By msmash from Slashdot's privacy-woes department
You've probably never heard of the marketing and data aggregation firm Exactis. But it may well have heard of you. And now there's also a good chance that whatever information the company has about you, it recently leaked onto the public internet, available to any hacker who simply knew where to look. From a report: Earlier this month, security researcher Vinny Troia discovered that Exactis, a data broker based in Palm Coast, Florida, had exposed a database that contained close to 340 million individual records on a publicly accessible server. The haul comprises close to 2 terabytes of data that appears to include personal information on hundreds of millions of American adults, as well as millions of businesses. While the precise number of individuals included in the data isn't clear -- and the leak doesn't seem to contain credit card information or Social Security numbers -- it does go into minute detail for each individual listed, including phone numbers, home addresses, email addresses, and other highly personal characteristics for every name. The categories range from interests and habits to the number, age, and gender of the person's children. "It seems like this is a database with pretty much every US citizen in it," says Troia, who is the founder of his own New York-based security company, Night Lion Security. Troia notes that almost every person he's searched for in the database, he's found. And when WIRED asked him to find records for a list of 10 specific people in the database, he very quickly found six of them. "I don't know where the data is coming from, but it's one of the most comprehensive collections I've ever seen," he says.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department
By msmash from Slashdot's outages-report department
ProtonMail, a secure email service provider used by more than two million users and references of which has been made in shows like Mr. Robot, has been facing outages for the last two days as it fights numerous DDoS attacks. "The attacks went on for several hours, although the outages were far more brief, usually several minutes at a time with the longest outage on the order of 10 minutes," a ProtonMail spokesperson told BleepingComputer, adding that it has tracked the attack to a group that claims to have ties to Russia. But things are more complicated than that, and it appears ProtonMail users, who are already annoyed at the frequent outages over the last few days, are up for more such downtimes in the coming days. BleepingComputer: But in reality, the DDoS attacks have no ties to Russia, weren't even planned to in the first place, and the group behind the attacks denounced being Russian, to begin with. Responsible for the attacks is a hacker group named Apophis Squad. In a private conversation with Bleeping Computer today, one of the group's members detailed yesterday's chain of events. The Apophis member says they targeted ProtonMail at random while testing a beta version of a DDoS booter service the group is developing and preparing to launch. The group didn't cite any reason outside "testing" for the initial and uncalled for attack on ProtonMail, which they later revealed to have been a 200 Gbps SSDP flood, according to one of their tweets. "After we sent the first attack, we downed it for 60 seconds," an Apophis Squad member told us. He said the group didn't intend to harass ProtonMail all day yesterday or today but decided to do so after ProtonMail's CTO, Bart Butler, responded to one of their tweets calling the group "clowns." This was a questionable response on the part of the ProtonMail CTO, as it set the hackers against his company even more. "So we then downed them for a few hours," the Apophis Squad said. Subsequent attacks included a whopping TCP-SYN flood estimated at 500 Gbps, as claimed by the group.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's rewriting-life department
United Therapeutics, a startup that sells drugs to treat lung ailments, plans to use a 3-D printer to manufacture human lungs in "unlimited quantities." Bioprinting isn't a new idea. 3-D printers can make human skin, even retinas. Yet the method has been limited to tissues that are very small or very thin and lack blood vessels. From a report: United instead is developing a printer that it believes will be able, within a few years, to manufacture a solid, rubbery outline of a lung in exquisite detail, including all 23 descending branches of the airway, the gas-exchanging alveoli, and a delicate network of capillaries. A lung made from collagen won't help anyone: it's to a real lung what a rubber chicken is to an actual hen. So United is also developing ways to impregnate the matrix with human cells so they'll attach and burrow into it, bringing it alive. [...] United has already made some risky organ bets. One of its subsidiaries, Revivicor, supplies surgeons with hearts, kidneys, and lungs from genetically engineered pigs (these have been used in baboons, so far). Another, Lung Bioengineering, refurbishes lungs from human donors by pumping warm solution into them. About 250 people have already received lungs that would otherwise have been designated medical waste. Don't expect fully manufactured organs soon. United, in its company projections, predicts it won't happen for another 12 years. United CEO Martine Rothblatt acknowledges that the printed structure I saw is just a start. "It's only two branches and no cells," she says.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Sample this: Me: So that's the marshmallow but you're going to eat it with this graham cracker and chocolate. [My son looks at me like I am the dumbest person alive.] Sebastian: No, I'm going to eat it with my MOUTH.[End of play.] That's from "S'MORES. A Real-Life One-Act Play", a conversation between Hamilton impresario Lin-Manuel Miranda which his young son Sebastian. In that brief interaction, young Sebastian Miranda inadvertently hit upon a kind of ambiguity that reveals a great deal about how people learn and process language -- and how we might teach computers to do the same. The misinterpretation on which the s'mores story hinges is hiding in the humble preposition with. Imagine the many ways one could finish this sentence: I'm going to eat this marshmallow with ... If you're in the mood for s'mores, then "graham cracker and chocolate" is an appropriate object of the preposition with. But if you want to split the marshmallow with a friend, you could say you're going to eat it "with my buddy Charlie." The Atlantic elaborates: Somehow speakers of English master these many possible uses of the word with without anyone specifically spelling it out for them. At least that's the case for native speakers -- in a class for English as a foreign language, the teacher likely would tease apart these nuances. But what if you wanted to provide the same linguistic