This week’s headline story: Self-Driving Cars are Going Mainstream
Self-driving cars are slowly making their way onto public highways. Ohio’s toll road, a heavily traveled connector between the East Coast and Chicago, is moving closer to allowing the testing of self-driving vehicles. Testing is likely to begin soon, and possibly before the end of the year.
Uber passengers in Pittsburgh will be able to summon rides in self-driving cars with the touch of a smartphone button in the next several weeks. Uber says that an unspecified number of autonomous Ford Fusions with human backup drivers will pick up passengers just like normal Uber vehicles.
Cars capable of driving themselves may be on the showroom floor sooner than you think, but whether they should come with all the current essentials — including a steering wheel and pedals on the floor — has the auto industry at a fork in the road. Ford sided with the pioneering engineers at Google last week in announcing plans to introduce limited-use vehicles without traditional controls within five years. Some other major automakers — and virtually all of them are well along in their work on self-driving vehicles — say they will introduce automated elements one step at a time, until drivers accept that they no longer need to control their cars.
Yosemite and President Obama Head Into Virtual Reality [NewsFactor]
President Obama is the first US president to project himself into virtual reality. National Geographic has produced a 360-degree representation of Yosemite National Park, into which the President is projected providing narration about the wonders of America’s national parks and warning of the threat posed by climate change. The experience can be enjoyed via Facebook 360, Samsung Gear VR headset and soon on Oculus Rift headset.
in Information Security News…
FBI Warns of Possible State Election-System Hacks [NewsFactor]
The FBI is warning state officials to boost their election security in light of recent hack attempts. The FBI is investigating a pair of hacking incidents targeted at the voting systems in two states and advising states to scan their systems for specific signs of hacking.
Apple Told To Pay $14.5 Billion Irish Tax Bill; CEO Says No [NewsFactor]
The European Commissioner is accusing Apple of taking an unfair tax advantage granted by Ireland. The penalty could be more than $14,5 billion in unpaid taxes. The commission’s investigation found that Ireland had “artificially reduced Apple’s tax burden for over two decades,” the European Commissioner said. Apple has a factory in Cork, but has been claiming taxes through a “so-called head office” that exists only on paper, claims the Commissioner. Both Apple CEO Tim Cook and the Irish Finance Ministry said they plan to appeal the decision.
Verizon’s Faster LTE Tech Boosts Mobile Speeds by 50% [NewsFactor]
A couple hundred million Verizon clients received a nice surprise this week. The carrier announced that it has launched a new technology, called “LTE Advanced” in 461 U.S. cities designed to make wireless data download speeds as much as 50 percent faster.
This week’s headline story: NSA Hacking Kit Leaked Online
Governments and corporations around the world are preparing for the worst, as some of the most powerful hacking and espionage tools have been released into the wild over the dark web. Created by the National Security Agency’s elite group of hackers, known as Tailored Access Operations (TAO), the toolkit, packed full of sophisticated hacking tools,was released to the Internet by a group calling themselves “the Shadow Brokers”. They claim the kit can be used to hack into any computer. Edward Snowden, and some former NSA hackers suspect Russian involvement in the release of the toolkit, saying that it is a likely response to allegations against the Russian government for hacking the Democratic National Committee.
Ford Says It Will Have a Fully Autonomous Car by 2021 [NewsFactor]
Ford Motor Co. has announced its plans to have a fully driverless vehicle — no steering wheel, no pedals — on the road within five years. The car will initially be used for commercial ride-hailing or ride-sharing services, with sales to consumers coming later.
SolidEnergy Says It Can Double Battery Power of Consumer Electronics [NewsFactor]
Ready to get more life out of your cell phone battery? MIT alums at the company SolidEnergy have developed a new kind of lithium battery that packs the same energy as standard lithium-ion cells in half the size. The company aims to bring the batteries to smartphones and wearables in early 2017, and to electric cars in 2018.
in Information Security News…
Security Experts: Remotes Are Hackable on Many Vehicles [NewsFactor]
These days, most of us click a button on our keychain to lock and unlock our vehical. I recently reported that the remote entry systems on millions of cars made by Volkswagen can be hacked to permit unauthorized access to the car’s interior. Now another exploit has been shown to offer the same keyless access to vehicles from Ford, Chevrolet and Renault.
