Halfbrick Studios haven’t been having a good year. They recently laid off half of their workforce and with that sudden change have also decided to start concentrating all of their efforts on their two most successful licenses, Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride. Their latest release on the Play Store is an open beta product still under development. It is called Fruit Ninja Fight, and as the name would suggest, it’s a multiplayer-focused Fruit Ninja game.
Halfbrick Studios haven’t been having a good year. They recently laid off half of their workforce and with that sudden change have also decided to start concentrating all of their efforts on their two most successful licenses, Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride. Their latest release on the Play Store is an open-beta product still under development. It is called Fruit Ninja Fight, and as the name would suggest, it’s a multiplayer-focused Fruit Ninja game.
As new products and services have emerged throughout the history of capitalism, it hasn’t been unusual to see geographic clusters emerge that become an industry’s center of gravity. But the era of artificial intelligence has triggered an unusually direct response from countries that want to be at the center of a technology they see as b…Read More Apple – VentureBeat
Did Facebook unknowingly help Donald Trump win the 2016 U.S. presidential election?
We’ll probably never know, but Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg are trying to avoid another instance in the future where that might even be a question.
The company published a blog post on Thursday outlining some of the steps it’s taking to prevent foreign governments from using Facebook to try and manipulate an election, like Russian actors did on Facebook during the 2016 campaign.
A lot of the steps are things Facebook has already talked about‚ like fact-checking stories that show up in News Feed and adding stricter requirements for advertisers who buy political ads on the social network.
The most notable update is that Facebook started fact-checking photos and videos this week in France, in addition to fact checking text stories that people share. “We’re starting in France with the AFP [Agence France-Presse] and will be scaling to more countries and partners soon,” the post reads.
A few other things Facebook is doing:
The social network is notifying people who share fake news that they shared fake news, and also wants to “warn people who try to share it going forward.”
Facebook is close to rolling out the new political ad dashboard that it announced last fall. The dashboard will let people see who is buying what political ads, and the company has already been testing it in Canada. It plans to roll it out in the U.S. this summer.
Facebook is trying to prevent bad actors from getting started at all. The company says it’s blocking “millions of fake accounts each day at the point of creation.”
Will all this work? That’s the big question.
In an interview with The New York Times this month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the company is expecting that foreign governments like Russia will continue to meddle if they can.
“I feel a lot better about the systems now. At the same time, I think Russia and other governments are going to get more sophisticated in what they do, too,” Zuckerberg said. “So we need to make sure that we up our game. This is a massive focus for us to make sure we’re dialed in for not only the 2018 elections in the U.S., but the Indian elections, the Brazilian elections, and a number of other elections that are going on this year that are really important.”
The health, energy, and transport sectors are among IoT-enabled systems at increasing risk of a cyber attack. But why is this, and what can these sectors do to protect themselves? Kate O’Flaherty reports.
From power stations through to medical devices, internet-connected critical national infrastructure is at increasing risk from cyber attack.
Last year, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) warned that assaults on critical infrastructure are “highly likely”. Increased tensions between Europe and Russia, and between the US and China, raise the stakes even higher.
Indeed, the NCSC said the Kremlin had already ordered attacks on energy companies with the aim of disrupting international order. Meanwhile, the US also recently accused Russia of attempted assaults on its utility sector, and blocked the largest deal in technology history, Broadcom’s hostile takeover of Qualcomm, on national security grounds.
But governments are starting to act. Under the EU’s network and information systems (NIS) Directive, organisations – including those in health, transport, energy, and finance – could be fined up to £17 million if they fail to implement robust cyber security measures.
The global energy sector has already fallen victim to several successful cyber attacks. In 2010, one of the first known large-scale incidents, Stuxnet, targeted an Iranian nuclear facility. Then in 2016, malware known as Industroyer was apparently deployed by the Kremlin to strike Ukraine’s national grid.
So why is this sector more vulnerable than others?
Unintended uses of equipment
The risk is elevated because utilities are often running old supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, which were never intended to be connected to the internet in the first place. Adding to the security challenge, Internet of Things (IoT) programmes are being layered on top in a bid to increase efficiency.
