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posted by martyb on Wednesday December 11, @10:45PM   Printer-friendly
from the don't-go-outside dept.

Moscow Cops Sell Access to City CCTV, Facial Recognition Data

Investigative media outlet MBKh Media found that access to [the citywide CCTV camera system] and the live streams is being sold on underground forums and chat rooms.

Andrey Kaganskikh, the journalist that did the investigation says that the sellers are law enforcement individuals as well as government bureaucrats that can log into the Integrated Center for Data Processing and Storage (YTKD), the very system that keeps the data from cameras in Moscow.

Whoever wants to check the live stream from a camera receives a unique link to the City CCTV System that connects to all public cameras in Moscow. The URL works for five days, Kaganskikh says.

This is the same period mentioned on the city's CCTV section for storing footage from crowded places, shops, and courtyards. Data from educational organizations is saved for 30 days.

Furthermore, government officials or police officers sell their login credentials to the system to provide unlimited access to all cameras. The price of admission is 30,000 rubles ($470), according to Kaganskikh.

Apparently "restricted access" means restricted to those who can pay for it.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday December 11, @08:52PM   Printer-friendly
from the evil-does-what-evil-is dept.

Evil Corp Hackers Charged for Stealing Over $100 Million

The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) charged Russian citizens Maksim V. Yakubets and Igor Turashev for deploying the Dridex malware (aka Bugat and Cridex), and for their involvement in international bank fraud and computer hacking schemes.

The two were charged with conspiracy, computer hacking, wire fraud, and bank fraud in a 10-count indictment unsealed today, concerning the distribution of the malware they used to automate the theft of sensitive financial and personal information like banking credentials, as well as for infecting their victims with ransomware in more recent attacks.

"The State Department, in partnership with the FBI, announced today a reward of up to $5 million under the Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Yakubets," the DoJ says.

[...] Yakubets was the leader of Evil Corp since at least 2017, a Russia-based cybercriminal group of hackers that developed and disseminated the Dridex malware via large scale phishing email campaigns.

[...] "This is a landmark for the NCA, FBI and U.S. authorities and a day of reckoning for those who commit cybercrime," NCA Director Jones added.

"Following years of online pursuit, I am pleased to see the real-world identity of Yakubets and his associate Turashev revealed. Yakubets and his associates have allegedly been responsible for losses and attempted losses totaling hundreds of millions of dollars."

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday December 11, @07:04PM   Printer-friendly
from the I-don't-see-the-appeal dept.

When I started dating my now husband, the decor in his dorm apartment included a banana that he and his roommates had drunkenly taped to the wall. ...Twelve years later, believe it or not, he still has it in a plastic bag somewhere in our apartment.

So imagine my surprise when I arrived at the VIP preview for Art Basel Miami Beach and discovered that Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan had done exactly the same thing. The most important difference being, of course, that this version—sourced from a local Miami supermarket and on sale from Perrotin, the Parisian gallery with locations in New York and across Asia—cost a cool $120,000.

"We sold it already," announced a triumphant Emmanuel Perrotin as I took a close look at the piece, titled Comedian. The buyer, a French woman, has bought work from the gallery before, but never a work by Cattelan, I was told.

By the time I left the booth, a deal on a second edition of the piece had also been closed, sold to a French man. (Perrotin told him about my husband's banana, to reassure him that the banana would age well, and the collector threatened to buy that one instead.)

[...] After the second sale, Perrotin quickly texted Cattelan, and the two agreed to raise the price to $150,000 for the third edition of the work, which they have decided to sell to a museum—and two institutions have already expressed interest, according to the gallery. (There are also two artists proofs of the work, only one of which is for sale.)

[...] The artist wouldn't speak to the work's meaning, but he was partially inspired by the large number of paintings he's seen at galleries recently. "I'm not in Miami, but I'm sure it's full of paintings as well," said Cattelan. "I thought maybe a banana could be a good contribution!"

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday December 11, @05:18PM   Printer-friendly
from the unexpected-results dept.

After Bone Marrow Transplant, Man's Semen Contains Only Donor's DNA

Chris Long is an IT worker in the Washoe County Sheriff's Department in Reno, Nevada. But all the DNA in his semen belongs to a German man he's never met.

