Scammers Put Fake QR Codes On Parking Meters To Intercept Parkers' Payments
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica:
Scammers in a few big Texas cities have been putting fake QR codes on parking meters to trick people into paying the fraudsters. Parking enforcement officers recently found stickers with fraudulent QR codes on pay stations in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio. San Antonio police warned the public of the scam on December 20, saying that "people attempting to pay for parking using those QR codes may have been directed to a fraudulent website and submitted payment to a fraudulent vendor." Similar scams were then found in Austin and Houston.
The fake QR codes reportedly directed people to a "Quick Pay Parking" website at the domain passportlab.xyz, which is now offline. It's not clear how many people -- if any -- were tricked into paying the fraudsters. "We don't use QR codes at all for this very reason, because they are easy to fake or place on the devices," Austin parking division manager Jason Redfern told KXAN. "And we heard from industry leaders that this would be a possibility." Austin accepts payments directly at the meter with coins or credit or with the Park ATX mobile payment app. [...] Houston officials found five meters with fake QR codes and removed the stickers, according to KPRC 2. While the scam seems to have been centered in Texas, it could be repeated anywhere. If you see a QR code on a parking meter, ignore it and make sure you pay the city directly.
US To Hold Largest-Ever Offshore Wind Farm Auction Next Month
The US government
announced Wednesday it
will auction more than 480,000 acres off the coasts of New York and New Jersey to build wind farms as part of its campaign to supply renewable energy to more than 10 million homes by 2030. Tech Xplore reports:
Offshore wind developers will bid February 23 on six areas in the New York Bight -- the most lots ever offered in a single auction -- which could generate between 5.6 to seven gigawatts of energy, enough to power two million homes, the Interior Department said. The auction will be the first under President Joe Biden, whose administration aims to build as many as to seven major offshore wind farms and review plans for at least 16 others along the US coasts. The effort is part of Washington's fight against climate change, and the Biden administration says the wind investment would cut 78 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions and create tens of thousands of jobs.
Germany Raises Prospect of Shutting Telegram Over Hate Threats
raised the prospect of closing down the Telegram messaging service over concerns about its use as a platform for extremist groups. Bloomberg reports:
The country could seek to block the service if the government reaches the conclusion that it breeches national and European Union law. "A shutdown would be very serious and clearly the last resort," Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in an interview with German weekly Die Zeit. Before such a step, all other options would have to be exhausted, but "we can't exclude this per se," the SPD politician said. Talks about possible measures against Telegram are ongoing, an Interior Ministry spokesman said on Wednesday, adding that it wasn't clear what legal and technical procedures would be necessary to switch off Telegram.
Taiwan Will Soon Have More Electric Scooter Battery Swap Stations Than Gas Stations
According to Electrek, the number of Gogoro electric scooter battery swap stations in Taiwan
will soon eclipse the country's total number of gas stations. From the report:
Gogoro's battery swap stations look something like a bright green and white vending machine. Users of Gogoro's batteries (which include scooters of many different brands thanks to its partnerships), simply roll up to a station and swap out their depleted battery for a freshly charged unit. A subscription service makes it a quick and easy process that takes just a few seconds. At the end of 2021, Gogoro counted a total of 2,215 GoStations nationwide, according to the Taipei Times. The number of gas stations stood barely higher at 2,487. At Gogoro's current rate of expansion, 2022 very well may be the year that the number of GoStations surpasses the number of gas stations.
Raspberry Pi Can Detect Malware By Scanning For Electromagnetic Waves
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo:
A team of researchers at France's Research Institute of Computer Science and Random Systems created an anti-malware system centered around a Raspberry Pi that scans devices for electromagnetic waves. As reported by Tom's Hardware, the security device uses an oscilloscope (Picoscope 6407) and H-Field probe connected to a Raspberry Pi 2B to pick up abnormalities in specific electromagnetic waves emitted by computers that are under attack, a technique the researchers say is used to "obtain precise knowledge about malware type and identity."
The detection system then relies on Convolution Neural Networks (CNN) to determine whether the data gathered indicates the presence of a threat. Using this technique, researchers claims they could record 100,000 measurement traces from IoT devices infected by genuine malware samples, and predicted three generic and one benign malware class with an accuracy as high as 99.82%. Best of all, no software is needed and the device you're scanning doesn't need to be manipulated in any way. As such, bad actors won't be successful with their attempts to conceal malicious code from malware detection software using obfuscation techniques. "Our method does not require any modification on the target device. Thus, it can be deployed independently from the resources available without any overhead. Moreover, our approach has the advantage that it can hardly be detected and evaded by the malware authors," researchers wrote in the paper.
