Internal 'Set Of Blunders' Crashed Australia's Census Site

Slashdot - Mon, 15/08/2016 - 3:34am
Slashdot reader River Tam explains the crash of Australia's online census site, citing the account of a security researcher who says IBM and the Australian Bureau of Statistics "were offered DDoS prevention services from their upstream provider...and said they didn't need it." From an article on CSO: The ABS and IBM gambled on a plan to ask its upstream network provider to block traffic from outside Australia in the event that a denial-of-service attack was detected... Offshore traffic to the site was blocked in line with the plan, however, another attack, for which the ABS had no contingency to repel, was directed at it from within Australia. The attack crippled the firewall and the census site's operators opted to restart it and fall back to a secondary firewall. However, they forgot to check that it had the same configuration as the primary firewall. That crippled the census site. In an unfortunate confluence of events, IBM's security warning systems started flagging some unusual activity, which indicated that information on the ABS servers was heading offshore. The site's operators, thinking the DDoS activity was a distraction, interpreted the alarms as a successful hack...these were little more than benign system logs and the technical staff monitoring the situation poorly understood it. Amid the confusion they naturally erred on the side of caution, [and] decided to pull the plug on the site...

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Categories: Science

Linux Developer Loses GPL Suit Against VMware

Slashdot - Mon, 15/08/2016 - 1:34am
An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes ITWire: Linux kernel developer Christoph Hellwig has lost his case against virtualisation company VMware, which he had sued in March 2015 for violation of version 2 of the GNU General Public Licence... The case claimed that VMware had been using Hellwig's code right from 2007 and not releasing source code as required. The Linux kernel, which is released under the GNU GPL version 2, stipulates that anyone who distributes it has to provide source code for the same... In its ruling, the court said that Hellwig had failed to prove which specific lines of code VMware had used, from among those over which he claimed ownership. In a statement, Hellwig said he plans to appeal, adding that "The ruling concerned German evidence law; the Court did not rule on the merits of the case, i.e. the question whether or not VMware has to license the kernel of its product vSphere ESXi 5.5.0 under the terms of the GNU General Public License, version 2." The Software Freedom Conservancy has described the lawsuit as "the regretful but necessary next step in both Hellwig and Conservancy's ongoing effort to convince VMware to comply properly with the terms of the GPLv2, the license of Linux and many other Open Source and Free Software included in VMware's ESXi products."

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Categories: Science

New RancherOS Offers Lean Linux Functionality Within Docker Containers

Slashdot - Mon, 15/08/2016 - 12:34am
RancherOS is a lean Linux distribution aiming to offer "the minimum necessary to get Docker up and running," and tucking many actual Linux services into Docker containers. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Distrowatch: Josh Curl has announced the release of a new version of RancherOS [which] moves the project out of its alpha status and introduces new features, including an official Raspberry Pi image... "We're especially excited about this since it offers users a cheap method of getting started with Docker and RancherOS."

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Categories: Science

New FreeBSD 11.0 Release Candidate Tested By Phoronix

Slashdot - Sun, 14/08/2016 - 11:34pm
"The first release candidate for the upcoming FreeBSD 11.0 is ready for testing," reports Distrowatch, noting various changes. ("A NULL pointer dereference in IPSEC has been fixed; support for SSH protocol 1 has been removed; OpenSSH DSA keys have been disabled by default...") Now an anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Sunday Phoronix performed some early benchmark testing, comparing FreeBSD 10.3 to FreeBSD 11.0 as well as DragonFlyBSD, Ubuntu, Intel Clear Linux and CentOS Linux 7. They reported mixed results -- some wins and some losses for FreeBSD -- using a clean install with the default package/settings on the x86_64/amd64 version for each operating system. FreeBSD 11.0 showed the fastest compile times, and "With the SQLite benchmark, the BSDs came out ahead of Linux [and] trailed slightly behind DragonFlyBSD 4.6 with HAMMER. The 11.0-BETA4 performance does appear to regress slightly for SQLite compared to FreeBSD 10.3... With the BLAKE2 crypto test, all four Linux distributions were faster than DragonFlyBSD and FreeBSD... with the Apache web server benchmark, FreeBSD was able to outperform the Linux distributions..."

