Please try the URL privacy information feature enabled by clicking the flashlight icon above. This will reveal two icons after each link the body of the digest. The shield takes you to a breakdown of Terms of Service for the site - however only a small number of sites are covered at the moment. The flashlight take you to an analysis of the various trackers etc. that the linked site delivers. Please let the website maintainer know if you find this useful or not. As a RISKS reader, you will probably not be surprised by what is revealed…
*Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the attacker tried to raise levels of sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, by a factor of more than 100.* Local and federal authorities are investigating after an attempt Friday to poison the city of Oldsmar's water supply, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said. Someone remotely accessed a computer for the city's water treatment system and briefly increased the amount of sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, by a factor of more than 100, Gualtieri said at a news conference Monday. The chemical is used in small amounts to control the acidity of water but it's also a corrosive compound commonly found in household cleaning supplies such as liquid drain cleaners. The city's water supply was not affected. A supervisor working remotely saw the concentration being changed on his computer screen and immediately reverted it, Gualtieri said. City officials on Monday emphasized that several other safeguards are in place to prevent contaminated water from entering the water supply and said they've disabled the remote-access system used in the attack. [...] https://www.tampabay.com/news/pinellas/2021/02/08/someone-tried-to-poison-oldsmars-water-supply-during-hack-sheriff-says/
Here's an official press conference video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkXDSOgLQ6M&t=315s Someone remotely accessed a computer system that controls the chemicals used for the local water supply in Oldsmar, Florida. The intruder increased the amount of Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) in the water from the proper amount, 100 ppm, to 11,100 ppm. Sodium Hydroxide, also known as lye, is the main ingredient in liquid drain cleaners." The intruder used some kind of remote control software, and the operator of that computer was sitting in front of it at the time, and was able to immediately change it back. I'm neither a programmer nor a security professional, but I'm fortunate to have a functioning brain. Some of the risks I see: * A system which should never be used by anybody off-premises is connected to the Internet * A system which can make critical changes to the water shouldn't have remote-control software installed. * A system which controls chemical additives to the water has no sanity checking. My guess is that RISKS regulars can probably spot problems I overlooked. (There are systems that monitor water PH, and set off alarms if its out-of-bands.)
The authorities said the plot unfolded last Friday morning, when an employee noticed that someone was controlling his computer. He initially dismissed it because the city has software that allows supervisors to access computers remotely. But about five and a half hours later, the employee saw that different programs were opening and that the level of lye changed. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/08/us/oldsmar-florida-water-supply-hack.html A water company control system is online and is routinely accessed remotely by supervisors, without coordination or advance notice to on-site workers? Can this be true?
New details have emerged about the remote computer *intrusion at a Florida water treatment* facility last Friday, highlighting a lack of adequate security measures needed to bulletproof critical infrastructure environments. <https://thehackernews.com/2021/02/hacker-tried-poisoning-water-supply.html> The breach, which occurred last Friday, involved an *unsuccessful attempt on the part of an adversary to increase sodium hydroxide dosage in the water supply to dangerous levels by remotely accessing the SCADA system at the water treatment plant. The system's plant operator, who spotted the intrusion, quickly took steps to reverse the command, leading to minimal impact. Now, according to an *advisory* published on Wednesday by the state of Massachusetts, unidentified cyber-actors accessed the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system via TeamViewer software installed on one of the plant's several computers that were connected to the control system. <https://www.mass.gov/service-details/cybersecurity-advisory-for-public-water-suppliers> Not only were these computers running 32-bit versions of the Windows 7 operating system, but the machines also shared the same password for remote access and are said to have been exposed directly to the Internet without any firewall protection installed. It's worth noting that Microsoft Windows 7 reached end-of-life as of last year, on January 14, 2020. [...] https://thehackernews.com/2021/02/poor-password-security-lead-to-recent.html
Air pollution is likely to increase the risk of irreversible sight loss, according to the results of a long-term study published Tuesday. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness among over-50s in richer nations, with roughly 300 million people predicted to be affected by 2040. Known risk factors include age, smoking and genetic make-up. Now researchers have drawn a link between AMD and air pollution, which is already known to carry a host of health risks including heart and lung disease. Writing in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, researchers analysed data from more than 115,000 participants who reported no eye problems at the start of the study period in 2006. [...] https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20210126-air-pollution-linked-to-irreversible-sight-loss-study
For the more than a year now, the world's focus has been squarely on the COVID-19 pandemic. With over 100 million confirmed cases worldwide and more than two million dead from the virus, it's hard to imagine how things could get worse. Despite this, a team of experts is already preparing for the next global crisis; warning that some of the possibilities would be more devastating than the current pandemic. Starting during the summer of 2019, an international team of researchers set out to list the key questions facing the United Kingdom's biological security. With help from the Centre for Existential Risk (CSER) at the University of Cambridge and the BioRISC project at St. Catharine's College, 41 academics, industry, and government officials laid out 450 questions regarding a possible biological crisis. After voting and ranking all of these concerns, a list of 80 of the most urgent questions emerged. Despite compiling this list months before COVID-19 <https://www.studyfinds.org/category/coronavirus/>, lead researcher Dr. Luke Kemp says this list included major concerns revolving around disease threats. Some of the concerns focused on what role the climate will play <https://www.studyfinds.org/weather-impact-covid-19-spread/> on a possible pandemic, while others questioned the use of social media <https://www.studyfinds.org/category/society-culture/social-media/> to track emerging viruses. Is a biological threat worse than coronavirus coming? Some of the 80 concerns look at an even more sinister possibility on the horizon. As DNA testing <https://www.studyfinds.org/tag/dna/> becomes a more fashionable tool for both governments and everyday people, researchers warn that threats from “human-engineered agents'' pose a huge threat to the entire world. “We could encounter not just microbes, but anything from brain-altering bioweapons, to mass surveillance through DNA databases to low-carbon clothes produced by microorganisms,'' Dr. Kemp says in a university release <https://www.cam.ac.uk/stories/beyond-the-pandemic-biosecurity>. “While many of these may seem to lie in the realm of science fiction, such advanced capabilities could prove to be even more impactful, for better or for worse than the current pandemic.'' <https://www.studyfinds.org/study-it-takes-just-10-hours-for-virus-dna-to-spread-across-a-hospital/> Weaponized DNA. [...] https://www.studyfinds.org/worse-than-covid-next-threat/
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/07/us/baby-shower-cannon-explosion-Michigan.html Not exactly Darwin quality, and low-tech risk, but still—amateurs firing artillery, what could go wrong?
