CO2-Emissionen: das sind die größten Klimasünder Europas

CO2-Emissionen: das sind die größten Klimasünder Europas

Die Organisation Transport & Environment (T&E) hat ein aktuelles CO2-Ranking herausgegeben. Es zeigt an, welche Unternehmen in der Europäischen Union die meisten Treibhausgase verursachen.

Unter den zehn größten Emittenten von CO2 in der EU stehen gleich acht deutsche Kohlekraftwerke – allen voran das von RWE betriebene Kraftwerk Neurath in Nordrhein-Westfalen. In 2018 verursachte es 32,1 Megatonnen CO2-Äquivalente, wie die Statista-Grafik zeigt. Lediglich der polnische Energiekonzern PGE verursachte noch mehr Emissionen. Ebenfalls im Negativ-Ranking stehen die Container-Reederei MSC aus der Schweiz, die unter anderem auch im Kreuzfahrtgeschäft aktiv ist, sowie die irische Billigfluggesellschaft Ryanair.

Transport & Environment ist die europäische Dachorganisation für ökologische Verkehrsclubs und NGOs. Sie setzt sich auf EU-­Ebene für eine nachhaltige Verkehrs- und Umweltpolitik ein.

 

from: https://de.statista.com/infografik/20253/unternehmen-in-der-eu-mit-den-hoechsten-co2-emissionen/

 

 

 

Ethereum Istanbul — Faster, But Still Not the World Computer — and now PoS :(

Ethereum Istanbul — Faster, But Still Not the World Computer — and now PoS :(

Vitalik Buterin has claimed that Ethereum will support 3,000 transactions per second after the upcoming Istanbul fork.

By Miko Matsumura

Will this unleash a new wave of Ethereum creativity? Might we expect a surge in traffic on the Ethereum network? Could its increase influence the price of ETH?

Ethereum is slow

The conventional wisdom is that Ethereum is too slow. But for what purpose is it too slow? It seems to be sufficiently fast for financial services. But the mistake people are making in saying “Ethereum is slow” is misunderstanding what a great thing, counterintuitively, it is to be slow. ETH works because users want to pay (in the form of “gas”) to perform computations.

If Ethereum is congested, it means that there are more people who want to pay to have Ethereum computations than there are the capacity to allow it.

To put it in another way, let’s say that you own an Apple Store and there is an ever-growing line of customers waiting to buy the newest iPhone. The more customers you have, the more the profit. If you are having trouble accepting the amount of money people want to give you in order to use your service, you are doing well. You wouldn’t complain in that situation.

The “world computer” isn’t a thing

So, it turns out that achieving consensus over computation is very expensive — and therefore, as slow as molasses. Istanbul will make Ethereum’s consensus a bit faster, but the term “world computer” seems hyperbolic, as it suggests there could be a singular device that handles the world’s computational needs. It doesn’t even get close at 3,000 transactions per second. Ethereum’s current state is more akin to a “Trust Machine” — to borrow the name of Alex Winter’s blockchain documentary — than a “world computer.”

DApps are also not a thing

What is a “decentralized application”? It’s a mixed metaphor that is prone to confusion. The word “app” is inseparable from the rise of smartphones and naturally the rise of the “App Store.” So, as soon as you say “DApp,” you are depicting a similar world of endless possibility and creativity. This flawed reasoning is compounded by talk in the original Ethereum white paper about the creation of a Turing complete “World Computer.” This suggests that there are an infinite number of applications that are able to run on Ethereum. But since running computations under consensus comes with a cost, it will always be greater than the cost of running computations without consensus — even if the cost of consensus is greatly reduced.

Vending machines are a thing

The cost of consensus is why it makes more sense to talk about what Nick Szabo calls “Vending Machines.” If a line of code is not handling value, then why not execute it in a faster, cheaper, more centralized environment? This reduces the practical applications of storing, transmitting, buying, selling, splitting, sharing or otherwise manipulating value. This means practical applications would naturally be pragmatic value-in, value-out smart contracts like decentralized exchanges, token swaps, nonfungible token vending, token-issuance (ICO or STO) contracts, and lending and arbitrary financial products (DeFi). If we had a “World Computer” (we don’t), it might make sense to talk about DApps, but until then, what we have are vending machines.

Lending machines are also a thing

Smart contracts relating to collateralizing and lending digital assets are getting a lot of attention these days. Concerning this, ETH in particular is well positioned, as it has a relatively large liquidity pool and a very high degree of programmability. DeFi means that there are vastly diverse sets of programmable digital financial products, but at the moment, the idea of a “Lending Machine” is one that is getting the most attention. In particular, lending seems attractive because current DeFi protocols are producing up to 10% interest rates. This could be seen as a “killer app” for crypto because traditional banks have been so close to 0% interest for so long — and it’s a compelling reason for new users to come to crypto. Currently, almost $700 million in value is locked in DeFi contracts. It remains to be seen whether such high rates will hold up as more and more money floods into the market seeking high returns.

Slot machines

Another obvious application is gambling apps. This is a variation on the “decentralized exchange,” but instead of exchanging a predictable amount of one token for another, users essentially exchange tokens for unpredictable returns. One of the advantages of smart contract-based gambling over other forms of online gambling is that scrutinizing the smart contracts can enable players to determine if the gambling machine is “provably fair,” unlike the centralized exchanges that are only demonstrably unfair.

The need for speed

If all we are building are vending machines, lending machines and slot machines, do we really need performance? Purveyors of “decentralized exchanges” insist that once they are fast enough, they will achieve the liquidity of “centralized exchanges.” But historically, liquidity has always moved toward high frequency trading venues — and trusted computing will always confer a performance edge versus trustless.

One of the great things about the increase in performance is simply to increase the capacity of existing apps, and to enable more similar apps to run on Ethereum. But the performance increase from Ethereum Istanbul seems unlikely to produce as-yet-unseen types of applications.

 

Miko Matsumura is a general partner with venture capital fund gumi Cryptos Capital. He is also a co-founder of Evercoin, a wallet and exchange. He has been working in Silicon Valley for 25 years on open-source software projects, starting with the introduction of the Java programming language, for which he was the chief evangelist.

 

from: https://cointelegraph.com/news/ethereum-istanbul-faster-but-still-not-the-world-computer

 

 

 

UK’s NHS gives Amazon free use of health data under Alexa advice deal

UK’s NHS gives Amazon free use of health data under Alexa advice deal

Details of contract agreed by the health secretary, Matt Hancock, came to light after FoI request.

UK health service will not gain commercial benefit from future Amazon products using its data

Amazon has been given free access to healthcare information collected by the NHS as part of a contract with the government.

The material, which excludes patient data, could allow the multinational technology company to make, advertise and sell its own products.

In July the health secretary, Matt Hancock, said a partnership with the NHS that allowed Amazon Alexa devices to offer expert health advice to users would reduce pressure on “our hard-working GPs and pharmacists”.

But responses to freedom of information requests, published by the Sunday Times, showed the contract will also allow the company access to information on symptoms, causes and definitions of conditions, and “all related copyrightable content and data and other materials”.

Amazon, which is worth $863bn and is run by the world’s richest person, Jeff Bezos, can then create “new products, applications, cloud-based services and/or distributed software”, which the NHS would not benefit from financially. It can also share the information with third parties.

Labour’s shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, told the Sunday Times that the government was “highly irresponsible” and “in the pocket of big corporate interests”.

Eva Blum-Dumontet, a senior researcher at Privacy International, which obtained the contract, said the issue with the partnership was not about “data sharing” but about “transparency”. Several sections have been redacted by the Department of Health and Social Care to protect Amazon’s commercial interests.

An NHS spokesperson said: “No patient data is being provided to this company by the NHS, which takes data privacy extremely seriously and has put appropriate safeguards in place to ensure information is used correctly.”

