Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for May 14th, 2017

Bikers interested in going green have reason to rejoice today. Harley-Davidson has already shown off its prototype Livewire electric bike, and it’s promised to offer you a real one in the next five years . Today, the motorcycle manufacturer said it has plans to make 100 new motorcycles over the next 10 years, including an entire range of electric vehicles. Vice president Bill Davidson confirmed that electric bikes are Harley-Davidson’s future to Drive magazine while in Sydney to celebrate the brand’s 100th anniversary in Australia. While an electric Harley won’t have the signature engine boom that its combustion-powered bikes have, Davidson said that the company is working on a sound that he likens to a jet engine. “It is an amazing motorcycle, ” he told Drive . “While it doesn’t have a 45-degree, pushrod twin-cylinder engine it has the performance expected from a Harley Davidson even if it won’t sound the same, ” he said. So far, we’ve only seen the one Livewire concept model with a limited top speed and range, it’s likely thHarleyely-Davidson will create both sport and cruiser-style bikes to appeal to both the speed freaks and the touring bikers. Davidson noted that as automated cars become more ubiquitous, driving enthusiasts may turn to motorcycles to get their manual fix, telling Drive , “I think the more automatic cars [happen], motorcycling will become more appealing. I see it as a huge opportunity.” Via: Autoblog Source: Drive

Categories: reader

Trump Signs Executive Order On Cybersecurity

Posted by kenmay on May - 14 - 2017

President Trump on Thursday signed a long-delayed executive order on cybersecurity that “makes clear that agency heads will be held accountable for protecting their networks, and calls on government and industry to reduce the threat from automated attacks on the internet, ” reports The Washington Post. From the report: Picking up on themes advanced by the Obama administration, Trump’s order also requires agency heads to use Commerce Department guidelines to manage risk to their systems. It commissions reports to assess the country’s ability to withstand an attack on the electric grid and to spell out the strategic options for deterring adversaries in cyberspace. [Thomas Bossert, Trump’s homeland security adviser] said the order was not, however, prompted by Russia’s targeting of electoral systems last year. In fact, the order is silent on addressing the security of electoral systems or cyber-enabled operations to influence elections, which became a significant area of concern during last year’s presidential campaign. The Department of Homeland Security in January declared election systems “critical infrastructure.” The executive order also does not address offensive cyber operations, which are generally classified. This is an area in which the Trump administration is expected to be more forward-leaning than its predecessor. Nor does it spell out what type of cyberattack would constitute an “act of war” or what response the attack would invite. “We’re not going to draw a red line, ” Bossert said, adding that the White House does not “want to telegraph our punches.” The order places the defense secretary and the head of the intelligence community in charge of protecting “national security” systems that operate classified and military networks. But the secretary of homeland security will continue to be at the center of the national plan for protecting critical infrastructure, such as the electric grid and financial sector. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: reader

Germany was able to set a new national record for the last weekend of April with 85 percent of all electricity consumed in the country being produced from renewables — wind, solar, biomass, and hydroelectric power. Digital Trends reports: Aided by a seasonal combination of windy but sunny weather, during that weekend the majority of Germany’s coal-fired power stations weren’t even operating, while nuclear power stations (which the country plans to phase out by the year 2022) were massively reduced in output. To be clear, this is impressive even by Germany’s progressive standards. By comparison, in March just over 40 percent of all electricity consumed in the country came from renewable sources. However, while the end-of-April weekend was an aberration, the hope is that it won’t be for too much longer. According to Patrick Graichen of the country’s sustainability-focused Agora Energiewende Initiative, German renewable energy percentages in the mid-80s should be “completely normal” by the year 2030. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: reader

The Ocean Cleanup , a Dutch foundation that aims to deal with plastics polluting our seas, says it’s finally ready to put its technology to work. In a statement released today, the organization has revealed that it plans to start cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in early 2018 using its newly redesigned cleaning system. That garbage patch is the biggest collection of debris in the ocean, a massive soup of visible and microscopic plastic particles poisoning marine life. The ship captain who discovered it in 2003 said he “never found a clear spot” in the week it took to cross the region. While Boyan Slat (the organization’s founder) originally envisioned trapping plastic trash with one large screen tethered to the ocean floor, the new design is smaller, sturdier and can save the group a ton of money. Instead of deploying a 60-mile stationary screen, they plan on releasing 50 smaller ones that measure 0.6 miles in length. They’ll weigh the floating screens down with anchor, so they can move with the currents like plastics do, albeit a bit slower in order to trap debris. Slat told FastCompany that he expected the original design to clean up half of the massive garbage patch in 10 years for $320 million. Now, he expects the new design to cut that timespan in half and to cost the group significantly less than that amount. Since he and his team still need to fund the project, though, they plan to use the plastic they collect to make items they can sell, such as sunglasses, chairs and car bumpers. Source: The Ocean Cleanup

