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  1. You’ve probably already seen the video on social media. It’s an accomplished “parody” of clips published by engineering company Boston Dynamics, showing a CGI replica of the firm’s Atlas robot getting kicked, hit, and shot at, before turning the tables on its captors. Maybe you saw the video and initially thought it was real. Maybe you even felt bad for the robot and angry at its tormentors. “Why are they hurting that poor machine?” asked many. “Sure, it can’t feel anything, but that doesn’t mean they can treat it like that.” It’s a totally understandable reaction! But it’s also one that shows how much trouble we’re going to be in when robots like Atlas become a common sight on our streets. Are machines really deserving of empathy? Do we need to worry about people fighting for robot rights? These are big questions that are only going to become more relevant. First, though, a little side-bar on why so many people were taken in by this clip. Praise here goes to the creators, an LA production company named Corridor Digital, who did a slick job. The CGI is solid, the set dressing is on-point, and the target is well chosen. Boston Dynamics really does stress-test its robots by kicking and poking at them with sticks, and this has long made for slightly uncomfortable viewing. Helping the footage go viral is the fact that many accounts shared low-res versions of the video (which disguised the CGI) or trimmed the fantastical ending, where the robot is ordering humans about at gun-point. In short: if you thought the video was real, don’t kick yourself. Because that would be actual cruelty, as opposed to the fake, robot-kind. But that brings us to the important question here: is it okay to hurt robots? The obvious answer is: yes, of course. Robots aren’t conscious and can’t feel pain, so you’re never hurting them; you’re just breaking them. You may as well feel sorry for the next plate you drop on the floor, or advocate for the rights of cars being torn apart for scrap. But despite this obvious reading, humans do feel sorry for robots — all the time. Numerous studies show that it’s laughably easy to make humans treat robots like humans. We feel bad turning them off if they ask us not to; we obey their orders if they’re presented to us as authority figures; and we get uncomfortable touching their ‘private parts.’ This isn’t really a surprise. Humans will feel empathy for just about anything if you put a face on it. As MIT researcher and robot ethicist Kate Darling puts it: “We’re biologically hardwired to project intent and life onto any movement in our physical space that seems autonomous to us. So people will treat all sorts of robots like they’re alive.” The tricky thing is, how do we use this power? There are going be benefits for sure. Think of robots like Paro the baby harp seal that can help the elderly stop feeling lonely. But what about corporations that take advantage of our empathy; designing cheery AI assistants that win the hearts of children while teasing out some valuable marketing data, for example. And that’s before you start thinking about the mobile robots that are being deployed in supermarkets, on our streets, and that may soon be coming to our houses. In other words: the future of robot empathy is going to be a mess. Be glad we’re just dealing with the CGI parodies for now.
  2. The three-way struggle between criminal hackers, law enforcement and privacy-centric tech companies is constantly evolving. Today's smart devices have implemented increasingly tough security measures to protect users' personal data, while criminals seek to unlock them for various nefarious purposes, and authorities try to crack them for the sake of uncovering potential evidence. Israeli forensics firm Cellebrite is responsible for creating such a tool – the Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED), and the security company now claims it can unlock almost of all of the latest Apple and Android smart devices thanks to its latest update. Specifically, the latest version of the device (UFED Premium) is able to unlock and gain access to “Apple devices running iOS 7 to iOS 12.3” as well as “high-running Android devices including the Samsung Galaxy S6/S7/S8/S9 [and] models from Motorola, Huawei, LG and Xiaomi”. The device will be available to law enforcement agencies “on-premise”, meaning they will be able to operate the machine themselves and get the results independently of Cellebrite. The tool promises “access to 3rd party app data, chat conversations, downloaded emails and email attachments, deleted content and more”. Apple’s iOS 12 can reportedly defeat passcode-hacking GrayKey box Privacy for the people This time last year, we saw the security-conscious Apple release a more aggressive version of its USB Restricted Mode in the iOS 12 update – a solution that supposedly plugged a loophole whereby certain tools (akin to UFED and GreyKey) could access data via an iPhone’s Lightning Port. While it’s unclear which global law departments will make use of the Cellebrite technology, it was strongly suspected that the FBI used the company in 2016 to unlock the San Bernardino iPhone. Although the latest version of iOS is technically 12.3, Cellebrite’s site doesn’t make it clear whether the new 12.3.2 update is included in this. Similarly, Samsung's latest Android phone family – the Galaxy S10, S10 Plus and S10e – aren’t listed among the handsets the firm claims to be able to unlock, so it appears some forms of device encryption are still proving elusive.
