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Windows 10's Edge vs Chrome: We're Faster and Win in Battery Face-off, Says Microsoft
Posted by News Fetcher on January 03 '18 at 10:13 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's browser-war-lives department:
Microsoft has kicked off 2018 with two new ads promoting Windows 10 Edge's battery efficiency and speed compared with Google Chrome. From a report: Microsoft published the two new ads on New Year's Eve, pitting Edge against Chrome, the world's most popular browser. "Microsoft Edge is up to 48 percent faster than Google Chrome," Microsoft says in one of the 30-second ads. Not only that, but Microsoft argues that Edge is safer too, thanks to SmartScreen, its built-in equivalent of Google's Safe Browsing anti-phishing technology. Microsoft says: "Edge blocks 18 percent more phishing sites than Google Chrome." Microsoft doesn't cite the source of this statistic, but in October, NSS Labs released a report comparing Edge on the locked-down Windows 10 S with Chrome on Chromebooks, suggesting that Edge blocks more phishing URLs than Chrome.

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Mozilla Will Delete Firefox Crash Reports Collected by Accident
Posted by News Fetcher on January 03 '18 at 08:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's step-forward department:
Catalin Cimpanu, writing for BleepingComputer: Mozilla said last week it would delete all telemetry data collected because of a bug in the Firefox crash reporter. According to Mozilla engineers, Firefox has been collecting information on crashed background tabs from users' browsers since Firefox 52, released in March 2017. Firefox versions released in that time span did not respect user-set privacy settings and automatically auto-submitted crash reports to Mozilla servers. The browser maker fixed the issue with the release of Firefox 57.0.3. Crash reports are not fully-anonymized.

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The 'App' You Can't Trash: How SIP is Broken in Apple's High Sierra OS
Posted by News Fetcher on January 03 '18 at 08:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
A reader shares a blog post that talks about why Mac running High Sierra 10.13.2 (and other versions near it) refuses to let users uninstall some third-party applications easily. For instance, when users attempt to uninstall BlueStacks, an Android emulator, the Finder shows this warning: "The operation can't be completed because you don't have the necessary permission." The blog post looks into the subject: The moment that we see the word permission, all becomes clear: it's a permissions problem. So the next step is to select the offending item in the Finder, press Command-I to bring up the Get Info dialog, and change the permissions. It does, though, leave the slight puzzle as to why the Finder didn't simply prompt for authentication instead of cussedly refusing. Sure enough, after trying that, the app still won't go and the error message is unchanged. Another strange thing about this 'app' is that it's not an app at all. Tucked away in a mysterious folder, new to High Sierra, in /Library/StagedExtensions/Applications, its icon is defaced to indicate that the user can't even run it. Neither did the user install it there. Trying to remove it using a conventional Terminal command sudo rm -rf /Library/StagedExtensions/Applications/BlueStacks.app also fails, with the report Operation not permitted.

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Norway Powers Ahead (Electrically): Over Half New Car Sales Now Electric or Hybrid
Posted by News Fetcher on January 03 '18 at 07:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's racing-ahead department:
Sales of electric and hybrid cars rose above half of new registrations in Norway in 2017, a record aided by generous subsidies that extended the country's lead in shifting from fossil-fuel engines, data showed on Wednesday. From a report: Pure electric cars and hybrids, which have both battery power and a diesel or petrol motor, accounted for 52 percent of all new car sales last year in Norway against 40 percent in 2016, the independent Norwegian Road Federation (OFV) said. "No one else is close" in terms of a national share of electric cars, OFV chief Oeyvind Solberg Thorsen said. "For the first time we have a fossil-fuel market share below 50 percent." Norway exempts new electric cars from almost all taxes and grants perks that can be worth thousands of dollars a year in terms of free or subsidized parking, re-charging and use of toll roads, ferries and tunnels.

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Linux Mint 19 Named 'Tara'
Posted by News Fetcher on January 03 '18 at 07:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's next-up department:
BrianFagioli writes: Today, we get some information about the upcoming version 19 of Mint. The biggest news is that it will be called 'Tara.' If you aren't aware, Mint's distros are always named after a woman. Clement Lefebvre, Linux Mint leader, shares the following information: "The development cycle only just started so it's a bit early to give details about Linux Mint 19, but here's what we can say already: Linux Mint 19 is estimated to be released around May/June 2018. Linux Mint 19.x releases will be based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and supported until 2023. Linux Mint 19.x will use GTK 3.22. GTK 3.22 is a major stable release for GTK3. From there on, the theming engine and the APIs are stable. This is a great milestone for GTK3. It also means Linux Mint 19.x (which will become our main development platform) will use the same version of GTK as LMDE 3, and distributions which use components we develop, such as Fedora, Arch..etc. This should ease development and increase the quality of these components outside of Linux Mint."

