Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for August 14th, 2017

Enlarge / The UV3 Nautilus in early sea trials in 2008. (credit: Frumperino ) Believe it or not, there’s a crowdsourced, open source non-profit attempting to build a sea-launched suborbital rocket. Called Copenhagen Suborbitals, it even had access to a submarine. A club associated with the venture completed the sub in 2008, designed by Peter Madsen, a Danish inventor who is co-founder of the group. That submarine is now at the bottom of the sea, and Madsen is being held by Danish authorities on suspicion of “unlawful killing”—a precursor charge to manslaughter or murder. The UC3 Nautilus was the third and largest submarine effort by the club, costing $200,000 to construct. It served as a workhorse for Copenhagen Suborbitals, helping push the group’s Sputnik rocket launch platform into position on a number of occasions. Nautilus is—or was—powered by two diesel engines above the surface and by batteries underwater. While it could hold a crew of four underwater, all of its controls could be managed by a single person from its control room. By 2011, the sub needed an overhaul. But the repairs required more than Copenhagen Suborbitals could afford to sink into the Nautilus. So in 2013, the group launched an Indiegogo campaign to get it back in the water. In a video, Madsen described the sub and the inspiration behind it. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Ron Amadeo) A single threat actor has aggressively bombarded Android users with more than 4,000 spyware apps since February, and in at least three cases the actor snuck the apps into Google’s official Play Market, security researchers said Thursday. Soniac was one of the three apps that made its way into Google Play , according to a blog post published Thursday by a researcher from mobile security firm Lookout. The app, which had from 1,000 to 5,000 downloads before Google removed it, provided messaging functions through a customized version of the Telegram communications program. Behind the scenes, Soniac had the ability to surreptitiously record audio, take phones, make calls, send text messages, and retrieve logs, contacts, and information about Wi-Fi access points. Google ejected the app after Lookout reported it as malicious. Two other apps—one called Hulk Messenger and the other Troy Chat—were also available in Play but were later removed. It’s not clear if the developer withdrew the apps or if Google expelled them after discovering their spying capabilities. The remaining apps—which since February number slightly more than 4,000—are being distributed through other channels that weren’t immediately clear. Lookout researcher Michael Flossman said those channels may include alternative markets or targeted text messages that include a download link. The apps are all part of a malware family Lookout calls SonicSpy. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Online Critics Decry Even More Wells Fargo Fraud Scandals

Posted by kenmay on August - 14 - 2017

On Saturday author/blogger Cory Doctorow launched a new barrage of criticism towards Wells Fargo: It’s been a whole day since we learned about another example of systematic, widespread fraud by America’s largest bank Wells Fargo (ripping off small merchants with credit card fees), so it’s definitely time to learn about another one: scamming mortgage borrowers out of $43/month for an unrequested and pointless “home warranty service” from American Home Shield, a billion-dollar scam-factory that considers you a customer if you throw away its junk-mail instead of ticking the “no” box and sending it back. $43/month gets you pretty much nothing: people who tried to actually use their AHS insurance found it impossible to get them to actually do anything in exchange for this money. Here’s a quick Wells Fargo fraud scorecard: stealing thousand of cars with fraudulent repos; defrauding mortgage borrowers; blackballing whistelblowers; creating 2, 000, 000+ fraudulent accounts, and stealing millions with fraudulent fees and penalties. Life Pro Tip: if you don’t like banks, join a credit union. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A Russian government-sponsored group accused of hacking the Democratic National Committee last year has likely been infecting other targets of interest with the help of a potent Windows exploit developed by, and later stolen from, the National Security Agency, researchers said Friday. Eternal Blue, as the exploit is code-named, is one of scores of advanced NSA attacks that have been released over the past year by a mysterious group calling itself the Shadow Brokers. It was published in April in the group’s most damaging release to date. Its ability to spread from computer to computer without any user action was the engine that allowed the WCry ransomware worm, which appropriated the leaked exploit, to shut down computers worldwide in May. Eternal Blue also played a role in the spread of NotPetya, a follow-on worm that caused major disruptions in June. Now, researchers at security firm FireEye say they’re moderately confident the Russian hacking group known as Fancy Bear, APT 28, and other names has also used Eternal Blue, this time in a campaign that targeted people of interest as they connected to hotel Wi-Fi networks. In July, the campaign started using Eternal Blue to spread from computer to computer inside various staff and guest networks, company researchers Lindsay Smith and Ben Read wrote in a blog post. While the researchers didn’t directly observe those attacks being used to infect guest computers connected to the network, they said a related campaign from last year used the control of hotel Wi-Fi services to obtain login credentials from guest devices. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Intel Unveils One-Petabyte Storage Servers For Data Centers

