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Android

Google Play Shows Warning To Anyone Searching For Fortnite APKs (betanews.com) 25

Mark Wilson quotes a report from BetaNews: The arrival of Fortnite on Android has not only been eagerly awaited, but also steeped in controversy. In addition to making the game a Samsung exclusive (for a few days, anyway), Epic Games decided to bypass Google Play and host APK downloads on its own servers. But this isn't going to stop people looking for Fortnite in the Play Store. Google is well aware of this, and that there is the potential for fake, scam apps to appear, tricking users into downloading something malicious. As such, the company is taking action, and is showing a warning to anyone who searches for Fortnite in Google Play. Conduct a search for Fortnite in Google's app store and you'll be greeted by a message that reads "Fortnite Battle Royale by Epic Games, Inc is not available on Google Play." Searchers are also advised that Fortnite rival PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) is available to download.
Government

11-Year-Old Changes Election Results On Florida's Website: Defcon 2018 (pbs.org) 95

UnknowingFool writes: At this year's DEFCON, a group of 50 children aged 8 to 16 participated in a hack of 13 imitation election websites. One 11-year-old boy changed the voting results in 10 minutes. A 11 year-old-girl was also able to change the voting results in 30 minutes. Overall, more than 30 of the 50 children were able to hack the websites in some form. The so-called "DEFCON Voting Machine Hacking Village" allowed kids the chance to manipulate vote tallies, party names, candidate names and vote count totals. The 11-year-old girl was able to triple the number of votes found on the website in under 15 minutes.

The National Association of Secretaries of State said in a statement that it is "ready to work with civic-minded members of the DEFCON community wanting to become part of a proactive team effort to secure our elections." But the organization expressed skepticism over the hackers' abilities to access the actual state websites. "It would be extremely difficult to replicate these systems since many states utilize unique networks and custom-built databases with new and updated security protocols," it read. "While it is undeniable websites are vulnerable to hackers, election night reporting websites are only used to publish preliminary, unofficial results for the public and the media. The sites are not connected to vote counting equipment and could never change actual election results."
Intel

Intel's 9th Gen Processors Rumored To Launch In October With 8 Cores (theverge.com) 88

According to a new report from Wccftech, Intel will introduce new Core i9, i7, and i5 chips on October 1st that will be branded as 9th generation processors. The Verge reports: The mainstream flagship processor, Intel's Core i9-9900K, is expected to ship with 8 cores and 16 threads. Leaked documents show that this will be the first mainstream Core i9 desktop processor, and will include 16 MB of L3 cache and Intel's UHD 620 graphics chip. Even Intel's 9th gen Core i7 processor is expected to ship with 8 cores and 8 threads (up from the current 6 cores), with the Core i5 shipping with 6 cores and 6 threads. Intel is reportedly launching its unlocked overclockable processors first, followed by more 9th generation processors early next year.
The Military

Should the US Air Force Bomb Forest Fires? (popularmechanics.com) 216

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Popular Mechanics: Earlier this summer, the Swedish Air Force dropped a laser-guided bomb on a forest fire to help suppress the flames. Now there's a proposal for the United States to do the same, using the might of the U.S. Air Force to fight America's raging forest fires via bombs and sonic booms. F-15 Strike Eagle Weapon System Officer Mike Benitez, writing in War on the Rocks, proposes using B-1 bombers stuffed to the gills with bombs to battle wildfires on the American homefront. The idea here is to snuff out fires the way you'd blow out birthday candles at the base. In Sweden, the shockwave from a single bomb snuffed out flames within a 100-yard radius of the impact point. So, Benitez reasons, why not load up a heavy strategic bomber with up to 84 bombs and do some serious firefighting?

Benitez chose the B-1 for his hypothetical scenario not only because of its bomb-carrying capability, but for the same reason the heavy bomber became a close air support platform of choice in Afghanistan: its long range translated into persistence over the battlefield, enabling the big bomber to hang around above friendly forces and bomb the Taliban for hours. The B-1 could do donuts in the skies over a wildfire as firefighters on the ground work out the best way to tackle it. The B-1 wouldn't carry just any bomb, either, but ordinance that was designed for firefighting. Most bombs use a steel casing that fragments into deadly shrapnel, but this would be unnecessary (and dangerous) when fighting fires. A firefighting bomb would use a combustible casing that would disintegrate on impact. Ideally the bomb would use a thermobaric warhead, one that kills via overpressure, as it generates even more powerful blast waves than traditional high-explosive bombs.

