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2022-06-22 11:02:34 UTC
2022-06-27 11:52:53 UTC --fnord666
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North Korean hackers stole almost $400m (£291m) worth of digital assets in at least seven attacks on cryptocurrency platforms last year, a report claims.
Blockchain analysis company Chainalysis said it was one of most successful years on record for cyber-criminals in the closed east Asian state. The attacks mainly targeted investment firms and centralised exchanges. North Korea has routinely denied being involved in hack attacks attributed to them.
"From 2020 to 2021, the number of North Korean-linked hacks jumped from four to seven, and the value extracted from these hacks grew by 40%," Chainalysis said in a report.
The hackers used a number of techniques, including phishing lures, code exploits and malware to siphon funds from the organisations' "hot" wallets and then moved them into North Korea-controlled addresses, the company said.
Cryptocurrency hot wallets are connected to the internet and cryptocurrency network and so are vulnerable to hacking. They are used to send and receive cryptocurrency, and allow users to view how many tokens they have. Many experts recommend moving large amounts of cryptocurrency not needed day-to-day to "cold" wallets, which are disconnected from the wider internet.
When researchers in 1996 reported they had found organic molecules nestled in an ancient Martian meteorite discovered in Antarctica, it caused quite a buzz. Some insisted the compounds were big-if-true evidence of life having existed on Mars (SN: 3/8/01). Others, though, pointed to contamination by earthly life-forms or some nonbiological origins (SN: 1/10/18).
Now, a geochemical analysis of the meteorite provides the latest buzzkill to the idea that alien life inhabited the 4.09-billion-year-old fragment of the Red Planet. It suggests instead that the organic matter within probably formed from the chemical interplay of water and minerals mingling under Mars' surface, researchers report in the Jan. 14 Science. Even so, the finding could aid in the search for life, the team says.
Organic molecules are often produced by living organisms, but they can also arise from nonbiological, abiotic processes. Though myriad hypotheses claim to explain what sparked life, many researchers consider abiotic organic molecules to be necessary starting material. Martian geologic processes could have been generating these compounds for billions of years, the new study suggests.
"These organic chemicals could have become the primordial soup that might have helped form life on [Mars]," says Andrew Steele, a biochemist from the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C. Whether life ever existed there, however, remains unknown.
[...] Though the work doesn't bring us any closer to proving or disproving the existence of life on Mars, identifying abiotic sources of organic compounds there is crucial for the search, Steele explains. Once you've figured out how Martian organic chemistry acts without meddlesome life, he says, "you can then look to see if it's been tweaked."
A. Steele, L. G. Benning, R. Wirth, A. Schreiber, et al. Organic synthesis associated with serpentinization and carbonation on early Mars, Science (DOI: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abg7905)
Dozens of Ukrainian government sites have been hit by an ominous cyberattack, with hackers warning people to "be afraid and expect the worst."
The attack took over websites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cabinet of ministers and security and defense council, posting a message on screens in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish that read: "Ukrainian! All your personal data was uploaded to the public network. All data on the computer is destroyed, it is impossible to restore it."
"All information about you has become public, be afraid and expect the worst. This is for your past, present and future," the hackers said.
"As a result of a massive cyber attack, the websites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a number of other government agencies are temporarily down," a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Twitter. "Our specialists have already started restoring the work of IT systems, and the cyberpolice has opened an investigation."
The US has information that indicates Russia has prepositioned a group of operatives to conduct a false-flag operation in eastern Ukraine, a US official told CNN on Friday, in an attempt to create a pretext for an invasion.
The official said the US has evidence that the operatives are trained in urban warfare and in using explosives to carry out acts of sabotage against Russia's own proxy forces.
[...] The US intelligence finding comes after a week's worth of diplomatic meetings between Russian and Western officials over Russia's amassing of tens of thousands of troops along Ukraine's border. But the talks failed to achieve any breakthroughs, as Russia would not commit to de-escalating and American and NATO officials said Moscow's demands -- including that NATO never admit Ukraine into the alliance -- were non-starters.
Scientists led by Professor Ana J. Garcia-Saez at the CECAD Cluster of Excellence for Aging Research at the University of Cologne have shown that apoptosis, the programmed cell death, involves a direct physical interplay between the two proteins BAX and DRP1. DRP1 can serve as a direct cell death activator by binding to BAX without the need for other cell death triggers. This finding could lead to the development of new cell death regulators for cancer therapies, for example. The article, 'DRP1 interacts directly with BAX to induce its activation and apoptosis' was published in The EMBO Journal.
