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07.12.19

Links 12/7/2019: Alpine 3.10.1 is Out and Red Hat Loses Oliva

Posted in News Roundup at 2:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • Leftovers

    • Science

      • This Weekend, India Is Launching Its First-Ever Moon Lander

        The planned landing site for Chandryaan 2 is just 220 miles (350 kilometres) from the rim of the South-Pole Aitken basin – the same massive crater on the far side of the Moon under which scientists recently discovered evidence of a “large excess of mass.”

        The rover is carrying an X-ray spectrometer that could analyze the composition of the Aitken basin crust to find clues about its origin story.

      • Russian Nuclear Physicists Might Have Just Found One of the Oldest Churches in the World

        To find out what the building was used for, researchers from Russian Academy of Sciences, Skobeltsyn Institute of Nuclear Physics Lomonosov Moscow State University, and Dagestan State University used a non-invasive technique to create a picture of the buried building. By understanding its structure, they would be able to get a better idea of its former use.

        The team placed several detectors inside the building and used nuclear emulsions to create the first images of it. Nuclear emulsion is where photographic plates are used to record the passage of the charged particles that pass through it. Results of the “scan” showed the building was in the shape of a cross—giving weight to the idea it was a church. It was found to be 36 foot high, 50 foot in length (north to south) and 44 foot wide (east to west). The arms of the “cross” were 16 foot wide and 13 foot long.

      • Muon Radiography Method for Non-Invasive Probing an Archaeological Site in the Naryn-Kala Citadel

        The paper presents the test experiment to investigate one of UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) world heritage objects, an archaeological site in the Naryn-Kala citadel (Derbent, Republic of Dagestan, Russian Federation) hidden under the ground’s surface. The function of the site could be revealed by the muon radiography studies. Several nuclear emulsion detectors were exposed for two months inside the site at a depth about 10 m from the modern surface. The use of nuclear emulsions as probing radiation detectors combined with the potential of modern image analysis methods provides for a uniquely high resolution capacity of recording instrumentation and 3D reconstruction of the internal structure of the investigated object. Here we present the experiment and data analysis details and the first results.

    • Hardware

      • We can make it better than it was. Better…stronger…faster.

        It is not a novel observation that computers have become so powerful that a reasonably recent system has a relatively long life before obsolescence. This is in stark contrast to the period between the nineties and the teens where it was not uncommon for users with even moderate needs from their computers to upgrade every few years.

        This upgrade cycle was mainly driven by huge advances in processing power, memory capacity and ballooning data storage capability. Of course the software engineers used up more and more of the available resources and with each new release ensured users needed to update to have a reasonable experience.

        And then sometime in the early teens this cycle slowed almost as quickly as it had begun as systems had become “good enough”. I experienced this at a time I was relocating for a new job and had moved most of my computer use to my laptop which was just as powerful as my desktop but was far more flexible.

        As a software engineer I used to have a pretty good computer for myself but I was never prepared to spend the money on “top of the range” equipment because it would always be obsolete and generally I had access to much more powerful servers if I needed more resources for a specific task.

    • Security

      • U.S. Coast Guard Issues Alert After Ship Heading Into Port Of New York Hit By Cyberattack

        The U.S. Coast Guard has issued an official warning to owners of ships that cybersecurity at sea needs updating, and updating urgently. In the Marine Safety Alert published June 8, the Coast Guard “strongly encourages” that cybersecurity assessments are conducted to “better understand the extent of their cyber vulnerabilities.” This follows an interagency investigation, led by the Coast Guard, into a “significant cyber incident” that had exposed critical control systems of a deep draft vessel bound for the Port of New York in February 2019 to what it called “significant vulnerabilities.”

      • Malware on the High Seas: US Coast Guard Issues Alert [iophk: Windows TCO is not a laughing matter. Get rid of it.]

        The ship’s network was mainly used for official business, including updating electronic charts, managing cargo data and communicating with shore-side facilities, pilots, agents and the Coast Guard, according to the report.

