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ESET Discovers 21 New Linux Malware Families - In a report published last week by cyber-security firm ESET, the company detailed 21 "new" Linux malware families. All operate in the same manner, as trojanized versions of the OpenSSH client. From a report: They are developed as second-stage tools to be deployed in more complex "botnet" schemes. Attackers would compromise a Linux system, usually a server, and then replace the legitimate OpenSSH installation with one of the trojanized versions.

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(2018-12-10T22:00:00+00:00)

Scientists Identify Vast Underground Ecosystem Containing Billions of Micro-organisms - The Earth is far more alive than previously thought, according to "deep life" studies that reveal a rich ecosystem beneath our feet that is almost twice the size of that found in all the world's oceans. From a report: Despite extreme heat, no light, minuscule nutrition and intense pressure, scientists estimate this subterranean biosphere is teeming with between 15bn and 23bn tonnes of micro-organisms, hundreds of times the combined weight of every human on the planet. Researchers at the Deep Carbon Observatory say the diversity of underworld species bears comparison to the Amazon or the Galapagos Islands, but unlike those places the environment is still largely pristine because people have yet to probe most of the subsurface. "It's like finding a whole new reservoir of life on Earth," said Karen Lloyd, an associate professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. "We are discovering new types of life all the time. So much of life is within the Earth rather than on top of it." The team combines 1,200 scientists from 52 countries in disciplines ranging from geology and microbiology to chemistry and physics. A year before the conclusion of their 10-year study, they will present an amalgamation of findings to date before the American Geophysical Union's annual meeting opens this week.

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(2018-12-10T21:20:00+00:00)

Malicious Sites Abuse 11-Year-Old Firefox Bug That Mozilla Failed To Fix - Malware authors, ad farmers, and scammers are abusing a Firefox bug to trap users on malicious sites. From a report: This wouldn't be a big deal, as the web is fraught with this kind of malicious sites, but these websites aren't abusing some new never-before-seen trick, but a Firefox bug that Mozilla engineers appear to have failed to fix in the 11 years ever since it was first reported back in April 2007. The bug narrows down to a malicious website embedding an iframe inside their source code. The iframe makes an HTTP authentication request on another domain. [...] For the past few years, malware authors, ad farmers, and scammers have been abusing this bug to lure users on sites where they show all sorts of nasties, such as tech support scams, ad farms that reload the page with new ads in a loop, pages that push users to buy fake gift cards, or sites that offer malware-laced software updates. Whenever users try to leave, the owners of these shady sites trigger the authentification modal in a loop.

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(2018-12-10T20:40:00+00:00)

What is the Future of Office Spaces? - An anonymous reader shares a World Economic Forum report: A lot of us spend long stretches in the office, but outdated design could be damaging our wellbeing and mental health. What's more, it's killing our productivity. One study found that office workers spend more time sitting than pensioners, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes and even cancer. That's why forward-looking designers are finding ways to build spaces that heal rather than hurt us. Going beyond the already ubiquitous standing desks and social "breakout sofas," the office of the future is healthy, harmonious and happy. Here's how it's beginning to take shape.

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(2018-12-10T20:00:00+00:00)

Start-Ups Aren't Cool Anymore - A lack of personal savings, competition from abroad, and the threat of another economic downturn make it harder for Millennials to thrive as entrepreneurs. From a story: Research suggests entrepreneurial activity has declined among Millennials. The share of people under 30 who own a business has fallen to almost a quarter-century low, according to a 2015 Wall Street Journal analysis of Federal Reserve data. A survey of 1,200 Millennials conducted in 2016 by the Economic Innovation Group found that more Millennials believed they could have a successful career by staying at one company and attempting to climb the ladder than by founding a new one. Two years ago, EIG's president and co-founder, John Lettieri, testified before the U.S. Senate, "Millennials are on track to be the least entrepreneurial generation in recent history." Some of the reasons have been well-documented. The romantic view of entrepreneurship involves angel investors and venture capital funds, but in fact, the ordinary entrepreneur is more likely to fund a start-up using personal savings -- something underemployed Millennials simply could not build as they entered the workforce during or in the immediate wake of the Great Recession. Funding from friends and family is the next most common source, but this personal network could not help much during the most recent economic downturn, when so much home equity was underwater. Student debt worsened the underlying economic problems. According to a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, between 2004 and 2014, the number of student borrowers rose by 89 percent. Lately, though, it seems that even those who might typically have access to other forms of funding, like venture capital, are having a hard time getting investors' attention. As Matt Krisiloff, a former director at the Y Combinator start-up accelerator in Silicon Valley, tweeted, "Start-ups are a lot less cool than they used to be." Michael Sadler, an economist at the University of Texas at Austin, is concerned about the rising concentration of start-up investment in just a few super-performing regions such as Austin, New York, and Silicon Valley. As with American politics, it appears the geography of U.S. venture capital and economic growth has become increasingly polarized.

