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Figuring out how an odd, gutless worm regrows its head (or tail)

Ars Technica - March 18, 2019 - 10:25pm

Enlarge / Some of the gutless worms (orange) cover a coral. (credit: Samuel Chow )

In the movies, regeneration is the stuff of superheroes like Deadpool, who regrew the lower half of his body through some seriously awkward transitional scenes. Here in reality, regeneration is run of the mill, with lizards and amphibians regrowing limbs and tails while various worms are able to regrow half their entire body. How they manage this has been the subject of extensive study, and we have a fair idea of some of the genes and processes involved. But it's fair to say we don't have a strong idea of how the whole process is coordinated and directed to form all of the needed tissues.

A step in that direction comes from a recent study that takes a strange angle on regeneration. To understand the process, the authors sequenced the genome of a worm that can regenerate into two full organisms after being cut in half. But the worm also happens to be part of a group that contains the closest living relatives of bilateral animals—those with a left and right side. As such, it could provide a fascinating perspective on our own evolution, but it's something the researchers choose to ignore in this paper.

Xena coelo what a?

Most of the animals we're familiar with are bilaterals, which have a left and right side. That includes some creatures (like sea urchins) where the two sides aren't all that obvious. These bilateral animals also start out early in their development as three layers of cells: an outer layer that forms the skin and neural tissue; a central one that forms internal structures like muscles and bone; and an inner layer that goes on to form the lining of the gut.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Brace yourselves: New variant of Mirai takes aim at a new crop of IoT devices

Ars Technica - March 18, 2019 - 9:01pm

Enlarge (credit: LG)

Mirai, the virulent Internet of Things malware that delivered record-setting denial-of-service attacks in 2016, has been updated to target a new crop of devices, including two found inside enterprise networks, where bandwidth is often plentiful, researchers said on Monday.

The malware infects webcams, routers, DVRs, and other Internet-connected devices, which typically ship with default credentials and run woefully outdated versions of Linux that are rarely, if ever, updated. The rapidly spreading Mirai first made a name for itself in 2016, when it helped achieve record-setting DDoS attacks against KrebsOnSecurity and French Web host OVH.

A newly discovered variant contains a total of 27 exploits, 11 of which are new to Mirai, researchers with security firm Palo Alto Networks reported in a blog post Monday. Besides demonstrating an attempt to reinvigorate Mirai’s place among powerful botnets, the new exploits signal an attempt to penetrate an arena that's largely new to Mirai. One of the 11 new exploits targets the WePresent WiPG-1000 Wireless Presentation systems, and another exploit targets LG Supersign TVs. Both of these devices are intended for use by businesses, which typically have networks that offer larger amounts of bandwidth than Mirai’s more traditional target of home consumers.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Google, Microsoft work together for a year to figure out new type of Windows flaw

Ars Technica - March 18, 2019 - 7:36pm

Enlarge (credit: Marco Verch / Flickr)

One of the more notable features of Google Project Zero's (GPZ) security research has been its 90-day disclosure policy. In general, vendors are given 90 days to address issues found by GPZ, after which the flaws will be publicly disclosed. But sometimes understanding a flaw and developing fixes for it takes longer than 90 days—sometimes, much longer, such as when a new class of vulnerability is found. That's what happened last year with the Spectre and Meltdown processor issues, and it has happened again with a new Windows issue.

Google researcher James Forshaw first grasped that there might be a problem a couple of years ago when he was investigating the exploitability of another Windows issue published three years ago. In so doing, he discovered the complicated way in which Windows performs permissions checks when opening files or other secured objects. A closer look at the involved parts showed that there were all the basic elements to create a significant elevation of privilege attack, enabling any user program to open any file on the system, regardless of whether the user should have permission to do so. The big question was, could these elements be assembled in just the right way to cause a problem, or would good fortune render the issue merely theoretical?

The basic rule is simple enough: when a request to open a file is being made from user mode, the system should check that the user running the application that's trying to open the file has permission to access the file. The system does this by examining the file's access control list (ACL) and comparing it to the user's user ID and group memberships. However, if the request is being made from kernel mode, the permissions checks should be skipped. That's because the kernel in general needs free and unfettered access to every file.

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Myspace apparently lost 12 years’ worth of music, and almost no one noticed

Ars Technica - March 18, 2019 - 7:13pm

Enlarge / Myspace's music player. (credit: Myspace)

Myspace has apparently lost most or all of the music files uploaded by its users before 2015, and it told users that the data was corrupted beyond repair during a server migration. Myspace apparently admitted the problem to concerned users seven or eight months ago, but so few people noticed that there wasn't any news coverage until the past 24 hours.