https://phys.org/news/2021-02-scientists-lithium-cope-high-risk-condition.html '"The idea is to inject light impurities such as lithium, boron, or beryllium into the divertor region so as to radiate away much of the energy," Ono explained. "The trick will be to go in quickly enough to protect the divertor with very little radiation affecting the plasma core. You don't want to inject too much impurity material—just enough to do the job."' Prevent a fusion reactor divertor meltdown by injecting (spraying) metal atoms into a plasma (operating at a cool 1-2 billion kelvin degrees), without quenching the fusion core reaction, will be a delicate operation. The 10 msec window to complete this action seems achievable with their electromagnetic atomic injector. Beryllium, if inhaled, can cause berylliosis. If they become commercially viable, fusion generators might not operate as environmentally clean as advertised.
Jim Waymer, *Florida Today*, 8 Feb 2021 via ACM TechNews, Wednesday, February 10, 2021 Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) researchers demonstrated that smart home security systems, including doorbells connected to a wireless camera, can be hacked easily. FIT's Terrence O'Connor and Daniel Campos identified flaws in seven models of smart cameras and doorbells made by smart home device vendor Geeni and parent company Merkury Innovations, by reverse-engineering the firmware using cybersecurity firm ReFirm Labs' Binwalk Enterprise Internet of Things devices security tool. The FIT researchers found that hackers only need to figure out the default password the device shipped with in order to gain access. Merkury's Sol Hedaya said updated firmware will be issued this month. https://orange.hosting.lsoft.com/trk/click?ref=3Dznwrbbrs9_6-29608x22843bx069341&
*The future of "smart" cities is in street lights* Cities are rushing to replace their legacy street lights with "smart" LED fixtures that could one day be able to find you a parking space, monitor air quality, and announce an oncoming thunderstorm. Why it matters: Despite a bumpy and controversial start to some smart street light programs, cities are saving tons of money on energy by banishing traditional bulbs—and may soon be able to turn a profit by monetizing data from smart LED sensors or leasing space on light poles. <https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-08-06/a-surveillance-standoff-over-smart-streetlights> The big picture: There's been lots of hype about "smart cities," where connected technology helps governments serve us better—but also lots of money wasted on expensive projects that fizzled or caused public outcry over police use of camera surveillance. Today, hopes have coalesced around the potential for "smart" street lights, which bear sensors that can do everything from analyzing traffic patterns to assisting 911 operators. - "Streetlights are becoming the backbone of larger smart city initiatives," per a report <http://www.northeast-group.com/reports/Brochure-Global Smart Street Lighting & Smart Cities-Market Forecast 2020-2029 - Northeast Group.pdf>by the Northeast Group, a smart cities market intelligence firm. - Cities will invest $8.2 billion in them in the next 10 years, the report said. - It will take time: "Overall, over 90% of streetlights will be LED by 2029 and 35% will be connected," Northeast Group said. Cities large and small—including Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Cleveland—have been replacing traditional streetlights with LEDs, which consume less energy and can be programmed to dim or or brighten as needed. - "Street lighting can be up to 40% of a city's energy bills, so you see huge cost savings across the board," Benjamin Gardner, president of the Northeast Group, tells Axios. - Sensors placed on streetlights have manifold applications and will have more in the future. - An Intel white paper <https://www.intel.ca/content/dam/www/public/us/en/documents/solution-briefs/smart-street-lights-for-brighter-savings-solutionbrief.pdf> envisions a day when street lights do everything from traffic and parking control to guiding people out of danger during an emergency (by flashing in the direction of evacuation). "The vision here is to augment the existing infrastructure via the cloud to allow data and additional functionality to flow through what was a dumb asset," Martin Stephenson, head of North America systems & services for Signify, a major connected lighting vendor, tells Axios. But, but, but: There's been pushback on various fronts. - Surveillance: San Diego got scolded <https://www.techwire.net/news/city-pulls-plug-on-streetlight-cameras-pending-surveillance-ordinance.html#:~:text=3DMayor Kevin Faulconer on Wednesday,ordinance to govern surveillance technology.&text=3DThe city hit the brakes,was announced — also a surprise.> by community activists after its police started using video from its $30 million "Smart Streetlights" program. - Aesthetics: Light poles gunked up with sensors, cameras and advertisements can look hideous. - Health: "Cities and towns throughout Northern California are issuing ordinances that would exclude new 5G cell sites from residential areas, citing supposed health concerns," per the WSJ. <https://www.wsj.com/articles/cities-are-saying-no-to-5g-citing-health-aestheticsand-fcc-bullying-11566619391https://www.wsj.com/articles/cities-are-saying-no-to-5g-citing-health-aestheticsand-fcc-bullying-11566619391> Smart street light experts say the industry has taken heed from the San Diego debacle and pulled back on intrusive applications. What's next: [...] https://www.axios.com/smart-cities-street-lights-859992a6-6931-48e5-81ba-7f0a0b8058d9.html