Amazon told the Sunday Times the content it had access to was already on the NHS website. “Amazon does not build customer health profiles based on interactions with nhs.uk content or use such requests for marketing purposes,” it added.

Third parties, such as local authorities, can reuse information from the NHS website, but standard agreements only permit this to be used in the UK. The contract with Amazon states that the licence applies around the world.

A spokesperson for the company said: “General health-related content from the NHS website is now available to Alexa users via voice technology. The new option is particularly useful for those with accessibility needs who may not have been able to easily access nhs.uk content via a mobile device or computer in the past.”

Earlier this week, the company was singled out by tax transparency campaign group Fair Tax Mark as the worst of the big six US tech firms for avoiding tax by shifting revenue and profits through tax havens or low-tax countries.

It said Amazon paid just $3.4bn (£2.6bn) in tax on its global income so far this decade, despite gaining revenues of $960.5bn and profits of $26.8bn.

from: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/dec/08/nhs-gives-amazon-free-use-of-health-data-under-alexa-advice-deal

***

The Guardian view on Boris Johnson’s NHS plan:
trading patient data

Donald Trump has made clear he wants a post-Brexit Britain to let US tech companies and big pharma access medical records

‘Jeremy Corbyn’s NHS press conference revealed that the US wanted its companies to get unrestricted access to the UK’s medical records, thought to be worth £10bn a year.’

The NHS is a goldmine of patient data which the United States wants to be quarried by some of its biggest companies.

Britain’s health service is home to a unique medical dataset that covers the entire population from birth to death. Jeremy Corbyn’s NHS press conference revealed that the US wanted its companies to get unrestricted access to the UK’s medical records, thought to be worth £10bn a year. A number of tech companies – including Google – already mine small parts of the NHS store. Ministers have been treading carefully after an attempt to create a single patient database for commercial exploitation was scrapped in 2016 when it emerged there was no way for the public to work out who would have access to their medical records or how they were using them.

However, such caution might be thrown to the wind if Boris Johnson gets his way over Brexit – and patients’ privacy rights are traded away for US market access. This would be a damaging step, allowing US big tech and big pharma to collect sensitive, personal data on an unprecedented scale. Donald Trump’s officials have already made clear that this is what they are aiming for. In the leaked government records of talks between US and UK trade representatives White House officials state that “the free flow of data is a top priority” in a post-Brexit world. Trump’s team see Brexit as an opportunity “to avoid forcing companies to disclose algorithms”.

The US wants the UK to drop the EU’s 2018 data law, in which individuals must be told what is happening with their medical data, even if scrubbed of personal identifiers.

If there is a wild west of patient privacy, it is found in the US. More than 90% of US healthcare organisations admitted to data breaches between 2014 and 2016, leading to cases of medical fraud and insurance discrimination. Given the stakes, there must be concerns about how an arm of the department of health and social care sold data about millions of NHS patients, derived from GP practices, to US companies without anybody apparently informing patients. GP records contain sensitive information, such as details of a person’s mental health conditions and diseases such as cancer, as well as smoking and drinking habits. It is also extremely worrying that Matt Hancock, the health secretary, thought it was right to sign a deal with Amazon that put no restraint on its ability to build profiles of patients who use its Alexa voice assistant to access NHS information.

This might be just the start. If Mr Trump got his way, UK patients would be unaware their data would be processed offshore by a Silicon Valley giant. They might also not know that big tech could use what it learned from that process to invent medical devices that could then be sold back to the NHS. Alan Winters, a leading economist, told the Times: “You could end up where the UK is unable to analyse its health data without paying a royalty to Silicon Valley to use an algorithm. Once the algorithm has been written and copyrighted by an American company, if the NHS tried to do the same in the UK it could be sued.”

The Conservative party manifesto says it “will invest in health data systems”. Whatever for – given the NHS may be forced into selling off its most valuable asset so that US corporations can profit from it at our expense? There may be an argument that in doing so this country might become a vital cog in US Inc. But this is a narrowing of the UK’s potential. Why not aim to build up our own expertise by training NHS researchers in the latest computational techniques so that they can invent new medical procedures that can save lives? After all, making artificial hips has become a multibillion-pound global business. But it was in the state-run NHS – not in the world of private US medicine – that total hip replacement was pioneered. Monopolies, state or private, can get complacent. The answer is not to turn the NHS into a haven for all the excesses of free enterprise in a trade deal with Mr Trump.

from: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/dec/08/the-guardian-view-on-boris-johnsons-nhs-plan-trading-patient-data

 

 

Erstmals bei ProSieben: “Late Night Berlin” erreicht mehr Zuschauer online als im linearen TV

Erstmals bei ProSieben: “Late Night Berlin” erreicht mehr Zuschauer online als im linearen TV

Klaas Heufer-Umlauf in “Late Night Berlin”

Erstmals erzielt eine ProSieben-Eigenproduktion online eine höhere Total Video Viewtime (TVV) als über das klassische lineare TV, teilte der Sender mit. In der TVV werden alle Sehminuten einer Sendung über alle Plattformen hinweg ausgewertet – im TV und Online. Bei „Late Night Berlin“ verteilt sich die TVV zu 59 Prozent auf die Digitalkanäle, 41 Prozent werden durch die TV-Ausstrahlung generiert.

Zeitgleich wächst “Late Night Berlin” bei seinen wöchentlichen linearen Ausstrahlungen und erzielt Rekordwerte. Im TV liegt die aktuelle Staffel der Late-Night-Show von ProSieben 2,7 Prozentpunkte über den Werten der Premieren-Staffel und bei durchschnittlich 11,5 Prozent in der Zielgruppe der 14- bis 49-Jährigen (Stand: 1. Dezember 2019). Besonders bei den jungen Zuschauern ist die Show mit Klaas Heufer-Umlauf beliebt: Im Schnitt verfolgen 22,2 Prozent der 14- bis 29-Jährigen jeden Montag “Late Night Berlin”. Die Ausgabe vom 25. November 2019 ereichte bei den jungen Männern (14-29 J.) sogar mit 45,8 Prozent Marktanteil.

ProSieben-Senderchef Daniel Rosemann: “‘Late Night Berlin’ schreibt ein großes Stück ProSieben-Geschichte und vermutlich sogar ein Stück Fernsehgeschichte. Erstmals wird der Content einer ProSieben-Eigenproduktion digital länger angesehen als im TV, gleichzeitig steigen die linearen Marktanteile der Show. Herzlichen Glückwunsch an Klaas Heufer-Umlauf und sein wunderbares Team.”

 

from: https://meedia.de/2019/12/06/erstmals-bei-prosieben-late-night-berlin-erreicht-mehr-zuschauer-online-als-im-linearen-tv/

 

 

What is a brain-computer interface? Everything you need to know about BCIs, neural interfaces and the future of mind-reading computers

What is a brain-computer interface? Everything you need to know about BCIs, neural interfaces and the future of mind-reading computers

Systems that allow humans to control or communicate with technology using only the electrical signals in the brains or muscles are fast becoming mainstream. Here’s what you need to know.

What is a brain-computer interface? It can’t be what it sounds like, surely?
Yep, brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are precisely what they sound like — systems that connect up the human brain to external technology.

It all sounds a bit sci-fi. Brain-computer interfaces aren’t really something that people are using now, are they?
People are indeed using BCIs today — all around you. At their most simple, a brain-computer interface can be used as a neuroprosthesis — that is, a piece of hardware that can replace or augment nerves that aren’t working properly. The most commonly used neuroprostheses are cochlear implants, which help people with parts of their ear’s internal anatomy to hear. Neuroprostheses to help replace damaged optic nerve function are less common, but a number of companies are developing them, and we’re likely to see widespread uptake of such devices in the coming years.

So why are brain-computer interfaces described as mind-reading technology?
That’s where this technology is heading. There are systems, currently being piloted, that can translate your brain activity — the electrical impulses — into signals that software can understand. That means your brain activity can be measured; real-life mind-reading. Or you can use your brain activity to control a remote device.

