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Submission + - Spying on Students in the Classroom (eff.org)

schwit1 writes: It seems a day doesn’t go by without another report of a company monitoring what we do on the Internet and selling that data to generate more revenue. And now the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has examined what happens to the data that's collected from students using technology in the classroom. They released the results of an extensive survey covering students in grades K-12.

What they found was that little work has been done to protect the privacy of the student information that is collected from both the classroom and from using the online software the schools issue for use at home on the students' own devices. They found that while many school districts have embraced technology and all of the benefits it can bring to the schools and students, often little thought has been given to one of the unintended consequences of this: the students' privacy.

The study was very extensive and took two years to complete. Virtually everything was examined, including what's being done along each point from the suppliers of hardware and software and the cloud services, to the schools and the students. They found that lots of data is being collected without permission and that it's easy for outside companies to access the data. They also discovered that there's little to prevent suppliers from sharing data with others, including advertisers.

Submission + - A caterpillar may lead to a "plastic pollution" solution. (bbc.com)

FatdogHaiku writes: Researchers at Cambridge University have discovered that the larvae of the moth, which eats wax in bee hives, can also degrade plastic.

They think microbes in the caterpillar — as well as the insect itself — might play a role in breaking down plastic. If the chemical process can be identified, it could lead to a solution to managing plastic waste in the environment.

Submission + - NSA's DoublePulsar Kernel Exploit A 'Bloodbath' (threatpost.com)

msm1267 writes: A little more than two weeks after the latest ShadowBrokers leak of NSA hacking tools, experts are certain that the DoublePulsar post-exploitation Windows kernel attack will have similar staying power to the Conficker bug, and that pen-testers will be finding servers exposed to the flaws patched in MS17-010 for years to come.

MS17-010 was released in March and it closes a number of holes in Windows SMB Server exploited by the NSA. Exploits such as EternalBlue, EternalChampion, EternalSynergy and EternalRomance that are part of the Fuzzbunch exploit platform all drop DoublePulsar onto compromised hosts. DoublePulsar is a sophisticated memory-based kernel payload that hooks onto x86 and 64-bit systems and allows an attacker to execute any raw shellcode payload they wish.

“This is a full ring0 payload that gives you full control over the system and you can do what you want to it,” said Sean Dillon, senior security analyst at RiskSense. Dillon was the first to reverse-engineer a DoublePulsar payload, and published his analysis last Friday.

“This is going to be on networks for years to come. The last major vulnerability of this class was MS08-067, and it’s still found in a lot of places,” Dillon said. “I find it everywhere. This is the most critical Windows patch since that vulnerability.”

Dan Tentler, founder and CEO of Phobos Group, said internet-net wide scans he’s running have found about 3.1 percent of vulnerable machines are already infected (between 62,000 and 65,000 so far), and that percentage is likely to go up as scans continue.

“This is easily describable as a bloodbath,” Tentler said.

Submission + - 107 cancer papers retracted due to peer review fraud (arstechnica.com)

bodog writes: "The journal Tumor Biology is retracting 107 research papers after discovering that the authors faked the peer review process. This isn’t the journal’s first rodeo. Late last year, 58 papers were retracted from seven different journals— 25 came from Tumor Biology for the same reason."

That's a lot of fraud for a field dedicated to finding out the truth of things..

Submission + - SPAM: Toyota is testing heavy-duty hydrogen trucks at the Port of Long Beach

randomErr writes: Toyota is powering an 80,000 lbs (36,288kg) Class-8 tractor-trailer combo using a development fuel cell drivetrain from two small Toyota Mirai sedans.Toyota's future-trucking idearesides at California's Port of Long Beach, where 18,630 shipping container units get processed per day. Two years ago, Toyota began secretly testing a hydrogen fuel cell system alternative to the conventional diesel powertrain for heavy Class-8 trucks. Called "Project Portal," this system is intended for drayage (short-haul movements), shuttling shipping containers between Los Angeles and Long Beach ports plus other freight depots.Though other companies have researched either electric or fuel cell heavy-duty trucking—Mercedes placed medium-duty trucks in controlled fleets this year in Europe, for example—none have pulled the fuel cell trigger in the US.

Submission + - Self-taught artificial intelligence beats doctors at predicting heart attacks (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: Doctors have lots of tools for predicting a patient’s health. But—as even they will tell you—they’re no match for the complexity of the human body. Heart attacks in particular are hard to anticipate. Now, scientists have shown that computers capable of teaching themselves can perform even better than standard medical guidelines, significantly increasing prediction rates. If implemented, the new method could save thousands or even millions of lives a year.

Submission + - Does space heat up when you accelerate? Physicists to test controversial idea (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: More than 40 years ago, a leading relativity theorist made a surprising prediction. Whereas empty space should feel immeasurably cold to any observer gliding along at a constant speed, one who is accelerating, say because he's riding a rocket, would find empty space hot. This so-called Unruh effect seemed practically impossible to measure, but now four theorists claim they have devised a doable experiment that could confirm the underlying physics. Skeptics say it will do no such thing—but for contradictory reasons.

