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Research Project Pays People To Download, Run Executables 76

msm1267 (2804139) writes Incentivized by a minimal amount of cash, computer users who took part in a study were willing to agree to download an executable file to their machines without questioning the potential consequences. The more cash the researchers offered, capping out at $1, the more people complied with the experiment. The results toss a big bucket of cold water on long-standing security awareness training advice that urges people not to trust third-party downloads from unknown sources in order to guard the sanctity of their computer. A Hershey bar or a Kennedy half-dollar, apparently, sends people spiraling off course pretty rapidly and opens up a potential new malware distribution channel for hackers willing to compensate users. The study was released recently in a paper called: "It's All About The Benjamins: An empirical study on incentivizing users to ignore security advice." While fewer than half of the people who viewed the task actually ran the benign executable when offered a penny to do so, the numbers jumped to 58 percent when offered 50 cents, and 64 percent when offered $1.

California Bill Proposes Mandatory Kill-Switch On Phones and Tablets 341

alphadogg writes "Politicians and law enforcement officials in California will introduce a bill on Friday that requires all smartphones and tablet PCs sold in the state be equipped with a digital 'kill-switch' that would make the devices useless if stolen. The bill is a response to a rise in thefts of portable electronics devices, often at knife or gunpoint, being seen across the state. Already half of all robberies in San Francisco and 75 percent of those in Oakland involve a mobile device and the number is rising in Los Angeles, according to police figures. The trend is the same in major cities across the U.S. and the California bill, if it passes, could usher in kill-switch technology nationwide if phone makers choose not to produce custom devices for California. California Senate bill 962 says all smartphones and tablet PCs sold from Jan. 1, 2015, should have 'a technological solution that can render the essential features of the device inoperable when the device is not in possession of the rightful owner.'"

Scientist Seeks 'Adventurous Human Woman' For Neanderthal Baby 697

theodp writes "Harvard geneticist George Church recently told Der Spiegel he's close to developing the necessary technology to clone a Neanderthal, at which point all he'd need is an 'adventurous human woman' to be a surrogate mother for the first Neanderthal baby to be born in 30,000 years (article in German, translation to English). Church said, 'We have lots of Neanderthal parts around the lab. We are creating Neanderthal cells. Let's say someone has a healthy, normal Neanderthal baby. Well, then, everyone will want to have a Neanderthal kid. Were they superstrong or supersmart? Who knows? But there's one way to find out.'"

Company Designs "Big Brother Chip" 166

Taco Cowboy writes "Here comes a chip that can pinpoint you in-door and out, it can even tell others on which floor of a building you are located. It's the Broadcom 4752 chip. It takes signals from global navigation satellites, cell phone towers, and Wi-Fi hot spots, coupled with input from gyroscopes, accelerometers, step counters, and altimeters The company calls abilities like this 'ubiquitous navigation,' and the idea is that it will enable a new kind of e-commerce predicated on the fact that shopkeepers will know the moment you walk by their front door, or when you are looking at a particular product, and can offer you coupons at that instant."

EU Scientists Working On Laser To Rip a Hole In Spacetime 575

astroengine writes "Those pesky physicists are at it again; they want to build a laser so powerful that it will literally rip spacetime apart. Why? To prove the existence of virtual particles in the quantum vacuum, potentially unravel extra dimensions and possibly find the root of dark matter. The $1.6 billion Extreme Light Infrastructure Ultra-High Field Facility (known as ELI) will be built somewhere in Europe by the end of the decade and physicists are hoping the ten high-powered lasers — delivering 200 petawatts of power at a target for less than a trillionth of a second — will turn up some surprises about the very fabric of the Universe."
The Military

US Military Moving Closer To Automated Killing 472

Doofus writes "A recent article in the Washington Post, A future for drones: Automated killing, describes the steady progress the military is making toward fully autonomous networks of targeting and killing machines. Does this (concern|scare|disgust) any of you? Quoting: 'After 20 minutes, one of the aircraft, carrying a computer that processed images from an onboard camera, zeroed in on the tarp and contacted the second plane, which flew nearby and used its own sensors to examine the colorful object. Then one of the aircraft signaled to an unmanned car on the ground so it could take a final, close-up look. Target confirmed. This successful exercise in autonomous robotics could presage the future of the American way of war: a day when drones hunt, identify and kill the enemy based on calculations made by software, not decisions made by humans. Imagine aerial "Terminators," minus beefcake and time travel.' The article goes on to discuss the dangers of surrendering to fully autonomous killing, concerns about the potential for 'atrocities,' and the nature of what we call 'common sense.'"

Cancer Cured By HIV 521

bluefoxlucid writes "Apparently cancer has been cured, by injecting people with HIV. From the article: 'As the white cells killed the cancer cells, the patients experienced the fevers and aches and pains that one would expect when the body is fighting off an infection, but beyond that the side effects have been minimal.' Nifty. Poorly edited run-on sentence, but nifty."

Scientists Breeding Super Bees 248

Elliot Chang writes "Over the last five years the world's honey bee population has been steadily dwindling, with many beekeepers citing 2010 as the worst year yet. In order to save these extremely important insects, scientists are working on breeding a new super honey bee that they hope will be resistant to cold, disease, mites and pesticides. If all goes well, the new and improved insect will continue to pollinate our crops for years to come."