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NSA's Top Talent is Leaving Because of Low Pay, Slumping Morale and Unpopular Reorganization
Posted by News Fetcher on January 03 '18 at 06:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Ellen Nakashima and Aaron Gregg, reporting for the Washington Post: The National Security Agency is losing its top talent at a worrisome rate as highly skilled personnel, some disillusioned with the spy service's leadership and an unpopular reorganization, take higher-paying, more flexible jobs in the private sector (Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source). Since 2015, the NSA has lost several hundred hackers, engineers and data scientists, according to current and former U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter. The potential impact on national security is significant, they said. Headquartered at Fort Meade in Maryland, the NSA employs a civilian workforce of about 21,000 there and is the largest producer of intelligence among the nation's 17 spy agencies. The people who have left were responsible for collecting and analyzing the intelligence that goes into the president's daily briefing. Their work also included monitoring a broad array of subjects including the Islamic State, Russian and North Korean hackers, and analyzing the intentions of foreign governments, and they were responsible for protecting the classified networks that carry such sensitive information.

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The FCC Is Still Tweaking Its Net Neutrality Repeal
Posted by News Fetcher on January 03 '18 at 06:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's under-review department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: You may think, from the pomp accompanying the FCC's vote in December to repeal the 2015 net neutrality rules, that the deed was accomplished. Not so -- in fact, the order hasn't even reached its final form: the Commission is still working on it. But while it may be frustrating, this is business as usual for regulations like this, and concerned advocates should conserve their outrage for when it's really needed. The "Restoring Internet Freedom" rule voted on last month was based on a final draft circulated several weeks before the meeting at which it would be adopted. But as reports at the time noted, significant edits (i.e. not fixing typos) were still going into the draft the day before the FCC voted. Additional citations, changes in wording and more serious adjustments may be underway. It may sound like some serious shenanigans are being pulled, but this is how the sausage was always made, and it's actually one of Chairman Ajit Pai's handful of commendable efforts that the process is, in some ways at least, more open to the public. The question of exactly what is being changed, however, we will have ample time to investigate: The rules will soon be entered into the federal register, at which point they both come into effect and come under intense scrutiny and legal opposition.

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Kinect Is Really Dead Now, Basically
Posted by News Fetcher on January 03 '18 at 02:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's end-of-an-era department:
Microsoft has confirmed that it is no longer producing the Kinect adapter that is needed to connect the Kinect to an Xbox One S, Xbox One X, or other Windows device. This comes after Microsoft announced in October 2017 that it was killing off the Xbox One's Kinect camera. GameSpot reports: "After careful consideration, we decided to stop manufacturing the Xbox Kinect Adapter to focus attention on launching new, higher fan-requested gaming accessories across Xbox One and Windows 10," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement to Polygon. The representative declined to say if Microsoft would ever bring Kinect back. However, the company confirmed that the adapter "will no longer be available" to purchase.

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Scientists Can Now Blame Individual Natural Disasters On Climate Change
Posted by News Fetcher on January 02 '18 at 11:30 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's finger-pointing department:
In 2003, the predominant view in the scientific community was that there was no way to determine the exact influence of climate change on any individual event. "There are just too many other factors affecting the weather, including all sorts of natural climate variations," reports Scientific American. But Myles Allen, a climate expert at the University of Oxford, believes scientists can blame individual natural disasters on climate change. Scientific American reports of how extreme event attribution is one of the most rapidly expanding areas of climate science: Over the last few years, dozens of studies have investigated the influence of climate change on events ranging from the Russian heat wave of 2010 to the California drought, evaluating the extent to which global warming has made them more severe or more likely to occur. The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society now issues a special report each year assessing the impact of climate change on the previous year's extreme events. Interest in the field has grown so much that the National Academy of Sciences released an in-depth report last year evaluating the current state of the science and providing recommendations for its improvement. And as the science continues to mature, it may have ramifications for society. Legal experts suggest that attribution studies could play a major role in lawsuits brought by citizens against companies, industries or even governments. They could help reshape climate adaptation policies throughout a country or even the world. And perhaps more immediately, the young field of research could be capturing the public's attention in ways that long-term projections for the future cannot. In 2004, Allen and Oxford colleague Daithi Stone and Peter Stott of the Met Office co-authored a report that is widely regarded as the world's first extreme event attribution study. The paper, which examined the contribution of climate change to a severe European heat wave in 2003 -- an event which may have caused tens of thousands of deaths across the continent -- concluded that "it is very likely that human influence has at least doubled the risk of a heat wave exceeding this threshold magnitude." Before this point, climate change attribution science had existed in other forms for several decades, according to Noah Diffenbaugh, a Stanford University climate scientist and attribution expert. Until 2004, much of the work had focused on investigating the relationship between human activity and long-term changes in climate elements like temperature and precipitation. More recently, scientists had been attempting to understand how these changes in long-term averages might affect weather patterns in general.

