How the Semiconductor Shortage is Influencing Supply Chains

In a Secure High Level Laboratory Scientists in a Coverall Conducting a Research. Chemist Adjusts Samples in a Petri Dish with Pincers.

You may have noticed the recent price increase for consumer and business electronics, and it’s all caused by issues related to the global semiconductor shortage. How have these supply chains, stable for so long, been dealt such a severe blow to the point where acquiring new computers and networking equipment is so challenging? Read on to find out.

The Law of Supply and Demand

In 2020, as COVID-19 forced the majority of businesses and organizations to shift to remote operations, the global demand for new computers skyrocketed. 2021 has not been much better. While this looks like a great benefit for the semiconductor industry at first glance, that is only half of the equation. The industry may have seen its sales expand to nearly half a trillion dollars over the past year, but at what cost?

When the supply chain cannot keep up with demand, it is natural that the supply will eventually run dry. When you compare this immense demand to the PC market in previous years, you might start to see why such a shortage exists. The stagnation in the PC market coupled with the increase in demand for these devices, as well as other electronics and the greater need for cloud computing, led many industry professionals to forecast increases of another 12 percent in 2021 to $511 billion.

As a result of this massive bump in demand, the industry simply was not prepared for the influx of sales and, thus, could not keep up with it. The shortage itself began in the second quarter of 2020, and its effects have been felt by manufacturers, retailers, and businesses alike.

The Greater Ramifications

The semiconductor shortage doesn’t only impact computers and smartphones; it is causing ripples all over for any devices that require them. One notable example is the automotive industry, which has experienced several halts in production due to the chip shortage.

On a greater scale, the electronics industry has had to make several hard choices related to hardware simply because the pieces required to make their devices are not available in the needed quantities. As you might imagine, this shortage has a considerably larger impact on smaller organizations, as large-scale manufacturers have the advantage of more capital to invest in buying up the remaining stock.

How This Affects Your Business

It might not be clear how this semiconductor shortage will affect your business, but what is clear is that people with an understanding of this industry are not holding their breath expecting the issue to resolve itself. Businesses, in particular, will need to keep their eyes on the market for any signs of recovery, as the need for new hardware and increased data processing capacity will drive the demand for semiconductors until the shortage recedes.

It’s likely that businesses will see increased prices for the foreseeable future–at least for the next four to six fiscal quarters, or until the supply chain is able to recover and fulfill demand. AE Technology Group will keep an eye on this situation so we can best serve our clients. After all, we want to help you get the best resources at a reasonable price. If you have any questions or concerns about this semiconductor shortage, AE Technology Group is happy to help. To learn more about how we can help you navigate this situation, reach out to us at (516) 536-5006.

BlackRock Trojan: Aggressive Viral Menace For Android Device Users

blackrock trojan aggressive viral menace for android device users

A new attack on android applications known as the BlackRock trojan has already targeted over 300 applications on the android operating system, including banking, social media, and dating applications. Any application with payment features, which is most nowadays, has been targeted and users credit card information has been compromised. How does this all work though, and what implications will it have for the future of the android operating system?

The Mechanics of BlackRock

The essential approach that BlackRock takes to get access to your information is it sends out a false Google Update and requests accessibility privileges. After it is granted these privileges it develops its own autonomy and no longer needs further interaction from the user to operate, it does this through granting itself further permissions afterwards. 

Some abilities BlackRock has, are traditional of trojan attacks, and some are quite problematic. It can collect device information, it can perform overlay attacks, but even more concerning, it can prevent antivirus software and even prevent uninstalling, leading to a longer lifespan than most hacks and more damage being done to your device and more of your information being compromised.

The Network and History of BlackRock Malware

Information from the site ThreatFabric has concluded that BlackRock is based on banking malware known as Xerxes, which itself is a version of Lokibot malware, discovered in 2019. Lokibot is part of an underground network of rented malware which circulated in 2016 and 2017. What really caused it to be a ubiquitous problem is when the source code got leaked. 

Android tried to get out in front of the older malware by pushing their newer devices which, with their new hardware, had a natural adaptation curve for implementing the attacks on the new systems. This, unfortunately, didn’t last long. In 2018, MysteryBot dropped, which was an update on the Xerxes system to work with new Android systems. 

