D-Wave’s $15 million quantum computer runs a staggering 2,000 qubits

For D-Wave, the path to quantum computers being widely accepted is similar to the history of today’s computers. The first chips came more than 30 years ago, and Microsoft’s Basic expanded the software infrastructure around PCs.DWave's 2000q quantum computer

Quantum computers are a new type of computer that can be significantly faster than today’s PCs. They are still decades away from replacing PCs and going mainstream, but more advanced hardware and use models are still emerging.

“A lot of that is unfolding and will have a similar dramatic change in the computing landscape,” Vern Brownell, D-Wave’s CEO, said in an interview.

D-Wave is the only company selling a quantum computer. It sold its first system in 2011 and is now pushing the speed limits with a new quantum computer called the D-Wave 2000Q, which has 2,000 qubits.

The 2000Q is twice the size of its current 1,000-qubit D-Wave 2X, which is considered one of the most advanced computers in the world today. A price tag for the 2000Q wasn’t available.

The 2000Q is thousands of times faster than its predecessor and is leagues ahead in performance compared to today’s PCs. The specialized computer, valued at roughly $15 million, will first ship out to Temporal Defense Systems, which will use the system to tackle cybersecurity threats.

D-Wave’s quantum computers are being already used by the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Google, NASA, and Lockheed Martin. D-Wave’s goal is to upgrade all those systems.

The ultimate goal is to develop a universal quantum computer that could run all computing applications, much like PCs, but researchers agree that type of quantum computer still decades away.

But like PCs, users first need to start feeling comfortable with quantum computers, and Brownell hopes D-Wave’s systems will ultimately be available to the masses via the cloud. IBM has already made its 5-qubit quantum computer available through the cloud to anyone who wants to play with it.

“To really flourish we have to make it easy to consume,” Brownell said. The cloud will provide developers with a headache-free way to play with qubits without buying the expensive hardware.

There are many types of quantum computers under development, and D-Wave’s system is based on the paradigm of quantum annealing. The computer delivers possible outcomes to a problem by deploying a magnetic field to perform qubit operations.

IBM is working on a different type of quantum computer based on the gate model, which is considered advanced but more complicated to achieve. Microsoft is trying to make a quantum computer based on a new topology and a particle that is yet to be discovered.

D-Wave and IBM were once squabbling, disputing each others’ approaches to a quantum computer. But they are now showing each other respect and have a common goal of speeding up the release of quantum computers. A long-term computer replacement is needed as today’s PCs reach their limits, and quantum computers could be the answer.

D-Wave doesn’t have a particular religious persuasion on what may be considered the right form of quantum computing, Brownell said. The annealer was a quick way to quantum computing and can be injected into today’s demanding workloads.

“We believe in all approaches. My belief in the future is there will be different types of quantum computers,” Brownell said. The company’s view is similar to using different types of chips like CPUs, GPUs, and FPGAs for different workloads, with each of them having their own benefits, Brownell said.

Some applications for D-Wave’s quantum computer include machine learning, financial simulations, and coding optimization. For example, the quantum computers could be used to build classifiers for better speech recognition or labeling of images, Brownell said. Algorithms play a big role in making D-Wave’s quantum computers effective.

“Our belief is that machine learning is the killer app for quantum computing,” Brownell said.

Quantum computers calculate differently than today’s computers, which store data in the states of 1 and 0. Quantum computers use qubits, which can store data in the form or either or both simultaneously and in states beyond that. The qubit’s flexibility allows quantum computers to do more calculations simultaneously.

Quantum computers harness the laws of quantum mechanics to achieve various states, but qubits can also be finicky, which is why they have been a scientific challenge for decades. Qubits are unstable and can quickly go out of control, which could break a computing cycle. Researchers are trying to address issues by putting qubits in controlled environments and exerting more control over qubit behavior.

Adding more qubits and new features, like quantum annealing control, has helped speed up and stabilize the D2000Q. D-Wave will speed up its quantum computers with more qubits every 18 months, a rough timeline that Intel follows to advance its PC and server chips.

D-Wave is also trying to get programmers on board to write applications for its quantum computer. It has released Qbsolv, an open-source tool that can break down code to work with the quantum computer. The tool also has interfaces so applications written using popular machine-learning frameworks like TensorFlow and Caffe work with the quantum computer.

Google begins live testing of Instant Apps that load without installation

At last year’s I/O conference, Google demonstrated a sneak peak of an exciting new initiative that lets users interact with pieces of an app without needing to go through the whole download process. Called Android Instant Apps, it was designed to streamline the process of installing apps, and now Google is finally ready to let us try it out.android instant apps

While only available in a “limited test” with just four developers—BuzzFeed, Wish, Periscope, and Viki—Instant Apps could dramatically change the way we interact with apps on our phones. For example, under the current system, if someone sends you a link to an item for sale in the Wish app and you don’t have it installed on your phone, you would be first redirected to the Play Store, where you would need to download and install the app, find it on your phone, open it, type in the item, and hit search. With Instant Apps, tapping the link would automatically bring up that page in the app, whether it’s installed on your phone or not. From there you could buy it or save the link to your home screen, all without needing to go through the whole tedious download process.