  3. Hundreds of active and retired police officers and law enforcement personnel are congregating in private Facebook groups where they engage in open racism, Islamophobia, and even lend support to violent, anti-government groups, according to an investigation from nonprofit news organization Reveal, which is run by the US Center for Investigative Reporting. After Reveal notified law enforcement agencies, more than 50 departments have reportedly opened internal investigations. In some cases, departments say they’ll be evaluating officers’ online activity to see if it may have influenced past policing conduct. At least one officer has been fired for violating department policies as a result of participating in these groups, some of which bear names like “White Lives Matter” and “Death to Islam Undercover.” Reveal reports that the groups contain a full range of right-wing political ideologies, from standard conservativism to far-right initiatives that center around outright racism and Islamophobia. Some go even further: some Facebook groups surveyed by Reveal were associated with anti-government and militia movements, like the Oath Keepers. Reveal says that 150 of the 400 or so officers that it identified as belonging to these groups were part of that more extreme end. The unifying thread to all of these Facebook groups is that they are frequented and sometimes founded and operated by active and retired police officers, and that they actively recruit other police officers to join. Reveal reports that members of small rural departments and officers in the largest precincts in the nation, in Los Angeles and New York City, are participating in these groups. Reveal’s findings are troubling for Facebook’s ongoing moderation efforts. Like most of Silicon Valley’s large social platforms that host media and speech, Facebook is struggling to deal with its outsize impact on society; the company has neither the resources nor the wherewithal to combat the flood of hate groups, extremism, and misinformation on its platform. In some rare but tragic cases, activity on platforms like Facebook and Google’s YouTube has contributed to the radicalization of certain individuals who go on to commit offline violence. And in some disturbing cases, like the Christchurch shooting earlier this year, that offline violence is then rebroadcast on Facebook and YouTube for maximum effect. Facebook has leaned on artificial intelligence as a kind of panacea for its moderation woes. But at the F8 developer conference earlier this year, Facebook also announced a shift away from the News Feed and toward private groups as a way to lessen the influence of its algorithms. The shift also, in a way, absolves the company of responsibility for moderation. If public posts and pages wane in favor of private group activity, the logic is that those groups will self-moderate, and that by nature of being private they’ll reduce the reach of potentially harmful activity, too. But there’s no evidence to suggest Facebook is taking a more active role in moderating these groups’ activities — in fact, the opposite appears to be true. And the notion of active duty police officers with access to firearms participating openly in bigotry and potentially violent online behavior is worrisome for how it could translate into offline actions in the future. Facebook bans content that targets individuals based on their skin color or religion under its hate speech policies, and it also has rules around violent incitement and groups that have been known to organize and take action offline. It’s taken action against groups like far-right figure Gavin McInnes’ Proud Boys and individuals like conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for violations of those policies. But it’s often difficult for Facebook to take such action against individuals without large followings or specific groups if those groups are private and if those groups have taken measures to conceal the nature of their purpose. As such, some organizations on Facebook use coy in-jokes and other far-right dog whistling tactics to circumvent Facebook’s algorithmic filters. So a group with the phrase “Ku Klux Klan” in its title will easily get taken down, but one titled “Confederate Brothers & Sisters” will go unnoticed. Reveal says it identified these officers with a strategy that, ironically enough, involved using data Facebook has since stopped providing to third-parties due to developer misuse. Yet it’s this data that allows watchdogs like Reveal to do the investigations Facebook seemingly won’t. To find cops with connections to extremist groups, we built lists of two different types of Facebook users: members of extremist groups and members of police groups. We wrote software to download these lists directly from Facebook, something the platform allowed at the time. In mid-2018, in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and after we already had downloaded our data, Facebook shut down the ability to download membership lists from groups. Then we ran those two datasets against each other to find users who were members of at least one law enforcement group and one far-right group. Reveal says it could not initially assume that every member in a police Facebook group was an actual officer or even a retired one. They could have been individuals with general affinity and respect for law enforcement, relatives of officers, or those who aspire to join the police. So Reveal says it did research on hundreds of individuals, sometimes calling local departments to confirm active employment or retirement status. Reveal also joined dozens of these groups to verify its findings. “Ultimately, we confirmed that almost 400 users were indeed either currently employed as police officers, sheriffs or prison guards or had once worked in law enforcement,” the report reads. It is not clear at the moment how Facebook plans to review these groups or under what policies it might take action. Meanwhile, Reveal reports that the law enforcement agencies it contacted are continuing to conduct their own investigations into the officers’ online and offline conduct.