Hacker Posts Personal Info of House Democrats and Staff [NewsFactor]
A breach targetting the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and other Democratic Party entities, exposed personal information of hundreds of Democratic governmental officials. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she is changing her phone number and advised her colleagues to do the same after receiving scores of obscene calls, voicemails and text messages.
and in Tech Industry News…
AT&T Rolls Out New Mobile Plans, Eliminates Data Overage Fees [NewsFactor] Wireless Wars Heat Up with Even More Unlimited Data Plans [NewsFactor]
The big wireless carriers are rolling out new data plans intended to do away with data overage fees. AT&T is launching new wireless plans that throttle download speeds when users reach their monthly data caps rather than charging penalties. Verizon made similar changes to its mobile plans last month with the addition of a “Safety Mode” app that lets customers slow down their data speeds to avoid overage charges. T-Mobile and Sprint have followed suite unveiling rival wireless plans with unlimited data usage and imposed data throttling when users reach a certain limit.
Uber Buys Self-Driving Truck Biz and Tests Autonomous Cars [NewsFactor]
Ride hailing giant, Uber, has purchased the self-driving truck startup, Otto. Otto has been testing sensor-equipped autonomous semi trucks, in an effort to improve highway safety and trucking efficiency.
The purchase is expected to assist Uber in its own ambitions to develop a driverless vehical, which it plans to begin testing later this month.
This week’s headline story: Audi Cars Talk with Traffic Signals
German carmaker Audi is rolling out a brand new technology called Vehicle to Infrastructure or V-to-I technology to US car shoppers this fall. V-to-I allows vehicles to communicate with traffic signals and other roadway infrastructure to provide drivers with useful information for safer more informed driving. Audi’s system allows the vehicle to display a countdown before a red light turns to green. Knowing how much time there is before the light changes to green is intended to relieve the driver of anxiety. The countdown will also appear on the dashboard if the vehicle determines it will not be able to make an approaching light before it turns red, to allow the driver to begin to brake. Audi plans to roll out the capability in five to seven U.S. cities this year.
Future applications of the technology could see it linked to a car’s navigation system or its stop/start functions. The technology will also be valuable for driverless car technology. Another possible eventual use is for traffic signals to advise vehicles to keep to a certain speed in order to match the flow of traffic lights. Carmakers are trying to leverage technology – including vehicle-to-vehicle communications (“V-to-V”) allowing cars to talk to each other – to reduce accidents and reduce congestion.
Samsung Workers Sickened by Chemicals in Factories Speak Up [NewsFactor]
Two Words Keep Sick Samsung Workers from Data: Trade Secrets [NewsFactor]
An Associated Press investigation found South Korean authorities let Samsung withhold crucial information from sick workers and their families about the chemicals they are exposed to at its computer chip and display factories. A worker-safety group has documented more than 200 cases of serious illnesses including leukemia, lupus, lymphoma and multiple sclerosis among former Samsung semiconductor and LCD workers. Seventy-six have died, most in their 20s and 30s.
Judge Dismisses Suit Accusing Twitter of Supporting ISIS Group [NewsFactor]
A federal judge in San Francisco has dismissed a lawsuit accusing Twitter of supporting the Islamic State group. The families of two men killed in Jordan claimed that Twitter had contributed to their deaths by allowing the group to sign up for and use Twitter accounts. The judge agreed with Twitter that the company cannot be held liable because federal law protects service providers that merely offer platforms for speech, without creating the speech itself.
Jeep Hackers Back at Black Hat with New and Scarier Method [NewsFactor]
The Jeep hackers were back at the Black Hat Hackers Conference, this time demonstrating a new more dangerous technique to take remote control of a moving vehicle. The pair demonstrated how they can take control of the same 2014 Jeep Cherokee they hacked last year, this time by sending false messages to its internal network, overriding the correct ones. The new technique allowed them to do new — and scarier — things, such as making the vehicle turn sharply while it was speeding down a country road. They also were able to make the vehicle unintentionally speed up, or remotely slam on its brakes.
