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Supreme Court Narrows CFAA Scope | Gestalt IT Rundown: June 16, 2021

The US Supreme Court has overturned the verdict in Van Buren vs. United States and Time Cache looks to time out CPU side channels. We discuss these stories and more on this week’s Rundown.

Xilinx Adds Silexica for FPGA Tools

Xilinix isn’t done buying even though AMD snapped them up. The compnay has announced they are picking up Silexica, which focuses on FPGA tooling to help improve software programmability. The deal terms ere not disclosed but the total funding pulled in by Silexica in their two funding rounds was approximately $28 million. Of note is that the CEO of Silexica, Maximilian Odendahl, was no fan of the AMD acquisiton of Xilinx back in November 2020, wirting a pointed article about how consolidation of the semiconductor industry is a bad thing.

WLAN Sales Grew 25% in Q1FY21

If you thought the pandemic had put a permanent dent in the purchase of enterprise networking hardware then IDC has some news for you. The analyst firm released a report this week detailing that enterprise wireless hardware sales jumped almost 25% year-over-year for the first quarter of 2021.The surge was due in part to the ramp up for the delayed summer Olypmics in Japan but the numbers also reflect the need for enterprises to offer better connectivity to workers as a way to entice them back into the office.

Intel Claims Title of Biggest DPU Shipper

The Data Processing Unit (DPU) market is a hot one right now. Many compnaies are innovating with the CPU offload technology and bringing them to market with a number of partnerships. One of those companies is chip giant Intel. Of course, being Intel, they have their own perspective. They call the technology Infrastructure Processing Units(IPUs) and use a more liberal defintion of what they do. Because of this, Patty Kummrow has said in a recent interview that Intel is the volume leader in the market through shpped components.

ExtraHop Goes to Bain For $900M

Security player ExtraHop is skipping into private equity ownership thanks to Bain Capital and Crosspoint. The network detection and response vendor announced last week that it is accepting an offer from the partners for ownership totaling $900 million. NDR is a fast-growing segment of the market and the pandemic has only caused it to accelerate as security threats grow and companies look to augment their ability to respond quickly. The funding from Crosspoint represents their first major investment from the cybersecurity-focused fund and given the high profile investments in other major companies across the market it looks like Crosspoint will be a big player soon enough.

Southwest Grounds Fleet Due to Computer Glitch

Southwest had a bad Tuesday. According to reports from the FAA, a computer glitch at the airline caused a ground stop nationwide. 1300 flights were delayed and nearly 500 flights were canceled in the 45-minute outage. This was the second stoppage of flights for the Texas-based carrier in less than 24 hours, as a third-party weather data provider had an outage which prevented transmission of critical weather safety data.

Time Cache Looks to Time Out CPU Side Channels

The words Spectre and Meltdown are still scary to hear in reference to CPUs, even in 2021. The side channel attacks showed that cache pipeline performance gains were suddenly a huge security risk as attackers could read into those caches and steal data at a hardware level without any way to prevent it. The only solution proposed thus far is disabling speculative execution, which could lead to massive performance losses. Researchers at the University of Rochester claim they have a more specfic solution that could help prevent these ghostly attacks. Called Time Cache, the method defends against attackers by delaying the first cache access to a given process. Time Cache has knowledge of the entire cache and which processes have accessed it, so by delaying the requests it makes it impossible to infer whether or not any other processes have accessed the data also. This practically invalidates the reasoning behind the massive attacks, preventing them from speculating on juicy processes that handle senstive data. The catch? Time Cache requires hardware modifications, including extra CPU registers, which could make it impractical for all but the most recent CPUs.

Supreme Court Narrows CFAA Scope

Your Netflix password is safe to share again. The US Supreme Court has overturned the verdict in Van Buren vs. United States, the court case that saw a police officer in Georgia illegally accessing DMV data under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). The case was a major one because it could set the stage for what “proper access” looked like in legal terms. A very liberal application of the law could see any shared login information falling under the auspices of the law. The majority opinion from Justice Barrett said that the language of “exceeds authorized access” was overly broad and improperly applied in the case. However, there are several new ways to interpret the ruling of what “authorized” access implies.

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About the author

Tom Hollingsworth

Tom Hollingsworth is a networking professional, blogger, and speaker on advanced technology topics. He is also an organizer for networking and wireless for Tech Field Day.  His blog can be found at