  4. With a new microbrewery popping up in the world every three minutes—don’t check our stats, we’re right—finding new ways to innovate among a crowded pack of craft producers is an increasingly tall task. But the brewers at Seven Bro7hers in Salford, England have arrived at a solution for separating their suds from the rest: using bad cereal. Last year, the brewery teamed up with BrewDog in Manchester to whip up a milkshake IPA called “Cornshake,” which naturally used leftover Kellogg’s Corn Flakes in the mash. Truth be told, Seven Bro7hers owner and founder Keith McAvoy didn’t think the brew was long for this world, due to litigation concerns. “A few days after we launched the beer,” McAvoy says, “Kellogg’s got in touch, and as we had used Kellogg’s branding on the label, we thought we were in trouble, and they were going to ask us to remove the reference. But it was quite the opposite: They loved what we had done.” Not only had McAvoy gotten the go-ahead from the cereal king to continue using the Kellogg’s name, but in fact, the company wanted to collaborate on a new beer. As you might expect, a mass producer like Kellogg’s lets a lot of food go to waste during the quality assurance process: Some flakes are too big. Some are overcooked. Some colors are wrong. Instead of going in the box, that leftover cereal goes in the trash. Kellogg’s wanted it to go somewhere else. So McAvoy and co. began creating Throw Away IPA—a hoppy IPA created with those rejected corn flakes—and as discussions continued, he says, “it became apparent that the wider issue of food waste could be addressed, and we decided to officially continue the partnership and make two more beers.” Those are Cast Off Pale Ale, a double dry-hopped pale ale made from recycled Rice Krispies, and Sling It Out Stout, a cocoa stout that uses surplus Coco Pops (a.k.a. Cocoa Krispies in the U.S.), both of which launched in the U.K. this week. Seven Bro7hers is selling all three beers in a limited-edition variety pack; they aren’t available in America yet, but we can only hope. In the meantime, it’s still useful to take a peek into Seven Bro7her’s brewing process. As with most brewers, Seven Bro7hers follows the typical formula, per McAvoy: Heat water to temperature in a tank called the hot liquor tank. Transfer the liquor (water) to a mash tun along with malted barley. Let it mash for about an hour (to enable all the sugars to be taken from the barley). Transfer the result (the wort) to a boiler tank. Add the hops, which begin to bitter and flavor the wort. Boil the wort, usually for about an hour. Add different hops at different stages of the boil, depending on the style of beer. When the boil and hop additions are complete, transfer to a fermenter. Add yeast, which turns the sugars into alcohol. Can, bottle, cask, or keg, and enjoy. The process for the cereal beers doesn’t vary much, with one big difference: The brewers replace a third of the grain bill with the cereal. “But because we’re using processed cereals,” McAvoy says, “the amount of sugar available in the cereal is considerably less than in the barley. And so more cereal is required to enable us to strike out at the correct ABV.” The New Science of Making Ridiculously Hoppy Beer Different beers take different amounts of time to ferment, usually between 5 to 10 days. Some beers, like pilsners, need even longer to condition and clear before packaging, says McAvoy. He says the cereal beers took about 3 weeks to complete from grain to keg. McAvoy won’t say what cereals he plans on using next—fingers crossed for Raisin Bran Crunch—but calls Seven Bro7hers’ involvement in Kellogg’s sustainability program “fantastic,” and says “we’ll continue working with Kellogg’s for the foreseeable future.”
  5. It's acting on vows to conduct more aggressive cyberwarfare. The US appears to be acting on its promise to aggressively respond to cyberwarfare threats. New York Times sources say Cyber Command has planted offensive malware in Russia's electrical grid, not just reconnaissance as has been the case since "at least" 2012. It's not certain just how deep the infiltration goes or what malware is capable of doing. The intention, however, is clear -- this is meant both to serve as a deterrent as well as a weapon in case the US and Russia trade blows. The military branch is reportedly taking advantage of measures in a 2018 defense authorization bill permitting secret online campaigns to "deter, safeguard or defend against" cyberattacks without requiring explicit presidential approval. President Trump, who claimed that Russia had stopped cyberattacks, isn't believed to have been briefed on the malware plants. Officials have declined to comment on the report, but national security advisor John Bolton said just this week that the US was expanding its potential online targets to warn Russia and others of the potential for retaliation. The approach could draw mixed reactions. While the US has been accused of going soft on Russia while it plants offensive malware in American infrastructure, there are concerns that this could lead to further digital aggression from Russia, such as using that malware for cyberattacks or making further attempts at election interference. The US is effectively betting that this creates a stalemate, rather than exacerbating an already tense situation.
