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Industry & Technology

Mass grave in Poland embodies the violent beginning of the Bronze Age

Ars Technica - May 15, 2019 - 4:41pm

Enlarge / This is the Late Neolithic mass grave at Koszyce, Poland. (credit: Image courtesy of Piotr Wodarczak)

Sometime between 2880 and 2776 BCE, 15 family members were hastily buried together in a single pit, their shattered skulls telling a story of violent death. Yet someone interred the dead with the pottery, tools, and ornaments typical of a proper burial in their culture, a culture we know today by the name of its most common ceramic artifact: the Globular Amphora. And someone seems to have made the effort to put the closest family members alongside one another in the pit.

Today, the grave near the village of Koszyce in southern Poland is the only record of one particular act of brutal violence during a turbulent time in European prehistory.

Out of the blue

It seems that no one in the seasonal camp of pastoralists was prepared for the raiders. Nearly all of the dead are women and children. Though women in the past (and today) could be formidable fighters, no weapons are buried with them to suggest that was the case here. Almost none of their bones show signs of broken limbs raised in defense (known as parry fractures), so it doesn’t look like they went down fighting. Instead, most appear to have died from crushing blows to the back of their skulls, as if they’d been captured and executed.

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Christchurch attacks: Facebook curbs Live feature

BBC Technology News - May 15, 2019 - 4:15pm
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern calls Facebook's new policy a "good first step".

What to do if you see an Instagram post about suicide

BBC Technology News - May 15, 2019 - 3:48pm
A 16-year-old girl in Malaysia killed herself after she posted a poll on Instagram, police say.

The dark side of technology is back in first Black Mirror S5 trailer

Ars Technica - May 15, 2019 - 3:40pm

An impressive ensemble cast will appear in three new episodes for Netflix series Black Mirror season 5.

The first trailer for the highly anticipated fifth season of the Netflix sci-fi anthology series Black Mirror is finally here, and it looks to be as edgy, darkly satiric, and thought-provoking as ever.

(Mildest of spoilers for prior seasons and Bandersnatch below.)

For the uninitiated, Black Mirror is the creation of Charlie Brooker, co-showrunner with Annabel Jones. The series explores, shall we say, the darker side of technology and its impact on people's lives in the near future, and it's in the spirit of classic anthology series like The Twilight Zone. Brooker developed Black Mirror to highlight topics related to humanity's relationship to technology, creating stories that feature "the way we live now—and the way we might be living in 10 minutes' time if we're clumsy." The series debuted on the British Channel 4 in December 2011, followed by a second season. Noting its popularity, Netflix took over the series in 2015, releasing longer seasons 3 and 4 in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

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Hackers interrupt Israeli Eurovision webcast with faked explosions

BBC Technology News - May 15, 2019 - 2:55pm
The state broadcaster's stream showed faked video of explosions in the host city, Tel Aviv.

WhatsApp hack: Is any app or computer truly secure?

BBC Technology News - May 15, 2019 - 2:32pm
How much trust should be put in apps and devices after the WhatsApp security breach?

SpaceX plans to A/B test its Starship rocketship builds

Ars Technica - May 15, 2019 - 2:12pm

Enlarge / The Starship test vehicle, currently under assembly in South Texas, may look similar to this illustration when finished. (credit: Elon Musk/Twitter)

On Tuesday, photos began to emerge online of a new, Starship-like vehicle being built in an industrial park near Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Later, SpaceX founder Elon Musk confirmed that the company will develop a Starship prototype in Florida to parallel work being done in South Texas.

"Both sites will make many Starships," Musk shared on Twitter. "This is a competition to see which location is most effective. Answer might be both." This will not be a strict A/B test, a randomized experiment. Rather, Musk added, any insights gained by one team must be shared with the other, but the other team is not required to use them.

This is a rather new way to develop an orbital spaceship, especially one as large and as complex as Starship, which is designed to land and take off from other worlds such as the Moon and Mars. However, it is far from unprecedented in the tech world. For example, Google has long had a strategy of making two of everything, with multiple, competing products that go after the same user base.

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DJI Osmo Action camera poses threat to GoPro

BBC Technology News - May 15, 2019 - 2:00pm
The Chinese firm launches an action camera with built-in stabilisation and a front colour screen.

Cannes 2019: Selena Gomez says social media is 'terrible' for young people

BBC Technology News - May 15, 2019 - 1:27pm
The actress and singer urges people to set time limits on their online activity.

British Transport Police website hacked

BBC Technology News - May 15, 2019 - 1:18pm
BTP says some staff details have been leaked after its website's news section was hacked.

The radio navigation planes use to land safely is insecure and can be hacked

Ars Technica - May 15, 2019 - 11:00am

Enlarge / A plane in the researchers' demonstration attack as spoofed ILS signals induce a pilot to land to the right of the runway. (credit: Sathaye et al.)

Just about every aircraft that has flown over the past 50 years—whether a single-engine Cessna or a 600-seat jumbo jet—is aided by radios to safely land at airports. These instrument landing systems (ILS) are considered precision approach systems, because unlike GPS and other navigation systems, they provide crucial real-time guidance about both the plane’s horizontal alignment with a runway and its vertical angle of descent. In many settings—particularly during foggy or rainy night-time landings—this radio-based navigation is the primary means for ensuring planes touch down at the start of a runway and on its centerline.

