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posted by Fnord666 on Thursday November 14, @05:18AM   Printer-friendly
from the G-NAB dept.

Google will offer checking accounts, says it won't sell the data

The Google empire is enormous and ubiquitous, covering basically the entire Internet in one way or another. There is, however, one lucrative business the company does not yet have a foothold in: banking. And now it has plans to change that.

Google is working to launch consumer checking accounts next year, The Wall Street Journal first reported this morning. The project, code-named Cache because apparently nobody can resist a pun, is expected to launch next year, sources told the Journal. CNBC, also citing "sources familiar," confirmed the WSJ's reporting.

Google: Not a bank

The accounts will be run in partnership with Citibank and a credit union based out of Stanford University. Google executive Caesar Sengupta told the WSJ that the accounts will carry branding from the banks, not from Google, which will also "leave the financial plumbing and compliance" to the banks.

Google and its partners are still hammering out the details of these accounts, including whether or when accounts might incur fees. (Many banks that offer checking accounts waive monthly fees for customers who maintain a certain average balance or who use direct deposit.)

"Our approach is going to be to partner deeply with banks and the financial system," Sengupta told the WSJ. "It may be the slightly longer path, but it's more sustainable."

Also at The Verge.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday November 14, @03:46AM   Printer-friendly
from the caught-between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place dept.

The case has become a cause célèbre that has galvanized a variety of different interests. For Coalfire and professional pentesters around the world, the charges are an affront that threatens their ability to carry out what has long been considered a key practice in ensuring clients’ systems are truly secure.

[...] “This does affect my job directly,” said a penetration tester who asked to be identified only by his handle @Tinker. “This affects physical pentesting in general and it really affects government pentesting when the state government can’t provide protection and you can’t trust the state government to stand behind its own laws.”

[...] No one has more stake in the controversy than Wynn and De Mercurio, who risk being convicted of criminal charges that among other things could jeopardize government clearances and future job prospects. Coalfire CEO Tom McAndrew said in a statement last month that Leonard “failed to exercise commonsense and good judgement and turned this engagement into a political battle between the State and the County.” McAndrew also noted that Coalfire conducted an engagement for Iowa’s SCA in 2015 without incident.

[...] The employees, McAndrew said, intentionally tripped the alarm and then proceeded to the third floor to test the response. Crouching on floors or otherwise trying to be covert is standard practice after alarms are tripped to further test authorities’ response and see what surveillance cameras can detect.

Coalfire Pen-Testers Charged With Trespass Instead of Burglary

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday November 14, @02:10AM   Printer-friendly
from the big-game-hunting? dept.

“For those of us living in Vietnam and working in wildlife conservation, the question of whether the chevrotain was still out there and if so, where, has been nagging us for years,” Nguyen said. Nguyen is an associate conservation scientist with GWC and a PhD student with the Leibniz-Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research. “There was very little information available to point us in the right direction and we didn’t know what to expect. That we were able to find it with so few leads and in a relatively short period of time shows how a little bit of effort and willpower can go a long way in finding some of these special species lost to science.”

The rediscovery of the Silver-backed Chevrotain—also known as the Vietnamese Mouse-deer—is the first rediscovery of a mammal on GWC’s 25 most wanted lost species list. The species was described in 1910 from four individuals collected in 1907 near the southern beach city of Nha Trang. A Russian expedition in 1990 in central Vietnam collected a fifth individual. With only this information on hand, Nguyen and a team that included GWC’s Dr. Barney Long and Andrew Tilker, set out to figure out where to start.

“We had these two historical localities separated by quite some distance—one in the southern part of Vietnam and the other much further north,” says Tilker, GWC’s Asian species officer. “But we knew that many people have camera-trapped in the wet evergreen forests and hadn’t seen it, so we thought we should look at the dry forest habitat that’s really different and where not many people have looked.”

The team also started to put out some feelers to investigate potential leads. Soon after, one colleague obtained a photo of what appeared to be a young chevrotain with silvery coloration. Although the photo had been taken more than 10 years ago and was not conclusively a Silver-backed Chevrotain, the animal was reportedly found near the dry coastal forests where the 1907 individuals came from. It was this clue and the process of elimination, Tilker says, that set the successful mission on course.

Photos and videos here -

also at

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday November 14, @12:31AM   Printer-friendly
from the I-don't-want-knowledge-I-want-certainty dept.