      • Eurofins Scientific: Forensic services firm paid ransom after cyber-attack [iophk: Windows TCO]

        BBC News has not been told how much money was involved in the ransom payment or when it was paid.

        The National Crime Agency (NCA) said it was a “matter for the victim” as to whether a ransom had been paid.

      • Eurofins Scientific Paid Up in Response to Ransomware Attack: Report [iophk: Windows TCO]

        Luxembourg-based laboratory testing services giant Eurofins Scientific reportedly paid the ransom demanded by cybercriminals following a successful ransomware attack that led to the company taking offline many of its systems and servers.

      • Eurofins Scientific forensics firm pays after hit with ransomware [iophk: Windows TCO]

        Eurofins didn’t disclose how much it paid to retrieve its information but the money was likely paid between June 10, when Eurofins issued a statement about the attack, and June 24 when it published an update saying it had “identified the variant of the malware used” in the attack and had strengthened its cybersecurity.

      • [Old] Combating WannaCry and Other Ransomware with OpenZFS Snapshots [iophk: use FreeBSD, OpenBSD, or GNU/Linux on the desktop to avoid ransomware and servers to avoid ransomware damage]

        OpenZFS is the powerful file system at the heart of every storage system that iXsystems sells and of its many features, snapshots can provide fast and effective recovery from ransomware attacks at both the individual user and enterprise level as I talked about in 2015. As a copy-on-write file system, OpenZFS provides efficient and consistent snapshots of your data at any given point in time. Each snapshot only includes the precise delta of changes between any two points in time and can be cloned to provide writable copies of any previous state without losing the original copy. Snapshots also provide the basis of OpenZFS replication or backing up of your data to local and remote systems. Because an OpenZFS snapshot takes place at the block level of the file system, it is immune to any file-level encryption by ransomware that occurs over it. A carefully-planned snapshot, replication, retention, and restoration strategy can provide the low-level isolation you need to enable your storage infrastructure to quickly recover from ransomware attacks.

      • Security updates for Friday

        Security updates have been issued by CentOS (dbus), Debian (firefox-esr, python3.4, and redis), Mageia (ffmpeg), Oracle (firefox, libvirt, and qemu), Red Hat (firefox and virt:8.0.0), Scientific Linux (firefox), and SUSE (kernel).

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Huawei staff share deep links with Chinese military, new study claims

        A new analysis of employment information of Huawei personnel appears to show deeper links between the technology giant and China’s military and intelligence bodies than previously acknowledged by the firm.

        One CV describes an individual who held a dual role at Huawei and an organization linked to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

    • Environment

      • Energy

        • The ‘Historical Jigsaw of Climate Deception’: Private Notes Show How Big Oil Spread Climate Science Denial

          We’ve all heard the dodgy arguments: ‘the science is uncertain’, ‘climate change is natural, not down to humans’, ‘science has been hijacked by politics’… Now a new cache of documents sheds light on the origins of the disinformation.

          In another verse of a now familiar refrain, a fossil fuel industry group in the 1990s publicly promoted arguments to undermine confidence in climate science while internally acknowledging their products where driving up temperatures.

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • The Need for Wildness: How Coyotes Are Finding a Place in a Changing City

          San Francisco is changing, and not everyone is happy about it. Many long-term residents feel pushed out by the city’s flood of high-tech jobs and start-up cash, a situation that caused The Washington Post to proclaim that the “city of love” had broken America’s heart.

          It’s not the first such story. Locals have penned their own defenses, but no one doubts the cultural bedrock — not to mention the actual landscape — beneath San Francisco is shifting.

          [...]

          Coyotes, she’s found, don’t have much trouble figuring out how to navigate a changing urban landscape. In San Francisco, despite the high-rises looming ever taller and new condos filling empty lots, coyotes are finding space.

          And that’s true across the country. These days you can find coyotes in most cities in the United States, according to the Urban Coyote Initiative.

