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Red Cross Begs Hackers Not To Leak Data of 'Highly Vulnerable People'

The Red Cross has disclosed that it was the victim of a cyber attack and has asked the hackers who broke into the IT network of one of its contractors not to leak the personal information of more than 515,000 of "highly vulnerable people." The Record reports: The data was stolen from a Red Cross program called Restoring Family Links, which aims to reunite family members separated by conflict, disaster, or migration. "While we don't know who is responsible for this attack, or why they carried it out, we do have this appeal to make to them," said Robert Mardini, director-general for the International Committee of the Red Cross. "Your actions could potentially cause yet more harm and pain to those who have already endured untold suffering. The real people, the real families behind the information you now have are among the world's least powerful. Please do the right thing. Do not share, sell, leak or otherwise use this data," Mardini said. "While we don't know who is responsible for this attack, or why they carried it out, we do have this appeal to make to them," said Robert Mardini, director-general for the International Committee of the Red Cross. "Your actions could potentially cause yet more harm and pain to those who have already endured untold suffering. The real people, the real families behind the information you now have are among the world's least powerful. Please do the right thing. Do not share, sell, leak or otherwise use this data," Mardini said. "The people affected include missing people and their families, unaccompanied or separated children, detainees and other people receiving services from the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement as a result of armed conflict, natural disasters or migration," the organization said in an email.

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Something In Your Eyes May Reveal If You're At Risk of Early Death, Study Shows

A quick and pain-free scan of the human eyeball could one day help doctors identify "fast agers," who are at greater risk of early mortality. ScienceAlert reports: A machine learning model has now been taught to predict a person's years of life simply by looking at their retina, which is the tissue at the back of the eye. The algorithm is so accurate, it could predict the age of nearly 47,000 middle-aged and elderly adults in the United Kingdom within a bracket of 3.5 years. Just over a decade after these retinas were scanned, 1,871 individuals had died, and those who had older-looking retinas were more likely to fall in this group. For instance, if the algorithm predicted a person's retina was a year older than their actual age, their risk of death from any cause in the next 11 years went up by 2 percent. At the same time, their risk of death from a cause other than cardiovascular disease or cancer went up by 3 percent. The findings are purely observational, which means we still don't know what is driving this relationship at a biological level. Nevertheless, the results support growing evidence that the retina is highly sensitive to the damages of aging. Because this visible tissue hosts both blood vessels and nerves, it could tell us important information about an individual's vascular and brain health. The study was published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

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Social Media Bans of Scientific Misinformation Aren't Helpful, Researchers Say

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: The Royal Society is the UK's national academy of sciences. On Wednesday, it published a report on what it calls the "online information environment," challenging some key assumptions behind the movement to de-platform conspiracy theorists spreading hoax info on topics like climate change, 5G, and the coronavirus. Based on literature reviews, workshops and roundtables with academic experts and fact-checking groups, and two surveys in the UK, the Royal Society reached several conclusions. The first is that while online misinformation is rampant, its influence may be exaggerated, at least as far as the UK goes: "the vast majority of respondents believe the COVID-19 vaccines are safe, that human activity is responsible for climate change, and that 5G technology is not harmful." The second is that the impact of so-called echo chambers may be similarly exaggerated and there's little evidence to support the "filter bubble" hypothesis (basically, algorithm-fueled extremist rabbit holes). The researchers also highlighted that many debates about what constitutes misinformation are rooted in disputes within the scientific community and that the anti-vax movement is far broader than any one set of beliefs or motivations. One of the main takeaways: The government and social media companies should not rely on "constant removal" of misleading content [because it is] not a "solution to online scientific misinformation." It also warns that if conspiracy theorists are driven out of places like Facebook, they could retreat into parts of the web where they are unreachable. Importantly, the report makes a distinction between removing scientific misinformation and other content like hate speech or illegal media, where removals may be more effective: "... Whilst this approach may be effective and essential for illegal content (eg hate speech, terrorist content, child sexual abuse material) there is little evidence to support the effectiveness of this approach for scientific misinformation, and approaches to addressing the amplification of misinformation may be more effective. In addition, demonstrating a causal link between online misinformation and offline harm is difficult to achieve, and there is a risk that content removal may cause more harm than good by driving misinformation content (and people who may act upon it) towards harder-to-address corners of the internet." Instead of removal, the Royal Society researchers advocate developing what they call "collective resilience." Pushing back on scientific disinformation may be more effective via other tactics, such as demonetization, systems to prevent amplification of such content, and fact-checking labels. The report encourages the UK government to continue fighting back against scientific misinformation but to emphasize society-wide harms that may arise from issues like climate change rather than the potential risk to individuals for taking the bait. Other strategies the Royal Society suggests are continuing the development of independent, well-financed fact-checking organizations; fighting misinformation "beyond high-risk, high-reach social media platforms"; and promoting transparency and collaboration between platforms and scientists. Finally, the report mentions that regulating recommendation algorithms may be effective.

