By msmash from Slashdot's impressive-feat department
Antarctica has become the best-mapped continent on Earth with a new high-resolution terrain map showing the ice-covered landmass in unprecedented detail. From a report: According to the scientists at Ohio State University and the University of Minnesota who created the imagery, Antarctica is now the best-mapped continent on Earth. The Reference Elevation Model of Antarctica (REMA) was constructed using hundreds of thousands of satellite images taken between 2009 and 2017, Earther reports. A supercomputer assembled the massive amounts of data, including the elevation of the land over time, and created REMA, an immensely detailed topographical map, with a file size over 150 terabytes. The new map has a resolution of 2 to 8 meters, compared to the usual 1,000 meters, says an Ohio State press release. According to The New York Times, the detail of this new map is the equivalent of being able to see down to a car, or smaller, when before you could only see the whole of Central Park. Scientists now know the elevation of every point of Antarctica, with an error margin of just a few feet.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's privacy-woes department
Researchers have uncovered vulnerabilities in popular virtual private network (VPN) software, ProtonVPN and NordVPN, which can lead to the execution of arbitrary code by attackers. From a report: Last week, Cisco Talos security researchers said the security flaws, CVE-2018-3952 and CVE-2018-4010, permit code execution by attackers on Microsoft Windows machines. The vulnerabilities are similar to a Windows privilege escalation security flaw uncovered by VerSprite, which is tracked as CVE-2018-10169. Security patches were applied in April by both clients to resolve the original security hole, but according to Talos, "despite the fix, it is still possible to execute code as an administrator on the system." The initial vulnerability was caused by similar design issues in both clients. The interface for both NordVPN and ProtonVPN execute binaries with the permission of a logged-in user, and this includes the selection of a VPN configuration option, such as a desired VPN server location. This information is sent to a service when "connect" is clicked by way of an OpenVPN configuration file. However, VerSprite was able to create a crafted OpenVPN file which could be sent to the service, loaded, and executed.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's creating-a-monster department
The proliferation of affordable smartphones, dwindling data prices, and apps and services that are designed to work swiftly on such patchy infrastructure have changed how people in developing markets marred with poor literacy level such as India communicate, do business, and get their education. But it has also come at a cost. In the recent months we have learned about Facebook's struggle to contain violence in Myanmar, BuzzFeed News has a chilling story on how rumors circulated through WhatsApp, which is also owned by Facebook, are causing real violence in India, the world's second largest internet market. From the report: WhatsApp, a Facebook-owned messaging service, is used by more than 200 million people in India, its largest market. It's become an inextricable part of the country's culture and social fabric, widely used by younger and older generations alike. It's one of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's crown jewels, an app he acquired for $19 billion in 2014 that began as a messaging platform but is now evolving into something more, with a new payments feature already being tested in India. Lately, however, WhatsApp has been getting Indians killed. In June, rumors about child kidnappers shared on the service inspired a mob of hundreds to lynch a 29-year-old man and his friend who were passing through a village in Karbi Anglong, a district in the eastern part of the country. In July, two weeks after the Rainpada incident, hundreds of people hurled stones at an IT worker who was visiting the South Indian village of Murki, killing him. Since May, there have been at least 16 lynchings leading to 29 deaths in India where public officials say mobs were incited by misinformation on WhatsApp. As Facebook wrangles an ongoing crisis of public confidence over its role in spreading misinformation throughout the 2016 US presidential election, the company is grappling with a different kind of problem in places like Rainpada, where its products have abetted flesh-and-blood harm. In attempting to fulfill Facebook's current mission -- to "give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together" -- Zuckerberg and his team of Silicon Valley-based executives failed to foresee its malignant applications: misinformation, propaganda, rumor, hate.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Mark Lowenstein, writing for Techpinions: As we head toward Apple's annual device announcement-palooza, it's an interesting exercise to consider where we are in Steve Jobs' vaunted, much quoted 'Post-PC Era.' The fact of the matter is, that era never fully arrived, and it doesn't look like it will, in the near- to medium- term future. [...] Tablets have had a good run, but sales have tailed off of late. I'd say they've had greater influence on the evolution of the smartphone and the PC, rather than leading to a significantly different nomenclature for what most of us carry around today. My Techpinions colleague Ben Bajarin says that Creative Strategies surveys indicate that only about 10% of tablet users have 'replaced their PC' -- a number that has held steady for several years. And that 10% is concentrated in a handful of industries, such as real estate and construction. PC sales aren't exactly surging, but they're steady. Your average white collar professional today still carries around a smartphone and a laptop, with the tablet being an ancillary device, used primarily for media/content consumption. Tablets have had a significant influence on the design of smartphones and PCs. They ushered in an era of smartphone screen upsizing, led primarily by Samsung, and now reinforced by the iPhone X and the expected announcement next week of a 6.5 inch iPhone model. For those who don't want to swing both a smartphone and tablet, we have 'Phablets,' most personified in the successful Galaxy Note series, and alternative-to-keyboard input devices such as the S Pen and the Apple Pencil. We've also seen the development of some hybrid tablet/PC devices, the most innovative and successful of which is Microsoft's Surface line. But that product is competing more in the tablet category than in the PC category, with the exception of a few market segments.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's dirty-jobs department