The same challenge applies in healthcare, where the tightly regulated world of medical equipment – where machines are often extremely expensive and are used for many years before being replaced – has often seen old systems added to local hospital networks. Such devices can’t be redesigned, patched, or upgraded overnight.
Speaking at a Dell IoT launch in New York last year, IoT security company Zingbox claimed that hackers had entered US hospital networks via insecure medical devices, including MRI scanners and X-Ray machines, accessed patients’ medical records, and changed drug doses remotely.
Healthcare providers should consider whether all such devices need to be connected to the internet, and actively explore what the impact would be of the device being compromised, or used to access other critical systems.
They should then work with the manufacturer to take preemptive action.
The rapid growth of the IoT in these sectors is emerging as a further security challenge. According to recent research from the Wi-SUN Alliance, the IoT utilities sector alone could be worth as much as $ 15 billion by 2024.
Oil and gas firms, which have a long track record of using SCADA and industrial control systems (ICS) to drive efficiency, are the most eager to add the IoT to this mix, with 88 percent considering it a priority. Utilities are not far behind, with three-quarters of all firms investing in the IoT, according to Wi-SUN’s research.
“One reason for the growing interest in IoT is the fact that it plays into several other key areas, such as IT automation, big data analytics, and organisational connectivity,” says Phil Beecher, Wi-SUN Alliance president.
Adding to this, today’s connected energy systems differ to those of the past, which were historically on separate networks: “You had to physically be there to hack it,” says Ken Munro, partner and founder at penetration security company, Pen Test Partners.
When IoT solutions and processes are layered on top of legacy systems, it creates an inviting prospect for hackers and hostile ‘actors’, says Karl Lankford, senior solutions engineer at remote access specialist, Bomgar.
Lankford points to “lots of new products” being fast-tracked into use by manufacturers, which are keen to exploit the cost-saving efficiencies that the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) can deliver.
He warns: “In the rush to make everything internet enabled, security can sometimes be overlooked, and businesses have to ensure that someone isn’t creating or opening a backdoor into the network.”
• In a recent Internet of Business report, IBM laid out the ground rules for securing the IIoT.
In healthcare, the WannaCry cryptoworm last Spring demonstrated the potential impact of a successful cyber attack, when it brought more than one-third of the UK’s NHS Trusts to a standstill, causing cancelled appointments and halting life-saving treatments.
As is often the case with health technology, the ransomeware’s impact was significant because of the high numbers of computers running an outdated and unsupported operating system – Windows 7 – which had not been patched.
Earlier NHS security review recommendations had not been implemented, partly for cost reasons. Had they been, WannaCry’s impact on the NHS would have been minimal. This tells us that ignoring security recommendations for cost reasons is a false economy.
Keeping operating systems and applications continuously patched and upgraded is essential. Particularly in an environment where hardware upgrades to run more recent OSs may not be possible for budgetary reasons.
There are numerous examples of vulnerable systems and devices in healthcare. For example, last year in the US it was discovered that 465,000 pacemakers needed a firmware update to close security holes. (Former US vice president Dick Cheney was reportedly so paranoid that his heart defibrillator could be hacked that he demanded doctors fit a new device without a Wi-Fi connection.)
Healthcare systems pose a particular challenge to security specialists, because replacing old technology is not always possible.
Greg Day, VP and CSO EMEA at enterprise security provider Palo Alto Networks, cites the example of an MRI scanner. “It’s very expensive, and embedded within it is a lightweight operating system. But you can’t just upgrade it; the company that made the hardware, such as Siemens, needs to test it to see if it’s compatible. There’s often a complicated supply chain involved.”
Meanwhile, Dan Lyon, principal security consultant at Synopsys, explains that is not always easy to recover healthcare systems after a breach. This is because medical devices need to be serviced by the manufacturer, and lack the data backup and restore functions that are usually performed when recovering from malware attacks. “This could mean an extended period of downtime while the manufacturer either repairs or replaces the medical device,” he says.
As the IoT becomes an integral part of critical industries, the transport sector is also vulnerable. According to Alex Cowan, CEO of specialist security vendor RazorSecure, the risks to transport organisations include: “Many connected devices are being put in security zones that they were never designed for, with connectivity back out to the internet and weak segregation of systems such as virtual LANs.”
