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Microsoft Unveils New Processor for Windows Security

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Microsoft

By Adedapo Adesanya

Microsoft has unveiled a new processor it described as a reflection of a new vision for Windows security to help ensure customers are protected today and in the future.

Developed in partnership with AMD, Intel, and Qualcomm Technologies, the Microsoft Pluton security processor is a chip-to-cloud security technology that is pioneered in Xbox and Azure Sphere.

Microsoft said it will bring even more security advancements to future Windows PCs and signal the beginning of a journey with ecosystem and OEM partners.

“Our vision for the future of Windows PCs is security at the very core, built into the CPU, where hardware and software are tightly integrated into a unified approach designed to eliminate entire vectors of attack.

“This revolutionary security processor design will make it significantly more difficult for attackers to hide beneath the operating system, and improve our ability to guard against physical attacks, prevent the theft of credential and encryption keys, and provide the ability to recover from software bugs,” Microsoft stated.

The tech giant said the Pluton design removes the potential for that communication channel to be attacked by building security directly into the CPU.

Windows PCs using the Pluton architecture will first emulate a TPM that works with the existing TPM specifications and APIs, which will allow customers to immediately benefit from enhanced security for Windows features that rely on TPMs like BitLocker and System Guard.

Windows devices with Pluton will use the Pluton security processor to protect credentials, user identities, encryption keys, and personal data. None of this information can be removed from Pluton even if an attacker has installed malware or has complete physical possession of the PC.

In the statement, Mr David Weston, Microsoft’s Director of Enterprise and OS Security said with the effectiveness of the initial Pluton design, the company and its partners have learned a lot about how to use hardware to mitigate a range of physical attacks.

“Now, we are taking what we learned from this to deliver on a chip-to-cloud security vision to bring even more security innovation to the future of Windows PCs (more details in this talk from Microsoft BlueHat). Azure Sphere leveraged a similar security approach to become the first IoT product to meet the “Seven properties of highly secure devices,” Mr Weston stated.

On the part of Mr Mike Nordquist, Sr. Director, Commercial Client Security, Intel, he said, “Intel continues to partner with Microsoft to advance the security of Windows PC platforms. The introduction of Microsoft Pluton into future Intel CPUs will further enable integration between Intel hardware and the Windows operating system.”

Adding to this, Mr Asaf Shen, senior director of product management at Qualcomm Technologies, explained that, “Qualcomm Technologies is pleased to continue its work with Microsoft to help make a slew of devices and use cases more secure. We believe an on-die, hardware-based Root-of-Trust like the Microsoft Pluton is an important component in securing multiple use cases and the devices enabling them.”

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Technology

Nigeria to Launch Another Satellite in Space Soon—FG

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NigComSat

By Adedapo Adesanya

The federal government has disclosed that it plans to launch another satellite through the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSat) before the end of the year.

This was disclosed by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Pantami, during a tour of facilities at the agency’s base in Abuja.

He said: “That approval of federal government which I have secured has been forwarded to NigComSat. Now, it is on the table of NigComSat to answer that question. I want to make sure that as I said that 2022 is NigComSat year along with NIPOST. I want to make sure that all work in progress must be completed by 2022.

“As I said earlier, 2022 has been dedicated to NigComSat and NIPOST, and I want to do the best I can to improve what we have achieved in the previous years.

“I recently approved two subsidiaries of NigComSat and I am here to supervise what they have been doing, and I discovered some areas where we need to work to improve their performance significantly.”

He also stated that for the agency not to be considered for privatisation again, it must provide quality service and generate good revenue for the federal government.

He added: “Before I was made the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), there was the Oronsaye report which recommended for the scrapping of NITDA. But when I was able to turn things around from a generation of N7 billion to N19 billion in a year, no one talks about scrapping NITDA again.

“So, if you are able to turn things around, render quality service and generate income, no one will talk of privatising your company again.”

On her part, the Director-General, NigComSat, Mrs Abimbola Alike, appreciated the Minister for his immense support.

Mrs Alike stated: “We all know what our budget used to be N200 million-N300m, for a company that needs capital after overhead.

“He stood for us and said there must be something good in NigComSat because he is a man who believes that we can actually turn around NigComSat.”

She assured Mr Pantami of the agency’s readiness to deliver quality service and generate revenue to justify his efforts at revitalising the agency.

According to her, this year, Nigerians would see new significant changes that will make them know that NigComSat is a new company that can compete with its global counterparts.

