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Why Taiwan's Coronavirus Response Is Among The Best Globally

Slashdot - 2 hours 48 min ago
Why does Taiwan have less than 400 confirmed cases of Covid-19? Taiwan's experience with the 2003 SARS outbreak "helped many parts of the region react faster to the current coronavirus outbreak and take the danger more seriously than in other parts of the world," reports CNN, "both at a governmental and societal level, with border controls and the wearing of face masks quickly becoming routine as early as January in many areas." Their article also notes that Taiwan "has a world-class health care system, with universal coverage," which drew praise in new report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association: "Taiwan rapidly produced and implemented a list of at least 124 action items in the past five weeks to protect public health," report co-author Jason Wang, a Taiwanese doctor and associate professor of pediatrics at Stanford Medicine, said in a statement. "The policies and actions go beyond border control because they recognized that that wasn't enough." This was while other countries were still debating whether to take action. In a study conducted in January, Johns Hopkins University said Taiwan was one of the most at-risk areas outside of mainland China -- owing to its close proximity, ties and transport links. Among those early decisive measures was the decision to ban travel from many parts of China, stop cruise ships docking at the island's ports, and introduce strict punishments for anyone found breaching home quarantine orders. In addition, Taiwanese officials also moved to ramp up domestic face-mask production to ensure the local supply, rolled out island-wide testing for coronavirus -- including re-testing people who had previously unexplained pneumonia -- and announced new punishments for spreading disinformation about the virus. "Given the continual spread of Covid-19 around the world, understanding the action items that were implemented quickly in Taiwan, and the effectiveness of these actions in preventing a large-scale epidemic, may be instructive for other countries," Wang and his co-authors wrote.... Taiwan is in such a strong position now that, after weeks of banning the export of face masks in order to ensure the domestic supply, the government said Wednesday that it would donate 10 million masks to the United States, Italy, Spain and nine other European countries, as well as smaller nations who have diplomatic ties with the island.

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COBOL-coding volunteers sought as creaking mainframes slow New Jersey's coronavirus response

The Register - 5 hours 30 min ago
Huge surge in applications for financial assistance show Governor Phil Murphy the ugly side of technical debt

The governor of New Jersey has asked COBOL-capable coders to volunteer their skills as the State’s mainframe computers have struggled to cope with a surge of requests for benefits to help citizens through the coronavirus crisis.…

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Coronavirus: Could Etsy Help Save the World?

Slashdot - 6 hours 18 min ago
Long-time Slashdot reader theodp writes: With the CDC now recommending wearing cloth face coverings in public settings, Etsy has called in the cavalry, encouraging additional sellers on its platform to start creating and offering face masks to help meet an already significant demand for fabric face masks. "We believe that the Etsy community is uniquely positioned to address this crucial need during a global health crisis," Etsy CEO Josh Silverman said in a statement. "We hope that increasing the availability of fabric, non-medical grade face masks from Etsy sellers will allow more medical and surgical masks to reach the people who need them most: front-line health care workers."

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Attack Campaign Hits Thousands of MS-SQL Servers For Two Years

Slashdot - 9 hours 48 min ago
"In December, security researchers noticed an uptick in brute-force attacks against publicly exposed Microsoft SQL servers," reports CSOnline. "It turns out the attacks go as far back as May 2018 and infect on average a couple thousand database servers every day with remote access Trojans and cryptominers." Slashdot reader itwbennett writes: While the primary goal of the attack seems to be cryptocurrency mining, "what makes these database servers appealing for attackers apart from their valuable CPU power is the huge amount of data they hold," say researchers from Guardicore who investigated the attacks. The researchers also note that most machines (60%) stay infected only briefly, but "almost 20% of all breached servers remained infected for more than a week and even longer than two weeks," and 10% become reinfected... [T]he attackers aggressively remove malware from competitors from targeted machines. Many of the infected machines are located in America, India, South Korea, and Turkey, according to the article, which adds that the researchers traced the campaign back to China. "The scans and attacks originate from Chinese IP addresses -- likely associated with infected and hijacked machines -- and the command-and-control servers are also hosted in China and use Chinese language for their web-based management interfaces."