education to a machine? As it happens, just days after Miranda sent his tweet, computational linguists presented a conference paper exploring exactly why such ambiguous language is challenging for a computer-based system to figure out. The researchers did so using an online game that serves as a handy introduction to some intriguing work currently being done in the field of natural language processing (NLP). The game, called Madly Ambiguous , was developed by the linguist Michael White and his colleagues at Ohio State University. In it, you are given a challenge: to stump a bot named Mr. Computer Head by filling the blank in the sentence Jane ate spaghetti with ____________. Then the computer tries to determine which kind of with you intended. Playful images drive the point home. [Editor's note: check the article for corresponding images.] In the sentence Jane ate spaghetti with a fork, Mr. Computer Head should be able to figure out that the fork is a utensil, and not something that is eaten in addition to the spaghetti. Likewise, if the sentence is Jane ate spaghetti with meatballs, it should be obvious that meatballs are part of the dish, not an instrument for eating spaghetti.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's secret-ingredients department
Astronomers have found that blasts of ocean spray erupting from the Saturn moon of Enceladus contain complex organic molecules, "making it the only place beyond Earth known to harbor crucial constituents for life as we know it," reports The Guardian. From the report: Astronomers detected the compounds in plumes of water and ice that shoot from huge fractures in the south pole of Enceladus, a 300-mile-wide ice ball that orbits Saturn along with 52 other moons. Enceladus stands out among the planet's natural satellites because it hosts a global water ocean beneath its frozen crust. German and U.S. scientists found tell-tale signs of organic molecules far more complex than amino acids and 10 times heavier than methane in data gathered by Nasa's Cassini probe as it flew over the fractures on Enceladus. Known as "tiger stripes," the fissures reach several miles down into the ice and are largely filled with ocean water that percolates up from the ocean.
Writing in the journal Nature, Frank Postberg, a planetary scientist who worked on the data at Heidelberg University, and his colleagues describe their analysis of fresh Cassini data that shows that most ice particles blasting out of Enceladus are almost pure water. But a small proportion, about 1%, are rich in organic molecules containing carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and potentially nitrogen too. Some were made up of hundreds of atoms. "Our results mark the first ever detection of complex organics coming from an extraterrestrial water world," said Postberg.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hoping-no-one-will-notice department
AT&T has almost tripled the cost of the "Administrative Fee" featured in its wireless service bills. "Up until early this year, that 'fee' was typically assessed at $0.76 per postpaid line -- not nothing, but over the course of two years of service, it ends up being a little over $18," reports Android Police. From the report: Most recently, subscribers getting their statements for June are finding an Administrative Fee charge of $1.99 per line every month. That brings the two-year cost of this "administrative fee" to almost $50 for each line on your account. The fee was raised earlier this year incrementally in March (by $0.54), but this new hike comes just three months after the first one, and it's not even clear why.
AT&T is likely hoping subscribers just won't notice their per-line bill is going up $1.23 a month versus where it was a few months ago, and in the process, could net almost a billion dollars in additional revenue according to one analyst. This could allow AT&T to finance up to $10 billion in new debt to expand its ever-broadening media empire. The fee is being assessed against all postpaid subscribers, regardless of their service plan or any grandfathering. AT&T says the fee is related to its cost of doing business, in terms of interconnect fees with other operators and cell site rents.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's budget-friendly department
Qualcomm is launching three new chips for mid-tier smartphones -- the Snapdragon 632, 439, and 429 -- all of which promise to make dual cameras more commonplace. Engadget reports: The octa-core 632 is unsurprisingly the headliner, and can support two 13-megapixel rear cameras for those all-important portrait and telephoto shots. It's up to 40 percent faster in raw computational power than the Snapdragon 626, and that means enough power for 4K video capture and "FHD+" resolution displays. Its cellular modem can handle LTE Advanced, too. The Adreno 506 graphics are only about 10 percent faster, but you're still looking at a chip that can handle at least some modern 3D games without flinching.
The octa-core Snapdragon 439 and quad-core 429, meanwhile, are focused more on stepping up the baseline quality for lower-cost devices. They make do with support for dual 8-megapixel cameras and won't handle 4K, but they should deliver up to 25 percent more CPU performance over their forebears (the 430 and 425) on top of the AI-related functions. The best bang for the buck comes with the 429 -- while the Adreno 505 graphics in the 439 are a respectable 20 percent faster, the Adreno 504 inside the 429 is a whopping 50 percent faster. The first phones using these chips will appear sometime in the second half of the year.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-of-its-kind department
At this month's E3, Microsoft confirmed "a first in the booming world of game streaming," reports Ars Technica. "It's a subtle thing, which we're dubbing 'stream-to-win,' and it sees Microsoft take its boldest step in battling the behemoth service Twitch." From the report: Horizon 4 will be the first Microsoft Studios game to recognize when players broadcast their live gameplay via Mixer and then give out bonuses within that game for doing so (Mixer is a Twitch-like service that Microsoft acquired in 2016 before re-dubbing it Beam). All Xbox One consoles received an update last year to integrate one-button "stream to Mixer" support, which players can swap to Twitch by going through the system's options.
In the week-plus since learning this about Horizon 4, we have been unable to find a comparable feature in any video game -- meaning, one that recognizes a broadcast (on Mixer, Twitch, or any other service) and then gives out goodies inside the same video game as a reward. Some video games already include official and deep integration with Twitch and Mixer, but these rely largely on audience-driven votes, like in the digital card game Superfight and the battle royale game Darwin Project.Read Replies (0)