Sci-Tech


Hackers post code in Trump protest: ‘Don’t forget about your base’

9th April 2017

An individual or group known for leaking complete computer code for apparently authentic, stolen NSA hacking tools released a new batch of computer code Saturday.

The leaker, dubbed “TheShadowBrokers,” claimed that the newest leak was a “form of protest” against President Trump not continuing the isolationist brand of populism that he campaigned on. Earlier leaks from the group were typically political in nature.

TheShadowBrokers claimed to be releasing samples from the NSA source code to draw attention to its auction. The latest leaks accompany a post titled “Don’t Forget About Your Base.”

In the group’s trademark broken English, the post reads, “TheShadowBrokers voted for you. TheShadowBrokers supports you. TheShadowBrokers is losing faith in you. Mr. Trump helping theshadowbrokers, helping you. Is appearing you are abandoning ‘your base’, ‘the movement’, and the peoples who getting you elected.”

The post goes on to cite “good evidence” of Trump shunning his base, pointing to the GOP’s death on healthcare reform last month, removing White House chief strategist Steve Bannon from the National Security Council principals committee and appointing Cabinet members from Goldman Sachs and the “Military Industrial Intelligence Complex.”

TheShadowBrokers debuted in August, leaking a large package of source code it claimed was from the toolkit of the Equation Group, a vaunted hacking operation long believed to be affiliated with the NSA. Between then and January, the group dumped two more packages of source code.

Though always in the context of advertising the sale of their wares, the Brokers have mentioned politics in prior posts, including a racist sketch about the Clinton campaign. In the group’s last message to the public in January, it claimed any prior mention of politics was meant for publicity.

Past releases by TheShadowBrokers appears to be authentic. The Intercept, the publication headed by the fount of Edward Snowden leaks, Glenn Greenwald, published that a tracking ID code that appeared in the Brokers’ files matched a previously unreleased code in the Snowden files.

Earlier files from the group, while years old, contained working computer code to exploit many previously unknown security flaws in popular cybersecurity hardware from Cisco and other manufacturers.

Those flaws sent cybersecurity companies into a frantic race to repair their products before hackers took advantage. Researchers ultimately did find malware in the wild, which used these product vulnerabilities.

It is unclear how TheShadowBrokers obtained the files.

 

source;http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/327971-shadowbrokers-post-new-nsa-cyberweapons-in-pro-conservative-protest-of

Disney seeks new patent for soft robots playing characters

8th April 2017

Soft-body robots could someday be roaming Disney theme parks, playing animated, humanoid movie characters and interacting with visitors.

A new patent application by the entertainment giant doesn’t name specific characters, but it describes “designing a robot that will move and physically interact like an animated character.”

A prototype sketch filed with the patent application shows a round body, echoing the shape of the Baymax soft-robot character in Disney’s 2014 movie “Big Hero 6.” The application, and theme park observers, say the big issue for robotic interaction is safety. The document, dated Thursday, shows Disney research scientists in Pittsburgh have worked on prototypes identified only as “soft body 300” or “soft body 1000.”

“It’s hard to know why Disney decides to file for a patent, but they have been looking at soft-body robots since ‘Big Hero,’” said theme park writer Jim Hill. “Disney is still terrified that even with this soft technology, a robot could accidentally harm a child. They do a lot of testing.”

Disney officials declined to comment on the patent application.

The new Disney patent says soft-body robots would be “designed for reducing collision impacts during human interaction.”

“Robots can be found providing interactive guidance or entertainment in stores and amusement parks and in more dynamic settings,” the new patent filing says.

From Aladdin and Ariel to Winnie the Pooh and Woody, keeping track of character appearances at Walt Disney World is practically a full-time job for theme park blogs and websites. There are dozens and dozens of characters listed on multiple sites that track them. On Walt Disney World’s own website, visitors can search locations and times to meet specific characters. Characters roam freely or meet visitors in set-aside areas.