Quadrooter Bug Affects 900 Million Android Devices [NewsFactor]
Researchers at security firm Check Point have discovered four new exploits that could impact as many as 900 million Android devices. The firm is calling the combined exploits the Quadrooter Bug. To gain access, an attacker just has to get the user to install a malicious app. From there the attacker has full access to saved data and can also change or remove system-level files, delete or add apps and gain access to the device’s screen, camera, or microphone. The security holes can only be fixed via patches from distributors or carriers once they get new driver packs from Qualcomm. Check Point is making available a free Quadrooter scanner app that scans users’ Android phones to see if the necessary patches have been downloaded and installed. The scanner app is available at https://www.checkpoint.com/resources/quadrooter-vulnerability-consumer/.
and in Tech Industry News…
Huffington Leaves Post to Focus on Health Startup [Ecommerce Times]
Arianna Huffington has announced that she is leaving her position as editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, to focus on a new project named Thrive Global, a lifestyle, health and wellness website.
Walmart Buying E-Tailer Jet for $3.3 Billion To Do Battle with Amazon [NewsFactor]
Walmart has announced that it will shell out $3.3 billion to acquire the online retailer Jet. Since launching a year ago, Jet has grown rapidly to reach $1 billion in merchandise sales. Walmart hopes the acquisition of Jet, will assist in catching online retail giant Amazon. In 2015, Amazon reported net sales of $107 billion, while Walmart’s online sales came to just $13.7 billion – a tiny fraction of its total sales of $482 billion. Walmart.com and Jet.com will continue to operate as distinct brands.
Adblock Plus Mouse Roars at Facebook [Ecommerce Times] Facebook Hates Ad Blockers So Much It Now Blocks Them [NewsFactor]
Ad wars have escalated between Facebook and ad-blocking software. Facebook updated the way that it serves up ads so that they are unrecognizable to ad-blocking software. Within days, AdBlock Plus announced that the open source community had created a filter to neutralize Facebook’s latest offensive, allowing it to once again block those ads. Meanwhile, Facebook is providing better tools for users to provide feedback on the ads they see, so that they are shown more useful and appreciated ads.
News regarding vehicle hacking seems to be getting worse! Last year, Hackers in St. Louis, Missouri were shown remotely controlling a Jeep Cherokee from their laptop. Shortly after, Nissan had to shut down its Leaf app because of vulnerabilities. Now, a pair of hackers in Houston, Texas, stole more than 30 Jeeps over a six-month period. The two were caught using a laptop to connect to and start a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. The vehicles were brought across the border to Mexico. Homeland Security is investigating more than 100 stolen Fiat Chrysler Automobiles that they believe were hacked using similar techniques.
But it get’s worse! A group of University of Michigan researchers have conducted similar hacking tests on big rig trucks and industrial vehicles. By sending digital signals within the internal network of a big rig truck, the researchers were able to do everything from change the readout of the truck’s instrument panel, trigger unintended acceleration, or to even disable one form of semi-trailer’s brakes. And the researchers found that developing those attacks was actually easier than with consumer cars! “These trucks carry hazard chemicals and large loads. And they’re the backbone of our economy,” says Bill Hass, one of the researchers from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. “If you can cause them to have unintended acceleration…I don’t think it’s too hard to figure out how many bad things could happen with this.”