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Categories: Science

Cancer overtakes heart disease as the main cause of death in 12 European countries

Science Daily - Sun, 14/08/2016 - 11:09pm
Although diseases of the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular disease, CVD) kill more people worldwide than anything else, with 17.3 million deaths globally, cancer has now overtaken CVD as the main cause of death in 12 European countries.
Categories: Science

Billionaire Launches Free Code College in California

Slashdot - Sun, 14/08/2016 - 10:34pm
Xavier Niel is the billionaire founder of France's second-largest ISP. In February he bought a former campus from DeVry University, and tried building something better. Slashdot reader bheerssen writes: 42 US is a free coding school near Facebook's headquarters in Fremont, California. The courses are boot camp like experiences that do not offer traditional degrees, but hope to provide programming skills and experience to students for free. Ars Technica calls it "a radical education experiment" -- even the dorms are free -- and the school's COO describes their ambition to become a place "where individuals from all different kinds of backgrounds, all different kinds of financial backgrounds, can come and have access to this kind of education so that then we can have new kinds of ideas." Students between the ages of 18 and 30 are screened through an online logic test, according to the article, then tossed into a month-long "sink or swim" program that begins with C. "Students spend 12 or more hours per day, six to seven days per week. If they do well, students are invited back to a three- to five-year program with increasing levels of specialty."

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Categories: Science

Has The NSF Automated Coding with ExCAPE?

Slashdot - Sun, 14/08/2016 - 9:34pm
The National Science Foundation is developing a way to create working code using "automated program synthesis," a new technology called ExCAPE "that provides human operators with automated assistance.... By removing the need for would-be programmers to learn esoteric programming languages, the method has the potential to significantly expand the number of people engaged in programming in a variety of disciplines, from personalized education to robotics." Rajeev Alur, who leads a team of researchers from America's nine top computer science programs, says that currently software development "remains a tedious and error-prone activity." Slashdot reader the_insult_dog writes: While its lofty goals of broadly remaking the art of programming might not be realized, the research has already made some advances and resulted in several tools already in use in areas such as commercial software production and education... For example, the NSF created a new tool (which they've recently patented) called NetEgg, which generates code for controlling software-defined networks, as well as Automata Tutor and AutoProf, which provide automated feedback to computer science students.

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Categories: Science

Astronomers To Announce Discovery of a Nearby 'Earth-Like' Planet

Slashdot - Sun, 14/08/2016 - 8:34pm
astroengine quotes a report from Seeker: Scientists are preparing to unveil a new planet in our galactic neighborhood which is "believed to be Earth-like" and orbits its star at a distance that could favor life, German weekly Der Spiegel reported Friday. The exoplanet orbits a well-investigated star called Proxima Centauri, part of the Alpha Centauri star system, the magazine said, quoting anonymous sources. "The still nameless planet is believed to be Earth-like and orbits at a distance to Proxima Centauri that could allow it to have liquid water on its surface -- an important requirement for the emergence of life," said the magazine. It's orbiting our sun's nearest neighboring star -- just 4.25 light years away -- meaning it could someday be considered for the world's first interstellar mission.

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Categories: Science

Hacked Hobbit Pinball Machine Joins IoT, Broadcasts Itself Over Twitch

Slashdot - Sun, 14/08/2016 - 7:34pm
Random web surfers could send a text message or even upload an image to be displayed on the back glass of Mark Lachniet's pinball machine, according to Mael517, while the machine itself webcast footage of both its playing field and backglass using Twitch. Interestingly, all the extra functionality was coded directly into the machine, according to Lachniet, who added only the webcam and an ethernet cord. The Hobbit [machine] has a whole bunch of hardware that I don't really understand and can barely fix... However, it has a computer in its guts, and this I can mostly understand. After identifying the pinball machine's motherboard, CPU, operating system (Ubuntu) and an SQL database, Lachniet was able to backup its software, and then create his own modifications. He envisions more possibilities -- for example, the ability to announce high scores on social media accounts or allow remote servicing of the machine. Lachniet even sees the possibility of a world-wide registry of pinball game scores with each player's location overlaid on Google Maps "so you could view pinball hot spots and where the high scores were coming from," and maybe even networking machines together to allow real-time global competition."

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Categories: Science

Can We Avoid Government Surveillance By Leaving The Grid?