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The Story of The Doctor Who Ordered America's First Covid-19 Lockdown

Slashdot - 13 hours 48 min ago
Long-time Slashdot reader bsharma shared the story of doctor/public health officer who "went first," ordering America's very first coronavirus lockdown in six counties on March 16th after the identification of only the 7th known case of Covid-19 in the United States. The Bay Area Newsgroup reports that on January 31st, Cody's cellphone rang at 6:49 a.m. "You've got your first positive," the voice said. Right then, Cody — Santa Clara County's Public Health Officer since 2013 — was positive that even by Silicon Valley standards, life as we know it here was about to change.... Back in the early 2000s, with the country on edge after 9/11, Cody, Karen Smith and Marty Fenstersheib led the health department's effort to build Santa Clara County's model for a massive, coordinated emergency response to a bioterrorism attack or pandemic that included social distancing, shutting schools and the most extreme, mandating that people stay home. It's the one they would turn to this month to slow the untraceable path of this new disease known as COVID-19. "None of us really believed we would do it," Smith, 63, said in a recent interview. "I was slightly terrified to think we were putting in place stay-at-home orders, tools that we think work but don't really know...." Through the years, Cody has learned that public health officers never have all the information they need and are always operating with uncertainty. But the stakes are so much higher now. The second confirmed case of coronavirus in the county came 48 hours after the first; both were travelers from China. But the criteria for sending swabs for testing to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta was so stringent and the bottleneck for test results so long, that the county was left hamstrung trying to figure out how big of a problem it really had. Not until nearly a month later, on Feb. 28, two days after the county was finally given authorization to use its own lab and judgment for testing, was the third "positive" confirmed. It would be a "sentinel case" — a turning point for the virus' spread across the Bay Area — a woman in her 60s with other health conditions. Unlike the first two, this was a clear case of "community transmission," meaning the woman had become infected somewhere in our community, with no clear connection to a traveler. "In very short order," Cody said, "it became apparent we needed to start scaling up fast...." By March 9, the sick woman in her 60s — the sentinel case — had died, and 43 cases had been confirmed, the highest of any county in California. Santa Clara County would now be branded across the country as a coronavirus "hot zone...." "It was clear to me already how quickly it was moving, and that's what gave me a sense of urgency," Cody said. "We just needed to embrace the risk and do it." "I recognize that this is unprecedented," Cody said in announcing the lockdown. "But we must come together to do this and we know we need a regional response... We must all do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19." A professor of epidemiology at the University of California San Francisco has told the same newspaper "That's going to turn out to be — if all goes well and I'm reading the tea leaves right — one of the major public health triumphs of modern times." That article reports that while California had roughly the same number of cases as New York in the first week of March, "by the end of the month, New York had 75,795 cases while California had a tenth of that — 7,482." An infectious disease doctor (and associate executive director with Permanente Medical Group) also told Politico Tuesday that at Kaiser Permanente hospitals across Northern California, they're "seeing a leveling off of Covid-19 cases in our hospitals." And one writer even quoted an emergency room doctor at the UCSF hospital who said last weekend they'd seen less than half the normal number of emergency room patients, and "My colleagues at Stanford, as well as at other facilities in San Francisco report much of the same conditions in their hospitals... "It seems very likely, that the 'shelter in place' policy has had a significant, positive effect on containing the spread of COVID-19 in the Bay Area."

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IBM is Deploying Its Watson AI to Help Governments Answer People's Covid-19 Questions

Slashdot - 13 hours 48 min ago
Digital Trends reports: IBM's question-answering Watson A.I. is most famous for whooping the butt of human champions on quiz show Jeopardy. Now, IBM has repurposed its famous creation to help government agencies, health care organizations, and academic institutions around the world cope with the massive overload of questions that citizens have about the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the first time that Watson has been used to help in a pandemic scenario. A coronavirus-focused version of the Watson A.I. has been called into service as a virtual agent in places including Arkansas, California, Georgia, New York, and Texas in the United States, as well as the Czech Republic, Greece, Poland, Spain and U.K. It is capable of answering locally relevant questions, ranging from those about coronavirus symptoms and testing specifics to queries on things like social distancing. These consistent and accurate responses can be provided to citizens via voice calls or text chat... Watson Assistant for Citizens pulls data from a range of external sources — local, national, and international. Digital Trends got an interesting response from one consultant at IBM Watson Health who's an expert on digital health for the World Health Organization. "Our team is currently adding responses to psychological questions, by which a virtual nurse can help people to deal with their fears and emotional problems and provide comfort to them in these times."