'UltraRAM' Breakthrough Could Combine Memory and Storage Into One
Scientists from Lancaster University say that we
might be close to combining SSDs and RAM into one component. "UltraRAM," as it's being called, is described as a memory technology which "combines the non-volatility of a data storage memory, like flash, with the speed, energy-efficiency, and endurance of a working memory, like DRAM." The researchers detailed the breakthrough in a
recently published paper. Tom's Hardware reports:
The fundamental science behind UltraRAM is that it uses the unique properties of compound semiconductors, commonly used in photonic devices such as LEDs, lasers, and infrared detectors can now be mass-produced on silicon. The researchers claim that the latest incarnation on silicon outperforms the technology as tested on Gallium Arsenide semiconductor wafers. Some extrapolated numbers for UltraRAM are that it will offer "data storage times of at least 1,000 years," and its fast switching speed and program-erase cycling endurance is "one hundred to one thousand times better than flash." Add these qualities to the DRAM-like speed, energy efficiency, and endurance, and this novel memory type sounds hard for tech companies to ignore.
If you read between the lines above, you can see that UltraRAM is envisioned to break the divide between RAM and storage. So, in theory, you could use it as a one-shot solution to fill these currently separate requirements. In a PC system, that would mean you would get a chunk of UltraRAM, say 2TB, and that would cover both your RAM and storage needs. The shift, if it lives up to its potential, would be a great way to push forward with the popular trend towards in-memory processing. After all, your storage would be your memory -- with UltraRAM; it is the same silicon.
Nigeria Lifts Ban on Twitter
The Nigerian government has
lifted the suspension of Twitter operations
more than six months after it first declared a crackdown on the social media giant in the country. From a report:
Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, the director-general of Nigeria's tech agency, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), made this announcement via a statement. He was put in charge, as chairman, of the committee (Technical Committee Nigeria-Twitter Engagement) set up by the Nigerian government to oversee talks between the West African nation and Twitter after the ban. [...] Abdullahi also noted in the statement that Twitter has agreed to set "a legal entity in Nigeria during the first quarter of 2022." It was one of the three requests, out of ten, Nigeria said Twitter had failed to meet to reinstate the company's operations in the country months after the ban, as announced by Nigeria's information minister Lai Mohammed in August last year.
Sony Is Dealing With PlayStation 5 Shortage by Making More PS4s
continue producing PlayStation 4 consoles throughout 2022 as it navigates disruptions to the global supply chain that have limited output of its pricier PlayStation 5. Bloomberg reports:
The Japanese conglomerate, whose flagship PS5 console has been in scarce supply since its debut in November 2020, told assembly partners late last year that it would continue making its earlier-generation machine through this year, according to people familiar with the matter. While Sony never officially announced when it would stop making the PS4, it had previously planned to discontinue assembly at the end of 2021, they said, asking not to be named as the plans are not public.
The strategy would add about a million PS4 units this year to help offset some of the pressure on the company's PS5 production, a figure that will be adjusted in response to demand, the people said. The older console uses less advanced chips, is simpler to make and provides a budget-friendly alternative to the PS5. Increasing production orders by adding the cheaper-to-make PS4 would also give Sony more leeway when negotiating with manufacturing partners for a better deal, two of the people said.
Teen Hacker Finds Bug That Lets Him Control 25+ Teslas Remotely
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica:
A young hacker and IT security researcher found a way to remotely interact with more than 25 Tesla electric vehicles in 13 countries, according to a Twitter thread he posted yesterday. David Colombo explained in the thread that the flaw was "not a vulnerability in Tesla's infrastructure. It's the owner's faults." He claimed to be able to disable a car's remote camera system, unlock doors and open windows, and even begin keyless driving. He could also determine the car's exact location.
However, Colombo clarified that he could not actually interact with any of the Teslas' steering, throttle, or brakes, so at least we don't have to worry about an army of remote-controlled EVs doing a Fate of the Furious reenactment. Colombo says he reported the issue to Tesla's security team, which is investigating the matter.
FCC Proposes Stricter Requirements for Reporting Data Breaches
The Federal Communications Commission is the next US regulator hoping to
hold companies more accountable for data breaches. From a report:
Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has shared a rulemaking proposal that would introduce stricter requirements for data breach reporting. Most notably, the new rules would require notifications for customers affected by "inadvertent" breaches -- companies that leave data exposed would have to be just as communicative as victims of cyberattacks. The requirements would also scrap a mandatory one-week waiting period for notifying customers. Carriers, meanwhile, would have to disclose reportable breaches to the FCC in addition to the FBI and Secret Service. Rosenworcel argued the tougher rules were necessary to account for the "evolving nature" of breaches and the risks they posed to victims. People ought to be protected against larger and more frequent incidents, the FCC chair said -- that is, regulations need to catch up with reality.