          Kessler says public opinion of coyotes has improved in recent years, but that’s come with another set of problems. We talked with her about what she’s learned, how San Francisco’s coyotes are coping with a changing city, and the value of making space for wildlife in urban areas.

    • Finance

      • Trump apparently knows what Bitcoin is, and he doesn’t like it

        Whatever the source of Trump’s sudden ire for crypto, one crowd is not particularly happy: the alt-right, which has enough libertarian and more broadly anti-government strains in its movement to align with crypto enthusiasts. (Also, payment processors have begun taking sides in the deplatforming debate, banning sites known to promote white supremacy, violence, and neo Nazism. So that’s also made crypto popular with the online breeding grounds for those movements.)

      • The Hard-Luck Texas Town That Bet on Bitcoin—and Lost

        The process consumes enormous amounts of energy, and cheap electricity is a must. One of the most popular machines, Bitmain’s AntMiner S15, draws about 1,600 watts of power. That’s about equal to the energy consumption of a microwave oven. But mining machines aren’t used on occasion. To optimize the chance of earning coins, the top mining operators run hundreds or thousands of miners 24/7. Imagine your electricity bill if you were constantly zapping instant oatmeal in hundreds of microwaves all day, every day. In Rockdale, Bitmain’s planned facility was supposed to consume 500 megawatts, enough to power more than 400,000 average US homes.

        Rockdale was hardly the only, or first, place that caught the bitcoin bug, as its value soared 20-fold in 2017, to $20,000 that December. Central Washington, with its cheap hydropower, was a natural draw; by 2018, there were more than 50 mining operations in the region. Dennis Bolz, a commissioner for the Chelan County Public Utility District, recalls a Japanese businessman flying in on a private jet and announcing he wanted energy on the spot. “It was like a gold rush,” Bolz says.

      • President Trump Is the Latest Critic of Facebook’s Libra

        Late Thursday, President Donald Trump unleashed a three-tweet squall declaring himself “not a fan of Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies,” and referring to the use of “unregu­lated digital assets” for “drug trade and other illegal activities.” He included Libra in that category, saying the platform “will have little standing or dependability” and would fall prey to similar dependability issues. He suggested Facebook would need to acquire a banking charter to proceed with its efforts. Trump concluded with a patriotic message about the global primacy of the US dollar, suggesting he’s not comfortable with Libra or other cryptocurrencies becoming rivals.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Germany Cashes Out, Hits Facebook With Fines For Failing To Comply With Its Ultra-Vague ‘Hate Speech’ Law

        The German government is finally getting around to fining social media companies for violating its absurd “hate speech” law. The law, which took effect January 1, 2018, wasn’t even able to make it a week without causing collateral damage.

        Unable to construct a machine capable of killing fascists, the German parliament built one that kills satire. Shortly, after it took effect, the hate speech law took down tweets from a long-running German satirical magazine. More debacles followed — so many that the German equivalent of the alt-right was able to score political points on government censorship, even as they called for government censorship in the other direction.

        The new law turned social media companies into ATMs with its demand that something as nebulous as “hate speech” be removed with extreme haste lest its principals and moderation teams be fined personally for stuff German assholes posted to the internet.

      • Following Trump Ruling Against Twitter Blockade, AOC Sued For Her Blocks On Twitter

        So we just wrote about the 2nd Circuit Appeals court affirming a victory for the Knight 1st Amendment Center against Donald Trump, making it clear that he cannot block followers on social media. As we noted, the case is very fact specific, and people shouldn’t read too much into it. But, in general, it does find that if someone is a public official, using social media for official government purposes, and creating an open public forum out of that, they cannot block followers based on the views of those followers — as that is the state engaging in impermissible viewpoint discrimination.

        Some Trump supporters then spun that around on the other side of the aisle, picking out the fact that freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has blocked people on Twitter as well. Indeed, as Scott Greenfield points out, in the wake of the 2nd Circuit ruling, former NY State Assemblyman Dov Hikind has already sued Ocasio-Cortez, pointing out that she has him blocked on Twitter.