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Scientists Get Closer To Replicating Human Sperm
Posted by News Fetcher on January 02 '18 at 08:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's important-milestone department:
Rachel England reports via Engadget: Scientists have taken an important step forward in recreating the way the human body makes sperm, which could one day mean creating artificial sperm and eggs for infertility treatment. The researchers, from the University of Cambridge's Gurdon Institute, are thought to be the first team to have reached the "halfway point" -- a significant milestone -- on the path between stem cells and immature sperm. This pathway -- which the team are attempting to track and understand -- involves embryonic cells turning into immature sperm via a series of complex steps known as meiosis. Cells follow the same journey for around eight weeks, before taking different directions depending on whether they're to be sperm or eggs. Previously, the team had managed to track this pathway to the four-week mark. Now, using new technology in the form of miniature artificial testicles (called "gonadal organoids"), it's on track to pass this point and gain new, deep insight into the process of sperm creation. Further reading: The Guardian

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Energy Department Permanently Closes Damaged Hanford Nuclear Reservation Tank
Posted by News Fetcher on January 02 '18 at 06:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's closed-doors department:
The Department of Energy has decided to close the oldest double-shell tank at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The department says that Tank AY-102 has widespread damage and should not be repaired. The Tri-City Herald reports: DOE was required by Ecology, a regulator for Hanfordâ(TM)s tanks storing radioactive and chemical waste, to empty enough waste from the tank to determine the cause of the leak by spring 2017. DOE confirmed in 2012 that waste from the inner shell of the tank was slowly leaking into the space between its inner and outer shells. No waste is known to have breached the outer shell to contaminate the soil beneath the tank. One of the goals of the inspection was to decide whether the tank could be repaired and returned to service, a scenario that appeared unlikely. Hanford has just 27 double-shell tanks, excluding Tank AY-102, to hold waste emptied from 149 leak-prone single shell tanks until the waste can be treated for disposal. Plans call for glassifying much of the waste at the vitrification plant under construction at Hanford. The waste is left from World War II and Cold War production of plutonium for the nation's nuclear weapons program.

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Apple Will Replace Old iPhone Batteries Regardless of Diagnostic Test Results
Posted by News Fetcher on January 02 '18 at 04:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's thou-shalt-not-pass department:
After apologizing to customers for slowing older iPhones down as the batteries degrade, Apple has started offering battery swaps for $29. This has led to some confusion as Apple did not clarify how it qualified batteries as eligible for the discounted replacement, as the Apple Genius Bar uses a diagnostic test to check whether a battery can retain 80 percent of its original capacity at 500 complete charge cycles. According to Mac Rumors, Apple has confirmed that they will replace the battery if your iPhone 6 or later even if it passes a Genius Bar diagnostic test. From the report: Apple has since independently confirmed to MacRumors that it will agree to replace an eligible battery for a $29 fee, regardless of whether an official diagnostic test shows that it is still able to retain less than 80 percent of its original capacity. The concession appears to have been made to mollify the anger of customers stoked by headlines suggesting that Apple artificially slows down older iPhones to drive customers to upgrade to newer models. Anecdotal reports also suggest that customers who paid $79 to have their battery replaced before the new pricing came into effect on Saturday, December 30, will receive a refund from Apple upon request.

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Spotify Hit With $1.6 Billion Copyright Lawsuit
Posted by News Fetcher on January 02 '18 at 04:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's free-fallin department:
The Wixen Music Publishing company, which administers song compositions by Tom Petty, Dan Auerbach, Rivers Cuomo, Stevie Nicks, Neil Young, and others, has hit Spotify with a copyright lawsuit seeking $1.6 billion in damages. The publishing company filed the lawsuit on December 29, alleging the streaming giant is using Petty's "Free Fallin" and tens of thousands of other songs without license or compensation. SPIN reports: Back in September, Wixen objected to a $43 million settlement Spotify had arranged over another class action lawsuit brought by David Lowery (of Cracker and Camper van Beethoven) and Melissa Ferrick, stating it was "procedurally and substantively unfair to Settlement Class Members because it prevents meaningful participation by rights holders and offers them an unfair dollar amount in light of Spotify's ongoing, willful copyright infringement of their works." A judge has yet to rule on that settlement, and in the meantime, Wixen has moved to file its own lawsuit, which purports "as much as 21 percent of the 30 million songs on Spotify are unlicensed," according to The Hollywood Reporter. "Spotify brazenly disregards United States Copyright law and has committed willful, ongoing copyright infringement," the complaint reads. "Wixen notified Spotify that it had neither obtained a direct or compulsory mechanical license for the use of the Works. For these reasons and the foregoing, Wixen is entitled to the maximum statutory relief."