Myspace, the once-mighty social networking site, has existed since 2003 but has been fading into obscurity for the past decade. Many musicians used to rely on Myspace to spread their music, and over the years it hosted 53 million songs from 14.2 million artists.

Some of Myspace's loyal users noticed more than a year ago that they couldn't play music or download music files and asked Myspace for answers. Myspace initially told those users that it would recover the lost data, but months later it admitted that the files were gone forever.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Why Robo-Calls Can't Be Stopped

Slashdot - March 18, 2019 - 6:45pm
Categories: Geek, Opinion

Are We Getting Close To Flying Taxis?

Slashdot - March 18, 2019 - 6:45pm
Categories: Geek, Opinion

Report: Trump “would never get in a self-driving car”

Ars Technica - March 18, 2019 - 5:53pm

Enlarge / President Donald Trump, as seen on January 27, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia. (credit: Pool Photo/Getty Images)

Donald Trump's choice to lead the Department of Transportation, Elaine Chao, has worked hard to avoid placing regulatory barriers in the way of self-driving cars. But Chao's boss is a driverless car skeptic, Axios reports.

One Axios source had a conversation with Trump in 2017 where he mentioned owning a Tesla with Autopilot technology. According to the source, Trump "was like, 'Yeah that's cool but I would never get in a self-driving car... I don't trust some computer to drive me around.'"

On another occasion, Trump reportedly said, "Can you imagine, you're sitting in the back seat and all of a sudden this car is zig-zagging around the corner and you can't stop the f---ing thing?"

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Apple Watch accurately spotted heart condition 34% of the time in study

Ars Technica - March 18, 2019 - 5:27pm

(credit: Apple)

In a large Apple-sponsored study assessing whether the pulse sensor on older versions of the Apple Watch (Series 1, 2, and 3) can pick up heart rhythm irregularities, researchers found that only 34 percent of participants who received an alert of an irregular pulse on their watch went on to have a confirmed case of atrial fibrillation, a common type of irregular heart rhythm.

The study was led by researchers at Stanford, who presented the results Saturday in New Orleans at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology. The results have not been published in a scientific journal and have not been peer-reviewed.

The study, dubbed the Apple Heart Study, began in November 2017, before the release of the Apple Watch Series 4, which includes an electrocardiograph (ECG) feature for monitoring heart activity. Though the study didn’t keep pace with that of wearable device development, it was rather speedy relative to clinical trials. In fact, some cardiologists were impressed simply by the short period of time in which the study was able to recruit such a large number of participants—nearly 420,000—plus follow up with them using telemedicine and get results.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Former Valve designer, writer dishes on his new “co-op” game studio

Ars Technica - March 18, 2019 - 4:28pm

Enlarge / Chet Faliszek, Dr. Kimberly Voll announce the creation of Stray Bombay, a new video game studio. (credit: Sam Machkovech)

SAN FRANCISCO—In 2017, game designer and writer Chet Faliszek left Valve Software. The departure was notable in part because Faliszek was perhaps second only to company co-founder Gabe Newell in terms of public exposure, but also because Faliszek's work represented a seemingly long-gone era at the game studio: one of irreverent, story-driven games that emphasized co-op (both Left 4 Dead games and Portal 2, among other titles).

Shortly after that departure, Faliszek emerged with news: he would start making games at Bossa Studios, home of goofy titles like Surgeon Simulator and I Am Bread. It seemed like a good fit. Turns out, it wasn't.

After roughly a year working together, Faliszek and the Bossa Studios team "reconvened and decided it wasn't working out," he told Ars Technica. On one hand, Faliszek described the end of that relationship as "the hardest breakup, because I couldn't get mad at them." On the other, when pressed, Faliszek described the game he'd worked on as "a kind of game they're not known for making, and kind of maybe not suited for making."

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

WorldPay payments firm in $43bn sale to US rival

BBC Technology News - March 18, 2019 - 4:28pm
Payment processor WorldPay, once part of RBS bank, is sold to Fidelity National Information Services.

Sealed Cache of Moon Rocks To Be Opened By NASA

Slashdot - March 18, 2019 - 3:45pm
Categories: Geek, Opinion

Hong Kong subway trains collide amid new signal system trials

BBC Technology News - March 18, 2019 - 3:00pm
Two trains collide during a new signal system trial, threatening travel disruption for millions.

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