When we think, thoughts are transmitted within our brain and down into our body as a series of electrical impulses. Picking up such signals is nothing new: doctors already monitor the electrical activity in the brain using EEG (electroencephalography) and in the muscles using EMG (electromyography) as a way of detecting nerve problems. In medicine, EEG and EMG are used to find diseases and other nerve problems by looking for too much, too little or unexpected electrical activity in a patient’s nerves.

Now, however, researchers and companies are looking at whether those electrical impulses could be decoded to give an insight into a person’s thoughts.

Can BCIs read minds? Would they be able to tell what I’m thinking right now?
At present, no. BCIs can’t read your thoughts precisely enough to know what your thoughts are at any given moment. Currently, they’re more about picking up emotional states or which movements you intend to make. A BCI could pick up when someone is thinking ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but detecting more specific thoughts, like knowing you fancy a cheese sandwich right now or that your boss has been really annoying you, are beyond the scope of most brain-computer interfaces.

OK, so give me an example of how BCIs are used.
A lot of interest in BCIs is from medicine. BCIs could potentially offer a way for people with nerve damage to recover lost function. For example, in some spinal injuries, the electrical connection between the brain and the muscles in the limbs has been broken, leaving people unable to move their arms or legs. BCIs could potentially help in such injuries by either passing the electrical signals onto the muscles, bypassing the broken connection and allowing people to move again, or help patients use their thoughts to control robotics or prosthetic limbs that could make movements for them.

They could also help people with conditions such as locked-in syndrome, who can’t speak or move but don’t have any cognitive problems, to make their wants and needs known.

What about the military and BCIs?
Like many new technologies, BCIs have attracted interest from the military, and US military emerging technology agency DARPA is investing tens of millions of dollars in developing a brain-computer interface for use by soldiers.

More broadly, it’s easy to see the appeal of BCIs for the military: soldiers in the field could patch in teams back at HQ for extra intelligence, for example, and communicate with each other without making a sound. Equally, there are darker uses that the army could put BCIs too — like interrogation and espionage.

What about Facebook and BCIs?  
Facebook has been championing the use of BCIs and recently purchased a BCI company, CTRL-labs, for a reported $1bnFacebook is looking at BCIs from two different perspectives. It’s working with researchers to translate thoughts to speech, and its CTRL-labs acquisition could help interpret what movements someone wants to make from their brain signals alone. The common thread between the two is developing the next hardware interface.

Facebook is already preparing for the way we interface with our devices to change. In the same way we’ve moved from keyboard to mouse to touchscreen and most recently to voice as a way of controlling technology around us, Facebook is betting that the next big interface will be our thoughts. Rather than type your next status update, you could think it; rather than touch a screen to toggle between windows, you could simply move your hands in the air.

I’m not sure I’m willing to have a chip put in my brain just to type a status update.
You may not need to: not all BCI systems require a direct interface to read your brain activity.

There are currently two approaches to BCIs: invasive and non-invasive. Invasive systems have hardware that’s in contact with the brain; non-invasive systems typically pick up the brain’s signals from the scalp, using head-worn sensors.

The two approaches have their own different benefits and disadvantages. With invasive BCI systems, because electrode arrays are touching the brain, they can gather much more fine-grained and accurate signals. However, as you can imagine, they involve brain surgery and the brain isn’t always too happy about having electrode arrays attached to it — the brain reacts with a process called glial scarring, which in turn can make it harder for the array to pick up signals. Due to the risks involved, invasive systems are usually reserved for medical applications.

Non-invasive systems, however, are more consumer friendly, as there’s no surgery required — such systems record electrical impulses coming from the skin either through sensor-equipped caps worn on the head or similar hardware worn on the wrist like bracelets. It’s likely to be that in-your-face (or on-your-head) nature of the hardware that holds back adoption: early adopters may be happy to sport large and obvious caps, but most consumers won’t be keen to wear an electrode-studded hat that reads their brain waves.

There are, however, efforts to build less intrusive non-invasive systems: DARPA, for example, is funding research into non-surgical BCIs and one day the necessary hardware could be small enough to be inhaled or injected.

Why are BCIs becoming a thing now?
Researchers have been interested in the potential of BCIs for decades, but the technology has come on at a far faster pace than many have predicted, thanks largely to better artificial intelligence and machine-learning software. As such systems have become more sophisticated, they’ve been able to better interpret the signals coming from the brain, separate the signals from the noise, and correlate the brain’s electrical impulses with actual thoughts.

Should I worry about people reading my thoughts without my permission? What about mind control?
On a practical level, most BCIs are only unidirectional — that is, they can read thoughts, but can’t put any ideas into users’ minds. That said, experimental work is already being undertaken around how people can communicate through BCIs: one recent project from the University of Washington allowed three people to collaborate on a Tetris-like game using BCIs.

The pace of technology development being what it is, bidirectional interfaces will be more common before too long. Especially if Elon Musk’s BCI outfit Neuralink has anything to do with it.

What is Neuralink? 
Elon Musk galvanised interest in BCIs when he launched Neuralink. As you’d expect from anything run by Musk, there’s an eye-watering level of both ambition and secrecy. The company’s website and Twitter feed revealed very little about what it was planning, although Musk occasionally shared hints, suggesting it was working on brain implants in the form of ‘neural lace’, a mesh of electrodes that would sit on the surface of the brain. The first serious information on Neuralink’s technology came with a presentation earlier this year, showing off a new array that can be implanted into the brain’s cortex by surgical robots.

Like a lot of BCIs, Neuralink’s was framed initially as a way to help people with neurological disorders, but Musk is looking further out, claiming that Neuralink could be used to allow humans a direct interface with artificial intelligence, so that humans are not eventually outpaced by AI. It might be that the only way to stop ourselves becoming outclassed by machines is to link up with them — if we can’t beat them, Musk’s thinking goes, we may have to join them.

 

from: https://www.zdnet.com/article/what-is-bci-everything-you-need-to-know-about-brain-computer-interfaces-and-the-future-of-mind-reading-computers/

see also: https://www.zdnet.com/article/musks-neuralink-uses-brain-threads-to-try-and-read-your-mind/

 

 

Canada-Based Crypto Mining Firm Great North Data Files for Bankruptcy

Canada-Based Crypto Mining Firm Great North Data Files for Bankruptcy

Canada-based cryptocurrency mining company Great North Data has submitted a bankruptcy filing, purportedly due to insolvency.

As the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported on Dec. 4, Great North Data — which operated crypto mining facilities in Labrador City and Happy Valley-Goose Bay —  filed bankruptcy documents in late November, listing CA$13.2 million ($10 million) in liabilities, while having only CA$4.6 ($3.5 million) million in assets.

Liabilities to the state

With that, Great North Data reportedly owes CA$313,718 ($238,080) to the Newfoundland and Labrador government’s Business Investment Corporation, which the company secured for building, land, machinery and equipment.

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency is reportedly an unsecured creditor for CA$281,675 ($213,868) and funded the company for CA$500,000 ($379,637) in 2015 in the form of an unconditionally repayable contribution.

At press time, the firm’s website is not functional and Cointelegraph has been unable to reach Great North Data on LinkedIn. The firm also has no phone number listed.

Challenging conditions

The industry has become increasingly challenging for miners, with other firms like the former Washington-based top-five crypto mining firm Giga Watt closing down in January, claiming that it was “insolvent and unable to pay its debts when due.” 

In October, BCause Mining, a Bitcoin (BTC) mining operation in Virginia Beach in the United States, was ordered to liquidate its assets, shut down its operations and lay off its 27 full-time and four part-time workers, following bankruptcy documents filed earlier this year.

Meanwhile, mining firm Bitfarms is still expanding its operations despite complaints of the residents of the city of Sherbrooke, Quebec. Bitfarms reportedly manages five mining operations spread across the province to take advantage of cheap local hydropower, while residents living near the site are complaining about the allegedly intolerable sound and vibrations originating from the facility.

