By msmash from Slashdot's in-the-aftermath department
Throughout 2018, researchers inside and outside Intel continued to find exploitable weaknesses related to Meltdown and Spectre class of "speculative execution" vulnerabilities. Fixing many of them takes not just software patches, but conceptually rethinking how processors are made. From a report: At the center of these efforts for Intel is STORM, the company's strategic offensive research and mitigation group, a team of hackers from around the world tasked with heading off next-generation security threats. Reacting to speculative execution vulnerabilities in particular has taken extensive collaboration among product development teams, legacy architecture groups, outreach and communications departments to coordinate response, and security-focused research groups at Intel. STORM has been at the heart of the technical side. "With Meltdown and Spectre we were very aggressive with how we approached this problem," says Dhinesh Manoharan, who heads Intel's offensive security research division, which includes STORM. "The amount of products that we needed to deal with and address and the pace in which we did this -- we set a really high bar."
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By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
On Wednesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook issued a dire warning to his investors. Apple, the world's first trillion dollar company, lowered its revenue forecast for the first time since 2002, thanks primarily to China, he said. But there was at least one more issue at play.
Motherboard: The lengthy letter cites, specifically, that people are buying fewer iPhones because they are repairing their old ones. Apple has long fought efforts that would make iPhones easier to repair: It has lobbied against right to repair efforts in several states, doesn't sell iPhone replacement parts, sued an independent repair professional in Norway, worked with Amazon to get iPhone and MacBook refurbishers kicked off Amazon Marketplace, and has deals with electronics recyclers that require them to shred iPhones and MacBooks (as opposed to allowing them to be refurbished.) The Department of Homeland Security, meanwhile, has seized iPhone replacement parts from prominent right to repair activists in the United States.
[...] Apple has never clearly articulated why it doesn't want people to fix their own iPhones or to have independent experts repair them. It has previously said that iPhones are "too complex" for users to repair them, even though replacing a battery is pretty easy and is done by average users all the time. But the fact that repair hurts Apple's bottom line came out in Cook's official communication with shareholders, who he is legally obligated to tell the truth to.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's important-questions department
dryriver writes: A relative of mine has been left with extremely low speech volume -- about 25% of a normal speaker -- and lack of high pitch capability after a major throat surgery. He cannot speak on the phone at all now -- you cannot hear him properly on the other end of the line, even though you can understand his speech OK when you are standing in the room next to him. Is there an assistive Android app that can:
1. Significantly boost the output volume (e.g. X 4) of the Android phone microphone he speaks into.
2. Add voice box, equalizer, autotune or audio filtering/bass boosting type audio effects in realtime to the microphone input to fix the speaker's pitch.
3. Can filter out background noise to some extent (so it doesn't get boosted as well).
4. Allows these effects to be used easily during phonecalls?
All the Android microphone/equalizer/megaphone type apps I've tried so far have huge problems -- some are novelty voice-changer apps for teens, some demand ridiculously broad permissions to everything on the phone including realtime location data of the user, some demand that an external mic is attached to the phone, some are too simple technically to do anything useful and some are advertising-fests that are plain unusable. Is there a good Android -- or iOS -- app for the speech impaired that would give this person a chance to make audio phonecalls on a smartphone again? Thanks for any advice!Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's breaking-news department
Russian investigative agencies on Thursday indicted Whelan, a 48-year-old former U.S. Marine, on charges of spying, Interfax cited an informed source as saying. From a report: Mr. Whelan's lawyer, Vladimir A. Zherebenkov, who said he spent much of Wednesday with Mr. Whelan, said he had found his client in an upbeat mood despite the long legal road that he faces. "I was surprised to see him being so confident," said Mr. Zherebenkov, a high-profile criminal defense lawyer. Mr. Whelan, 48, the head of global security for the Michigan auto parts maker BorgWarner and a Marine Corps veteran, was arrested last Friday and is being held in solitary confinement in Moscow's notorious Lefortovo Prison. Russia's domestic security agency, the F.S.B., issued a brief statement on Monday saying that Mr. Whelan had been caught in "an act of espionage" but provided no other details.