Like many technologies built in earlier decades, the ILS was never designed to be secure from hacking. Radio signals, for instance, aren’t encrypted or authenticated. Instead, pilots simply assume that the tones their radio-based navigation systems receive on a runway’s publicly assigned frequency are legitimate signals broadcast by the airport operator. This lack of security hasn’t been much of a concern over the years, largely because the cost and difficulty of spoofing malicious radio signals made attacks infeasible.

Now, researchers have devised a low-cost hack that raises questions about the security of ILS, which is used at virtually every civilian airport throughout the industrialized world. Using a $600 software defined radio, the researchers can spoof airport signals in a way that causes a pilot’s navigation instruments to falsely indicate a plane is off course. Normal training will call for the pilot to adjust the plane’s descent rate or alignment accordingly and create a potential accident as a result.

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Intel Zombieload bug fix to slow data centre computers

BBC Technology News - May 15, 2019 - 9:45am
Chip-maker says it expects the fixes will see data centres experience the biggest performance hit.

Phone and internet users to get end-of-contract alerts

BBC Technology News - May 15, 2019 - 7:10am
Internet, pay-TV, and phone subscribers in the UK must be told when their lock-ins are about to end.

Could facial recognition cut crime?

BBC Technology News - May 15, 2019 - 12:16am
The Metropolitan Police trialled the tech to identify people wanted by the police or the courts.

Ad linked bets to sexual success on Tinder

BBC Technology News - May 15, 2019 - 12:01am
A William Hill advert that appeared on Tinder broke advertising rules, a watchdog rules.

San Francisco is first US city to ban facial recognition

BBC Technology News - May 15, 2019 - 12:00am
The city voted against the emerging technology amid fears of invasion of privacy and unreliability.

Smart meters: Why they are driving some people mad

BBC Technology News - May 14, 2019 - 10:52pm
Energy customers are under pressure to install smart meters, but many just don't function properly.

Virgin mobile service restored after outage

BBC Technology News - May 14, 2019 - 10:26pm
Customers across the UK had struggled to make calls, send text messages and use mobile data.

Microsoft warns wormable Windows bug could lead to another WannaCry

Ars Technica - May 14, 2019 - 9:48pm

(credit: Pixabay)

Microsoft is warning that the Internet could see another exploit with the magnitude of the WannaCry attack that shut down computers all over the world two years ago unless people patch a high-severity vulnerability. The software maker took the unusual step of backporting the just-released patch for Windows 2003 and XP, which haven’t been supported in four and five years, respectively.

“This vulnerability is pre-authentication and requires no user interaction,” Simon Pope, director of incident response at the Microsoft Security Response Center, wrote in a published post that coincided with the company’s May Update Tuesday release. “In other words, the vulnerability is ‘wormable,’ meaning that any future malware that exploits this vulnerability could propagate from vulnerable computer to vulnerable computer in a similar way as the WannaCry malware spread across the globe in 2017. While we have observed no exploitation of this vulnerability, it is highly likely that malicious actors will write an exploit for this vulnerability and incorporate it into their malware.”

As if a self-replicating, code-execution vulnerability wasn’t serious enough, CVE-2019-0708, as the flaw in Windows Remote Desktop Services is indexed, requires low complexity to exploit. Microsoft’s Common Vulnerability Scoring System Calculator scores that complexity as 3.9 out of 10. (To be clear, the WannaCry developers had potent exploit code written by, and later stolen from, the National Security Agency, to exploit the wormable CVE-2017-0144 and CVE-2017-0145 flaws, which had exploit complexities rated as "high.") Ultimately, though, developing reliable exploit code for this latest Windows vulnerability will require relatively little work.

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5G likely to mess with weather forecasts, but FCC auctions spectrum anyway

Ars Technica - May 14, 2019 - 9:06pm

Enlarge / A weather satellite in orbit. (credit: Getty Images | Erik Simonsen)

A US Navy memo warns that 5G mobile networks are likely to interfere with weather satellites, and senators are urging the Federal Communications Commission to avoid issuing new spectrum licenses to wireless carriers until changes are made to prevent harms to weather forecasting.

The FCC has already begun an auction of 24GHz spectrum that would be used in 5G networks. But Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) today wrote a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, asking him to avoid issuing licenses to winning bidders "until the FCC approves the passive band protection limits that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) determine are necessary to protect critical satellite‐based measurements of atmospheric water vapor needed to forecast the weather."

Wyden and Cantwell said that the "ongoing sale of wireless airwaves could damage the effectiveness of US weather satellites and harm forecasts and predictions relied on to protect safety, property, and national security." They chided the FCC for beginning the auction "over the objections of NASA, NOAA, and members of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). These entities all argued that out-of-band emissions from future commercial broadband transmissions in the 24GHz band would disrupt the ability to collect water-vapor data measured in a neighboring frequency band (23.6 to 24GHZ) that meteorologists rely on to forecast the weather."

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