    • Privacy/Surveillance

      • EPIC Files Complaint with FTC about Zoom

        Today EPIC filed a complaint with the FTC alleging that the videoconferencing company Zoom has committed unfair and deceptive practices in violation of the FTC Act. According to EPIC, Zoom intentionally designed its web conferencing service to bypass browser security settings and remotely enable a user’s web camera without the knowledge or consent of the user. As a result, Zoom exposed users to the risk of remote surveillance, unwanted videocalls, and denial-of-service attacks. EPIC has brought many similar consumer privacy complaints to the FTC, including the complaint that led to the FTC consent order against Facebook and the complaint that led to the FTC consent order against Google. EPIC cited the Google order, which produced a $22.5 m fine, in the complaint concerning Zoom.

      • Facing EPIC Lawsuit, DHS Suspends Media Monitoring Program

        As the result of an EPIC lawsuit, the Department of Homeland Security has suspended a controversial effort to track journalists, news outlets, and social media accounts. The “Media Monitoring Services” platform would have included an “unlimited” database of personal information from journalists and media influencers, including location data, contact information, employer affiliations, and past content. EPIC filed suit last year to block the program, arguing that the DHS had failed to complete required Privacy Impact Assessments. In a settlement with EPIC, the agency acknowledged that it was not using the proposed system and agreed to complete required Privacy Impact Assessments before collecting personal data in the future. EPIC also obtained records showing that the DHS ignored the harms that media monitoring would have caused to privacy and press freedoms.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • This image is actually an AFP photo of an alleged Islamic State group recruiter arrested in Spain

        A photo of police escorting a burqa-clad woman in handcuffs has been shared tens of thousands of times in multiple posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram which claim she was arrested in Australia for wearing a burqa. The claim is false; the photo is actually a 2015 AFP image of a woman who was arrested in Spain for allegedly recruiting other women to join Islamic State.

        The photo has been shared more than 37,000 times after it was published in this Facebook post on March 27, 2019.

      • UK should not deny media access based on propaganda label

        While we are well aware that both RT and Sputnik have broadcast disinformation, some of which has undermined democratic elections and put journalists at risk, we do not believe excluding them from covering the conference is an appropriate response. To the contrary, for the British government to deny access to RT and Sputnik, or any other news outlet, based on its determination that they constitute propaganda actually empowers autocratic governments around the world who use a similar rationale to justify repression of critical journalism.

      • Khashoggi’s Killers ‘Must Be Held to Account’

        At a gathering of reporters, activists, and foreign leaders at the Global Conference for Media Freedom, in London, the journalist’s death was on center stage. “When Jamal Khashoggi, Washington Post columnist, was tortured to death and dismembered by Saudi Arabian officials in Istanbul, world leaders responded with little more than a collective shrug,” Amal Clooney, the British Foreign Office’s special envoy on media freedom, told the conference’s 1,000 attendees. “Signing pledges and making speeches is not enough,” she added.

        Among those in the audience was Agnès Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, and the director of the Global Freedom of Expression Project at Columbia University. Callamard was the author of the UN report that linked MbS to Khashoggi’s killing. In an interview with The Atlantic, she shared her thoughts on what justice for Khashoggi should look like, how governments can better protect journalists, and the role these conferences can play.

        This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity. [...]

      • Amal Clooney Criticizes World Leaders for ‘Collective Shrug’ Over Killing of Journalist Jamal Khashoggi

        “The vast majority of these murders go unpunished,” she said, adding that “world leaders responded with little more than a collective shrug” to Khashoggi’s killing by agents close to the Saudi crown prince.

        [...]

        Clooney also took aim at Trump, saying “the country of James Madison” — one of America’s founding fathers and a champion of a free press — “has a leader today who vilifies the media.”