It is known that the so-called 'apoptotic enforcer protein' BAX encounters DRP1 in the cell at the mitochondrial membrane. The latter is a dynamin-like protein that plays a critical role in mitochondrial division. However, the functional implications of their interaction and the contribution of DRP1 to apoptosis have been highly controversial.
BAX is a key protein in the pathway to cell death. Understanding the mechanism of action of BAX is critical for therapeutic regulation of apoptosis. Using super-resolution confocal fluorescence microscopy and biochemical as well as biophysical methods in model membrane systems, the research team was able to demonstrate the direct interaction of the two proteins in dying cells. In addition, using a system that artificially brings the two proteins together, they investigated the functional consequences of the interaction of BAX and DRP1.
"When we artificially force the interaction of the two proteins, they move from the cytoplasm to the mitochondria, where the protein complex triggers a reorganization of the mitochondria. This leads to pores in the membrane. The contents of the mitochondria enter the cell plasma, which ultimately leads to cell death," said Andreas Jenner, first author of the study.
Apoptosis at Wikipedia.
Andreas Jenner, Aida Peña-Blanco, Raquel Salvador-Gallego, et al. DRP1 interacts directly with BAX to induce its activation and apoptosis [open], The EMBO Journal (DOI: 10.15252/embj.2021108587)
Four more US diplomats working in Geneva and Paris have fallen ill with a suspected neurological illness known as "Havana syndrome", US media report. Three diplomats became sick in the Swiss city and one in the French capital last summer, with some 200 people affected over five years.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the American government was working to get to the bottom of the mystery. There are fears an adversary may have targeted diplomats with microwaves. Mr Blinken said the issue had been raised with Russia but no determination had been made.
[...] A more innocent, but also unproven, theory is that those who got sick suffered from a mass condition brought on by some stressful underlying situation.
While she is likely to receive prison time for defrauding investors, she will be able to spend the next eight and a half months out on bail. She faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each of the four counts she was convicted of, though it’s unlikely that she’ll be sentenced to all 80 years.
Holmes has been out on bail since June 2018, when she and alleged co-conspirator Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani were charged. Both were released after posting $500,000 bonds and surrendering their passports. Now that Holmes has been convicted and is awaiting sentencing, her bond will have to be secured by property. Their trials have been repeatedly pushed back, first because of the COVID pandemic and then later because Holmes gave birth.
Part of the reason Holmes’ sentencing has been postponed is because the government still has to prosecute its case against Balwani.
2022/01/04 - Elizabeth Holmes Found Guilty on 4 of 11 Charges
2020/09/13 - Judge in Theranos Fraud Case Orders 14-Hour Psychological Test for Holmes
2019/07/01 - Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes to Face Trial Next Year on Fraud Charges
2018/09/06 - Theranos to Dissolve in a Pool of Blood
2018/06/17 - Elizabeth Holmes Steps Down as Theranos CEO as DoJ Levels Charges
2018/03/15 - Blood Unicorn Fairy Tale: Theranos Founder Charged With Fraud
2017/12/24 - Theranos Given Indirect Lifeline From Softbank
2016/10/06 - Theranos Lays Off 340, Closes Labs and "Wellness Centers"
2016/08/03 - Theranos Introduces New Product to Distract from Scandal
(CNN)Sixteen top US universities, including Duke, Vanderbilt and Northwestern, are being sued by five former students claiming those schools may be involved in antitrust violations in the way those institutions worked together in determining financial aid awards for students, according to the lawsuit filed in a US District Court in Illinois.
The complaint, which was filed Sunday, alleges that these private national universities have "participated in a price-fixing cartel that is designed to reduce or eliminate financial aid as a locus of competition, and that in fact has artificially inflated the net price of attendance for students receiving financial aid."
The suit is asking for class-action status to cover any US citizen or permanent resident who paid tuition, room, or board at these institutions within varying timeframes from 2003 to the present. The plaintiffs want a permanent injunction against this alleged conspiracy, and that they are also seeking restitution and damages to be determined in court.
[...] The lawsuit alleges nine schools (Columbia, Dartmouth, Duke, Georgetown, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern, Notre Dame, the University of Pennsylvania and Vanderbilt) have "made admissions decisions with regard to the financial circumstances of students and their families, " thereby disfavoring students who need financial aid."