In a move that will give chills to fans of the dystopian movie The Matrix, scientists have developed a wearable device that could use the human body to replace batteries. Echoing world-domineering robots' use of enslaved humans in the 1999 cyberpunk movie, U.S. researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have created an environmentally-friendly gadget that harvests body heat and converts it into energy. Tech-lovers could power their own watches or fitness trackers by wearing a stretchy ring or bracelet containing thermoelectric chips that convert heat into electrical energy, according to research published in the journal Science Advances. The idea will sound familiar to lovers of the iconic film, starring Keanu Reeves, where humans are trapped in the Matrix, a simulated reality, while hooked up to machines to provide electrical power for robots that have taken over the world... [...] https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN2AA2KV
Security cameras. License plate readers. Smartphone trackers. Drones. We're being watched 24/7. What happens when all those data streams fuse into one? One afternoon in the fall of 2019, in a grand old office building near the Arc de Triomphe, I was buzzed through an unmarked door into a showroom for the future of surveillance. The space on the other side was dark and sleek, with a look somewhere between an Apple Store and a doomsday bunker. Along one wall, a grid of electronic devices glinted in the moody downlighting -- automated license plate readers, Wi-Fi-enabled locks, boxy data processing units. I was here to meet Giovanni Gaccione, who runs the public safety division of a security technology company called Genetec. Headquartered in Montreal, the firm operates four of these “Experience Centers'' around the world, where it peddles intelligence products to government officials. Genetec's main sell here was software, and Gaccione had agreed to show me how it worked. He led me first to a large monitor running a demo version of Citigraf, his division's flagship product. The screen displayed a map of the East Side of Chicago. Around the edges were thumbnail-size video streams from neighborhood CCTV cameras. In one feed, a woman appeared to be unloading luggage from a car to the sidewalk. An alert popped up above her head: “ILLEGAL PARKING.'' The map itself was scattered with color-coded icons -- a house on fire, a gun, a pair of wrestling stick figures—each of which, Gaccione explained, corresponded to an unfolding emergency. He selected the stick figures, which denoted an assault, and a readout appeared onscreen with a few scant details drawn from the 911 dispatch center. At the bottom was a button marked “INVESTIGATE,'' just begging to be clicked. To get a clear picture of an emergency in progress, officers often had to bushwhack through dozens of byzantine databases and feeds from far-flung sensors, including gunshot detectors, license plate readers, and public and private security cameras. This process of braiding together strands of information—“multi-intelligence fusion'' is the technical term—was becoming too difficult. As one Chicago official put it, echoing a well-worn aphorism in surveillance circles, the city was “data-rich but information-poor.'' What investigators needed was a tool that could cut a clean line through the labyrinth. What they needed was automated fusion. Gaccione now demonstrated the concept in practice. He clicked “INVESTIGATE,'' and Citigraf got to work on the reported assault. The software runs on what Genetec calls a “correlation engine,'' a suite of algorithms that trawl through a city's historical police records and live sensor feeds, looking for patterns and connections. Seconds later, a long list of possible leads appeared onscreen, including a lineup of individuals previously arrested in the neighborhood for violent crimes, the home addresses of parolees living nearby, a catalog of similar recent 911 calls, photographs and license plate numbers of vehicles that had been detected speeding away from the scene, and video feeds from any cameras that might have picked up evidence of the crime itself, including those mounted on passing buses and trains. More than enough information, in other words, for an officer to respond to that original 911 call with a nearly telepathic sense of what has just unfolded. [...] https://www.wired.com/story/there-are-spying-eyes-everywhere-and-now-they-share-a-brain/
Eventually, the Department of Defense hopes to link every plane, satellite, ship, tank, and soldier into a huge, mostly automated Internet of Wartime Things. Cloud-connected sensors and weapons will correlate among themselves while commanders direct the action on a rich, continuously updated digital chessboard that senior leaders hope will look like Waze. As part of the effort, the Air Force and the Army have earmarked billions of dollars for fusion networks from dozens of defense and technology companies, including Amazon, BAE, and Anduril. https://www.wired.com/story/there-are-spying-eyes-everywhere-and-now-they-share-a-brain/ What could go wrong? Look like WAZE? Waze has no moving parts; houses stay still and data isn't updated in real time.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/02/11/cybersecurity-202-new-voting-machine-security-standards-are-already-drawing-controversy/ [Voluntary, Schmoluntary. Is it a step forward, or a tooth for the toothless?