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The Feds Are Investigating a YouTuber Accused of Crashing a Plane For Views

A YouTuber and former Olympic snowboarder has been accused of crashing his plane on purpose for clicks, and the FAA has opened an investigation to get to the bottom of the growing mess. The Drive reports: Trevor Jacob has been the subject of online criticism after posting a YouTube video where he parachuted from a Taylorcraft BL64 plane and filmed it crashing into the hills of the Los Padres National Forest near Cuyama, California. The video outlined his newly-purchased Taylorcraft's final flight on Nov. 24, 2021, a trip from the Lompoc City Airport in Santa Barbara to Mammoth Lakes where he planned to partake in some general adventuring like paragliding and snowboarding. [If Nov. 24 rings a familiar bell in your head, that's the same day that D.B. Cooper famously jumped from a hijacked plane with $200,000 in ransom 50 years prior.] Jacob also mentioned that he would be spreading the ashes of his friend Johnny Strange during the flight. Strange was killed in a wingsuit accident in 2015 and Jacob explains that he loved the Sierra Nevada Mountains. During the flight, however, the Taylorcraft's engine supposedly lost power, stalled, and could not be restarted. Jacob then points the plane nose-down and exits, sending the unoccupied aircraft into the ground. Jacob continued to film himself as he descended and proclaimed, "This is why I always fly with a parachute." He then trekked back to the wreckage and hiked until a farmer, who he credits with saving his life, found him in the darkness. This is where things started to go south. The video of the incident was posted to YouTube where it immediately began racking up views. The aviation sector of YouTube wasted no time picking apart Jacob's claims. At the time of writing, the video has reached over one million views. It also amassed more than 5,000 comments, many of which called out the crash as being staged. Comments on the video have since been turned off, but that hasn't stopped people from making reaction and explainer videos that point out abnormalities in the pilot's videos. It's worth noting here that some suspect the video currently on Jacob's YouTube to be a trimmed-down version of what was originally uploaded. However, a few of the segments can be found when looking at other videos uploaded by YouTubers critiquing the pilot's handling of the situation. [...] "Whether or not Jacob will be prosecuted for the crash, or if he will have his pilot's license revoked, will take some time to play out," concludes Rob Stumpf via The Drive. "The FAA is notoriously thorough in investigating matters like these and often takes a year or longer to produce a final report and recommendation. But most importantly, if the FAA does decide he's guilty, it must prove that Jacob showed intent to break the law and federal aviation regulations."

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How Europe Rolled Out 5G Without Hurting Aviation

gollum123 shares a report from CNN: Major international airlines are canceling flights to the United States over aviation industry fears that 5G technology could interfere with crucial onboard instruments. But it's business as usual in Europe, where the latest generation of high speed mobile networks is being rolled out without a hitch. Why is there a potential problem in the United States, but not Europe? It comes down to technical details. Mobile phone companies in the United States are rolling out 5G service in a spectrum of radio waves with frequencies between 3.7 and 3.98 GHz. The companies paid the US government $81 billion in 2021 for the right to use those frequencies, known as the C-Band. But in Europe, 5G services use the slower 3.4 to 3.8 GHz range of spectrum. The aviation industry is worried that US 5G service is too close to the spectrum used by radar altimeters, which is between 4.2 and 4.4 GHz. Europe does not face the same risk, according to the industry, because there is a much larger buffer between the spectrum used by radar altimeters and 5G. There are other differences in how 5G is being rolled out, according to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Other countries are using lower power levels, restricting the placement of 5G antennas near airfields and requiring them to be tilted downward to limit potential interference with aircraft. In France -- cited by telecom carriers such as AT&T and Verizon as an example of 5G and aviation working seamlessly together -- the height of a 5G antenna and the power of its signal determine how close it is allowed to a runway and the flight path of an aircraft, according to a technical note from France's National Frequency Agency (ANFR). Antennas around 17 major French airports are also required to be tilted away from flight paths to minimize the risk of interference, the agency's director of spectrum planning and international affairs, Eric Fournier, told CNN.

