“Cashless Society Getting Closer”

April 27th, 2017

Via: Reuters:

More than a third of Europeans and Americans would be happy to go without cash and rely on electronic forms of payment if they could, and at least 20 percent already pretty much do so, a study showed on Wednesday.

The study, which was conducted in 13 European countries, the United States and Australia, also found that in many places where cash is most used, people are among the keenest to ditch it.

Overall, 34 percent of respondents in Europe and 38 percent in the United States said they would be willing to go cash-free, according to the survey conducted by Ipsos for the ING bank website eZonomics.

Twenty-one percent and 34 percent in Europe and the United States, respectively, said they already rarely use cash.

Amazon Launches Surveillance System, Calls it “A Hands-Free Camera and Style Assistant”

April 27th, 2017

Hey all you dumbshits who expose SMB to the Internet on unpatched Windows boxes: Your new, “hands-free camera and style assistant” is here. *wink* *wink*

Via: The Verge:

Amazon today announced a new device for the Echo family: the Echo Look, a “style assistant” camera that helps catalog your outfits and rates your look based on “machine learning algorithms with advice from fashion specialists.” Imagine it as a smart mirror of sorts — you can talk to the Echo Look to take full-length photos or short videos to check out your outfit from seldom-seen angles.

The Echo Look first leaked as a “security camera” back in March, and the photo matches exactly with what Amazon has announced today. The device comes with a built-in LED light, a microphone, and a base mount for you to attach it to the wall or leave it freestanding. It will also work with a companion app that has a Style Check feature to compare two outfits and rate which is better. As an aside, the Amazon iOS app offers a similar feature under the Programs and Features menu, if you don’t want to buy the Echo Look. The Echo version of the feature gives you a percentage rating of outfits based on a mix of algorithm and stylist opinions, while Outfit Compare on the Amazon app picks which outfit of the two it likes better.

Like the original Echo speaker, you can ask Alexa on the Echo Look to read you news, play music, or get traffic estimates. Amazon says it will continue to add Alexa skills for the Echo Look as well.

And while it’s not designed to be a security camera, it does seem like it has enough components to double as one that could periodically snap photos while you’re away from home. We’ll check out the hardware on this more when we are able to snag a review unit. For now, if you do decide to buy it, it’s probably best to not get dressed in front of it.

Hackers Exploited Word Flaw for Months While Microsoft Investigated

April 27th, 2017

Via: Reuters:

To understand why it is so difficult to defend computers from even moderately capable hackers, consider the case of the security flaw officially known as CVE-2017-0199.

The bug was unusually dangerous but of a common genre: it was in Microsoft software, could allow a hacker to seize control of a personal computer with little trace, and was fixed April 11 in Microsoft’s regular monthly security update.

But it had traveled a rocky, nine-month journey from discovery to resolution, which cyber security experts say is an unusually long time.

Google’s security researchers, for example, give vendors just 90 days’ warning before publishing flaws they find. Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) declined to say how long it usually takes to patch a flaw.

While Microsoft investigated, hackers found the flaw and manipulated the software to spy on unknown Russian speakers, possibly in Ukraine.

And a group of thieves used it to bolster their efforts to steal from millions of online bank accounts in Australia and other countries.

Silicon Valley Security Robot Attacked by Drunk Man

April 27th, 2017

I wonder what will happen when the food delivery bots go rolling past homeless people camped on sidewalks…

Via: BBC:

A California man has been arrested after attacking a crime prevention robot in a car park, police say.

The Knightscope machine was on patrol outside the Silicon Valley company that created it when the alleged attacker approached, witnesses say.

The 300lb (136kg) robot raised the alarm after it was allegedly knocked over by 41-year-old Jason Sylvain.

He said he was an engineer who wanted to “test” the machine, said a Knightscope representative.

Mr Sylvain has been charged with public intoxication in the 19 April incident.

The robot suffered a few scratches, but has “recuperated” and is back on patrol, said Knightscope.

An Artificial Womb Successfully Grew Baby Sheep

April 25th, 2017

I’ve gone from worrying about brain damaged hipsters to seeing their clueless ramblings as a form of comedy act that brightens up my day:

It’s appealing to imagine a world where artificial wombs grow babies, eliminating the health risk of pregnancy.

Anyway, back to growing creatures in ziplock baggies!

Via: The Verge:

Inside what look like oversized ziplock bags strewn with tubes of blood and fluid, eight fetal lambs continued to develop — much like they would have inside their mothers. Over four weeks, their lungs and brains grew, they sprouted wool, opened their eyes, wriggled around, and learned to swallow, according to a new study that takes the first step toward an artificial womb. One day, this device could help to bring premature human babies to term outside the uterus — but right now, it has only been tested on sheep.

It’s appealing to imagine a world where artificial wombs grow babies, eliminating the health risk of pregnancy. But it’s important not to get ahead of the data, says Alan Flake, fetal surgeon at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and lead author of today’s study. “It’s complete science fiction to think that you can take an embryo and get it through the early developmental process and put it on our machine without the mother being the critical element there,” he says.

Instead, the point of developing an external womb — which his team calls the Biobag — is to give infants born months too early a more natural, uterus-like environment to continue developing in, Flake says.

Google Trialing Ride Hailing Service in Phoenix with 100 Self Driving Minivans, 500 More on Order

April 25th, 2017

Via: Vox:

For years, Google — which recently renamed its self-driving car division “Waymo” — has been viewed as having the industry’s leading self-driving car technology. In the past couple of years, Waymo has had dozens of cars on the road racking up more than 2 million miles of real-world driving experience.