Jamie Tarabay How a Dated Cyber-Attack Brought a Stock Exchange to its Knees DDoS attacks, the cyber equivalent of being mugged, grow in size and sophistication</p> https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-02-04/how-a-dated-cyber-attack-brought-a-stock-exchange-to-its-knees
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) -- Defend Today, Secure Tomorrow AA21-042A: Compromise of U.S. Water Treatment Facility, 11 Feb 2021 https://us-cert.cisa.gov/ncas/alerts/aa21-042a Summary On February 5, 2021, unidentified cyber-actors obtained unauthorized access to the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system at a U.S. drinking water treatment plant. The unidentified actors used the SCADA systems software to increase the amount of sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, a caustic chemical, as part of the water treatment process. Water treatment plant personnel immediately noticed the change in dosing amounts and corrected the issue before the SCADA systems software detected the manipulation and alarmed due to the unauthorized change. As a result, the water treatment process remained unaffected and continued to operate as normal. The cyber-actors likely accessed the system by exploiting cybersecurity weaknesses, including poor password security, and an outdated operating system. Early information indicates it is possible that a desktop sharing software, such as TeamViewer, may have been used to gain unauthorized access to the system. Onsite response to the incident included Pinellas County Sheriff Office (PCSO), U.S. Secret Service (USSS), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC)have observed cyber criminals targeting and exploiting desktop sharing software and computer networks running operating systems with end of life status to gain unauthorized access to systems. Desktop sharing software, which has multiple legitimate uses such as enabling telework, remote technical support, and file transfers can also be exploited through malicious actors use of social engineering tactics and other illicit measures. Windows 7 will become more susceptible to exploitation due to lack of security updates and the discovery of new vulnerabilities. Microsoft and other industry professionals strongly recommend upgrading computer systems to an actively supported operating system. Continuing to use any operating system within an enterprise beyond the end of life status may provide cyber criminals access into computer systems. Click here [ https://us-cert.cisa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/AA21-042A_Joint Cybersecurity Advisory_Compromise of U.S. Water Treatment Facility.pdf ]for a PDF version of this report. Technical Details Desktop Sharing Software The FBI, CISA, EPA, and MS-ISAC have observed corrupt insiders and outside cyber-actors using desktop sharing software to victimize targets in a range of organizations, including those in the critical infrastructure sectors. In addition to adjusting system operations, cyber-actors also use the following techniques: * Use access granted by desktop sharing software to perform fraudulent wire transfers. * Inject malicious code that allows the cyber-actors to * Hide desktop sharing software windows, * Protect malicious files from being detected, and * Control desktop sharing software startup parameters to obfuscate their activity. * Move laterally across a network to increase the scope of activity. TeamViewer, a desktop sharing software, is a legitimate popular tool that has been exploited by cyber-actors engaged in targeted social engineering attacks, as well as large scale, indiscriminate phishing campaigns. Desktop sharing software can also be used by employees with vindictive and/or larcenous motivations against employers. Beyond its legitimate uses, TeamViewer allows cyber-actors to exercise remote control over computer systems and drop files onto victim computers, making it functionally similar to Remote Access Trojans (RATs). TeamViewers legitimate use, however, makes anomalous activity less suspicious to end users and system administrators compared to RATs. Windows 7 End of Life On January 14, 2020, Microsoft ended support for the Windows 7 operating system, which includes security updates and technical support unless certain customers purchased an Extended Security Update (ESU) plan. The ESU plan is paid per-device and available for Windows 7 Professional and Enterprise versions, with an increasing price the longer a customer continues use. Microsoft will only offer the ESU plan until January 2023. Continued use of Windows 7 increases the risk of cyber actor exploitation of a computer system. Cyber-actors continue to find entry points into legacy Windows operating systems and leverage Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) exploits. Microsoft released an emergency patch for its older operating systems, including Windows 7, after an information security researcher discovered an RDP vulnerability in May 2019. Since the end of July 2019, malicious RDP activity has increased with the development of a working commercial exploit for the vulnerability. Cyber-actors often use misconfigured or improperly secured RDP access controls to conduct cyberattacks. The xDedic Marketplace, taken down by law enforcement in 2019, flourished by compromising RDP vulnerabilities around the world. Mitigations General Recommendations The following cyber hygiene measures may help protect against the aforementioned scheme: * Update to the latest version of the operating system (e.g., Windows 10). * Use multiple-factor authentication. * Use strong passwords