US police use machine learning to curb their own violence [New Scientist]
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department in North Carolina is piloting an Artificial Intelligence system designed to tackle the police violence that has become a heated issue in the US in the past three years. A team at the University of Chicago is helping them feed their data into a machine learning system that learns to spot risk factors for unprofessional conduct. The department can then intervene before risk transforms into actual harm. The system has identified 48 out of 83 adverse incidents between 2005 and now – 12 per cent more than Charlotte-Mecklenberg’s existing early intervention system
Google’s Parent Company Alphabet To Test Drone Delivery [NewsFactor]
Google’s parent company Alphabet will test its “Project Wing” drones for cargo delivery to help the federal government create policies for safely bringing goods to U.S. consumers by air. “Data gathered will be shared with government partners to help regulators answer critical safety and human-factors questions for (drone) cargo delivery operations,” the White House said in a news release.
in Information Security News…
Google wants to standardize Android password managers [Engadget]
Google is teaming with Dashlane and other password managers on the “Open YOLO” (You Only Login Once) project. The idea is to create an API that lets Android developers access password managers to automagically log into apps.
Latest to Quit Google’s Self-Driving Car Unit: Top Roboticist [NYTimes]
Many of the top scientists that pioneered Google’s research and development on self-driving car, are leaving the company. This comes shortly after Google’s decision to hire John Krafcik, the former president and chief executive of Hyundai America, to be chief of the car project, as part of a plan to spin the effort out as a stand-alone company under the Alphabet umbrella.
Apple Gets Feds’ OK To Start Selling Electricity [NewsFactor]
Federal energy regulators have approved Apple’s application to start selling electricity at market rates. This after Apple’s $850 million partnership with sun-farm company First Solar, at the California Flats solar project in southeast Monterey County. Apple’s 200 megawatts of generation capacity represents a “measurable fraction” of the more than 10,000 megawatts of solar-generated power that has come online in the U.S. this year. For Apple, investment in solar is also a step toward its goal of powering all its operations with clean energy.
On-demand drone insurance launches in the US [Engadget]
Tired of having to pay out the nose for damage you caused with your remote control drone aircraft? Verifly now offers on-demand drone insurance! next time, before you fly over a crowd, or near pesky buildings, just click the Verifly app on your phone and purchase insurance by the hour, starting at $10.
This week’s headline story: A Color-Coded Response to Cyberattacks
The White House warned of a “revolution” of computer-generated threats to the U.S. stoked by growing cyber aggression by traditional U.S. foes like Russia and North Korea. The President has issued a policy directive featuring a color-coded response plan for the federal government to use after major cyberattacks. Lisa Monaco, President Barack Obama’s homeland security and counter terrorism adviser warns that “we are in the midst of a revolution of the cyber threat — one that is growing more persistent, more diverse, more frequent and more dangerous every day… Unless we act together — government, industry, and citizens — we risk a world where malicious cyber activity could threaten our security and prosperity. That is not a future we should accept.”
The directive establishes six levels of severity for attacks, a color-coded system that evokes the terror alert system formally used by the Homeland Security Department. A high-level federal response following the directive’s guidelines will be triggered anytime there’s an attack at or above a level three — orange — indicating an attack likely to affect public health or safety, economic or national security or other U.S. interests. A level 5 — black — is an emergency that poses an “imminent threat” to critical infrastructure, government stability or U.S. lives.
Transistors Will Stop Shrinking in 2021, Moore’s Law Roadmap Predicts [IEEE Spectrum]
According to the 2015 International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors, soon the transistor may stop its continuously shrinking trend. In defiance of Moore’s famous law, the report forecasts, that by 2021 it will no longer be economically desirable for companies to continue to shrink the dimensions of transistors in microprocessors. Instead, chip manufacturers will turn to other means of boosting density, namely turning the transistor from a horizontal to a vertical geometry and building multiple layers of circuitry, one on top of another.
in Information Security News…
Democratic Emails: All About the Hack, the Leak, the Discord [NewsFactor]
President Barack Obama’s has identified Russia as almost certainly the culprit in hacking the Democratic National Committee and releasing politically embarrassing emails. His accusation fits his administration’s new penchant for openly blaming foreign governments for such break-ins. Even as the U.S. continues to secretly hack its own adversaries, Obama is raising the stakes for countries caught behind the keyboards engaging in cyber espionage, including major powers like Russia and China. In Moscow, Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Russia would never interfere in another country’s election.
and in Tech Industry News…
Apple Supplier LG Display Puts $1.8B Into Flexible Displays [NewsFactor]
LG Display, a supplier of Apple’s iPhone screens, plans to invest $1.75 billion to produce flexible displays for smartphones. The move is an indicator that more high-end smartphone makers – including Apple may adopt flexible screens in the near future.
