decision had been taken as a “precautionary measure” in order “to guarantee national security”.

© AFP | The Dutch government is phasing out the use of anti-virus software made by Russian firm Kaspersky Lab

But Kaspersky Lab, whose anti-virus software is installed on some 400 million computers worldwide, said Tuesday it was “very disappointed” by the move.

The firm, which is suspected by US authorities of helping the Kremlin’s espionage efforts, also announced Tuesday that it was moving its core infrastructure and operations to Switzerland.

“Our new centre in Switzerland will strengthen the proven integrity of Kaspersky Lab’s products, (and) significantly improve the resilience of our IT infrastructure to any trust risk ?- even theoretical ones,” the Russian company said in a statement.

Last year, the US federal government removed Kaspersky from its list of approved vendors, weeks after senior US intelligence agency and law enforcement officials expressed concerns about the safety of its software.

The Netherlands fears Kaspersky’s anti-virus software is “deep in systems” and any abuse could “pose a major security risk.”

Dutch officials also voiced concern that under Russian law companies such as Kaspersky are “required to cooperate with the Russian government”.

But the company hit back saying “Kaspersky Lab has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyber espionage or offensive cyber efforts” and adding it was “being treated as guilty merely due to geopolitical issues.”

It said it would try to arrange a meeting soon with the Dutch coordinator for security and counterterrorism to discuss the situation.

Dutch intelligence officials have increasingly warned however that they fear the Kremlin is trying to hack into Dutch companies and manipulate elections here.

“Russia has an active offensive cyber programme focusing on the Netherlands and vital Dutch interests,” the ministry warned, adding it had therefore concluded there was a risk of “digital espionage and sabotage.”

AFP

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US economy: The growth puzzle

February 20, 2018
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After several years of weak demand and low inflation, investment is rising. But an increase in long-term growth requires a big jump in productivity
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Sam Fleming in Chattanooga
Financial Times (FT)
Frbruary 20, 2018
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In the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, Platt Boyd monitors a small platoon of 12-foot long robot arms that he hopes will help revolutionise one of America’s most technology-shy industries.
The Chattanooga, Tennessee-based founder of Branch Technology is vying to bring large-scale 3D printing to the construction sector, allowing elaborate architectural creations to be prefabricated with minimal human labour.“It has massive potential,” says Mr Boyd, standing on his spartan shop floor near two emerald-green robots that are producing the skeleton of a 42-foot-wide structure. “The sector is one where there is a lot of low-hanging fruit.”In the coming weeks Mr Boyd’s small start-up expects to take on 10 more staff, move to a 40,000 sq ft new factory and take delivery of four more $200,000 robots as it capitalises on America’s red-hot construction market.

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Platt Boyd in Chattanooga.

 

Mr Boyd’s bullish outlook reflects rising optimism among US business owners about whether to make new investments. A record share of small businesses say now is a good time to expand in the US, according to data going back to 1973 from the National Federation of Independent Businesses. With global demand gaining traction and US wages accelerating, this is stoking hopes that the US could be on the cusp of higher sustained expansion.

The mood among bosses offers a counterweight to the warnings over the past few years that the US remains stuck in “secular stagnation” — a semi-comatose state of excess savings, weak demand, low inflation, and depressed interest rates. Much of the country’s dynamism has been concentrated in urban superpowers ranging from Los Angeles and New York to Austin, leaving large tracts of the country stranded and disillusioned.

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Image result for Chattanooga, river, bridges, photos
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To optimists, the economic health of smaller cities such as Chattanooga, with a population of more than 170,000, is a sign of an expansion capable of broadening its reach © Alamy
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Yet if companies start bolstering investment, it could give a recovery now in its ninth year further staying power, preventing the recent cyclical upswing from flaming out.
“We have seen a genuine acceleration in business investment in recent months which we expect to gain more traction this year, driving higher productivity in the United States,” said Bart van Ark, chief economist at The Conference Board think-tank. “If this cyclical pick-up lasts long enough it could start to lift America’s growth potential over the longer term, but it is too soon to call that turning point.”Even before Congress passed the recent tax cuts, the US saw two successive quarters of double-digit annualised growth in corporate spending on equipment. New projections from The Conference Board, shared with the Financial Times, show US productivity this year on course to grow 1.3 per cent — below rates seen before the crisis but the fastest pace since early this decade.Broader economic data so far this year have been robust, with gross domestic product on track to rise 3.2 per cent in the first quarter, according to the Atlanta Fed and annual wage growth accelerating to 2.9 per cent in January.

At the same time, Congress is pouring fuel into the US economy by cutting taxes and lifting spending. Indeed, some economists, including Bill Dudley, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s president, believe the bigger risk is that the economy overheats, which could bring the expansion crashing to a halt.

To optimists, the economic health of smaller cities such as Chattanooga, with a population of more than 170,000, is a sign of an expansion capable of broadening its reach. Set along a winding stretch of the Tennessee River and surrounded by green mountains, Chattanooga used to be seen as a polluted, post-industrial wreck. But following several decades of regeneration efforts led by local government, unemployment in the broader urban region is now 3.4 per cent, (compared with 4.1 per cent nationally), the population is expanding, and small tech companies are joining large-scale manufacturers such as Volkswagen in expanding their operations in the city.

“There have been these waves where we have made real progress — the last few years have been one of those waves,” says Andy Berke, the city’s Democratic mayor, who adds that when he was growing up, the city was dying. “You have to take advantage of it while the economy is good.”

New data from the Brookings Institution covering the Chattanooga metropolitan area show the pace of job growth was 15.6 per cent for its young companies — defined as up to five years old. That is the sixth most rapid of the biggest 100 metro areas in the country from 2015-16.

Ken McElrath, the founder and chief executive of Skuid, a Chattanooga-based software company, says he located there in part because it is “crazy” how much cheaper it is than in downtown San Francisco or New York or Boston. “Because the cost of living is so low, you don’t need to pay them exorbitant wages,” he says.

Nevertheless, this remains an expansion on fragile foundations. Although the Brookings Metro Monitor data, to be released on Tuesday, show the recovery has broadened out, with 93 of America’s 100 biggest metro areas posting increases in output from 2015 to 2016, that growth is still concentrated within the most populous and successful cities.

The region around Chattanooga has benefited from inflows of foreign investment, lured in part by tax incentives, as well as a decision by the local utility to install ultra-fast internet infrastructure. Nevertheless the Brookings numbers show productivity in the metropolitan area actually dropped marginally between 2015 and 2016.