Jeremy P. Shapiro, a professor of psychology at Case Western Reserve University, has an article on The Conversation about one of the main cognitive errors at the root of science denial: dichotomous thinking, where entire spectra of possibilities are turned into dichotomies, and the division is usually highly skewed. Either something is perfect or it is a complete failure, either we have perfect knowledge of something or we know nothing.

Currently, there are three important issues on which there is scientific consensus but controversy among laypeople: climate change, biological evolution and childhood vaccination. On all three issues, prominent members of the Trump administration, including the president, have lined up against the conclusions of research.

This widespread rejection of scientific findings presents a perplexing puzzle to those of us who value an evidence-based approach to knowledge and policy.

Yet many science deniers do cite empirical evidence. The problem is that they do so in invalid, misleading ways. Psychological research illuminates these ways.

[...] In my view, science deniers misapply the concept of “proof.”

Proof exists in mathematics and logic but not in science. Research builds knowledge in progressive increments. As empirical evidence accumulates, there are more and more accurate approximations of ultimate truth but no final end point to the process. Deniers exploit the distinction between proof and compelling evidence by categorizing empirically well-supported ideas as “unproven.” Such statements are technically correct but extremely misleading, because there are no proven ideas in science, and evidence-based ideas are the best guides for action we have.

I have observed deniers use a three-step strategy to mislead the scientifically unsophisticated. First, they cite areas of uncertainty or controversy, no matter how minor, within the body of research that invalidates their desired course of action. Second, they categorize the overall scientific status of that body of research as uncertain and controversial. Finally, deniers advocate proceeding as if the research did not exist.

Dr. David "Orac" Gorski has further commentary on the article. Basically, science denialism works by exploiting the very human need for absolute certainty, which science can never truly provide.

Original Submission

posted by The Mighty Buzzard on Wednesday November 13, @11:10PM   Printer-friendly
from the lingere dept.

Just a quick note to let those of you who care know that our load balancer finally got bumped up to openssl 1.1.x and is now TLSv1.3 happy. For those of you who are especially paranoid, "ssl_early_data" is explicitly set to "off" in the nginx conf file, actively disabling 0-RTT, even though it's disabled by default.

That's all, carry on.

posted by janrinok on Wednesday November 13, @10:54PM   Printer-friendly
from the I'll-bet-that-they-are-pleased dept.

PayPal Upsets Microsoft as Phishers' Favorite Brand

Several factors edged the world's most popular payment service into the top spot.

PayPal was the most frequently spoofed brand in the third quarter of 2019, unseating Microsoft, phishers' usual favorite, which held the top spot for more than a year, Vade Secure reports.

Microsoft has been the most impersonated brand for five consecutive quarters, or as long as Vade Secure has published its quarterly Phishers' Favorites report. PayPal has consistently been a popular target; however, this year saw an uptick in PayPal attacks. Unique PayPal phishing URLs spiked 167.8% and 111.9% year-over-year in the first and second quarters, respectively. This quarter saw 69.6% growth with 16,547 unique PayPal phishing URLs, or nearly 180 per day.

[...]Phishing campaigns have capitalized on PayPal's popularity. One discovered by Vade researchers targeted more than 700,000 people, primarily located in Europe, with emails threatening legal action and requesting a small amount of money from recipients.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday November 13, @09:25PM   Printer-friendly
from the fun-of-growing-old dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

The net clinical benefit of anticoagulants for atrial fibrillation (AF) -- one of the most important causes of irregular heartbeats and a leading cause of stroke -- decreases with age, as the risk of death from other factors diminishes their benefit in older patients, according to a study led by researchers at UC San Francisco.

The multi-institutional study of nearly 15,000 AF patients found that the anticoagulant warfarin was not beneficial after age 87 and another, apixaban, after age 92. As a result, physicians should consider all mortality risks, such as cancer and end-stage kidney disease, when recommending anticoagulants to older adults with AF, the researchers said.

[...] "Many prior studies looking at the benefit of blood thinners found older adults benefit more than younger adults, but they narrowly focus on atrial fibrillation and strokes and don't account for all other health conditions affecting older adults," said lead author Sachin Shah, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine at UCSF. "Our study is the first to find that when taking these factors into consideration, anticoagulant benefit actually decreases with age."