"The hope is that this will convince skeptics that the whole thing is coherent," says Stephen Fulling, a theoretical physicist and mathematician at Texas A&M University in College Station who was not involved in the work. But Vladimir Belinski, a theorist at International Network of Centers for Relativistic Astrophysics in Pescara, Italy, says, "The Unruh effect is nonsense, it's based on a mathematical mistake."

Submission + - More Americans Now Work Full-Time From Home Than Walk and Bike To Office Jobs (qz.com)

An anonymous reader writes: In the United States, the past decade has been marked by booming cities, soaring rents, and a crush of young workers flocking to job-rich downtowns. Although these are heady days for pavement-pounding urbanists, a record 2.6% of American employees now go to their jobs without ever leaving their houses. That’s more than walk and bike to work combined. These numbers come from a Quartz analysis of data from the US census and the American Community Survey. The data show that telecommuting has grown faster than any other way of getting to work—up 159% since 2000. By comparison, the number of Americans who bike to work has grown by 86% over the same period, while the number who drive or carpool has grown by only 12%. We’ve excluded both part-time and self-employed workers from these and all results. Though managers are the largest group of remote workers, as a percentage of a specific occupation computer programmers are the most over-represented. Nearly 8% of programmers now work from home, following a staggering increase of nearly 400% since 2000.

Submission + - Enceladus just became a top candidate for life elsewhere in Solar System (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: In 2005, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft spied jets of water ice and vapor erupting into space from fissures on Enceladus, evidence of a salty ocean beneath the saturnian moon’s placid icy surface. Now, it turns out that the jets contain hydrogen gas, a sign of ongoing reactions on the floor of that alien sea. Because such chemistry provides energy for microbial life on Earth, the discovery makes Enceladus the top candidate for hosting life elsewhere in the solar system—besting even Jupiter’s Europa, another icy moon with an ocean. “We didn’t see microbes,” says Hunter Waite, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, and the lead author of a study published this week in Science. “But we saw their food.”

Submission + - SPAM: Exploit Revealed For Remote Root Access Vulnerability Affecting Many Routers

Orome1 writes: Back in January 2013, researchers from application security services firm DefenseCode unearthed a remote root access vulnerability in the default installation of some Cisco Linksys (now Belkin) routers. The flaw was actually found in Broadcom’s UPnP implementation used in popular routers, and ultimately the researchers extended the list of vulnerable routers to encompass devices manufactured by the likes of ASUS, D-Link, Zyxel, US Robotics, TP-Link, Netgear, and others. Since there were millions of vulnerable devices out there, the researchers refrained from publishing the exploit they created for the flaw, but now, four years later, they’ve released their full research again, and this time they’ve also revealed the exploit.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - There's an Earth-like planet with an atmosphere just 39 light-years away (washingtonpost.com)

Artem Tashkinov writes: There are a lot of good reasons to be captivated by the exoplanet GJ 1132b. Located in the constellation Vela, it's a mere 39 light-years from Earth — just a hop, skip and a jump in galactic terms. It's similar to Earth in terms of size and mass, and it dances in a close-in orbit around its star, a dimly burning red dwarf. And, astronomers recently discovered, it has an atmosphere. The finding, published in the Astronomical Journal, is the first detection of an atmosphere around a terrestrial “Earth-like” planet orbiting a red dwarf star — and it suggests there could be millions more.

Although the researchers call the planet “Earth-like,” the term is only applicable in its broadest sense. GJ 1132b is so close to its sun that it more likely resembles Venus than Earth. Astronomers estimate its average temperature to be about 700 degrees Fahrenheit, and that's without taking into account the potential greenhouse effect of its atmosphere. It is also probably tidally locked, meaning that gravity keeps one side of the planet constantly facing the star, while the other is cast in permanent shadow. GJ 1132b would not make a cozy home for life — at least, not life as we know it.

Submission + - WikiLeaks Reveals Grasshopper, the CIA's Windows Hacking Tool (thenextweb.com)

An anonymous reader writes: In case you haven’t had your dose of paranoia fuel today, WikiLeaks released new information concerning a CIA malware program called “Grasshopper,” that specifically targets Windows. The Grasshopper framework was (is?) allegedly used by the CIA to make custom malware payloads. According to the user guide: "Grasshopper is a software tool used to build custom installers for target computers running Microsoft Windows operating systems." Grasshopper is designed to detect the OS and protection on any Windows computer on which it’s deployed, and it can escape detection by anti-malware software. If that was enough for you to put your computer in stasis, brace yourself for a doozy: Grasshopper reinstalls itself every 22 hours, even if you have Windows Update disabled. As if this wasn’t alarming enough, the Grasshopper user guide even states upfront that Grasshopper uses bits from a toolkit taken from Russian organized crime.

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