Mark Muro, director of policy at Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program, says that the 53 largest metro areas with 1m of population have generated 95 per cent of population growth and 73 per cent of GDP growth from 2010 to November 2016. “A limited core of the country has a vibrant economy while much of the remainder is being left behind,” he says. “It seems sort of academic to ask whether or not the country is in secular stagnation when we see such massive growth divides — it is an unsustainable situation.”

Within Chattanooga, residents talk of divided fortunes. In the city’s downtown a nascent tech sector has sprung up in its innovation district, hosting software and web-development firms sporting the sector’s obligatory ping pong tables, bean bags and office pets.

Larry Summers, former Treasury secretary, says a key question is whether ‘extraordinary macroeconomic and financial conditions’ are needed to generate adequate growth © Bloomberg
But while poverty has fallen in recent years, the city of Chattanooga still has a poverty rate of more than 20 per cent, and poverty among black residents is above 30 per cent, according to Census Bureau figures. Many residents, notably in historically black parts of town, feel excluded from the growth in the urban core, say local activists who bemoan the small size of its black middle class.

“They have come up with a strong template for how to grow a mid-size city,” said Ken Chilton, an associate professor at Tennessee State University. However “there are a whole group of folks being left out of the benefits”.

Sitting in the downtown restaurant where he works in the kitchen, Allen Shropshire says that while newcomers to the city with good skills have prospered, many locals have not. He is now taking a course in energy-saving construction from a local non-profit called Green Spaces and a partner organisation called Build Me A World. “Most weeks I am breaking my back just to get a decent amount for my family,” he says.

This sort of inequality is replicated across the country, creating a barrier to more durable growth given that so much spending power is held in the hands of well-off individuals.

Larry Summers, former Treasury secretary, revived the concept of secular stagnation to describe America’s economic plight in the aftermath of the financial crisis. He says growth has been running above potential and there is modest evidence of accelerating wages. But a key question is whether “extraordinary macroeconomic and financial conditions” are needed to generate adequate growth.

“We have one of the largest fiscal expansions in the country’s history starting from full employment, we have short-term real interest rates at essentially zero, we have the wealth effect of a stock market that has risen by 25 per cent a year, and all of that is only enough to get you 2.5 per cent growth in 2018,” he says. “The question is whether we are moving steadily at a higher level of investment that can be maintained indefinitely and sustainably financed. I don’t think some signs of increased spending subsequent to a major increase in asset prices, a huge fiscal expansion and a major increase in oil prices constitute convincing evidence.”

Needless to say, Trump administration officials have a very different take and are pointing to punchy growth numbers in the second and third quarters last year as evidence that the US has already embarked on a sustainably stronger growth trajectory.

Predictions in the administration’s budget of 3 per cent annual growth well into the next decade left most economists deeply sceptical, however. The Federal Reserve in December put the longer-term trend at just 1.8 per cent even after the tax cuts — similar to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate.

A key part of the problem is demographics: absent big changes in immigration patterns, the population’s ageing will mean slow workforce growth, cutting away a key growth driver.


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Large-scale manufacturers such as Volkswagen are expanding their operations in Chattanooga © Reuters
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To lift potential growth even modestly, the US would therefore need to see a jump in productivity — and a truly remarkable one if the kind of long-term growth figures President Trump has promised were to be achieved. Instead, the country’s productivity performance has been dire, with output per hour growing at an average of just 0.6 per cent a year for the past seven years, according to the Conference Board.
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However forthcoming research by the McKinsey Global Institute suggests there is potential for a rebound. It stresses the important role that the financial crisis played in dragging down US productivity. As its influence fades, productivity has the potential, at least, to grow 2 per cent a year across leading countries over the coming 10 years.
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“When we see the financial crisis after-effects dissipate we would expect productivity growth to speed up from the historic lows we have seen,” says Jaana Remes, a partner at MGI. “We would expect some bounceback.”Much will depend on whether US companies match their enthusiastic predictions of higher technology investment with action, and whether the digital advances of recent years begin to diffuse among broader populations of firms and into sectors that are technological laggards.
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Company bosses have repeatedly claimed that tax reductions and looser regulation will induce them to spend more, but tax cuts have often shown up in dividends and share buybacks, rather than new technologies.Indeed, the history of slow-adapting sectors like construction shows just how hard it can be to increase productivity. While US agriculture and manufacturing have raised productivity 10 -15 times since the 1950s, construction remains at the same level as 80 years ago.

Despite his enthusiasm about his own technology, Mr Boyd says it will take three decades to make such changes widespread. “It is a generation change,” he says. “It is not something that will happen overnight.”

The US is far from alone in suffering a productivity slump in recent years – and new research covering a selection of advanced economies shows how severe the drop has been.

Productivity growth slumped about 80 per cent on average between 2000-04 and 2010-14, according to analysis from the McKinsey Global Institute covering the US, France, Germany, Sweden and the UK.

The decline is hugely significant given the role productivity plays in driving up living standards.

The first phase of the slowdown represented the waning of the technology boom of the 1990s. The second phase was driven by the crash in demand during the Great Recession.

This leaves reason for optimism about the future; if the financial crisis was responsible for a chunk of the slowdown, there ought to be scope for a bounce now that many of its effects have dissipated.

Some economists have warned that many of the biggest technological advances have already been made, holding back the potential for productivity growth.

But MGI says digital advances such as the introduction of new online marketplaces and machine learning could herald productivity leaps.

To date, the benefits have not materialised, broadly because of time lags behind in the adoption of new technologies and barriers to their use. In retail, for example, online sales are two times more productive than store sales, and yet they account on average for just 10 per cent of sales.

At the same time, there is a major sting associated with digitisation as labour markets become more polarised between winners and losers. That could lead income inequalities to grow and hold back spending and growth.

https://www.ft.com/content/76057bd8-1342-11e8-940e-08320fc2a277

See also:

Platt Boyd Is Branching Out

http://www.surfacemag.com/articles/architecture-architect-platt-boyd-3d-printing-branch-technology/

Egypt still sweeping its economic challenges under the rug

January 8, 2018

Mohammed Nosseir | 

Egypt is presently confronting many economic challenges, which the government is trying hard to solve. Regardless of the type of economic policies the government adopts, the debate among economists concerning which policies to apply will continue. However, when it comes to single-mindedly using present and future “reservoirs” to establish new megaprojects that will supposedly yield substantial returns in the far future, the government needs to be open to debate: What if our megaprojects don’t yield the returns anticipated by the state?