Microsoft Hires Key Apple Engineer To Work on Custom Chips
lured away a veteran semiconductor designer from Apple as it looks to expand its own server-chips efforts,
Bloomberg News reported Wednesday, citing people with knowledge of the matter. From a report:
Mike Filippo will work on processors within Microsoft's Azure group, run by Rani Borkar, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the move hasn't been announced. A Microsoft spokesman confirmed the hire of Filippo, who also has worked at Arm and Intel. The move suggests that Microsoft is accelerating a push to create homegrown chips for its servers, which power Azure cloud-computing services. The focus on custom chips follows similar efforts by Alphabet's Google and Amazon, Microsoft's biggest cloud rivals.
Chrome Will Limit Access To Private Networks, Citing Security Reasons
Google says that its Chrome browser will soon block internet websites from
querying and interacting with devices and servers located inside local private networks, citing security reasons and past abuse from malware operations. From a report:
The change will take place through the implementation of a new W3C specification called Private Network Access (PNA) that will be rolled out in the first half of the year. The new PNA specification adds a mechanism inside the Chrome browser through which internet sites can ask systems inside local networks for permission before establishing a connection. If local devices, such as servers or routers fail to respond, internet websites will be blocked from connecting.
PCI Express 6.0 Specification Finalized: x16 Slots To Reach 128GBps
PCI Special Interest Group (PCI-SIG) has released the much-awaited final (1.0)
specification for PCI Express 6.0. From a report:
The next generation of the ubiquitous bus is once again doubling the data rate of a PCIe lane, bringing it to 8GB/second in each direction -- and far, far higher for multi-lane configurations. With the final version of the specification now sorted and approved, the group expects the first commercial hardware to hit the market in 12-18 months, which in practice means it should start showing up in servers in 2023. First announced in the summer of 2019, PCI Express 6.0 is, as the name implies, the immediate follow-up to the current-generation PCIe 5.0 specification. Having made it their goal to keep doubling PCIe bandwidth roughly every 3 years, the PCI-SIG almost immediately set about work on PCIe 6.0 once the 5.0 specification was completed, looking at ways to once again double the bandwidth of PCIe. The product of those development efforts is the new PCIe 6.0 spec, and while the group has missed their original goal of a late 2021 release by mere weeks, today they are announcing that the specification has been finalized and is being released to the group's members. As always, the creation of an even faster version of PCIe technology has been driven by the insatiable bandwidth needs of the industry. The amount of data being moved by graphics cards, accelerators, network cards, SSDs, and other PCIe devices only continues to increase, and thus so must bus speeds to keep these devices fed. As with past versions of the standard, the immediate demand for the faster specification comes from server operators, whom are already regularly using large amounts of high-speed hardware. But in due time the technology should filter down to consumer devices (i.e. PCs) as well.
Wordle Copycats Have Vanished From Apple's App Store
Wordle copycats that were flooding Apple's App Store seem to
have disappeared. The apps appear to have been removed by Apple shortly after their existence caused a stir on social media. From a report:
Wordle itself doesn't have an official iOS app so other developers looked to hop on the coattails of the game's success. But when one in particular started bragging on Twitter about the attention his version of the app was getting, he quickly caught heat, drawing attention to both his app and the many other Wordle clones on the App Store. While there are still a few five-letter word games on the store, they don't have the name Wordle attached like the most egregious ripoffs from the last few days have. Instead these games have named like PuzzWord. There are still a few games left on the App Store that are actually called Wordle, but one was released three years ago and the other was released five years ago with very different concepts from the surprise hit developed by Josh Wardle. While the apps are now gone from the store, the question of why they're gone remains open. There's been no official word from Apple on whether or not the apps were removed because they violated a store rule, or simply because Apple no longer wanted them on the App Store. Either way, for now the only way to play real Worlde on your phone is still to navigate to the website on a browser.
