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Updated: 3 min 2 sec ago

Microsoft Teams Surpasses 270 Million Monthly Active Users

4 min 13 sec ago
Microsoft's Teams communications and collaboration platform topped 270 million monthly active users in the December quarter, continuing to add users but at a much slower pace than in the initial months of the pandemic. From a report: Satya Nadella, the Microsoft CEO, revealed the latest number Tuesday afternoon in conjunction with the company's quarterly earnings. The number represents an increase of 20 million monthly active users from the 250 million that Microsoft reported six months ago, in July 2021. Prior to that, the company used the metric of daily active users, so the numbers aren't directly comparable, but they do show how the growth has slowed. Monthly numbers are more forgiving because users don't need to use the product as frequently to move the needle. In daily active users, Teams jumped from 75 million in April 2020 to 115 million in October 2020 to 145 million in April 2021.

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White House Attempts To Strengthen Federal Cybersecurity After Major Hacks

44 min 13 sec ago
The White House plans to release an ambitious strategy Wednesday to make federal agencies tighten their cybersecurity controls after a series of high-profile hacks against government and private infrastructure in the last two years, according to a copy shared with CNN. From a report: It's one of the biggest efforts yet by the Biden administration to secure the computer networks that the government relies on to do business. Under the strategy, federal employees will need to sign on to agency networks using multiple layers of security and agencies will have to do a better job of protecting their internal network traffic from hackers. The strategy gives agencies until the end of the 2024 fiscal year to meet these benchmarks and others. The overhaul was inspired in part by a 2020 spying campaign by alleged Russian hackers that infiltrated several US agencies and went undetected for months, leaving US officials frustrated at their blind spots. The hackers tampered with software made by federal contractor SolarWinds, among other tools, to sneak onto the unclassified networks of the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and others.

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Cybercriminals Laundered $8.6 Billion Worth of Cryptocurrency in 2021

1 hour 25 min ago
Cybercriminal gangs laundered an estimated $8.6 billion worth of cryptocurrency last year, in 2021, a 30% rise from the previous year, according to a Chainalysis report published today. From a report: The company said it arrived at the number by tracking transactions linked to cybercriminal activity across different cryptocurrency blockchains. This included tracking addresses linked to activity such as darknet market sales, online scams, cryptocurrency platform hacks, and ransomware attacks. "Overall, cybercriminals have laundered over $33 billion worth of cryptocurrency since 2017, with most of the total over time moving to centralized exchanges. For comparison, the UN Office of Drugs and Crime estimates that between $800 billion and $2 trillion of fiat currency is laundered each year -- as much as 5% of global GDP," Chainalysis said. In most cases, cybercrime groups sent funds to centralized cryptocurrency exchanges, from where they converted the stolen funds into real-world fiat currency. Almost 47% of all stolen cryptocurrency was laundered through traditional exchanges, Chainalysis said.

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Intel Wins Historic Court Fight Over EU Antitrust Fine

2 hours 43 min ago
Intel won a historic victory in its court fight over a record 1.06 billion-euro ($1.2 billion) competition fine, in a landmark ruling that upends one of the European Union's most important antitrust cases. From a report: The EU General Court ruled on Wednesday that regulators made key errors in a landmark 2009 decision over allegedly illegal rebates that the U.S. chip giant gave to PC makers to squeeze out rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). While the surprise ruling can be appealed one more time, it's a stinging defeat for the European Commission, which hasn't lost a big antitrust case in court for more than 20 years. The Luxembourg-based EU court said the commission provided an "incomplete" analysis when it fined Intel, criticizing it for failing to provide sufficient evidence to back up its findings of anti-competitive risks.

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Windows 11 is Getting Android Apps, Taskbar Improvements, and More Next Month