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Samsung Falling Behind Apple In AR/VR Space Due To 'Obsession' With Foldable Smartphones

Samsung is significantly falling behind in the rush to bring augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) devices to market, partially due to the company's "obsession" with foldable smartphones, The Korea Herald reports. MacRumors reports: Samsung's main competitors, including Apple, Microsoft, Meta, and Sony, are developing or have already launched AR and VR devices amid massive industry-wide investments into the future of the technology, but it is unclear if Samsung is actively developing such devices at all. eBest Investment and Securities analyst Kim Gwang-soo said: "Big tech companies, rather than smartphone manufacturers, are leading XR devices because they have the necessary content and platforms. Google has an operating system Android, Microsoft has Xbox and Sony has PlayStation. It's risky for Samsung to roll out XR devices, so it has no choice but to stick to foldable smartphones." The growth of Samsung's smartphone business has slowed down to just 0.9 percent year on year, but the company remains committed to the potential of foldable devices to reignite momentum. Samsung shareholders are said to be concerned by its perceived preoccupation with foldable devices, which is distracting the company's attention from the need to compete with future AR and VR devices from its main rivals. Industry insiders claim that even if Samsung develops its own AR and VR devices, it lacks the content and platform to create a cohesive and compelling ecosystem. In an attempt to catch up in the race to make inroads into the AR and VR market, Samsung made a belated investment in DigiLens, a California startup that makes AR glasses. To stay relevant, market observers are warning that Samsung may need to find a partner that already has content or a platform in exchange for chip expertise, similar to the relationship between Qualcomm and Microsoft.

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Crypto.com CEO Confirms Hundreds of Accounts Were Hacked

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: The CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Crypto.com, Kris Marszalek, has finally confirmed that hundreds of user accounts were indeed compromised by hackers and had funds stolen as a result, though details of the exact method of breach remain unclear. Marszalek acknowledged the hack in an online interview with Bloomberg Wednesday, stating that around 400 customer accounts had been compromised. He also told Bloomberg that he had not received any outreach from regulators since the attack was first disclosed but would share information if official inquiries were made. Previous statements from Marszalek and other communications from Crypto.com have been criticized for being vague and unclear. Official messaging from the company referred to a security "incident," and an early Twitter post mentioned only that a small number of users were "reporting suspicious activity on their accounts." Marszalek followed up by tweeting that "no customer funds were lost" -- a statement some commentators interpreted as meaning that the exchange would take the financial hit rather than passing it on to customers. Shortly afterward, security company PeckShield posted a tweet claiming that, in reality, Crypto.com's losses amounted to around $15 million in ETH and were being sent to Tornado Cash to be "washed."

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Intel To Unveil 'Ultra Low-Voltage Bitcoin Mining ASIC' In February

Intel, one of the world's largest chip makers, is likely to unveil a specialized crypto-mining chip at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in February, according to the conference's agenda (PDF). CoinDesk reports: One of Intel's "highlighted chip releases" at the conference is entitled "Bonanza Mine: An Ultra-Low-Voltage Energy-Efficient Bitcoin Mining ASIC." The session is scheduled for Feb. 23. This brings the company into direct competition with the likes of Bitmain and MicroBT in the market for bitcoin mining ASICs, or application-specific integrated circuits, for the first time. [...] Unlike its competitor Nvidia, Intel has said it doesn't plan to add ether mining limits on its graphics cards.