 

from: https://cointelegraph.com/news/canada-based-crypto-mining-firm-great-north-data-files-for-bankruptcy

 

 

Bartering Trade: Russian Smelting Giant Nornickel Begins Testing Digital Trading Platform To Increase Metal Sales

Bartering Trade: Russian Smelting Giant Nornickel Begins Testing Digital Trading Platform To Increase Metal Sales

Russian mining and smelting giant Nornickel has commenced testing its digital platform for metals trading.

As Bloomberg reported on Dec. 5, Nornickel began trialing its platform for digital metal tokens in collaboration with physical commodities trading group Trafigura Group Ltd., metals finance and logistics firm Traxys SA and materials technology and recycling group Umicore SA. Specifically, the platform is designed to enable clients to purchase digital tokens backed by metals and then trade them for physical supplies.

Big plans

Commenting on the product rollout, Nornickel CEO Vladimir Potanin said that the company is “imply packing existing business links into a new and modern form.” Nornickel purportedly intends to raise the share its metals sales conducted using tokens to 20% within the next several years.

Nornickel’s digital platform rollout seems to have progressed according to schedule. Vice-president of Nornickel Andrey Bugrov previously said that the company expected to bring the product to the market by the end of 2019, as well as begin trading the tokens.

New life of former Soviet factories

Large factories built in the Soviet era primarily in cold climate locations are slowly drawing the attention of industry enthusiasts. The largest data center in the former Soviet Union, BitRiver, opened about a year ago in the Siberian city of Bratsk. Now, most of its clients use the facility to mine Bitcoin (BTC).

The data center allows cryptocurrency miners to take advantage of cheap energy in what used to be the world’s largest aluminum smelter.

Last year, Deputy Governor of the Leningrad Region, Dmitry Yalo, announced the development of a new mining facility in the region, which was set to be built on the site of a former Soviet fertilizer laboratory.

 

from: https://cointelegraph.com/news/russian-smelting-giant-begins-testing-digital-trading-platform

 

 

One Of The Largest Data Centers In The US – CyrusOne, Texas – Hit by Ransomware Attack

One Of The Largest Data Centers In The US – CyrusOne, Texas – Hit by Ransomware Attack

Texas-based data center provider CyrusOne has reportedly fallen victim to an attack from REvil (Sodinokibi) ransomware, business tech-focused publication ZDNet reported on Dec. 5.

One of the largest data centers in the United States, CyrusOne has reportedly been exposed to an attack by a variant of the REvil (Sodinokibi) ransomware, which previously hit a number of service providers, local governments and businesses in the country.

The scope of the attack

In an email to Cointelegraph, CyrusOne confirmed:

“Six of our managed service customers, located primarily in our New York data center, have experienced availability issues due to a ransomware program encrypting certain devices in their network.” 

The firm went on to assure viewers that law enforcement was working on the matter and that their “data center colocation services, including IX and IP Network Services, are not involved in this incident.” 

Just business

Per the ransom note obtained by ZDNet, the attackers targeted CyrusOne’s network, with the sole objective of receiving a ransom. Those behind the attack claimed in the note that they consider the attack nothing more than a business transaction, aimed exclusively at profiting.

In the event the company does not cooperate with the attackers, it will purportedly lose the affected data as the cybercriminals claim to have the private key.

To pay or not to pay?

This spring, Riviera Beach, Florida, was hit by a hacker attack, in which the hackers allegedly encrypted government records, blocking access to critical information and leaving the city without an ability to accept utility payments other than in person or by regular mail. The city council eventually agreed to pay nearly $600,000 worth of Bitcoin (BTC) to regain access to data encrypted in the attack.

In late October, hackers compromised the website of the city of Johannesburg, South Africa, and demanded ransom in Bitcoin. The breach affected several customer-facing systems — hardware or software customers interact with directly, such as user interfaces and help desks. The city authorities refused to pay the ransom.

Meanwhile, a number of Finnish cities and organizations are rehearsing how to respond when a group of hackers demands the participants pay ransomware during a series of simulated cyberattacks.

 

from: https://cointelegraph.com/news/texas-based-data-center-cyrusone-hit-by-ransomware-attack

 

 

Hilarious Phishing & Malware Attempts

Hilarious Phishing & Malware Attempts

Like everyone else (well, maybe more than everyone else)  I regularly get these phishing messages (“we try to make you click on the attachment, which of course is riddled with mal/ransomware”).

Hilarious to me, when it is sent to an automated, harvested e-mail address, which is 32 years old now (still works, obviously), and a “honeytrap” address these days.

Usually I just click on the “Junk” button, so the sender’s email address is fed into the global anti-spam and anti-phishing databases (the kind of ‘Spamhaus‘, SORBS, SPEWS, and such, which I helped survive against massive dDoS attacks originating from Russian spammers between 2002 and 2005) and thus “burned” … but in some cases, like this one, I am curious where they actually come from.

In this case, no effort is made to hide the origin in the SMTP headers:

Looking up that IP in geo-location services, three different services put it in St Petersburg, Russia (formerly known as ‘Leningrad’, now the second largest city in the Russian Federation):

That does not necessarily mean it is Russians behind it, but for such a lame phishing attempt, it seems hardly useful to run a proxy-server in St Petersburg to make it look like it comes from there.

So, to my friends over there behind the digital iron curtain: nice try! :wink:

Lesson for the esteemed reader: do not ever click on attachments you have the slightest doubt about; if the common-sense-check on a message fails, delete it.

If you are sure it is spam: “junk” it instead of “delete” – as outlined above, it burns the sender e-mail address in a very short time.

And if you actually think such a message could have any validity at all, go directly to your provider’s website (manually!)  and check on it there — let me repeat: do not ever click on any attachments.

Especially if you are of the faithful kind and run Microsoft Windows of any version …

 

 

 

 

 

 

Data on 1.2 Billion Users Found in Exposed AWS Elasticsearch Server

Data on 1.2 Billion Users Found in Exposed AWS Elasticsearch Server

An exposed Elasticsearch server was found to contain data on more than 1.2 billion people, Data Viper security researchers report.

The server was accessible without authentication and it contained 4 billion user accounts, spanning more than 4 terabytes of data, security researchers Bob Diachenko and Vinny Troia discovered last month.

Analysis of the data revealed that it pertained to over 1.2 billion unique individuals and that it included names, email addresses, phone numbers, and LinkedIn and Facebook profile information.

Further investigation led the researchers to the conclusion that the data came from two different data enrichment companies. Thus, the leak in fact represents data aggregated from various sources and kept up to date.

Most of the data was stored in 4 separate data indexes, labeled “PDL” and “OXY”, and the researchers discovered that the labels refer to two data aggregator and enrichment companies, namely People Data Labs and OxyData.

Analysis of the nearly 3 billion PDL user records found on the server revealed the presence of data on roughly 1.2 billion unique people, as well as 650 million unique email addresses.

Not only do these numbers fall in line with the statistics the company posted on their website, but the researchers were able to verify that the data on the server was nearly identical to the information returned by the People Data Labs API.

“The only difference being the data returned by the PDL also contained education histories. There was no education information in any of the data downloaded from the server. Everything else was exactly the same, including accounts with multiple email addresses and multiple phone numbers,” the researchers explain.

Vinny Troia also found in the leak information related to a landline phone number he was given roughly 10 years back as part of an AT&T TV bundle. Although the landline was never used, the information was present on the researcher’s profile, and was included in the data set PeopleDataLabs.com had on him.

The company told the researchers that the exposed server, which resided on Google Cloud, did not belong to it. The data, however, was clearly coming from People Data Labs.

Some of the information on the exposed Elasticsearch, the researchers revealed, came from OxyData, although this company too denied being the owner of that server. After receiving a copy of his own user record with the company, Troia confirmed that the leaked information came from there.

