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NSA and FBI warn that new Linux malware threatens national security

Ars Technica - 4 hours 54 min ago

Enlarge (credit: Suse)

The FBI and NSA have issued a joint report warning that Russian state hackers are using a previously unknown piece of Linux malware to stealthily infiltrate sensitive networks, steal confidential information, and execute malicious commands.

In a report that’s unusual for the depth of technical detail from a government agency, officials said the Drovorub malware is a full-featured tool kit that was has gone undetected until recently. The malware connects to command and control servers operated by a hacking group that works for the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency that has been tied to more than a decade of brazen and advanced campaigns, many of which have inflicted serious damage to national security.

“Information in this Cybersecurity Advisory is being disclosed publicly to assist National Security System owners and the public to counter the capabilities of the GRU, an organization which continues to threaten the United States and U.S. allies as part of its rogue behavior, including their interference in the 2016 US Presidential Election as described in the 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment, Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections (Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 2017),” officials from the agencies wrote.

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Robots go their own way deep in the ocean

BBC Technology News - 5 hours 51 min ago
Firms are building robots that can survey the seabed and underwater structures without human help.

Fortnite: Apple ban sparks court action from Epic Games

BBC Technology News - August 13, 2020 - 10:29pm
Epic Games says it is taking Apple to court over "monopolistic" policies after it banned Fortnite.

Epic files suit against Apple after Fortnite pulled from iOS App Store [Updated]

Ars Technica - August 13, 2020 - 8:56pm

Enlarge / Fortnite seen in the App Store on an iPhone on May 10, 2018. (credit: Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images)

Update 7:05pm EST: Google has now followed Apple's lead, removing Fortnite from the Google Play store (that link goes to the former Play store page for the game). You can still download Fortnite on Android directly from Epic.

"The open Android ecosystem lets developers distribute apps through multiple app stores," Google said in a statement. "For game developers who choose to use the Play Store, we have consistent policies that are fair to developers and keep the store safe for users. While Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our policies. However, we welcome the opportunity to continue our discussions with Epic and bring Fortnite back to Google Play."

Two years ago, Epic voluntarily pulled Fortnite from the Google Play store in an attempt to get around the platform's 30 percent revenue cut. Though Epic drew millions of direct downloads without a Google Play listing, Epic reversed course and brought the game back to Google Play this April.

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New Zealand baffled by new COVID-19 cases, eyes frozen-food packaging

Ars Technica - August 13, 2020 - 8:45pm

Enlarge / WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 13: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks with media at a COVID-19 briefing on August 13, 2020. COVID-19 restrictions have been reintroduced across New Zealand after four new COVID-19 cases were diagnosed in Auckland. Auckland has been placed in Level 3 lockdown for three days from Wednesday, August 12, with all residents to work from home unless they are essential workers and all schools and childcare centers are closed. The rest of New Zealand has returned to Level 2 restrictions. The new cases are all in the same family, with health authorities working to trace the source of the infection. (credit: Getty | Mark Tantrum)

New Zealand officials are scrambling to halt a growing cluster of COVID-19 cases that has baffled health investigators trying to understand how the pandemic coronavirus regained a foothold on the island nation.

Officials on Tuesday announced four cases in one family in Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand. Before that, the country had gone 102 days without any local transmission. Throughout the pandemic, New Zealand has been among the most successful countries in the world at responding to and holding back the pandemic coronavirus, relying on swift and thorough testing and tracing as well as rigorous social distancing and lockdown orders.

But the new cluster has stumped investigators, who are now exploring all the possible ways the coronavirus may have slipped back in—including that it arrived on the packaging of frozen-food shipments and infected a worker unpacking them.

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The 2020 McLaren GT—never mind the looks, love the way it drives

Ars Technica - August 13, 2020 - 8:28pm

It has been interesting to watch McLaren Automotive making the most of its platform. The company has been highly resourceful, using the same (or highly similar) basic building blocks—a carbon-fiber monocoque tub and twin-turbo V8 engine—to build a range of supercars and hypercars for most occasions. With the McLaren GT, the carmaker has gotten as far away from laptime-obsessed machines like the hybrid P1 or the wing-covered Senna as it can. GT stands for "grand tourer," and that means this is a car designed to be comfortable over long distances.