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OpenSubtitles Hacked, 7 Million Subscribers' Details Leaked Online

OpenSubtitles, one of the largest repositories of subtitle files on the internet, has been hacked. TorrentFreak reports: Founded in 2006, the site was reportedly hacked in August 2021 with the attacker obtaining the personal data of nearly seven million subscribers including email and IP addresses, usernames and passwords. The site alerted users yesterday after the hacker leaked the database online. "In August 2021 we received message on Telegram from a hacker, who showed us proof that he could gain access to the user table of opensubtitles.org, and downloaded a SQL dump from it. He asked for a BTC ransom to not disclose this to public and promise to delete the data," the post reads. "We hardly agreed, because it was not low amount of money. He explained us how he could gain access, and helped us fix the error. On the technical side, he was able to hack the low security password of a SuperAdmin, and gained access to an unsecured script, which was available only for SuperAdmins. This script allowed him to perform SQL injections and extract the data." Indeed, searches on data breach site Have I Been Pwned reveals that the database is now in the wild, containing all of the data mentioned by OpenSubtitles and more. [...] OpenSubtitles describes the hack as a "hard lesson" and admits failings in its security. The platform has spent time and money securing the site and is requiring members to reset their passwords. However, for those who have had their data breached, it may already be too late to prevent damage. The hacker has already had access to data for several months and now the breach is in the wild, problems could certainly escalate.

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Better.com's Founder Returns As CEO After Firing 900 Workers On Zoom

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: Vishal Garg, the Better.com founder, who fired roughly 900 of his workers via Zoom last month and then took "time off," is returning to his position as the head of his mortgage lending company. "As you know, Better's C.E.O. Vishal Garg has been taking a break from his full-time duties to reflect on his leadership, reconnect with the values that make Better great and work closely with an executive coach," Better.com's board said on Tuesday in an email to the staff, which was reviewed by The New York Times. "We are confident in Vishal and in the changes he is committed to making to provide the type of leadership, focus and vision that Better needs at this pivotal time." Better.com has since conducted a "thorough, independent" review of its culture, according to the board's memo on Tuesday. The review was led by Anthony Barkow, a partner at the law firm Jenner & Block and a former federal prosecutor. As a result of that investigation, the company is working to expand its leadership by recruiting a new chairman for the board, a president and a chief human resources officer. In the meantime, a former McKinsey senior partner, Richard Benson-Armer, will serve as interim head of human resources, and the company's chief financial officer, Kevin Ryan, will serve as interim president. Two members of the board also recently resigned, but not "because of any disagreement with Better," according to the memo. Some of the additional measures the company announced Tuesday include a training program on building "a respectful workplace" and a new ethics and compliance committee, reporting directly to the board.

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WhatsApp Ordered To Help US Agents Spy On Chinese Phones

New submitter HillNKnowlton22 writes: U.S. federal agencies have been using a 35-year-old American surveillance law to secretly track WhatsApp users with no explanation as to why and without knowing whom they are targeting. In Ohio, a just-unsealed government surveillance application reveals that in November 2021, DEA investigators demanded the Facebook-owned messaging company track seven users based in China and Macau. The application reveals the DEA didn't know the identities of any of the targets, but told WhatsApp to monitor the IP addresses and numbers with which the targeted users were communicating, as well as when and how they were using the app. Such surveillance is done using a technology known as a pen register and under the 1986 Pen Register Act, and doesn't seek any message content, which WhatsApp couldn't provide anyway, as it is end-to-end encrypted. As Forbes previously reported, over at least the last two years, law enforcement in the U.S. has repeatedly ordered WhatsApp and other tech companies to install these pen registers without showing any probable cause. As in those previous cases, the government order to trace Chinese users came with the statement that the Justice Department only needed to provide three "elements" to justify tracking of WhatsApp users. They include: the identity of the attorney or the law enforcement officer making the application; the identity of the agency making the application; and a certification from the applicant that "the information likely to be obtained is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by that agency." "Other than the three elements described above, federal law does not require that an application for an order authorizing the installation and use of a pen register and a trap and trace device specify any facts," the government wrote in the latest application.