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Culturally, Egyptians tend to be obsessed with a single idea, believing that this one concept will solve our problems permanently. Eventually, a few years later, we realize that we were wrong, but our egotism prevents us from comprehending our faults and pushes us to engage in a new obsession. The state’s tapping into Egyptian religious endowments funds (after having drawn on literally all our other national resources and international funds) should lead us to question whether the economy is all about expanding the government’s expenditure.

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The Egyptian state is currently obsessed with the idea of expanding the nation’s hardware, exemplified by the development of our physical infrastructure (new cities, roads and tunnels). The State expends these efforts but completely neglects to identify suitable software applications that will eventually work to maximize the returns on these projects by formulating incentivizing policies designed to encourage the private sector to expand its businesses (assuming that the state does not have the capacity to play both roles).

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The state has been concerned with the fact that a few corrupt businessmen used to manipulate the Egyptian economy prior to the Jan. 25, 2011, revolution, which is a valid concern. It has therefore been working to replace the private sector’s “economy engine” with its governmental tactics and apparatus. This approach, combined with the government’s development of economic policies that serve to expand its role, has resulted in the substantial growth of government projects and a marked shrinking of the private sector.

The government is fixated on the idea of expanding the nation’s hardware — building new roads, cities and tunnels — but it has failed to maximize the returns on these megaprojects or to consider what happens should they fail.

Mohammed Nosseir

The Egyptian state doesn’t want to consider the third option — firmly fighting corruption while giving the private sector more room to expand its investments. The risk entailed in placing all the resources of our nation in a handful of megaprojects would be reduced by the diversification of investments into thousands of new projects, wherein each entrepreneur would better innovate and manage their individual business’s risk. Devised decades ago, this economic concept (that we decline) has boosted the economies of many advanced nations.

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Furthermore, the unemployment rate in Egypt is estimated at about 33 percent among our youth, who account for two-thirds of the population. However, young Egyptians prefer holding unproductive casual jobs that give them a few extra pounds (but no clear career path) to occupying the positions available on the job market. We need to address this socioeconomic challenge scientifically — not by applying our current bullying approach. The manner in which the state tackles our young people’s challenges will make them either assets of or threats to our society.

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Prior to any development, advanced nations tend to apply thorough thinking and a lot of research to determine the type of capacity expansion they need. They then prioritize their hardware capacity needs based on their return on investments, while identifying who is best equipped to do what. In contrast, we in Egypt have adopted a “train approach”; we strive to keep the train moving regardless of whether it will reach the desired destination or if we are transporting the right goods or not.

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A small gust of wind will bring back the dust that the Egyptian government has been hiding under the rug for the last few years. Most of our problems have not been resolved, because the state often emphasizes its efficiency in the launching of new projects while downplaying the effectiveness of the projects, which is what matters most at present. Our extensive economic challenges should prompt us to better validate our economic path and not insist on our current singular approach.

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• Mohammed Nosseir, a liberal politician from Egypt, is a strong advocate of political participation and economic freedom.
Twitter: @MohammedNosseir

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1221316

Apple Says All Macs, iPhones and iPads Exposed to Chip Security Flaws

January 5, 2018

Bloomberg

By Mark Gurman

 Updated on 
  • Company says recent software updates mitigate Meltdown flaw
  • Fixes won’t slow down devices; users not currently affected
  Intel’s Chip Vulnerabilities
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Apple Inc. said all Mac computers and iOS devices, like iPhones and iPads, are affected by chip security flaws unearthed this week, but the company stressed there are no known exploits impacting users.

The Cupertino, California-based company said recent software updates for iPads, iPhones, iPod touches, Mac desktops and laptops, and the Apple TV set-top-box mitigate one of the vulnerabilities known as Meltdown. The Apple Watch, which runs a derivative of the iPhone’s operating system is not affected, according to the company.

Despite concern that fixes may slow down devices, Apple said its steps to address the Meltdown issue haven’t dented performance. The company will release an update to its Safari web browser in coming days to defend against another form of the security flaw known as Spectre. These steps could slow the speed of the browser by less than 2.5 percent, Apple said in a statement posted on its website.

All About That Big Chip Security Weakness: QuickTake Q&A

Intel Corp. on Wednesday confirmed a report stating that its semiconductors contain a vulnerability based around a chip-processing technique called speculative execution. Intel said its chips, which power Macs and devices from other manufacturers, contain the flaw as well as processors based on ARM Holdings architecture, which is used in iOS devices and Android smartphones.

In December, Apple came under fire for iPhone software changes that reduced the performance of some older models of its smartphone. Alongside an apology and an explanation that a software change was implemented to balance out the effect of aging batteries, the company reduced the cost of replacing the power units from $79 to $29 through the end of 2018.

Apple shares remained flat after it announced its devices were affected by the computer-chip flaw. Intel dropped as much as 5.7 percent to $42.69 in New York Thursday before recovering slightly to $44.43, after declining 3.4 percent on Wednesday.

Security experts have said highly regulated sectors of industry, such as government offices and public health institutions, are most at risk of compromise as a result of the chip security vulnerability.

— With assistance by Nate Lanxon

Includes video:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-05/apple-says-all-macs-iphones-ipads-exposed-to-chip-flaw

Related:

Tech Giants Race to Address Widespread Chip Flaws

January 4, 2018

Spectre and Meltdown, long-time design bugs, could make many devices vulnerable to hack

The world’s computer-chip and software makers scrambled to respond to the discovery of two widespread hardware vulnerabilities disclosed by cybersecurity experts that could affect most of the world’s modern computing devices.

Tech manufacturers and researchers described the two vulnerabilities as design flaws, long present in most modern chips. The bugs, dubbed Spectre and Meltdown, make data stored in the working memory of shared servers and individual devices—including personal computers, tablets and smartphones—vulnerable to attack.

The flaws could allow hackers to access and steal data from devices or servers. To take advantage of either bug, however, a hacker must run malicious software on the central processing unit—essentially the brains of any modern computing device—of the machine they are targeting.

Companies and several government cybersecurity agencies said there was no indication so far of reports of any significant breaches related to the two flaws.

Still, because of the widespread nature of the flaws, Intel Corp. , Microsoft Corp. , Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc. -owned Google and others moved quickly to explain the nature of the bugs and what they have done to minimize the threat, including rolling out software fixes. Some patches, however, could slow down computers, security experts warned, though it was unclear Thursday whether they were causing any major disruptions.