The researchers couldn’t establish who was responsible for leaving the server wide open to the Internet, but suggest that this is a customer of both People Data Labs and OxyData and that the data might have been misused rather than stolen.

“Due to the sheer amount of personal information included, combined with the complexities of identifying the data owner, this has the potential to raise questions on the effectiveness of our current privacy and breach notification laws,” the researchers conclude.

“From the perspective of the people whose information was part of this dump, this doesn’t qualify as a cut-and-dry data breach. The information ‘exposed,’ is already available on LinkedIn, Facebook, GitHub, etc. begging a larger discussion about how we feel about data aggregators who compile this information and sell it, because it’s a standard practice,” Dave Farrow, senior director of information security at Barracuda Networks, told SecurityWeek in an emailed comment.

Jason Kent, hacker at Cequence Security, also commented via email, saying, “Here we see a new and potentially dangerous correlation of data like never before. […] if an attacker has a rich set of data, they can formulate very targeted attacks. The sorts of attacks that can result in knowing password recovery information, financial data, communication patterns, social structures, this is how people in power can be targeted and eventually the attack can work.”

 

from: https://www.securityweek.com/data-12-billion-users-found-exposed-elasticsearch-server

 

 

BRICS Nations Discuss Shared Crypto to Break Away From USD and SWIFT

BRICS Nations Discuss Shared Crypto to Break Away From USD and SWIFT

BRICS is the acronym coined for an association of five major emerging national economies:
Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, or the BRICS economic bloc, are engaging in discussions to issue cross-national digital money in order to reduce the dependence of their economies on the United States, as reported by Cointelegraph on Nov. 14. What will the new cryptocurrency look like, how does the BRICS group plan to use it and are there any existing projects underway that seek to achieve a similar goal of independence on such a high level?

BRICS and its problems

BRICS is the largest geopolitical block of countries, spanning three continents and wielding substantial economic power in global affairs. As of 2018, the five nations of the BRICS block had a combined nominal gross domestic product of $40 trillion, or about 23.2% of the gross world product.

However, such economic power does not come without competitive penchants from other nations that are vying for the markets that BRICS nations cater to. The greatest competition comes from the European Union and the U.S.

The political experience of recent years has shown that BRICS countries’ diplomacy has arguably failed in alleviating international sanctions, especially in politically sensitive markets such as the arms and the energy carriers markets. However, advances in technology are here to help out where politics cannot, as blockchain and digital assets have the potential to open entirely new horizons for finance.

The idea of a single cryptocurrency as a means of payments and value transmission is not a new one, but it is one that is being actively purported not only in countries like Venezuela with its Petro, but also among BRICS countries. The advantages of a single cryptocurrency as a universal means of settlements among BRICS nations would solve many of the problems they face on the global economic market.

A means of circumventing U.S. sanctions

The BRICS Business Council discussed creating a common cryptocurrency as a potential solution to these problems during the 11th BRICS summit that was held in Brazil on Nov. 13–14, according to reports that cite Kirill Dmitriev, a member of the council. Dmitriev, who is the director-general of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, went on to say that an efficient BRICS payment system could be used to stimulate settlements between the countries while reducing the use of the U.S. dollar for these purposes.

It was also reported that the new system may become an alternative to the international payment mechanism SWIFT to facilitate trade with countries under U.S. sanctions.

Dmitriev also noted that in recent years, the share of U.S. dollars payments made between the BRICS countries has significantly decreased. In Russia, for example, over the past five years, the share of USD in foreign trade transactions fell from 92% to 50%, while those made in the Russian ruble rose from 3% to 14%.

At the same time, the potential for reducing the U.S. dollar’s dominance is still great, according to macroeconomic analyst Oleg Dushin, who told Russian media outlet BFM that such could be the case if Russia and India changed the currency they use to make payments between each other.

Dushin also said that Russia and China have already stopped using U.S. dollars in half of their mutual settlements and that there is currently a general trend of driving the dollar out of the international payments system. This, according to the expert, will help BRICS countries weaken the influence of the dollar in the global monetary system and reduce the risk of payments being frozen by Washington.

Denis Smirnov, a blockchain consultant from Russia, noted to BFM the convenience and reduction of transaction costs as some of the advantages of creating a single cryptocurrency system for the BRICS countries, calling it an alternative to bonds.

Commenting on the possibility of BRICS countries using a single cryptocurrency, Vladimir Rozhankovsky, an expert at the International Financial Center, told BFM:

“If it is possible to reduce currency risks, then it is better to carry out trading payments directly, and not through the purchase of dollars — this is obvious. The vast majority of more or less large global economies are now working on this issue.

Peg to gold, not the U.S. dollar

While it is still unknown what the BRICS cryptocurrency will look like exactly, experts are discussing what it could potentially be tied to. Commenting on the possible options that the international cryptocurrency may be tied, Elina Sidorenko, the head of the Russian State Duma’s working group on cryptocurrency issues, said that there are several options on the table.

For example, it could be tied to the value of another cryptocurrency, she told Russian media outlet Dp, “but in this case, it’s impossible to avoid either the continuation of the U.S. dollar’s ​​monopoly,” or it can be pegged to the price of a raw material or a good, but then the risk of market manipulation becomes a threat. She concluded:

“The third option is a link to gold, and taking into account the latest Basel Accords, such a decision seems very convincing and timely.”

Olinga Taeed, a council member and expert advisor at the China E-Commerce Blockchain Committee, told Cointelegraph that the Chinese have been researching the possibility of issuing a gold-backed token due to the country’s access to natural mineral reserves in Africa through China’s Belt and Road Initiative. He went on to add:

“More recently frictionless international trade has come to the fore with DLT looked upon as a possible solution for Brexit for example, replacing the usual 5-10 year gestation period. So the thinking is well rehearsed but what is new here isthe willingness to enact it and for evidence of this there is absolute clarity. Trump has made transparent the long established use of the financial instrument of the dollar to pressurise Iran, Russia, China, etc for non-financial gain.”

Russia seeks an alternative to SWIFT

Russia has been the target of sanctions since 2014. As a result of multiple economic restrictions, Russian authorities have been considering the possibility of creating alternatives to SWIFT.

One of them — the System for Transfer of Financial Messages, or SFPS — is reportedly being used in 18% of money transfers in the country, and foreign financial organizations began to join SPFS in 2018. However, in April, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov noted that SPFS is not a full-fledged replacement for SWIFT and that it is unlikely to become one in the near future.

Now, the Russian government is considering another alternative: a national cryptocurrency secured by gold. Elvira Nabiullina, head of the Central Bank of Russia, said that such a currency could be used to carry out settlements with other countries for trade transactions. However, Nabiullina is also of the opinion that it is more important to develop international settlements facilitated by national currencies rather than crypto.

The sanctions had blocked at least 20% of Russia’s defense transactions in 2018 due their tether to the U.S. dollar. Though Russian authorities are gradually moving toward settlements in national currencies with BRICS states, the idea of a unified cryptocurrency is being openly discussed as an effective, transparent, untraceable and stable instrument for circumventing U.S. sanctions and decreasing dependence on the U.S. dollar.

BRICS states would be able to disregard any exchange rate differences in settlements in a single cryptocurrency, and Russia would gain solid support for its national currency — the ruble — which suffered a twofold drop in value.

China considering a national crypto to bypass U.S. sanctions

China is the leading nation of the BRICS bloc in terms of GDP and the most open nation when it comes to discussions about blockchain implementation. China is intent on accelerating the development of its own central bank-backed digital currency and is working toward the integration of blockchain technologies into other important financial mainstays of the country, such as Alibaba, Tencent and various banking institutions.