That's because Long received a bone marrow transplant from the European stranger four years ago [...] Following the procedure, the healthy blood-forming cells from the donor replaced Long's unhealthy cells, allowing his body to resume normal blood production. It makes sense, then, for Long's blood to contain the DNA of his donor.

[...] Sometimes, they find both Long's DNA and his donor's [...] when they test swabs from his lip, cheek, and tongue. Samples of his chest and head hair, meanwhile, show only Long's DNA.

But perhaps most surprisingly, four years after the procedure, samples of Long's semen show only his donor's DNA.

[...] Three bone marrow transplant experts consulted by the NYT all agreed that it would be impossible for the procedure to result in a recipient producing sperm containing their donor's DNA.

Mehrdad Abedi, the doctor who treated Long at the University of California, Davis, meanwhile, told the newspaper that his patient's surprising semen is likely due to the fact that Long had a vasectomy after his second child was born.

Forensic scientists already have to grapple with the issue of DNA from innocent people occasionally showing up at crime scenes due to bone marrow transplants. But at least in those cases, they have the "right" DNA to trace, too.

If someone in Long's situation committed a sex crime and investigators collected semen samples, though, could their blood marrow donor be charged with the crime given the lack of any other DNA at the scene?

Hopefully investigators understand that sperm and semen are different things. Blood marrow donors should have adequate records of their donor status.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday December 11, @03:21PM   Printer-friendly
from the R.I.P. dept.

Barcode co-inventor George Laurer dies aged 94:

George Laurer, the US engineer who helped develop the barcode, has died at the age of 94.

Laurer died last Thursday at his home in Wendell, North Carolina, and his funeral was held on Monday.

[...] It was while working as an electrical engineer with IBM that George Laurer fully developed the Universal Product Code (UPC), or barcode.

He developed a scanner that could read codes digitally. He also used stripes rather than circles that were not practical to print.

The UPC went on to revolutionise "virtually every industry in the world", IBM said in a tribute on its website.

[...] The first product scanned, in Ohio in June 1974, was a packet of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit chewing gum. It is now on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington.

Fellow IBM employee, Norman Woodland, who died in 2012, is considered the pioneer of the barcode idea, which he initially based on Morse code.

Although he patented the concept in the 1950s, he was unable to develop it. It would take a few more years for Laurer to bring the idea to fruition with the help of low-cost laser and computing technology.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday December 11, @01:33PM   Printer-friendly
from the how-long-is-a-month? dept.

Submitted via IRC for chromas

A Once-a-Month Birth Control Pill Is Coming

Unless, that is, you embed them in a flexible silicon ninja star that folds up neatly into pill form.

That's the solution a team led by scientists at Brigham and Women's Hospital and MIT came up with about five years ago. Back then they were building slow-release pills designed to deliver treatments for malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV. But in a scientific first, they've now demonstrated that the same invention can also deliver a steady drip of contraceptive hormones in the body of a pig for up to 29 days.

"From an engineering aspect, the key novelty is the ability to deliver a drug for a month after a single ingestion event," says Giovanni Traverso, a gastroenterologist and biomedical engineer at Brigham and Women's and MIT, who co-authored the new study, published today in Science Translational Medicine. The proof-of-concept experiments were conducted late last year. Since then, the long-lasting contraceptive has begun to be commercially developed by a Boston-area company called Lyndra Therapeutics, which Traverso cofounded with MIT bioengineer Robert Langer in 2015. In July, the startup received $13 million from the Gates Foundation to advance the monthly pill to human trials, with a focus on bringing it to low- and middle-income countries.

A once-a-month oral contraceptive, Science Translational Medicine (DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aay2602)

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday December 11, @11:45AM   Printer-friendly
from the skynet-plays-CAH dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1337

[Ed. The event is done by now but you can still watch it on YouTube.]

Cards Against Humanity writers are battling an AI to keep their jobs, and you can watch

The creators of Cards Against Humanity are back for their annual Black Friday stunt, and this one is delightfully dystopian. Starting at 11AM ET today and lasting for the next 16 hours, the human writers on the CAH team are facing off against an artificial intelligence to see who can create the most popular new pack of cards, based on how many people pay for more $5 packs. You can upvote or downvote your favorite cards for each side on CAH's website before buying, and you can also watch the humans struggle to come up with new iterations in real time over live stream.