to protect Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) credentials. * Ensure anti-virus, spam filters, and firewalls are up to date, properly configured, and secure. * Audit network configurations and isolate computer systems that cannot be updated. * Audit your network for systems using RDP, closing unused RDP ports, applying multiple-factor authentication wherever possible, and logging RDP login attempts. * Audit logs for all remote connection protocols. * Train users to identify and report attempts at social engineering. * Identify and suspend access of users exhibiting unusual activity. Water and Wastewater Systems Security Recommendations The following physical security measures serve as additional protective measures: * Install independent cyber-physical safety systems. These are systems that physically prevent dangerous conditions from occurring if the control system is compromised by a threat actor. * Examples of cyber-physical safety system controls include: * Size of the chemical pump * Size of the chemical reservoir * Gearing on valves * Pressure switches, etc. The benefit of these types of controls in the water sector is that smaller systems, with limited cybersecurity capability, can assess their system from a worst-case scenario. The operators can take physical steps to limit the damage. If, for example, cyber-actors gain control of a sodium hydroxide pump, they will be unable to raise the pH to dangerous levels. TeamViewer Software Recommendations For a more secured implementation of TeamViewer software: * Do not use unattended access features, such as Start TeamViewer with Windows and Grant easy access. * Configure TeamViewer service to manual start, so that the application and associated background services are stopped when not in use. * Set random passwords to generate 10-character alphanumeric passwords. * If using personal passwords, utilize complex rotating passwords of varying lengths. Note: TeamViewer allows users to change connection passwords for each new session. If an end user chooses this option, never save connection passwords as an option as they can be leveraged for persistence. * When configuring access control for a host, utilize custom settings to tier the access a remote party may attempt to acquire. * Require remote party to receive confirmation from the host to gain any access other than view only. Doing so will ensure that, if an unauthorized party is able to connect via TeamViewer, they will only see a locked screen and will not have keyboard control. * Utilize the Block and Allow list which enables a user to control which other organizational users of TeamViewer may request access to the system. This list can also be used to block users suspected of unauthorized access.
Margaret Salter was the author/architect of Dual_EC_DRBG, the best-known instance of the NSA attempting to subvert civilian cryptography and security standards. Margaret Salter is now Director AWS Applied Cryptography at Amazon. This is perhaps not what one would call ideal in terms of trust in the security of the world's largest hosting service. https://twitter.com/matthew_d_green/status/1357139574858911745
New details have emerged about a vast network of rogue extensions for Chrome and Edge browsers that were found to hijack clicks to links in search results pages to arbitrary URLs, including phishing sites and ads. Collectively called "CacheFlow" by Avast, the 28 extensions in question -- including Video Downloader for Facebook, Vimeo Video Downloader, Instagram Story Downloader, VK Unblock—made use of a sneaky trick to mask its true purpose: Leverage Cache-Control <https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/HTTP/Headers/Cache-Control> HTTP header as a covert channel to retrieve commands from an attacker-controlled server. <https://decoded.avast.io/janvojtesek/backdoored-browser-extensions-hid-malicious-traffic-in-analytics-requests/> All the backdoored browser add-ons have been taken down by Google and Microsoft as of December 18, 2020, to prevent more users from downloading them from the official stores. <https://blog.avast.com/malicious-browser-extensions-avast> According to telemetry data gathered by the firm, the top three infected countries were Brazil, Ukraine, and France, followed by Argentina, Spain, Russia, and the U.S. [...] https://thehackernews.com/2021/02/over-dozen-chrome-extensions-caught.html
Onboard computing units in cars are similarly vulnerable. The 2020 Global Automotive Cybersecurity Report, released by UpStream Security in December 2020, notes a 99% increase in cyberattacks on vehicles from 2018 to 2019, and these attacks have increased 700% since 2016. Uptane, founded at NYU Tandon in 2016 by Justin Cappos, associate professor of computer science and engineering at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, and Trishank Kuppusamy, who was a Ph.D. student at the time, is an open-source software security project designed to address this threat. With direct input from automotive manufacturers and suppliers, its implementations secure automotive systems by establishing a set of checks and balances on a vehicle's electronic control units(ECUs) to ensure the authenticity of incoming software updates. Among its adoptions, Uptane is part of Automotive Grade Linux, an open-source system currently used by many large automakers, and has been implemented by suppliers including Airbiquity and HERE. https://engineering.nyu.edu/news/new-version-uptane-standard-clarifies-protection-strategies-vulnerable-vehicles I've wondered about over-the-air updates/upgrades, haven't yet bought a car capable of that.
