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Apps on Google Play Disguised as Security Tools Instead Serve Ads and Track Users' Location

Posted: 05 Jan 2018 07:50 AM PST

TrendMicro has discovered 36 apps in Google Play that execute unwanted behavior:

These apps posed as useful security tools under the names Security Defender, Security Keeper, Smart Security, Advanced Boost, and more. They also advertised a variety of capabilities: scanning, cleaning junk, saving battery, cooling the CPU, locking apps, as well as message security, WiFi security, and so on.

The apps were actually able to perform these simple tasks, but they also secretly harvested user data, tracked user location, and aggressively pushed advertisements.

The apps in question have been removed from Google Play.

Related: Google Pauses Crackdown on Apps That Use Accessibility Features

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The Otto Smart Lock's Creators Are Suspending Operations

Posted: 05 Jan 2018 06:17 AM PST

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1984

Smart lock company Otto is suspending operations after a failed acquisition agreement. In a blog post late last year, CEO and founder Sam Jadallah says the company made an acquisition deal that limited its ability to fundraise, but the buyer pulled out at the last minute, leaving Otto with no remaining cash. The first locks were supposed to ship within the next few weeks, but "Otto will not ship next month and it may never ship," says Jadallah. The company will "evaluate [its] options" for moving forward in the coming weeks.

The Otto Lock was pitched as a tiny and stylish, but very expensive, smart lock. It sold for $699, and was intended for wealthy homeowners.


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'PUBG' is Quietly Changing Video Games With its 3D Replay Technology

Posted: 05 Jan 2018 04:33 AM PST

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1984

The new replay tools offered in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds are so much more than standard video-capture technology. In fact, it isn't video capture at all -- it's data capture. The 3D replay tools allow players to zoom around the map after a match, tracking their own character, following enemies' movements, slowing down time and setting up cinematic shots of their favorite kills, all within a 1-kilometer radius of their avatar. It's filled with statistics, fresh perspectives and infinite data points to dissect. This isn't just a visual replay; it's a slice of the actual game, perfectly preserved, inviting combatants to play God.

The toolset comes from South Korean company Minkonet, which just opened a second office in Los Angeles. PUBG is its first big client, and last month's rollout marks the first real mainstream implementation of this data-capture technology.

It definitely won't be the last. According to Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer Gilbert Kim, Minkonet's phone has been ringing off the hook since the PUBG announcement, with studios around the world wanting a piece of the replay pie.


Original Submission

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Bitcoin Hype Pushes Hackers to Lesser-Known Cryptocurrencies

Posted: 05 Jan 2018 02:56 AM PST

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow8317

Cybercriminals are increasingly moving away from bitcoin as their preferred digital currency in favor of lesser-known cryptocurrencies because of prolonged transaction delays, surging transaction costs and general market volatility, experts tell CyberScoop.

Although cybercriminals have been slowly moving away from bitcoin for months, researchers say a noticeable shift towards alternative coins — such as Monero, Dash and ZCash — occurred when bitcoin's value skyrocketed over $19,000 for one bitcoin in mid-December. The price has drastically fluctuated between $12,000 and roughly $19,000 since then.

"Many cybercriminals emulate the operational best practices of legitimate businesses in order to minimize their overhead costs and maximize returns, and in the case of high transaction costs with bitcoin, it makes perfect sense to look at other coins with smaller overheads," said Richard Henderson, a global security strategist with endpoint cybersecurity firm Absolute.


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Vietnam's Internet Monitoring Force, Tasked With Stamping Out 'Wrongful Views'

Posted: 05 Jan 2018 01:19 AM PST

Over at Techdirt, Glyn Moody writes about Vietnam's Internet monitoring unit called "Force 47". The unit is a large team, around 10,000 in number, tasked with combating prohibited viewpoints, inconvenient facts, and anything against policy through monitoring, complaints, and astroturfing.

Facebook this year removed 159 accounts at Vietnam's behest, while YouTube took down 4,500 videos, or 90 percent of what the government requested, according to VietnamNet news, which cited Minister of Information and Communications Truong Minh Tuan last week. The National Assembly is debating a cybersecurity bill that would require technology companies to store certain data on servers in the country.

