Shadow Brokers' Tools Contain Real Zero-Day Risks, Cisco, Fortinent Say

Today's topics include confirmation by multiple security vendors that at least some of the cyber-tools offered for sale by the so-called Shadow Brokers are real, highlights of AMD's upcoming "Zen" core desktop PC and server chips, Chinese smartphone maker Honor’s plans to bring its flagship device to the United States and Skype’s latest upgrades.

When news of an alleged breach of the National Security Agency-backed Equation Group first surfaced, there was much speculation about whether the sale by Shadow Brokers of pilfered tools was real or a hoax.

As it turns out, multiple security vendors are now confirming that at least some of the tools the Shadow Brokers are selling are real, with critical zero-day vulnerabilities now being exposed in the process.

Among the tools exposed in the first batch that Shadow Brokers made available are two with somewhat interesting and unique names: EPICBANANAS and EXTRABACON.

The tools are designed to circumvent network security devices, including firewalls, from multiple vendors in an attempt to give an attacker access to a target network.

Fifteen months after announcing plans to roll out an entirely new x86 processor microarchitecture that would scale from high-end servers down to notebook PCs, executives with Advanced Micro Devices laid the groundwork for chips that will feature the new "Zen" core, which they expect will become the cornerstone of a strategy to win back business and consumer PC users and become a significant player in the data center.

During an event in San Francisco on Aug. 17, AMD President and CEO Lisa Su and Mark Papermaster, senior vice president and CTO, demonstrated working processors aimed at high-end desktop PCs and servers that showed significant improvements in performance and power efficiency over the company's current generations of processors.

As Chinese smartphone maker Huawei surveyed the global handset marketplace in 2012, the power of the internet and the challenge of selling devices through traditional retail channels that were also selling competing phones loomed large.

At the same time, another interesting pattern was emerging; Chinese web retailing powerhouse Alibaba was seeing great success selling smartphones online, particularly to millennials who had little hesitation about buying their phones from e-retailers rather than through traditional mobile carriers.

"We saw this trend and challenge, and we decided to set up the Honor brand for smartphones," George Zhao, president of Honor, told eWEEK in an exclusive interview here following the company's Aug. 16 launch of the first flagship smartphone it is bringing to the United States: the new Honor 8.

Two weeks after Microsoft began rolling out the Windows 10 Anniversary Update for PCs and tablets, the company released the operating system update for mobile devices on Aug. 16. Among the many updates is a new Skype Preview app that borrows heavily from the PC.

"Just like our new experience built into the desktop Windows 10 Anniversary Update, the updated Skype Preview for Windows phone has been redesigned from the ground up, taking advantage of the Universal Windows Platform to work seamlessly on your mobile device," Microsoft's Skype group wrote in an Aug. 16 blog post.

Since Build 2015, Microsoft has been making a strong push to steer its developer community toward the Universal Apps, which can run on a multitude of Windows-powered devices with little or no modification to the underlying code.

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