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U.S. Government: Update Chrome 80 Now, Multiple Security Concerns Confirmed

Slashdot - Sat, 04/04/2020 - 23:34
Part of America's Department of Homeland Security, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) "has advised users to update Google Chrome as new high-rated security vulnerabilities have been found," reports Forbes: In an April 1 posting, CISA confirmed that Google Chrome version 80.0.3987.162 "addresses vulnerabilities that an attacker could exploit to take control of an affected system," be that Windows, Mac or Linux. It went on to state that it "encourages" users and administrators to apply the update. It's not just CISA that is warning about the need to update Google Chrome. The Center for Internet Security (CIS) is a non-profit entity that works to safeguard both private and public organizations against cyber threats. In a multi-state information sharing and analysis center (MS-ISAC) advisory, it has also warned of multiple vulnerabilities in Google Chrome. The most severe of these could allow an attacker to achieve arbitrary code execution within the context of the browser... All it would take for an attacker to exploit the vulnerabilities is to get the user to visit, by way of a phishing attack or even redirection from a compromised site, a maliciously crafted web page. Beside three high-rated vulnerabilities, Forbes reports that "a further five security vulnerabilities were discovered by the Google internal security team using a combination of internal audits and fuzzing."

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What's New in Linux 5.6? WireGuard VPN and USB4

Slashdot - Sat, 04/04/2020 - 22:34
Linux 5.6 "has a bit more changes than I'd like," Linus Torvalds posted on the kernel mailing list, "but they are mostly from davem's networking fixes pulls, and David feels comfy with them. And I looked over the diff, and none of it looks scary..." TechRadar reports that the new changes include support for USB4 and GeForce RTX 2000 series graphics cards with the Nouveau driver: Yes, Turing GPU support has arrived with the open source Nouveau driver, along with the proprietary firmware images, as Phoronix.com reports. However, don't get too excited, as re-clocking doesn't work yet (getting the GPU to operate at stock clocks), and other important pieces of the puzzle are missing (like no Vulkan support with Nouveau). For the unfamiliar, Nouveau is an alternative to Nvidia's proprietary drivers on Linux, and although it remains in a relatively rough state in comparison, it's still good to see things progressing for Linux gamers with one of Nvidia's latest cards in their PC. Linux 5.6 also introduces fresh elements on the AMD front, with better reset support for Navi and Renoir graphics cards (which helps the GPU recover if it hits a problem)... Another notable move is the introduction of WireGuard support, a newcomer VPN protocol which makes a potentially nifty alternative to OpenVPN. Linux 5.6 also supports the Amazon Echo speaker, and naturally comes with a raft of other minor improvements... Linus's post also notes that for the next release's timing they'll "play it by ear... It's not like the merge window is more important than your health, or the health of people around you." But he says he hasn't seen signs that the pandemic could affect its development (other than the possibility of distraction by the news). "I suspect a lot of us work from home even normally, and my daughter laughed at me and called me a 'social distancing champ' the other day..."

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Snopes Disputes 'Shakiness' of COVID-19 Origin Story Claimed By Washington Post OpEd

