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Submission + - De Beers Scientists Fight the Growing Threat of Man-Made Diamonds 1

HughPickens.com writes: The WSJ reports that a small team of scientists working for De Beers is scrambling to stave off a looming threat that could tarnish the luster of natural-mined diamonds: high-quality man-made stones. For now, while synthetics make up just a fraction of the market, they have growing appeal to younger buyers — a headache for mine owners, who are under pressure to cut supply and lower prices, because traders, cutters and polishers are struggling to profit amid a credit squeeze and languishing jewelry sales. Synthetic producers can make 250,000 carats to 350,000 carats of rough diamonds annually, according to industry estimates, compared with about 135 million rough carats mined every year. But Martin Roscheisen, chief executive of Diamond Foundry Inc., a San Francisco synthetic-diamond producer with a capacity of 24,000 carats, says he believes nearly all diamonds consumers purchase will be man-made in a few decades. To counter the threat, last year De Beers helped launch a trade association with other producers to market the attraction of natural diamonds. At a plant about 30 miles west of London, De Beers scientists have been working to detect synthetic diamonds for years. The company has its own synthetic-diamond facility, called Element Six, which produces synthetic diamonds for industrial purposes, such as drilling, and helps De Beers keep up with technological developments. It also started marketing a new, cheap detector called PhosView, that uses ultraviolet light to detect lab-grown stones that quickly screens tiny synthetic diamonds. “We’re very focused on detection,” says Simon Lawson, head of Technologies U.K. at De Beers. “It underpins the integrity of natural diamonds and ensures that consumers cannot be duped into buying a synthetic diamond.” Despite the increased competition, De Beers has no intention of selling synthetics. “De Beers’ focus is on natural diamonds,” says Lawson. “We would not do anything that would cannibalize that industry.”

Submission + - Security Firm Shows How to Hack a US Voting Machine (bleepingcomputer.com) 1

An anonymous reader writes: Three days before the US Presidential Election takes place, California-based security firm Cylance showed the world how easy is to hack one of the many voting machine models that will be deployed at voting stations across the US on Election Day. The machine that Cylance researchers chose for their test was the Sequoia AVC Edge Mk1, one of the most popular models. The technique researchers created modifies the Public Counter, but also the Protective Counter, which is a backup mechanism that acts as a redundant verification system to ensure the first vote results are valid. Physical access is needed to hack the machine, but the hack takes a short time to perform. According to statements from FBI Director James Comey, hacking voting machines doesn't seem to be an issue as problematic as voter registration systems, which are connected to the Internet.

And again, these are the voter registration systems. This is very different from the vote system in the United States, which is very very hard for someone to hack into, cause it's so clunky and dispersed. It's Mary and Fred putting a machine under the basketball hoop at the gym. Those things are not connected to the Internet, but the voter registration are.


Submission + - All about life around an M-class star

RockDoctor writes: Arxiv has a review article on "The Habitability of Planets Orbiting M-dwarf Stars" (PDF). Although Star Trek had a minor smattering of "M-class planets" — a designation that tells one nothing of substance, "M-class star" is a much more meaningful designation of colour, with two size classes, the dwarfs and the red giants. M-class ("red") giants are not prospective for life — it's a short duration of the life of any star that gets into that state (most won't) and it ends badly for anything not made of tungsten carbide. M-class dwarfs, on the other hand "are our galaxy’s silent majority: they constitute 70% of the stars in the Milky Way and 40% of its stellar mass budget, yet not a single M dwarf is visible to the naked eye. They span nearly an order of magnitude in mass and two orders of magnitude in luminosity. [...] As a spectral class, M dwarfs span a larger range in mass than the next three spectral classes (F,G & K) combined." But probably the most important reason for paying attention to them is their persistence — an M-dwarf of 1/10 the mass of the Sun will burn for around 1000 times the time that the Sun does. No M-dwarf has ever turned into a red giant — there hasn't been enough time.