Atrial fibrillation affects an estimated 2.2 million Americans, according to the National Stroke Association, and about 15 percent of people who have strokes have AF. The stroke association estimates that up to 80 percent of strokes among people with AF could have been prevented.

While patients age 75 and older are at higher risk for stroke and advised to use anticoagulants, there is little evidence of their net benefit in this population. Advancing age also increases the likelihood of death from non-AF causes, thereby limiting the benefit or harm from AF and anticoagulant treatment.

Journal Reference:

Sachin J. Shah, Daniel E. Singer, Margaret C. Fang, Kristi Reynolds, Alan S. Go, Mark H. Eckman. Net Clinical Benefit of Oral Anticoagulation Among Older Adults With Atrial Fibrillation. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, 2019; 12 (11) DOI: 10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.119.006212

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday November 13, @08:03PM   Printer-friendly
from the shortest-distance-between-despair-and-hope-is-a-good-night's-sleep dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

Stressed to the max? Deep sleep can rewire the anxious brain

[UC Berkeley] researchers have found that the type of sleep most apt to calm and reset the anxious brain is deep sleep, also known as non-rapid eye movement (NREM) slow-wave sleep, a state in which neural oscillations become highly synchronized, and heart rates and blood pressure drop.

"We have identified a new function of deep sleep, one that decreases anxiety overnight by reorganizing connections in the brain," said study senior author Matthew Walker, a UC Berkeley professor of neuroscience and psychology. "Deep sleep seems to be a natural anxiolytic (anxiety inhibitor), so long as we get it each and every night."

The findings, published today, Nov. 4, in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, provide one of the strongest neural links between sleep and anxiety to date. They also point to sleep as a natural, non-pharmaceutical remedy for anxiety disorders, which have been diagnosed in some 40 million American adults and are rising among children and teens.

"Our study strongly suggests that insufficient sleep amplifies levels of anxiety and, conversely, that deep sleep helps reduce such stress," said study lead author Eti Ben Simon, a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Human Sleep Science at UC Berkeley.

In a series of experiments using functional MRI and polysomnography, among other measures, Simon and fellow researchers scanned the brains of 18 young adults as they viewed emotionally stirring video clips after a full night of sleep, and again after a sleepless night. Anxiety levels were measured following each session via a questionnaire known as the state-trait anxiety inventory.

After a night of no sleep, brain scans showed a shutdown of the medial prefrontal cortex, which normally helps keep our anxiety in check, while the brain's deeper emotional centers were overactive.

"Without sleep, it's almost as if the brain is too heavy on the emotional accelerator pedal, without enough brake," Walker said.

After a full night of sleep, during which participants' brain waves were measured via electrodes placed on their heads, the results showed their anxiety levels declined significantly, especially for those who experienced more slow-wave NREM sleep.

"Deep sleep had restored the brain's prefrontal mechanism that regulates our emotions, lowering emotional and physiological reactivity and preventing the escalation of anxiety," Simon said.

Beyond gauging the sleep-anxiety connection in the 18 original study participants, the researchers replicated the results in a study of another 30 participants. Across all the participants, the results again showed that those who got more nighttime deep sleep experienced the lowest levels of anxiety the next day.

Journal Reference: Eti Ben Simon, Aubrey Rossi, Allison G. Harvey, Matthew P. Walker. Overanxious and underslept. Nature Human Behaviour, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41562-019-0754-8

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday November 13, @05:33PM   Printer-friendly
from the I-imagine-so dept.

Imagined movements can alter our brains

The interdisciplinary study examined the influence of two different types of BCI on the brains of test subjects with no prior experience of this technology. The first subgroup was given the task of imagining that they were moving their arms or feet, in other words a task requiring the use of the brain's motor system. The task given to the second group addressed the brain's visual center by requiring them to recognize and select letters on a screen. Experience shows that test subjects achieve good results in visual tasks right from the outset and that further training does not improve these results, whereas addressing the brain's motor system is much more complex and requires practice. In order to document potential changes, test subjects' brains were examined before and after each BCI experiment using a special visualizing process -- MRT (magnetic resonance tomography).

"We know that intensive physical training affects the plasticity of the brain," says Till Nierhaus of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences. Plasticity refers to the brain's ability to alter depending on how it is used. Scientists distinguish here between functional plasticity, where changes only occur in the intensity of the signals between the individual synapses, and structural plasticity. Structural plasticity refers to a change in nerve cells or even the forming of new nerve cells. "We asked ourselves if these impacts on the brain's plasticity would also occur in purely mental BCI experimental tasks, in other words if test subjects only think of a task without actually performing it," says Carmen Vidaurre, researcher at the Public University of Navarre.