  6. The US Air Force's new hypersonic missile took to the air for the first time as an AGM-183A Air Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) went aloft on June 12th from Edwards Air Force Base, California. Strapped under the wing of a B-52 Stratofortress bomber, the engine-less prototype was not dropped, but was equipped with sensors to record drag and vibrations on the vehicle and the aircraft. Hypersonic weapons have the potential to revolutionize 21st century warfare the way the jet engine did the 20th. However, operating at speeds in excess of Mach 5 (3,709 mi, 5,440 km/h) poses major engineering challenges. Because of this, development is not so much one of dramatic breakthroughs as a series of careful steps, though the Air Force is set on getting an operational hypersonic weapon as fast as possible. In the test, the ARRW was not fuelled or armed. It's having to remain docked to the bomber wing may seem anti-climatic, but the Air Force says that such an environmental data flight is required for all new weapon systems. The ARRW is one of two hypersonic weapons being developed under Air Force contracts and is expected to go operational sometime in 2022 thanks to a rapid prototyping program by Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Orlando, Florida "We're using the rapid prototyping authorities provided by Congress to quickly bring hypersonic weapon capabilities to the warfighter," says Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. "We set out an aggressive schedule with ARRW. Getting to this flight test on time highlights the amazing work of our acquisition workforce and our partnership with Lockheed Martin and other industry partners." Source: US Air Force
  7. What would trucks look like if they didn't need to accommodate a human driver? Volvo Trucks' Vera vehicle is an exploration of this idea, doing away with the cabin entirely so it can more efficiently tow goods around ports and factories. The freewheeling four-wheeler has just been assigned its first task, and will soon go to work delivering containers to a port terminal in Sweden. Revealed in September last year, the autonomous Vera is powered by the same drivetrain and battery packs found in Volvo's electric trucks. It is, however, more electric sled than electric big rig, consisting of four-wheels and a low-profile body that can be latched onto by standard load carriers and trailers. The thinking is that one day fleets of connected Veras can scurry around ports, factories and other facilities with large loads on the back. Communicating with one another via a control center over the cloud, this could optimize traffic flow, keep operations running smoothly and minimize waiting times. And Volvo Trucks is now set to see how well this works in practice, with Vera receiving its first assignment towing containers from a logistics center in Gothenburg, Sweden, to a nearby port terminal for distribution around the world. The pilot is a collaboration with logistics company DFDS, and will involve short strips with speeds limited to 40 km/h (25 mph). "Autonomous transports with low noise levels and zero exhaust emissions have an important role to play in the future of logistics, and will benefit both business and society," says Mikael Karlsson, Vice President Autonomous Solutions at Volvo Trucks. "We see this collaboration as an important start and want to drive progress in this area. Vera may have a speed limit, but we don't. Testing has already started and we intend to implement the solution within the coming years." Source: Volvo Trucks
  8. Since the Streetfighter 1000 was dropped by Ducati in 2015, the only powerful naked bike in its lineup was the Monster 1200. The arrival of the new V4 engine offers a prime opportunity to reclaim top honors in the class, and now the Italians have revealed a prototype Streetfighter V4 to debut at the 2019 Pikes Peak Hill Climb. When Ducati rolled out the Panigale V4 superbike last year, several supposedly well-informed sources suggested that a naked version was in the pipeline too. The fire picked up a few months ago when the Italians entered an unspecified V4 for the 2019 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC), where sportbikes originally equipped with clip-on controls are banned for safety reasons. It couldn't be anything other than the rumored naked version of the superbike and it was confirmed soon after, when the bike was spotted testing for the race. Ducati is indeed reviving the Streetfighter, this time built around the Desmosedici Stradale V4 engine. The 1,103 cc road-legal version of Ducati's new motor powers the Panigale V4 and V4 S series with a stunning output of 214 hp (157.5 kW), and that's just the base regime. The 998 cc racing version of this engine in the V4 R produces 221 hp and goes up to 234 with an Akrapovic racing exhaust system. If any customer can do this with a simple add-on off the shelf, imagine what a proper racing team can get out of this powerhouse. In fact, World Superbike fans already know that Alvaro Bautista on the factory Panigale V4 R has been ruining the competition consistently since the championship took off last February, winning most of the six triple-race events until now by vast margins. Ducati hasn't released any technical information on the new bike, other than confirming which engine it bears and setting a formal unveiling date as a 2020 production model at the EICMA show in Milan, in November. As expected, the prototype Streetfighter V4 will make its first public outing at the PPIHC "Race to the Clouds" on June 30 in Colorado, at the hands of expert American racer Carlin Dunne. Supposedly the motorcycle is still in development, but if Ducati is confident enough to enter it in a race it probably is already very close to production standards. At least in terms of design it certainly is, as Ducati admits that the prototype "is meant to suggest how the bike will eventually look," presented under a livery that's apparently intended to obscure its silhouette. "The