Such hasty development could in part be the result of a heated debates about Facebook’s Libra coin. Chinese analysts fear that the development of a global digital currency by a company, which is regarded to have strong affiliations with the U.S., would threaten the existence of national currencies and weaken their exchange rates. Such a stablecoin backed by the U.S. dollar may increase the power of its penetration into the global economy and thus solidify the political positions of Washington.

Chinese authorities are interested not only in the development of a unified cryptocurrency for settlements with BRICS countries but also in the launch of a national cryptocurrency that would serve as a shield against the economic adversary across the Pacific.

Brazil has a positive stance on using stablecoins

Brazil is demonstrating the highest rate of Bitcoin (BTC) trade in Latin America. Such broad penetration of digital assets in Brazil makes it both fertile ground for the development of a national cryptocurrency and firm ground to support for a unified BRICS cryptocurrency for settlements with member states.

Given the country’s positive stance toward blockchain, Brazilian authorities seem to be open to discussions with stablecoin issuers. One recent example is that of the Mile Unity Foundation, whose representatives met with members of Brazil’s Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade and Services to discuss the use of the XDR stablecoin for international transfers of funds.

Given that Brazil had an export/import balance of $219 billion to $140 billion in 2017 alone, the potential for using a single cryptocurrency with BRICS member states for increasing such figures is immense. 

Although Brazil does not suffer from sanctions, its main trade partners in technology, such as Russia, are subject to them. Using the U.S. dollar for mutual settlements between countries leaves little room to maneuver.

India is fighting with poverty and corruption

The Indian authorities are reportedly discussing the introduction of a national digital currency. There may be significant reasons for such a move, not the least of which being the alleviation of the poverty that many of the country’s 1.3 billion are languishing in.

The Reserve Bank of India is pushing for such a digital currency backed and regulated by the central bank as legal tender. The RBI hopes that blockchain can alleviate the issue with corruption, which is rampant in India, and significantly reduce the dependence of millions of Indians working abroad on financial intermediaries in cross-border transfers.

The Indian authorities are also proponents of a national digital currency for reducing the population’s reliance on other digital currencies. Given India’s stance within BRICS as a major buyer of Russian arms and as one of the most important energy trade partners, having mutual settlements in a unified digital currency would open up entirely new prospects for trading.

South Africa is making money transfers accessible for citizens

The possibility of issuing a national digital currency has even been discussed by the South African Reserve Bank, which could allow for its citizens to freely transact without the need for banks.

Given the staggering number of unbanked individuals (estimated to be around 11 million people) and those without any form of official IDs in the country, the availability of a national digital currency would help millions of citizens gain access to financial services and boost economic development. South Africa is just as bound to the U.S. dollar as all the other BRICS members in its settlements with China and Russia, meaning that is also feels the impact of the sanctions regime.

Experts say

According to experts, the idea of creating a digital currency for BRICS may turn out to be highly viable, given the transition of the world from a monopolar political model to a multipolar one and the backdrop of a shift in the economy from traditional financial institutions to trading platforms.

And the main beneficiary so far could be China, which is interested in expanding its sales markets amid a trade war with the U.S. Smirnov told BFM that he believes that over time, such systems will become more widespread:

“For example, for the past two or more years a consortium of several European banks has been testing its own mutual settlement solution that works outside the SWIFT system and allows for interbank settlements.”

The individual national currencies of the BRICS countries have been dropping against the U.S. dollar over the past 10–20 years, but it is unclear whether a unified BRICS payment system would reverse this trend. However, it is possible that the U.S. dollar could be weakened if the share of settlements in dollars significantly decreases around the world.

Among other possible risks that may be associated with the idea of ​​issuing a gold-pegged international digital currency, head of research at investment company Nord Capital Vladimir Rojankovsky noted the deregulation of the market and the possibility of manipulation. He told Russian media outlet Regnum, “Such an implementation of this project does not imply the involvement of any distinguished party, which is a living oversight body.”

Speaking about the further development of the BRICS initiative, Teemo Puutio, an expert in compliance and an adjunct instructor at New York University School of Professional Services, told Cointelegraph:

“Whether the BRICS backed currency would ultimately succeed in gaining traction would largely depend whether it actually facilitates trade instead of adding another layer of technological complexity for the end user. […] BRICS are not alone in this however and it remains unclear whether the dominant digital currency of the future will be public such as the e-Euro or digital yuan or private, like Libra.”

from: https://cointelegraph.com/news/brics-nations-discuss-shared-crypto-to-break-away-from-usd-and-swift

Can hundreds of unrelated satellites create a GPS backup?

Can hundreds of unrelated satellites create a GPS backup?

The Space Development Agency’s head says that position and timing data from low-Earth orbit satellites can be used to verify or replace GPS in denied or degraded environments. (DARPA)

The head of the Space Development Agency wants to use proliferated low-Earth orbit satellites for navigation when GPS is unavailable.

As adversaries develop tools that can jam or spoof Global Positioning System signals, the military has prioritized the development of alternative sources of positioning, navigation and timing data for the war fighter. Solutions range from using real-time drone imagery to chip-scale atomic clocks, but at the Association of the United States Army conference Oct. 16, Acting Director Derek Tournear threw out another idea: using the positioning and timing data of the hundreds of satellites his agency plans to put in orbit for navigation.

The SDA was established earlier this year to rapidly develop a number of capabilities in low-Earth orbit, and the agency’s current plan calls for hundreds of satellites operating in LEO serving a variety of missions, from hypersonic missile detection and tracking to finding and identifying objects in cislunar space. An important component of that architecture is a data transport layer providing a crosslink between satellites in orbit and then bringing that data down to the ground. According to Tournear, that transport layer could be used to transfer positioning and timing data to ground users from satellites without having another dedicated PNT satellite system in orbit.

“If you have this crosslink between satellites, you can do timing transfer. So, you have very good timing information at the satellite level. If you have open communication down to any system and you can see multiple satellites, that gives you another means to use your existing comms system to get navigation independent of any other user equipment,” explained Tournear.

Using the precise timing and positional information of those satellites in LEO, users could triangulate their position in GPS-denied or -degraded environments. It’s essentially the same way smartphones can use cell towers for navigation if they can’t get a GPS signal.

“If you turn off your GPS receiver on your phone, you will still get a navigation signal on your phone based on cellphone towers, because the cellphone towers know their position and they know exact timing, so they can triangulate your position,” said Tournear. “That is not a replacement for how GPS is used for worldwide PNT coverage, but it is another way to get assured PNT and another way to validate a GPS signal.

 

from: https://www.c4isrnet.com/battlefield-tech/c2-comms/2019/11/29/can-hundreds-of-unrelated-satellites-create-a-gps-backup/

 

 

Persistent broadband connection: Intellian’s 1.5 meter antenna can switch between LEO and GEO

Persistent broadband connection: Intellian’s 1.5 meter antenna can switch between LEO and GEO

The US Navy recently live tested a new antenna that can switch between satellites in low earth orbit and geostationary orbit, fulfilling a key need for the military moving forward.

Using Intellian’s 1.5 meter antenna, the Navy was able to maintain a broadband connection while switching between Telesat’s satellites in low earth orbit and geostationary orbit. The demonstration shows how in a scenario where a satellite in geostationary orbit is attacked or denied, the antenna is able to switch to a LEO satellite to maintain a persistent broadband connection.

“Live testing over Telesat Ka-band satellites with Intellian’s 1.5m Ka convertible VSAT confirms that the antenna is an important innovation accessing space-based ‘layers’ of satellites in next-gen space architecture,” said Kurt Fiscko, technical director of PMW/A 170 at PEO C4I in a statement.

“One of the key elements that the government is looking for, particularly the military, is a path to more resilient, more flexible networking in space,” said Telestat’s Don Brown in an interview. “What Telesat is doing in this demonstration with Intellian is addressing one of the key proof points of future resiliency and flexibility … the ability to go between GEO satellite constellation and LEO constellations.”

According to Telesat’s Rich Pang, the antenna is perfectly sized for use on the Navy’s small ship variants.