Software

Bethesda Blocks Resale of a Secondhand Game (polygon.com) 136

theshowmecanuck writes: Bethesda just pulled a cease and desist on an Amazon Marketplace sale of one of their games. This, despite the fact that the resale of used games is legal in the USA. Bethesda is saying that because it isn't being offered with a warranty, it is not protected through the First Sale Doctrine. UPDATE: The game in question was sealed and unopened, technically not "used," but being sold secondhand. In a letter sent to the seller by Bethesda's legal firm, they made the argument that the sale was not "by an authorized reseller," and was therefore "unlawful." Bethesda also took issue with the seller's use of the word "new" in selling the unwrapped game, claiming that this constituted "false advertising."

Bethesda offered the following statement: "Bethesda does not and will not block the sale of pre-owned games. The issue in this case is that the seller offered a pre-owned game as 'new' on the Amazon Marketplace. We do not allow non-authorized resellers to represent what they sell as 'new' because we can't verify that the game hasn't been opened and repackaged. This is how we help protect buyers from fraud and ensure our customers always receive authentic new product, with all enclosed materials and warranty intact. In this case, if the game had been listed as 'Pre-Owned,' this would not have been an issue."
Chrome

Chromebooks May Get Apple Boot Camp-Like Windows 10 Dual Boot With 'Campfire' (xda-developers.com) 76

Google is reportedly working on a secret project to get Windows 10 running on Chromebooks. XDA Developers' Kieran Miyamoto reports on the latest developments surrounding "Campfire" -- the Chromebook equivalent of Apple's Boot Camp. From the report: Earlier this year, a mysterious project appeared on the Chromium Git. The Chrome OS developers had created a new firmware branch of the Google Pixelbook called eve-campfire and were working on a new "Alt OS mode" for this branch. We have since confirmed this Alt OS refers to Microsoft Windows 10 and found evidence that it wasn't just an internal project but intended for public release.

The developers have reworked the way in which they distribute updates to a rarely-used section of ROM on Chromebooks called RW_LEGACY. The RW_LEGACY section on a Chromebook's ROM traditionally gives users the ability to dual-boot into an alternative OS, but it is something of an afterthought during production and the section is rarely updated after a device leaves the factory. Now, with Campfire, Google will push signed updates to RW_LEGACY via the regular auto-update process, so firmware flashing won't be a concern for Joe Public. A recent commit for enabling Alt OS through crosh with a simple [alt_os enable] command indicates that it will be a fairly easy setup process from the user's end too.
We may expect to see the first demo of "Campfire" at Google's upcoming Pixel 3 launch event in October. Also, the report notes that the Google Pixelbook won't be the only Chromebook with Campfire support, citing "mentions of multiple 'campfire variants.'"
Oracle

Oracle Accused of Defrauding Investors On Cloud Sales Growth (bloomberg.com) 57

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Oracle is named in a lawsuit alleging the company's executives lied to shareholders when they explained why cloud sales were growing. The investor leading the case, the City of Sunrise Firefighters' Pension Fund, claimed Oracle engaged in coercion and threats to sell its cloud-computing products, creating an unsustainable model that fell apart, according to the suit seeking class-action status and filed Friday in San Jose, California. The Florida-based firefighter pension fund and other investors lost money when Oracle's stock plummeted in March after reporting a disappointing earnings report and outlook, according to the lawsuit.

The suit claimed that Oracle's executives lied in forward-looking statements, which are never guaranteed, during earnings calls and at investor conferences in 2017 when they said customers were rapidly adopting their cloud-based products and cloud sales would accelerate. The firefighter pension, which manages about $143 million for 235 participants, alleged that Oracle used software license audits and weakened existing maintenance programs to compel customers to buy the cloud products.

NASA

NASA Successfully Launches Parker Solar Probe (engadget.com) 56

NASA's Sun-chasing Parker Solar Probe successfully launched this morning at 3:31AM. A couple hours later, NASA confirmed that the vessel was healthy.