Uber To Invest $500 Million in Its Own Global Maps [NewsFactor]
Uber is tired of relying on Google Maps to help its drivers navigate city streets. The ride-hailing company is investing $500 million dollars to deploy its own map-building cars starting with the U.S. and Mexico. The company is also reportedly developing self-driving cars.
Oracle Buying Cloud Pioneer NetSuite for $9.3 Billion [NewsFactor]
In its continued push to provide more cloud-based services to its customers, enterprise software giant Oracle has announced plans to acquire “the very first cloud company,” NetSuite, for $9.3 billion in cash.
Microsoft Slashing Nearly 3,000 Jobs in Phone Business [NewsFactor]
Almost 3,000 Microsoft employees will lose their jobs as the tech giant plans cut staff over the next year across its smartphone hardware business and global sales division. It’s the latest blow to Microsoft, following on the heels of news in May that 1,850 jobs in its mobile division would be lost.
The election season is in full swing, with both parties experiencing upsets and drama. Most recently Wikileaks published incriminating emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) one day before the start of the Democratic Convention. The email provided evidence that the supposedly unbiased DNC was working to derail the Bernie Sanders campaign in support of Hillary Clinton. Fallout over the emails led DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to announce her resignation Sunday. Wikileaks promised many more incriminating emails in the days to come casting a shadow over the Democratic Convention.
Meanwhile it was discovered that the leaked email messages appear to have come from Russian hackers associated with the Kremlin. Noting that Donald Trump has policies that are friendly to Russian interests, and Russian President Vladimir Putin is supportive of Trump’s campaign, the Clinton campaign is speculating that the release of stolen emails was intended to help the Trump campaign. “The FBI is investigating the cyber intrusion involving the DNC and are working to determine the nature and scope of the matter,” the agency said in a statement.”
Facebook Aims To Use Laser Beams for High-Speed Internet [NewsFactor] Facebook Successfully Tests Aquila Solar-Powered Internet Drone [NewsFactor]
Facebook is hard at work developing technologies to provide Internet access to hard to reach areas of the planet. Recently the company successfully launched and tested a solar powered drone aircraft capable of circling at high altitudes to deliver Internet access. A Facebook team also published a paper in the scientific journal Optica demonstrating the feasibility of using commercially available fluorescent materials to transmit data via laser beams through open space at speeds up to 2.1 Gbps. Combined, these technologies could provide high-speed Internet access to anywhere on the planet. Google is involved in similar research using Balloons rather than drones.
in Information Security News…
Celebrity Hacker Gets Six Months in Prison [NewsFactor]
A hacker who hacked into hundreds or Apple and Google accounts stealing scores of personal photos, including some belonging to celebrities, has been sentenced to 6 months in federal prison and a $3,000 fine. “He systematically searched for and stole intimate images and stored them in his own computer for personal use, which meant the victims continued to suffer as a result of his voyeurism,” said U.S. Atty. Eileen M. Decker. “His crime was a deep invasion of privacy that caused real harm,” she said.
Dell/EMC: Biggest Merger in IT History Approved by Shareholders [NewsFactor]
Shareholders of EMC voted overwhelmingly in favor of the company’s planned merger with Dell. — a more than $60 billion transaction that’s been described as the biggest tech deal in history. Dell is best known for being one of the leading PC makers, both on the consumer and business side, while EMC is well entrenched in the enterprise IT market, selling data storage, virtualization and cloud computing systems.
This week’s headline story:Battling ISIS on Social Media
anti-isisThe U.S.-led coalition working to defeat the Islamic State, is battling the radical Islamic group on multiple fronts, including social media. They have countered jihadi online propaganda with a flood of online images and statements about suffering and enslavement at the hands of the extremist organization. Among the images: A teddy bear with Arabic writing and messages saying IS “slaughters childhood,” ”kills innocence,” ”lashes purity” or “humiliates children.” A male hand covering a female’s mouth, saying IS “deprives woman her voice.” The effort appears to be working. The Islamic State group’s Twitter traffic has plunged 45 percent over the past two years.