      • UK hosts press freedom summit while fighting for right to spy on media

        Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is hosting a Global Conference for Media Freedom in London today. Meanwhile, 400 miles away in Strasbourg UK government lawyers are fighting for the right to continue spying on the press.

        The Bureau of Investigative Journalism today brings a case to the highest human rights court in Europe against the UK intelligence agencies’ mass snooping on press and public and the severe impingement on media freedom that this surveillance entails.

        The case is being heard in the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) at the same time as Hunt hosts an event with 1,000 media and civil society representatives from across the world aimed at fighting for the protection of journalism and journalists’ sources.

      • Julian Assange’s birthday celebrated at vigils in Australia and New Zealand

        Assange is being held in Britain’s maximum security Belmarsh Prison. He faces the prospect of extradition to the US on 17 Espionage Act charges carrying a maximum sentence of 175 years imprisonment for WikiLeaks’ exposure of US war crimes and global diplomatic intrigues.

      • Judge Emma Arbuthnot refuses to recuse herself in show trial of Julian Assange

        Her husband, James Norwich Arbuthnot, is a Conservative member of the House of Lords. He is intimately connected with the British armed forces and security services, whose criminal operations were exposed by WikiLeaks.
        As a Tory MP, Lord Arbuthnot was between 2005 and 2014 the chair of the Defence Select Committee, the body overseeing the Ministry of Defence and Britain’s armed forces. His watch covered ongoing military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the wars for regime change in Libya and Syria.
        He is currently co-chair of the UK advisory board for defence manufacturer Thales and is an advisory board member of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI). Lord Arbuthnot is also a former director at security and intelligence consultancy firm SC Strategy, where he worked for two years alongside co-directors Lord Carlile and Sir John Scarlett.
        Carlile is a prominent defender of MI5 who supported the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (nicknamed the Snoopers’ Charter) enabling the British state to access internet connection records without a warrant. He argued that Edward Snowden’s exposures of illegal mass state surveillance “amounted to a criminal act.’’ He oversaw the implementation of anti-terror legislation and reviewed national security procedures in Northern Ireland.
        Scarlett is former head of MI6 and chair of the government’s Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC). He oversaw the production of a report arguing for the right of the secret services to “collect bulk communications data” and was responsible for compiling the “dodgy dossier” on Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.
        The activities of Lord Arbuthnot and his colleagues were the subject of thousands of WikiLeaks disclosures. There are almost 2,000 references in the WikiLeaks’ database to Thales and nearly 450 to RUSI. Lord Arbuthnot himself can be found in over 50 entries.
        As Assange’s legal team and UN Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer have argued, this “strong conflict of interest” requires Lady Arbuthnot to stand down from Assange’s case. Her husband’s entire political life has been dedicated to crushing the sort of transparency and accountability advocated by WikiLeaks.

      • Invoking WikiLeaks And Torture Report, CIA Pushes For Expansion Of Secrecy Law To Stifle Public Criticism

        When the CIA and other agencies in the United States government pushed for the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA) in 1981, it was crafted to exclude “covert agents” who resided in the U.S.

        There was consideration by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of how the legislation might “chill or stifle public criticism of intelligence activities or public debate concerning intelligence policy.”

        More than three decades later, the CIA is apparently unsatisfied with the protections the bill granted “covert agents. It has enlisted a select group of senators and representatives to help expand the universe of individuals who are protected, making members of the press who cover intelligence matters more vulnerable to prosecution.

        Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, chairman of the House intelligence committee, was involved in adding language to expand the IIPA to the Intelligence Authorization Act moving through Congress.

        “Schiff is once again putting the interests of the intelligence agencies in concealing their misdeeds ahead of protecting the rights of ordinary Americans by criminalizing routine reporting by the press on national security issues and undermining congressional oversight in his Intelligence Authorization bill,” declared Daniel Schuman, who is the policy director for Demand Progress.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Interoperability: Fix the Internet, Not the Tech Companies

        This is the most common form of interoperability. Company A makes a product and Company B makes a thing that works with that product, but doesn’t talk to Company A about it. Company A doesn’t know or care to know about Company B’s add-on.

