Elon Musk, a man prone to ludicrous deadlines, has birthed yet another: test flights of his Mars spaceship next year.
He told an audience at the “South by South West” festival in Austin, Texas, "I think we’ll be able to do short flights, up and down flights, some time in the first half of next year."
He put a dark spin on it though, saying it is vital that humans reach the Red Planet before the next world war, and saying that a Mars colony would reduce the chance of an extended new Dark Ages if a nuclear conflict were to wipe out life on Earth.
But we'd rather keep things optimistic, so enough about that.
After a string of failed rockets—and near bankruptcy—SpaceX wowed the world with its Falcon Heavy flight, in February.
A highlights reel of that event, soundtracked to David Bowie's Life on Mars, was shown to attendees at the festival.
The ultimate goal of the mission, of course, is a Mars colony. At the event, Musk painted a picture of what he felt such a society would need to look like in order to be a success.
He said he was excited about the potential for launching new industries from a completely fresh starting point.
Mars will need pizza joints, and one day people will drink at a Mar’s Bar, he said—congratulating himself on the Dad joke.
Regardless of our individual opinions of Elon Musk, the prevailing mood here is that he is a visionary of the highest order. And if he doesn't try and get us to Mars, who will?
Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash
A drone owner has been charged with starting a fire that destroyed 300 acres of grassland in a national forest in Arizona.
A drone reportedly caught fire after it crashed; igniting dry grasses on an area called Kendrick Park, near Flagstaff.
About 30 firefighters were able to bring the blaze under control within a day.
If found guilty, the drone's owner could face a fine, community service, or even a jail sentence.
While tackling the incident last week, firefighters pre-emptively set light to the grasslands surrounding a local landmark—the Chapel of the Holy Dove—to ensure that the small church was not threatened by the flames.
Warnings were issued to drivers in the area as dense smoke from the fire made driving conditions difficult on roads through the Kendrick Park region.
While it is legal to fly a drone in a US national forest, there are strict regulations governing when and where they can be flown.
Drones must not be flown in wilderness areas nor over areas where wildfires are active.
In 2017, helicopters helping to tackle a fire in the very same forest were hampered by a drone taking pictures of the blaze.
The pilot of that unmanned craft was not identified.
Firefighting planes and helicopters helping to tackle seasonal fires in other regions have also been temporarily grounded for fear of a collision with a drone.
Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash
In a shocking revelation, criminals prove to be untrustworthy: A new study shows that less than half of ransomware targets who pay up, actually get their files back.
Paying off a ransomware demand is a great way to end up losing both your money and your files.
This according a study from security company CyberEdge, which found that for those hit by a ransomware infection the best bet is probably to just restore from a backup. The survey, based on a poll of information security professionals, found that less than half of those who pay a ransom demand end up getting their data back.
The report says that 55 percent of the people it surveyed reported a malware infection hitting their systems in 2017. Spain had the highest rate, with 80 percent of respondents reporting malware, followed by companies in China (74 percent) and Mexico (71.9 percent.) In the US, 53.8 percent of respondents were hit by ransomware, while slightly under half of those in the UK (49.5 percent), were hit.
Overall, 72.4 percent of those who were infected with ransomware were able to get their data back. Most of those, however, were companies that simply ignored the ransom demands and restored their systems with uninfected backup copies. The study found that 86.9 percent of those who refused to pay the demand ended up recovering their data.
Of those who caved to the demand and paid the ransom, 49.4 percent said they did recover their data, while 50.6 percent ended up losing it anyway. The not-so-shocking conclusion is that criminals don't always stay true to their word.
Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash
Researchers have found that they were able to infect robots with ransomware. In the real world, such attacks could be highly damaging to businesses if robotic security isn't addressed.
Ransomware has long been a headache for PC and smartphone users, but in the future, it could be robots that stop working unless a ransom is paid.
Researchers at the security company IOActive have shown how they managed to hack the humanoid NAO robot made by Softbank and infected one with custom-built ransomware. The researchers said the same attack would work on the Pepper robot too.
After the infection, the robot is shown insulting its audience and demanding to be “fed” bitcoin cryptocurrency in order to restore systems back to normal.
While a tiny robot making threats might initially seem amusing—if a little creepy—the proof-of-concept attack demonstrates the risks associated with a lack of security in robots and how organisations that employ robots could suddenly see parts of their business grind to a halt should they become a victim of ransomware.
Cesar Cerrudo, CTO at IOActive Labs, said, "In order to get a business owner to pay a ransom to a hacker, you could make robots stop working. And, because the robots are directly tied to production and services, when they stop working they'll cause a financial problem for the owner, losing money every second they're not working."
Taking what was learned in previous studies into the security vulnerabilities of robots, researchers were able to inject and run code in Pepper and NAO robots and take complete control of the systems; giving them the option to shut the robot down or modify its actions.
The researchers said it was possible for an attacker, with access to the Wi-Fi network the robot is running on, to inject malicious code into the machine.
Unlike computers, robots don't yet store vast amounts of valuable information that the user might be willing to pay a ransom to retrieve. But, as companies often don't have backups to restore systems from, if a robot becomes infected with ransomware, it's almost impossible for the user to restore it to normal by themselves.
Sent to us by: The Albuquerque Turque