On the line are $5,000 bonuses for every employee if team human comes up victorious, or heartless termination in the event the AI takes the top spot. We don't think CAH actually plans to fire their writers if they lose, but it is a clever stunt nonetheless to drum up the human vs. machine narrative at a time when automation may pose a very real threat to millions of jobs in the coming decade, writing included.

For Black Friday, we taught a computer how to write Cards Against Humanity cards. Now we put it to the test. Over the next 16 hours, our writers will battle this powerful card-writing algorithm to see who can write the most popular new pack of cards.

— CardsAgainstHumanity (@CAH) November 29, 2019

It follows the company's tradition of pulling Nathan For You-style capitalism parodies on the most commercial day of the American calendar year. Last year, CAH held a 99 percent off sale on a series of outlandish items like a 17th-century halberd and a 2015 Ford Fiesta with just 25,000 miles on it. (The company reportedly did ship some of the items in the sale, at least those that were sourced from its own office.) In 2013, the company raised the price of its card packs by 100 percent, just because it could.

"Black Friday probably represents the worst things about our culture," Cards Against Humanity co-creator Max Temkin said in a statement last year. "It's this really repulsive consumerist frenzy right after a day about being thankful for what you have. So it's always seemed like a really good subject for parody to us."

This year, CAH is both live streaming the human writers room and updating a live list of the most popular AI-generated and human-written cards that will make it into the eventual physical card packs, which will be shipped out next month. (You can buy both if you so choose.) Some of my AI favorites include "Some sort of giant son of a bitch who lives in the internet" and "Sitting in the back of the plane, smoking a cigar and reading the Flickr privacy policy," the latter of which settles the age-old debate of whether a malevolent AI bent on destroying humanity is for or against the Oxford comma.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday December 11, @09:57AM   Printer-friendly
from the severing-ties dept.

Submitted via IRC for chromas

Tufts University to dissolve relationship with family behind OxyContin amid national opioid epidemic

Tufts University announced that it is severing ties with the billionaire family that owns Purdue Pharma, the firm that manufactures OxyContin.

The Massachusetts school announced Thursday that it is stripping the Sackler family name from its campus and will no longer accept any donations from them amid concerns that they are helping fuel the ongoing opioid crisis. The Sacklers and Tufts had maintained a nearly 40-year relationship that helped funnel millions to the school's science and medical programs.

"Our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and others have shared with us the negative impact the Sackler name has on them each day, noting the human toll of the opioid epidemic in which members of the Sackler family and their company, Purdue Pharma, are associated," the school said in a statement. "We are grateful to those who have shared their thoughts with us. It is clear that the Sackler name, with its link to the current health crisis, runs counter to the school's mission.

"In taking these actions, we will more fully enable our university and medical school to move forward in support of their missions and to help the countless individuals and families who have suffered as a result of the opioid crisis," the statement added.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday December 11, @08:09AM   Printer-friendly
from the small-roads-on-that-map dept.

Intel's Manufacturing Roadmap from 2019 to 2029: Back Porting, 7nm, 5nm, 3nm, 2nm, and 1.4 nm

One of the interesting disclosures here at the IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) has been around new and upcoming process node technologies. Almost every session so far this week has covered 7nm, 5nm, and 3nm processes (as the industry calls them). What we didn't expect to see disclosed was an extended roadmap of Intel's upcoming manufacturing processes.

[...] Intel expects to be on 2 year cadence with its manufacturing process node technology, starting with 10nm in 2019 and moving to 7nm EUV in 2021, then 5nm in 2023, 3nm in 2025, 2nm in 2027, and 1.4 nm in 2029. This is the first mention on 1.4nm for Intel on any slide, so this confirms where Intel is going, and just for context, if that 1.4nm is indicative of any actual feature, would be the equivalent of 12 silicon atoms across.

It is perhaps worth noting that some of the talks at this year's IEDM features dimensions on the order of 0.3nm with what are called '2D self-assembly' materials, so something this low isn't unheard of, but it is unheard of in silicon. Obviously there are many issues going that small that Intel (and its partners) will have to overcome.