POLITICAL LEADERS HAVE been trying to replicate Silicon Valley’s high-tech magic since the invention of the microchip. A tech-curious Charles de Gaulle, then president of France, toured Palo Alto in his convertible limousine in 1960. Russian Federation President Dmitri Medvedev dressed business casual to meet and tweet with Valley social media tycoons in 2010. Hundreds of eager delegations, foreign and domestic, visited in between. “Silicon Valley,” inventor and entrepreneur Robert Metcalfe once remarked, “is the only place on earth not trying to figure out how to become Silicon Valley.”
In the US, too, leaders have long tried to engineer another Silicon Valley. Yet billions of dollars of tax breaks and “Silicon Something” marketing campaigns later, no place has matched the original’s track record for firm creation and venture capital investment—and these efforts often ended up benefiting multinational corporations far more than the regions themselves. Wisconsin promised more than $4 billion in tax breaks and subsidies to Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn in 2017, only to see plans for a $10 billion factory and 13,000 jobs evaporate after hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars had already been spent to prepare for Foxconn’s arrival. Amazon’s 2017 search for a second headquarters had 238 American cities falling over each other to woo one of the world’s richest corporations with tax-and-subsidy packages, only to see HQ2 go to two places Amazon likely would have chosen anyway because of their preexisting tech talent. One of the winners, Northern Virginia, promised Amazon up to $773 million in state and local tax subsidies—a public price tag for gleaming high-tech towers that seems especially steep as Amazon joins other tech giants in indefinitely pushing back post-pandemic plans to return to the office.
While the American tech industry is vastly larger than it used to be, the list of top tech clusters—the Bay Area, Seattle, Boston, Austin—has remained largely unchanged since the days of 64K desktop computers and floppy disks. Even the disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic have done little to alter this remarkably static and highly imbalanced tech geography.
[...] It wasn’t just tech policy that made these regions what they are, however. Social spending mattered too. In the prosperous postwar years, the GI Bill sent millions of veterans to college and helped them buy homes. States like California enlarged public higher education systems, making it easy to obtain a low-cost, top-flight university education. Schools and local infrastructure were well-funded, especially in the growing suburbs that many tech people and companies called home.
[...] The US government had a transformative impact on high-tech development when its leaders were willing to spend big money on research, advanced technology, and higher education—and keep at it for quite some time.
[...] The next Silicon Valley will not come from a race to the bottom, from who can offer the most tax cuts, the leanest government, the loosest regulations. It will result from the kind of broad, sustained public investment that built the original Valley.
[Based on a Book] The Code - SILICON VALLEY AND THE REMAKING OF AMERICA By MARGARET O’MARA
Why do you think "Silicon Valleys" elsewhere did not become as successful?
AMD's Ryzen 7 5800X3D, the new 3D V-cache processor revealed at CES, may only be produced in small numbers when it lands in early 2022 – and the chip may remain thin on the ground until the second half of the year rolls around, going by the latest from the rumor mill.
This comes from DigiTimes (via PC Gamer), which reports that TSMC, which is making the 5800X3D, is only expected to kick off with 'small-volume production' of the processor, according to the usual industry sources in the know. However, the report also makes clear that production could ramp up considerably when TSMC's new packaging plant in Chunan (Taiwan) goes live later in the year (supposedly in the second half of 2022).
So, while everyone is (rightly) cautious about the potential amount of stock when it comes to many new PC components at launch, it appears that the Ryzen 7 5800X3D could be particularly shaky to begin with – perhaps for the first few months of the CPU being on shelves (or not, as the case may be).
At least if this report is correct, anyway; and note we certainly must be cautious on that score, as DigiTimes isn't always the most reliable media outlet.
[...] We know that component shortages are making life difficult for AMD (and everyone else) anyway, certainly for the first half of this year, and as PC Gamer points out, the company has to prioritize enterprise chips (Epyc) to a large extent at the high-end as these are big profit spinners.
In a new study, researchers at Karolinska Institutet have identified the presence of a specific connection between a protein and an lncRNA molecule in liver cancer. By increasing the presence of the lncRNA molecule, the fat depots of the tumor cell decrease , which causes the division of tumor cells to cease, and they eventually die. The study, published in the journal Gut, contributes to increased knowledge that can add to a better diagnosis and future cancer treatments.
Our genome gives our cells instructions that determine each cell type's highly specialized function. The information is sent out using two different types of RNA molecules: coding RNA that converts DNA into proteins and non-coding RNA that do not produce proteins.
Because non-coding RNA molecules do not produce proteins, they have not been the main focus of research in the past, even though they amount to approximately 97 per cent of the RNA in our body. However, certain proteins, called RNA-binding proteins, have been shown to play a crucial role in cancer because of their ability to affect several different properties of RNA molecules.