3 hours 18 min ago
Microsoft is planning to launch a public preview of its Android apps for Windows 11 next month, alongside some taskbar improvements and redesigned Notepad and Media Player apps. Windows chief Panos Panay outlined the upcoming changes to Windows 11 in a blog post today, and they appear to be part of Windows 11's first big update. From a report: The taskbar improvements include a mute and unmute feature and likely the ability to show a clock on secondary monitors. Both were missing at the launch of Windows 11, but Microsoft is still working on improving the taskbar further to bring back missing functionality like drag and drop. The upcoming Windows 11 next month will also include the weather widget returning to the taskbar, something Microsoft started testing last month. Microsoft is also redesigning its Notepad and Media Player apps, and both include dark modes and design tweaks that more closely match Windows 11. The big new addition will be Android apps on Windows 11, though. Panay says this will be a "public preview," indicating that the feature will still be in beta when it's widely available next month. Microsoft first started testing Android apps on Windows 11 with testers in October, and the feature allows you to install a limited number of apps from Amazon's Appstore. There are a variety of workarounds to get Google Play Store running on Windows 11, but Microsoft isn't officially supporting this. Panay also shared a variety of stats about how important Windows has become over the past couple of years. Windows 10 and Windows 11 now run on 1.4 billion devices each month, and the PC market has experienced strong growth throughout the pandemic.

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Microsoft's Product Chief Sees PC Revival as Durable

4 hours 3 min ago
After years of stagnation, the PC industry has seen its best growth in a decade as people buy new laptops and desktops. But while some pandemic-fueled changes may prove temporary, Microsoft product chief Panos Panay sees the industry's return to growth as durable. From a report: "This pandemic has been a forcing function," Panay said in an exclusive interview on Tuesday, following the release of Microsoft's quarterly earnings report. The PC market got a boost as life moved online, but the question for the industry now is whether and how it can keep the momentum going. Before the pandemic, many households focused their tech spending on buying bigger TVs and upgrading their cell phones every couple of years, while trying to keep their PCs as long as possible. During COVID-19, the PC has taken on new life as a tool for remote work, distance learning and staying in touch with friends and family in a world where travel has been greatly curtailed. That drove the global shipments of laptops and desktops for the last quarter to surpass 90 million for the second year in a row, and sales for the year reached a level not seen since 2012. Microsoft reported 25% growth in the revenue it gets from having Windows installed on new PCs.

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New DeadBolt Ransomware Targets QNAP Devices, Asks 50 BTC For Master Key

5 hours 8 min ago
ryanw shares a report from BleepingComputer: A new DeadBolt ransomware group is encrypting QNAP NAS devices worldwide using what they claim is a zero-day vulnerability in the device's software. The attacks started today, January 25th, with QNAP devices suddenly finding their files encrypted and file names appended with a .deadbolt file extension. Instead of creating ransom notes in each folder on the device, the QNAP device's login page is hijacked to display a screen stating, "WARNING: Your files have been locked by DeadBolt." This screen informs the victim that they should pay 0.03 bitcoins (approximately $1,100) to an enclosed Bitcoin address unique to each victim. After payment is made, the threat actors claim they will make a follow-up transaction to the same address that includes the decryption key. This decryption key can then be entered into the screen to decrypt the device's files. At this time, there is no confirmation that paying a ransom will result in receiving a decryption key or that users will be able to decrypt files. The DeadBolt ransomware gang is offering the full details of the alleged zero-day vulnerability if QNAP pays them 5 Bitcoins worth $184,000. They are also willing to sell QNAP the master decryption key that can decrypt the files for all affected victims and the zero-day info for 50 bitcoins, or approximately $1.85 million.

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Meta's Ill-Fated Cryptocurrency May Be Close To Dissolving

8 hours 8 min ago
Diem, Meta's ill-fated cryptocurrency previously known as Libra, may never actually materialize. According to Bloomberg, the Diem Association is reportedly "weighing a sale of its assets as a way to return capital to its investor members." Engadget reports: It's unclear what assets the Diem Association owns, but the report notes the group is talking to bankers about selling its intellectual property and finding "a new home for the engineers that developed the technology." If a sale were to happen, it would seem to be the final nail in the coffin for Diem, the cryptocurrency project that Mark Zuckerberg has championed. Plans to get the stablecoin off the ground have stalled for years amid regulatory pushback and lawmaker concerns. After first launching as Libra, several high-profile partners pulled out in 2019. Last fall, Facebook started a small pilot of Novi, the cryptocurrency wallet formerly known as Calibra. But the fact that Novi was forced to launch without support for Diem -- it used a different stablecoin called the Pax Dollar -- was a sign that Diem's future remained uncertain. Longtime Facebook exec David Marcus, who oversaw the social network's crypto plans, said at the time that Facebook remained committed to Diem. "I do want to be clear that our support for Diem hasn't changed and we intend to launch Novi with Diem once it receives regulatory approval and goes live," he wrote. Marcus announced a month later that he was leaving Facebook.