Streetfighter V4 will be one of the stars of the Ducati World Premiere 2020," said Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati. "Streetfighter V4 is the Panigale for road riding; so there was no better stage than the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb for what will be the highest performance Streetfighter ever put into production." Apparently for Ducati it is important to have the most powerful naked bike in the market, just as was the case with the Streetfighter 1000, whose 155-hp V2 engine of the previous Panigale generation was unrivalled at the time Should the Italians come up with the full 214 hp of the Desmosedici Stradale, they'd beat by a slim margin the very exclusive MV Agusta Brutale 1000 Serie Oro, which produces 212 hp from its 998 cc in-line four-cylinder motor. Apart from its compatriots' Brutale, the competition in the class doesn't come very close, with the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory and the KTM 1290 Super Duke R reaching 175 hp, and even less for the rest. The new Streetfighter V4 will logically come with all the electronic gadgetry of the Panigale, a survival necessity on public roads with such a fire-breathing power plant strapped to your right hand. As for pricing, expect something lower but probably not very far from the entry-level Panigale V4's price tag, for an extreme naked sportbike that should dazzle crowds at every rare sighting without cannibalizing the sales of the more down-to-earth Monster 1200 S v-twin. Source: Ducati
  9. Have you ever wondered why there aren't more drones out there with bionic hands? Us neither, but here we are, looking at the "Drone for Handy" by Youbionics, which places a pair of fully operational bionic hands in the air, ready to grab at things the might need grabbing. Youbionics is a strange little company, run by a fellow called Federico Ciccarese, that sells the STL files you need to 3D-print some of the custom parts you need to build bionic "Handy" hands – whether it be to replace a missing hand or give you an extra one. Bring your own set of 11 SG90 or Arduino Nano servo motors and you're off and running, ready to build and begin working with a flexible and fully operational bionic hand. The "Drone for Handy" is a free STL download that lets you print a lightweight plastic quadcopter frame ready to mount two Handys on, and once you've gone through the fiddly process of building two hands and a drone, you end up with a pair of floating hands whose capacity for grabbing, lifting and manipulating things is directly proportional to your capabilities as a programmer. As a home robotics project, it's no joke – getting the hands to do anything worthwhile in concert with the drone will be a serious challenge. And at the end of it all, we're not sure you're going to come out with anything remotely practical, but Ciccarese sees his drone potentially proving handy for carrying goods or sending back to grab your keys if you've left them in the office. Source: Youbionic
  10. More than seven years after the dramatic arrest of Kim Dotcom and several of his former Megaupload colleagues, the quartet are making a final plea to New Zealand's Supreme Court. The hearing, expected to last five days, will determine whether an earlier decision to extradite the men to the United States should be upheld. For them, the stakes could not be higher. When file-hosting site Megaupload was shut down in 2012, few could have predicted the events of the years to follow. The arrest of founder Kim Dotcom and colleagues Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato in New Zealand, triggered dozens of legal processes, many designed to expedite, delay or indeed avoid the quartet’s extradition to the United States. Before it was closed, Megaupload claimed responsibility for around 4% of global Internet traffic. Much of this, the United States government claims, was pirated content, particularly movies, TV shows and music, costing US companies around US$500 million. Dotcom has persistently argued that as an online service provider, Megaupload should receive safe harbor protections in respect of the activities of its users. US authorities, on the other hand, see a massive criminal conspiracy for which the four should face justice on the other side of the world. At every step thus far, the New Zealand legal system has found in favor of sending the men to the United States. In December 2015, Judge Dawson in the District Court found that Dotcom and his associates were eligible for extradition. That decision was subsequently appealed to the High Court, with Dotcom and his now former colleagues launching an appeal alongside a demand for a judicial review. During February 2017, the appellants discovered that both of those efforts had proven unsuccessful. However, the men were granted leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal on two questions of law, including whether the High Court was correct to find that their alleged conduct amounted to an extradition offense. In July 2018, the Court of Appeal upheld the earlier decision that Dotcom and the others were indeed eligible to be extradited. Importantly, the Court considered whether copyright infringement can be a criminal offense in New Zealand and the United States. It was ultimately found that the alleged conduct of the men would breach various offenses under the Crimes Act 1961, meaning that extradition would be permissible. But this wouldn’t be a typical Dotcom matter if a final chance of appeal wasn’t grabbed with both hands. As a result, the case headed to the Supreme Court, where the final hearing is taking place over five days this week, beginning today. “In 2005 I created a website that allowed people to upload files to the cloud. At the time only small files could be attached to emails. Megaupload allowed users to email a link to a file. That’s it,” Dotcom wrote on Twitter this morning. “In 2019 the NZ Supreme Court decides if I should be extradited for this ‘crime’.” While lawyers for the accused