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US Calls On Iran To Unblock Social Media Sites Amid Protests
Posted by News Fetcher on January 02 '18 at 03:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's food-and-freedom department:
The Trump administration is calling on the government of Iran to stop blocking Instagram and other social media sites while encouraging Iranians to use special software to circumvent controls. "The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years," President Trump tweeted yesterday. "They are hungry for food & for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. Time for change!" ABC News reports: Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein, in charge of public diplomacy, said the U.S. wants Iran's government to "open these sites" including the photo-sharing platform Instagram and the messaging app Telegram. "They are legitimate avenues for communication," Goldstein said. "People in Iran should be able to access those sites." Iranians seeking to evade the blocks can use virtual private networks, Goldstein said. Known as VPNs, the services create encrypted data "tunnels" between computers and are used in many countries to access overseas websites blocked by the local government. Despite the blocks, the United States is working to maintain communication with Iranians in the Farsi language, including through official accounts on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. The State Department also was to distribute videos of top U.S. officials encouraging the protesters through those and other sites.

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'Kernel Memory Leaking' Intel Processor Design Flaw Forces Linux, Windows Redesign
Posted by News Fetcher on January 02 '18 at 03:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's update-required department:
According to The Register, "A fundamental design flaw in Intel's processor chips has forced a significant redesign of the Linux and Windows kernels to defang the chip-level security bug." From the report: Programmers are scrambling to overhaul the open-source Linux kernel's virtual memory system. Meanwhile, Microsoft is expected to publicly introduce the necessary changes to its Windows operating system in this month's Patch Tuesday: these changes were seeded to beta testers running fast-ring Windows Insider builds in November and December. Crucially, these updates to both Linux and Windows will incur a performance hit on Intel products. The effects are still being benchmarked, however we're looking at a ballpark figure of five to 30 per cent slow down, depending on the task and the processor model. More recent Intel chips have features -- specifically, PCID -- to reduce the performance hit. Similar operating systems, such as Apple's 64-bit macOS, will also need to be updated -- the flaw is in the Intel x86 hardware, and it appears a microcode update can't address it. It has to be fixed in software at the OS level, or buy a new processor without the design blunder. Details of the vulnerability within Intel's silicon are under wraps: an embargo on the specifics is due to lift early this month, perhaps in time for Microsoft's Patch Tuesday next week. Indeed, patches for the Linux kernel are available for all to see but comments in the source code have been redacted to obfuscate the issue. The report goes on to share some details of the flaw that have surfaced. "It is understood the bug is present in modern Intel processors produced in the past decade," reports The Register. "It allows normal user programs -- from database applications to JavaScript in web browsers -- to discern to some extent the contents of protected kernel memory. The fix is to separate the kernel's memory completely from user processes using what's called Kernel Page Table Isolation, or KPTI."

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Google's Mysterious Fuchsia OS Can Now Run On the Pixelbook
Posted by News Fetcher on January 02 '18 at 02:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's shrouded-in-secrecy department:
Google's mysterious operating system, dubbed Fuchsia, has been in the works for more than a year now with very few details about the OS made public. According to a new report from Chrome Unboxed, we have learned that Google has released documentation to allow developers to load Fuchsia onto the company's Pixelbook. The Verge reports: This isn't your typical developer operating system, and you'll need two machines to host and target a Pixelbook to load the OS. It's very much a work in progress, with early hints at a user interface and functions. It's still interesting that Google has chosen its own Pixelbook to experiment with, though. Fuchsia has mostly been linked to embedded systems like wearables and Internet of Things devices in the past, but testing was expanded to Intel's NUC and Acer's Switch Alpha 12 Chromebooks. Fuchsia has been created from the Google-built Zircon microkernel, and not the typical Linux kernels that hold Android and Chrome OS together. It's not immediately clear exactly why Google is building a new operating system, nor what devices it will run on. As testing spreads to more Chromebooks, some are now speculating this could be a successor to the "Andromeda" project that never materialized.