Slashdot - Sat, 04/04/2020 - 21:34
Thursday an Opinion piece in the Washington Post touted what the paper's own health policy reporter has described as "a conspiracy theory that has been repeatedly debunked by experts." That conspiracy theory argues that instead of originating in the wild, the COVID-19 virus somehow escaped from a research lab. Now the fact-checking web site Snopes has also weighed in this week, pointing out that the lab nearest the Wuhan market hadn't even published any coronavirus-related research prior to the outbreak. Instead the nearest coronavirus-researching lab was about 7 miles away, a maximum security "biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) laboratory certified to handle the world's most deadly pathogens." A February 2020 document erroneously described by several media outlets as a "scientific study" provides the supposedly science-based evidence of a virus escaping from a lab. This paper, such as it is, merely highlights the close distance between the seafood market and the labs and falsely claimed to have identified instances in which viral agents had escaped from Wuhan biological laboratories in the past... While SARS viruses have escaped from a Beijing lab on at least four occasions, no such event has been documented in Wuhan. The purported instances of pathogens leaking from Wuhan laboratories, according to this "study," came from a Chinese news report (that we believe, based on the similarity of the research described and people involved, to be reproduced here) that profiled a Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention researcher named Tian Junhua. In 2012 and 2013, he captured and sampled nearly 10,000 bats in an effort to decode the evolutionary history of the hantavirus. In two instances, this researcher properly self-quarantined either after being bitten or urinated on by a potentially infected bat, he told reporters. These events, according to the 2013 study his research produced, occurred in the field and have nothing to do with either lab's ability to contain infective agents... In sum, this paper -- which was first posted on and later deleted from the academic social networking website ResearchGate -- adds nothing but misinformation to the debate regarding the origins of the novel coronavirus and is not a real scientific study. In February the Washington Post had quoted Vipin Narang, an associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as saying that it's "highly unlikely" the general population was exposed to a virus through an accident at a lab. "We don't have any evidence for that," said Narang, a political science professor with a background in chemical engineering.

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Eclipse Foundation Unveils Open Source Alternative to Microsoft's 'Visual Studio Code' IDE

Slashdot - Sat, 04/04/2020 - 20:34
"The Eclipse Foundation just released version 1.0 of an open-source alternative to Visual Studio Code called Eclipse Theia," reports SD Times: Theia is an extensible platform that allows developers to create multi-language cloud and desktop IDEs, allowing them to create entirely new developer experiences. According to the Eclipse Foundation, the differences between Theia and Visual Studio Code are that Theia has a more modular architecture, Theia was designed from the ground to run on desktop and cloud, and Theia was developed under community-driven and vendor-neutral governance of the Eclipse Foundation. The Theia project was started by Ericsson and TypeFox in 2016, and since then it has become an integral part of cloud solutions globally. The project approached the Eclipse Foundation about becoming a potential host in 2019. Early contributors to the project include ARM, Arduino, EclipseSource, Ericsson, Google Cloud, IBM, Red Hat, SAP, and TypeFox. "We are thrilled to see Eclipse Theia deliver on its promise of providing a production-ready, vendor-neutral, and open source framework for creating custom and white-labeled developer products," announced Mike Milinkovich, the Eclipse Foundation's executive director. "Visual Studio Code is one of the world's most popular development environments. Not only does Theia allow developers to install and reuse VS Code extensions, it provides an extensible and adaptable platform that can be tailored to specific use cases, which is a huge benefit for any organization that wants to deliver a modern and professional development experience. Congratulations to all the Theia committers and contributors on achieving this milestone." InfoWorld points out that "thus far Theia is intended to be fitted into third-party products. An end-user version is on the roadmap for release later this year." But programming columnist Mike Melanson notes that "Chances are, you've already run into Theia without even realizing it, as it already serves as the basis for Red Hat's CodeReady Workspaces, the Eclipse Foundation's own Eclipse Che, and Google Cloud Shell."

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How the Telephone Failed Its Big Test During 1918's Spanish Flu Epidemic

Slashdot - Sat, 04/04/2020 - 19:34
Fast Company's technology editor harrymcc writes: When the Spanish flu struck in 1918, the U.S. reacted in ways that sound eerily familiar, by closing public places and telling people to stay at home. The one technology that promised to make isolation less isolating was the telephone, which was used for commerce, education, and even news distribution. But the phone itself got caught up in the flu's damaging impact on society, and AT&T ended up running ads asking people not to make calls if at all possible. I wrote about this little-known tale of technology's promise and pitfalls for Fast Company. The article shows some strange glimpses of a very different time. "A New York Telephone ad even warned that operators might inquire about the nature of a call to ensure that it was truly necessary."