The ancestral history of BlackRock is inundated with Lokibot variants. Parasite was a brief problem, although after disappearing from the malware space, Xeres was the direct parent of BlackRock, with the former appearing in 2019 and now, here in 2020, we have BlackRock.

Top Apps That Have Been Threatened

Numerous applications have suffered the injection and compromise of BlackRock, but the most notable are:

  • Gmail
  • Google Play
  • Netflix
  • Wells Fargo
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Facebook

Many others have been targeted as well, leading to an entire suite of applications being at risk. Millions of users could have been affected and had their financial and contact information now in the hands of hackers, which could be numerous themselves seeing as the above mentioned malware network is vast and diverse.

Implications for Android

Android, being a more open operating system, runs the risk of more of these said attacks if they don’t take a new approach to how they monitor their application base. Two futures exist for android after this latest breach.

One, they stay with the same approach they have now and hope that they can rely on a numbers game, praying that the majority of their apps stay solid with their own individual protection protocols, and hoping the majority of their users stay safe.

The other is they radically change how they monitor their operating system, implementing much more rigorous analysis of their potential apps and making the approval process contain much more scrutiny in their security requirements. 

Either way the future for android will remain risky if they simply ignore the growing underground network of malware. They desperately need to engage in research of this growing corner of the hacking world if they have any hope of maintaining a safe and secure user base.

Get more news, tips and tricks at our blog here.

Phasing Out 32-Bit Windows 10 Support Starting with OEMs

starting with oems phasing out 32 bit windows 10 support 2

Microsoft has recently announced they plan to phase out support for the 32-bit version of their Windows 10 operating system. This recent change will arrive in their May 2020 (version 2004) release. At least initially, this phase out is intended only for their OEM (original equipment manufacturer) devices.

Phasing out their 32-bit version is simply a sign of the continual progress and expansion that tech companies embrace as they seek to provide more capable and more powerful technology devices for their user base.

Their Statement

Microsoft’s official statement regarding the phase out advises that beginning with the 2004 version of the Windows 10 operating system, all builds will be required to only use their 64-bit version for OEM distribution. Microsoft goes on to pledge continued support for anyone who still uses the 32-bit version of their OS by continuing to release security and feature updates for the 32-bit devices.  

The Impact

Fortunately the impact of the phase out at least initially, is minimal. The 32-bit version of Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system compromises only a very modest .20 percent of their overall customer base for this specific operating system. The overwhelming majority of Windows 10 users are already using the more robust 64-bit version of the OS. Of course, whenever a phase out occurs it is usually indicative of further reductions down the road. Eventually, Microsoft will likely phase out 32-bit versions altogether, although it remains to be seen how slowly or how quickly that may occur. 

Why the Change?

In terms of internal processing power, more is always better and there is simply an increased demand for 64-bit operating systems. Compared with the 32-bit version of Microsoft’s OS, the 64-bit version can handle more data at a time and it’s capable of storing more computational values, including memory addresses. With users demanding more and more service from their devices, 64-bit operating systems are easily more suited to keep up with demand. This increase in demand is also reflected in the software applications that developers create. A software app that takes advantage of the additional computational power associated with a 64-bit version of an OS delivers more value to their users.

Another reason why Microsoft decided to phase out their 32-bit version is that it’s always less complicated for operating system manufacturers and related parties to streamline the number of architectures they support at any one time. By streamlining OS versions, it allows those who develop Windows-based compatible software applications to avoid potential issues and development conflicts. Focusing on one architecture allows software application creators to target their efforts on adding real value to a single platform.

The Good News

For those users who want to embrace changes as technology moves ever onward, it is possible for those with the 32-bit version of Windows 10 to install the 64-bit version as long as their internal processor supports the transition. The benefits of doing so of course, will include a machine that is able to process information at a faster speed, thus increasing the responsiveness of the device. Any device that is more capable and runs faster is always a welcome improvement.