Intel’s corporate offices are seen in Santa Clara, Calif. Intel says it is working to patch a security vulnerability in its products.Photo: Ben Margot/Associated Press

The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, a cybersecurity center that is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said late Wednesday that it was aware of the two bugs. It encouraged system administrators to contact software vendors for ways to patch them. CERT said it wasn’t aware of any “active exploitation” of the bugs.

A spokesperson for the National Cyber Security Centre, an arm of the U.K.’s intelligence agency, said it wasn’t aware of evidence of “malicious exploitation” of the flaws. “The NCSC advises that all organizations and home users continue to protect their systems from threats by installing patches as soon as they become available.”

Google said its researchers had identified the flaws and had planned to disclose them—as well as what it has done to fix them—later this month. But it moved up action after the bugs were widely disclosed Wednesday. Often firms and researchers working to protect systems from hacks hold off on disclosing bugs widely to minimize the risk that potential hackers could exploit them.

Google said it had mitigated the vulnerabilities in many of its own products at risk. For instance, it said users of its Android operating system who have installed the latest security fixes didn’t need to do anything else. Users of Google’s Chrome browser, however, were asked to take specific action in some cases to protect their systems.

Google said it had also patched its cloud platform that it leases to businesses. But it said that its cloud customers must implement the patch within their own systems.

Amazon said it had notified its web-services customers that it was patching its data centers. The company said that customers need to patch the operating systems they are running on top of Amazon’s infrastructure. Microsoft said it has “been working closely with chip manufacturers to develop and test mitigations to protect our customers.”

The two flaws could affect practically every computer on the globe running a modern central-processing unit, or CPU, according to researchers that first identified them. They pose a particular danger for shared machines that have many users—such as those in data centers used for cloud computing—because they could allow one user to grab sensitive data belonging to another user, such as passwords or encryption keys.

They take advantage of tricks that modern chips use to speed up their performance, where chips perform calculations out of order, or guess what calculations they will have to do, rather than waiting for all the information they need to complete each step in order. Researchers showed that hackers could use those speculative, or out of order, instructions to trick chips into revealing sensitive data elsewhere in the processor’s memory.

The bug called Meltdown allows software to jump over protections that would normally restrict access to a device’s memory, giving hackers access to core functions of the machine as well as data from other users. Researchers say that bug is easier to patch than Spectre, although the patch could slow the performance of the machines that use it.

In a conference call late Wednesday, Intel’s general manager of data center engineering, Stephen Smith, said any potential exploit “is really not the result of product erratum. The processors are really operating as they should operate, as they were designed to operate and validated to operate.”

He said software patches can help mitigate the flaw, and that Intel launched an industrywide collaboration to incorporate a fix in the hardware.

There are existing patches against Meltdown for Microsoft’s Windows, Apple Inc.’s Mac OS and Linux, a family of open-source operating systems. But it is up to companies, such as cloud providers, to apply them.

In the case of Spectre, the flaw is so deeply embedded in the way modern chips are designed that while some patches can stop known exploits, fully fixing it will require redesigning computer chips and then replacing those currently in use, according to a federally funded cybersecurity center at Carnegie Mellon University.

Spectre appears to affects chips designed or made by Intel, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and SoftBank Group Corp. -owned ARM, a British-based chip designer.

An ARM spokesman said the majority of its processors weren’t impacted, and those affected were certain high-end chips. The spokesman said ARM was working with Intel and AMD to patch the possible hacking method, “which is not an architectural flaw or a bug.” In the worst-case scenario, a hacker could access “small pieces of data.”

AMD said in a statement that software patches resolved one of the vulnerabilities with “negligible impact expected,” while the differences in the way AMD chips are designed means “there is a near zero risk” they are vulnerable to the other attacking methods.

Write to Sam Schechner at sam.schechner@wsj.com and Stu Woo at Stu.Woo@wsj.com

Related:

Vulnerability in computer chips sparks security fears and debate

January 4, 2018

AFP

© Josh Edelson/AFP| An Intel sign at the Intel Museum in Santa Clara, CA. Security weaknesses found in computer chips, including ones made by Intel, prompted concerns on Wednesday.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2018-01-04

Researchers expressed concerns on Wednesday that hackers could access sensitive data on most modern systems, as technology firms sought to play down the security risks.

Chip giant Intel issued a statement responding to a flurry of warnings surfacing after researchers discovered the security hole which could allow privately stored data in computers and networks to be leaked.

Intel labeled as incorrect reports describing a “bug” or “flaw” unique to its products.

Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich told CNBC that “basically all modern processers across all applications” use this process known as “access memory,” which was discovered by researchers at Google and kept confidential as companies work on remedies.

Google, meanwhile, released findings from its security researchers who sparked the concerns, saying it made the results public days ahead of schedule because much of the information had been in the media.

The security team found “serious security flaws” in devices powered by Intel, AMD and ARM chips and the operating systems running them and noted that, if exploited, “an unauthorized party may read sensitive information in the system’s memory such as passwords, encryption keys, or sensitive information open in applications.”

“As soon as we learned of this new class of attack, our security and product development teams mobilized to defend Google’s systems and our users’ data,” Google said in a security blog.

“We have updated our systems and affected products to protect against this new type of attack. We also collaborated with hardware and software manufacturers across the industry to help protect their users and the broader web.”

Spectre and Meltdown

The Google team said the vulnerabilities, labeled “Spectre” and “Meltdown,” affected a number of chips from Intel as well as some from AMD and ARM, which specializes in processors for mobile devices.

Intel said it was working with AMD and ARM Holdings and with the makers of computer operating software “to develop an industry-wide approach to resolve this issue promptly and constructively.”

Jack Gold, an independent technology analyst, said he was briefed in a conference call with Intel, AMD and ARM on the issue and that the three companies suggested concerns were overblown.

“All the chips are designed that way,” Gold said.

The companies were working on remedies after “some researchers found a way to use existing architecture and get into protected areas of computer memory and read some of the data,” he added.

Microsoft said in a statement it had no information suggesting any compromised data but was “releasing security updates today to protect Windows customers against vulnerabilities.”

But an AMD spokesman said that because of the differences in AMD processor architecture, “we believe there is near zero risk to AMD products at this time.”

ARM meanwhile said it was “working together with Intel and AMD” to address potential issues “in certain high-end processors, including some of our Cortex-A processors.”

“We have informed our silicon partners and are encouraging them to implement the software mitigations developed if their chips are impacted,” the SoftBank-owned firm said.

Slowdown?