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Scientists Warn that Sixth Mass Extinction Has 'Probably Started'

Over the past 450 million years, life on Earth has been devastated by at least five mass extinctions, which are typically defined as catastrophes that wipe out more than 75 percent of species in a short amount of time. Many scientists have proposed that we are entering a Sixth Mass Extinction, this time driven by human activity, though debates still rage over the validity and consequences of this claim. From a report: Now, a team led by Robert Cowie, research professor at the University of Hawaii's Pacific Biosciences Research Center, argues that "the Sixth Mass Extinction has begun on land and in freshwater seems increasingly likely," according to a recent article published in Biological Reviews. "We consider that the Sixth Mass Extinction has probably started and present arguments to counter those who would deny this," said the team, which also included biologists Philippe Bouchet and BenoƮt Fontaine of the Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris, France, in the article. "Denying it is simply flying in the face of the mountain of data that is rapidly accumulating, and there is no longer room for skepticism, wondering whether it really is happening," added the authors. Cowie and his colleagues refer to a multitude of studies cataloging the extinction of species across clades, but the article is primarily built around their research into mollusks, an invertebrate family that includes snails, clams, and slugs. This focus counteracts the disproportionate attention that vertebrates, such as birds and mammals, receive in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, among other conservation efforts.

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Google Requiring All 'G Suite Legacy Free Edition' Users To Start Paying for Workspace this Year

An anonymous reader shares a report: In 2020, G Suite became Google Workspace as part of a mass reorganization of the company's apps for the "future of work." Various plans were migrated over, and Google is now finally getting rid of the G Suite legacy free edition. "Google Apps" for businesses and schools were introduced 16 years ago and was discontinued in 2012. However, the company made no significant changes to those free accounts in the past decade, until today. In an email to administrators this morning, Google said it "will now transition all remaining users to an upgraded Google Workspace paid subscription based on your usage." As such, Workspace's only free plans are for Nonprofits and Education (Fundamentals). After getting free Gmail, Drive, Docs, and other apps for the past several years, companies/people will need to start paying for those Google services and the ability to use your own custom domain (instead of just gmail.com).

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Intel CEO Urges Lawmakers To 'Not Waste This Crisis' in Chip Push

Intel Chief Executive Officer Pat Gelsinger urged the U.S. and Europe to push ahead with efforts to bring back chip manufacturing, arguing that government funding is needed to address an overconcentration of production in Asia. From a report: Governments need to learn from the disruptions of the pandemic and consider the national-security implications of having about 80% of production in Asia, Gelsinger said in an interview with Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait at The Year Ahead conference. Gelsinger said he was optimistic that the U.S. and European Union will push forward with proposed government funding to support the building of plants. "Let's not waste this crisis," he said. "It's good economics, but it's also national security." A chip shortage has ravaged a wide range of industries in the past year, hurting sales of everything from cars to iPhones. That's put a spotlight on the lack of production outside of Asia. Increasing tensions with China also have added pressure on U.S. lawmakers to restore local manufacturing. Gelsinger, 60, said he will soon announce expansion plans for Intel's manufacturing in the U.S. and Europe. Bloomberg has reported that the chipmaker is planning to build a production base in Germany and other facilities in Italy and France. Its next domestic factory will be in the Columbus, Ohio, area, according to Cleveland.com.

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Biden To Expand National Security Agency Role in Government Cybersecurity

President Biden on Wednesday expanded the National Security Agency's role in protecting the U.S. government's most sensitive computer networks, issuing a directive intended to bolster cybersecurity within the Defense Department and intelligence agencies. From a report: The memorandum signed by Mr. Biden mandates baseline cybersecurity practices and standards, such as two-factor authentication and use of encryption, for so-called national security systems, which include the Defense Department and intelligence agencies and the federal contractors that support them. It effectively aligns the cybersecurity standards imposed on national security agencies with those previously established for civilian agencies under an executive order Mr. Biden signed last May. Affected agencies will soon be expected to implement various cybersecurity protocols, including use of certain cloud technologies and software that can detect security problems on a network. Cybersecurity failures have plagued the U.S. government for decades, including thefts of detailed personnel records and military secrets that have been blamed on Russia, China and other adversaries. While national security agencies are generally seen as more secure than their civilian counterparts, they have endured significant breaches, too.

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