        Think of a car’s cigarette lighter: these started in the 1920s as aftermarket accessories that car owners could have installed at a garage; over time they became popular enough that they came standard in every car. Eventually, third-party companies began to manufacture DC power adapters that plugged into the lighter receptacle, drawing power from the car engine’s alternator. This became widespread enough that it was eventually standardized as ANSI/SAE J563.

        Standardization paved the way for a variety of innovative new products that could be made by third-party manufacturers who did not have to coordinate with (or seek permission from) automotive companies before bringing them to market. These are now ubiquitous, and you can find fishbowls full of USB chargers that fit your car-lighter receptacle at most gas stations for $0.50-$1.00. Some cars now come with standard USB ports (though for complicated reasons, these tend not to be very good chargers), but your auto manufacturer doesn’t care if you buy one of those $0.50 chargers and use it with your phone. It’s your car, it’s your car-lighter, it’s your business.

      • AT&T Breaks Another Merger Promise In Making ‘Friends’ Exclusive

        Last year AT&T defeated the DOJ’s challenge to the company’s $86 billion merger with Time Warner thanks to a comically narrow reading of the markets by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon. At no point in his original 172-page ruling (which approved the deal without a single condition) did Leon show the faintest understanding that AT&T intends to use vertical integration synergistically with the death of net neutrality and neutered FCC oversight to dominate smaller competitors and tilt the entire internet ecosystem in its favor.

        While the DOJ lost its original case, it was quick to appeal late last year, highlighting how within weeks of the deal AT&T had jacked up prices on consumers and competitors like Dish Network, which says it was forced to pull HBO from its lineup because it could no longer afford the higher rates.

      • Google’s Dead Wrong If It Thinks Broadband Caps Won’t Hurt Game Streaming

        For a decade we’ve pointed out how broadband providers have increasingly imposed arbitrary, confusing, and punitive usage caps and overage fees to cash in on the lack of competition in US broadband. Not only have industry executives admitted these limits aren’t technically necessary, they’ve increasingly been abused anti-competitively. AT&T, for example, doesn’t impose the limits on its broadband customers who use its streaming video service (DirecTV Now), but will impose the added charges if you use a competitor like Netflix.

        For years, ISPs have slowly deployed these unnecessary limits, hoping consumers wouldn’t notice they’re the frog in the slowly boiling pot of water. But as higher-bandwidth services like 4K video streaming have arrived, consumers have started to notice the unnecessary limits in greater numbers. But, however tight caps may become with 4K Netflix, that’s nothing compared to what’s going to happen as companies like Google begin pushing game streaming services like Stadia, which eliminate local game hardware, move all processing power to the cloud, and then stream everything to the end user.

        Early analysis suggests that at full 4K, users will burn through Comcast’s monthly 1 terabyte usage cap in a matter of just three days. Many ISPs have far lower caps; AT&T for example imposes a 150 GB monthly cap on the majority of its DSL customers, who then have to pay $10 per each additional 50 GB of data consumed. It’s fairly obvious that as game streaming expands, users are going to be looking at some significant sticker shock (which, from the ISP perspective, was the whole point).

    • Monopolies

      • Copyrights

        • YouTube Begins Blocking Stream-Ripping Sites

          As we’ve discussed previously, the past several years have seen the major music industry players paint an entirely new anti-piracy target on the backs of stream-ripping sites. These sites, which allow users to plug in the address for a YouTube video and get an audio rip outputted, are quite often used to generate audio files of copyrighted materials. This, however, is most certainly not their only use. In fact, there are many legitimate uses for these sites. I, myself, often use them to convert publicly available lectures and educational material put out by everything from universities to technology manufacturers so that I can listen to them while on the go. In this way, the music industry is once again taking a tool that can be but is not always used for copyright infringement and attempting to carpet bomb them all to hell.

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