Earlier this week, some researchers said any fix — which would need to be handled by software — could slow down computer systems, possibly by 30 percent or more.

Intel’s statement said these concerns, too, were exaggerated.

“Contrary to some reports, any performance impacts are workload-dependent, and, for the average computer user, should not be significant and will be mitigated over time,” the company statement said.

Tatu Ylonen, security researcher at SSH Communications Security, said the patches “will be effective” but it will be critical to get all networks and cloud services upgraded, Ylonen said.

British security researcher Graham Cluley also expressed concern “that attackers could exploit the flaw on vulnerable systems to gain access to parts of the computer’s memory which may be storing sensitive information. Think passwords, private keys, credit card data.”

But he said in a blog post that it was “good news” that the problem had been kept under wraps to allow operating systems such as those from Microsoft and Apple to make security updates before the flaw is maliciously exploited.

(AFP)

Russia’s Kaspersky to Allow Outside Review of Its Cybersecurity Software

October 23, 2017

Company hopes sharing source code will build trust after allegations its software helped Russia spy on Americans

Kaspersky Lab, the Moscow-based cybersecurity firm whose software U.S. officials suspect helped the Russian government spy on Americans, promised to make its source code available for an independent review.

The company said Monday the review is part of a “global transparency initiative” that it hopes will improve the trustworthiness of its products. It said it would hand over the source code for its software in the first quarter of next year but didn’t specify who would undertake the review or how widely the code would be…

 https://www.wsj.com/articles/russian-cybersecurity-firm-kaspersky-to-make-source-code-available-for-review-1508756502
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Eugene Kaspersky

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Kaspersky fights spying claims with code review plan

October 23, 2017 — 0745

Apple Pay now in 20 markets, nabs 90% of all mobile contactless transactions where active

Russian cybersecurity software maker Kaspersky Labs has announced what it’s dubbing a “comprehensive transparency initiative” as the company seeks to beat back suspicion that its antivirus software has been hacked or penetrated by the Russian government and used as a route for scooping up US intelligence.

In a post on its website today the Moscow-based company has published a four point plan to try to win back customer trust, saying it will be submitting its source code for independent review, starting in Q1 2018. It hasn’t yet specified who will be conducting the review but says it will be “undertaken with an internationally recognized authority”.

It has also announced an independent review of its internal processes — aimed at verifying the “integrity of our solutions and processes”. And says it will also be establishing three “transparency centers” outside its home turf in the next three years — to enable “clients, government bodies and concerned organizations to review source code, update code and threat detection rules”.

It says the first center will be up and running in 2018, and all three will be live by 2020. The locations are listed generally as: Asia, Europe and the U.S.

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Finally it’s also increasing its bug bounty rewards — saying it will pay up to $100K per discovered vulnerability in its main Kaspersky Lab products.

That’s a substantial ramping up of its current program which — as of April this year — could pay out up to $5,000 per discovered remote code execution bugs. (And, prior to that, up to $2,000 only.)

Kaspersky’s moves follow a ban announced by the US Department of Homeland Security on its software last month, citing concerns about ties between “certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies, and requirements under Russian law that allow Russian intelligence agencies to request or compel assistance from Kaspersky and to intercept communications transiting Russian networks”.

The US Senate swiftly followed suit, voting to oust Kaspersky software from federal use. While three months earlier the General Services Administration also removed Kaspersky Lab from a list of approved federal vendors.

The extensive system-wide permissions of antivirus software could certainly make it an attractive target for government agents seeking to spy on adversaries and scoop up data, given the trust it demands of its users.

The WSJ has previously reported that Russian hackers working for the government were able to obtain classified documents from an NSA employee who had stored them on a personal computer that ran Kaspersky software.

Earlier this month CEO Eugene Kaspersky blogged at length — rebutting what he dubbed “false allegations in U.S. media”, and writing: “Our mission is to protect our users and their data. Surveillance, snooping, spying, eavesdropping… all that is done by espionage agencies (which we occasionally catch out and tell the world about), not us.”

We’re proud to keep on protecting people against all cyberthreats – no matter of false allegations in U.S. media https://kas.pr/x78t 

Photo published for What’s going on?

What’s going on?

I doubt you’ll have missed how over the last couple months our company has suffered an unrelenting negative-news campaign in the U.S. press.

eugene.kaspersky.com

But when your business relies so firmly on user trust — and is headquartered close to the Kremlin, to boot — words may evidently not be enough. Hence Kaspersky now announcing a raft of “transparency” actions.

Whether those actions will be enough to restore the confidence of US government agencies in Russian-built software is another matter though.

Kaspersky hasn’t yet named who its external reviewers will be, either. But reached for comment, a company spokeswoman told us: “We will announce selected partners shortly. Kaspersky Lab remains focused on finding independent experts with strong credentials in software security and assurance testing for cybersecurity products. Some recommended competencies include, but are not limited to, technical audits, code base reviews, vulnerability assessments, architectural risk analysis, secure development lifecycle process reviews, etc. Taking a multi-stakeholder approach, we welcome input and recommendations from interested parties at transparency@kaspersky.com

She also sent the following general company statement:

Kaspersky Lab was not involved in and does not possess any knowledge of the situation in question, and the company reiterates its willingness to work alongside U.S. authorities to address any concerns they may have about its products as well as its systems.

As there has not been any evidence presented, Kaspersky Lab cannot investigate these unsubstantiated claims, and if there is any indication that the company’s systems may have been exploited, we respectfully request relevant parties responsibly provide the company with verifiable information. It’s disappointing that these unverified claims continue to perpetuate the narrative of a company which, in its 20 year history, has never helped any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts.

In addition, with regards to unverified assertions that this situation relates to Duqu2, a sophisticated cyber-attack of which Kaspersky Lab was not the only target, we are confident that we have identified and removed all of the infections that happened during that incident. Furthermore, Kaspersky Lab publicly reported the attack, and the company offered its assistance to affected or interested organisations to help mitigate this threat.

Contrary to erroneous reports, Kaspersky Lab technologies are designed and used for the sole purpose of detecting all kinds of threats, including nation-state sponsored malware, regardless of the origin or purpose. The company tracks more than 100 advanced persistent threat actors and operations, and for 20 years, Kaspersky Lab has been focused on protecting people and organisations from these cyberthreats — its headquarters’ location doesn’t change that mission.

“We want to show how we’re completely open and transparent. We’ve nothing to hide,” added Kaspersky in another statement.

Interestingly enough, the move is pushing in the opposite direction of US-based cybersecurity firm Symantec — which earlier this month announced it would no longer be allowing governments to review the source code of its software because of fears the agreements would compromise the security of its products.