More robotic characters could eliminate some labor costs, although there’s no information about how much they would cost or whether it would reduce the number of costumed characters.

Free-roaming robots aren’t exactly new at Walt Disney World. Previous versions have included Push the Talking Trash Can, which was basically a remote-controlled vehicle, and Lucky the Dinosaur.

But the new patent filing describes problems with previous robot-human interaction: “It has proven difficult to provide wholly safe interactions between humans and robots simply by operating these humanoid and other robots with controlled movements.”

The new application describes pliable chambers making up the body of the robot, filled with fluid or air. The robot would be able to sense pressure on each chamber and adjust the amount of air or water, to respond to a child’s hug, or to an accidental collision.

The outer shape of the robot could be determined by “data obtained from a digital model of an animated (or other) character,” the application says.

It says frame and joint components made with a 3-D printer and outer shapes on the robot would include “a donut shape, a cylinder, and a cylinder with a round end.” It leaves open the possibility for variations on the basic concept.

The inventors are Alexander Alspach, Joohyung Kim and Katsu Yamane, who work at Disney Research Pittsburgh. They’ve been working on a prototype soft robot since at least 2014, according to Disney Research. They posted videos online showing a soft upper body of a robot holding an apple and a small plush toy.

Pittsburgh is also where Carnegie Mellon University developed a soft robotic arm that inspired Disney director Don Hall as he researched concepts for a “huggable robot,” which eventually became “Big Hero 6’s” Baymax.

Jim Hill said Hall actually brought the soft robot research to the attention of Disney’s engineers, the Imagineers, at that time.

Disney in the past has clashed with unions regarding rules for employees who portray characters. In a 2015 dispute, union representatives objected to a rule that such actors can’t publicly talk about which character they portray.

Staffing characters with costumed humans hasn’t proven foolproof, either. A 2011 lawsuit filed by a Philadelphia woman claimed that an Epcot employee dressed as Donald Duck groped her. That lawsuit alleged that Disney attempted “to cover up continuing, long-standing similar prior incidents,” and Disney declined to comment publicly; the suit was settled confidentially.

And in 2007, a Disney employee playing Tigger the tiger was suspended after a New Hampshire family accused him of punching their 14-year-old son during a home-video session at Disney-MGM Studios.

Bob Boyd, a financial analyst who follows Disney closely, said filing for a patent doesn’t mean Disney is close to rolling out new soft-body robots.

But he said it indicates that Disney continues to pursue advanced technology that interacts with guests, similar to its leading role in animatronics in the 1960s and 1970s.

“Meeting the legal and liability threshold is very difficult,” Boyd said. “Most robotics or animatronics are separated from guests by a physical barrier. But it is very difficult to have large numbers of people posing as characters too.”

 

source: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-bz-disney-soft-robots-20170407-story.html

WikiLeaks Drops the Mother Lode With ‘Vault 7’

wikileaks

8th March 2017

WikiLeaks on Tuesday dumped a trove of documents and files hacked from the Central Intelligence Agency — the largerst ever published from within the U.S. spy agency.
The 8,761 documents code named “VAult 7” contain amazing things, such as the “weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products, include Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.”
“The CIA had created, in effect, its ‘own NSA’ with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified,” WikiLeaks said in its release.
The documents show that “a specialized unit in the CIA’s Mobile Development Branch produces malware to infest, control and exfiltrate data from iPhones and other Apple products running iOS, such as iPads.”
The CIA also runs “a very substantial effort to infect and control Microsoft Windows users with its malware.”
The documents also show that “in addition to its operations in Langley, Virginia, the CIA also uses the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt as a covert base for its hackers covering Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
“CIA hackers operating out of the Frankfurt consulate ( ‘Center for Cyber Intelligence Europe’ or CCIE) are given diplomatic (‘black’) passports and State Department cover. The instructions for incoming CIA hackers make Germany’s counter-intelligence efforts appear inconsequential: ‘Breeze through German Customs because you have your cover-for-action story down pat, and all they did was stamp your passport.’ “
“There is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber ‘weapons’. Comparisons can be drawn between the uncontrolled proliferation of such ‘weapons’, which results from the inability to contain them combined with their high market value, and the global arms trade. But the significance of ‘Year Zero’ goes well beyond the choice between cyberwar and cyberpeace. The disclosure is also exceptional from a political, legal and forensic perspective,” said WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange.

