News roundup: ZTE still in no man's land, Huawei likely next

A roundup of the week’s technology news including Tesla’s insider threat, McAfee 2020, and self-parking boats.

A roundup of the week’s technology news including Tesla’s insider threat, McAfee 2020, and self-parking boats.


ZTE still in limbo

Despite President Donald Trump’s ‘personal favor’ to Chinese President Xi Jinping to get ZTE up and running again, the Senate has approved a bill which includes an amendment to reimpose the export ban on the Chinese giant.

Huawei will be watching the situation closely. US Senator Marco Rubio tweeted that ZTE poses a ‘significant threat’ to US national security.

“If we can put them out of business we must & should.”

The tweet included the hashtag #Huaweiisnext with a follow up post claiming the company is “100 times worse” than ZTE. Both Google and Facebook have also faced questions about their relationship with the Chinese company.

Over in Australia, the company has hit back at “ill-informed” criticisms from MPs. Labor MP Michael Danby called for Huawei and ZTE to be banned from the country’s efforts to roll out 5G as they have  “Communist party cells at the top of their organizations”.

“Recent public commentary around China has referenced Huawei and its role in Australia and prompted some observations around security concerns,” Huawei Australia Chairman John Lord said in reply. “Many of these comments are ill-informed and not based on facts.”

And finally Kaspersky Lab – another company coming under fire internationally – has announced it will cease collaborating with European agencies on cybercrime efforts after there were calls in the EU parliament to stop using the Russian company’s “malicious” products.


Security headlines

Tesla has suffered at the hands of an insider threat. CEO Elon Musk sent out an email to employees claiming “extensive and damaging sabotage” to its operations, including code changes to manufacturing systems and exporting Tesla data to third parties. Musk then went a bit ‘tinfoil’ hat and claimed the person responsible -- motivated by revenge after being passed over for promotion -- may have also been acting on behalf of Wall Street, oil & gas companies, or even rival car manufactures. The company has filed to sue the saboteur, Martin Tripp, who is claiming Tesla is attempting to “silence” him after leaking information to Business Insider.


  • A new report from the US armed forces warns that “permanent global cyberspace superiority is not possible” due to the complexity and distributed nature of IT and the internet.
  • Apple is updating phones to prevent cracking devices used by law enforcement from working.
  • Researchers have found a way to use Alexa to hack into Windows devices.
  • Researchers have created an AI-powered URL generator to generate phishing sites that can evade detection by security tools.


McAfee 2020

It’s been weeks(!) since John McAfee last hit the headlines. Luckily, he’s recently announced he’s going to make another bid for the White House in 2020. In line with his recent activity, he’s taking a more crypto currency-centric stance this time.

“I have decided to again run for POTUS in 2020,” he tweeted. “If asked again by the Libertarian party, I will run with them. If not, I will create my own party. I believe this will best serve the crypto community by providing the ultimate campaign platform for us.”

He later acknowledged that he ‘does not have a chance of winning’ but it would give him the opportunity to ‘stand the world's largest stage and tell the truth.’

He's not wrong about the winning part. McAfee doesn’t feature on current odds checkers, meaning the likes of John Cena, Alex Jones, and Akon have better chances of becoming President than him.


Diversity; still a challenge for tech

It’s good that technology companies now annually publish their diversity stats in an effort to make the technology less of a white male’s game. However, what’s not good is the fact the stats never really change. Google’s latest report suggests the proportion of women working at the company has actually fallen by 0.1% compared to 2017’s figures. The proportion of Latino workers has dropped by 0.4% while the proportion of black employees has risen by 0.5%.



Microsoft has made a double swoop for Flipgrid  and Bonsai, IBM has acquired Oniqua Holdings, Tableau has snapped up Empirical Systems, F-Secure now owns MWR InfoSecurity, Cisco has purchased July Systems, Capgemini has got its hands on Adaptive Lab, Twitter has snaffled Smyte, and Cryptocurrency startup TRON has taken over BitTorrent.

Alphabet is reportedly considering spinning out Project Malta – which is looking at using salt to store energy -- into a standalone unit or business.


Open Source

IBM has released QISKit ACQUA,  a tool for enabling ‘classical’ applications to send operations to quantum computers.

Facebook has released BOLT, a binary optimization and layout tool for optimizing the placement of instructions in memory.

AI startup Pymetrics has released a tool for detecting bias in algorithms called Audit AI.



Steve Bannon must be bored. The former Trump strategist and anti-establishmentarian recently claimed he is a fan of cryptocurrencies and had a “good stake” in Bitcoin. “It’s disruptive populism,” he said. “It takes control back from central authorities. It’s revolutionary.”

He is also reportedly interested in starting his own crypto coin. The Bannon currency would be named the “Deplorables coin”, a hat-tip to Hillary Clinton’s ‘basket of deplorables’ comment during her Presidential run.

In other news, a Switzerland-based banking group this week claimed cryptocurrencies could crash the internet. A new report from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) warned that “only supercomputers could keep up with the verification of the incoming transactions ... the associated communication volumes could bring the internet to a halt, as millions of users exchanged files on the order of magnitude of a terabyte.”

Self-docking boats

Automation is coming to every aspect of transportation, and this includes boats of all shapes and sizes. Volvo subsidiary Volvo Penta this week demonstrated a self-docking boat. In the video, a 68-foot yacht parks itself in between two yachts in Gothenburg without interference from humans.