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Industry & Technology

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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Does being tough on crime actually deter crime?

Ars Technica - May 14, 2019 - 8:46pm

Enlarge (credit:

What's the appropriate role of our prison system? Depending on who you talk to, it's supposed to function as punishment for criminal activity, a deterrent to future crimes, and an opportunity for rehabilitation. It's often possible to find people arguing that an existing prison system is already playing more than one of these roles, which raises questions about how well we understand a system that US society has committed to in a big way.

Fortunately, some researchers decided to view this question as an opportunity and put some hard numbers to what, exactly, our prison system is doing. Using a data set covering more than 100,000 convicted criminals, the researchers compared the outcomes of people sentenced to prison and a similar population that was given probation instead. The results suggest that prison does limit future violent crime by keeping criminals out of the general population, but the experience of prison provides little deterrence for future crime.

Violence in Michigan

A team of social scientists had access to data on everyone who committed a felony in Michigan between 2003 and 2006. This included follow-up data running through 2015, allowing the scientists to track whether any of this population committed additional crimes.

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Dealmaster: Get an Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K for $35 if you have Prime

Ars Technica - May 14, 2019 - 7:23pm

Enlarge / Today's deals roundup includes Amazon's Fire TV Stick 4K, 9.7-inch iPads, cable modems, desktop hard drives, and much more. (credit: Ars Technica)

Greetings, Arsians! The Dealmaster is back with another round of deals to share. Today's list is headlined by a pair of deals on streaming sticks, as Amazon's Fire TV Stick 4K is down to $35 for members of its Prime service, while Roku's Streaming Stick+ is down to $49. Those are $15 and $11 discounts, respectively—not the absolute lowest we've seen for each media streamer but close enough to be good value.

We've written about both of these devices in the past, but the comparison between the two remains fairly straightforward: both support 4K and HDR10 playback, include just about all of the major streaming apps, and are fast enough to stream those apps without any significant hitch. Both come with 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

Presuming you can't settle for the apps built into your game console or smart TV, which one you prefer will likely come down to its interface. Roku's is probably uglier, but it's cleaner, with a focus on apps laid out in simple rows. Amazon's puts more emphasis on content but still has a tendency to promote its own Prime Video app and partner services. Amazon's Alexa-aided voice controls are generally more robust than those on Roku (which now works with the Google Assistant), though, and the company says it will finally patch the YouTube-shaped hole in its app library in the next few months.

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New speculative execution bug leaks data from Intel chips’ internal buffers

Ars Technica - May 14, 2019 - 7:10pm

First disclosed in January 2018, the Meltdown and Spectre attacks have opened the floodgates, leading to extensive research into the speculative execution hardware found in modern processors, and a number of additional attacks have been published in the months since.

Today sees the publication of a range of closely related flaws named variously RIDL, Fallout, ZombieLoad, or Microarchitectural Data Sampling. The many names are a consequence of the several groups that discovered the different flaws. From the computer science department of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Helmholtz Center for Information Security, we have "Rogue In-Flight Data Load." From a team spanning Graz University of Technology, the University of Michigan, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and KU Leuven, we have "Fallout." From Graz University of Technology, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and KU Leuven, we have "ZombieLoad," and from Graz University of Technology, we have "Store-to-Leak Forwarding."

Intel is using the name "Microarchitectural Data Sampling" (MDS), and that's the name that arguably gives the most insight into the problem. The issues were independently discovered by both Intel and the various other groups, with the first notification to the chip company occurring in June last year.

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