Therefore, if humanity ever meets an alien species, the odds of them coming from an M-dwarf are already high. If humanity ever meets an alien species that has been around a billion years longer than us and has technology we can't even dream of, then the odds of it coming from an M-dwarf are overwhelmingly high. Clearly, understanding these stars, and the influences of these stars range of properties on their planets and possible inhabitants (including our distant descendants) is a good idea. And this review article will keep you up to date for your next term paper. Or for keeping your SF magnum opus somewhere with a passing acquaintance with reality.

Submission + - All New 'Starship Troopers' Reboot in the Works 1

HughPickens.com writes: Hollywood Reporter reports that Columbia Pictures is rebooting Starship Troopers, the 1997 sci-fi film directed by Paul Verhoeven. The studio is not remaking the film but is said to be going back to the original Heinlein novel for an all-new take and no personnel from the 1997 film are involved. Verhoeven’s film, which starred Casper van Dien and Denise Richards, received critical acclaim for its surprising satire but was a disappointment at the box office, making just $121m worldwide from a $105m budget. The original movie, considered a mixed success at the time of its release went on to achieve a cult following and during the DVD boom of the 2000s, it became a mini-franchise for the studio, which produced three additional direct-to-DVD movies. The newly announced reboot is said to be more faithful to Robert A. Heinlein's original book, but is that a good idea? "Starship Troopers has been decried as promoting fascism and being racist in its creation of a society where democracy has been severely restricted and warfare against the alien "bugs" comes with its own coded terminology that hews too closely to real-world racism for many," says Graeme McMillan. "The question then becomes: in updating Starship Troopers to make it more acceptable to today's audience, can it still manage to remain faithful enough to Heinlein's original to please the existing fan base?"

Submission + - Researchers Create Undetectable Rootkit That Targets Industrial Equipment

An anonymous reader writes: Two researchers presenting at the Black Hat Europe security conference in London revealed a method of infecting industrial equipment with an undetectable rootkit component that can wreak havoc and disrupt the normal operations of critical infrastructure all over the world.

The attack targets PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers), devices that sit between normal computers that run industrial monitoring software and the actual industrial equipment, such as motors, valves, sensors, breakers, alarms, and others.

Researchers say they packed their attack as loadable kernel module (LKM), which makes it both undetectable and reboot persistent. The attack goes after PLC pin configurations, meaning the PLC won't be able to tell which are the actual input and output pins, allowing the attacker full-control to make up bogus sensor data, send fake commands, or block legitimate ones.

Comment Re:Extraordinary claims require ... (Score 5, Interesting) 314

Occams' razor is politely suggesting that at some point the ID card belonging to Mr. Mbah Gotho Sr. was passed along to Mr Mbah Gotho Jr. That appears to be what happened with all those ancient rural Soviets. Some of those back country/outside all their life people age fast. If they took Dads card after he passed, they could skip the draft. Voila, country towns with a lot of 104 year old men.

Submission + - Apple Patenting a Way To Collect Fingerprints, Photos of Thieves (appleinsider.com)

An anonymous reader writes: As published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple's invention covering "Biometric capture for unauthorized user identification" details the simple but brilliant — and legally fuzzy — idea of using an iPhone or iPad's Touch ID module, camera and other sensors to capture and store information about a potential thief. Apple's patent is also governed by device triggers, though different constraints might be applied to unauthorized user data aggregation. For example, in one embodiment a single failed authentication triggers the immediate capture of fingerprint data and a picture of the user. In other cases, the device might be configured to evaluate the factors that ultimately trigger biometric capture based on a set of defaults defined by internal security protocols or the user. Interestingly, the patent application mentions machine learning as a potential solution for deciding when to capture biometric data and how to manage it. Other data can augment the biometric information, for example time stamps, device location, speed, air pressure, audio data and more, all collected and logged as background operations. The deemed unauthorized user's data is then either stored locally on the device or sent to a remote server for further evaluation.