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With the Wish Instant App, you can view and pay for an item without downloading the full version.

Furthermore, Google demonstrated a situation where a user could feed a parking meter without needing to waste time or data downloading the app first. Of course, if you wanted to download the full app, you could, but the process is designed to remove friction from what should be quick interactions. It’s kind of like opening web apps or Chrome Custom Tabs, but with much more power behind it. As Google explains, the experience isn’t watered down or minimalized in any way. Rather, the user will be using the full app, just targeted to the specific bit they requested:

“To develop an instant app, you’ll need to update your existing Android app to take advantage of Instant Apps functionality and then modularize your app so part of it can be downloaded and run on-the-fly. You’ll use the same Android APIs and Android Studio project.”

Google promises that full Instant Apps SDK will be available “in the coming months.”

Instant Apps will work on Android versions going all the way back to Jelly Bean, but It’s unclear how widespread the rollout for testing is or how Google will be soliciting feedback from users. When we tried to open a Wish link, it still sent us to the Play Store to download the full app.

Android Instant Apps have the potential to truly revolutionize the way we use and discover apps on our phones, especially those with limited space or running older versions of Android. Developers are constantly looking for ways to reach more users with their apps, and Instant Apps is the perfect way to do it, offering a lightweight, universal experience that doesn’t require the download of an app you might not have space for.

This story, “Google begins live testing of Instant Apps that load without installation ” was originally published by Greenbot.

Severe vulnerability in Cisco’s WebEx extension for Chrome leaves PCs open to easy attack

Anyone who uses the popular Cisco WebEx extension for Chrome should update to the latest version pronto. Google security researcher Tavis Ormandy recently discovered a serious vulnerability in the Chrome extension that leaves PCs wide open to attack.5018939048 1240b02422 o

In older versions of the extension (before version 1.0.3) malicious actors could add a “magic string” to a web address or file hosted on a website. The magic string was designed to remotely activate the WebEx browser extension. Once the extension was activated the bad guys could execute malicious code on the target machine.

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Ian Paul

 It’s a good idea for anyone who uses this extension to make sure it’s updated to the latest version given the severity of the vulnerability. To start type chrome://extensions into the Chrome address bar and hit Enter. Next, scroll down until you see the entry for the Cisco WebEx Extension—extensions are organized alphabetically. To the right of the extension name you should hopefully see version 1.0.5, as pictured above.

If you don’t, you can do one of three things.

The first is to uninstall the extension by clicking the garbage can icon, and then reinstall it from the Chrome Web Store. The second method is to check the Developer mode box in the top right corner of the chrome://extensionspage. That will reveal a button in the top right corner called Update extensions now. Click that, and you should be all set.

It’s not clear if version 1.0.5 offers any significant protection against the threat Ormandy describes. Apparently, all version 1.0.3 did was offer a pop-up anytime that magic code was used, according to Cloudfare security researcher Filippo Valsorda. That puts the onus on the user to make sure they really want to be using WebEx when that pop-up appears.

webex chrome or desktop app

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That brings us to the last solution. If you’d rather not bother with the extension it’s also possible to use a temporary, downloadable desktop program each time you want to use WebEx. That may not be convenient, but it’s an alternative.

Ormandy’s discovery raised enough eyebrows that Mozilla blocked WebEx for Firefox. At this writing, version 1.0.3 of the extension (released on Tuesday, January 24) was in the Firefox add-ons catalog; however, as Mozilla has yet to review the updated extension it can’t be installed on the mainstream version of Firefox 43 and up.

Court denies U.S. government appeal in Microsoft’s overseas email case

A U.S. appeals court will not reconsider its groundbreaking decision denying Department of Justice efforts to force Microsoft to turn over customer emails stored outside the country.DOJ

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in a 4-4 decision Tuesday, declined to rehear its July decision that denied the DOJ access to the email of a drug trafficking suspect stored on a Microsoft server in Ireland. Microsoft has been fighting DOJ requests for the email since 2013.

The DOJ has argued that tech companies can avoid valid warrants by storing customer data outside the U.S.

Judges “readily acknowledge the gravity of this concern,” but the 31-year-old U.S. Stored Communications Act (SCA) doesn’t allow worldwide search under a U.S. warrant, wrote Judge Susan Carney.

“We recognize at the same time that in many ways the SCA has been left behind by technology,” Carney wrote in Tuesday’s decision. “It is overdue for a congressional revision that would continue to protect privacy but would more effectively balance concerns of international comity with law enforcement needs and service provider obligations in the global context in which this case arose.”

Back in December 2013, Magistrate Judge James Francis in the Southern District of New York authorized a search warrant for all emails and other information belonging to the Microsoft user under investigation. Microsoft filed to quash the warrant for customer data held in Dublin. It argued that U.S. courts are not authorized to issue extraterritorial warrants.

Neither Microsoft nor the DOJ was immediately available for comment.