 

 

source:http://www.dailywire.com/news/14173/wikileaks-drops-mother-lode-vault-7-joseph-curl?

New York Called For Face Recognition Cameras At Bridges, Tunnels

facial

28th Jan 2017

The state of New York has privately asked surveillance companies to pitch a vast camera system that would scan and identify people who drive in and out of New York City, according to a December memo obtained by Vocativ.

The call for private companies to submit plans is part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s major infrastructure package, which he introduced in October. Though much of the related proposals would be indisputably welcome to most New Yorkers — renovating airports and improving public transportation — a little-noticed detail included installing cameras to “test emerging facial recognition software and equipment.”

“This is a highly advanced system they’re asking for,” said Clare Garvie, an associate at Georgetown University’s Center for Privacy and Technology, and who specializes in police use of face recognition technologies. “This is going to be terabytes — if not petabytes — of data, and multiple cameras running 24 hours a day. In order to be face recognition compliant they probably have to be pretty high definition.”

Cuomo’s office didn’t respond to multiple requests for clarification in the ensuing weeks after his announcement. But a memo from the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s Bridges and Tunnels division, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, shows that on December 12, the MTA put out a call to an unknown group of private vendors of surveillance equipment. The proposed system would both scan drivers as they approached or crossed most of the city’s bridges and tunnels at high speeds, and would also capture and pair those photos with the license plates of their cars.

“The biggest risk that comes with a system like this is its ability to track people, by location, by their face,” Garvie said. “So what needs to be put in place is a prohibition on the use of these cameras and the technology as a location tracking tool.”

The proposed system would be massive, the memo reads:

The Authority is interested in implementing a Facial Detection System, in a free-flow highway environment, where vehicle movement is unimpeded at highway speeds as well as bumper-to-bumper traffic, and license plate images are taken and matched to occupants of the vehicles (via license plate number) with Facial Detection and Recognition methods from a gantry-based or road-side monitoring location.

All seven of the MTA’s bridges and both its tunnels are named in the proposal.

New York City is home to more than 2,000 bridges and tunnels, which are owned by various agencies, including the New York City and state’s Departments of Transportation and Amtrak. It’s unclear as of this writing if those “crossing points” are similarly considering surveillance technology, though Vocativ has filed FOIA requests to each of them. Cuomo’s office didn’t respond to multiple inquiries. It’s similarly unclear how many, or even if any, private surveillance companies responded to the MTA’s proposal. A followup memo on Dec. 23 extended the deadline for submissions until Jan. 3, indicating the MTA wasn’t satisfied with the initial round of proposals.

New York City wouldn’t be the first in the U.S. to have a network of facial recognition cameras for law enforcement. In 2013, for instance, the Los Angeles Police Department admitted it had deployed 16 cameras equipped with face recognition software, designed to search for particular suspects. But the most prominent known system is in Moscow, which attempted to pair hundreds of thousands of CCTV cameras with advanced facial recognition software by NTech Labs — the company behind the infamous FaceFind software, which can let Russians stalk people whose picture they snap by using the program to find their social media accounts.

Moscow’s system has been beset with problems, though, especially because CCTV cameras are designed to move with subjects, reducing image quality, and because they’re normally mounted above people’s heads.

“The findings from phase one of the pilot are that it’s remarkably inaccurate,” Garvie said. “This is the most advanced system we’re aware of, but it’s having a very hard time in real-world conditions of people walking.”