A nonprofit has deployed a multimillion-dollar floating boom designed to corral plastic debris littering the Pacific Ocean (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source). The 2,000-foot-long structure left San Francisco Bay on Saturday. According to The New York Times, Ocean Cleanup "aims to trap up to 150,000 pounds of plastic during the boom's first year at sea." From the report: Within five years, with the creation of dozens more booms, the organization hopes to clean half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Over the next several days, the boom will be towed to a site where it will undergo two weeks of testing. If everything goes as planned, the boom will then be brought to the garbage patch, nearly 1,400 miles offshore, where it is expected to arrive by mid-October, said Boyan Slat, 24, the Dutch inventor and entrepreneur who founded Ocean Cleanup.
The cleanup system is supposed to work like this: After the boom detaches from the towing vessel, the current is expected to pull it into the shape of a "U." As it drifts along, propelled by the wind and waves, it should trap plastic "like Pac-Man," the foundation said on its website. The captured plastic would then be transported back to land, sorted and recycled. The boom has an impenetrable skirt that hangs nearly 10 feet below to catch smaller pieces of plastic. The nonprofit said marine life would be able to pass underneath.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's vulnerable-to-attacks department
An anonymous reader writes: "A team of security researchers has raised the alarm about some cryptography-related issues with the newly released WebAuthn passwordless authentication protocol," reports ZDNet. "The new WebAuthn protocol will allow users of a device -- such as a computer or a smartphone -- to authenticate on a website using a USB security key, a biometric solution, or his computer or smartphone's password." But researchers say that because WebAuthn uses weak algorithms for the operations of registering a new device, they can pull off some attacks against it. "If converted into a practical exploit, the ECDAA attacks discussed in the article would allow attackers to steal the key from a [server's] TPM, which would allow attackers to effectively clone the user's hardware security token remotely," Arciszewski, one of the researchers, told ZDNet. "The scenarios that follow depend on how much trust was placed into the hardware security token," he added. "At minimum, I imagine it would enable 2FA bypasses and re-enable phishing attacks. However, if companies elected to use hardware security tokens to obviate passwords, it would allow direct user impersonation by attackers." Attacks aren't practical, and experts say the root cause relies in badly written documentation that may fool some implementers into supporting the old algorithms instead of newer and more solid ones. The FIDO Alliance was notified and has started work on updating its docs so it won't look like it's recommending ECDAA or RSASSA-PKCS1-v1_5. "PKCS1v1.5 is bad. The exploits are almost old enough to legally drink alcohol in the United States," Arciszewski said.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's not-working-properly department
Apple is recalling a "small percentage" of iPhone 8 devices due to an issue with the logic board. The affected devices may suddenly freeze or restart -- symptoms that may show up at any time. Digital Trends reports: Apple has launched a repair program for the iPhone 8, and whether your device is exhibiting issues or not, it may be a part of the recall. It's important to note that only iPhone 8 models are being recalled here -- the iPhone 8 Plus seems to have sidestepped the issue completely. Specifically, it seems like some iPhone 8 models manufactured between September 2017 and March 2018, and sold in the U.S., New Zealand, Australia, China, India, and Japan, are affected by the issue. If you bought your phone during that time and in one of those regions, you may well be affected. If you have an iPhone 8, you can copy and paste the serial number in Apple's iPhone 8 checker tool. There are a few ways to get your device fixed if it is affected. "First, you could go to an Apple Authorized Service Provider -- you can find one here," reports Digital Trends. "Second, you could go straight to an Apple Store. Last but not least, you could contact Apple Support, and they'll send you a prepaid shipping box for you to send in your iPhone for repair."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-of-its-kind department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Digital Trends: The first unmanned and autonomous sailboat has successfully crossed the Atlantic Ocean, completing the journey between Newfoundland, Canada, and Ireland. The 1,800 mile journey took two and a half months. It was part of the Microtransat Challenge for robotic boats, and bolsters the possibility of unmanned boats being used for long-haul missions. This could include everything from ocean research to surveillance. "This has never been done before," David Peddie, CEO of Norwegian-based Offshore Sensing AS, which built the vessel, told Digital Trends. "The Sailbuoy [robotic boat] crossed this distance all by itself without incident. The significance of this is that it proves that one can use unmanned surface vehicles to explore the oceans for extended periods and distance. This greatly reduces the cost of exploring the oceans, and therefore enables a much more detailed knowledge of the oceans than is possible using conventional manned technology."