Close to the edge
So, what can be done to mitigate these risks to critical industries? In the future, Edge security will be integral, as well as systems that look for unusual behaviour.
The edge environment is where much real-time AI and IoT processing will take place, because with an estimated 30 billion connected devices online by 2020, a mass of-in-memory processing will be essential, with other data-crunching carried out near the source.
Cowan points out that the NCSC’s guidance for NIS encourages a shift towards active security monitoring and anomaly detection, rather than attempting to secure each and every IoT device.
AI, machine learning, monitoring, and detection, together with automatic discovery and identification, may be the only realistic approaches to IoT security in the long run: systems that detect unusual profiles and/or infer unusual behaviour as it emerges.
In the energy sector, Munro advises segregation, access control, and updating kit. He says: “Security isn’t perfect: all it takes is one high-grade attack and we are stuffed again, but with industrial control systems, issues tend to be systemic. A vulnerability in one can lead to a breach of them all, which is why it’s so important to have good defences.”
Policy is also important. Doug Wylie, director infrastructure and industrials practice at information security centre SANS Institute, says organisations need to accept the risks and apply counter measures, including response and recovery. “It’s understanding what the risk profile looks like, and the threat landscape. This is often addressed by ensuring that people are continuously trained.”
Overall, visibility is key, says Palo Alto’s Day. “What do we have out there; what technology is it using, and who is responsible for it?”
But in the end, a very simple solution could help those tasked with protecting these vulnerable connected environments. Munro says: “People have got to be proactive. In most cases it’s about not missing patches and not using default, common, or reused passwords: the basics just aren’t being followed.”
Additional reporting: Chris Middleton.
Internet of Business says
A raft of recent reports have identified IoT security as a blind spot for many organisations. And as IoT systems are layered on top of legacy networks and critical systems, this introduces a much broader attack surface, where responsibility for security becomes less and less clear.
This is why organisations need to take responsibility themselves, stress test systems, and consider the possible impacts of a cyber attack in advance. The NHS did this, but key security recommendations were ignored. Budgets are often the real killers, it seems.
However, several Internet of Business reports reveal that many organisations simply aren’t taking responsibility, and are doing little to secure the IoT, despite strong awareness of risk.
And as Kate O’Flaherty points out, the unique challenge in healthcare, and in some industrial deployments, is that many types of device or machinery were never designed to be connected to the internet in the first place. Taking MRI or X-Ray machines offline inevitably impacts on hospitals’ ability to treat sick patients.
Instead of living on the edge, organisations should look to the edge for new solutions.
KateO’Flaherty is a freelance journalist with over a decade’s experience reporting on business and IT. She has held editor and news reporter positions on titles including: The Inquirer, Marketing Week, and Mobile Magazine, and has written articles for The Guardian, the Times, the Economist, SC UK Magazine, Mobile Europe, and Wired UK. She is also a contributing analyst at Current Analysis, covering wholesale telecoms.
Apple has a big problem. Just five years ago, its iPads and Mac laptops reigned supreme in US classrooms, accounting for half of all mobile devices shipped to schools in 2013. Apple has now slipped behind both Google and Microsoft in US schools with Google’s Chromebooks leading the way in classrooms, securing nearly 60 percent of shipments in the US as overall iPad sales declined for three straight years. Apple is now ready to strike back against Chromebooks with some cheaper iPads.
Many kids of a certain age group get these wild desires to destroy stuff. Whether it’s Dennis the Menace with his slingshot or Bart Simpson with… his slingshot, there’s some sort of primal desire to cause destructive mischief when you’re little. And maybe when you’re big, too. That’s sort of the premise behind Firecracker Fight, the first mobile game from developer Low Five Studio. You’ll be tossing firecrackers (and eventually other, even more explosive items) towards waves of different toys in an effort to blow them to smithereens. The launching mechanic is really satisfying as you’ll simply pull back on the explosive and release it when the aiming line is where you want it, but it has that element of leading your shots to line up with the moving vehicles, sort of like being a quarterback and leading a pass to a receiver. It just feels GOOD when you nail it. Also, being that these are firecrackers with fuses, you can’t take all day to aim your shot, so there’s some urgency that comes into play to keep you on your toes. Check out our hands-on look at Firecracker Fight below and look for the game to launch in the next month or so.