Experts have seen an increase in the frauds, many of which are preying on investors who feel they lost out on the market gains of the last few years. Mr. Pulman knows well. He has spent the past 11 years trying to recover money lost in Mr. Stanford's scheme. Mr. Pulman said the U.S. Supreme Court had turned down his group's last appeal to sue one of the insurance brokers directly—at the end of 2020. “The only people who made money were the lawyers. Investors are at a return of 5 to 6 cents on the dollar.'' Yet believers persist. Mr. Pulman had a client in his office several years ago who said he had received $1,000 every month from a $100,000 investment. When the person he gave the money to came up short, he brought in other investors. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/05/your-money/ponzi-schemes-stock-market.html
I wish I was kidding. The proposed bill says you might still have immunity from suit "unless the provider or user has accepted payment to make the speech available or, in whole or in part, created or funded the creation of the speech." That is, if you sell hosting, or take ads, or have Patreon style sponsors, you are on the hook for anything you host. It doesn't get any better. Gizmodo has a good overview: https://gizmodo.com/democrats-new-section-230-bill-could-devastate-the-inte-1846206984 And Techdirt has some good rants: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20210205/10384946193/now-democrats-turn-to-destroy-open-internet-mark-warners-230-reform-bill-is-dumpster-fire-cluelessness.shtml https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20210205/12142446194/senators-warner-hirono-klobuchar-demand-end-internet-economy.shtml
The SAFE TECH Act would overhaul Section 230, but law's defenders warn of major side effects. Changes to 230 being proposed by the right & left would BOTH ultimately eliminate most UGC (user generated content) from the Web. Neither side understands what they are doing. -L https://techcrunch.com/2021/02/05/safe-tech-act-section-230-warner/
I've been forced to use a mobile data dongle, after a car demolished the street junction box (another risk, putting infrastructure in a vulnerable position). My work activities have been triggering security alerts—it appears that I'm rapidly traveling all over the country, from Edinburgh, Northern Ireland, South Shields, Manchester and now Salisbury—despite never leaving my home office! I'm guessing that carrier-grade NAT combined with GPS or wifi-location from other users' devices has led to this virtual mobility.
A nascent malware campaign has been spotted co-opting Android devices into a botnet with the primary purpose of carrying out distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Called "Matryosh by Qihoo 360's Netlab researchers, the latest threat has been found reusing the Mirai botnet framework and propagates through exposed Android Debug Bridge (ADB) interfaces to infect Android devices and ensnare them into its network. <https://blog.netlab.360.com/matryosh-botnet-is-spreading-en/>" ADB is a command-line tool part of the Android SDK that handles communications and allows developers to install and debug apps on Android devices. <https://developer.android.com/studio/command-line/adb> While this option is turned off by default on most Android smartphones and tablets, some vendors ship with this feature enabled, thus allowing unauthenticated attackers to connect remotely via the 5555 TCP port and open the devices directly to exploitation. [...] https://thehackernews.com/2021/02/beware-new-matryosh-ddos-botnet.html
Meet the Streisand Effect https://boingboing.net/2021/02/08/british-police-arrest-man-over-offensive-captain-moore-tweet-giving-it-a-vast-international-audience.html
The days of tennis players arguing whether balls are in or out could be coming to a close, after the smooth introduction of electronic line judging at the Australian Open on Monday. Line calls have been at the centre of many a tennis conflagration, from John McEnroe's "You cannot be serious" rant at Wimbledon in 1981 to Martina Hingis's meltdown in the 1999 French Open final. But the coronavirus pandemic has prompted a major change, with human judges replaced by ball-tracking cameras to reduce the number of people on site at Melbourne Park. Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka were among the players to give their seal of approval as the electronic system made its Grand Slam debut. The cameras are set up along each line and automatically announce their decisions in real time, with a recorded human voice calling "out", "fault" and "foot fault". "It's interesting, It's definitely different," said 23-time Grand Slam winner Williams after powering into the second round. "I'm loving it here, so... I just needed to adapt, and now I'm adapted to it. I think it's for the best." "I think it's not too much that can be wrong," she added. "I think there can be some close calls that you can check, but I think it's good." The electronic calls feature pre-recorded voices of Australia's front-line workers in the country's pandemic response such as firefighters and other emergency response personnel. *- 'No room for mistakes' -* [...] https://news.yahoo.com/cannot-serious-electronic-line-judges-083755583.html
It started as a way to restrict autocompletes on Shutterstock. Now it grooms search suggestions on Slack and influences Google's artificial intelligence research. https://www.wired.com/story/ai-list-dirty-naughty-obscene-bad-words/
