Communications

August Solar Eclipse Could Disrupt Roads and Cellular Networks 10

GeoGreg writes: On August 21, 2017, the contiguous United States will experience its first total solar eclipse since 1979. According to GreatAmericanEclipse.com's Michael Zeiler, approximately 200 million people live within one day's drive of the eclipse. Zeiler projects that between 1.85 to 7.4 million people will attempt to visit the path of totality. As the eclipse approaches, articles are appearing predicting the possibility of automobile traffic jamming rural roads. There is also concern about the ability of rural cellular networks to handle such a large influx. AT&T is bringing in Cell On Wheel (COW) systems to rural locations in Kentucky, Idaho, and Oregon, while Verizon is building a temporary tower in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The disruption could be frustrating to those trying to get to the eclipse or share their photos via social networking. If cellular networks can't handle the data, apps like Waze won't be much help in avoiding the traffic. If communication is essential near the eclipse path, Astronomy Magazine recommends renting a satellite phone.
Businesses

Vegan Mayonnaise Company Starts Growing Its Own Meat In Labs, Says It Will Get To Stores First (qz.com) 112

Chase Purdy reports via Quartz: The maker of vegan mayonnaise has been working on getting lab-made meat onto dinner tables everywhere. It's just that nobody knew about it. Hampton Creek -- a company that built its name on plant-based condiments and vegan-friendly cookie doughs -- today revealed that, for the last year, it has been secretly developing the technology necessary for producing lab-made meat and seafood, or as the industry likes to call it, "clean meat." Perhaps even more surprising is that Hampton Creek expects to beat its closest competitor to market by more than two years. Since it was founded in 2015, Memphis Meats has raised at least $3 million from five investors for the development of its meat products, according to Crunchbase. By contrast, Hampton Creek -- just a 20-mile drive from its Silicon Valley rival -- has raised more than $120 million since 2011. It's one of Silicon Valley's unicorns -- a company that has a valuation that exceeds $1 billion.
Earth

World's First Floating Windfarm To Take Shape Off Coast of Scotland (theguardian.com) 52

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: The world's first floating windfarm has taken to the seas in a sign that a technology once confined to research and development drawing boards is finally ready to unlock expanses of ocean for generating renewable power. After two turbines were floated this week, five now bob gently in the deep waters of a fjord on the western coast of Norway ready to be tugged across the North Sea to their final destination off north-east Scotland. The ~$256 million Hywind project is unusual not just because of the pioneering technology involved, which uses a 78-meter-tall underwater ballast and three mooring lines that will be attached to the seabed to keep the turbines upright. It is also notable because the developer is not a renewable energy firm but Norway's Statoil, which is looking to diversify away from carbon-based fuels.
Network

Comcast and Charter In Talks With Sprint To Offer Wireless Service (theverge.com) 34

According to The Wall Street Journal, Sprint's merger talks with T-Mobile are temporarily on hold while the carrier mulls over a number of potential deals with the United States' two biggest cable companies, Comcast and Charter. While Comcast is already using Verizon's wireless service under their own name, the company may want to use Sprint's network as well. Charter doesn't have a wireless phone offering yet, but the company's CEO indicated last year that it has every intention of launching one. The Verge reports: Such a deal would likely involve the two cable companies making an investment in Sprint, which the carrier would then use to build out its network, generally known to be the worst of the four major phone service providers. The Journal also reports that Comcast and Charter could make a bid to acquire Sprint outright, but it said the outcome was seen as less likely. Though they're usually an unlikely pairing, Comcast and Charter agreed in May to team up when making deals around wireless coverage for a full year. For the most part, both companies have been slowly losing TV subscribers year after year as customers shift over to online services. They see phone service as a new offering that could help to restore growth and lock in subscribers.
United Kingdom

Britain's Newest Warship Runs Windows XP, Raising Cyber Attack Fears (telegraph.co.uk) 169

Chrisq shares a report from The Telegraph: Fears have been raised that Britain's largest ever warship could be vulnerable to cyber attacks after it emerged it appears to be running the outdated Microsoft Windows XP. A defense source told The telegraph that some of the on-board hardware and software "would have been good in 2004" when the carrier was designed, "but now seems rather antiquated." However, he added that HMS Queen Elizabeth is due to be given a computer refit within a decade. And senior officers said they will have cyber specialists on board to defend the carrier from such attacks.
United States

