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Top Stories for the Week of March 20, 2019

  • Episode 600
  • March 20, 2019

Here are the stories we're following for the week of Wednesday March 20, 2019


MySpace, one of the first online social networks, has apologised after a server migration caused a huge loss of data.

MySpace, one of the first online social networks, has apologised after a server migration caused a huge loss of data.

A message on its website says that "any photos, videos and audio files" uploaded more than three years ago may no longer be available.

There had been complaints going back several months that links to music were no longer working.

The platform has waned in popularity since it was founded in 2003 but in its prime it attracted millions of users.

In 2006 it was the most visited site in the US - beating Google.

It was a popular platform for sharing new music, and has been credited with helping to launch the careers of artists including the Arctic Monkeys and Kate Nash.

"As a result of a server migration project, any photos, videos, and audio files you uploaded more than three years ago may no longer be available on or from MySpace," the firm said in a statement.

"We apologize for the inconvenience."

Andy Baio, who helped build the Kickstarter crowd-funding site, tweeted that the loss could amount to some 50 million tracks by 14 million artists over that period.

He also questioned whether the loss was accidental, saying in a tweet, "Flagrant incompetence may be bad PR, but it still sounds better than 'we can't be bothered with the effort and cost of migrating and hosting 50 million old MP3s'."

MySpace was bought by NewsCorp in 2005 for $580m (£437m). It was sold in 2011 for $35m to ad targeting firm Specific Media.

While it is no longer a major player in the social media field, some people who used it in its prime still used it as an archive.

Source: www.bbc.com

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


There’s a critical vulnerability in a model of Fujitsu wireless keyboard that makes it easy for hackers to take full control of connected computers.

There’s a critical vulnerability in a model of Fujitsu wireless keyboard that makes it easy for hackers to take full control of connected computers.

The Fujitsu Wireless Keyboard Set LX901 uses a proprietary 2.4 GHz radio communication protocol called WirelessUSB LP from Cypress Semiconductor. While the keyboard and mouse send input that’s protected with the time-tested Advanced Encryption Standard, the USB dongle that accepts the input accepts unencrypted packets as well, as long as they’re in the proper format.

Researchers with the Germany-based penetration-testing firm SySS developed a proof-of-concept attack that exploits the insecure design. Using a small hardware device, they are able to send commands to vulnerable Fujitsu keyboard receiver dongles that are within range. The researchers were able to send input of their choice that’s automatically funneled to the connected computer.

In an advisory published Friday, the researchers warned they can combined this injection exploit with a replay attack. This allows attackers to record encrypted keystrokes the wireless keyboard sends to the USB dongle receiver. Then the hackers can send the recorded data to the receiver. In the event hackers record the keystrokes the rightful computer owner uses to unlock the machine, the attackers can later use them to gain access when the computer is locked and unattended.

The attacks can be carried out by anyone who is within range of an affected keyboard set and takes the time to build the hardware that exploits the replay and injection flaws. Normally, that distance is about 30 feet, but the use of special antennas could extend that range. That leaves open the possibility of attacks from hackers in nearby offices or homes.

Even though the researchers reported the exploit to Fujitsu back in October, there is currently no known fix for the vulnerabilities. Anyone using the keyboard model should strongly consider replacing it immediately.

Source: arstechnica.com

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


AI is going to be huge for artists, and the latest demonstration comes from Nvidia, which has built prototype software that turns doodles into realistic landscapes.

AI is going to be huge for artists, and the latest demonstration comes from Nvidia, which has built prototype software that turns doodles into realistic landscapes.

Using a type of AI model known as a generative adversarial network (GAN), the software gives users what Nvidia is calling a “smart paint brush.” This means someone can make a very basic outline of a scene (drawing, say, a tree on a hill) before filling in their rough sketch with natural textures like grass, clouds, forests, or rocks.

The results are not quite photorealistic, but they’re impressive all the same.

This software isn’t groundbreaking exactly — researchers have shown off similar tools in the past, including one from Google that turns doodles into clipart — but it is the most polished demonstration of this concept we’ve seen to date. The software generates AI landscapes instantly, and it’s surprisingly intuitive. For example, when a user draws a tree and then a pool of water underneath it, the model adds the tree’s reflection to the pool.

enerating fake grass and water is relatively easy for GANs because the visual patterns involved are unstructured. Generating pictures of buildings and furniture, by comparison, is much trickier, and the results are much less realistic. That’s because these objects have a logic and structure to them that humans are sensitive to. GANs can overcome this sort of challenge, as we’ve seen with AI-generated faces, but it takes a lot of extra effort.

Nvidia didn’t say if it has any plans to turn the software into an actual product, but it suggests that tools like this could help “everyone from architects and urban planners to landscape designers and game developers” in the future.

Nvidia’s Bryan Catanzaro said, “It’s much easier to brainstorm designs with simple sketches, and this technology is able to convert sketches into highly realistic images.”

Source: www.theverge.com

Sent to us by: Robbie Ferguson


One of the world’s biggest producers of aluminum has been hit by a serious ransomware attack that shut down its worldwide network, stopped or disrupted plants, and sent IT workers scrambling to return operations to normal.

One of the world’s biggest producers of aluminum has been hit by a serious ransomware attack that shut down its worldwide network, stopped or disrupted plants, and sent IT workers scrambling to return operations to normal.

Norsk Hydro of Norway said the malware first hit computers in the United States on Monday night. By Tuesday morning, the infection had spread to other parts of the company, which operates in 40 countries. Company officials responded by isolating plants to prevent further spreading. Some plants were temporarily stopped, while others, which had to be kept running continuously, were switched to manual mode when possible. The company’s 35,000 employees were instructed to keep computers turned off but were allowed to use phones and tablets to check email.

Chief Financial Officer Eivind Kallevik said during a press conference Tuesday, "Let me be clear: the situation for Norsk Hydro through this is quite severe. The entire worldwide network is down, affecting our production as well as our office operations."

The ransomware that infected Norsk Hydro is known as LockerGoga, which doesn't rely on the use of network traffic or on domain name system or command and control servers, traits that allow the ransomware to bypass many network defenses.

A sample of the malware was uploaded to VirusTotal from Norway on Tuesday morning, and at the time the malware was first scanned, it was detected by only 17 of the 67 biggest AV products, although this quickly increased once awareness of the Norsk Hydro infection grew.

An official with the Norwegian National Security Authority stopped short of confirming Norsk Hydro was infected by LockerGoga, saying only that it was a “one of the theories.”

The majority of the company’s plants continue operating normally, but the network shutdown prevents plants from receiving future orders from customers. While the losses at the moment are minimal, they'll grow over time if automated systems aren’t restored.

Company IT teams are working to remove the ransomware from infected systems. Once that’s done, the teams plan to restore lost data using company backups, and do not plan to pay the ransom.

Norsk Hydro shares traded down about 0.7 percent following the report of the infection. Aluminum futures on the London Metal Exchange rose in line with other metals.

Source: arstechnica.com

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


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