White House Announces $400M Initiative for 5G Wireless Tech [NewsFactor]
Efforts to upgrade U.S. communications infrastructure to 5G technology just got a big boost from the federal government. The Obama Administration announced the launch of a $400 million Advanced Wireless Research Initiative, led by the National Science Foundation (NSF), designed to accelerate the deployment of next-generation wireless technology.
European Union and U.S. Agree on New Data-Sharing Rules [NewsFactor]
Following months of negotiations and uncertainty, the US and EU have approved new data-sharing rules that they have named named Privacy Shield. Privacy Shield replaces the defunct Safe Harbor agreement providing US businesses with a simple, legal means by which to export the personal information of European Union citizens to the U.S.. Companies can register their compliance with Privacy Shield beginning August 1. U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said that for businesses, the new data flow framework will “facilitate more trade across our borders, more collaboration across the Atlantic, and more job creating investments in our communities. For consumers, the framework will ensure you have access to your favorite online services and the latest technologies, while strongly protecting your privacy.”
Germany to require ‘black box’ in autonomous cars [Reuters]
Germany will require manufacturers of autonomous cars to install a black box to help determine responsibility in the event of an accident. The news comes less than two weeks after the fatal crash of a Tesla Model S car in its Autopilot mode.
Science on the verge of creating ’emotional’ computer [Phys.org]
Researchers from the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI are developing an emotion-based artificial intelligence that has both narrative and emotional intellect. The new generation of AI will understand the context of what is going on, as well as unfolding scenarios and based on this information will make plans and set targets.
in Information Security News…
Pokémon Go down, target of DDoS attack [Computerworld]
Many Pokemon Go enthusiasts were heartbroken over the weekend as they found themselves unable to login to the new augmented reality sensation. A hacking team called OurMine spent much of the weekend hitting Pokémon Go with a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, leaving some players frustrated and unable to log in.
and in Tech Industry News…
Amazon’s Prime Day Forces Rivals To Celebrate Black Friday in July [NewsFactor]
Black Friday in July? Sure enough! Thanks to Amazon. Amazon’s Prime Day, offering Prime members Black Friday style deals, has forced all of its rivals to run similar sales. Macy’s “Black Friday in July” sale just concluded, while Best Buy is throwing an identically named sale on July 22 and 23. Both Kohl’s and Toys R Us are also offering extra discounts.
AT&T Using Drones To Inspect Cell Towers [NewsFactor]
AT&T is putting unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – more commonly referred to as Drones, to work. The company is using drones to inspect its cell towers, and plans to use them to deploy extra wireless bandwidth at concerts and other densely populated events.
This week’s headline story: The Ethics of Killer Robots
The use of a robot to kill the man who authorities say fatally shot five Dallas police officers has drawn attention in part because it’s the first time police have used robots in such a manner. After an hours-long standoff that included exchanges of gunfire, and threats of hidden explosives in the area, Dallas Police decided that the safest course of action – to avoid further casualties, was to use a robot to deliver an explosive that killed the gunman. Robots have been used by police bomb squads, in surveillance roles by SWAT teams and in standoffs with armed gunmen in a variety of examples. But never before to deliver lethal force within U.S. borders. Regarding ethics, Arthur Holland Michel, co-director of the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College in New York, cautions the public not to overreact. “These robots are not autonomous. They do not make decisions on their own. They are sophisticated remote-control systems.” Still, the tactic illustrates what police see as the new opportunities for self-defense presented by advancing technologies and the transfer of second-hand military equipment to local police departments. But it also raises difficult ethical questions about how and when such technologies should be deployed in a civilian setting to allow police to kill a suspect while facing little or no risk.