Lawmakers Want To Move Fast On Self-Driving Car Legislation (axios.com) 53

An anonymous reader shares a report: Members of Congress said Tuesday that they hope to move forward with a package of self-driving car legislation by the end of July. "We've got to keep moving, because again, this technology is moving away from us, you might say," said Republican Bob Latta, who is helping to lead the effort. That would move the bills out of the relevant committee -- but not out of the House entirely.
Security

Petya Ransomware Outbreak Originated In Ukraine Via Tainted Accounting Software (bleepingcomputer.com) 18

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bleeping Computer: Today's massive ransomware outbreak was caused by a malicious software update for M.E.Doc, a popular accounting software used by Ukrainian companies. According to several researchers, such as Cisco Talos, ESET, MalwareHunter, Kaspersky Lab, and others, an unknown attacker was able to compromise the software update mechanism for M.E.Doc's servers, and deliver a malicious update to customers. When the update reached M.E.Doc's customers, the tainted software packaged delivered the Petya ransomware -- also referenced online as NotPetya, or Petna. The Ukrainian software vendor appears to have inadvertently confirmed that something was wrong when, this morning, issued a security advisory. Hours later, as the ransomware outbreak spread all over Ukraine and other countries across the globe causing huge damages, M.E.Doc denied on Facebook its servers ever served any malware. According to security researcher MalwareHunter, this is not the first time M.E.Doc has carried a malicious software update that delivered ransomware. Back in May, the company's software update mechanism also helped spread the XData ransomware.
Crime

Police Use Lyft As 'Trojan Horse' To Capture Suspect In Murder of Tech CEO (myajc.com) 50

McGruber writes: On Friday, June 23, 2017, three men broke into the home of Albert Eugene DeMagnus, the CEO of Computer Management Services. The men stabbed DeMangus, who was pronounced dead after he had been taken to a hospital. Police officers chased two of the suspects as they fled in DeMangus' gray Lexus. The Lexus crashed and the two men ran away into the woods. Police then set up a perimeter with road checkpoints. Soon, a Lyft driver approached a checkpoint and told police she was picking up a passenger nearby. "This may be one of our suspects trying to leave the scene," Fayette County, Georgia Sheriff Barry Babb thought of the person being picked up. So Babb and three officers got into his car, which happened to be identical to the Lyft driver's. They got the location of the suspect from the Lyft driver and simply drove to the suspect, posing as his ride. "The subject walked all the way up, was about to open the door and get in our vehicle, when we exited and identified ourself," said Sheriff Babb. The suspect fled and got about 100 yards into the woods before being taken into custody. "That was something that was unique for us," Babb said, "a first time for us."
Graphics

NVIDIA To Launch Graphics Cards Specifically Designed For Digital Currency Mining (cnbc.com) 84

Digital currency mining is in high demand, causing GPU prices to skyrocket. Nvidia is planning to capitalize on this trend by releasing graphics cards specifically designed for cryptocurrency. From a product listing on ASUS' website: "ASUS Mining P106 is designed for coin mining with high-efficiency components -- delivering maximum hash-rate production at minimum cost. ASUS Mining P106 enhances the megahash rate by up to 36% compared cards in the same segment that are not tailored for mining. The new card is also engineered to be seriously durable, enabling 24/7 operation for uninterrupted coin production." The ASUS Mining P106 uses an Nvidia chip, according to the specifications page on the website. CNBC reports: Nvidia, AMD and ASUS have not officially announced the digital currency mining cards, according to their website press pages. It is not certain when the cards will be available for sale. Nvidia is likely making the cards designed for this use so that the surging digital currency demand doesn't affect its ability to serve the lucrative PC gaming market.
Microsoft

Microsoft Bringing EMET Back As a Built-In Part of Windows 10 (arstechnica.com) 38