Was there ever really a simpler time when news wasn’t printed unless it had been properly vetted, fact-checked, and certified as an iron-clad representation of the truth? Classical news reporting may not have been as bias-free and accurate as some of us would like to think, but there’s little denying that the current way we consume our news can be pretty darn tricky to navigate, especially as it becomes more difficult for the less discerning reader to tell a solidly researched story apart from wild, paranoid speculation—or outright lies.
Researchers at the University of Oldenburg in Germany are using satellite communications to combat the growing problem of plastic pollution in the North Sea.
A report in Science magazine estimates that there are 6.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic waste on the planet, with waste increasingly polluting our oceans, damaging marine life, and entering the food chain. An estimated eight million tonnes enters the oceans every year, according to a report from the World Economic Forum.
Mobile satellite voice and data services provider Globalstar has provided its SPOT Trace and communications technologies to help the team study the movement of floating plastic in the North Sea. In particular, researchers from the University’s Institute of Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment are trying to get a clear picture of the waste’s drift patterns.
The team has embedded low-cost satellite trackers in floating buoys, which provide a wealth of information on the plastic’s movements on the surface.
Each of the buoys is fitted with a 7×5 cm SPOT Trace device, which includes an integrated GPS receiver, simplex transponder, and motion sensor. This Internet of Things (IoT) solution allows researchers to track drift movements using the Globalstar LEO (Low-Earth Orbit) satellite constellation.
The University’s 3D computer simulations and modelling tools use the SPOT Trace data to help the team both understand and predict surface drift behaviour, as well as how debris travels in the water column and on the sea floor.
Researchers said that one of the most revealing discoveries has been the huge effect of wind, with some buoys beaching after as little as one month, having travelled up to 700 miles.
“It is clear that the influence of the power of the wind on the movement of floating particles in the North Sea is greater than we anticipated,” said PhD student Jens Meyerjürgens.
“Seventy-five percent of the debris that washes ashore on our islands is plastic, mostly from fishing activity,” added Mathias Heckroth, managing director of Mellumrat eV. The NGO is dedicated to conservation and scientific research on the uninhabited island of Mellum, one of the 32 Frisian Islands in the North Sea being studied by the University of Oldenburg team.
Mellum is situated in the intertidal Wadden Sea region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site protecting more than 10,000 species of plants and animals, where up to 12 million migrating birds spend time each year.
“The study is playing an important role in helping to identify the source of the plastic litter. It is also showing unexpected drift movement; we usually have a west-to-east drift, but sometimes tracking the buoys reveals a drift in the opposite direction, and we are studying why,” added Heckroth.
The research team is also helping authorities to establish new rules and regulations to both people and businesses to pollute less. “A key role of the University’s research is to help bring all stakeholders together, to give them compelling evidence, and to raise awareness of this huge problem,” said Heckroth.
Just as important, this new ability to predict the movement of pollutants as they drift and wash ashore can help clean-up operations to be more targeted and efficient.
“We very much hope this study inspires others and that our methodology can become a template for use by fellow research institutions elsewhere in the world,” said the University’s Meyerjürgens.
Internet of Business says
This inspiring project reveals how sensors, IoT technology, satellite communications, and analytics can gather and investigate large amounts of data about environmental problems, and not only provide useful information, but also help predict where solutions can best be applied.
Similar systems are being deployed in the air, as well as at sea, to help monitor extreme weather conditions, or clouds of pollution. For example, the MAVIS project, developed by the UK’s Southampton University, releases disposable paper drones at high altitude in order to track the movement of storms.
Questions still abound about the sustainability of cryptocurrency mining and its impact on energy consumption. Per figures from Digiconomist, Bitcoin consumes 53.28TWh annually (about as much as Bangladesh consumes in a year) and about 262KWh per transaction. For some context, that could power more than 3,000 US households a year. Ethereum, the world’s second largest cryptocurrency, is a little easier on electricity by comparison but still consumes 15.22TWh a year at 55KWh per transaction on average. Needless to say, this leaves behind a hefty carbon footprint and casts doubt on the future of cryptocurrency. This all fits into wider problems…