Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for April 7th, 2017

Rensenware’s warning screen asks for a high score, rather than the usual pay off, to decrypt your files. At this point, Ars readers have heard countless tales of computer users being forced to pay significant sums to unlock files encrypted with malicious ransomware . So we were a bit surprised when word started to trickle out about a new bit of ransomware that doesn’t ask for money. Instead, “Rensenware” forces players to get a high score in a difficult PC shoot-em-up to decrypt their files. As Malware Hunter Team noted yesterday , users on systems infected with Rensenware are faced with the usual ransomware-style warning that “your precious data like documents, musics, pictures, and some kinda project files” have been “encrypted with highly strong encryption algorithm.” The only way to break the encryption lock, according to the warning, is to “score 0.2 billion in LUNATIC level” on TH12 ~ Undefined Fantastic Object . That’s easier said than done, as this gameplay video of the “bullet hell” style Japanese shooter shows. Gameplay from TH12 ~ Undefined Fantastic Object on Lunatic difficulty. Players needed to get 200 million points to unlock the “Rensenware” malware. As you may have guessed from the specifics here, the Rensenware bug was created more in the spirit of fun than maliciousness. After Rensenware was publicized on Twitter, its creator, who goes by Tvple Eraser on Twitter and often posts in Korean, released an apology for releasing what he admitted was “a kind of highly-fatal malware.” Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories: reader

Following a head injury, patients typically undergo a CT scan to rule out brain bleeding. A new head worn device that scans the brain’s electrical patterns has shown tremendous promise in clinical trials, presenting an inexpensive way for physicians to make a potentially life-saving diagnosis. Read more…

Categories: reader

Jason Koebler, reporting for Motherboard: Apple has taken new and extreme measures to make the iPhone unrepairable. The company is now using software locks to prevent independent repair of specific parts of the phone. Specifically, the home buttons of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are not user replaceable, raising questions about both the future repairability of Apple products and the future of the thriving independent repair industry. The iPhone 7 home button will only work with the original home button that it was shipped with; if it breaks and needs to be replaced, a new one will only work if it is “recalibrated” in an Apple Store. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: reader

Mice brains store backup copies of memories

Posted by kenmay on April - 7 - 2017

Turns out that even the human brain might use redundancy when it comes to storage. New research out of the Riken-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics suggests that memories are stored in two places in the brain: the hippocampus for short-term and the cortex for longterm. Previously, the prevailing theory was that once a memory was formed in the hippocampus , it would then move to the cortex for storage. But that may not be the case, according to a paper published in Science . Recently, researchers called in the mice (of course) and watched a cluster of brain cells that formed after the rodents were administered a shock. From there, the scientists used light to “control the activity of individual neurons, ” as the BBC reports , which let them turn memories on and off. As a result, the mice forgot about the jolt of electricity until the memories were manually activated in the cortex. This hasn’t been proven to hold true in humans just yet, and it’s only one experiment, but the learnings could shape how we understand brain disease in the future. Specifically, this might give us a chance to see how things like dementia and Alzheimers affect the way memories are formed and stored, and devise ways to sidestep those heartbreaking conditions. Via: BBC Source: Science

Categories: reader

Dominic Tarr is a developer who lives on a self-steering sailboat in New Zealand; he created Scuttlebutt, a secure messaging system that can run without servers, even without ISPs. (more…)

Categories: reader

Public Crowd-sourcing Finds New Exoplanets

Posted by kenmay on April - 7 - 2017

brindafella writes: A participant in a TV program “Stargazing Live” on Australia’s ABC TV channel has found four planets closely orbiting a star, using an online database. Astrophysicist Dr Chris Lintott, the principal investigator of Zooniverse, reported on Thursday’s show that four “Super Earth” planets had been identified in the data. They orbit closer to their star than Mercury does to our Sun. The person responsible for the find, Andrew Grey, is a mechanic by day and amateur astronomer in his spare time, and lives in the city of Darwin, Northern Territory. The data is sourced from NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope. “Stargazing Live” host Professor Brian Cox said he could not be more excited about the discovery. “In the seven years I’ve been making Stargazing Live this is the most significant scientific discovery we’ve ever made. The results are astonishing.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: reader

Inuit cartography: maps carved in driftwood

Posted by kenmay on April - 7 - 2017

The Inuit carve portable, waterproof, floating maps out of driftwood for use in navigating the littoral. These three wooden maps show the journey from Sermiligaaq to Kangertittivatsiaq, on Greenland’s East Coast. The map to the right shows the islands along the coast, while the map in the middle shows the mainland and is read from one side of the block around to the other. The map to the left shows the peninsula between the Sermiligaaq and Kangertivartikajik fjords. From The Decolonial Atlas , an antidote to all the other ones: Kurdistan in Kurdish , Lakota Territory , Agricultural Maps .

Categories: reader

Enlarge (credit: YouTube Creator Hub ) YouTube has come up with a new restriction on who can make advertising money off of the online video platform. The company announced in a blog post that starting today it will not serve ads on videos produced by channels with fewer than 10,000 total views. That means any new creators looking to be in the YouTube Partner Program will have to wait until they accrue 10,000 total views on videos on their channel before they can start showing ads and collecting revenue. YouTube’s Partner Program began when the site was in its infancy. Creators who join get to monetize their videos, work with YouTube more closely to make better content, and receive general advice about creating online videos. The YouTube Partner Program only opened up to all YouTube users a few years ago, which let anyone with a YouTube account start getting paid for ads almost immediately. But now with the avalanche of backlash YouTube and Google have received for ads appearing over hate speech-infested videos, the company is placing stricter guidelines on who can make money from the Partner Program. Currently anyone can still apply to be in the YouTube Partner Program, but YouTube does state in the blog post that it’ll be adding a review process for new applicants in the coming weeks. It appears future applicants won’t be accepted into the Partner Program until they surpass that 10,000-view milestone. “After a creator hits 10k lifetime views on their channel, we’ll review their activity against our policies,” YouTube’s blog post states. “If everything looks good, we’ll bring this channel into YPP and begin serving ads against their content. Together these new thresholds will help ensure revenue only flows to creators who are playing by the rules.” Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories: reader

New Destructive Malware Intentionally Bricks IoT Devices

Posted by kenmay on April - 7 - 2017

An anonymous reader writes: “A new malware strain called BrickerBot is intentionally bricking Internet of Things (IoT) devices around the world by corrupting their flash storage capability and reconfiguring kernel parameters. The malware spreads by launching brute-force attacks on IoT (BusyBox-based) devices with open Telnet ports. After BrickerBot attacks, device owners often have to reinstall the device’s firmware, or in some cases, replace the device entirely. Attacks started on March 20, and two versions have been seen. One malware strain launches attacks from hijacked Ubiquiti devices, while the second, more advanced, is hidden behind Tor exit nodes. Several security researchers believe this is the work of an internet vigilante fed up with the amount of insecure IoT devices connected to the internet and used for DDoS attacks. “Wow. That’s pretty nasty, ” said Cybereason security researcher Amit Serper after Bleeping Computer showed him Radware’s security alert. “They’re just bricking it for the sake of bricking it. [They’re] deliberately destroying the device.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: reader