"With the help of tissue material donated by patients with liver cancer, we have been able to map both the coding and non-coding part of our genome to identify which RNA-binding proteins have a high presence in liver cancer cells," says the study's senior author Claudia Kutter, researcher at the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology, Karolinska Institutet. "We found that many of these proteins interacted with a long type of non-coding RNA molecules, so-called lncRNA."
The research team conducted a more detailed study of a specific pairing of a RNA-binding protein (CCT3) and an lncRNA molecule (LINC00326). Using advanced CRISPR technology, they were able to both reduce and increase the amount of the protein and the lncRNA to see how it affected the cancer cells. When the lncRNA was increased, the fat depots of the tumor cell decreased, the cell division ceased and many of the cancer cells died. Following the laboratory studies, the results were also verified in vivo.
Jonas Nørskov Søndergaard, Christian Sommerauer, Ionut Atanasoai, et al. CCT3-LINC00326 axis regulates hepatocarcinogenic lipid metabolism [open], Gut (DOI: 10.1136/gutjnl-2021-325109)
After an initial setback, the Federal Trade Commission's antitrust case against Facebook, which recently renamed itself Meta, is going ahead.
Back in June, a US federal judge ruled that the FTC's initial argument accusing Facebook of being a monopoly was too vague. But the agency refiled the case, and now, the same judge has ruled that the FTC's amended case against Facebook is "more robust and detailed than before" and can go ahead. The court rejected Facebook's request to dismiss the case altogether, a decision that dealt a blow against Facebook's ongoing battle with government regulators over its market power.
The FTC is one of the most powerful US regulatory agencies. If it wins its case against Facebook, there could be major negative implications for the social media company.
"FTC staff presented a strong amended complaint, and we look forward to trial," said Holly Vedova, director of the FTC Bureau of Competition, in a statement to Recode.
Facebook, meanwhile, said it believes it will ultimately succeed in its battle against the FTC.
"We're confident the evidence will reveal the fundamental weakness of the claims. Our investments in Instagram and WhatsApp transformed them into what they are today. They have been good for competition, and good for the people and businesses that choose to use our products," said Meta company spokesperson Chris Sgro, in part, in a statement to Recode.
Most Windows versions are at risk of remote, unprivileged attackers abusing RDP from the inside to hijack smart cards and get unauthorized file system access.
Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) pipes have a security bug that could allow any standard, unprivileged Joe-Schmoe user to access other connected users' machines. If exploited, it could lead to data-privacy issues, lateral movement and privilege escalation, researchers warned.
Insider attackers could, for instance, view and modify other people's clipboard data, or impersonate other logged-in users using smart cards.
The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2022-21893, wasn't ballyhooed amid yesterday's crowded mega-dump of Patch Tuesday security updates, but it's more than worthy of scrutiny, according to a Tuesday report from CyberArk, which discovered the bug lurking in Windows Remote Desktop Services.
What's more, it's a widespread issue. The bug dates back at least to Windows Server 2012 R2, CyberArk software architect and security champion Gabriel Sztejnworcel wrote, leading the firm to conclude that the latest versions of Windows – including client and server editions – are affected.
"We can say that the majority of Windows versions in use today are affected," he confirmed. It's also easy to exploit. Microsoft said that an exploit of the vulnerability would be of low complexity[,] leading to a CVSS criticality rating of 7.7 out of 10, making it "important" in severity.
[...] As remote work has surged, cybercriminals have taken note of the increased adoption of RDP – not hard to do, given that a simple Shodan search reveals thousands of vulnerable servers reachable via the internet, along with millions of exposed RDP ports. In fact, between Q1 and Q4 2020, attacks against RDP surged by 768 percent, Dunn noted, while an October 2020 report published by Kroll identified that 47 percent of ransomware attacks were preceded by RDP compromise.
Bud Broomhead, CEO at Viakoo, observed that RDP vulnerabilities "enable some of the worst cyber-criminal activities, including planting of deepfakes, data exfiltration, and spoofing of identity and credentials."
He told Threatpost on Wednesday that while RDP is required for normal system maintenance, it can't be left to run on its lonesome. "Additional defenses like establishing a zero-trust framework and having an automated method of quickly implementing firmware fixes are needed to ensure RDP is used safely," he said via email.
Do you ever take any practical action when you see these warnings, or do you just trust your distro to issue updated software?
Google is making a last-ditch effort to change the EU's incoming laws on Big Tech with a flurry of advertising, emails and targeted social media posts aimed at politicians and officials in Brussels.