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Mathematical Proof of the ABC Conjecture Will Be Published

Slashdot - Sat, 04/04/2020 - 18:34
AmiMoJo shares a report from Nature: After an eight-year struggle, embattled Japanese mathematician Shinichi Mochizuki has finally received some validation. His 600-page proof of the abc conjecture, one of the biggest open problems in number theory, has been accepted for publication. Acceptance of the work in Publications of the Research Institute for Mathematical Sciences (RIMS) is the latest development in a long and acrimonious controversy over the mathematicians' proof. Mochizuki is chief editor but was not involved in the review. Eight years ago, Mochizuki posted four massive papers online, claiming to have solved the abc conjecture. The work baffled mathematicians, who spent years trying to understand it. Then, in 2018, two highly respected mathematicians said they were confident that they had found a flaw in Mochizuki's proof -- something many saw as death blow to his claims. The "abc conjecture," the problem Mochizuki claims to have solved, expresses a profound link between the addition and multiplication of integer numbers. Any integer can be factored into prime numbers, its 'divisors': for example, 60 = 5 x 3 x 2 x 2. The conjecture roughly states that if a lot of small primes divide two numbers a and b, then only a few, large ones divide their sum, c. A proof, if confirmed, could change the face of number theory, by, for example, providing a novel approach to proving Fermat's last theorem, the legendary problem formulated by Pierre de Fermat in 1637 and solved only in 1995. Some experts say Mochizuki failed to fix the fatal flaw in the solution. "I think it is safe to say that there has not been much change in the community opinion since 2018," says Kiran Kedlaya, a number theorist at the University of California, San Diego. Another mathematician, Edward Frenkel of the University of California, Berkeley, says, "I will withhold my judgment on the publication of this work until it actually happens, as new information might emerge."

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Pandemic Shutdowns Will Help the Economy, Too

Slashdot - Sat, 04/04/2020 - 17:34
nut (Slashdot reader #19,435) writes: A study by economists Sergio Correia, Stephan Luck and Emil Verner suggests that the best way to save your economy is to save your people. The authors looked at the economic impact of the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918 on different U.S. cities. They concluded that the earlier, more forcefully and longer cities responded, the better their economic recovery. A faculty affiliate from the Harvard Department of Economics writes in Bloomberg: [C]ities that implemented aggressive social distancing and shutdowns to contain the virus came out looking better. Implementing these policies eight days earlier, or maintaining them for 46 days longer were associated with 4% and 6% higher post-pandemic manufacturing employment, respectively. The gains for output were similar. Likewise, faster and longer-lasting distancing measures were associated with higher post-pandemic banking activity... [T]his is at least consistent with the arguments my Bloomberg Opinion colleagues Noah Smith and Michael Strain have already put forward for why easing distancing measures too early would be potentially devastating for the economy... [I]t looks like the things we should be doing to save lives are also what we should be doing to save the economy.

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Not Just 'The Death of IT'. Cringely Also Predicts Layoffs For Many IT Contractors

Slashdot - Sat, 04/04/2020 - 16:34
Last week long-time tech pundit Robert Cringely predicted "the death of IT" in 2020 due to the widespread adoption of SD-WAN and SASE. Now he's predicting "an even bigger bloodbath as IT employees at all levels are let go forever," including IT consultants and contractors. My IT labor death scenario now extends to process experts (generally consultants) being replaced with automation. In a software-defined network, whether that's SD-WAN or SASE, so much of what used to be getting discreet boxes to talk with one another over the network becomes a simple database adjustment. The objective, in case anyone forgets (as IT, itself, often does) is the improvement of the end-user experience, in this case through an automated process. With SD-WAN, for example, there are over 3,000 available Quality of Service metrics. You can say that Office 365 is a critical metric as just one example. Write a script to that effect into the SD-WAN database, deploy it globally with a keyclick and you are done... It's slowly dawning on IBM [and its competitors] that they have to get rid of all those process experts and replace them with a few subject matter experts. Here's the big lesson: with SD-WAN and SASE the process no longer matters, so knowing the process (beyond a few silverbacks kept on just in case the world really does end) isn't good for business. Cringely predicts the downgrading of corporate bonds will also put pressure on IBM and its competitors, perhaps ultimately leading to a sale or spin-off at IBM. "Either they sell the parts that don't make money, which is to say everything except Red Hat and mainframes, or they sell the whole darned thing, which is what I expect to happen." With that he predicts thousands of layoffs or furloughs — and while the bond market puts IBM in a bigger bind, "this could apply in varying degrees to any IBM competitors."