Microsoft Seeks Do-Let-The-Bed-Bugs-Bite Patent 176

theodp writes "In its just-published patent application for Adapting Parasites to Combat Disease, Microsoft lays out plans to unleash 'altered parasitic organisms' on humans, including mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, bed bugs, leeches, pinworms, tapeworms, hookworms, heart worms, roundworms, lice (head, body, and pubic), and the like. 'Irradiated mosquitoes can be used to deliver damaged Plasmodium to individuals,' explains Microsoft. 'Instead of contracting malaria, an individual receiving the damaged Plasmodium develops an immune response that renders the individual resistant to contracting malaria.' Don't worry about runaway breeding, advises Microsoft — 'a termination feature [that] can include programmed death' makes this impossible. As David Spade might say, I liked this movie the first time I saw it — when it was called Jurassic Park."

USB 'Dead Drops' 322

Okian Warrior writes "Aram Bartholl is building a series of USB dead drops in New York City. Billed as 'an anonymous, offline, peer to peer file-sharing network in public space,' he has embedded USB sticks as file cache devices throughout the city. Bartholl says, 'I am "injecting" USB flash drives into walls, buildings and curbs accessible to anybody in public space. You are invited to go to these places (so far 5 in NYC) to drop or find files on a dead drop. Plug your laptop to a wall, house or pole to share your files and data.' Current locations (more to come) include: 87 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY (Makerbot), Empire Fulton Ferry Park, Brooklyn, NY (Dumbo), 235 Bowery, NY (New Museum), Union Square, NY (Subway Station 14th St), and West 21st Street, NY (Eyebeam)"

New Tool Blocks Downloads From Malicious Sites 192

Hugh Pickens writes "Science Daily Headlines reports that a new tool has been developed (funded by the National Science Foundation, US Army Research Office and US Office of Naval Research) to prevent 'drive-by downloads' whereby simply visiting a website, malware can be silently installed on a computer to steal a user's identity and other personal information, launch denial-of-service attacks, or participate in botnet activity. The software called Blade — short for Block All Drive-By Download Exploits — is browser-independent and designed to eliminate all drive-by malware installation threats by tracking how users interact with their browsers to distinguish downloads that received user authorization from those that do not. 'BLADE monitors and analyzes everything that is downloaded to a user's hard drive to cross-check whether the user authorized the computer to open, run or store the file on the hard drive. If the answer is no to these questions, BLADE stops the program from installing or running and removes it from the hard drive,' says Wenke Lee, a professor in the School of Computer Science in Georgia Tech's College of Computing. Blade's testbed automatically harvests malware URLs from multiple whitehat sources on a daily basis and has an interesting display of the infection rate of different browsers, the applications targeted by drive-by exploits, and the anti-virus detect and miss rates of drive-by binaries."

House Overwhelmingly Passes Cybersecurity Bill 170

eldavojohn writes "The Caucus, a NY Times Blog, is reporting on the overwhelming majority vote (422 yeas) the House gave a new cybersecurity bill. The Cybersecurity Enhancement Act, H.R. 4061 has a number of interesting provisions. Representative Michael Arcuri, a Democrat of New York who sponsored the bill called cybersecurity the 'Manhattan Project of our generation' and estimated the US needs 500 to 1,000 more 'cyber warriors' every year in order to keep up with potential enemies. The new bill 'authorizes one single entity, the director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, to represent the government in negotiations over international standards and orders the White House office of technology to convene a cybersecurity university-industry task force to guide the direction of future research.'"

Cyber-criminal Left In Charge of Prison Computer Network 389

samzenpus writes "A 27-year-old man serving six years for stealing £6.5million using forged credit cards over the internet was recruited to help write code needed for the installation of an internal prison TV station. He was left unguarded with unfettered access to the system and produced results that anyone but prison officials could have guessed. He installed a series of passwords on all the machines, shutting down the entire prison computer system. A prison source said, 'It's unbelievable that a criminal convicted of cyber-crime was allowed uncontrolled access to the hard drive. He set up such an elaborate array of passwords it took a specialist company to get it working.'"

Firefox To Replace Menus With Office Ribbon 1124

Barence writes "Mozilla has announced that its plans to bring Office 2007's Ribbon interface to Firefox, as it looks to tidy up its 'dated' browser. 'Starting with Vista, and continuing with Windows 7, the menu bar is going away,' notes Mozilla in its plans for revamping the Firefox user interface. '[It will] be replaced with things like the Windows Explorer contextual strip, or the Office Ribbon, [which is] now in Paint and WordPad, too.' The change will also bring Windows' Aero Glass effects to the browser." Update: 09/24 05:01 GMT by T : It's not quite so simple, says Alexander Limi, who works on the Firefox user experience. "We are not putting the Ribbon UI on Firefox. The article PCpro quotes talks about Windows applications in general, not Firefox." So while the currently proposed direction for Firefox 3.7 involves some substantial visual updates for Windows users (including a menu bar hidden by default, and integration of Aero-styled visual elements), it's not actually a ribbon interface. Limi notes, too, that Linux and Mac versions are unaffected by the change.

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