Slashdot - Sun, 14/08/2016 - 6:34pm
Slashdot reader Nicola Hahn writes: While reporters clamor about the hacking of the Democratic National Committee, NSA whistleblower James Bamford offers an important reminder: American intelligence has been actively breaching email servers in foreign countries like Mexico and Germany for years. According to Bamford documents leaked by former NSA specialist Ed Snowden show that the agency is intent on "tracking virtually everyone connected to the Internet." This includes American citizens. So it might not be surprising that another NSA whistleblower, William Binney, has suggested that certain elements within the American intelligence community may actually be responsible for the DNC hack. This raises an interesting question: facing down an intelligence service that is in a class by itself, what can the average person do? One researcher responds to this question using an approach that borrows a [strategy] from the movie THX 1138: "The T-H-X account is six percent over budget. The case is to be terminated." To avoid surveillance, the article suggests "get off the grid entirely... Find alternate channels of communication, places where the coveted home-field advantage doesn't exist... this is about making surveillance expensive." The article also suggests "old school" technologies, for example a quick wireless ad-hoc network in a crowded food court. Any thoughts?

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Categories: Science

Under Fire, US Social Security Site Changes Security Policy Again

Slashdot - Sun, 14/08/2016 - 5:34pm
Long-time Slashdot reader Lauren Weinstein writes: I'm told that Social Security Administration has now removed the mandatory cell phone access requirement that was strongly criticized... I appreciate that SSA has done the right thing in this case. Perhaps in the future they'll think these things through better ahead of time! The web site now describes the "extra security" of two-factor cellphone authentication as entirely optional -- but security researcher Brian Krebs had also warned that the bigger risk was how easy it was to impersonate somebody else when creating an account online. He wrote Thursday that now "the SSA is mailing letters if you sign up online, but they don't take that opportunity to deliver a special code to securely complete the sign up. Go figure."

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Categories: Science

Researchers Warn Linux Vendors About Cloud-Memory Hacking Trick

Slashdot - Sun, 14/08/2016 - 4:34pm
An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Hacking researchers have uncovered a new attack technique which can alter the memory of virtual machines in the cloud. The team, based at Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, introduced the attack, dubbed Flip Feng Shui (FFS)...and explained that hackers could use the technique to crack the keys of secured VMs or install malicious code without it being noticed... Using FFS, the attacker rents a VM on the same host as their chosen victim. They then write a memory page which they know exists on the vulnerable memory location and let it de-duplicate. The identical pages, with the same information, will merge in order to save capacity and be stored in the same part of memory of the physical computer. This allows the hacker to change information in the general memory of the computer. The researchers demonstrated two attacks on Debian and Ubuntu systems -- flipping a bit to change a victim's RSA public key, and installing a software package infected with malware by altering a URL used by apt-get. "Debian, Ubuntu and other companies involved in the research were notified before the paper was published, and have all responded to the issue."

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Categories: Science

Fourth SpaceX Rocket Successfully Landed on A Drone Ship

Slashdot - Sun, 14/08/2016 - 3:34pm
Saturday a SpaceX rocket completed the company's fourth successful landing at sea (watched by over 100,000 viewers on YouTube and Flickr). Saturday's landing means Elon Musk's company has now recovered more than half the rockets they've launched. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Saturday's report from The Verge: Tonight's landing was particularly challenging for SpaceX... The Falcon 9 had to carry its onboard satellite -- called JCSAT-16 -- into...a highly elliptical orbit that takes the satellite 20,000 miles out beyond Earth's surface. Getting to GTO requires a lot of speed and uses up a lot of fuel during take off, more so than getting to lower Earth orbit. That makes things difficult for the rocket landing afterward...there's less fuel leftover for the vehicle to reignite its engines and perform the necessary landing maneuvers. CEO Elon Musk said the company is aiming to launch its first landed rocket sometime this fall...SpaceX's president, Gwynne Shotwell, estimates that reusing these landed Falcon 9 vehicles will lead to a 30 percent reduction in launch costs. SpaceX named their drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You."

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Categories: Science

Will New Battery Technologies Smash The Old Order?

Slashdot - Sun, 14/08/2016 - 2:34pm
"The world's next energy revolution is probably no more than five or ten years away," reports The Telegraph. "Cutting-edge research into cheap and clean forms of electricity storage is moving so fast that we may never again need to build 20th Century power plants in this country..." Slashdot reader mdsolar quotes their article: The US Energy Department is funding 75 projects developing electricity storage, mobilizing teams of scientists at Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and the elite Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge labs in a bid for what it calls the "Holy Grail" of energy policy. You can track what they are doing at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). There are plans for hydrogen bromide, or zinc-air batteries, or storage in molten glass, or next-generation flywheels, many claiming "drastic improvements" that can slash storage costs by 80pc to 90pc and reach the magical figure of $100 per kilowatt hour in relatively short order. "Storage is a huge deal," says Ernest Moniz, the U,S. Energy Secretary and himself a nuclear physicist. He is now confident that the U.S. grid and power system will be completely "decarbonized" by the middle of the century. One energy consultant predicts the energy storage market will be worth $90 billion in 2025 -- 100 times larger than it is today.