Mr. Zherebenkov said that he had not seen all the evidence, but that he suspected that the American had been under surveillance for some time. "I presume that he is innocent, because for now I haven't seen any evidence against him that would prove otherwise," said Mr. Zherebenkov, who said that Mr. Whelan would petition the court for bail. Rosbalt, a Russian news agency close to the security services, quoted an unidentified intelligence source on Wednesday as saying that Mr. Whelan had been apprehended during a meeting with a Russian citizen in his room at the Metropol Hotel in Moscow. He is accused of trying to recruit this person to obtain classified information about staff members at various Russian agencies, the account said. Mr. Whelan was arrested five minutes after receiving a USB stick containing a list of all the employees at a classified security agency, the report said.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department
Abine, the company behind the Blur password manager and the DeleteMe online privacy protection service, revealed on Monday a data breach impacting nearly 2.4 million Blur users, ZDNet reports. From the report: The breach came to light last year, on December 13, when a security researcher contacted the company about a server that exposed a file containing sensitive information about Blur users, an Abine spokesperson told ZDNet via email. The company said it followed this initial report with an internal security audit to determine the size of the breach. The audit concluded last week, and the company made the data leak public on Monday in a post on its blog. The data that was available on the web included each user's email addresses, some users' first and last names, some users' password hints but only from our old MaskMe product, and each user's encrypted Blur password.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department
A Chinese space probe successfully touched down on the far side of the moon on Thursday, China's space agency said, hailing the event as a historic first and a major achievement for the country's space program. From a report: The Chang'e-4 lunar probe, launched in December, made the "soft landing" at 0226 GMT and transmitted the first-ever "close range" image of the far side of the moon, the China National Space Administration said. The moon is tidally locked to Earth, rotating at the same rate as it orbits our planet, so most of the far side -- or "dark side" -- is never visible to us. Previous spacecraft have seen the far side, but none has landed on it. The landing "lifted the mysterious veil" of the far side of the moon and "opened a new chapter in human lunar exploration", the agency said in a statement on its website, which included a wide-angle color picture of a crater from the moon's surface.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's better-than-ever department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Speaking with Bloomberg last week, Sony's sensor division boss Satoshi Yoshihara said Sony plans to ramp up production of chips to power front and rear 3D cameras in late summer, responding to demand from multiple smartphone manufacturers. Though Yoshihara is geeked about the potential for augmented reality applications, the most intriguing aspect of this new tech would appear to be a better form of face identification than we currently have. The Face ID approach that Apple first brought into use on the iPhone X -- and others like Xiaomi, Huawei, and Vivo have since emulated -- works by projecting out a grid of invisible dots and detecting the user's face by the deformations of that grid in 3D space. Sony's 3D sensor, on the hand, is said to deploy laser pulses, which, much like a bat's echolocation, creates a depth map of its surroundings by measuring how long a pulse takes to bounce back. Sony's sensor chief argues this produces more detailed models of users' faces, plus it apparently works from as far away as five meters (16 feet).Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's two-in-one department
Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a new neurostimulator that can listen to and stimulate electric current in the brain at the same time, potentially delivering fine-tuned treatments for patients with diseases like epilepsy and Parkinson's. Science Daily reports: The device, named the WAND, works like a "pacemaker for the brain," monitoring the brain's electrical activity and delivering electrical stimulation if it detects something amiss. These devices can be extremely effective at preventing debilitating tremors or seizures in patients with a variety of neurological conditions. But the electrical signatures that precede a seizure or tremor can be extremely subtle, and the frequency and strength of electrical stimulation required to prevent them is equally touchy. It can take years of small adjustments by doctors before the devices provide optimal treatment.
WAND, which stands for wireless artifact-free neuromodulation device, is both wireless and autonomous, meaning that once it learns to recognize the signs of tremor or seizure, it can adjust the stimulation parameters on its own to prevent the unwanted movements. And because it is closed-loop -- meaning it can stimulate and record simultaneously -- it can adjust these parameters in real-time. WAND can record electrical activity over 128 channels, or from 128 points in the brain, compared to eight channels in other closed-loop systems. To demonstrate the device, the team used WAND to recognize and delay specific arm movements in rhesus macaques. The device is described in a study that appeared in Nature Biomedical Engineering.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's another-one-bites-the-dust department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Authorities in Iran are preparing to block access to Instagram, extending their crackdown on social media to the only major platform still freely available. The National Cyberspace Council approved steps toward blocking the service, Javad Javidnia, deputy for cyberspace affairs at the public prosecutor's office, was cited as saying by the semi-official Donya-e Eqtesad newspaper. Instagram would join Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Telegram in being banned in the Islamic Republic, ostensibly for reasons of national security.
Despite the restrictions, Iranians including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif continue to use the services, which are widely accessible via proxy servers. Rouhani's verified Twitter account has over 800,000 followers. Javidnia said efforts to filter Instagram hadn't worked. While judicial and political officials involved were yet to reach a consensus on barring the site, the prosecutor can take a unilateral decision to do so, he said.Read Replies (0)