As EU policymakers put the finishing touches to the Digital Markets Act (DMA), executives at Google's headquarters in Silicon Valley are stepping up their efforts to water down parts of the legislation that they fear may have a severe impact on their business. "Top executives in California have known about the DMA all along but they are only waking up now," said one Google insider.
The campaign includes direct lobbying by Google, but also by several trade associations that the search engine giant funds.
Kim van Sparrentak, a Dutch MEP, said she had noticed a marked escalation in lobbying in recent weeks, with the message that curbing Google would harm small businesses. She said she had been invited to discuss her views with Google, at a time of her choosing, and had been invited to an event organised by the company on the benefits of digital marketing to small businesses.
[...] One campaign against a proposed ban on targeted advertising, which appeared on Twitter and in the trade press, was led by IAB Europe. "I'm being targeted with a nearly unrecognisable ad aimed at EU officials promoting false info and solely referring to studies of IAB," Alderik Oosthoek, a policy adviser at the European Parliament, wrote on Twitter.
[...] Google is concerned that the legislation will prevent it from promoting businesses that it owns, such as its travel and hospitality comparison services, on its search results pages, a practice known as "self-preferencing". This could force Google to "change the design of general search pages fundamentally", said Thomas Hoppner, at the law firm Hausfeld.
The researchers found that people's name recall improved significantly when memories of newly learned face-name associations were reactivated while they were napping. Key to this improvement was uninterrupted deep sleep.
[...] The research team found that for study participants with EEG measures (a recording of electrical activity of the brain picked up by electrodes on the scalp) that indicated disrupted sleep, the memory reactivation didn't help and may even be detrimental. But in those with uninterrupted sleep during the specific times of sound presentations, the reactivation led to a relative improvement averaging just over 1.5 more names recalled.
The study was conducted on 24 participants, aged 18-31 years old, who were asked to memorize the faces and names of 40 pupils from a hypothetical Latin American history class and another 40 from a Japanese history class. When each face was shown again, they were asked to produce the name that went with it. After the learning exercise, participants took a nap while the researchers carefully monitored brain activity using EEG measurements. When participants reached the N3 "deep sleep" state, some of the names were softly played on a speaker with music that was associated with one of the classes.
When participants woke up, they were retested on recognizing the faces and recalling the name that went with each face.
[...] "We already know that some sleep disorders like apnea can impair memory," said Whitmore. "Our research suggests a potential explanation for this -- frequent sleep interruptions at night might be degrading memory."
See, also, Wikipedia entry on Prosopagnosia:
Prosopagnosia (from Greek prósōpon, meaning "face", and agnōsía, meaning "non-knowledge"), also called face blindness, is a cognitive disorder of face perception in which the ability to recognize familiar faces, including one's own face (self-recognition), is impaired, while other aspects of visual processing (e.g., object discrimination) and intellectual functioning (e.g., decision-making) remain intact. The term originally referred to a condition following acute brain damage (acquired prosopagnosia), but a congenital or developmental form of the disorder also exists, with a prevalence of 2.5%. The brain area usually associated with prosopagnosia is the fusiform gyrus, which activates specifically in response to faces. The functionality of the fusiform gyrus allows most people to recognize faces in more detail than they do similarly complex inanimate objects. For those with prosopagnosia, the method for recognizing faces depends on the less sensitive object-recognition system. The right hemisphere fusiform gyrus is more often involved in familiar face recognition than the left. It remains unclear whether the fusiform gyrus is specific for the recognition of human faces or if it is also involved in highly trained visual stimuli.
Nathan W. Whitmore, Adrianna M. Bassard, Ken A. Paller. Targeted memory reactivation of face-name learning depends on ample and undisturbed slow-wave sleep [open], npj Science of Learning (DOI: 10.1038/s41539-021-00119-2)
Pop-up greeting cards are about to get a whole lot more interesting. Researchers at Seoul National University in Korea have created glowing 3D objects with a series of prototypes that fold thin QLED (Quantum Dot LED) sheets like origami. They used a CO2 laser to etch "fold lines" in the QLED so the sheets could be formed into 3D shapes. The bends are actually rounded, but at 5μm they appear to be sharp corners and the panels continue to illuminate across the fold lines for at least 500 folds. Some glow in solid colors, while others use smaller addressable areas to create animated matrix displays of patterns and letterforms. See the short video after the break, read the Physics World article or to see all the prototypes and dig into details of the full research paper in Nature (freed from the paywall by SharedIt).
51-second YouTube video.