Related: Indonesia Introduces New Internet Censorship System

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GIMPS Project Discovers Largest Known Prime Number: (2^77,232,917)-1

Posted: 04 Jan 2018 11:38 PM PST

New largest known prime number found:

RALEIGH, NC., January 3, 2018 -- The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS) has discovered the largest known prime number, 277,232,917-1, having 23,249,425 digits. A computer volunteered by Jonathan Pace made the find on December 26, 2017. Jonathan is one of thousands of volunteers using free GIMPS software available at

The new prime number, also known as M77232917, is calculated by multiplying together 77,232,917 twos, and then subtracting one. It is nearly one million digits larger than the previous record prime number, in a special class of extremely rare prime numbers known as Mersenne primes. It is only the 50th known Mersenne prime ever discovered, each increasingly difficult to find. Mersenne primes were named for the French monk Marin Mersenne, who studied these numbers more than 350 years ago. GIMPS, founded in 1996, has discovered the last 16 Mersenne primes. Volunteers download a free program to search for these primes, with a cash award offered to anyone lucky enough to find a new prime. Prof. Chris Caldwell maintains an authoritative web site on the largest known primes, and has an excellent history of Mersenne primes.

The primality proof took six days of non-stop computing on a PC with an Intel i5-6600 CPU. To prove there were no errors in the prime discovery process, the new prime was independently verified using four different programs on four different hardware configurations.

  • Aaron Blosser verified it using Prime95 on an Intel Xeon server in 37 hours.
  • David Stanfill verified it using gpuOwL on an AMD RX Vega 64 GPU in 34 hours.
  • Andreas Höglund verified the prime using CUDALucas running on NVidia Titan Black GPU in 73 hours.
  • Ernst Mayer also verified it using his own program Mlucas on 32-core Xeon server in 82 hours. Andreas Höglund also confirmed using Mlucas running on an Amazon AWS instance in 65 hours.

Jonathan Pace is a 51-year old Electrical Engineer living in Germantown, Tennessee. Perseverance has finally paid off for Jon - he has been hunting for big primes with GIMPS for over 14 years. The discovery is eligible for a $3,000 GIMPS research discovery award.

I once had Pi (π) memorized to 200 decimal places, but that has fallen to only 120 digits. What mathematical/numerical oddity/skill do you have?

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Trump Tweets 'Good News' About Death-Free Year in Commercial Aviation Industry

Posted: 04 Jan 2018 09:54 PM PST

President Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday morning to report some good news concerning the commercial aviation industry. Namely, that there wasn't a single commercial aviation-related death in 2017.

Trump's announcement, however, has come under scrutiny from the media and Twitter users alike — but not because it makes a dubious claim. Rather, he's being criticized by those who felt he took credit for the statistic.

Since taking office I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation. Good news - it was just reported that there were Zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018

The report to which Trump was likely referring was conducted by the Aviation Safety Network (ASN), a Dutch affiliate of the non-profit Flight Safety Foundation, The Wall Street Journal said. According to their statistics, not only were there no airline passenger fatalities recorded among U.S.-based carriers, but anywhere in the world. As a result, the ASN ultimately declared 2017 "the safest year in aviation history."

[...] Despite the good news, the ASN did report on 10 fatal airline accidents that occurred in 2017, but the Wall Street Journal explained that half of those involved cargo planes and the other half propeller-powered aircraft.

Trump's tweet, then, is factually accurate, though critics argue that it isn't due to any of his "strict" policies. The Atlantic, for example, argued that the statistic detailed in the report refers to the global fatalities, and that the U.S. hasn't seen a commercial aviation fatality since 2009, or long before he took office.


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FDA Approves First Shock Wave Device Made to Heal Wounds

Posted: 04 Jan 2018 08:21 PM PST

Submitted via IRC for Fnord666_

Using "acoustic shock waves" to promote healing isn't just for Overwatch, as Sanuwave has obtained FDA approval for its Dermapace System (Pulsed Acoustic Cellular Expression = PACE). Its approval is specifically to help heal foot ulcers in diabetic patients, where damage to blood vessels and nerves can lead to reduced circulation, infection and sometimes amputation. The Dermapace mechanically stimulates the wound, which Sanuwave says promotes healing. Like several other "first" FDA approvals we've seen recently, this device went through the de novo review process designed specifically to get new technology on the market.