Wikipedia Faces Pressure To Stop Accepting Crypto Donations on Environmental Grounds
Wikimedia, the non-profit foundation that runs Wikipedia, is
facing internal opposition to its policy of accepting cryptocurrency as a form of donation, primarily for environmental reasons. From a report:
A proposal to the foundation from contributor Molly White, who goes by the user name GorillaWarfare, argues that accepting donations in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, bitcoin cash and ether signals endorsement of digital coins, which are "inherently predatory" as investments and don't align with the foundation's commitment to environmental sustainability. The contributor argues that Wikipedia risks damaging its reputation by accepting crypto donations, citing the recent decision by non-profit peer, Mozilla, to pause accepting donations in crypto. Wikimedia currently accepts bitcoin, bitcoin cash, and ether via BitPay. White singled out bitcoin and ether's need for enormous amounts of energy, while noting that there are other "eco-friendlier" cryptocurrencies, although they are less widely-used.
Kim Kardashian, Floyd Mayweather Jr. Sued for Alleged Crypto Scam
Kim Kardashian and Floyd Mayweather Jr. were sued for allegedly
scamming investors in a cryptocurrency called EthereumMax. From a report:
The reality television star and ex-boxing champion were paid to hype the blockchain-based digital tokens to their fans, "causing investors to purchase these losing investments at inflated prices," according to the complaint filed in Los Angeles federal court. Former Boston Celtic Paul Pierce was also named as a defendant in the suit. Kardashian was called out in September by a U.K. financial regulator for luring her 250 million Instagram followers into the "cryptobubble with delusions of quick riches." Mayweather, one of his sport's most recognizable personalities, has previously run afoul of regulators for promoting cryptocurrency investments. He was fined by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2018 for touting initial coin offerings on social media without disclosing that he'd been paid to do so.
Samsung No-showed On Its Major Exynos 2200 Launch
So here's a crazy story. Samsung was supposed to have a big SoC launch on Tuesday, but that launch did not happen. Samsung didn't cancel or delay the event. The January 11 date was announced, but when the time for the event came, nothing happened! Samsung pulled a no-call no-show for a major product launch. [...] The Exynos 2200 was (?) shaping up to be a major launch for Samsung. It is, after all, the first Samsung SoC with the headline-grabbing feature of having an AMD GPU. The two companies announced this deal a year ago, and we've been giddy about it ever since. The Exynos 2200 is (or was) going to debut in the Galaxy S22. That launch event is currently scheduled for February 8, assuming Samsung doesn't ghost everyone again.
Dutch Athletes Warned To Keep Phones and Laptops Out of China
schwit1 shares a report:
Dutch athletes competing in next month's Beijing Winter Olympics will need to leave their phones and laptops at home in an unprecedented move to avoid Chinese espionage, Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant reported on Tuesday. The urgent advice to athletes and supporting staff to not bring any personal devices to China was part of a set of measures proposed by the Dutch Olympic Committee (NOCNSF) to deal with any possible interference by Chinese state agents, the paper said citing sources close to the matter. NOCNSF spokesman Geert Slot said cybersecurity was part of the risk assessment made for the trip to China, but declined to comment on any specific measure. "The importance of cybersecurity of course has grown over the years", Slot said. "But China has completely closed off its internet, which makes it a specific case."
Coinbase Will Shut Down For Four Weeklong Breaks This Year
Coinbase has embraced many of the workplace changes prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. The company became remote-first, and it's even closing its San Francisco headquarters to hammer in its focus on working from anywhere. From a report:
Now, nearly all of Coinbase will shut down for four separate weeks throughout the year so employees can "enjoy downtime without work piling up," chief people officer L.J. Brock said. "Four weeks of coordinated recharge time might sound like a lot of time off for a company in hypergrowth, but given the intensity of our work throughout the year, we think this is the best way to ensure our pace is sustainable for the long term," Brock wrote in a blog post Monday. Coinbase has also tested so-called recharge weeks before. Most of the company took one at the end of 2020, and it added two recharge weeks last year after finding that employees weren't taking enough time off. Brock said over half of surveyed employees said the weeks off helped them reset.
Costa Rica Hydro Plant Revivified For Crypto Mining
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters:
A defunct hydro plant in Costa Rica is getting a new lease on life by powering crypto mining, and bringing clean energy to a rapidly expanding business. More than 650 machines from 150 customers operate non-stop from this plant next to the Poas River, just outside of capital city San Jose. Costa Rica generates nearly all its energy from green sources, where the state has a monopoly on energy distribution. But the government stopped buying electricity due to surplus power in the country, forcing the plant to reinvent itself.