Huge Pokemon Go Craze Brings Malware and Muggers, for Real [NewsFactor] iOS version of Pokemon Go is a possible privacy train wreck [AIR techtorials]
The new mobile game, Pokemon Go, is officially the latest craze! The augmented reality game that has users searching for Pokemon around the neighborhood, surpassed Twitter in the number of daily users on the Android mobile operating system — even as demand for the game caused Nintendo servers to crash. Nintendo’s stock price jumped by almost 25 percent this morning on the heels of last week’s release of the mobile game. However, it’s not all fun and games for the users. Police in Omaha as well as in several Missouri cities have reported that Pokemon Go players have been robbed. The players in Missouri were robbed after being lured to remote “Pokestops.” Other players have reported bruised shins and even broken bones sustained when they were too absorbed in the game to pay close attention to their surroundings. A Wyoming player had the unnerving experience of finding a dead body as she was playing the game. Hackers are taking advantage of the craze by posting malware disguised as Pokemon Go at 3rd party vendor sites. There are also privacy concerns over Pokeman Go on the iPhone, since signing into the app through Google currently gives the game full access to your Google account. Keep these dangers in mind if you decide to join in the fun!
UW, Microsoft researchers break record for DNA data storage [U Washington]
University of Washington and Microsoft researchers have broken what they believe is the world record for the amount of digital data successfully stored — and retrieved — in DNA molecules. The team encoded and decoded 200MB of data including a video, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in more than 100 languages, the top 100 books of Project Gutenberg and the Crop Trust’s seed database all on strands of DNA.
in Information Security News…
Your smartwatch is giving away your ATM PIN [Binghamton University]
Researchers at the Stevens Institute of Technology and Binghamton University, have discovered a way to steal ATM PIN numbers from users wearing smart watches. By recording millimeter-level information of fine-grained hand movements from accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers inside the wearable technologies, the researchers were able to monitor the hand movement of a banker during PIN entry and calculate the PIN code with 90-percent accuracy.
and in Tech Industry News…
BlackBerry Ends Production of Classic Smartphone [NewsFactor]
It was the device that launched the smartphone revolution, but this week, the classic BlackBerry smartphone is no more. The company has confirmed that it will no longer manufacture the iconic BlackBerry Classic with its trademark tactile keyboard
Apple Releases iOS 10 and macOS Sierra in Public Beta [NewsFactor]
iPhone and Mac fans who want to test out Apple’s latest operating systems can now download the public beta versions of both iOS 10 and macOS Sierra. Both were recently released, a few months before the final versions are launched in the fall.
This week’s headline story: Hummingbad Attacks Android
New malware named Hummingbad, has targeted and infected over 85 million Android devices. Researchers have tied the malware to Yingmob, a Chinese advertising and analytics company. Once it successfully infects and sets up a rootkit on Android devices (giving it full administrative control), Hummingbad generates as much as $300,000 a month for Yingmob through fraudulent app installs and ad clicks. Not only that, but by infecting thousands of new devices each day, Yingmob can then use those devices in a botnet, enabling the group to launch more targeted attacks against businesses and government agencies, or even sell the access it has gained on the black market. This is the first example of a supposedly legitimate organization investing in malware development as a business tool to sustain and grow the company.
Zuckerberg Funds Andela To Train Elite Developers Across Africa [NewsFactor]
Several years ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his pediatrician wife Priscilla Chan created a limited liability company named ChanZuckerberg with the goal of “advancing human potential and promoting equality.” This week ChanZuckerberg made its first major investment in a young startup company called Andela. Andela aims to train highly skilled software developers across Africa who can then work remotely for companies around the world. The two-year-old company, raised $24 million in Series B funding led by the ChanZuckerberg initiative.
in Information Security News…
Millions of Health Records Appear for Sale on Dark Web [NewsFactor]
A hacker on the dark web, using the name “thedarkoverlord,” is offering to sell a database with more than 9.3 million patient records for 750 Bitcoins, valued at around $485,000. The hacker’s market listing claimed the plaintext data belonged to “a large insurance healthcare organization in the United States.” No healthcare organization has yet confirmed the loss of the data.