are set to pick at every available thread in order to unravel the decision against their clients, early reports from the Supreme Court suggest already familiar themes. Grant Illingworth, representing Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk, told the Court that he would be arguing that the alleged offenses did not amount to a crime in New Zealand, meaning that they could not be extraditable offenses. But, even if they were, insufficient evidence had been produced to show that offenses had even occurred. “The district court judge misapplied the law at every stage of the judicial analysis,” Illingworth said, as quoted by RNZ. “That constituted a serious miscarriage of justice. No higher court could have justified a finding of that kind, no matter how much they agreed with the outcome.” Interestingly – or perhaps worryingly – it appears that discussions over how Megaupload operated were conducted via analogies this morning. At issue was Megaupload offering content for download and, in some cases, rewarding uploaders for putting that content there in the first place. Justice Susan Glazebrook asked Illingworth whether it would be a breach of copyright if she photocopied a novel hypothetically written by one of her fellow judges and then sold it on a street corner. Illingworth said Megaupload didn’t make the copies, its users did. “They’re providing the photocopier, someone else comes along and uses the photocopier. They’re [Megaupload] not putting up a sign saying, ‘Please come and use our photocopier for illegal purposes,'” he said. Justice Joe Williams then elaborated on the analogy, alluding to Megaupload’s reward program. “What if I get a wheelbarrow and I convey the copies [of the novel] to the street corner, knowing that she’ll be selling them, and she and I have some kind of agreement to share the profits?” he said. Illingworth responded by saying it was never Megaupload’s intention to reward people for illegal behavior, it was all about rewarding them for increasing the site’s traffic. While the hearing is set to run until Friday, any decision will take months to reach. Even if extradition is upheld, it will still need the approval of New Zealand’s Minister of Justice Andrew Little to take place. His signature would mean that the men would be shipped to the US to face charges of copyright infringement, racketeering, and money laundering plus the possibility of years – even decades – in prison.
  11. While regular multicopter drones are highly stable and maneuverable, their vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) counterparts are faster and more energy-efficient when in forward flight. Germany's Quantum Systems has set out to combine the best of both worlds, with its 2-in-1 Vector/Scorpion drone. The drone could be utilized for border patrol In its Vector configuration, the aircraft has two fixed wings and a tail attached to its glass fiber/Kevlar body. Two propellers on the wings – along with one on the tail – sit horizontally on take-off and landing, allowing the drone to rise and fall like a helicopter. Once it's time to cruise, however, those props rotate down to sit vertically, pulling the Vector forward and allowing the wings to provide lift. In its Scorpion configuration, the wings and tail are pulled off and replaced with three arms, each one with a hard-mounted horizontal propeller at the end. The drone is then flown like a traditional multicopter – not as fast or efficient in forward flight, but without the added weight of the wings or complexity of the tilting props as it's hovering and darting about. When flying forward as the Vector, the aircraft has a top speed of 25 meters per second (90 km/h or 56 mph) and a flight time of up to two hours per charge of its four lithium-ion batteries. As the Scorpion, those figures drop to a top speed of 15 m/s (54 km/h or 34 mph) and a maximum flight time of 45 minutes. Because the batteries are heated, they keep working at ambient temperatures down to -20 ºC (-4 ºF). In either configuration, the drone can fly autonomously or by remote control, with an AES-encrypted mesh IP link transmitting video from a detachable gimbal-mounted nose camera up to a range of over 15 km (9 miles). That link also allows for real-time remote control over the same distance. The Vector/Scorpion is intended primarily for military use, with some of its other possible applications including search and rescue, criminal pursuit, border patrol, and traffic investigation. Source: Quantum Systems
  12. Daniel Kelley will serve four years in a young offenders' institution A man who was involved in a major hack attack of telecoms firm TalkTalk has been sentenced to four years' detention. Daniel Kelley, 22, from Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, pleaded guilty in 2016 to 11 charges including involvement in the attack where the personal data of more than 150,000 customers was stolen. Kelley will serve his sentence in a young offenders institution.He was sentenced at the Old Bailey on Monday. Email addresses and bank details were taken after TalkTalk's website was breached in 2015, with the total cost to the company from multiple hackers estimated at £77m. Kelley's hacking offences also involved half a dozen other organisations, including a Welsh further education college, Coleg Sir Gar, where he was a student. The teen behind the cybercrime screen Kelley turned to hacking when he failed to get the GCSE grades to get on to a computer course, the court heard. He hacked the college "out of spite" before targeting companies in Canada, Australia and the UK - including TalkTalk which has four million customers. The 22-year-old has Asperger's syndrome and has suffered from depression and extreme weight loss since he pleaded guilty to the 11 hacking-related offences in 2016, the court heard. Judge Mark Dennis told the Old Bailey that Kelley hacked computers "for his own personal gratification" regardless of the damage caused. He went on to blackmail company bosses, revealing a "cruel and