The probe still has a ways to go before it's conducting scientific studies. "It'll spend its first week in space deploying its high-gain antenna, the first part of its electric field antennas and its magnetometer," reports Engadget. "In early September, the probe will start a roughly four-week instrument shakedown to be sure it's ready for science gathering." From the report: The trip to the Sun will take a while. NASA's probe will pass by Venus a total of seven times (starting in early October) as it uses the planet's gravity to whip itself ever closer to the star. The spacecraft will make its first close approach in early November, when it will travel 15 million miles from the Sun -- inside the Sun's corona (aka the solar atmosphere). Its closest approach will put it at just 3.8 million miles from the Sun, at which point it should be the fastest-ever human-made object with a speed of 430,000MPH. The first science data should return sometime in December. The New York Times has a neat video explaining how the Parker Solar Probe will touch the Sun. Meanwhile, Fox News has a dialogue-free clip of the actual launch.
Security

AWS Error Exposed GoDaddy Business Secrets (zdnet.com) 69

Internal information belonging to hosting provider GoDaddy has been exposed via an error in Amazon's AWS bucket configuration. According to cybersecurity firm UpGuard, a set of documents were left in an Amazon S3 bucket which was available to the public. ZDNet reports: The information involved in the security breach appeared to describe GoDaddy's architecture, as well as "high-level configuration information for tens of thousands of systems and pricing options for running those systems in Amazon AWS, including the discounts offered under different scenarios," according to UpGuard. Configuration files for hostnames, operating systems, workloads, AWS regions, memory, CPU specifications, and more were included in the exposed cache, which described at least 24,000 systems.

"Essentially, this data mapped a very large scale AWS cloud infrastructure deployment, with 41 different columns on individual systems, as well as summarized and modeled data on totals, averages, and other calculated fields," the cybersecurity firm said. The open bucket, called "abbottgodaddy," also included what the company believes to be business information relating to GoDaddy and Amazon AWS' relationship, including rate negotiations. This information should have been kept confidential. The open bucket, called "abbottgodaddy," also included what the company believes to be business information relating to GoDaddy and Amazon AWS' relationship, including rate negotiations. This information should have been kept confidential.

Transportation

Tesla Will Open Its Security Code To Other Car Manufacturers (engadget.com) 90

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced he would share the source code for Tesla's car security software with other manufacturers, adding that it would be "extremely important" to ensure the safety of future self-driving cars. Engadget reports: Musk didn't provide a timeline for availability, and you might not want to get your hopes up when it took years for Tesla just to post any source code. And this isn't strictly a selfless gesture. If rival brands adopt Tesla's approach, it could set an unofficial standard for connected car security that would look good from a marketing standpoint. The code could provide a boost to connected car security if and when it arrives. There are few common frameworks (technical or legal) for safeguarding networked vehicles, and security might not always be a top priority. This could give companies a baseline level of security that would save brands the trouble of developing an effective defense from scratch.
Data Storage

Watch Fish Swim By Petabytes of Data At Microsoft's Underwater Data Center (vice.com) 84

An anonymous reader quotes a report fro Motherboard: In June, Microsoft announced that it had placed a self-sufficient, waterproof data center off the coast of the Orkney Islands in Scotland. The data center, loaded with 864 servers capable of handling 27.6 petabytes of data, represented the culmination of nearly four years of research and development on the project, codenamed Natick. The underwater data center is the first of its kind. It's a proof of concept that aims to cut down on one of the biggest costs of running a data center on land -- cooling -- and can be rapidly deployed anywhere in the world. Due to the experimental nature of the project, however, Microsoft needed to keep a close eye on its pilot project. In order to monitor the environmental conditions around the tank, it placed two cameras nearby that livestream from the bottom of the ocean 24/7.
Open Source

Researchers Use Machine-Learning Techniques To De-Anonymize Coders (wired.com) 64

At the DefCon hacking conference on Friday, Rachel Greenstadt, an associate professor of computer science at Drexel University, and Aylin Caliskan, Greenstadt's former PhD student and now an assistant professor at George Washington University, presented a number of studies they've conducted using machine learning techniques to de-anonymize the authors of code samples. "Their work could be useful in a plagiarism dispute, for instance, but it could also have privacy implications, especially for the thousands of developers who contribute open source code to the world," reports Wired. From the report: First, the algorithm they designed identifies all the features found in a selection of code samples. That's a lot of different characteristics. Think of every aspect that exists in natural language: There's the words you choose, which way you put them together, sentence length, and so on. Greenstadt and Caliskan then narrowed the features to only include the ones that actually distinguish developers from each other, trimming the list from hundreds of thousands to around 50 or so. The researchers don't rely on low-level features, like how code was formatted. Instead, they create "abstract syntax trees," which reflect code's underlying structure, rather than its arbitrary components. Their technique is akin to prioritizing someone's sentence structure, instead of whether they indent each line in a paragraph.