Cloud services accounted for half of revenue growth at SAP in 2016

SAP’s revenue from cloud subscriptions and support grew so quickly in 2016, the company has raised its forecasts for 2017 and 2020.20160224 stock mwc sap booth sign 100647700 orig

Full-year cloud revenue grew 31 percent compared to a year earlier, accounting for over half of the company’s revenue growth. Total revenue reached €22.1 billion (US$23.8 billion), up €1.3 billion on 2015, while revenue from cloud subscriptions and support grew €707 million to €3 billion, the company reported Tuesday.

Profit after tax rose to €3.6 billion from €3.1 billion in 2015.

SAP is keen to see more of its software business move to the cloud because, unlike traditional software licenses that bring a bump in revenue at the moment a deal is signed, it represents a predictable source of revenue. Together with software support, the company says that the growth in cloud services means 61 percent of its revenue now comes from more predictable sources.

That’s made management more optimistic about the outlook for this year, and led it to set more ambitious targets for 2020.

It now expects cloud subscriptions and support revenue of between €3.8 billion and €4.0 billion this year, for a growth rate of up to 34 percent, and total revenue of between €23.2 billion and €23.6 billion, an increase on its previous forecast for the year.

Those forecasts assume constant exchange rates, a standard business assumption but one unlikely to hold true in the wake of last June’s Brexit vote, the recent elections in the U.S., and forthcoming elections across Europe.

Looking ahead to 2020, SAP raised its forecast for revenue from cloud subscriptions and support to between €8 billion and €8.5 billion. It had previously forecast that business would generate between €7.5 billion and €8 billion.

It also raised — and narrowed — its forecast for total revenue to between €28 billion and €29 billion, from an earlier forecast of €26 billion to €28 billion.

With the shift in business to the cloud, it expects that proportion of more predictable revenue will rise to between 70 percent and 75 percent in 2020.

As well as seeing increasing interest in its cloud platform, SAP reported that adoption of its S4/HANA in-memory database doubled over the year.

There are other signs of modernization at SAP: another line buried in its report showed that the number of women in management crept up to 24.5 percent of the workforce, compared to 23.6 percent a year earlier.

Stratoscale buys Tesora to bolster hybrid cloud database capability

Cloud service provider Stratoscale has snapped up database-as-a-service vendor Tesora to beef up its hybrid cloud offering.Stratoscale buys Tesora

Stratoscale’s key product, Symphony, is built on OpenStack and allows businesses to set up an Amazon Web Services (AWS) “region” in their own data center, so they can easily move workloads between private and public cloud servers or scale up capacity without having to migrate to a different service.

Tesora’s database as a service, also built on OpenStack, runs in public, private or hybrid clouds. Stratoscale plans to use it to expand its existing managed database support, which includes AWS Relational Database Service and the AWS NoSQL database, DynamoDB. Tesora will bring Stratoscale self-service provisioning capabilities for Oracle, MySQL, MariaDB, MongoDB, PostgresSQL, Couchbase, Cassandra, Redis, DataStax Enterprise, Persona and DB2 Express databases.

It’s only a couple of months since Stratoscale released version 3 of Symphony, introducing compatibility with Amazon’s S3 object storage service, Kubernetes-as-a-service containerization, and the ability to freely migrate AWS EC2, EBS, S3 and VPC workloads between public and private cloud infrastructure.

Tesora has long pitched its database as a service as better than the AWS database offerings in one important respect: Thanks to its OpenStack underpinnings, it could run as easily in public or private clouds. However, Stratoscale’s introduction of the AWS region capability to Symphony 3 took that advantage away.

Hacker hijacks thousands of publicly exposed printers to warn owners

Following recent research that showed many printer models are vulnerable to attacks, a hacker decided to prove the point and forced thousands of publicly exposed printers to spew out rogue messages.robot printer hack

The messages included ASCII art depicting robots and warned that the printers had been compromised and they were part of a botnet. The hacker, who uses the online alias Stackoverflowin, later said that the botnet claim was not true and that his efforts served only to raise awareness about the risks of leaving printers exposed to the internet.

Stackoverflowin claims to be a high-school student from the U.K. who is interested in security research. He said that for the most part he simply sent print jobs using the Line Printer Daemon (LPD), the Internet Printing Protocol (IPP) and the RAW protocol on communications port 9100 to printers that didn’t require authentication.

However, he also claims to have exploited an undisclosed remote command execution (RCE) vulnerability in the web management interface of Xerox printers.

The hacker estimates that up to 150,000 printers were affected by his effort, but claims to have access to more RCE flaws that he didn’t use and which would have allowed him to print to over 300,000 printers.

As printers around the world started printing the hacker’s rogue messages on Friday, affected users took to Twitter to report the problem. From the photos they posted, it appears that many of the printers were part of point-of-sale systems.

The issue of publicly exposed printers is not new and has been exploited before to print rogue and sometimes offensive messages. However, the issue was renewed last week when researchers from Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany published a paper on different attacks against network printers and an assessment of 20 printer models. The researchers also released a Printer Exploitation Toolkit and published a printer hacking wiki.

Users should make sure that their printers can’t be accessed through a public Internet Protocol address at all, Stackoverflowin said. However, if they need to do this, they should enforce access rules in their routers and only whitelist certain IP addresses, or set up a virtual private network, he said.