calculating side to his character", he said, though a blackmail charge was previously dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service. Prosecutor Peter Ratliff previously described Kelley as a "prolific, skilled and cynical cyber-criminal" who was willing to "bully, intimidate, and then ruin his chosen victims from a perceived position of anonymity and safety - behind the screen of a computer". Between September 2013 and November 2015, he engaged in a wide range of hacking activities, using stolen information to blackmail individuals and companies. Despite attempts at anonymity, his crimes were revealed in his online activities.Kelley's attacks on his college cost hundreds of hours of teaching time The court heard how Kelley was just 16 when he hacked into Coleg Sir Gar out of "spite or revenge", causing widespread disruption to students and teachers and affecting the Welsh Government Public Sector network - including schools, councils, hospitals and emergency services. Radiologists at Hywel Dda health board in west Wales lost access to diagnostic image services, with communication affected between hospital sites. A spokesman for the board said Kelley's actions posed a "serious clinical risk". After he was arrested and bailed, Kelley continued his cyber crime spree for a more "mercenary purpose".Mr Ratliff said Kelley had been "utterly ruthless" as he threatened to ruin companies by releasing clients' personal and credit card details.He hacked into TalkTalk and blackmailed Baroness Harding of Winscombe and five other executives for Bitcoin, the court heard.But he only received £4,400 worth of Bitcoins through all his blackmail attempts, having made demands for more than £115,000.Mr Ratliff said Kelley got "enjoyment and excitement from the power he wielded" over his victims. Kelley sometimes worked with a hacking collective named Team Hans, the court heard.If people refused to pay up, he would offer their details for sale on the dark web.He was also found to be in possession of computer files containing thousands of credit card details.Mitigating, Dean George QC appealed to the judge not impose a jail sentence on a young man who suffered with "severe depression".
  13. Leading Kodi add-on resource TVAddons has gone through some rough times in recent years. The site's founder was sued in the US and Canada, but despite the legal pressure, it remains online today. While some expected the 'cleaned up' addon repository to languish, it still 'serves' millions of people per month. Dedicated streaming set-top boxes, many of which are running on Kodi, have become increasingly popular over the past several years. The Kodi software itself is perfectly legal, but many third-party add-ons complement it to offer access to pirated movies, TV-shows, and live-streaming. These ‘pirate’ add-ons can be found on a variety of sites and resources. Some are blatantly offering infringing content, but it’s not always clear what’s permitted and what’s not. TVAddons, a popular repository of third-party Kodi add-ons, learned this the hard way. Previously the site used to offer many problematic add-ons. This lead to lawsuits in both the US and Canada, after which the company cleaned up its site and tightened its policies. When the site returned, during the summer of 2017, it had to start from scratch. Since some of the most popular add-ons were removed, many people thought, or even hoped, that the comeback would be destined to fail. However, this is not the case. New statistics released by TVAddons show that its repository is still widely used. “There are many groups that wish to see TV ADDONS die. They include Hollywood, copyright bullies, preloaded box sellers, paid IPTV sellers, Kodi ‘blogs,’ and probably cyber-lockers too. They’d be free to continue their profit-seeking, without us getting in the way,” TVAddons says. “Unfortunately for the haters, we aren’t going anywhere. We continue to grow, maintaining a healthy number of daily active users.” The site revealed its most recent ‘visitor’ statistics for May. These are not site visits, but the number of connections that ping TVAddons servers by using its add-ons. Last month, TVAddons received up to 1.76 million unique calls to its update server per day, and over 14 million for the entire month. This means that every 24 hours, roughly one-and-a-half million ‘Kodi boxes’ with their add-ons are online, checking for updates. These numbers are indeed quite significant. However, what TVAddons doesn’t mention is that they are down quite a bit compared to a few years ago, before the legal trouble started. During September 2016, TVAddons had roughly 24.7 million users a month and a rough average of 5.6 million per day. This shows that daily usage has dropped significantly. The number of website visits also shows a downward trend, although that’s never been very high. According to the TVAddons team, this is in part due to the removal of the old add-on library. “We lost website ranking when we upgraded our site, because our old add-on library is down which had over 800 pages in it. We have the new and hugely upgraded version almost ready to go public,” TVAddons says. It is clear, however, that TVAddons isn’t done yet. Since the legal trouble started it has settled its U.S. lawsuit with Dish. However, the Canadian lawsuit through which the repository lost its old domain, remains ongoing. That lawsuit is not a threat to the current site, according to TVAddons. The suit in question targets TVAddons’ founder Adam Lackman who has since distanced himself from the Kodi-addon repository. “There’s no update on the Canadian lawsuit yet, but it’s really Adam Lackman’s personal problem at this point. We continue to support him as much as we possibly can, but his lawsuit has no bearing on our community,” TVAddons says. While there are no official figures available, the interest in Kodi, in general, appears to be waning. Traffic to the official Kodi site is dropping and the number of Kodi searches on Google is on a downward spiral too.