Source:https://techcrunch.com/2017/10/23/kaspersky-fights-spying-claims-with-code-review-plan/

US agencies banned from using Russia’s Kaspersky software

September 14, 2017

Federal agencies in the US have 90 days to wipe Kaspersky software from their computers. Officials are concerned about the Russian company’s ties to the Kremlin and possible threats to national security.

Headquarters of Internet security giant Kaspersky in Moscow (Getty Images/AFP/K. Kudryavtsev)

The administration of US President Donald Trump has ordered government agencies to remove products made by Russian company Kaspersky Labs from their computers.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said Wednesday it was concerned that the cybersecurity firm was susceptible to pressure from Moscow and thus a potential threat to national security.

Read more: Facebook, Russia and the US elections – what you need to know

DHS said in a statement that it was “concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies,” as well as Russian laws that might compel Kaspersky to hand over information to the government.

But the makers of the popular anti-virus software have said “no credible evidence has been presented publicly by anyone or any organization as the accusations are based on false allegations and inaccurate assumptions.”

US tech retailer Best Buy confirmed earlier Wednesday that it would no longer sell Kaspersky products, but has declined to give further details on the decision.

Ties between Kaspersky, Kremlin ‘alarming’

Civilian government agencies have 90 days to completely remove Kaspersky software from their computers. The products have already been banned in the Pentagon.

US congressional leaders have applauded the move. Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen said the “strong ties between Kaspersky Lab and the Kremlin are alarming and well-documented,” and asked the DHS if the company’s products were used for any critical infrastructure, such as for voting systems, banks and energy supply.

Although Kaspersky Labs was founded by a KGB-trained entrepreneur, Eugene Kaspersky, and has done work for Russian intelligence, the company has repeatedly denied carrying out espionage on behalf of President Vladimir Putin and his government.

es/cmk (AP, Reuters)

http://www.dw.com/en/us-agencies-banned-from-using-russias-kaspersky-software/a-40500232

Modi Caps Netanyahu Bromance With Barefoot Beach Stroll — Making economic deals continuously

July 6, 2017

JERUSALEM — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has capped a historic three-day visit to Israel with a barefoot stroll along the Mediterranean shore with Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu.

Image result for Netanyahu, Modi, walking on the beach, photos

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stand in the Mediterranean Sea on their visit to a mobile desalination unit on July 6, 2017. GPO

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read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.799378

The two leaders’ exuberance for warming bilateral ties has taken the form of bear hugs, greetings on social media and pledges for increased trade and cooperation.

Narendra Modi Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi upon his arrival in Israel, July 4, 2017. (photo credit:HAIM ZACH/GPO)

Modi and Netanyahu on Thursday paid their respects to Indian soldiers killed fighting with the British Army during World War I before taking a spin on the beach in an Israeli-designed mobile desalination buggy. The two sipped water produced by the machine, served in wine glasses, before wading ankle-deep into the surf.

Israeli agriculture and water technology have been a major draw for Indian investment and the subject of several deals signed during Modi’s visit.

Related:

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India’s Narendra Modi Visits Israel, Sees Israeli Desalination Tech at Beach With Netanyahu

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Thousands of Indians turn out to see Modi

■ PM held meetings with Netanyahu and Rivlin

■ India’s Modi first stop in Israel: A flower nursery

■ Lays wreath at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial

■ Modi addresses thousands at event for Indians in Israel

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read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.799378

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his third and final day of his historic 48-hour visit to Israel, following a successful two days that included meetings with Israel’s leadership and the signing of cooperation deals on technology, water and agriculture between the two countries.

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Modi’s visit is the first by an Indian leader. A Hindu nationalist, conservative and believer in free markets, he enjoys unprecedented popularity at home, and many say he is all but destined to be reelected in 2019.
skip – Modi and Netanyahu visit a mobile desalination unit

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Modi and Netanyahu visit a mobile desalination unit IsraeliPM / YouTube
>> The secret of Israel’s water miracle and how it can help a thirsty world >>

 

Live updates:

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13:02 P.M. Narendra Modi and Benjamin Netanyahu visit a mobile desalination unit on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, making for some eye-catching images of the two world leaders as they frolic in the surf.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drive in mobile desalination unit along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. July 6, 2017.GPO
12:15 P.M. As India and Israel embrace, talk about a ‘Zionist-Hindu’ conspiracy spikes in Pakistan

Even though conspiracy theories and anti-Semitism are ubiquitous in Pakistan, Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel has led them to alarming new heights (Kunwar Khuldune Shahid)
10.30 A.M. On his final day, Narendra Modi will head to an Israeli desalination plant, as well as attending an innovation conference in Tel Aviv

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during a reception for the Indian community in Israel in Tel Aviv on July 5, 2017. AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS

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2:50 A.M. Modi brings the house down at raucus Tel Aviv event

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Complete with strobe lights and huge screens, the hanger-like space resembled a rock concert, as Bollywood singer Sukhwinder Singh performed energetically and warmed the crowd up with rhythmic calls of “India and Israel!” between numbers. Dozens of posters hung on the walls (most in English and a few in Hebrew) welcoming Modi, calling him “The Creator of Modern India,” and carrying logos for the “25 years of growing partnership” between India and Israel.

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Modi in Israel, Day 2: All the updates

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9:41 P.M. Modi tells Indian community he’s happy to be in Israel – in Hindi

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a crowd of thousands comprised of members of Israel’s Indian community in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night.

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Speaking in Hindi, the popular Indian prime minister spoke of his warm relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also addressed the audience, and deemed his visit to Israel as a happy moment.
skip – Modi addresses Indians in Israel

9:11 P.M. Netanyahu asks Modi about probe into 2012 attack on Israeli embassy in Delhi

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brought up the investigation of a 2012 attack on the Israeli embassy in New Delhi during his meeting with visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday. According to officials in the Prime Minister’s Bureau, Netanyahu asked his Indian counterpart whether any progress was made.

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A joint statement released at the end of the meetings also referred to the issue. “The two prime ministers emphasized that there can’t be any justification whatsoever to terrorist acts,” it said. “The leaders stressed that harsh measures must be taken against terrorists, terror organizations and whoever supports, encourages, finances or shelters them.”

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According to the statement, Netanyahu and Modi agreed that action must be taken to prevent terror groups from obtaining weapons of mass destruction. The two also agreed to cooperate on promoting an international convention on the war on terror.