That's something I tried to put to the test as best I could, given rather strict instructions not to put more than 250 miles (402km) on the odometer. And it's true—this is the most comfortable, most easy-to-live-with McLaren I've driven. But don't go expecting something soft or podgy—it might say "GT" on the chassis plaque, but it's still a true supercar, through and through.

First, a confession: I'm not a fan of the way it looks, forward of the B pillars. The nose appears borrowed from a goblin shark, and the way some of the GT's lines intersect halfway down the car makes me wonder if members of the design team each contributed elements without anyone talking to each other. Then again, from other angles, particularly the rear, I think parts of it look amazing. But looks are subjective, and plenty of passersby viewed the shape of its (aluminum) body far more favorably than I do.

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FCC beats cities in court, helping carriers avoid $2 billion in local 5G fees

Ars Technica - August 13, 2020 - 7:45pm

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Viktoryia Vinnikava | EyeEm)

The Federal Communications Commission has defeated dozens of cities in court, with judges ruling that the FCC can preempt local fees and regulations imposed on wireless carriers deploying 5G networks. The ruling is good news for AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.

The FCC voted to preempt cities and towns in September 2018, saying the move would prevent local governments from charging wireless carriers about $2 billion worth of fees over five years related to deployment of wireless equipment such as small cells. That's less than 1 percent of the estimated $275 billion that the FCC said carriers would have to spend to deploy 5G small cells throughout the United States.

Cities promptly sued the FCC, but a ruling issued yesterday by the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit went mostly in the FCC's favor. It wasn't a complete victory for the FCC, though, as judges overturned a portion of the FCC ruling that limited the kinds of aesthetic requirements cities and towns can impose on carrier deployments.

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Grab our favorite Thunderbolt 3 dock for its lowest Amazon price to date

Ars Technica - August 13, 2020 - 7:20pm

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a nice price on CalDigit's TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 dock, which is currently down to $210 at Amazon and B&H. While the dock's street price has steadily fallen from its original $310 over the past year, we still typically see it hover in the $240-$250 range online. We saw it briefly drop to $200 at B&H back in March, but this deal brings it to its lowest price since and represents the cheapest it has been on Amazon to date.

The TS3 Plus is the top pick in our guide to the best Thunderbolt 3 docks. It's certainly pricey, even with this deal, but for power users who want to add (or condense) a desktop's worth of accessories through a single port, it's a good buy. It packs 15 ports into its handsome industrial design, including two high-speed Thunderbolt 3 ports, five USB-A 3.1 ports, USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 and Gen 2 ports, a DisplayPort 1.2, an SD card reader, analog audio connectors, a Gigabit Ethernet jack, and an uncommon S/PDIF digital optical audio port. It can drive two 4K displays at a 60Hz refresh rate (albeit with the appropriate adapter) and supply up to 87W of power to charge high-power laptops like the 16-inch MacBook Pro at close to full speed. And though it wasn't always the absolute fastest dock we tested in terms of data transfer or read/write speeds, it was consistently a top performer.

If you don't need that many connections at your desk, though, we also have deals on more casual USB-C hubs, Amazon Fire HD tablets, SSDs, gaming headsets, PS4 games, and much more. Have a look for yourself below.

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Apple’s Prime equivalent “Apple One” will launch in October

Ars Technica - August 13, 2020 - 6:53pm

Enlarge / Cat Quest 2, one of the more acclaimed games on Apple Arcade. (credit: Susan Arendt)

According to Bloomberg, Apple plans to launch its all-in-one subscription bundle in October, after months of rumors that the company was working on one. This follows earlier reports, including another from Bloomberg, saying Apple plans to launch an Amazon Prime-like subscription bundle. But this report has many more details to consider than before.

First, it claims the service is internally called "Apple One"—putting an end to the joking "Apple Prime" shorthand many of us have been using. The name seems simple enough: multiple subscriptions in one, so it's called One. However, that internal name may not be the final one that consumers see when the bundles finally launch.

The report gives a launch date: October. The article says Apple One will launch alongside Apple's new 2020 lineup of iPhones, which has long been expected to be announced in either September or October. This means more details about the bundle may be announced at the same event that Apple uses to unveil the new iPhone and Apple Watch models annually, which usually takes place in early September. (Old timelines are far from certain amid the COVID-19 pandemic, of course.)