  14. They're in a no-win situation. China is determined to fight the US ban on Huawei through any means possible, and that might include scaring the companies required to honor that ban. New York Times sources report that Chinese officials have warned that they could face retaliation if they cooperate with Trump administration trade restrictions. They could face "permanent consequences" if they honored the policy, the NYT said, and "punishment" if they pull manufacturing beyond the usual security-related diversification. It also encouraged lobbying to convince American politicians to change their minds. The meetings reportedly involved three government divisions, suggesting that approval likely came from the highest ranks of Chinese leadership. Officials didn't mention Huawei by name, but there wasn't much doubt that the company was involved. Whether or not the threats hold much weight is another story. If accurate, China effectively wants companies to risk violating US laws for the sake of preserving their Chinese factory and supplier relationships. They won't necessarily have to do so (American companies are still free to use many Chinese products), but tech firms could be in an untenable position if the US-China trade war escalates further. This may be more a bargaining chip meant to extract a compromise, not a dire warning. Not that the companies can afford to ignore the threats -- if China followed through, it could jeopardize the fate of the many tech businesses that depend on the country.
  15. Cyber-thieves are using encrypted chatrooms and secure apps to hide details of deals Cyber-thieves are creating an "invisible internet" to stop police spying on cyber-crime deals being done on the dark net, research suggests. Instead of trading on marketplaces, criminals have turned to "gated" chat forums, invitation-only communities and encrypted apps, say researchers. The change could make it hard for law enforcement agencies to spot and trace attacks, they warn. They also found a large increase in attacks aimed at big companies. Hidden chatter The study embedded undercover researchers into a wide variety of forums and gated chat forums on the dark net. The dark net is the part of the internet not accessible to search engines such as Google, and for which people need a special browser to visit. The most well-known dark net is accessed via the Tor browser. Successful efforts by police to infiltrate dark net marketplaces as well as raids that saw many of them closed down, had pushed criminal hackers to adopt more secure ways of communicating, said Dr Mike McGuire, a criminologist from the University of Surrey, who led the project. "It's not as vibrant as it once was because they know the feds are listening and that they will take down markets," he said. While criminal gangs were still active on those publicly accessible marketplaces, said Dr McGuire, any conversations about targets and tactics were instantly moved to secure apps such as Telegram or separate forums and chat rooms. "It's becoming like an invisible internet," he said. "That's going to be worrying for law enforcement." Most dark net deals are for drugs but cyber-crime services can easily be found on the hidden sites For the study, researchers posed as customers and quizzed hackers about the cost of a wide variety of cyber-attacks, They probed market rates for tailored malware attacks, phishing campaigns, industrial espionage and insider information. Sample costs included: remote logins for corporate networks $2-$30 (£1.50-£24) targeted attack on company $4,500 targeted attack on individual $2,000 phishing kits $40 fake Amazon receipts and invoices $52 Espionage and insider trading $1,000 - $15,000 The cyber-crime economy that had emerged on the dark net was a mirror to the legitimate industry, said Ian Pratt, co-founder of security firm Bromium that sponsored the research. The cyber-crime economy was diverse and sophisticated, he said, with many hacking gangs specialising in just one aspect of an attack, such as crafting malware, writing convincing phishing emails or setting up sites to grab data from victims. It was also clear, he said, that the hackers could get access to almost any network they desired. "It's not hard to get into corporate networks," he said, adding that the most successful method of winning access was via a well-crafted phishing campaign. He said adverts and listings for attacks on enterprises had grown by 20% since 2016, suggesting corporates were becoming a lucrative target. Police forces should take a broader view of dark net cyber-thieves, say researchers A successful phishing attack gave hackers "instant deep access" said Mr Pratt, that they could then build on to either get at saleable data or to thoroughly compromise a target. The changing nature of the dark net underworld should prompt police to change the way they tackle cyber-crime, said Dr McGuire. "Law enforcement have a very focused and narrow perception and take down particular groups," he said. "But by taking out specific groups they are not making much of a dent in it." If one group disappeared or was broken up by police another would just move to fill in the gap, he added. "It's like cutting the head off a hydra."