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Tonga Shock Wave Created Tsunamis In Two Different Oceans

11 hours 8 min ago
sciencehabit shares a report from Science.org: When Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai, a mostly submerged volcanic cauldron in the South Pacific Ocean, exploded on January 15, it unleashed a blast perhaps as powerful as the world's biggest nuclear bomb, and drove tsunami waves that crashed into Pacific shorelines. But 3 hours or so before their arrival in Japan, researchers detected the waves of another small tsunami. Even stranger, tiny tsunami waves just 10 centimeters high were detected around the same time in the Caribbean Sea, which is in an entirely different ocean basin. What was going on? Researchers say there is only one reasonable explanation: The explosion's staggeringly powerful shock wave, screaming around the world close to the speed of sound, drove tsunamis of its own in both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. It's the first time a volcanic shock wave has been seen creating its own tsunamis, says Greg Dusek, a physical oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who documented the phenomenon using a combination of tide and pressure gauges around the world. But, "It's almost certainly happened in the past," says Mark Boslough, a physicist at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. The discovery suggests the shock waves generated by explosive eruptions in Earth's history, and by other violent cataclysms, like the airbursts of comets or asteroids colliding with the planet's atmosphere, may have also created transoceanic tsunamis, perhaps with considerably bigger waves.

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Major Linux PolicyKit Security Vulnerability Uncovered: Pwnkit

14 hours 38 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: [S]ecurity company Qualys has uncovered a truly dangerous memory corruption vulnerability in polkit's pkexec, CVE-2021-4034. Polkit, formerly known as PolicyKit, is a systemd SUID-root program. It's installed by default in every major Linux distribution. This vulnerability is easy to exploit. And, with it, any ordinary user can gain full root privileges on a vulnerable computer by exploiting this vulnerability in its default configuration. As Qualsys wrote in its brief description of the problem: "This vulnerability is an attacker's dream come true." Why is it so bad? Let us count the ways: - Pkexec is installed by default on all major Linux distributions. - Qualsys has exploited Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, and CentOS in their tests, and they're sure other distributions are also exploitable. - Pkexec has been vulnerable since its creation in May 2009 (commit c8c3d83, "Add a pkexec(1) command"). - An unprivileged local user can exploit this vulnerability to get full root privileges. - Although this vulnerability is technically a memory corruption, it is exploitable instantly and reliably in an architecture-independent way. - And, last but not least, it's exploitable even if the polkit daemon itself is not running. Red Hat rates the PwnKit as having a Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) score of 7.8. This is high. [...] This vulnerability, which has been hiding in plain sight for 12+ years, is a problem with how pkexec reads environmental variables. The short version, according to Qualsys, is: "If our PATH is "PATH=name=.", and if the directory "name=." exists and contains an executable file named "value", then a pointer to the string "name=./value" is written out-of-bounds to envp[0]." While Qualsys won't be releasing a demonstration exploit, the company is sure it won't take long for exploits to be available. Frankly, it's not that hard to create a PwnKit attack. It's recommended that you obtain and apply a patch ASAP to protect yourself from this vulnerability. "If no patches are available for your operating system, you can remove the SUID-bit from pkexec as a temporary mitigation," adds ZDNet. "For example, this root-powered shell command will stop attacks: # chmod 0755 /usr/bin/pkexec."

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Kombucha Cultures Make Excellent Sustainable Water Filters, Study Finds