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The Evidence-Based Medicine Problem: US Doctors Cling to Procedures that Don't Work

Posted: 04 Jan 2018 06:48 PM PST

Submitted via IRC for Fnord666

The recent news that stents inserted in patients with heart disease to keep arteries open work no better than a placebo ought to be shocking. Each year, hundreds of thousands of American patients receive stents for the relief of chest pain, and the cost of the procedure ranges from $11,000 to $41,000 in US hospitals.

But in fact, American doctors routinely prescribe medical treatments that are not based on sound science.

The stent controversy serves as a reminder that the United States struggles when it comes to winnowing evidence-based treatments from the ineffective chaff. As surgeon and health care researcher Atul Gawande observes, "Millions of people are receiving drugs that aren't helping them, operations that aren't going to make them better, and scans and tests that do nothing beneficial for them, and often cause harm."

Of course, many Americans receive too little medicine, not too much. But the delivery of useless or low-value services should concern anyone who cares about improving the quality, safety and cost-effectiveness of medical care. Estimates vary about what fraction of the treatments provided to patients is supported by adequate evidence, but some reviews place the figure at under half.

Read more of this story at SoylentNews.

All 50 States Vote 'Yes' on AT&T's $40 Billion Emergency Response Network FirstNet

Posted: 04 Jan 2018 05:15 PM PST

Submitted via IRC for Fnord666_

From wildfires in California to hurricanes on the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, communications are the bedrock of emergency response and management. However, those communications can be challenging when quickly evolving situations cross multiple jurisdictions — a truth painfully learned on 9/11, when more than a dozen agencies found it difficult to relay critical information to the right people at the right time.

Today, AT&T announced that all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia have officially signed on to FirstNet, a government program operated by AT&T to provide universal emergency response communications across the country. States had until yesterday to officially opt-in or opt-out of the FirstNet system. California, Florida, Mississippi and New York were among the states that waited until the last minute to confirm their participation.

This is a major win for AT&T, which officially won the FirstNet contract this past March. The contract stipulated that AT&T would manage the network for 25 years, and the company committed to spending $40 billion to manage and operate the network. In exchange, the company would receive 20 MHz of critical wireless spectrum from the FCC, as well as payments from the government totaling $6.5 billion for the initial network rollout.

Read more of this story at SoylentNews.

NVIDIA Updates License to Restrict Use of GeForce and Titan GPUs in Data Centers

Posted: 04 Jan 2018 03:42 PM PST

Nvidia's updated license for NVIDIA GeForce Software bans most usage of gaming-oriented GPUs in data centers, except for the purpose of "blockchain processing":

Nvidia has banned the use of its GeForce and Titan gaming graphics cards in data centers – forcing organizations to fork out for more expensive gear, like its latest Tesla V100 chips. The chip-design giant updated its GeForce and Titan software licensing in the past few days, adding a new clause that reads: "No Datacenter Deployment. The SOFTWARE is not licensed for datacenter deployment, except that blockchain processing in a datacenter is permitted."

In other words, if you wanted to bung a bunch of GeForce GPUs into a server box and use them to accelerate math-heavy software – such as machine learning, simulations and analytics – then, well, you can't without breaking your licensing agreement with Nvidia. Unless you're doing trendy blockchain stuff.

A copy of the license in the Google cache, dated December 31, 2017, shows no mention of the data center ban. Open the page today, and, oh look, data center use is verboten. To be precise, the controversial end-user license agreement (EULA) terms cover the drivers for Nvidia's GeForce GTX and Titan graphics cards. However, without Nvidia's proprietary drivers, you can't unlock the full potential of the hardware, so Nv has you over a barrel.

It's not just a blow for people building their own servers and data centers, it's a blow for any computer manufacturer – such as HPE or Dell – that hoped to flog GPU-accelerated servers, using GTX or Titan hardware, much cheaper than Nvidia charges for, say, its expensive DGX family of GPU-accelerated servers. A DGX-1 with Tesla V100 chips costs about $150,000 from Nvidia. A GeForce or Titan-powered box would cost much less albeit with much less processing power.

NVIDIA's DGX-1 product page.

Also at DataCenter Knowledge.

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U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions Will Rescind the Cole Memo

Posted: 04 Jan 2018 01:56 PM PST

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will reportedly rescind the Cole Memo (DoJ), effectively ending the moratorium on enforcing cannabis prohibition in states where it has been legalized:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions will roll back an Obama-era policy that gave states leeway to allow marijuana for recreational purposes.