Telesat is also a contractor working on DARPA’s Project Blackjack, an effort to demonstrate the military utility of a constellation of small LEO satellites. The Space Development Agency is building off of that effort to build the U.S. military’s next generation space architecture in LEO. Comprised of hundreds of small satellites in LEO, that architecture is meant to create resiliency through numbers and provide a backup to many capabilities that are currently provided through a few exquisite satellites in GEO.

“The real impetus for this demonstration is that the government has come out and said, ‘we don’t want to be locked into not only one particular provider, but we want to be able to operate in multiple regimes so we can be disaggregated and resilient,” said Pang. “So if someone attacks the GEO belt and takes out those assets I can switch to LEO, or vise versa.

 

from: https://www.c4isrnet.com/special-reports/space-missile-defense/2019/11/29/this-antenna-can-switch-between-leo-and-geo/

 

 

Cyborg warriors could be here by 2050, DoD study group says

Cyborg warriors could be here by 2050, DoD study group says

A mockup of U.S. SOCOM’s TALOS suit — a bold project,
but one that ultimately brought less tech than initially hoped. (DoD)

Ear, eye, brain and muscular enhancement is “technically feasible by 2050 or earlier,” according to a study released this month by the U.S. Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command.

The demand for cyborg-style capabilities will be driven in part by the civilian healthcare market, which will acclimate people to an industry fraught with ethical, legal and social challenges, according to Defense Department researchers.

Implementing the technology across the military, however, will likely run up against the dystopian narratives found in science fiction, among other issues, the researchers added.

The report — entitled Cyborg Soldier 2050: Human/Machine Fusion and the Implications for the Future of the DOD — is the result of a year-long assessment.

It was written by a study group from the DoD Biotechnologies for Health and Human Performance Council, which is tasked to look at the ripple effects of military biotechnology.

The team identified four capabilities as technically feasible by 2050:

  • ocular enhancements to imaging, sight and situational awareness;
  • restoration and programmed muscular control through an optogenetic bodysuit sensor web;
  • auditory enhancement for communication and protection; and
  • direct neural enhancement of the human brain for two-way data transfer.

The study group suggested that direct neural enhancements in particular could revolutionize combat.

“This technology is predicted to facilitate read/write capability between humans and machines and between humans through brain-to-brain interactions,” an executive summary reads. “These interactions would allow warfighters direct communication with unmanned and autonomous systems, as well as with other humans, to optimize command and control systems and operations.”

Cyborg technologies are likely to be used among civil society as well over the next 30 years, the researchers noted.

Development of these capabilities will probably “be driven by civilian demand” and “a robust bio-economy that is at its earliest stages of development in today’s global market,” the group wrote.

But it’s after the year 2050 that the implications of cyborg capabilities become concerning.

Introduction of augmented human beings into the general population, DoD active-duty personnel, and near-peer competitors will accelerate in the years following 2050 and will lead to imbalances, inequalities, and inequities in established legal, security, and ethical frameworks,” the summary reads.

The study group proposed seven recommendations, listed in no particular order, for Pentagon leaders to consider:

  • The military should take a second look at the global and societal perception of human-machine augmentation. Americans typically imagine China or Russia developing runaway technologies because of a lack of ethical concerns, but “the attitudes of our adversaries toward these technologies have never been verified,” researchers wrote.
  • U.S. political leaders should use forums like NATO to discuss how cyborg advancements could impact interoperability between allied forces during operations.
  • The Pentagon should start investing in legal, security and ethical frameworks to anticipate emerging technologies and better prepare for their impact. Leaders should support policies that “protect individual privacy, sustain security, and manage personal and organizational risk, while maximizing defined benefits to the United States and its allies and assets,” the study group wrote.
  • Military leaders should also work to reverse the “negative cultural narratives of enhancement technologies.” It’s no secret that science fiction’s depiction of cyborg technologies revolves around dystopian futures. Transparency in how the military adopts this technology will help to alleviate concerns, while capitalizing on benefits, according to the study group.
  • The Pentagon should use wargames to gauge the impact of asymmetric biotechnologies on tactics, techniques and procedures. DoD personnel can support this through targeted intelligence assessments of the emerging field.
  • A whole-of-nation, not whole-of-government, approach to cyborg technologies is preferred. As it stands, “federal and commercial investments in these areas are uncoordinated and are being outpaced by Chinese research and development,” the study group wrote. If Chinese firms dominate the commercial sector, the U.S. defense sector will also be at a disadvantage.
  • Finally, the long-term safety concerns and the impact of these technologies on people should be monitored closely.

“The benefits afforded by human/machine fusions will be significant and will have positive quality-of-life impacts on humankind through the restoration of any functionality lost due to illness or injury,” the study group wrote.

But as these technologies evolve, “it is vital that the scientific and engineering communities move cautiously to maximize their potential and focus on the safety of our society,” the study group added.

 

from: https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2019/11/27/cyborg-warriors-could-be-here-by-2050-dod-study-group-says/

 

 

Ripple Finalizes $50 Million Investment To Make MoneyGram Use Its xRapid Product

Ripple Finalizes $50 Million Investment To Make MoneyGram Use Its xRapid Product

Payments startup Ripple has completed the acquisition of its $50 million stake in remittance platform MoneyGram, the companies announced Monday. 

According to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ripple, in its final payment, bought $20 million of MoneyGram equity at a price of $4.10 per share, more than a dollar per share over the stock’s current price of around $3.00. Monday’s investment completes a deal first begun in June 2019.

With the completion of the deal, Ripple owns just under 10 percent of MoneyGram’s outstanding common stock, “and approximately 15 percent on a fully-diluted basis including non-voting warrants held by Ripple,” the filing said.

Under the original deal, Ripple made an initial $30 million investment, while MoneyGram in turn agreed to utilize Ripple’s products for cross-border settlements.

According to the filing, MoneyGram intends to use this capital inflow to support its operations, in particular as it expands its use of Ripple’s On-Demand Liquidity product, the renamed xRapid payment system that utilizes the XRP cryptocurrency.

Since June, MoneyGram has begun using XRP to conduct transactions in Europe, Australia and the Philippines, and currently transacts roughly 10 percent of its Mexican peso foreign exchange trading volume, the filing said.

In a statement, MoneyGram chairman and CEO Alex Holmes said the partnership was “transformative,” noting that the company could settle transactions “in seconds.”

“This initial success encourages us to expedite expanding our use of On-Demand Liquidity,” he said. “I anticipate furthering our growth into new corridors and exploring new products and services.”

Brad Garlinghouse, Ripple’s CEO, added that his firm would support MoneyGram’s “further expansion” into the European and Australian payment corridors.

 

from: https://www.coindesk.com/ripple-finalizes-50-million-moneygram-investment

 

 

 

Cisco Patent Would Secure 5G Networks With a Blockchain

Cisco Patent Would Secure 5G Networks With a Blockchain

Network tech giant Cisco has won a patent detailing how it could leverage blockchain to secure the data in 5G telecommunication networks.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company submitted a patent application in June 2018 for a blockchain platform that can be natively integrated in wireless networks, according to a Nov. 26 filing from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

The blockchain platform aims to manage data sessions between an equipment user, such as a phone or laptop, and a virtual network. In other words, the new technology can manage part of the data exchanges between a network and a connected device via the blockchain interface. 

The company describes how a blockchain platform can be used to support network slices, referring to an architecture that allows multiple independent virtualized networks to run in the same physical infrastructure more efficiently.

“This service-oriented architecture supports network slices, which employ an isolated set of programmable resources that can implement individual network functions and/or application services through software programs within a respective network slice, without interfering with other functions and services on coexisting network slices,” the filing said.

Cisco is among a long list of information technology companies that are exploring the integration of blockchain technologies and Internet of Things (IoT). Companies, such as Bosch, BNY Mellon, Chronicled and Filament, have used Hyperledger, ethereum and Quorum to create or upgrade their products and services.