Categories: reader

A one-of-a-kind Harry Potter prequel has been stolen, and author J.K. Rowling is eager to get it back in the right hands. Read more…

Categories: reader

Something unusual happens when a drop of molten glass falls into water. As it cools, it creates a crystal clear tadpole-like droplet that’s bulletproof on one end, but impossibly fragile on the other. We’ve known about these droplets for 400 years, but scientists have only recently figured out what makes them almost… Read more…

Categories: reader

Enlarge (credit: Health Service Journal) A large number of hospitals, GPs, and walk-in clinics across England have been locked down by a ransomware attack, reports suggest. There are also some reports of a ransomware attack hitting institutions in Portugal and Spain, though it isn’t known if the incidents are connected. NHS England says it is aware of the issue, but hasn’t yet issued an official statement. At this point it isn’t clear whether a central NHS network has been knocked offline by the ransomware, or whether individual computers connected to the network are being locked out. In any case, some hospitals and clinics are reporting that their computer systems are inaccessible and some telephone services are down too. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories: reader

Enlarge / A 2015 Ram 1500, one of the models affected by this recall. (credit: FCA) Dodgy software code controlling side airbags and safety belt pretensioners is responsible for a recall affecting more than a million Ram pickup trucks. On Friday, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) announced that it will be recalling Ram 1500 and 2500 trucks (model years 2013 to 2016) and Ram 3500 trucks (model years 2014 to 2016) beginning in June in order to rectify the problem. The software error, which could prevent side airbag deployment and belt pretensioning in cases where a vehicle rolls over following an underbody impact—say, hitting road debris or something when off-roading—has already been implicated in one death. Although the code has not been conclusively fingered as the culprit, FCA says it is issuing the recall proactively. A similar issue forced General Motors to recall more than 4 million vehicles in 2016. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories: reader

An anonymous reader writes: The Necurs botnet has been harnessed to fling a new strain of ransomware dubbed “Jaff”. Jaff spreads in a similar way to the infamous file-encrypting malware Locky and even uses the same payment site template, but is nonetheless a different monster. Attached to dangerous emails is an infectious PDF containing an embedded DOCM file with a malicious macro script. This script will then download and execute the Jaff ransomware. Locky — like Jaff — also used the Necurs botnet and a booby-trapped PDF, security firm Malwarebytes notes. “This is where the comparison ends, since the code base is different as well as the ransom itself, ” said Jerome Segura, a security researcher at Malwarebytes. “Jaff asks for an astounding 2 BTC, which is about $3, 700 at the time of writing.” Proofpoint reckons Jaff may be the work of the same cybercriminals behind Locky, Dridex and Bart (other nasty malware) but this remains unconfirmed. And Forcepoint Security Labs reports that malicious emails carrying Jaff are being cranked out at a rate of 5 million an hour on Thursday, or 13 million in total at the time it wrote up a blog post about the new threat. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: reader

England’s healthcare system came under a withering cyberattack Friday morning, with ” at least 25 ” hospitals across the country falling prey to ransomware that locked doctors and employees out of critical systems and networks. The UK government now reports that this is not a (relatively) isolated attack but rather a single front in a massive regionwide digital assault. #nhscyberattack pic.twitter.com/SovgQejl3X — gigi.h (@fendifille) May 12, 2017 The attack has impacted hospitals and transportation infrastructure across Europe, Russia and Asia. Organizations in dozens of countries have all been hit with the same ransomware program, a variant of the WannaCry virus, spouting the same ransom note and demanding $300 for the encryption key, with the demand escalating as time passes. The virus’s infection vector appears to through a known vulnerability, originally exploited and developed by the National Security Agency. That information was subsequently leaked by the hacking group known as Shadow Broker which has been dumping its cache of purloined NSA hacking tools onto the internet since last year. The virus appears to have originally spread via email as compressed file attachment so, like last week’s Google Docs issue, make sure you confirm that you email’s attachments are legit before clicking on them. Also, make sure your computers are using software that’s still receiving security updates, and that you’ve installed the latest updates available. Microsoft released a fix for the exploit used as a part of its March “Patch Tuesday” release, but unpatched Windows systems remain vulnerable. Update : Reuters reports a statement from Microsoft indicating that engineers have added detection and protection against the “Ransom:Win32.WannaCrypt” malware, so make sure your Windows Defender or other antivirus is updated before logging on to any corporate networks that may be infected. In a statement, a FedEx representative confirmed its systems are being impacted, saying “Like many other companies, FedEx is experiencing interference with some of our Windows-based systems caused by malware. We are implementing remediation steps as quickly as possible. We regret any inconvenience to our customers.” Source: New York Times

Categories: reader