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(2018-12-10T19:20:00+00:00)

Google Will Shut Down Google+ Four Months Early After Second Data Leak - Google+ has suffered another data leak, and Google has decided to shut down the consumer version of the social network four months earlier than it originally planned. From a report: Google+ will now close to consumers in April, rather than August. Additionally, API access to the network will shut down within the next 90 days. According to Google, the new vulnerability impacted 52.5 million users, who could have had profile information like their name, email address, occupation, and age exposed to developers, even if their account was set to private. Apps could also access profile data that had been shared with a specific user, but was not shared publicly.

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(2018-12-10T18:40:00+00:00)

Video Games Won't Be Part of the Paris Olympics - The Olympic Games regularly add new events, but officials aren't quite ready to embrace eSports. From a report: This weekend, the International Olympic Committee met for the 7th Olympic Summit, where competitive video gaming was among the topics of discussion. The verdict? It's still "premature" to discuss including them in the Olympic games. That's bound to be disappointing to supporters, who had hoped for a breakthrough in the 2024 Paris games. Tony Estanguet, co-president of the Paris Olympic committee, is a proponent of bringing video games to the Olympics.

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(2018-12-10T17:55:00+00:00)

Nasa's Voyager 2 Probe 'Leaves the Solar System' - The Voyager 2 probe, which left Earth in 1977, has become the second human-made object to leave our Solar System. From a report: It was launched 16 days before its twin craft, Voyager 1, but that probe's faster trajectory meant that it was in "the space between the stars" six years before Voyager 2. The news was revealed at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in Washington. And chief scientist on the mission, Prof Edward Stone, confirmed it. He said both probes had now "made it into interstellar space" and that Voyager 2's date of departure from the Solar System was 5 November 2018. On that date, the steady stream of particles emitted from the Sun that were being detected by the probe suddenly dipped. This indicated that it had crossed the "heliopause" -- the term for the outer edge of the Sun's protective bubble of particles and magnetic field. And while its twin craft beat it to this boundary, the US space agency says that Voyager 2 has a working instrument aboard that will provide "first-of-its-kind observations of the nature of this gateway into interstellar space".

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(2018-12-10T17:10:00+00:00)

Qualcomm Says It Won Case Banning Sale of Older iPhones in China - Qualcomm says it has won a ruling in China against Apple that bans the sale of some iPhone models in that country. From a report: The Fuzhou Intermediate People's Court ruled that Apple is infringing two Qualcomm patents and issued injunctions against the sale of the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, the San Diego, California-based chipmaker said in a statement Monday. The most recent models introduced in September, the iPhone XS, XR and XS Max, are not covered by the ban.

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(2018-12-10T16:20:00+00:00)

UK Just Banned the National Health Service From Buying Any More Fax Machines - The UK's NHS will be banned from buying fax machines from next month -- and has been told by the government to phase out the machines entirely by 31 March 2020. From a report: More than 9,000 fax machines are in use by the NHS, a July survey found. All will be replaced by email, according to a report from the BBC. The shift, ordered by UK health secretary Matt Hancock, is intended to improve patient safety and make communications more secure. Rebecca McIntyre, a cognitive behavioral therapist, told the BBC that using fax machines made it difficult to ensure patient's information was actually sent to the right place, and that it wasn't being seen by non-authorized people. "You would not believe the palaver we have in the work place trying to communicate important documents to services (referrals etc)," she said. "We constantly receive faxes meant for other places in error but this is never reported." Further reading: The Fax is Not Yet Obsolete.

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(2018-12-10T16:00:00+00:00)

Driveway Encounter With Microsoft's President Led To $25 Million For Code.org - Long time reader theodp writes: At Monday's kickoff event with Melinda Gates for Computer Science Education Week 2018, Microsoft President Brad Smith revealed how a 2013 driveway encounter led to Microsoft's decision to commit $25 million to Code.org, whose CEO Hadi Partovi happens to live next door to Smith. "At the top of the hill, we share a common driveway," Smith said. "I can't even drive into the garage at night if he is standing in the way. Well, actually I can, but running him over is not the right path." Five years ago, Smith recalled, Partovi was in his driveway (King of the Hill-inspired artist's impression), "and he said, 'I have an idea [for then-nascent Code.org]. There is an important problem that we can help solve, because for too many people they look at these opportunities in computer science, and they don't appreciate that in truth anybody can aspire to be the next Melinda Gates or the next Bill Gates or the next Jeff Bezos or the next Sheryl Sandberg or Mark Zuckerberg. What they need, what they deserve, is the opportunity to learn this fundamental field.'" Earlier this year, Code.org celebrated its 5th anniversary and thanked Microsoft and other tech donors for making it possible for the nonprofit to change U.S. K-12 public education. Smith also announced Monday that Microsoft would invest an additional $10 million in Code.org to help expand the tech-bankrolled nonprofit's work. "The renewed partnership," Microsoft explained, "will focus on ensuring that by 2020 every state will have passed policies to expand access to computer science and every school in the U.S. will have access to Code.org professional development."