Two sources with knowledge of the decision confirmed to The Hill that Sessions will rescind the so-called Cole memo, which ordered U.S. attorneys in states where marijuana has been legalized to deprioritize prosecution of marijuana-related cases.

The Associated Press first reported the decision.

Sessions, a vocal critic of marijuana legalization, has hinted for months that he would move to crack down on the growing cannabis market.

Republican Senator Cory Gardner says he will hold up the confirmation process for DoJ nominees:

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) threatened on Thursday to start holding up the confirmation process for White House Justice Department nominees unless Attorney General Jeff Sessions reverses a decision to roll back a policy allowing legalized recreational use of marijuana in some states.

Gardner said in a series of tweets that Sessions had told him before he was confirmed by the Senate that he would not change an Obama-era policy that discouraged federal prosecutors from pursuing marijuana-related offenses in states where the substance had been legalized. Colorado is one of those states.

[...] The Justice Department's reversal of the Cole memo on Thursday came three days after California's new law allowing recreational marijuana use went into effect.

Other politicians have reacted strongly to the news.

Previously: New Attorney General Claims Legal Weed Drives Violent Crime; Statistics be Damned
4/20: The Third Time's Not the Charm
Jeff Sessions Reboots the Drug War
According to Gallup, American Support for Cannabis Legalization is at an All-Time High
Opioid Commission Drops the Ball, Demonizes Cannabis
Recreational Cannabis Goes on Sale in California

Related: Attorney General Nominee Jeff Sessions Backs Crypto Backdoors

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How Did You Start Programming?

Posted: 04 Jan 2018 12:23 PM PST

With the recent brouhaha about vulnerabilities in many relatively recent processors, I got to thinking back to the time when I first started programming. Back then, things seemed so much simpler and much more straightforward.

To start off the new year, I thought it might be interesting to find out how people got their start in programming.

My first exposure to programming was by means of a Teletype over a dialup line using an acoustical coupler to a PDP-8 computer running TSS/8 and which had 24 KB of RAM. At the time, Star Trek ToS was on the air, and I thought this was the new, big thing. I was quickly disappointed by it not measuring up to anything like what I saw on TV, but I saw it had promise. Started with BASIC (and FOCAL). Later on was exposed to a PDP-11 running RSTS/E and programmed in BASIC+ as well as some Pascal.

As for owning a computer, the first one I bought was an OSI[*] Challenger 4P with a whopping 4KB of RAM!

From those humble beginnings, I ate up everything I could lay my hands on and later worked for a wide variety of companies that ranged in size from major internationals to tiny startups. Even had a hand in a project for Formula 1!

So, my fellow Soylentils, how did you get started programming? Where has it taken you?

[*] One day when my girlfriend came over and saw the OSI logo on my computer her eyes got huge! You see, The Six Million Dollar Man was on television at that time, and she suddenly suspected I was connected to the "Office of Scientific Intelligence"!

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Nearly 250K People's PII Compromised at Department of Homeland Security

Posted: 04 Jan 2018 10:50 AM PST

From Security Week we have a report that nearly a quarter-million people have had Personally Identifiable Information (PII) compromised by the Department of Homeland Security:

The privacy incident involved a database used by the DHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) which was stored in the DHS OIG Case Management System.

The incident impacted approximately 247,167 current and former federal employees that were employed by DHS in 2014. The exposed Personally identifiable information (PII) of these individuals includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, positions, grades, and duty stations.

Individuals (both DHS employees and non-DHS employees) associated with DHS OIG investigations from 2002 through 2014 (including subjects, witnesses, and complainants) were also affected by the incident, the DHS said.

The PII associated with these individuals varies depending on the documentation and evidence collected for a given case and could include names, social security numbers, alien registration numbers, dates of birth, email addresses, phone numbers, addresses, and personal information provided in interviews with DHS OIG investigative agents.

The data breach wasn't the result of an external attack, the DHS claims. The leaked data was found in an unauthorized copy of the DHS OIG investigative case management system that was in the possession of a former DHS OIG employee.

The data breach was discovered on May 10, 2017, as part of an ongoing criminal investigation conducted by DHS OIG and the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"The privacy incident did not stem from a cyber-attack by external actors, and the evidence indicates that affected individual's personal information was not the primary target of the unauthorized exfiltration," DHS explained.

No word on whether or not the copy was encrypted in any fashion. Is this a genuine issue, or just the result of an employee making a local copy of the DHS case management system for working at from home?

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