Posted by kenmay on August - 14 - 2017

Slashdot reader #9, 219 Guy Smiley shared this report on a new breed of high-density flash storage. The Inquirer reports: Intel has unveiled a brand new form factor for solid state disc drives (SSDs)… Intel Optane’s new “ruler” format will allow up to a petabyte of storage on a single 1U server rack… By using 3D-NAND, the ruler crams in even more data and will provide more stability with less chance of catastrophic failure with data loss. The company has promised that the Ruler will have more bandwidth, input/output operations per second and lower latency than SAS… As part of the announcement, Intel also announced a range of “hard drive replacement” SSDs — the S4500 and S4600 0 which are said to have the highest density 32-layer 3D NAND on the market, and are specifically aimed at data centres that want to move to solid state simply and if necessary, in stages. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Studio Ghibli reopens for Hayao Miyazaki’s new film

Posted by kenmay on August - 14 - 2017

Just a few years ago, Studio Ghibli’s future was in the air after co-founder and legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki (supposedly) retired. The place is about to be jumping again, however, as the studio announced that it has re-opened to start production on a recently-announced new film by the not-so-retired Miyazaki. He was on hand for a small ceremony on July 3rd, where he “brought together his main collaborators already engaged on his new feature film to talk to them about the project, ” the company said in a news release (translated). A re-opening normally wouldn’t be newsworthy, but at one point, it seemed like Studio Ghibli — behind masterpieces like Spirited Away , Princess Mononoke and Howl’s Moving Castle — would not produce any more films. Recently, however, Amazon announced that it would stream Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter , a children’s TV series directed by Miyazaki’s son Goro. Shortly after that came the news that the studio would produce a new film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Studio Ghibli hasn’t released any details about the film itself, but many fans think it will be an adaptation of Miyazaki’s first CGI short film Boro the Caterpillar . That short was delayed, but producer Toshio Suzuki has said it will likely be released in 2019 ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games. Miyazaki has threatened retirement before, and when he stepped down in 2013, the company announced it would restructure for the next generation of animators. The films, while beloved by animation aficionados and cineastes, have never made tons of money — Studio Ghibli’s best-grossing film was Spirited Away, which made $275 million back in 2001. Over the years, however, the films have gained a much larger following thanks to streaming and DVD, so the new one will likely be met with unprecedented anticipation. Adding to that, Miyazaki will be 80 when it’s completed, so this could definitely be his last film. Via: Indie Wire Source: Buta Connection (Facebook)

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A New Amiga Will Go On Sale In Late 2017

Posted by kenmay on August - 14 - 2017

An anonymous reader quote the Register: The world’s getting a new Amiga for Christmas. Yes, that Amiga — the seminal Commodore microcomputers that brought mouse-driven GUIs plus slick and speedy graphics to the masses from 1985 to 1996… The platform died when Commodore went bankrupt, but enthusiasm for the Amiga persisted and various clones and efforts to preserve AmigaOS continue to this day. One such effort, from Apollo Accelerators, emerged last week: the company’s forthcoming “Vampire V4” can work as a standalone Amiga or an accelerator for older Amigas… There’s also 512MB of RAM, 40-and-44-pin FastIDE connectors, Ethernet, a pair of USB ports and MicroSD for storage [PDF]. Micro USB gets power to the board. A school in Michigan used the same Amiga for 30 years. Whenever it broke, they actually phoned up the high school student who original set it up in 1987 and had him come over to fix it. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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A new study claims to have found a huge expanse of volcanoes lurking beneath the ice in Antarctica . Scientists unearthed a total of 91 previously undiscovered volcanoes — some stretching up to 3, 850 metres (12, 600 feet) in height — in the region known as the West Antarctic Rift System (WARS). The area is comparable to the densely concentrated volcanic regions in east Africa and North America, according to researchers from the University of Edinburgh. Due to the ice sheets that cover its terrain, geologists have found it extremely difficult to study Antarctica for signs of volcanic systems. To overcome the obstacles posed by nature, the team of scientists remotely surveyed the underside of the ice using a digital elevation model known as Bedmap 2 DEM. They cross-referenced that info by examining aerial and satellite imagery. The results showed peaks of basalt rock poking up through the ice to form cone-shaped structures. Of those 178 edifices, 91 were outlined as previously undiscovered volcanoes. The study suggests that the density of the volcanoes in the WARS is one volcano per 4, 800 square miles, making it one of the world’s largest volcanic regions. Although, the results do not indicate whether the volcanoes are active, the data could allow future studies to determine just that. Whereas previous research has pointed to seismic activity in Antarctica, it is not thought to have impacted the present ice retreat. That wasn’t the case in Iceland, where studies found an increase in ice flow due to subglacial eruptions. Comparably, west Antarctica contains a thicker sheet of ice, but that may not be enough to prevent the affects of volcanic disturbance on future ice flow, suggest the scientists — especially during warmer periods . On the other hand, seeing as ice tends to slope downwards on a smooth surface, the cone-shaped structures could even act as deterrents against the current pace of glacial motion, claim the researchers. Source: University of Edinburgh, School of Geosciences (pdf)

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