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Y Combinator Company 'Flexport' Is Shipping PPE To Frontline Responders

Slashdot - Sat, 04/04/2020 - 15:34
The Y Combinator company Flexport is a San Francisco-based freight-forwarding and customs brokerage company. (Its investors include Google Ventures and Peter Thiel's Founders Fund.) But on March 23rd Flexport announced they were now re-focusing all their resources to get critical supplies to frontline responders combating COVID-19. They've joined a team that announced on Friday announced "we're shipping full cargo planes filled with PPE to protect frontline responders," citing a partnership with Atlas Air and United Airlines. Atlas Air delivered a dedicated charter plane for this mission on Thursday, April 2nd. Originating in Shanghai, the plane contained over 143,000 pounds of PPE for medical systems in California, including approximately: - 4,500,000 medical masks - 116,000 disposable medical protection coveralls - 121,300 surgical gowns For this volume of goods, significant capacity is needed on a plane. However, global travel has plunged because of the outbreak, meaning that passenger planes which used to carry cargo are grounded, and the air market capacity is extremely limited. And hospitals, who in normal situations aren't importing their own goods, can't arrange cargo on a plane on their own... Crews from United Airlines volunteered to help, arriving at SFO [San Francisco International Airport] at 6AM to unload and unpack the plane. The cargo was then put on a truck and delivered directly to hospitals that will distribute the PPE across the state based on need... Up next, we're moving cargo to New York and will share updates next week. Please continue to help us spread the word to support the response efforts. They're raising money on GoFundMe, and this "Frontline Responders Fund" has so far raised over $6 million from 15,800 donors. Their page notes that on Thursday former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger "personally helped us deliver a trucking shipment from MedShare with 49,000 donated masks to a hospital in Los Angeles, California." Their page also notes donations have funded the trucking of goods across America from nonprofits, including: All Hands and All Hearts Smart Response, who delivered over 43,000 units of gloves, gowns, face masks, goggles, and hand sanitizer to emergency rooms and hospitals in New York City and Southern California. Donate PPE, who delivered over 3,750 N95 respirator masks to hospitals in Brooklyn, NY yesterday One of their supporters is actor Clark Gregg, who plays agent Coulson in five Marvel movies and the TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. He records personalized video greetings for fans through a web site called Cameo, and through Wednesday he donated 100% of the money earned to the Frontline Responders Fund.

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A Hacker Found a Way To Take Over Any Apple Webcam

Slashdot - Sat, 04/04/2020 - 14:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Wired: Apple has a well-earned reputation for security, but in recent years its Safari browser has had its share of missteps. This week, a security researcher publicly shared new findings about vulnerabilities that would have allowed an attacker to exploit three Safari bugs in succession and take over a target's webcam and microphone on iOS and macOS devices. Apple patched the vulnerabilities in January and March updates. But before the fixes, all a victim would have needed to do is click one malicious link and an attacker would have been able to spy on them remotely. The bugs Pickren found all stem from seemingly minor oversights. For example, he discovered that Safari's list of the permissions a user has granted to websites treated all sorts of URL variations as being part of the same site, like https://www.example.com, http://example.com and fake://example.com. By "wiggling around," as Pickren puts it, he was able to generate specially crafted URLs that could work with scripts embedded in a malicious site to launch the bait-and-switch that would trick Safari. A hacker who tricked a victim into clicking their malicious link would be able to quietly launch the target's webcam and microphone to capture video, take photos, or record audio. And the attack would work on iPhones, iPads, and Macs alike. None of the flaws are in Apple's microphone and webcam protections themselves, or even in Safari's defenses that keep malicious sites from accessing the sensors. Instead, the attack surmounts all of these barriers just by generating a convincing disguise.