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8:30 P.M. India and Israel’s Largest aerospace company to broaden cooperation

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Israel Aerospace Industries will broaden its cooperation with India, making the announcement Wednesday during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel.
In looking to reorient Israel’s economy toward Asia, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hopes that many exports to India will grow. He has set the goal of increasing exports to the country by 25 percent in the next four years.

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skip – Indian Prime Minister Modi is visiting Israel. How did the countries become so close?

7:00 P.M. Indian and Israeli industrialists press leaders for free-trade deal

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Trade between Israel and India is rather small, amounting in 2016 to less than $2 billion (excluding diamonds). Israeli and Indian business leaders would like it to grow and are pressing their leaders to reach a free-trade agreement to boost that figure substantially.

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Shraga Brosh, the president of the Israel Manufacturers Association, and Pankaj Patel, president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, an association of some 250,000 businesses in India, according to its website, will be inaugurating a forum of Israel-India CEOs on Thursday with the purpose of increasing the countries’ bilateral trade tenfold, to around $20 billion a year.

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The forum has actually already developed recommendations, which include the signing of a free-trade agreement between the two countries, agreements on protecting foreign investments and reexamining regulations that limit trade relations between the two countries.

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The forum also proposes relaxing visa requirements for workers and increasing the number of flights between Israel and India. The recommendations also include proposals to unify quality standards and to boost tourism between the countries in both directions.

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5:00 P.M. India’s Modi meets Israeli boy who survived terror attack on Mumbai Jewish center

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi found time between diplomatic appointments to meet one special little Israeli boy in Jerusalem Wednesday: Moshe Holtzberg, 10, survived a terrorist attack on a Jewish center in Mumbai in 2008 in which both his parents and six others were killed.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) stands next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as he hugs Moshe Holtzberg, whose parents were killed during the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai at Na POOL/REUTERS

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Moshe, then 2 years old, was saved by his Indian nanny Sandra Samuel, who hid in a room after the two gunmen stormed the house. She later managed to escape with the child.

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Samuel, now 53, was granted honorary citizenship by Israel. She lives in Jerusalem and visits Moshe every Sunday at his grandparents’ home in Afula, about 95 kilometers away.

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Modi invited a now bespectacled Moshe with a shy smile and his grandparents Rabbi Shimon and Yehudit Rosenberg to visit India and Mumbai.

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“Anytime you can come to India, anytime you can go,” Modi told Moshe, holding him close.

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3:00 P.M. Israel, India sign tech, water and agriculture deals

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Israel and India have signed a series of agreements to cooperate in the fields of technology, water and agriculture.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the cooperation marks a “match made in heaven” as he stood alongside the visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The agreements are the centerpiece of Modi’s three-day visit to celebrate 25 years of diplomatic relations and strengthen his country’s already close ties with the Jewish state.

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India’s Modi meets with President Rivlin in Jerusalem, July 5, 2017.President’s Office

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1:30 P.M. In their meeting, President Reuven Rivlin told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that Israel “hopes to deepen its cooperation with India.” The president said Modi is a leader “who pays attention to the needs and opportunities of his people,” while praising him as “one of the greatest world leaders today.”

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11:30 A.M. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets with President Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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On the eve of his visit, Modi voiced support for the two-state solution, saying that “a final agreement must recognize the feelings and demands of all sides involved.”

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Modi in Israel, Day 1: All the updates

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12:34 A.M. Analysis: The touchy issue left off the agenda of Modi’s visit to Israel

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in a very good mood and even appeared excited. “This is a historic day,” he told his Indian counterpart. Unlike many instances in the past, this time Netanyahu wasn’t exaggerating. Prime Minister Narendra Modi severed the permanent connection that India had made between promoting its ties with Israel and its position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He even elegantly skipped a visit to Ramallah.

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A diplomatic-security issue that is expected to come up during the visit is cooperation in the fight against terrorism. When Modi talks about terrorism, he means Jihadist groups identified with Al-Qaida and the Taliban which commit terror attacks against India. The Indians are glad to accept any Israeli assistance in this area. But there is terror that the Indians are not anxious to discuss.

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7:45 P.M. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Theodor Herzl’s grave

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6:30 P.M. Modi visits Yad Vashem, the official Israeli Holocaust memorial center.

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During the visit, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid a wreath and rekindled the eternal flame at the memorial.

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5:00 P.M. Modi’s first stop in Israel: A flower nursery.

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A new fast-growing Israeli Chrysanthemum flower is named “Modi” in honor of the Indian prime minister.

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4:50 P.M. Modi seeks ‘strong and resilient partnership with Israel’

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“My visit marks a path-breaking journey of engagement,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the airport. “As we march together, a strong and resilient partnership with Israel will be my intent and focus.

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“Alongside building a partnership for shared economic prosperity, we are also cooperating to secure our societies against common threats such as terrorism,” he said.

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4:20 P.M. Netanyahu greets Modi on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport.

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Welcoming Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hails “historic” visit by Indian prime minister.

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3:46 P.M. Narendra Modi lands at Ben-Gurion International Airport

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2:45 P.M. Netanyahu to accompany Modi for almost his entire stay

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top Israeli dignitaries will receive Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Ben-Gurion International Airport. Foreign Ministry Director General Yuval Rotem said on Monday at a press conference that Netanyahu, in a rather unusual step, will accompany his Indian colleague for almost all of his 48 hours in the country. “It’s not something we do with other leaders, but it is an indication that it is a historic visit and that we ascribe a lot of importance to it,” he said. (Barak Ravid)

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9:04 A.M. How Israel Went From ‘Contaminated’ by Colonialism to India’s Strategic Ally

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As Narendra Modi arrives this week for the first state visit ever by an Indian prime minister to Israel, both he and his host Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be marking a significant warming up of ties between the two countries. But it will also express the fulfillment of a long-unrequited desire, dating back to the early days of the Jewish state, for close ties with, and recognition from, India. (Khinvraj Jangid / Opinion)
9:00 A.M. Wake up, Israel! Modi’s visit will make history

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The public’s excitement in Israel when U.S. President Donald Trump visited in May was immense. His visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem was covered live on television and radio, even though Trump, as expected, had nothing significant to say there. Just months into his administration, Trump’s problematic performance in office has already undermined his credibility and power, but in Israel every minute of his one-day visit was followed as if it were an event of the greatest importance.