https://www.geckoboard.com/best-practice/statistical-fallacies/ Data fallacies: Cherry Picking, Data Dredging, Survivorship Bias, Cobra Effect, False Causality, Gerrymandering, Sampling Bias, Gambler's Fallacy, Regression Toward the Mean, Hawthorne Effect, Simpson's Paradox, McNamara Fallacy, Overfitting, Publication Bias.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-02-07/a-swiss-company-says-it-found-weakness-that-imperils-encryption Though not published, there are reports of development of a quantum annealing. Security experts have long worried that advances in quantum computing could eventually make it easier to break encryption that protects the privacy of people's data. That's because these sophisticated machines can perform calculations at speeds impossible for conventional computers, potentially enabling them to crack codes previously thought indecipherable. Now, a Swiss technology company says it has made a breakthrough by using quantum computers to uncover vulnerabilities in commonly used encryption. The company believes it's found a security weakness that could jeopardize the confidentiality of the world's Internet data, banking transactions and emails. Terra Quantum AG <https://www.bloomberg.com/quote/1799515D:SW> said its discovery “upends the current understanding of what constitutes unbreakable'' encryption and could have major implications for the world's leading technology companies, such as Alphabet Inc. <https://www.bloomberg.com/quote/GOOGL:US>'s Google, Microsoft Corp. <https://www.bloomberg.com/quote/MSFT:US>, and International Business Machines Corp. <https://www.bloomberg.com/quote/IBM:US> But some other security experts said they aren't nearly ready to declare a major breakthrough, at least not until the company publishes the full details of its research. “If true, this would be a huge result,'' said Brent Waters <https://www.cs.utexas.edu/~bwaters/>, a computer science professor who specializes in cryptography at the University of Texas at Austin. “It seems somewhat unlikely on the face of it. However, it is pretty hard for experts to weigh in on something without it being published.'' IBM spokesman Christopher Sciacca said his company has known the risks for 20 years and is working on its own solutions to address the issue of post-quantum security. “This is why the National Institute of Science & Technology (NIST) has been hosting a challenge to develop a new quantum safe crypto standard,'' he said in an email. “IBM has several proposals for this new standard in the final round, which is expected in a few years.'' Brian LaMacchia <https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/people/bal/>, distinguished engineer at Microsoft, said company cryptographers are collaborating with the global cryptographic community to prepare customers and data centers for a quantum future. “Preparing for security in a post-quantum world is important not only to protect and secure data in the future but also to ensure that future quantum computers are not a threat to the long-term security of today's information.'' Google didn't reply to a message seeking comment. Terra Quantum AG has a team of about 80 quantum physicists, cryptographers and mathematicians, who are based in Switzerland, Russia, Finland and the U.S. “What currently is viewed as being post-quantum secure is not post-quantum secure,'' said Markus Pflitsch, chief executive officer and founder of Terra Quantum, in an interview. “We can show and have proven that it isn't secure and is hackable.'' Pflitsch founded the company in 2019. He's a former finance executive who began his career as a research scientist at CERN <https://home.cern/>, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Terra Quantum's research is led by two chief technology officers =93 Gordey Lesovik <https://terraquantum.swiss/team/prof-gordey-b-lesovik-2/>, head of the Laboratory of Quantum Information Technology at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, and Valerii Vinokur <https://www.bloomberg.com/news/terminal/QNHMM0MEQTXE>, a Chicago-based physicist who in 2020 won the Fritz London Memorial Prize for his work in condensed matter and theoretical physics. The company said that its research found vulnerabilities that affect symmetric encryption ciphers <https://www.hypr.com/symmetric-cipher/#:~:text=3DA symmetric cipher is one,into ciphertext and vice versa.>, including the Advanced Encryption Standard <https://csrc.nist.gov/projects/cryptographic-standards-and-guidelines/archived-crypto-projects/aes-development>, or AES, which is widely used to secure data transmitted over the Internet and to encrypt files. Using a method known as quantum annealing <https://docs.dwavesys.com/docs/latest/c_gs_2.html>, the company said its research found that even the strongest versions of AES encryption may be decipherable by quantum computers that could be available in a few years from now. Vinokur said in an interview that Terra Quantum's team made the discovery after figuring out how to invert what's called a “hash function <https://sandilands.info/crypto/HashFunctionsandMACs.html>,'' a mathematical algorithm that converts a message or portion of data into a numerical value. The research will show that “what was once believed unbreakable doesn't exist anymore,'' Vinokur said, adding that the finding “means a thousand other ways can be found soon.'' The company, which is backed by the Zurich-based venture capital firm Lakestar LP <https://www.bloomberg.com/quote/1080945D:SW>, has developed a new encryption protocol that it says can't be broken by quantum computers. Vinokur said the new protocol utilizes a method known as quantum key distribution <https://qt.eu/discover-quantum/underlying-principles/quantum-key-distribution-qkd/>. Terra Quantum is currently pursuing a patent for the new protocol. But the company will make it available for free, according to Pflitsch. “We will open up access to our protocol to make sure we have a safe and secure environment,'' said Pflitsch. “We feel obliged to share it with the world and the quantum community.'' The U.S. government, like China, has made research in quantum computing research an economic and national security priority, saying that the world is on the cusp of what it calls a new “quantum revolution <https://www.nist.gov/topics/physics/introduction-new-quantum-revolution/second-quantum-revolution>.'' In addition, technology companies including Google, Microsoft, and IBM have made large investments in quantum computing in recent years.