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Zoom Will Enable Waiting Rooms By Default To Stop Zoombombing

Slashdot - Sat, 04/04/2020 - 11:00
Zoom is making some much-needed changes to prevent "Zoombombing," a term used to describe when someone successfully invades a public or private meeting over the videoconferencing platform to broadcast shock videos, pornography, or other disruptive content. The act was recently mentioned on the Department of Justice's website, warning that users who engage in this sort of video hacking could face fines and possible imprisonment. TechCrunch reports: Starting April 5th, it will require passwords to enter calls via Meeting ID, as these may be guessed or reused. Meanwhile, it will change virtual waiting rooms to be on by default so hosts have to manually admit attendees. [...] Zoom CEO Eric Yuan apologized for the security failures this week and vowed changes. But at the time, the company merely said it would default to making screensharing host-only and keeping waiting rooms on for its K-12 education users. Clearly it determined that wasn't sufficient, so now waiting rooms are on by default for everyone. Zoom communicated the changes to users via an email sent this afternoon that explains "we've chosen to enable passwords on your meetings and turn on Waiting Rooms by default as additional security enhancements to protect your privacy." The company also explained that "For meetings scheduled moving forward, the meeting password can be found in the invitation. For instant meetings, the password will be displayed in the Zoom client. The password can also be found in the meeting join URL." Some other precautions users can take include disabling file transfer, screensharing or rejoining by removed attendees.

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Watch: Rare Second World War footage of Bletchley Park-linked MI6 intelligence heroes emerges, shared online

The Register - Sat, 04/04/2020 - 08:04
A glimpse of life at Whaddon Hall

Vid  An astonishingly rare film documenting British intelligence personnel, linked to the code-breakers at Bletchley Park, has been released by the park's trust, offering a glimpse of unsung heroes who helped win the Second World War.…

Categories: Technology

Vint Cerf 'No Longer Contagious' With Covid-19

Slashdot - Sat, 04/04/2020 - 08:00
DevNull127 writes: Good news — VA Public Health has certified my wife and me as no longer contagious with COVID19," tweeted 76-year-old Vint Cerf, one of the creators of the modern internet. He added one word. "Recovering!" It seemed especially appropriate that Cerf shared his news online — and that it drew positive responses from grateful people around the world, including several who use the internet in their daily lives. Cerf's tweet immediately drew positive responses from the Internet Society, as well as the chief operating officer of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, YouTube's director of public policy, and a senior director of communications and public affairs at Google. There were also congratulatory posts from a Georgetown professor of technology and law, from Associated Press reporter Frank Bajak, and the executive director of the Global Privacy and Security by Design Centre. Cerf followed up his news with a re-tweet of Google's "Community Mobility Reports" charting our aggregate movement trends over time, and a tweet of a University of Pittsburgh press release about progress on a COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Earlier in the week Cerf also re-tweeted a humorous compilation of clips from the TV show M*A*S*H that illustrated safe practices while social distancing.

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Physical Force Alone Spurs Gene Expressions, Study Reveals

Slashdot - Sat, 04/04/2020 - 04:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: Cells will ramp up gene expression in response to physical forces alone, a new study finds. Gene activation, the first step of protein production, starts less than one millisecond after a cell is stretched -- hundreds of times faster than chemical signals can travel, the researchers report. The scientists tested forces that are biologically relevant -- equivalent to those exerted on human cells by breathing, exercising or vocalizing. They report their findings in the journal Science Advances. In the new work, the researchers observed that special DNA-associated proteins called histones played a central role in whether gene expression increased in response to forces that stretched the cell. Histones regulate DNA, winding it up to package it in the nucleus of the cell. One class of histones, known as Histone H3, appear to prevent force-responsive gene expression when methylated at an amino acid known as lysine 9. Methylation involves adding a molecular tag known as a methyl group to a molecule. The scientists observed that H3K9 methylation was highest at the periphery of the nucleus and largely absent from the interior, making the genes in the interior more responsive to stretching. The researchers found they could suppress or boost force-responsive gene expression by increasing or decreasing H3K9 histone methylation. The scientists also tested whether the frequency of an applied force influenced gene expression. They found that cells were most responsive to forces with frequencies up to about 10-20 hertz.

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