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The childish awe that accompanied the president stands in unfortunate contrast to the indifference greeting the next state visit to Israel. Unlike the Trump visit, this one will mark an historic occasion: the first-ever by the prime minister of this country. This individual presides over an economy that is growing at a dizzying pace and could one day emerge as the world’s largest. Yet days before the arrival of the world’s most important prime minister – India’s Narendra Modi – Israel is asleep at the watch. (Meirav Arlosoroff / Analysis)

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8:55 A.M. Does Trump’s instability mean Israel should pivot toward India?

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Judging by the multiple ‘promo’ articles in the Indian and Israel press pre-announcing the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel in July 2017, India could be Israel’s greatest ally. Uncertain of President Trump’s stand on several key issues, will ‘redemption’ come to Jerusalem via New Delhi?

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Indeed, the stakes are high. Israel has already signed on its largest deal in history: a $2 billion defense agreement (reportedly, $1.6 billion for Israel Aerospace Industries and $0.4 billion for Rafael, a a state-owned defense company) by which India will purchase anti-missile systems  and components made in Israel. (Shalva Weil / Opinion)
8:50 A.M. Why Modi can afford to ignore the Palestinians

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With Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel starting on Tuesday – the first ever by a sitting Indian prime minister –  it will be like the two countries arriving hand in hand to opening night of the opera season, lit by a barrage of flashing cameras.

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Perhaps even more strikingly, Modi’s visit will not include a stopover in Ramallah as most world leaders visiting Israel do, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj last year. India hasn’t abandoned the Palestinian cause, as Modi’s apparent snub would suggest. But it does signal a new strategy of “de-hyphenating” the Israeli-Palestinian issue. That can only leave the Palestinians worse off. (David Rosenberg / Opinion)

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8:45 A.M. A rundown of India’s hefty arms deals with Israel

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to sign an agreement to purchase more weapons systems during his visit to Israel on Tuesday, Indian media outlets have reported.

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One of the likely deals includes the purchase of 8,000 Spike anti-tank missiles, worth about $500 million, from Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. The sale has been delayed for about two years, but in the past few weeks it was brought to the Indian cabinet for approval. If the deal is finalized, 2017 will be a record year in terms of Israeli weapons sales to India, a major client of Israeli defense industries. (Gili Cohen)

Haaretz
read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.799378

High Tech Triangle Between Tel Aviv, Bangalore and Silicon Valley — “Immense Possibilities”

July 5, 2017

 BY SHARON UDASIN

The Jerusalem Post
JULY 5, 2017 14:12

 

Israel’s venture capital community is beginning to truly discover India and its enormous potential not for just the IT sector, but also for many different hi-tech fields.

Narendra Modi Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi upon his arrival in Israel, July 4, 2017. (photo credit:HAIM ZACH/GPO)

As the hi-tech sectors of Tel Aviv, Bangalore and Silicon Valley continue to blossom, a group of Indian-American entrepreneurs are hoping to build a robust triangle to connect these three hotpots.

“Maybe we could envision an Israeli investor, putting money into a company in India that sells to the US market, through an office in Silicon Valley,” M. R. Rangaswami, a Silicon Valley-based software executive and investor, told The Jerusalem Post. “Or it could be the opposite – an Indian-American investor who invests in an Israeli company and sells stuff to India.

 M. R. RangaswamiM. R. Rangaswami

Rangaswami is among 15 Indian-American business leaders currently visiting Israel in parallel with the historic arrival of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the country. In a trip organized by the Indiaspora organization in conjunction with the American Jewish Committee, the delegates are meeting with Israeli and Indian accelerators, venture capitalists, incubators and entrepreneurs over the next few days, with hopes of cementing future partnerships among the three communities.

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“Maybe someone this week will end up investing in an Israeli start-up – this gets the ball rolling,” Rangaswami said.

In addition to his role as founder and president of Indiaspora, which strives to unite Indian-Americans to promote a meaningful impact for India, Rangaswami is the co-founder of Sand Hill Group, one of the first angel investors in Silicon Valley.

While the Tel Aviv-Bangalore-Silicon Valley network that Rangaswami and his colleagues are envisioning would be a virtual framework, physical interactions among investors and start-ups from each side would be critical to future work together, he explained.

“There’s a lot of entrepreneurial potential in all these groups,” he said. “There have been many successful role models to follow as well.”

In Silicon Valley alone, one out of every three start-ups has an Indian-American co-founder, and Indian-American CEOs serve at Microsoft, Google and Adobe, Rangaswami added.

While the Indian-American members of the Indiaspora delegation are interested in many potential areas of collaboration, they are particularly eyeing Israeli innovators who specialize the cyber-security sector, according to Rangaswami.

“That’s a hot sector – everybody is curious,” he said. “Our whole delegation is curious about the work Israeli companies and venture capitalists are doing in this space. It’s an important thing for us, important for India, so it’s an obvious choice.”

Arun Kumar, who previously served in the Obama administration as assistant secretary of commerce for global markets, likewise emphasized the mutual benefits of working together in such a triangle for innovation.

Arun KumarArun Kumar

“There is tremendous potential in the connection between Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv and Bangalore – more broadly, between Israel, India and the US, particularly in areas of innovation tech and entrepreneurship,” said Kumar, who is now chairman and CEO of India’s KPMG, which specializes risk, financial & business advisory.

Kumar stressed that parties could benefit from increasing the number of Indian students studying at Israeli universities, as well as from connecting the start-up ecosystems and incubators in all three places. As he takes part in his first trip to Israel this week, Kumar said he is particularly eager to see such connections made in areas like digital health, agriculture and irrigation.

“It’s going to be a journey of discovery – things can’t be done in one trip,” he added.

Jason Isaacson, AJC’s associate executive director for policy, who has been working for years to promote Israeli-Indian relations, said he feels that the potential between the countries is “almost unlimited.”

Jason IsaacsonJason Isaacson

“It clearly is a natural fit between Israel and India,” Isaacson said. “It’s really a trilateral fit – Israel, India and the United States – in terms of hi-tech, in terms of the entrepreneurial spirit, in terms of the high value given to innovation.”

Israel’s venture capital community is beginning to truly discover India and its enormous potential not for just the IT sector, but also for many different hi-tech fields, according to Isaacson.

“We’re on a threshold of an entirely new chapter for Israel and India,” he said.

Simultaneously, Isaacson explained, the US also needs hi-tech partners – people who can help make the economy grow and provide a solution to the shortage of engineers that the hi-tech community is facing.

“But frankly, as Israel grows in different sectors and as India grows in different sectors and as the US continues to be the world leader, the synergistic possibilities are immense,” Isaacson added.

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