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update will include EMET-like capabilities managed through a new feature called Windows Defender Exploit Guard. Microsoft's EMET, the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit, was a useful tool for hardening Windows systems. It used a range of techniques -- some built in to Windows, some part of EMET itself -- to make exploitable security flaws harder to reliably exploit. The idea being that, even if coding bugs should occur, turning those bugs into actual security issues should be made as difficult as possible. With Windows 10, however, EMET's development was essentially cancelled. But as more mitigation capabilities have been put into Windows, the need for a system for managing and controlling them has not gone away. Some of the mitigations introduce application compatibility issues -- a few even require applications to be deliberately written with the mitigation in mind -- which means that Windows does not simply turn on every mitigation for every application. It's here that Exploit Guard comes in.
Security

Hacker Behind Massive Ransomware Outbreak Can't Get Emails From Victims Who Paid (vice.com) 151

Joseph Cox, reporting for Motherboard: On Tuesday, a new, worldwide ransomware outbreak took off, infecting targets in Ukraine, France, Spain, and elsewhere. The hackers hit everything from international law firms to media companies. The ransom note demands victims send bitcoin to a predefined address and contact the hacker via email to allegedly have their files decrypted. But the email company the hacker happened to use, Posteo, says it has decided to block the attacker's account, leaving victims with no obvious way to unlock their files. [...] The hacker tells victims to send $300 worth of bitcoin. But to determine who exactly has paid, the hacker also instructs people to email their bitcoin wallet ID, and their "personal installation key." This is a 60 character code made up of letters and digits generated by the malware, which is presumably unique to each infection of the ransomware. That process is not possible now, though. "Midway through today (CEST) we became aware that ransomware blackmailers are currently using a Posteo address as a means of contact," Posteo, the German email provider the hacker had an account with, wrote in a blog post. "Our anti-abuse team checked this immediately -- and blocked the account straight away.
Businesses

The App Economy Will Be Worth $6 Trillion in Five Years (recode.net) 78

An anonymous reader shares a report: In five years, the app economy will be worth $6.3 trillion, up from $1.3 trillion last year, according to a report released today by app measurement company App Annie. What explains the growth? More people are spending more time and -- crucially -- more money in apps. While on average people aren't downloading many more apps, App Annie expects global app usership to nearly double to 6.3 billion people in the next five years while the time spent in apps will more than double. And, it expects the average app spend -- including app-store purchases, advertising spend and, most importantly, commerce -- to increase from $379 per person to $1,008 in 2021. The 800-pound -- or $6 trillion -- gorilla in the room is mobile commerce.
Security

Heritage Valley Health System Target Of Cyber Attack (cbslocal.com) 23

The Heritage Valley Health System says it has been hit with a cyber attack. From a report: A spokeswoman confirmed the attack Tuesday morning. "Heritage Valley Health System has been affected by a cyber security incident. The incident is widespread and is affecting the entire health system including satellite and community locations. We have implemented downtime procedures and made operational adjustments to ensure safe patient care continues un-impeded." Heritage Valley is a $480 million network that provides care for residents of Allegheny, Beaver, Butler and Lawrence counties, in Pennsylvania; parts of eastern Ohio; and the panhandle of West Virginia. Also read: Ukrainian Banks, Electricity Firm Hit by Fresh Cyber Attack; Reports Claim the Ransomware Is Quickly Spreading Across the World.
Social Networks

Facebook Crosses 2 Billion Monthly Users (theverge.com) 86

Facebook has announced that it now has over 2 billion monthly active users. From a report: That's up from the 1.94 billion total that the company cited as part of its most recent earnings report in May. Mark Zuckerberg shared the news directly, and Fast Company has a story on Facebook's constant efforts to keep pushing growth upward. "It's an honor to be on this journey with you," Zuckerberg wrote. Facebook's other apps are faring well, too: Messenger has over 1.2 billion monthly users and Facebook-owned WhatsApp tallies a similar figure. Twitter, by comparison, has 328 million monthly active users. Instagram has over 700 million.
Transportation

Volvo's Driverless Cars 'Confused' by Kangaroos (bbc.com) 136

An anonymous reader shares a report: Volvo's self-driving technology is struggling to identify kangaroos in the road. The Swedish car-maker's 2017 S90 and XC90 models use its Large Animal Detection system to monitor the road for deer, elk and caribou. But the way kangaroos move confuses it. "We've noticed with the kangaroo being in mid-flight when it's in the air, it actually looks like it's further away, then it lands and it looks closer," its Australia technical manager said. But the problem would not delay the rollout of driverless cars in the country, David Pickett added.

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