In September, Cisco partnered with artificial intelligence services provider SingularityNet to decentralize AI systems by preventing one single source from concentrating computers’ capacity to learn through blockchain technologies. The company has also been trying to develop another blockchain technology that would create a more secure environment for group chats in a network, according to a filing dated in March 2018.

 

from: https://www.coindesk.com/cisco-patent-would-secure-5g-networks-with-a-blockchain

 

 

Insecure Microsoft Azure Database Exposes Millions of Private SMS Messages

Insecure Microsoft Azure Database Exposes Millions of Private SMS Messages

Researchers discovered an unprotected TrueDialog database hosted by Microsoft Azure with diverse and business-related data from tens of millions of users.

Tens of millions of SMS messages have been found on an unprotected database, putting the private data of hundreds of millions of people in the United States at risk for theft or exposure and leaving a communications company open for potential intrusion, security researchers discovered.

Noam Rotem and Ran Locar from the research team of vpnMentor found the database, which they said belongs to TrueDialog, a U.S.-based communications company, according to a blog post. Based in Austin, Texas, TrueDialog provides bulk SMS services for small businesses, colleges and universities, which means that the majority of the messages were business-related, researchers said.

Moreover, the insecure database was linked to “many aspects” of TrueDialog’s business, potentially increasing unauthorized access to the data of millions of people as well as exposing an unusually diverse data set, they said.

“Hundreds of millions of people were potentially exposed in a number of ways,” according to the post. “It’s rare for one database to contain such a huge volume of information that’s also incredibly varied.”

Despite companies knowing the risks of leaving data unprotected online in this era of cloud-based storage, insecure databases are a persistent problem and remain one of the leading ways data breaches occur. These breaches not only leave customers and users of the companies who exposed the data at risk, but also leave the owners of the databases more susceptible to security threats as well.

Researchers discovered the exposed TrueDialog database on Nov. 26 and contacted TrueDialog two days later, on the 28th. At last look, the database—hosted by Microsoft Azure and on the Oracle Marketing Cloud–included 604 gigabytes of data, including nearly a billion entries that included “sensitive data,” according to researchers.

Types of data found unprotected included:

  • full names of message recipients,
  • TrueDialog account holders and TrueDialog users;
  • message content;
  • email addresses;
  • phone numbers of both recipients and account users;
  • dates and times that messages were sent;
  • and message status indicators.

The account details of TrueDialog account holders also were exposed in the messages, researchers said.

The scope of the leaky data has broad implications for TrueDialog, their users and the recipients of the messages, researchers said.

For users and message-recipients whose data was exposed, their personal details could be sold to marketers and spammers and used for purposes that range from annoying to criminal.

TrueDialog may get the brunt of the impact, however, researchers said. Not only does the unprotected data harm the company’s reputation and allow competitors to capitalize on this, but it also can give competitors an edge over them by providing insight into TrueDialog’s business model and practices, according to the post.

Bad actors also have an opportunity to find and exploit vulnerabilities within TrueDialog’s system by accessing the logs of internal system errors included in the exposed data, researchers added.

 

from: https://threatpost.com/insecure-database-exposes-millions-of-private-sms-messages/

 

 

France to Test Its Central Bank Digital Euro Currency in Q1/2020

France to Test Its Central Bank Digital Euro Currency in Q1/2020

The central bank of France plans to pilot a central bank digital currency (CBDC) for financial institutions in 2020. François Villeroy de Galhau, the governor of the Bank of France, announced that the bank will start testing the digital euro project by the end of the first quarter 2020, French financial publication Les Echos reports Dec. 4.

The Bank of France confirmed the news on Twitter, noting that the announcement was made at a conference co-hosted by two major French financial regulators, the French Prudential Supervision and Resolution Authority and the Autorité des marchés financiers.

https://twitter.com/banquedefrance/status/1202217934560608256?s=20

Digital euro pilot won’t involve retail customers

According to the report, the digital euro pilot will only target private financial sector players and won’t involve retail payments made by individuals. Villeroy reportedly noted that a digital currency for retail customers would “be subject to special vigilance.”

As reported by Les Echos, the initiative intends to strengthen the efficiency of the French financial system, while ensuring trust in the currency.

Preventing Libra’s impact

Moreover, the project aims to assert France’s sovereignty over private digital currency initiatives like Facebook’s stablecoin Libra, Villeroy reportedly said.

Villeroy’s stance falls in line with previous statements by French finance minister Bruno Le Maire, who argued that regulators cannot allow the launch of Libra on European soil due to monetary sovereignty concerns.

According to some reports, France led the anti-Libra effort alongside Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.

Villeroy calls on France to become the first country in the world to issue a CBDC

According to a tweet by the Bank of France, its governor emphasized that France should become the first country in the world to issue a CBDC and provide an exemplary model to other jurisdictions. He stated:

“I see the interest in rapidly advancing the issuance of at least one central bank digital currency in order to be the leading issuer globally and get the benefits associated with providing an exemplary central bank digital currency.”

France has emerged as a major adopter of blockchain tech and Bitcoin

Meanwhile, France has appeared to be at the forefront of adopting crypto and blockchain technology as its government has initiated and encouraged a number of industry-related projects.

In late November 2019, the first deputy governor of the Bank of France called for a blockchain-based settlements and payments systems in Europe. As reported by Cointelegraph on Nov. 20, the French Armies and Gendarmerie’s Information and Public Relations Center was validating judicial expenses incurred during investigations on the Tezos (XTZ) blockchain at the time.

Alongside developments in blockchain, France has also emerged as a major adopter of biggest cryptocurrency, Bitcoin (BTC). In mid-October, French crypto startup Keplerk relaunched its service to accept Bitcoin payments in over 5,200 tobacco shops in France. Previously, Cointelegraph reported that at least 30 French retailers plan to launch Bitcoin payments support at over 25,000 sales points by early 2020.

 

from: https://cointelegraph.com/news/france-to-test-its-central-bank-digital-currency-in-q1-2020-official

 

 

$100M Funding: can industry help US Air Force Research Lab develop new Cyber and SIGINT tech?

$100M Funding: can industry help US Air Force Research Lab develop new Cyber and SIGINT tech?

A notice is asking for industry’s help in developing new and innovative cyber and signals intelligence technologies. (Greg Davis/U.S. Air Force/Getty Images)

The Air Force is asking for industry’s help developing advanced cyber and signals intelligence technologies. Specifically, the Air Force Research Lab wants technologies that can improve extraction, identification, analysis and reporting of tactical information to support intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; protect forces with digital systems; and support battlespace awareness.

In a notice posted online Dec. 4, the service is asking for white papers in an ongoing basis from now until 2021; from these, it will invite certain companies to issue formal proposals.

The total funding for the effort is $99.9 million, which will be broken up in fiscal years 2019 to 2021.

The notice states that technology needs range from quick reaction to critical near-term shortfalls to proof-of-concept.

The request is broken into two parts. The first portion covers ISR information for signals intelligence in order to discover new and innovative methods and processing techniques to provide decision-makers with near real-time ISR.

The second portion includes research to develop methods for the detection, identification, characterization and geolocation of emerging communications; advance digital signal processing software to provide new and existing systems and waveforms; as well as provide new and innovative software and hardware architectures for standoff collection systems and software-defined radios from either airborne or ground-based platforms operating in dense signal environments, to name a few.

from: https://www.c4isrnet.com/battlefield-tech/2019/12/04/the-air-force-wants-help-with-these-technologies/

***

https://beta.sam.gov/opp/ed88173366ce46b7a25a3f39bf8ec42a/view?keywords=%22cyber%22&sort=-modifiedDate&index=opp&is_active=true&page=1

 

 

 

 

 

 

By continuing to use this site, you agree to the use of cookies. Please consult the Privacy Policy page for details on data use. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close