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New Bill Could Finally Get Rid of Paperless Voting Machines
Posted by News Fetcher on January 02 '18 at 02:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's computer-security-expert's-wish-list department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A bipartisan group of six senators has introduced legislation that would take a huge step toward securing elections in the United States. Called the Secure Elections Act, the bill aims to eliminate insecure paperless voting machines from American elections while promoting routine audits that would dramatically reduce the danger of interference from foreign governments. "With the 2018 elections just around the corner, Russia will be back to interfere again," said co-sponsor Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). So a group of senators led by James Lankford (R-Okla.) wants to shore up the security of American voting systems ahead of the 2018 and 2020 elections. And the senators have focused on two major changes that have broad support from voting security experts.

The first objective is to get rid of paperless electronic voting machines. Computer scientists have been warning for more than a decade that these machines are vulnerable to hacking and can't be meaningfully audited. States have begun moving away from paperless systems, but budget constraints have forced some to continue relying on insecure paperless equipment. The Secure Elections Act would give states grants specifically earmarked for replacing these systems with more secure systems that use voter-verified paper ballots. The legislation's second big idea is to encourage states to perform routine post-election audits based on modern statistical techniques. Many states today only conduct recounts in the event of very close election outcomes. And these recounts involve counting a fixed percentage of ballots. That often leads to either counting way too many ballots (wasting taxpayer money) or too few (failing to fully verify the election outcome). The Lankford bill would encourage states to adopt more statistically sophisticated procedures to count as many ballots as needed to verify an election result was correct -- and no more.

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Intel with Radeon RX Vega Graphics: Core i7-8809G with 3.1 GHz Base, 100W Target TDP, Overclockable
Posted by News Fetcher on January 02 '18 at 12:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's watch-out department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: To begin the year, Intel's Indian website has published a small number of details regarding Intel's first 'Intel with Radeon RX Vega Graphics' processor. Within the table of overclockable processors, accompanying the Core i9, Core i7-X and 8th Generation K processors is listed the Intel Core i7-8809G, a quad core processor with two sets of graphics options listed. The Core i7-8809G is not a part that Intel has formally announced in a press release, but on Intel's overclocking webpage here it as listed as being a quad-core processor with hyperthreading, supporting a 3.1 GHz base frequency, having an 8 MB L3 cache, a 100W 'Target' TDP, and supporting two channels of DDR4-2400. Intel lists both sets of graphics: the integrated graphics (iGPU, or IGP) as 'Intel HD Graphics 630', and the package graphics (pGPU) as 'Radeon RX Vega M GH Graphics'.

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LinuxJournal, Which Ceased Publication Last Month Citing Poor Financial Condition, Secures Fresh Fund From Readers To Resume Operation
Posted by News Fetcher on January 02 '18 at 12:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's hurrah department:
New submitter dataknife2 writes: LinuxJournal announced in Nov 2017 that they were going to cease publication; With some timely intervention by Private Internet Access they are going to be able to continue operation and are currently soliciting feedback for improving the magazine in the future. In a blog post, team at LinuxJournal wrote: Talk about a Happy New Year. The reason: it turns out we're not dead. In fact, we're more alive than ever, thanks to a rescue by readers -- specifically, by the hackers who run Private Internet Access (PIA) VPN, a London Trust Media company. PIA are avid supporters of freenode and the larger FOSS community. They're also all about Linux and the rest of the modern portfolio of allied concerns: privacy, crypto, freedom, personal agency, rewriting the rules of business and government around all of those, and having fun with constructive hacking of all kinds. We couldn't have asked for a better rescue ship to come along for us. In addition, they aren't merely rescuing this ship we were ready to scuttle; they're making it seaworthy again and are committed to making it bigger and better than we were ever in a position to think about during our entirely self-funded past.

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North Korean Hackers Hijack Computers To Mine Cryptocurrencies
Posted by News Fetcher on January 02 '18 at 11:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's one-way-or-another department:
North Korean hackers are hijacking computers to mine cryptocurrencies as the regime in Pyongyang widens its hunt for cash under tougher international sanctions. From a report: A hacking unit called Andariel seized a server at a South Korean company in the summer of 2017 and used it to mine about 70 Monero coins -- worth about $25,000 as of Dec. 29 -- according to Kwak Kyoung-ju, who leads a hacking analysis team at the South Korean government-backed Financial Security Institute. The case underscores the increasing appetite from cyber-attackers for digital currencies that are becoming a source of income for the Kim Jong Un regime. North Korea is accelerating its pursuit of cash abroad as the world tightens its stranglehold on its conventional sources of money with sanctions cutting oil supplies and other trade bans.

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