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Categories: Science

One In Five Vehicle Software Vulnerabilities Are 'Hair On Fire' Critical

Slashdot - Sun, 14/08/2016 - 1:34pm
Long-time Slashdot reader chicksdaddy quotes a report from Security Ledger: One of every five software vulnerabilities discovered in vehicles in the last three years are rated "critical" and are unlikely to be resolved through after the fact security fixes, according to an analysis by the firm IOActive. "These are the high priority 'hair on fire' vulnerabilities that are easily discovered and exploited and can cause major impacts to the system or component," the firm said in its report... The bulk of vulnerabilities that were identified stemmed from a failure by automakers and suppliers to follow security best practices including designing in security or applying secure development lifecycle (SDL) practices to software creation... The result is that vehicle cybersecurity vulnerabilities are not solvable using "bolt-on" solutions, IOActive concluded... The article argues we're years away from standards or regulations, while describing auto-makers as "wedded to the notion that keeping the details of their systems secret will ensure security."

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Categories: Science

Did LIGO's Black Holes Come From the Dawn of Time?

Space.com - Sun, 14/08/2016 - 12:36pm
The colliding black holes that generated the first detection of gravitational waves may have been primordial.
Categories: Science

Seth Rogen plans FX TV comedy series on the Singularity

Kurzweil AI - Fri, 12/08/2016 - 9:22pm

Seth Rogan in poster for “The Interview” (credit: Columbia Pictures)

Seth Rogen (Freaks and Geeks, Knocked Up, Superbad) and collaborator Evan Goldberg are writing the script for a pilot for a new “half-hour comedy television series about the Singularity for FX,” Rogen revealed Thursday (August 11) on Nerdist podcast: Seth Rogen Returns (at 55:20 mark), while promoting his latest film, Sausage Party (an animated movie that apparently sets a new world record for f-bombs, based on the trailer).

“Yeah, it’s happening, I just read an article about neural dust,” said host Chris Hardwick.

“Oh, it’s happening, it’s super scary, and we’re trying to make a comedy about it,” said Rogen. “We’ll film that in the next year, basically.”

“Neural dust are, like, small particles, kind of like nano-mites, that work in your systems,” Hardwick said, “and can …” — “wipe out whole civilizations,” Rogen interjected. “But, you know, they always kinda pitch you the good stuff first: it could help your body,” Hardwick added.

(credit: Vanity Fair)

Also mentioned on the podcast: a “prank show [All People Are Famous] next week where the guy we’re pranking thinks he’s responsible for the Singularity … goes nuts, destroying everything. …”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Science

Seeing the invisible: visible-light metamaterial superlens made from nanobeads

Kurzweil AI - Fri, 12/08/2016 - 8:58am

(a) Conceptual drawing of nanoparticle-based metamaterial solid immersion lens (mSIL) (b) Lab-made mSIL using titanium dioxide nanoparticles (c) SEM image of 60 nm size imaging sample (d) corresponding superlens imaging of the 60 nm sample by the developed mSIL. (credit: BangorUniversity/Fudan University)

A team of British and Chinese scientists has developed a new “metamaterial-based solid immersion lens” (mSIL) microscope lens design that can extend the magnification of an optical microscope to see objects smaller than the approximately 200 nanometers Abbe diffraction limit, the smallest size of bacteria.

Led by Zengbo Wang, PhD, at Bangor University UK and Prof Limin Wu at Fudan University, China, the team created minute droplet-like lens structures on the surface to be examined. These act as an additional lens to magnify the surface features previously invisible to a normal microscope lens, adding 5x magnification to existing microscopes.

Schematic illustration of the assembly of the all-dielectric TiO2 mSIL. (A) Anatase TiO2 nanoparticles (15 nm) were centrifuged into a tightly packed precipitate. (B) The supernatant was replaced by an organic solvent mixture consisting of hexane and tetrachloroethylene to form a TiO2 nano–solid-fluid. (C) To prepare a hemispherical mSIL, the nano–solid-fluid was directly sprayed onto the sample surface. (D) To prepare a super-hemispherical mSIL, the nano–solid-fluid was sprayed onto the sample surface covered by a thin layer of organic solvent mixture. (E and F) After evaporation of the solvents, the nanoparticles underwent a phase transition to form a more densely packed structure. (credit: Wen Fan et al./Science Advances)

Made of millions of nanobeads, the spheres break up the light beam. Acting as individual minute beams, each bead refracts the light. “We’ve used high-index titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles as the building element of the lens,” Wang says. “These nanoparticles are able to bend light to a higher degree than water.”