Submission + - SPAM: NASA aircraft probe Namibian clouds to solve global warming puzzle

sciencehabit writes: Off the coast of Namibia, for several months a year, a layer of smoke from African savanna fires drifts over a persistent deck of low clouds. It’s the perfect place to investigate the thorniest problem in all of climate science: how haze and clouds interact to boost or moderate global warming. Now, after weeks of delay and uncertainty, an airborne research campaign is about to begin. On 29 August, NASA will fly aircraft into the heart of this natural laboratory for about a month, with plans to return in 2017 and 2018. Complementary efforts from France and the United Kingdom would have expanded the sampling area but were postponed when the teams couldn’t get diplomatic clearances from Namibia.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Making one-on-one meetings actually USEFUL

Esther Schindler writes: All too often, managers and team members reject a regular check-in because they think it's a waste of time. But when done well, one-and-one meetings are a great way to build trust and rapport. That weekly time slot is a predictable time for feedback and coaching. Even when a manager and team member get along well, a regular one-on-one is an opportunity to impart information privately, to raise emotional issues before they fester, to address career challenges, and to help managers make better decisions with team input.

But way too often, those manager-and-team-member meetings are a waste of time. Here's three ways they go wrong.

Submission + - Apples Fixes Three Zero Days Used in Government Targeted Attack

Trailrunner7 writes: Apple has patched three critical vulnerabilities in iOS that were identified when an attacker targeted a human rights activist in the UAE with an exploit chain that used the bugs to attempt to remotely jailbreak and infect his iPhone.

The vulnerabilities include two kernel flaws and one in WebKit and Apple released iOS 9.3.5 to fix them. The attack that set off the investigation into the vulnerabilities targeted Ahmed Mansoor, an activist living in the UAE. Earlier this month, he received a text message that included a link to what was supposedly new information on human rights abuses. Suspicious, Manor forwarded the link to researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, who recognized what they were looking at.

“On August 10 and 11, 2016, Mansoor received SMS text messages on his iPhone promising “new secrets” about detainees tortured in UAE jails if he clicked on an included link. Instead of clicking, Mansoor sent the messages to Citizen Lab researchers. We recognized the links as belonging to an exploit infrastructure connected to NSO Group, an Israel-based ‘cyber war’ company that sells Pegasus, a government-exclusive “lawful intercept” spyware product,” Citizen Lab said in a new report on the attack and iOS flaws.

Submission + - MedSec Disclosure Ethics (bloomberg.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Ok, so apparently a security research company called MedSec has discovered vulnerabilities in a slew of medical devices produced by St Jude Medical. t's alleged that St Jude's devices and ecosystem are demonstrably less secure than competitors.

Rather than disclose the vulnerabilities to the manufacturer, they approached Muddy Waters — an investor that's been known for shorting companies, and MedSec stand to benefit from the trade.

I can't recall this having ever occurred before, where does this fall in the spectrum of research and disclosure ethics?

Submission + - Serious design flaw in Tinder allows eavesdropping on users

An anonymous reader writes: Security expert Anthony Zboralski posted on HERT today a social engineering attack for Tinder that lets you perform a man-in-the-middle attack against unsuspecting users. Zboralski says: “Not only we can eavesdrop on the conversation of two strangers, we can also change their reality.” The attack can easily be extended to SMS, Whatsapp, iMessage and voice.

Submission + - London cops waste £2.1m on thought crime unit and they want volunteer info (theregister.co.uk)

An anonymous reader writes: The Metropolitan Police is to spend £2.1m of public money funding a unit that will actively investigate “offensive” comments on Twitter and Facebook, according to reports.

Backed by a team of “volunteers”, the Met's new unit will actively seek out anything “deemed inappropriate” on social media services, according to the Sunday papers.

Scotland Yard is splurging £1.7m of its own budget on the headline-grabbing stunt, which will have five full-time detectives on its staff.

The Home Office is contributing a further £452,756 to the Online Hate Crime Hub, as reported by the Sunday Telegraph.

The five-strong hub will consist of a detective inspector, a detective sergeant and three detective constables.

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