16 hours 6 min ago
Long-time Slashdot reader shoor shares a report from Ars Technica: The refreshing kombucha tea that's all the rage these days among certain global demographics might also hold the key to affordable, environmentally sustainable living membranes for water filtration, according to a recent paper published in the American Chemical Society journal ACS ES&T Water. Experiments by researchers at Montana Technological University (MTU) and Arizona State University (ASU) showed that membranes grown from kombucha cultures were better at preventing the formation of biofilms -- a significant challenge in water filtration -- than current commercial membranes. Co-author Katherine Zodrow, an environmental engineer at MTU, led an earlier 2020 study demonstrating the feasibility of making sustainable living filtration membranes (LFMs) out of a bacterial cellulose network and the native microorganisms of a kombucha SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) culture. Zodrow and her new collaborators made their membranes for this latest round of experiments the same way: by placing a SCOBY in a growth solution of sugar, black tea, and distilled white vinegar dissolved in deionized water. The researchers then placed the mixture in a temperature-controlled room for 10-12 days until a thick membrane formed on the mixture's surface. The grown membranes were stored in deionized water and used in experiments within eight days. The 20 liters of raw water samples for the experiments were taken from the three drinking water treatment plants in Butte, Montana: Basin Creek Reservoir, Moulton Reservoir, and Big Hole River. The water samples were then pretreated in accordance with standard practices at each plant. Both the LFMs and polymer-based filters, the researchers discovered, became clogged over time, causing them to flow and filter more slowly. The LFMs used in the experiments, however, showed between 19 and 40 percent better performance than their commercial counterparts on that score. The SCOBY-based LFMs were also more resistant to befouling. While biofilms eventually formed, fewer microorganisms were found in those films. Zodrow et al. sequenced the DNA of any bacteria and fungi in the SCOBY-based membrane and found that 97 percent of the bacteria present belonged to the genus Acetobacter. This is not surprising, since it's also the dominant bacteria in kombucha, but it may explain why the LFMs performed so well with regard to biofilms. As the name implies, a defining characteristic of this genus is the ability to oxidize organic carbon sources like sucrose, glucose, and ethanol into acetic acid, which is known for its antimicrobial properties. Acetobacter has also been shown to reduce or even remove biofilms, in keeping with the results of Zodrow et al.'s experiments.

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Quantum Computers Are a Million Times Too Small To Hack Bitcoin

16 hours 43 min ago
MattSparkes shares a report from New Scientist: Quantum computers would need to become around one million times larger than they are today in order to break the SHA-256 algorithm that secures bitcoin, which would put the cryptocurrency at risk from hackers. Breaking this impenetrable code is essentially impossible for ordinary computers, but quantum computers, which can exploit the properties of quantum physics to speed up some calculations, could theoretically crack it open. [Mark Webber at the University of Sussex, UK, and his colleagues] calculated that breaking bitcoin's encryption in this 10 minute window would require a quantum computer with 1.9 billion qubits, while cracking it in an hour would require a machine with 317 million qubits. Even allowing for a whole day, this figure only drops to 13 million qubits. This is reassuring news for bitcoin owners because current machines have only a tiny fraction of this -- IBM's record-breaking superconducting quantum computer has only 127 qubits, so devices would need to become a million times larger to threaten the cryptocurrency, something Webber says is unlikely to happen for a decade. The study has been published in the journal AVS Quantum Science.

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Manufacturers Have Less Than Five Days' Supply of Some Computer Chips, Commerce Department Says

17 hours 23 min ago
Manufacturers and other buyers of computer chips had less than five days' supply of some chips on hand late last year, leaving them vulnerable to any disruptions in deliveries, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday as it pushed Congress to endorse federal aid for chip makers. The Washington Post reports: Manufacturers' median chip inventory levels have plummeted from about 40 days' supply in 2019 to less than five days, according to a survey of 150 companies worldwide that the Commerce Department conducted in September. "This means a disruption overseas, which might shut down a semiconductor plant for 2-3 weeks, has the potential to disable a manufacturing facility and furlough workers in the United States if that facility only has 3-5 days of inventory," the Commerce Department concluded in a six-page summary of its findings. The lack of chip inventory leaves auto manufacturers and other chip users with "no room for error," Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Tuesday as she presented the findings. "A covid outbreak, a storm, a natural disaster, political instability, problem with equipment -- really anything that disrupts a [chip-making] facility anywhere in the world, we will feel the ramifications here in the United States of America," she said. "A covid outbreak in Malaysia has the potential to shut down a manufacturing facility in America." "The reality is Congress must act," Raimondo added, urging lawmakers to pass a proposal for $52 billion in federal subsidies to incentivize construction of chip factories. "Every day we wait, we fall further behind." The Senate passed the measure last year. The legislation has been tied up for months in the House, though House Democrats are expected to introduce their version of the legislation as soon as this week. Industry executives say federal funding is likely to create more long-term supply of chips but not to alleviate the short-term shortages because chip factories take years to build.