The results did indeed show measurable changes in precisely those regions of the brain specifically required to conduct the tasks. In other words, changes in the visual areas of the brain in test subjects given the visual task and changes in the motor area in test subjects who practiced imagining moving a part of their body. It is particularly worth noting that changes occurred within very short periods of time (one hour) using BCI, rather than weeks as is the case in physical training. "It is still not clear if these changes would also occur if test subjects were not provided with feedback via the BCI system that their brain signals could be successfully read," Dr. Nierhaus points out. However the results do in general demonstrate that the effects of training with a brain-computer interface could have therapeutic benefits by stimulating specific regions of the brain.

Journal Reference:

Till Nierhaus, Carmen Vidaurre, Claudia Sannelli, Klaus‐Robert Mueller, Arno Villringer. Immediate brain plasticity after one hour of brain–computer interface (BCI). The Journal of Physiology, 2019; DOI: 10.1113/JP278118

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday November 13, @04:09PM   Printer-friendly
from the Internet-of-Leaks dept.

Submitted via IRC for soylent_lavender

Ring Flaw Underscores Impact of IoT Vulnerabilities

A vulnerability in Amazon’s Ring Video Doorbell Pro IoT device could have allowed a nearby attacker to imitate a disconnected device and then sniff the credentials of the wireless networks when the owner reconfigured the device, according to a report issued by security firm Bitdefender.

The issue, which was fixed by Amazon in September, underscores the impact of a single insecure Internet-of-Things device on the organization in which it is deployed. While the vulnerability may only occur in a single network device, the result of the flaw could be leaked information — the wireless network password, for example — which  would have far more serious repercussions.

"IoT is a security disaster, any way you look at it," says Alexandru Balan, Bitdefender's chief security researcher. "Security is not the strong suit of IoT vendors — only rarely, do we see vendors who take security seriously."

The discovery of a serious vulnerability in a popular IoT product comes as businesses and consumers increasingly worry about the impact that such devices may have on their own security. Only about half of security teams have a response plan in place to deal with attacks on connected devices, according to recent report from Neustar. Even critical-infrastructure firms, such as utilities that have to deal with connected operational technology, a widespread class of Internet-of-Things devices, are ill-prepared to deal with vulnerabilities and attacks, the report says.

Vulnerabilities in IoT devices can have serious repercussions. In July, a team of researchers found widespread flaws in the networking software deployed in as many as 200 million embedded devices and found millions more that could be impacted by a variant of the issue in other real-time operating systems.

The issue with Amazon Ring is not as serious but it is a reminder that vulnerabilities can still be easily found in the devices by attackers paying attention, says Balan"We tend to look at the popular devices, and those tend to have better security than the less popular devices," 

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday November 13, @02:39PM   Printer-friendly
from the according-to-Samsung-size-matters dept.

Galaxy S11 giant screen sizes, 108MP camera and colors just leaked.

A new leak says that all of the Samsung Galaxy S11 phones will come in even bigger sizes than the S10 line, reaching up a skateboard-worthy 6.9 inches for the S11 Plus, which will come only as a 5G phone. Moreover, software leaks confirm they will come with an oversized 108MP camera sensor.

Read more about it here.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday November 13, @01:07PM   Printer-friendly
from the the-people-have-spoken dept.

Submitted via IRC for soylent_lavender

How Airbnb's fight to overturn a New Jersey law imploded

Residents of Jersey City, New Jersey, voted overwhelmingly in favor of strict short-term rental regulations on Tuesday, putting an end to the high-profile feud between Airbnb and local officials that had engulfed the city in recent months. The move comes as a major blow to Airbnb, which spent more than $4.2 million blanketing Jersey City in television ads, handouts, and pro-Airbnb canvassers in a campaign to quash the restrictions, which will affect a popular destination for guests looking to visit Manhattan (which is just across the Hudson River and several minutes away on public transit) without running afoul of New York's tight rules on short-term rentals.

The new rules crack down on Jersey City's booming short-term rental industry—which has grown by an order of magnitude since city officials effectively legalized the practice in 2015—by requiring that owners obtain permits and limiting who can rent out their spaces and for how long. Despite an aggressive opposition campaign, voters approved the regulations in a landslide, with current estimates suggesting nearly 70% voted in favor of the measure.