White Hat Hacker Nabs Database of Terror Suspects [NewsFactor]
A database containing the names of people suspected to be involved in terrorism and organized crime has been obtained by a white hat hacker who is deciding what to do with it. The records belong to World-Check Risk Screening, an organization that helps clients screen for heightened-risk individuals and entities globally to help uncover hidden risks in business relationships and human networks. That includes details about people and organizations suspected to be involved in money laundering, organized crime and terrorism.
and in Tech Industry News…
Cyborg locusts with tattooed wings can sniff out bombs [Engadget]
Researchers from the Washington University in St. Louis have found a new use for locusts. A three-year $750,000 grant from the Office of Naval Research, is enabling the researchers to implant electrodes into the insects brains, tattoo the bugs’ wings with biocompatible silk, and strap on little transmitter backpacks, transforming the big bugs into bomb-sniffing robots. The robobugs can be driven like a drone, and their highly sensitive antennae used to sniff out bombs much more accurately than robots in use today.
Senate Blocks Access to Online Data Without Warrant [NewsFactor]
The United States Senate narrowly rejected a Republican-backed amendment that would have given the FBI expanded authority to access the browser histories and other electronic records of suspected terrorist and targets of terrorism without first obtaining a warrant. The ruling is considered a big win for privacy advocates, and a doisapointment for law enforcement. But it’s not over yet! Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, switched his yes vote to no in a procedural move that allows him to bring the bill back for a second vote. The amendment only needs two more votes to pass, and several Senators were absent for the first vote.
other Technology Headlines…
U.S. to have 200-petaflop supercomputer by early 2018 [Computerworld]
In response to China’s unveiling the world’s fastest supercomputer last week, The U.S. Dept. of Energy, has announced that the Oak Ridge National Laboratory is expecting an IBM system — named Summit, capable of 200 petaflops — in early 2018. China’s new Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer clocks in at 124,5 petaflops. However, in two years, China is likely to have a much faster supercomputer as well. China has set 2020 as the date for delivering the Tianhe-3, an exascale system 10 times the speed of it’s current record breaker.That doesn’t worry the DOE, which, in its statement, said the “strength of the U.S. program lies not just in hardware capability, but also in the ability to develop software that harnesses high-performance computing for real-world scientific and industrial applications.”
in Information Security News…
New ‘Godless’ Malware Targets Android Mobile Devices [NewsFactor]
A new virus, named Godless, is attacking Android devices. It masquerades in innocent looking apps in Google Play and other app stores, and provides a backdoor to hackers once installed on the phone. Now would be a good time to install some antivirus software on your Android phone or tablet.
and in Tech Industry News…
Microsoft revamps pushy Windows 10 upgrade process [Engadget] Microsoft Accused of Troublesome Tactics To Push Windows 10 [NewsFactor]
Microsoft has irritated some of its users with overly aggressive and possibly shady notifications to upgrade to Windows 10. In some cases, Windows 7 and 8 users who don’t want to upgrade find Windows 10 being installed on their PC seemingly without their permission. After getting hit with a $10,000 settlement, Microsoft has pledged to clarify their upgrade notification to provide three clear options and a red X that actually closes the dialoguebox rather than scheduling the update for a later date.
Google Makes Two-Step Verification Easier With New Prompt [NewsFactor]
Users of Google’s two-step verification will soon have an easier time of it. Rather than having to type a six digit code sent through text, they will soon be able to simply click a button on their phone served up by the Google Play Services app.
Google Fiber Buys Gigabit ISP Webpass [NewsFactor]
In its effort to cover the United States in high-speed wireless Internet, Google has purchased Webpass, a company that specializes in delivering Gigabit speed wireless Internet access.
Sources Say Google Prepping Its Own Smartphones: This Could Get Messy [NewsFactor]
According to the UK’s Telegraph, Google has been talking with mobile service providers about releasing its own Google-branded smartphone. The new branded phone could enable Google to target a different, most likely higher-end, segment of the market than is targetted by typical Android smartphones from Samsung, HTC and others. The portion of the market currently owned by Apple.