Inbetween each process node, as Intel has stated before, there will be iterative + and ++ versions of each in order to extract performance from each process node. The only exception to this is 10nm, which is already on 10+, so we will see 10++ and 10+++ in 2020 and 2021 respectively. Intel believes they can do this on a yearly cadence, but also have overlapping teams to ensure that one full process node can overlap with another.

The interesting element to this slide is the mention of back porting. This is the ability for a chip to be designed with one process node in mind, but perhaps due to delays, can be remade on an older '++' version of a process node in the same timeframe. Despite Intel stating that they are disaggregating chip design from process node technology, at some point there has to be a commitment to a process node in order to start the layouts in silicon. At that point the process node procedure is kind of locked, especially when it goes to mask creation.

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Wednesday December 11, @06:20AM   Printer-friendly
from the Mercernaries-of-Academe dept.

Reported by NPR:

The University of Phoenix is paying a record $191 million to settle a complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission accusing the for-profit university of using deceptive ads to lure students with the promise of future job opportunities with large companies such as AT&T, Adobe, Twitter, Microsoft and Yahoo.

The settlement includes a plan to cancel $141 million in student debts that are owed to the school by people who enrolled from October 2012 through the end of 2016 – the period in which the FTC says prospective students might have been duped.

Court documents establishing the settlement give the University of Phoenix and its parent company, Apollo Education Group, 15 business days to send an email and letter to eligible students, informing them that they're covered by the agreement.

By the way, there is no University of Phoenix in Phoenix.

The University of Phoenix successfully targeted minorities, military veterans, service members and their spouses for enrollment, the FTC says, calling the University of Phoenix "the largest recipient of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits since the program's inception."

"The University of Phoenix once claimed nearly half a million students," NPR education correspondent Anya Kamenetz reports, "but enrollment has fallen sharply in the last decade amid several investigations, lawsuits and controversies."

Article specifies that current enrollment was below 100,000 in 2018.

Now all those students will have to go here.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday December 11, @04:55AM   Printer-friendly
from the Can-it-control-Qbert? dept.

Intel Horse Ridge is a rather cool chip for quantum computers

Designed to act as a radio frequency (RF) processor to control the qubits operating in the refrigerator, Horse Ridge is programmed with instructions that correspond to basic qubit operations. It translates those instructions into electromagnetic microwave pulses that can manipulate the state of the qubits.

Named for one of the coldest regions in Oregon, the Horse Ridge control chip was designed to operate at cryogenic temperatures — approximately 4 Kelvin. To put this in context, 4 Kelvin is only warmer than absolute zero — a temperature so cold that atoms nearly stop moving.

This feat is particularly exciting as Intel progresses its research into silicon spin qubits, which have the potential to operate at slightly higher temperatures than current quantum systems require.

Today, a quantum computer operates at in the millikelvin range — just a fraction of a degree above absolute zero. But silicon spin qubits have properties that could allow them to operate at 1 Kelvin or higher temperatures, which would dramatically reduce the challenges of refrigerating the quantum system.

As research progresses, Intel aims to have cryogenic controls and silicon spin qubits operate at the same temperature level. This will enable the company to leverage its expertise in advanced packaging and interconnect technologies to create a solution with the qubits and controls in one streamlined package.

Also at AnandTech.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday December 11, @03:04AM   Printer-friendly
from the program-is-borked dept.

Submitted via IRC for chromas

Ryuk Ransomware Decryptor Is Broken, Could Lead to Data Loss

Due to recent changes in the Ryuk Ransomware encryption process, a bug in the decryptor could lead to data loss in large files.

Ryuk is a ransomware infection known to target the enterprise or govt agencies by gaining access to their networks and then encrypting as many computers as possible. The attackers then demand large ransoms, sometimes in the millions, in order to receive a decryptor for their files.

According to antivirus and security firm Emsisoft, Ryuk was recently modified so that it does not encrypt the entire file if it is larger than than 57,000,000 bytes or 54.4 megabytes. This is done to prevent the encryption process from taking too long, which could allow victims to more readily detect that the ransomware was running.