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Technology

Balthazar Secures $3m to Achieve NFT Gaming Platform Growth

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Balthazar John Stefanidis

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The sum of $3 million has been raised by an NTF gaming platform, Balthazar, through the sale of tokens, with Animoca Brands emerging as the lead purchaser.

Other token purchasers were Finder Group (through Hive Empire Capital, which is led by Fred Schebesta), Zip co-founder Larry Diamond, Digital Asset Capital Management (DACM), Fantom, ZED Run, Darling Ventures, Pluto Digital, San Francisco-based VC Side Door Ventures, Algorand, and Three Arrows Capital’s TPS Capital.

With the new development, Animoca Brands, a global leader in gamification and blockchain with a large portfolio of over 150 investments in NFT-related companies and decentralised projects, will provide advisory services to Balthazar, which aims to be the leading NFT gaming platform in the metaverse.

Balthazar, which commenced operations in 2021, wants to be the largest decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO) in the play-to-earn space.

The company is a community-focused platform, removing the barrier to entry for gamers to access play-to-earn games through its scholarship program with no upfront costs.

Balthazar is more than a guild, with plans to develop its tech platform, its rent-to-earn lending model, and to scale up its community.

Prior to the token sale, Balthazar deployed 1,100 scholars into several NFT games including Axie Infinity, Splinterlands and Thetan Arena, with a further 30,000 people on its waitlist, and a community of more than 70,000 people in its Discord channel.

“We are so thrilled to be backed by Animoca Brands and all of our supporters in helping to shape the metaverse and to continue assisting and expanding our community.

“This support means we can fulfil our vision of empowering the biggest community of gamers to create a self-sustaining, wealth-building ecosystem.

“We are developing the most incredible platform that will bring together gamers, crypto holders and individuals through our own NFT games, valuable tokenomic strategies and gaming partnerships.

“I’m excited about the future of the play-to-earn space, in particular how it’s spreading earning opportunities to those who need it most, as well as providing a new use-case for cryptocurrency,” the CEO of Balthazar, John Stefanidis, stated.

Also commenting, the Executive Chairman and co-founder of Animoca Brands, Yat Siu, stated that, “Balthazar has a thriving and fast-growing community, offering opportunities for all people to be involved in the NFT gaming space, including gamers, game companies, and crypto holders.

“With its dynamic leadership, we believe that Balthazar will be able to tap growth for NFT-based gaming in new markets, and we are excited to be part of its journey.”

Balthazar has opened a private token sale round, with plans to sell $8 million of tokens at a token cap valuation of $150 million by February 2022.

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2,000 Youths to Access N100m for Software Development, Others

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N100 million Technology Fund

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

To nudge the emergence of world-class technology experts, the federal government has set aside the sum of N100 million for about 2,000 youths across the country.

The money, according to the Minister of Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, would be accessible to the beneficiaries in the next two years for training in different areas such as software development and design, amongst others.

The Minister said the N100 million Technology Fund is part of the government’s efforts to tap into the growing digital economy.

Speaking at the inauguration of a Digital Nigeria Centre (DNC) in Ilesa, Osun State, applauded the commitment and dedication of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) towards enhancing digital skills development among youths, through the implementation of various Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skill acquisition programmes.

He particularly lauded the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Pantami, and the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Mr Umar Garba Danbatta, for their efforts in promoting a digital economy.

“I would like to thank my very good friend and brother, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, for assenting to our request to have the first of this remodelled project in Osun State sited in Ilesa.

“I will also like to thank the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta and the entire management and staff of NCC and the USPF, as well as their technical partners for a timely and successful completion of this laudable project,” he said.

In his remarks, Mr Pantami, who was represented at the event by the Chairman, board of commissioners of NCC, Mr Adeolu Akande, stated that the federal government was focused on promoting the digital economy across the country.

He asserted that the DNC inaugurated at Ilesa was a concrete implementation of digital literacy and skills, the second pillar of NDEPS.

According to him, the overarching objective of the DNC project is to facilitate the adoption of digital lifestyle in the schools as well as in the school communities.

The Minister averred that the project’s significance cannot be under-estimated, considering its ability to improve digital skills for the youths and subsequently make them globally competitive.

Mr Pantami said the Nigerian government was determined to arm the youths with digital skills, strong literacy and numeracy skills, critical and innovative thinking skills, complex problem-solving aptitude, the ability to collaborate and deploy socio-emotional skills, which they require to transform their lives and build the economy.

“We have already made a number of giant strides in the development of our digital economy culture and the deployment of initiatives such as the Digital Nigeria Centre eloquently demonstrates the current administration’s commitment to connecting all Nigerians,” Mr Pantami said.

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