That indicates that an effective system like the one the MTA has called for might still be years away.

“The New York crossings project is talking about people driving at highway speeds, so I think we can expect very, very low accuracy rates,” Garvie said.

 

source: http://www.vocativ.com/396745/memo-new-york-called-for-face-recognition-cameras-at-bridges-tunnels/

Cyber criminals should wear wifi jammers instead of going to prison

cyber-stuff

9th Jan 2017

A senior UK policeman has suggested that people who commit cyber crimes should be forced to wear wifi jammers to prevent them from accessing the internet instead of being sent to prison.

The president of the UK’s Police Superintendents’ Association, Gavin Thomas, argued that preventing those who’ve committed internet crimes from being able to be online would be a far better and more cost effective than sending them to jail.

Cyber crime is soaring in the UK according to 2016 figures from the Cyber Crime Assessment unit of the UK National Crime Agency, which states it had surpassed all other forms of criminal activity. The report found that “cyber enabled fraud” made up 36 percent of all crime reported, and “computer misuse” accounted for 17 percent.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Chief Superintendent Thomas said that sending cyber criminals to prison is expensive and not an appropriate or effective way of tackling the growing problem.

Instead, he has suggested fitting offenders with electronic wifi jammers that would prevent them from accessing the internet. Wifi jammers work by disrupting the frequency on which a signal is transmitted. Thomas suggested that the device could fit around the person’s wrist or ankle, similar to an electronic tag.

“We have got to stop using 19th century punishments to deal with 21st century crimes,” he said. “It costs around £38,000 a year to keep someone in prison but if you look at the statistics around short term sentencing the recidivism rate is extraordinarily high.”

“This could be introduced as part of community sentencing, so that the 16-year-old does not have access to the internet or wifi for a period and then in conjunction they have to do some sort of traditional work in the community,” he suggested.

Thomas said the criminal justice system also needs to find ways of tackling the growing problem of crime committed on social media. “There is a growing phenomenon here and we need to start to think in the future about how we deal with this.”

 

 

source:https://www.rt.com/uk/373005-cyber-criminals-wifi-jammers/

Self-Driving Uber Apparently Runs Red Light In San Francisco

fuck-da

17th Dec 2016

A self-driving Uber car was caught on camera apparently running a red light in San Francisco Wednesday.

Uber launched the fleet of self-driving Volvo SUV’s Wednesday morning, just hours before the incident.

Dashboard video from a Luxor Cab captured the Volvo apparently running the light after the taxi had stopped for the light. Just in front of the SFMOMA building.

 

There was also a second incident reported by Twitter user Annie Gaus Wednesday morning. She initially posted at 9:48 a.m. that she saw “a ‘self-driving’ Uber” that entered the intersection on Van Ness Avenue on a red light and nearly hit the Lyft car she was riding in.

According to Uber, the cars aren’t yet ready to hit the streets without someone monitoring them, meaning someone from the company was likely behind the wheel. A statement issued by Uber Wednesday afternoon attributed the red-light being run in the video to an error by the person monitoring the car.

“This incident was due to human error,” the statement read. “This is why we believe so much in making the roads safer by building self-driving Ubers. This vehicle was not part of the pilot and was not carrying customers. The driver involved has been suspended while we continue to investigate.”

State regulators said Wednesday afternoon that Uber must stop the self-driving car service until it receives a permit from the state.

 

 

 

source;http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2016/12/14/self-driving-uber-apparently-runs-red-light-in-san-francisco/

Edward Snowden loses Norway safe passage case

edward-snow

27th Nov 2016

Edward Snowden’s bid to guarantee that he would not be extradited to the US if he visited Norway has been rejected by the Norwegian supreme court.

The former National Security Agency contractor filed the lawsuit in April, attempting to secure safe passage to Norway to pick up a free speech award.

It had already been rejected by Oslo District court and an appeals court.

Mr Snowden is a former NSA analyst who leaked secret US surveillance details three years ago.