Jersey City's rejection of Airbnb suggests that the tide may be changing for the so-called tech unicorn, as the city joins the growing ranks of former Airbnb defenders turned defectors. Local government officials around the nation that had been early advocates of the company, from Arizona and Louisiana to Oregon, are now turning against it. And with Airbnb looking to do an IPO in 2020—a process that involves airing out its dirty laundry for investors—every bit of regulatory backlash counts.

This story originally appeared on

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday November 13, @11:35AM   Printer-friendly
from the one-sheep-two-sheep-red-sheep-blue-sheep dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

More Americans struggle to fall asleep, stay asleep

Getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep every night is a struggle for most people, but even those who do may not have the best sleep.

New research from Iowa State University finds more Americans have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. The changes were independent of sleep duration, and difficulties were most prevalent in people with healthy sleep length, the findings show. The study, published in the journal Sleep Health, is one of the first to look at how multiple dimensions of sleep health change over time.

Zlatan Krizan, professor of psychology, and his research team analyzed data collected from nearly 165,000 individuals from 2013 to 2017, as part of the National Health Interview Survey. Over the course of five years, adults who reported at least one day a week with difficulty falling asleep increased by 1.43% and those reporting at least one day with trouble staying asleep increased by 2.70%. While the percentages may seem small, Krizan says based on 2018 population estimates this means as many as five million more Americans are experiencing some sleep difficulties.

"Indeed, how long we sleep is important, but how well we sleep and how we feel about our sleep is important in its own right," Krizan said. "Sleep health is a multidimensional phenomenon, so examining all the aspects of sleep is crucial for future research."

Garrett C. Hisler, Diana Muranovic, Zlatan Krizan. Changes in sleep difficulties among the U.S. population from 2013 to 2017: results from the National Health Interview Survey. Sleep Health, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.sleh.2019.08.008

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday November 13, @10:03AM   Printer-friendly
from the plant-more-trees? dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

MIT engineers develop a new way to remove carbon dioxide from air.

Most methods of removing carbon dioxide from a stream of gas require higher concentrations, such as those found in the flue emissions from fossil fuel-based power plants. A few variations have been developed that can work with the low concentrations found in air, but the new method is significantly less energy-intensive and expensive, the researchers say.

The technique, based on passing air through a stack of charged electrochemical plates, is described in a new paper in the journal Energy and Environmental Science, by MIT postdoc Sahag Voskian, who developed the work during his PhD, and T. Alan Hatton, the Ralph Landau Professor of Chemical Engineering.

Sahag Voskian, T. Alan Hatton. Faradaic electro-swing reactive adsorption for CO2 capture. Energy & Environmental Science, 2019; DOI: 10.1039/C9EE02412C

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday November 13, @08:31AM   Printer-friendly
from the business-as-usual dept.

Submitted via IRC for soylent_red

DirecTV kept charging regional sports fee while channel was blacked out

DirecTV and Comcast are being investigated by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, who objects to the TV providers continuing to charge regional sports network (RSN) fees despite not providing one of the major regional sports networks. While Comcast is giving customers partial bill credits, DirecTV apparently hasn't done so.

Weiser sent letters to the AT&T-owned DirecTV and Comcast on October 23, asking why the companies kept charging RSN fees after they stopped providing the Altitude Sports network. The network broadcasts games played by the state's major professional basketball, hockey, and soccer teams (the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, and Colorado Rapids, respectively). The AG's letters said that Comcast's and DirecTV's conduct "may constitute a deceptive trade practice under the Colorado Consumer Protection Act" and "may result in the imposition of civil penalties up to $20,000 per violation." The letters also said the AG is investigating other potentially misleading fees.

[...] Weiser's office gave both companies until November 7 to respond. Comcast said it will provide an additional, more detailed response to the AG by then. AT&T's DirecTV division hasn't responded to Weiser's office yet, Weiser's office told Ars today. We contacted AT&T today and will update this article if we get a response.

The actions of DirecTV, which apparently hasn't offered credits to customers, have been "very concerning," Weiser told The Denver Post.

"Based on early conversations with DirecTV and AT&T, we didn't believe they were taking the request with the seriousness that they should," a spokesperson for Weiser also told the Post.

Original Submission