“Each sphere bends the light to a high magnitude and splits the light beam, creating millions of individual beams of light. It is these tiny light beams which enable us to view previously unseen detail.”

Wang believes that the results will be easily replicable and that other labs will soon be adopting the technology and using it for themselves. Titanium dioxide is cheap and readily available, so rather than buying a new microscope, the lenses are applied to the material to be viewed, rather than to the microscope.

“The next challenge is to adapt the technology for use in biology and medicine. This would not require the current use of a combination of dyes and stains and laser light, which change the samples being viewed,” he says.

The lens is described in a paper in the open-access journal Science Advances today (August 12).

Abstract of Three-dimensional all-dielectric metamaterial solid immersion lens for subwavelength imaging at visible frequencies

Although all-dielectric metamaterials offer a low-loss alternative to current metal-based metamaterials to manipulate light at the nanoscale and may have important applications, very few have been reported to date owing to the current nanofabrication technologies. We develop a new “nano–solid-fluid assembly” method using 15-nm TiO2 nanoparticles as building blocks to fabricate the first three-dimensional (3D) all-dielectric metamaterial at visible frequencies. Because of its optical transparency, high refractive index, and deep-subwavelength structures, this 3D all-dielectric metamaterial-based solid immersion lens (mSIL) can produce a sharp image with a super-resolution of at least 45 nm under a white-light optical microscope, significantly exceeding the classical diffraction limit and previous near-field imaging techniques. Theoretical analysis reveals that electric field enhancement can be formed between contacting TiO2 nanoparticles, which causes effective confinement and propagation of visible light at the deep-subwavelength scale. This endows the mSIL with unusual abilities to illuminate object surfaces with large-area nanoscale near-field evanescent spots and to collect and convert the evanescent information into propagating waves. Our all-dielectric metamaterial design strategy demonstrates the potential to develop low-loss nanophotonic devices at visible frequencies.

Categories: Science

Anti-inflammatory drug reverses memory loss in Alzheimer’s-disease-model mice

Kurzweil AI - Fri, 12/08/2016 - 7:44am

(credit: NIH National Institute on Aging)

Anti-inflammatory drug mefenamic acid completely reversed memory loss and brain inflammation in mice genetically engineered to develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and amyloid beta-induced memory loss, a team led by David Brough, PhD, from the University of Manchester has discovered.

The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) drug targets an important inflammatory pathway called the NLRP3 inflammasome, which damages brain cells, according to Brough. This is the first time a drug has been shown to target this inflammatory pathway, highlighting its importance in the disease model, Brough said.

“Because this drug is already available and the toxicity and pharmacokinetics of the drug is known, the time for it to reach patients should, in theory, be shorter than if we were developing completely new drugs. We are now preparing applications to perform early phase II trials to determine a proof-of-concept that the molecules have an effect on neuroinflammation in humans.”

“There is experimental evidence now to strongly suggest that inflammation in the brain makes Alzheimer’s disease worse. Until now, no drug has been available to target this pathway, so we are very excited by this result.”

The research, funded by the Medical Research Council and the Alzheimer’s Society, paves the way for human trials that the team hopes to conduct in the future, but Brough cautions that more research is needed to identify its impact on humans and the long-term implications of its use.

The findings were published Thursday Aug. 11 in an open-access paper authored by Brough and colleagues in the journal Nature Communications.

Abstract of Fenamate NSAIDs inhibit the NLRP3 inflammasome and protect against Alzheimer’s disease in rodent models

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) inhibit cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) and COX-2 enzymes. The NLRP3 inflammasome is a multi-protein complex responsible for the processing of the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-1β and is implicated in many inflammatory diseases. Here we show that several clinically approved and widely used NSAIDs of the fenamate class are effective and selective inhibitors of the NLRP3 inflammasome via inhibition of the volume-regulated anion channel in macrophages, independently of COX enzymes. Flufenamic acid and mefenamic acid are efficacious in NLRP3-dependent rodent models of inflammation in air pouch and peritoneum. We also show therapeutic effects of fenamates using a model of amyloid beta induced memory loss and a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. These data suggest that fenamate NSAIDs could be repurposed as NLRP3 inflammasome inhibitors and Alzheimer’s disease therapeutics.

Categories: Science