According to Peddie, the journey was surprisingly uneventful when it came to dealing with major challenges. That's a significant departure from the 20 previous unsuccessful efforts made by teams trying to complete the challenge since it started in 2010. "We had to wait a while for the right wind conditions to deploy safely; otherwise, the crossing has been normal with not too much wind and waves," he said. "We had to avoid some oil platforms, but this is not unusual since we test in the North Sea." He also noted that an effort was made to stay away from other ships, since there was a risk that the boat may have been picked up by passing traffic. Sailbuoy ships cost $175,000 each and are powered by on-board solar panels. They send constant GPS data to reveal exactly where they are located.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's drastic-times-call-for-drastic-measures department
A Dubai-based engineering firm is planning to tow an iceberg from Antarctica to help provide fresh drinking water to the desert city's rapidly-growing population. Stuff.co.nz reports: The National Advisor Bureau (NABL), a private engineering firm, wants to schlep a glacial iceberg from Antarctica -- weighing approximately 100 million tons -- to Dubai, via an intermediate stop in either Perth, Australia, or Cape Town, South Africa. If the iceberg doesn't melt along the way, the firm will sell the water to Dubai's government. Dubai, which is the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, is growing so rapidly that a solution to the city's looming water crisis must be found, according to the city's largest English-language newspaper, The Khaleej Times.
The company is beginning a pilot study in November to examine the feasibility of the iceberg-towing project. According to Alshehi, the firm will use satellite imagery to look for a suitable iceberg -- which he says should be between 2000 feet (609 meters) and 7000 feet (2.1 kilometers) long -- and then try and tow it to either Australia or South Africa. Once the iceberg gets to its first stop, it will be towed the rest of the way. Because icebergs are so heavy, the company will need multiple ships to assist with towing, and it will use the ocean's prevailing currents to their advantage. Alshehi told NBC that even if 30 percent of the iceberg melts on the journey, it will still be able to provide between 100 million and 200 million cubic meters of fresh water -- enough for 1 million people to stay hydrated for five years. Last month, Alshehi told NBC: "If we succeed with this project, it could solve one of the world's biggest problems. So if we show this is viable, it could ultimately help not only the UAE, but all humanity."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's open-minded department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Medical Xpress: Ever wonder why some people seem to feel less pain than others? A study conducted at Wake Forest School of Medicine may have found one of the answers -- mindfulness. The researchers analyzed data obtained from a study published in 2015 that compared mindfulness meditation to placebo analgesia. In this follow-up study, Zeidan sought to determine if dispositional mindfulness, an individual's innate or natural level of mindfulness, was associated with lower pain sensitivity, and to identify what brain mechanisms were involved. In the study, 76 healthy volunteers who had never meditated first completed the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory, a reliable clinical measurement of mindfulness, to determine their baseline levels. Then, while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging, they were administered painful heat stimulation.
Whole brain analyses revealed that higher dispositional mindfulness during painful heat was associated with greater deactivation of a brain region called the posterior cingulate cortex, a central neural node of the default mode network. Further, in those that reported higher pain, there was greater activation of this critically important brain region. The default mode network extends from the posterior cingulate cortex to the medial prefrontal cortex of the brain. These two brain regions continuously feed information back and forth. This network is associated with processing feelings of self and mind wandering. The study provided novel neurobiological information that showed people with higher mindfulness ratings had less activation in the central nodes (posterior cingulate cortex) of the default network and experienced less pain. Those with lower mindfulness ratings had greater activation of this part of the brain and also felt more pain, Zeidan said.Read Replies (0)