Intel Introduces Xeon Scalable Chips for High-End Workstations

Today’s topics include Intel’s release of Xeon Scalable chips for workstations; Symantec’s warning about increased Dragonfly 2.0 hacking attacks; Trend Micro's offer of $500,000 in cash prizes for the Pwn2Own mobile security contest 2017; and how the latest Microsoft 365 update emphasizes collaboration.

Intel is targeting emerging workloads such as virtual reality, analytics and artificial intelligence by bringing its new Xeon Scalable chips to workstations.

These two new Xeon Scalable chips are available for what company officials call next-generation expert workstations that can be used to create immersive 3D virtual reality media and to get useful insights through faster and deeper data analytics.

Intel also unveiled new Xeon W processors for mainstream workstations. Intel officials said workstations with the new Xeon W chips will deliver 1.38 times the performance of their predecessors and 1.87 times the performance of 4-year-old systems.

Symantec warned on Sept. 6 that it is seeing the re-emergence of a hacker group known as Dragonfly that is directly targeting energy firms and industrial control system infrastructures. Symantec first issued warnings about Dragonfly attacks July 2014.

The new round of attacks, dubbed Dragonfly 2.0, have been underway since December 2015, with an increasing number of attacks in 2017. The recent attacks involve multiple elements, including phishing emails designed to trick users into opening attachments, as well as fake Flash updates that end up installing Trojan back doors.

"The fact that the attacker can create malware that may not be detected and has goal-oriented operations show the adversary has both the funding and capability that is usually only seen with nation-state attackers," said Jon DiMaggio, senior threat intelligence analyst at Symantec.

The mobile edition of the Pwn2Own hacking contest is returning for its sixth year, with a prize pool of $500,000 and new targets for security researchers.

The event will be held at the PacSec 2017 conference in Tokyo Nov. 1-2. Pwn2Own is operated by Trend Micro's Zero Day Initiative and has both desktop and mobile events.

At the Pwn2Own 2017 event held in March for desktop and server exploits, security researchers demonstrated 51 new zero-day vulnerabilities and were awarded a total of $823,000 for their efforts.

At the last Mobile Pwn2Own event, held in October 2016, security researchers were awarded a total of $215,000 in prize money for successfully demonstrating new zero-day exploits against fully patched Android and iPhone devices.

"While we do consider last year to be successful, we’re always hopeful we see more and better exploits at each competition," Brian Gorenc, director at Trend Micro Zero Day Initiative, told eWEEK.

Microsoft is focused on collaboration and teamwork in its latest bundle of updates for Office 365, starting with the new co-authoring feature in Excel.

"Now anyone can work together at the same time in spreadsheets stored in SharePoint Online, OneDrive, or OneDrive for Business," wrote Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Office team.

In classroom settings, Microsoft Teams now allows teachers to view their OneNote Class Notebooks in the application. Teams is now available to schools, allowing educators to distribute assignments, conduct class discussions and welcome guest lecturers into the classroom.

Teachers can also include web links to assignments and export the scores from those assignments to their school's learning management system software.