The method also requires examples of someone's work to teach an algorithm to know when it spots another one of their code samples. If a random GitHub account pops up and publishes a code fragment, Greenstadt and Caliskan wouldn't necessarily be able to identify the person behind it, because they only have one sample to work with. (They could possibly tell that it was a developer they hadn't seen before.) Greenstadt and Caliskan, however, don't need your life's work to attribute code to you. It only takes a few short samples.

Businesses

PC Case Maker CaseLabs Closes Permanently (pcgamer.com) 332

U.S.-based PC case manufacturer, CaseLabs, announced on social media that it is "closing permanently" and will not be able to fill all current orders. "We have been forced into bankruptcy and liquidation," CaseLabs said in a statement. "The tariffs have played a major role raising prices by almost 80 percent (partly due to associated shortages), which cut deeply into our margins. The default of a large account added greatly to the problem... We reached out for a possible deal that would allow us to continue on and persevere through these difficult times, but in the end, it didn't happen." PC Gamer reports: CaseLabs is likely referring to the growing number of tariffs being enforced on Chinese imports by the United States government. China and the US are currently engaged in a trade war, causing many U.S. companies to lose money, lay off employees, or close entirely. CaseLabs went on to say that it won't be able to fill the backlog of case orders, but other parts will most likely ship to customers. "We are so incredibly sorry this is happening. Our user community has been very devoted to us and it's awful to think that we have let any of you down."
Businesses

Saudi Fund in Talks to Invest in Tesla Buyout Deal, Report Says (bloomberg.com) 194

Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund is in talks that could see it becoming a significant investor in Tesla as part of Elon Musk's plan to take the electric car maker private, Bloomberg reported Sunday, citing a person with direct knowledge of the fund's plans. From the report: The Public Investment Fund, which has built up a stake just shy of 5 percent in Tesla in recent months, is exploring how it can be involved in the potential deal, the person said on condition of anonymity. Discussions began before the controversial Aug. 7 tweet by Musk, who is Tesla's co-founder and chief executive officer, saying he was weighing a plan to take the company private. The PIF sees its investment in Tesla as a strategic way for the world's biggest crude producer to hedge against oil, the person said. The Saudi fund hasn't made any firm decisions on whether to increase its stake, or by how much, but talks are ongoing, the person said. It wasn't immediately clear how much the fund would invest in Tesla.
Biotech

Will the Food Industry Botch the Introduction Of Gene-Edited Foods? (sfgate.com) 152

We've reached a milestone in gene-edited food, according to the Washington Post. "Calyxt's 'healthier' soybean oil, the industry's first true gene-edited food, could make its way into products such as chips, salad dressings and baked goods as soon as the end of this year." Calyxt's soybean is the first of 23 gene-edited crops the Agriculture Department has recognized to date.... Scientists at Calyxt, a subsidiary of the French pharmaceutical firm Cellectis, developed their soybean by turning "off" the genes responsible for the trans fats in soybean oil. Compared with the conventional version, Calyxt says, oil made from this soybean boasts far more "healthy" fats, and far less of the fats that raise bad cholesterol. Chief executive Federico Tripodi likes to say the product is akin to olive oil but without the pungent flavor that would make it off-putting in Oreos or granola bars.

It has earned praise from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer group that says public health will benefit from ingredients with less trans and saturated fats, regardless of how they were developed.... Scientists in university labs and at companies such as Calyxt are already designing plants that are more nutritious, convenient and sustainable, they say.... [U]niversities around the country are working on plants that will withstand droughts, diseases and the ravages of climate change. Such improvements, underway in crops as diverse as oranges, wine grapes and cacao, could protect these plants in the future while cutting down water and chemical use, experts say....

While Congress passed a law requiring food makers to disclose genetically modified ingredients in 2016, those rules will probably not apply to foods made with newer gene-editing techniques, said experts who had reviewed it. Calyxt has marketed its soybean oil to food-makers as "non-GMO," citing the fact that it contains no foreign genetic material. But consumers are unlikely to accept this distinction, said Michael Hansen, a senior staff scientist at Consumers Union. Hansen argues that GMOs developed a negative reputation in part because biotech companies botched public outreach in the 1980s and 1990s. Should businesses repeat that mistake, he said, consumers will reject a promising technology.

Non-GM foods are already a multibillion-dollar market, the article points out, adding that according to a 2016 Pew Research Center report, nearly 4 in 10 American consumers believe genetically modified foods are bad for their health.

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