As a result, he is facing charges in the US which could put him in prison for up to 30 years.

Mr Snowden’s lawyers have previously said if he were extradited to the US, it would be “a foregone conclusion” that he would be convicted and jailed.

Mr Snowden has been living in Russia, out of reach of the US authorities, since the leaks in 2013.

He had hoped to travel to Oslo to receive the Ossietzky Prize, for “outstanding efforts for freedom of expression”.

The award was due to be presented earlier this month.

But the Norwegian Supreme Court said it could not rule on the legality of any move to extradite Mr Snowden as the US had so far made no such request.

 

source:http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-38109167

‘Extreme surveillance’ becomes UK law with barely a whimper

yeah um

19th Nov 2016

A bill giving the UK intelligence agencies and police the most sweeping surveillance powers in the western world has passed into law with barely a whimper, meeting only token resistance over the past 12 months from inside parliament and barely any from outside.

The Investigatory Powers Act, passed on Thursday, legalises a whole range of tools for snooping and hacking by the security services unmatched by any other country in western Europe or even the US.

The security agencies and police began the year braced for at least some opposition, rehearsing arguments for the debate. In the end, faced with public apathy and an opposition in disarray, the government did not have to make a single substantial concession to the privacy lobby.

US whistleblower Edward Snowden tweeted: “The UK has just legalised the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy. It goes further than many autocracies.”

Snowden in 2013 revealed the scale of mass surveillance – or bulk data collection as the security agencies prefer to describe it – by the US National Security Agency and the UK’s GCHQ, which work in tandem.

But, against a backdrop of fears of Islamist attacks, the privacy lobby has failed to make much headway. Even in Germany, with East Germany’s history of mass surveillance by the Stasi and where Snowden’s revelations produced the most outcry, the Bundestag recently passed legislation giving the intelligence agencies more surveillance powers.

The US passed a modest bill last year curtailing bulk phone data collection but the victory of Donald Trump in the US presidential election is potentially a major reverse for privacy advocates. On the campaign trail, Trump made comments that implied he would like to use the powers of the surveillance agencies against political opponents.

The Liberal Democrat peer Lord Strasburger, one of the leading voices against the investigatory powers bill, said: “We do have to worry about a UK Donald Trump. If we do end up with one, and that is not impossible, we have created the tools for repression. If Labour had backed us up, we could have made the bill better. We have ended up with a bad bill because they were all over the place.

“The real Donald Trump has access to all the data that the British spooks are gathering and we should be worried about that.”

The Investigatory Powers Act legalises powers that the security agencies and police had been using for years without making this clear to either the public or parliament. In October, the investigatory powers tribunal, the only court that hears complaints against MI6, MI5 and GCHQ, ruled that they had been unlawfully collecting massive volumes of confidential personal data without proper oversight for 17 years.

One of the negative aspects of the legislation is that it fails to provide adequate protection for journalists’ sources, which could discourage whistleblowing.

One of the few positives in the legislation is that it sets out clearly for the first time the surveillance powers available to the intelligence services and the police. It legalises hacking by the security agencies into computers and mobile phones and allows them access to masses of stored personal data, even if the person under scrutiny is not suspected of any wrongdoing.

Privacy groups are challenging the surveillance powers in the European court of human rights and elsewhere.

Jim Killock, the executive director of Open Rights Group, said: “The UK now has a surveillance law that is more suited to a dictatorship than a democracy. The state has unprecedented powers to monitor and analyse UK citizens’ communications regardless of whether we are suspected of any criminal activity.”

Renate Samson, the chief executive of Big Brother Watch, said: “The passing of the investigatory powers bill has fundamentally changed the face of surveillance in this country. None of us online are now guaranteed the right to communicate privately and, most importantly, securely.”

Trump’s victory started speculation that, given his warm words for Vladimir Putin, he might do a deal with the Russian president to have Snowden sent back to the US where he faces a long jail sentence. Snowden has lived in Russia since leaking tens of thousands of documents to journalists in 2013.