*After a decade of rapidly falling costs, the rechargeable lithium-ion battery is poised to disrupt industries* Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries were first commercially used in hand-held camcorders in 1991. Laptops soon followed. A decade later, batteries enabled the rise of tech titans such as Apple Inc. by powering smartphones and wearable devices, then made their way into electric vehicles. The basic technology throughout remained pretty much the same: Lithium ions move through a liquid from the cathode to the anode, and back again. This, however, was just the beginning. After a decade of rapidly falling costs, the battery has reached a tipping point. No longer just for consumer products, it is poised to transform the way the world uses power. In the energy sector, affordable batteries are making it possible for companies to store electricity and harvest renewable power. In the auto industry, they are set to challenge the gas-powered engine's century-long domination. Costs have come down so far and so fast that most car makers expect that electric vehicles, which are currently more expensive than their gas-powered counterparts, will cost the same amount to build within the next five years. The gains are likely to continue. Electric vehicles are currently the main source of demand for battery cells. As demand grows and costs fall further, batteries will become even more disruptive across industries. Batteries recently scored a win at General Motors Co., which said it hoped to phase out gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles from its showrooms world-wide by 2035. The battery boom could erode demand for crude oil and byproducts such as gasoline—as well as for natural gas, which is primarily used in power plants. While mining materials and manufacturing batteries produce some greenhouse gas emissions, analysts believe shifting to batteries in the auto and energy sectors would reduce emissions overall, boosting efforts to tackle climate change. U.S. power plants alone produce about a quarter of the country's emissions, while light-duty vehicles such as cars and vans contribute another 17%. The rise of rechargeable batteries is now a matter of national security and industrial policy. Control of the minerals and manufacturing processes needed to make lithium-ion batteries is the 21st-century version of oil security. The flow of batteries is currently dominated by Asian countries and companies. Nearly 65% of lithium-ion batteries come from China. By comparison, no single country produces more than 20% of global crude oil output. Companies are working on new configurations—such as solid-state batteries, which don't transfer ions through liquid—that could significantly enhance the power and further lower battery prices. The value of such a breakthrough could be measured in the billions of dollars, if not trillions. “There's still a huge amount of innovation to come,'' says Christina Lampe-Onnerud, chief executive at Connecticut-based battery startup Cadenza Innovation Inc. Her company envisions that buildings could someday have their own batteries, giving them reserves of electricity they could use during peak hours to reduce costs. [...] https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-battery-is-ready-to-power-the-world-11612551578?st=3Drdspf6n95se7cy5
Fairfax Health District Not Participating in Statewide COVID-19 Vaccine Registration System At This Time https://fairfaxcountyemergency.wpcomstaging.com/2021/02/12/fairfax-health-district-not-participating-in-statewide-covid-19-vaccine-registration-system-at-this-time/ Local Vaccine Registration Forms To Close As VA Takes Over System The Virginia Department of Health has directed all local health districts to close their vaccine registration forms at 5 p.m. on Friday. https://patch.com/virginia/annandale/s/hfelm/local-vaccine-registration-forms-to-end-as-va-takes-over-system
In RISKS-32.48, the https://killedbygoogle.com/ site was mentioned. Google Stadia, their game platform isn't yet there, although Google has killed their team developing exclusive games for it. And now, through heavy-handed punishment and ineffective user support, Google has facilitated killing a game port to Stadia. https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2021/02/terraria-developer-cancels-google-stadia-port-after-youtube-account-ban/ Some "strike" in Youtube escalated into locking all related accounts for one of the co-developers of the game Terraria. Gmail, paid for apps and content on Android, etc. It sounds like the Terraria team did not use well separated accounts (a risk). And that the Google response with unhelpful suggestions via public twitter interactions like asking about accessing the email account to restore the Youtube account (said account locked because of the Youtube thing) could well be a risk of treating all customer support as insignificant to the company. The net effect, however, is after three weeks with no resolution, the developer has called the bridge "burned" and doing business with Google "a liability". Consequently the port of Terraria to Stadia is canceled. Many people in the comments at Ars Technica point out how for some people, getting their Google account blocked turns them into an "unperson". Google Drive documents and backups, email, phone apps, all simultaneously locked. With Google Fi even phone service can be locked out. Good luck dealing with that if all your evidence of being correct was in your email or Drive documents.
I don't believe this is correct. Suppose person A has a share. They loan it to B, who sells it to C. Then C loans it to D, who sells it to E. Now the ownership is as follows: A: 1 (loaned to B) B: -1 (owed to A) C: 1 (bought from B and loaned to D) D: -1 (owed to C) E: 1 (bought from D) Total: 1 - 1 + 1 - 1 + 1 = 1 Yet, the total short interest in this scenario is 2, even though only one *original* share is involved. I think the confusion may arise from the difference between total ownership (in money terms, currency plus bank deposits minus bank loans) and assets on hand (in money terms, currency only). In the scenario above, only E actually "has" a share; A and C only have the right to demand their share be returned. I make no comment on the wisdom or otherwise of any particular trading strategy or market regulation regime.
But that promptly begs the question SHOULD we worry. And in my informed lay person's opinion the answer is a very big NO. We already know that immunity seems temporary. We already suspect that re-infection will be the norm (we haven't yet seen it much because the timescales are too short). And from what we know of Corona Viruses in general, CoVid does not appear that different. The big difference between Sars-Cov-2 and other corona viruses is that we've never met Sars-Cov-2 before. And it's the *first* *exposure* that seems to be the lethal one. Come next autumn, pretty much everyone will either (a) have been vaccinated, or (b) actually caught the virus. Or (c) be young who typically just shrug it off without even realising they've been infected. Which means, based on the experience of corona viruses and past pandemics, Sars-Cov-2 will become endemic in the background, mostly unrecognised, and might kill a few already weakened individuals every now and then. And mutations will simply sweep through the population with weakened immunity, who will for the most part fight it off maybe not even realising they've caught it, because it's basically the same virus even if it's changed slightly. Oh - and don't forget mutations on the whole tend to *weaken* a virus, not make it more lethal. It's not in the virus's interest to kill its host ... The real danger is Sars-Cov-3 popping up out of nowhere and subjecting us to a repeat of early 2020.
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