For those who have their reasons for wanting to remain with the 32-bit version, at least in the near future it is likely that manufacturers have at least some 32-bit versions remaining in stock. How fast that stock will become depleted is anyone’s guess. If you would like to know more about Microsoft’s phase out plan for their 32-bit version of Windows 10 or how to switch from their 32-bit to the 64-bit version, please contact us.

Internet Advocacy And The Constant Fight For Internet Rights

internet advocacy and the constant fight for internet rights

The internet has been one of the greatest achievements in humanity, but it comes with scrutiny. Today, many online advocates are fighting for the rights of people that use the internet. The people that are fighting for our rights have began to make strides in the way businesses (especially those exclusively on the internet) can act. Let’s take a look at the advances that internet advocates have made to protect the rights of internet users around the world. 

The Online Advocacy Initiative 

Some people still believe that the internet is still new and doesn’t require the need for advocacy, but they are the ones that have had little interaction with unscrupulous online businesses or don’t feel concerned with their personal information being pillaged by unauthorized users. In fact, there are other internet concerns that online advocates have addressed including: 

  • Monetization consumer/visitor data 
  • Censorship 
  • Access to affordable internet services 
  • Net neutrality

Net Neutrality: The Advocates Perspective 

Net neutrality is at the forefront of online advocacy because it threatens internet freedom. According to the FCC (Federal Communication Commission), a 2015 law was passed that required online business transparency, consumer protection, protection against unnecessary regulations, and the promotion of broadband investments, but these laws were repelled in 2017. Advocates for the internet continue to fight for these initiatives to protect over 3.9 billion users that browse, make purchases, operate businesses and work online. Net neutrality continues to focus on healthy internet access for everyone. The goal is to ensure that large internet providers won’t try to maximize their profits off of the backs of those that use the web. 

Businesses of all kinds including government agencies tend to take autonomy over consumer information that’s passed over the internet and advocates are pushing for data privacy. These advocates are asking the question: “Why should Walmart, Google, or Facebook benefit from our personal information?” However, the way things stand, it may take time for the United States to get on board with privacy laws in comparison to other international regions like the European Union’s Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that protects European residents from “organizational tyranny.”

How Can AE Technology Group Protect Your Business Online 

At AE Technology Group, we understand your business and not just technology. We help our clients find the right managed IT services for their data security and more. Learn how our free onsite consultation can protect your business data and create effective project deployment. Our services include:

  • Managed services
  • Cloud computing 
  • Disaster recovery 
  • Cloud services
  • Online marketing 

and more… 

We’re prepared to help your business stand side by side with internet advocacy as a trusted online business resource. You’re invited to contact us at AE Technology Group to start your 90 free trial today. 

Will the U.S. Consider Data Privacy Regulation in the Future?

will the us consider data privacy regulation in the future
Consider Data Privacy

It certainly is understandable that consumers are very concerned about data privacy, whether they provide personal information online, or whether they use other mechanisms to provide personal information to companies and organizations with which they interact. One need only to read a few horror stories about the difficulties that arise out of identity theft or a data breach scenario, to understand why consumers want protection.

Privacy Challenges

Most companies want to protect the private information their customers provide to them because they understand it’s simply a part of maintaining a good reputation with the public. If a company neglects protecting customer privacy, they won’t remain in business for long. The problem that seems to be occurring more and more, is that all the protections businesses routinely use, don’t seem to fully resolve privacy issues.

Government to the Rescue?

In May of 2018, the European Union enacted the General Data Protection Regulation which states that all companies who collect data on Union residents are responsible for protecting such data. Of course, large companies will likely have an easier time following such a regulation due to their extensive resources. For small businesses however, these types of regulations and their associated price tags, may very well represent a real challenge to their ability to remain profitable. 

In the U.S. there has been some effort to enact laws to ensure data privacy, although none so comprehensive as the European Union’s, GDPR legislation.

Small Business Challenges 

If more comprehensive legislation is passed here in the U.S., some of the challenges small to medium-sized businesses may face include: impeded growth or the inability to even start a business due to excessive regulation, the absorption of higher technology costs passed down from large companies, multiple ramifications stemming from a potential mandatory business overhaul, along with the simple inability to incorporate additional privacy costs into an already lean budget.

If you would like to know more about the potential for data privacy regulations here in the U.S., please contact us.