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Amazon Alexa security bug allowed access to voice history

BBC Technology News - August 13, 2020 - 5:57pm
Security researchers said they could access conversation history and personal information.

Bletchley Park Trust hit in Blackbaud security breach

BBC Technology News - August 13, 2020 - 5:41pm
The trust that manages Britain's World War Two codebreaking HQ says donors’ data was exposed.

Investment platform pays record $140,000 for sealed Super Mario Bros.

Ars Technica - August 13, 2020 - 5:40pm

When an early sealed copy of Super Mario Bros. sold at auction for $114,000 last month, it set a new record for the public sale price of an individual game. Months earlier, though, an investment platform had quietly paid $140,000 in a private sale for an early copy of the game in pristine condition.

Now, that company is already planning to turn a profit by selling ownership shares in the game worth $150,000 next week.

Jumping in a rising elevator

Billing itself as the "stock market of collectibles," Rally has, since 2016, made a business out of buying rare cars, watches, books and comics, sports cards, and more, then selling ownership shares in those assets to the public. The value of those shares then floats on Rally's marketplace, depending on market expectations for its eventual sale price.

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AMC tries to reopen again, with 15-cent tickets as COVID-19 risk incentive

Ars Technica - August 13, 2020 - 5:30pm

Enlarge / "So... one ticket for The Goonies in 2020 or do you prefer to minimize your COVID-19 risk?" (credit: Yale Joel / Getty Images)

Could anyone pay you to set foot in a movie theater next week? AMC Theaters hasn't quite gone that far, but it will ask would-be ticket buyers for a measly $0.15 per ticket if they're willing to head out for (an old) movie night on August 20.

Today, per Variety, the theater chain announced it will reopen 100 of its locations mid-pandemic this month. And as a promotion to encourage fans to look the other way return despite the risk of COVID-19 spread, AMC will offer one day of tickets at 1920's prices—$0.15/each plus tax. The company started that year, but it will begin its post-COVID-19 existence with slightly less-old films like Empire Strikes Back, The Goonies, Back to the Future, and Inception.

If the recurring headlines about another Tenet delay don't give it away, 2020 has been a tough time for movie theaters. Not only have these spaces been closed for business since the spring, but both their near- and long-term futures look bleak. COVID-19 continues to spread, making indoor activities in enclosed spaces with others (like, say, seeing a film at a movie theater) quite unappealing. And the pandemic has also complicated Hollywood's ability to produce, meaning a dry period in the release pipeline seems inevitable at some point. In a summer filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, AMC said it expected losses between $2.1 and $2.4 billion just in Q1 of 2020 alone.

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ZX Spectrum Next Issue 2 blasts through Kickstarter goal

BBC Technology News - August 13, 2020 - 4:40pm
A new remake of the classic computer raises nearly £900,000 in just two days.

Epic and Unity rev their engines for the next era of entertainment

Ars Technica - August 13, 2020 - 4:00pm

The ILM video demonstrating the tech used to shoot The Mandalorian.

The two biggest independent makers of the engines that power video games, Unity Technologies and Epic Games, are stepping up their financing efforts to capitalize on the booming market for interactive entertainment.

Unity and Epic both offer “game engines”—software tool kits used by other developers that can provide shortcuts when programming a new game and make graphics look more realistic. These engines are used by millions of designers to create games ranging from puzzle apps to first-person shooters, without having to start coding from scratch every time.

Once seen as niche technologies for high-end games, investors in Unity and Epic are betting that their 3D graphics tools will shape the next generation of entertainment, from video games and new forms of online socializing to Hollywood movies and TV shows.

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Gmail’s big merger with Google Chat and Meet starts rolling out today

Ars Technica - August 13, 2020 - 3:39pm

Last month, Google announced a major revamp of Gmail that would see it merge with two of Google's newer communication apps, Google Meet and Google Chat. Both apps are upstarts taking on established competitors in areas Google has neglected for a long time. Meet is Google's Zoom video conferencing competitor, and Google Chat is the company's Slack competitor. Today, Google announced the merger is starting to roll out to GSuite customers.