But Bill Binney, a former member of the NSA who became a whistleblower, expressed scepticism: “I am not sure if the relationship a President Trump would have with President Putin would be bad for Snowden.

“In Russia, he would still be an asset that maybe Putin would use in bargaining with Trump. Otherwise, Snowden does have a large support network around the world plus in the US and Trump may not want to disturb that. Also, I think any move to get Snowden out of Russia and into US courts would also open up support for at least three other lawsuits against the US government’s unconstitutional surveillance.”

  • This article was amended on 19 November 2016. The act has not yet received royal assent, as stated in an earlier version.

 

source; https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/19/extreme-surveillance-becomes-uk-law-with-barely-a-whimper

Blood from human teens rejuvenates body and brains of old mice

bathory

17th Nov 2016

Blood plasma from young people has been found to rejuvenate old mice, improving their memory, cognition, and physical activity. The method has the potential to be developed into a treatment for people, says Sakura Minami of Alkahest, the company behind the work.

Previous research has found that stitching old and young mice together has an interesting effect. While sharing a blood system works out well for the older mouse, the younger one isn’t so lucky. The young animals started to show signs of brain ageing, while the brains of the older mice started to look younger. “We see a rejuvenation effect,” says Minami.

The key to youth appears to be in the blood plasma – the liquid part of blood. Several studies have found that injecting plasma from young mice into old mice can help rejuvenate the brain and other organs, including the liver, heart, and muscle.

Could blood plasma from young people have the same benefits? To find out, Minami and her colleagues took blood samples from 18-year-olds, and injected them into 12-month-old mice. At this age, the equivalent of around age 50 for people, the mice start to show signs of ageing – they move more slowly, and perform badly on memory tests.

The mice were given twice-weekly injections of the human plasma. After three weeks of injections, they were submitted to a range of tests. The treated mice’s performance was compared to young, 3-month-old mice, as well as old mice who had not received injections.

New neurons

They found that human plasma does have the power to rejuvenate. Treated mice ran around an open space like young mice. Their memories also seemed to improve, and they were much better at remembering their way around a maze than untreated mice.

“Young human plasma improves cognition,” says Minami, who presented her findings at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego, California, on Monday. “Their memory was preserved.”

“It’s more or less what we would expect,” says Victoria Bolotina, at Boston University in Massachusetts. “The blood of young people must have something in it that’s important for keeping them young,” she says.

The team then examined the brains of the treated and untreated mice. They looked for clues on the birth of new neurons in the hippocampus – a process called neurogenesis, which is thought to be important for memory and learning. Sure enough, the treated mice appeared to have created more new cells in their brain. “Young human plasma treatment can increase neurogenesis,” says Minami.

Minami says she has identified some factors in young blood that might be responsible for these benefits, but that she won’t reveal what they are yet. Some of them seem to be crossing into the brain, while others may be acting remotely, elsewhere in the body, she says.

She hopes to one day translate the findings into an anti-ageing treatment for people – one that might help those who start to experience the effects of an ageing brain. “There’s anecdotal evidence that people experience benefits after blood transfusions,” she says.

The company she works for, Alkahest, has already started a trial of young blood in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

 

 

source:https://www.newscientist.com/article/2112829-blood-from-human-teens-rejuvenates-body-and-brains-of-old-mice/?

Adobe Just Debuted a ‘Photoshop’ for Audio and It’s Kind of Terrifying

termina

14th Nov 2016

Adobe, the tech company at the forefront of photo manipulation (and creators of Photoshop), recently debuted VoCo (voice conversion), a ‘Photoshop’ for audio and speech that’s both impressive and alarming.

The software was unveiled at the company’s recently completed Adobe Max 2016 conference, which you can see above.

 

 

 

 

source:http://twistedsifter.com/videos/adobe-photoshop-for-audio-and-speech-demo/