Now Waymo is taking the next step: opening its testing program to members of the general public. People in the Phoenix area can apply for access to Waymo’s new testing program. In a Monday blog post, Waymo CEO John Krafcik says that “hundreds” of families will be accepted into the program. Families need to apply to participate. The lucky ones chosen by Waymo will get to take unlimited rides for free.

Waymo already has a fleet of 100 Chrysler Pacifica Minivans, and the company is ordering 500 more to support the new riders. The goal is not only to get feedback from these new customers, but also to gather more real-world data about the road conditions and challenges self-driving cars face when traveling around on real city streets. The minivans will have a Waymo employee in the front seat ready to take over if the self-driving software gets into trouble. Eventually, Waymo’s hope is to eliminate these safety drivers, but the company hasn’t said how long that will take.

Entire U.S. Senate to Go to White House for North Korea Briefing

April 25th, 2017

ZeroHedge notes several coincidences around this time. I’ll add another: New moon 26 April 8:16 a.m EST. A new moon is a desirable time to launch an attack because the lack of moonlight makes it more difficult for the defending side to see the attackers.

Via: Reuters:

Top Trump administration officials will hold a rare briefing on Wednesday at the White House for the entire U.S. Senate on the situation in North Korea.

All 100 senators have been asked to the White House for the briefing by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said White House spokesman Sean Spicer on Monday.

While administration officials routinely travel to Capitol Hill to address members of Congress on foreign policy matters, it is unusual for the entire Senate to go to the White House, and for all four of those officials to be involved.

Wednesday’s briefing was originally scheduled for a secure room at the Capitol, but President Donald Trump suggested a shift to the White House, congressional aides said.

NSA Blimp Spied in the United States

April 24th, 2017

Via: The Intercept:

To residents of Maryland, catching an occasional glimpse of a huge white blimp floating in the sky is not unusual. For more than a decade, the military has used the state as a proving ground for new airships destined for Afghanistan or Iraq. But less known is that the test flights have sometimes served a more secretive purpose involving National Security Agency surveillance.

Back in 2004, a division of the NSA called the National Tactical Integration Office fitted a 62-foot diameter airship called the Hover Hammer with an eavesdropping device, according to a classified document published Monday by The Intercept. The agency launched the three-engine airship at an airfield near Solomons Island, Maryland. And from there, the blimp was able to vacuum up “international shipping data emanating from the Long Island, New York area,” the document says. The spy equipment on the airship was called Digital Receiver Technology — a proprietary system manufactured by a Maryland-based company of the same name — which can intercept wireless communications, including cellphone calls.

With the exception of a few military websites that refer to the Hover Hammer as an “antenna mounting platform,” there is little information in the public domain about it. The classified NSA document describes the airship as a “helium-filled sphere inside another sphere, constructed of Spectra, the same material used to make bullet-proof vests. … It ‘hovers’ above small arms fire, has a negligible [infrared] signature, and radar can’t detect it.” The agency added in the document that it planned to conduct more tests with the Hover Hammer, and said it wanted to develop a larger version of the blimp that would be capable of flying at altitudes of 68,000 feet for up to six months at a time. “More experiments, including the use of onboard imagery sensors, are being conducted,” it said.

The NSA declined to comment for this story.

Japan Made Secret Deals with the NSA that Expanded Global Surveillance

April 24th, 2017

Via: The Intercept:

The documents, published Monday in collaboration with Japanese news broadcaster NHK, reveal the complicated relationship the NSA has maintained with Japan over a period of more than six decades. Japan has allowed NSA to maintain at least three bases on its territory and contributed more than half a billion dollars to help finance the NSA’s facilities and operations. In return, NSA has kitted out Japanese spies with powerful surveillance tools and shared intelligence with them. However, there is a duplicitous dimension to the partnership. While the NSA has maintained friendly ties with its Japanese counterparts and benefited from their financial generosity, at the same time it has secretly spied on Japanese officials and institutions.

Leaked NSA Tools Compromising Vulnerable, Unpatched Windows Systems

April 23rd, 2017

Exposing SMB to the Internet on unpatched Windows machines… *shaking head while chortling deeply*

NSA exploits or no NSA exploits, people who do this on purpose are idiots and better make their time.

Via: Register:

The NSA’s Equation Group hacking tools, leaked last Friday by the Shadow Brokers, have now been used to infect thousands of Windows machines worldwide, we’re told.

On Thursday, Dan Tentler, founder of security shop Phobos Group, told The Register he’s seen rising numbers of boxes on the public internet showing signs they have DOUBLEPULSAR installed on them. These hijacked machines can be used to sling malware, spam netizens, launch further attacks on other victims, and so on.

DOUBLEPULSAR is a backdoor used to inject and run malicious code on an infected system, and is installed using the ETERNALBLUE exploit that attacks SMB file-sharing services on Windows XP to Server 2008 R2. That means to compromise a computer, it must be running a vulnerable version of Windows and expose an SMB service to the attacker. Both DOUBLEPULSAR and ETERNALBLUE are leaked Equation Group tools, now available for any script kiddie or hardened crim to download and wield against vulnerable systems.

In March, Microsoft patched the SMB Server vulnerability (MS17-010) exploited by ETERNALBLUE, and it’s clear that some people have been slow to apply the critical update, are unable to do so, or possibly just don’t care.

The fix is available for Windows Vista SP2, Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1, Windows 10, Windows Server 2008 SP2, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016, and Server Core. If you have an older vulnerable system, such as XP or Server 2003, you’re out of luck.

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