Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for June 15th, 2017

Amazon is in the running among a handful of companies looking to acquire the popular chatroom startup, reports Bloomberg. From the article: San Francisco-based Slack could be valued at at least $9 billion in a sale, the people said. An agreement isn’t assured and discussions may not go further, said the people. Buying Slack would help Seattle-based Amazon bolster its enterprise services as it seeks to compete with rivals like Microsoft and Alphabet’s Google. The company’s cloud-hosting unit, Amazon Web Services, in February unveiled a paid-for video and audio conferencing service — Amazon Chime — that lets users chat and share content. Kara Swisher, reporting for Recode: Slack, the popular business communications company, is in the midst of raising $500 million at a $5 billion post-money valuation, an effort that has attracted several potential buyers interested in taking out the company ahead of the funding. Those include Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Salesforce, several of which have previously shown interest in acquiring Slack. Bloomberg reported the interest by Amazon today, with a $9 billion sales price. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Enlarge (credit: 20th Century Fox ) A California man who shared a copy of the movie Deadpool on Facebook has been arrested and charged with criminal copyright infringement. If convicted, he faces a penalty of up to three years in prison. Trevon Maurice Franklin, 21, of Fresno, California, allegedly uploaded the movie to his Facebook page eight days after its US theatrical release in February 2016. Franklin went by the name “Tre-Von M. King” on Facebook. Franklin was arrested on Tuesday morning and brought to US District Court in Fresno. The court docket indicates he was brought into court in leg shackles. Franklin was advised of his rights and the charges, and he pleaded not guilty. He was assigned a federal public defender as an attorney and has a subsequent court appearance on June 27 in Los Angeles. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / False-colored scanning electron micrograph of multiple S. elongatus cyanobacteria (green) with a single rat heart muscle cell (red). (credit: Cohen et al. ) For the faint of heart, a microbial flash mob might just do the trick. A direct injection of photosynthetic bacteria—plus a little light— provided cellular life-support to the weak, blood-starved hearts of rats suffering simulated heart attacks. The bacterial jolt supplied much-needed oxygen to the gasping tissue and prevented long-term damage, Stanford researchers report this week in Science Advances . In fact, after a short recovery period the treated rodents had a 30-percent boost in heart function compared with control animals. “In humans, an increase of this magnitude would have profound clinical implications, likely representing the difference between a healthy patient and one suffering from heart failure,” the authors conclude. They’re hopeful that one day the microbial menders could be used to help human heart attack patients and those undergoing heart surgery or heart transplants. There are some tall hurdles to get to those goals, the authors admit, but the results so far show promise. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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This is well worth the watch. Houston-based architect Zui Ng used a host of brilliant principles, intelligent design choices and practical money-saving techniques to build a home for himself and his family. From ensuring that he is “a good neighbor, ” architecturally speaking, to creating extra living space that’s non-taxable, to knocking $180, 000 off of the cost by subcontracting himself, Ng has thought of everything for this “Chameleon Shotgun house.” Watch and learn:

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NSA Links WannaCry To North Korea

Posted by kenmay on June - 15 - 2017

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Washington Post: The National Security Agency has linked the North Korean government to the creation of the WannaCry computer worm that affected more than 300, 000 people in some 150 countries last month, according to U.S. intelligence officials. The assessment, which was issued internally last week and has not been made public, is based on an analysis of tactics, techniques and targets that point with “moderate confidence” to North Korea’s spy agency, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, according to an individual familiar with the report. The assessment states that “cyber actors” suspected to be “sponsored by” the RGB were behind two versions of WannaCry, a worm that was built around an NSA hacking tool that had been obtained and posted online last year by an anonymous group calling itself the Shadow Brokers. Though the assessment is not conclusive, the preponderance of the evidence points to Pyongyang. It includes the range of computer Internet protocol addresses in China historically used by the RGB, and the assessment is consistent with intelligence gathered recently by other Western spy agencies. It states that the hackers behind WannaCry are also called “the Lazarus Group, ” a name used by private-sector researchers. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Enlarge (credit: Carol Von Canon ) Researchers have detected a brazen attack on restaurants across the United States that uses a relatively new technique to keep its malware undetected by virtually all antivirus products on the market. Malicious code used in so-called fileless attacks resides almost entirely in computer memory, a feat that prevents it from leaving the kinds of traces that are spotted by traditional antivirus scanners. Once the sole province of state-sponsored spies casing the highest value targets , the in-memory techniques are becoming increasingly common in financially motivated hack attacks . They typically make use of commonly used administrative tools such as PowerShell, Metasploit, and Mimikatz, which feed a series of malicious commands to targeted computers. FIN7, an established hacking group with ties to the Carbanak Gang , is among the converts to this new technique, researchers from security firm Morphisec reported in a recently published blog post . The dynamic link library file it’s using to infect Windows computers in an ongoing attack on US restaurants would normally be detected by just about any AV program if the file was written to a hard drive. But because the file contents are piped into computer memory using PowerShell, it wasn’t visible to any of the 56 most widely used AV programs, according to a Virus Total query conducted earlier this month. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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An anonymous reader writes: Samsung cellphones used to have a stock app called S Suggest. The company apparently discontinued the app recently, and then forgot to renew a domain that was used to control it. This snafu left millions of smartphone users vulnerable to hackers who could’ve registered the domain and installed malicious apps on the phones. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Netflix Has More American Subscribers Than Cable TV

Posted by kenmay on June - 15 - 2017

According to Leichtman Research estimates from the first quarter of 2017, there are more Netflix subscribers in the U.S. (50.85 million) than there are customers for major cable TV networks (48.61 million). While it doesn’t mean Netflix is bigger than TV because it doesn’t account for the 33.19 million satellite viewers, it represents a huge milestone for a streaming service that had half as many users just 5 years ago. Engadget reports: The shift in power comes in part through Netflix’s ever-greater reliance on originals. There’s enough high-quality material that it can compete with more established networks. However, it’s also getting a boost from the decline of conventional TV. Those traditional sources lost 760, 000 subscribers in the first quarter of the year versus 120, 000 a year earlier. Leichtman believes a combination of cord cutters and reduced marketing toward cost-conscious viewers is to blame. Cable giants might not be in dire straits, but they’re clearly focusing on their most lucrative customers as others jump ship for the internet. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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According to the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration, wind and solar produced 10 percent of the electricity generated in the U.S. for the first time in March. The Hill reports: The Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) monthly power report for March found that wind produced 8 percent of the electricity produced in the U.S. that month, with solar producing 2 percent. The two sources combined to have their best month ever in terms of percentage of overall electricity production, EIA said. The agency expects the two sources topped 10 percent again in April but forecasts that their generation will fall below that mark during the summer months. Due to the way geographic wind patterns affect the generation of electricity, the two sources typically combine for their best months in the spring and fall. Annually, wind and solar made up 7 percent of electric generation in 2016, EIA said. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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