On the desktop interface, the new version of Gmail keeps all of the Gmail commands and features about where you would expect them, it just adds a million other controls to the sides and top of the email app. The sidebar now has sections for people and chat rooms from Google Chat, along with meetings you have scheduled in Google Meet. Gmail's message area gets a split-screen interface that can now do things like show a Google Chat chatroom or even open a Google Doc right inside Gmail.

On mobile, the Gmail app gets a new tab bar at the bottom of the app, letting you switch between Mail, Chat, Rooms, and Meet.

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Coronavirus: England's contact tracing app trial gets under way

BBC Technology News - August 13, 2020 - 3:10pm
It will serve self-isolation alerts based on logs of who the user was recently in close contact with.

Intel’s Tiger Lake CPUs are ready to take on Ryzen 4000 mobile

Ars Technica - August 13, 2020 - 2:00pm

Enlarge / Joe Exotic was not given a pass to attend Architecture Day 2020. (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

This Tuesday, Intel held an all-day virtual "Architecture Day" conference and took attendees on a deep dive into the architecture of upcoming products in all categories: CPUs, GPUs (dedicated and integrated), and FPGAs. We learned a lot about what Intel's been working on and why, with the most concrete details being about the most imminent release—next month's Tiger Lake laptop processors.

Ditching the ticks, tocks, and plusses

Even for a conference called "Architecture Day," Intel took us unusually deep into its manufacturing and packaging processes. The day's presentations leaned as heavily on improvements in the individual transistors and capacitors on-die as they did on improvements in the processor designs themselves.

Aside from the purely educational angle, Intel's focus on the lower levels of design appeared to serve two purposes. The lower-level focus made Intel's 10nm process sound worth the unexpectedly long wait—and it gave Intel a chance to ditch the ponderous "++" suffixes to its process size and dub the whole thing a more human-friendly "SuperFin."

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2020 27-inch iMac review: A classic Mac for the end of an era

Ars Technica - August 13, 2020 - 1:00pm

It’s a weird time to be in the market for a new Mac. Earlier this summer, Apple announced that it will begin rolling out Apple Silicon—its in-house-designed riff on ARM processors as seen before in the iPhone and iPad—to the Mac product line. That marks a seismic shift in direction for the Mac.

But the company also said it would be releasing new Macs that use Intel’s CPUs—the more traditional choice for desktop and laptop computers—in the future and supporting Intel-based Macs for years to come.

Enter the new 27-inch iMac, announced just a couple of weeks ago. It’s the first new Mac product since the Apple Silicon announcement, and it’s a refresh for one of the company’s most iconic and popular products—one that’s been falling behind the rest of the Mac lineup for a while now.

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Hackers can eavesdrop on mobile calls with $7,000 worth of equipment

Ars Technica - August 13, 2020 - 12:55pm

Enlarge (credit: Rupprecht et al.)

The emergence of mobile voice calls over the standard known as Long Term Evolution (LTE) has been a boon for millions of cell phone users around the world. VoLTE, short for Voice over LTE, provides up to three times the capacity of the earlier 3G standard, resulting in high-definition sound quality that’s a huge improvement over earlier generations. VoLTE also uses the same IP standard used to send data over the Internet, so it has the ability to work with a wider range of devices. VoLTE does all of this while also providing a layer of security not available in predecessor cellular technologies.

Now, researchers have demonstrated a weakness that allows attackers with modest resources to eavesdrop on calls. Their technique, dubbed ReVoLTE, uses a software-defined radio to pull the signal a carrier’s base station transmits to a phone of an attacker’s choosing, as long as the attacker is connected to the same cell tower (typically within a few hundred meters to few kilometers) and knows the phone number. Because of an error in the way many carriers implement VoLTE, the attack converts cryptographically scrambled data into unencrypted sound. The result is a threat to the privacy of a growing segment of cell phone users. The cost: about $7,000.

So much for more secure

“Data confidentiality is one of the central LTE security aims and a fundamental requirement for trust in our communication infrastructure,” the researchers, from Ruhr University Bochum and New York University, wrote in a paper presented Wednesday at the 29th USENIX Security Symposium. “We introduced the ReVoLTE attack, which enables an adversary to eavesdrop and recover encrypted VoLTE calls based on an implementation flaw of the LTE protocol.”

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