Instead the decryptor will partially encrypt the file by encrypting a certain number of 1,000,000 byte blocks of data, up to a hard maximum of 2,000

For a large file, the ransomware will then store the number of blocks that were encrypted next the 'HERMES' file marker in the footer. For example, the encrypted file below had 112 1 million-byte blocks encrypted.

Smaller files that are entirely encrypted, though, will not contain a block count in the footer.

Emsisoft CTO Fabian Wosar told BleepingComputer that a bug in the Ryuk decryptor is causing the size of the footer in large files to not be properly calculated due to the variable nature of the block count.

This causes the decryptor to truncate certain files before the last byte.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday December 11, @01:15AM   Printer-friendly
from the power-to-the-people dept.

Brooklyn gets New York's biggest battery park from Italy's Enel:

Italy’s Enel has installed New York City’s biggest battery storage system, which it said on Monday will help power the Brooklyn area during periods of peak demand.

[...] NYC is looking to install 3,000 MW of energy storage by 2030 to help build a cleaner and more resilient grid and Enel said the 16.4 Megawatt hour (MWh) battery will help cut emissions by limiting the use of more carbon-intensive power.

Enel, Europe’s biggest utility and one of the world’s biggest renewable energy companies, said it had developed a 4.8-megawatt lithium ion battery system near a shopping center in East New York together with real estate owner Related Companies.

The battery is designed to support the local grid of New York energy company Con Edison when demand hits highs, it said in a joint statement with Related.

Not to be confused with Battery Park in Manhattan!

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday December 10, @11:21PM   Printer-friendly
from the sour-grapes? dept.

Why was Amazon heading to court to challenge the US Department of Defense's decision to award its $10bn winner-takes-all JEDI IT project to Microsoft rather than to, well, AWS?

“We’re in the middle of an act of litigation so there’s a limited amount I can say about it, but … we feel pretty strongly that it was not adjudicated fairly,” said Jassy. “If you do a truly objective and detailed apples to apples comparison of the platforms you don’t end up in the spot where that decision was made.

“Most of our customers tell us that we’re a couple of years ahead both with regard to functionality and maturity. I think we ended up with a situation where there was significant political interference.” Jassy claimed that having “a sitting president who’s willing to share openly his disdain for a company,” namely the Jeff Bezos-owned Amazon, makes it “really difficult for government agencies including the DoD to make an objective decision without fear of reprisal.”

Bezos also owns The Washington Post, which has drawn Trump's ire in the past, as well as Amazon.

Does Jassy have a point or is this just sour grapes?

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday December 10, @09:33PM   Printer-friendly
from the can't-get-there-from-here dept.

All neurodegenerative diseases have a common thread: the appearance of protein clumps in the brain such as amyloid-beta plaques in Alzheimer's disease and alpha synuclein aggregates in Parkinson's. The root cause of this buildup has been hard to pinpoint, but Rockefeller scientists have identified a likely culprit that opens up a new avenue for developing treatments.

In a pair of studies carried out in flies and mice, the researchers discovered that the issue lies in the system that transports proteasomes, the molecular machinery that breaks down proteins, to specific locations within a cell.

[...] "This is the first study to find a mechanism by which the proteasomes are moved to nerve endings to do their job," says Hermann Steller, the Strang Professor at Rockefeller. "When this mechanism gets disrupted, there are severe consequences for the function and long-term survival of nerve cells."

Proteasomes are made in the cell body of a neuron and need to be transported over long distances to reach the nerve endings where the neuron connects with other cells--a journey of more than one meter in some cases. When proteasomes fail to reach these critical communication hubs, the cell descends into turmoil.

"Instead of being degraded, damaged proteins in these sites hang around long enough to interact with other binding partners, form aggregates, and disrupt cell function," Steller says. Over time, this causes degeneration of nerve fibers and ultimately cell death.

When Steller and his team began investigating the proteasome transportation system in fruit flies, they identified a protein called PI31, which plays a crucial role in loading the proteasomes onto the cellular components that ferry them around. In research published in Developmental Cell, they show that PI31 enhances binding and promotes movement of proteasomes with cellular motors. Without it, transport is halted. This is the case in both fly and mouse neurons, suggesting that the transport mechanism is common between many species.

Original Submission