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(2018-12-10T15:20:00+00:00)

Netflix's Biggest Competition Isn't Sleep -- It's YouTube - Netflix CEO Reed Hastings loves to identify sleep as the biggest competition of its service. "Sometimes employees at Netflix think, 'Oh my god, we're competing with FX, HBO, or Amazon, but think about it. If you didn't watch Netflix last night: What did you do? There's such a broad range of things that you did to relax and unwind, hang out, and connect -- and we compete with all of that," he once said. "You get a show or a movie you're really dying to watch, and you end up staying up late at night, so we actually compete with sleep," he added. Turns out, Hastings does not need to look that far for competition. From a report: Despite Netflix and Amazon investing billions of dollars in producing original content, they are struggling to make inroads in emerging markets. YouTube, on the other hand, is growing rapidly, becoming a daily habit for even new internet users. In India, for instance, YouTube reaches 245 million unique users each month, or 85 percent of all internet users in the country, the company told VentureBeat. About 60 percent of all YouTube traffic in India comes from outside of its six major cities. [Globally, YouTube has 1.9 billion monthly active users.] As consumption on YouTube grows, creators are also finding loyal audiences. In India alone, YouTube now has more than 600 channels with more than 1 million subscribers, up from 20 channels in 2016. Record label T-Series, which is fighting with PewDiePie for the title of most-subscribed YouTube channel, took 10 years to get to its first 10 million subscribers. In the last two years, it has grown to 60 million subscribers. Globally, YouTube says the number of channels with more than 1 million subscribers has grown by 75 percent this year. Globally, YouTube told VentureBeat that 75 percent of the platform's watch time occurs on a mobile device. The average watch time for a mobile user is 60 minutes per day. Or in other words, this is the time a user could have spent watching Netflix. According to eMarketer's estimates, an average user would spend about 86 minutes per day watching digital videos on streaming services this year.

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(2018-12-10T14:40:00+00:00)

Your Apps Know Where You Were Last Night, and They're Not Keeping It Secret - Dozens of companies use smartphone locations to help advertisers and even hedge funds. They say it's anonymous, but the data shows how personal it is. From a report: The millions of dots on the map trace highways, side streets and bike trails -- each one following the path of an anonymous cellphone user. One path tracks someone from a home outside Newark to a nearby Planned Parenthood, remaining there for more than an hour. Another represents a person who travels with the mayor of New York during the day and returns to Long Island at night. [...] An app on the device gathered her location information, which was then sold without her knowledge. It recorded her whereabouts as often as every two seconds, according to a database of more than a million phones in the New York area that was reviewed by The New York Times. At least 75 companies receive anonymous, precise location data from apps whose users enable location services to get local news and weather or other information, The Times found. Several of those businesses claim to track up to 200 million mobile devices in the United States -- about half those in use last year. The database reviewed by The Times -- a sample of information gathered in 2017 and held by one company -- reveals people's travels in startling detail, accurate to within a few yards and in some cases updated more than 14,000 times a day.

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(2018-12-10T14:00:00+00:00)

Global Carbon Emissions Jump To All-Time High in 2018 - Global carbon emissions will jump to a record high in 2018, according to a report, dashing hopes a plateau of recent years would be maintained. It means emissions are heading in the opposite direction to the deep cuts urgently needed, say scientists, to fight climate change. From a report: The rise is due to the growing number of cars on the roads and a renaissance of coal use and means the world remains on the track to catastrophic global warming. However, the report's authors said the emissions trend can still be turned around by 2020, if cuts are made in transport, industry and farming emissions. The research by the Global Carbon Project was launched at the UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland, where almost 200 nations are working to turn the vision of tackling climate change agreed in Paris in 2015 into action. The report estimates CO2 emissions will rise by 2.7% in 2018, sharply up on the plateau from 2014-16 and 1.6% rise in 2017. Almost all countries are contributing to the rise, with emissions in China up 4.7%, in the US by 2.5% and in India by 6.3% in 2018. The EU's emissions are near flat, but this follows a decade of strong falls. "The global rise in carbon emissions is worrying, because to deal with climate change they have to turn around and go to zero eventually," said Prof Corinne Le Quere, at the University of East Anglia,who led the research published in the journal Nature. "We are not seeing action in the way we really need to. This needs to change quickly."

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(2018-12-10T11:30:00+00:00)

Alexa is Implementing Self-Learning Techniques To Better Understand Users - In a developer blog post published this week, Alexa AI director of applied science Ruhi Sarikaya detailed the advances in machine learning technologies that have allowed Alexa to better understand users through contextual clues. From a report: According to Sarikaya, these improvements have played a role in reducing user friction and making Alexa more conversational. Since this fall, Amazon has been working on self-learning techniques that teach Alexa to automatically recover from its own errors. The system has been in beta until now, and it launched in the US this week. It doesn't require any human annotation, and, according to Sarikaya, it uses customers' "implicit or explicit contextual signals to detect unsatisfactory interactions or failures of understanding." The contextual signals range from customers' historical activity, preferences, and what Alexa skills they use to where the Alexa device is located in the home and what kind of Alexa device it is. For example, during the beta phase, Alexa learned to understand a customer's mistaken command of "Play 'Good for What'" and correct them by playing Drake's song "Nice for What."

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(2018-12-10T09:30:00+00:00)