Eduardo Kooper is the owner of Data Center CR and the plant. "We had a lot of power, but we did nothing with it. We had to pause activity for nine months. We looked for many alternatives -- from making fried food, frozen food -- everything that used a lot of energy. Just a year ago, someone told me about Bitcoin, blockchain, and digital mining." Kooper, skeptical at first, learned that the crypto mining business requires a lot of energy, much of which comes from fossil fuels. The company invested $500,000 to venture into hosting digital mining computers. "Our market is the international miner who is looking for better conditions," said Kooper. "That miner is looking for clean energy, cheap energy that is economically viable, and looking for internet connection, where he finds it is where that miner is going to go."
Every Pore on Your Face Is a Walled Garden
Veronique Greenwood writes via The New York Times:
Your skin is home to a thousand kinds of bacteria, and the ways they contribute to healthy skin are still largely mysterious. This mystery may be getting even more complex: In a paper published Thursday in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, researchers studying the many varieties of Cutibacterium acnes bacteria on 16 human volunteers found that each pore was a world unto itself. Every pore contained just a single type of C. acnes. C. acnes is naturally occurring, and the most abundant bacteria on skin. Its link to acne, the skin disease, is not clear, said Tami Lieberman, a professor at M.I.T. and an author of the new paper. If biologists want to unpack the relationship between your face's inhabitants and its health, it will be an important step to understand whether varying strains of C. acnes have their own talents or niches, and how the strains are distributed across your skin.
Each person's skin had a unique combination of strains, but what surprised the researchers most was that each pore housed a single variety of C. acnes. The pores were different from their neighbors, too -- there was no clear pattern uniting the pores of the left cheek or forehead across the volunteers, for instance. What's more, judging from the sequencing data, the bacteria within each pore were essentially identical. "There's a huge amount of diversity over one square centimeter of your face," said Arolyn Conwill, a postdoctoral researcher who is the study's lead author. "But within a single one of your pores, there's a total lack of diversity."
What the scientists think is happening is that each pore contains descendants of a single individual. Pores are deep, narrow crannies with oil-secreting glands at the bottom, Dr. Lieberman said. If a C. acnes cell manages to get down there, it may proliferate until it fills the pore with copies of itself. This would also explain why strains that don't grow very quickly manage to avoid being outcompeted by speedier strains on the same person. They're not competing with each other; they're living side by side in their own walled gardens. Intriguingly, these gardens are not very old, the scientists think. They estimate that the founding cells in the pores they studied took up residence only about one year before. What happened to the bacteria that previously lived there? The researchers don't know -- perhaps they were destroyed by the immune system, fell prey to viruses or were unceremoniously yanked out by a nose strip, clearing the way for new founders.
Hottest Ocean Temperatures In History Recorded Last Year
Last year saw the
hottest ocean temperatures in recorded history, the sixth consecutive year that this record has been broken, according to new research. The Guardian reports:
The heating up of our oceans is being primarily driven by the human-caused climate crisis, scientists say, and represents a starkly simple indicator of global heating. While the atmosphere's temperature is also trending sharply upwards, individual years are less likely to be record-breakers compared with the warming of the oceans. Last year saw a heat record for the top 2,000 meters of all oceans around the world, despite an ongoing La Nina event, a periodic climatic feature that cools waters in the Pacific. The 2021 record tops a stretch of modern record-keeping that goes back to 1955. The second hottest year for oceans was 2020, while the third hottest was 2019.
Warmer ocean waters are helping supercharge storms, hurricanes and extreme rainfall, the paper states, which is escalating the risks of severe flooding. Heated ocean water expands and eats away at the vast Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, which are collectively shedding around 1tn tons of ice a year, with both of these processes fueling sea level rise. Oceans take up about a third of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activity, causing them to acidify. This degrades coral reefs, home to a quarter of the world's marine life and the provider of food for more than 500m people, and can prove harmful to individual species of fish. As the world warms from the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and other activities, the oceans have taken the brunt of the extra heat. More than 90% of the heat generated over the past 50 years has been absorbed by the oceans, temporarily helping spare humanity, and other land-based species, from temperatures that would already be catastrophic.
The amount of heat soaked up by the oceans is enormous. Last year, the upper 2,000 meters of the ocean, where most of the warming occurs, absorbed 14 more zettajoules (a unit of electrical energy equal to one sextillion joules) than it did in 2020. This amount of extra energy is 145 times greater than the world's entire electricity generation which, by comparison, is about half of a zettajoule. Long-term ocean warming is strongest in the Atlantic and Southern oceans, the new research states, although the north Pacific has had a "dramatic" increase in heat since 1990 and the Mediterranean Sea posted a clear high temperature record last year. The research has been
published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.