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'Google Is Forcing Me To Dump a Perfectly Good Phone'

18 hours 6 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard, written by Aaron Gordon: Not quite three years ago, I bought a Pixel 3, Google's flagship phone at the time. It has been a good phone. I like that it's not too big. I dropped it a bunch, but it didn't break. And the battery life has not noticeably changed since the day I got it. I think of phones in much the same way I think of refrigerators or stoves. It's an appliance, something I need but feel no attachment to, and as long as it keeps fulfilling that need, I don't want to spend money replacing it for no real reason. The Pixel 3 fulfills my needs, so I don't want to spend $600 on the Pixel 6, which seems to be just another phone that does all the phone things. But I have to get rid of it because Google has stopped supporting all Pixel 3s. Despite being just three years old, no Pixel 3 will ever receive another official security update. Installing security updates is the one basic thing everyone needs to do for their own digital security. If you don't even get them, then you're vulnerable to every security flaw discovered since your last patch. In response to an email asking Google why it stopped supporting the Pixel 3, a Googles spokesperson said, "We find that three years of security and OS updates still provides users with a great experience for their device." This has been a problem with Android for as long as Android has existed. In 2015, my colleague Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai wrote a farewell to Android because of its terrible software support and spotty upgrade rollouts. Android has long blamed this obvious issue on the fact that updates need to run through the cellphone company and phone manufacturer before being pushed to the user. At the time, Google didn't make any Android phones; the Nexus line was the closest thing, a partnership with other manufacturers like Motorola and HTC (I had one of those, too). But for the past six years, Google has made the Pixel line of phones. They are Google-made phones, meaning Google can't blame discontinuing security updates on other manufacturers, and yet, it announced that's exactly what it would do. Gordon goes on to say that he's "switching to an iPhone for the first time," noting how the most recent version of iOS can be installed on phones going as far back as the iPhone 6s, which was released more than six years ago. "Unless you routinely destroy your phone within two or three years, there's no justification from a sustainability perspective to keep using Android phones," he adds. "Of course, Apple is only good by comparison, as it also manufactures devices that are difficult to repair with an artificially short shelf life. It just happens to have a longer shelf life than Google."

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Intel Alder Lake-H Mobile CPU Performance Impresses, Handily Bests Ryzen Mobile

18 hours 48 min ago
MojoKid writes: Intel lifted its performance embargo today on its new line of Alder Lake 12th Gen Core mobile processors for laptops. Reviews are hitting the web specifically with Intel's higher-end Alder Lake-H processor SKU. Alder Lake is intended to be a single, scalable CPU architecture, designed to address PC client platforms from ultra-mobile solutions down to 9 watts, up to high-performance 125 Watt+ desktop solutions. Alder Lake-H, the foundation of the Core i9-12900HK 14-core/20-thread chip in this review at HotHardware has a 45W power envelope, but it will boost to much higher levels when power and thermal headroom is available. Coupled with NVIDIA's new GeForce RTX 3080 Ti mobile GPU, the machine put up some of the best gaming and content creation benchmark numbers ever recorded on a laptop. Alder Lake-H CPU derivatives will scale back to 8-core chips with a mix of Performance cores and Efficiency cores consistent with Intel's new hybrid architecture. Additional benchmarks and performance recorded on the new Alienware x17 R2 with an identical hardware config were equally as impressive. Intel 12th Gen-powered laptops are starting to become available in market now, with lower power Alder Lake-U SKUs for thin and light machines arriving later this year.

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IMF Urges El Salvador To Remove Bitcoin As Legal Tender

Wed, 26/01/2022 - 00:40
The International Monetary Fund is pushing El Salvador to ditch bitcoin as legal tender, according to a statement released on Tuesday. CNBC reports: IMF directors "stressed that there are large risks associated with the use of bitcoin on financial stability, financial integrity, and consumer protection, as well as the associated fiscal contingent liabilities." The report, which was published after bilateral talks with El Salvador, went on to "urge" authorities to narrow the scope of its bitcoin law by removing bitcoin's status as legal money. In Sept. 2021, the Central American nation became the world's first country to adopt the cryptocurrency as legal tender, alongside the U.S. dollar. The IMF report went on to say that some directors had expressed concern over the risks associated with issuing bitcoin-backed bonds, referring to the president's plan to raise $1 billion via a "Bitcoin Bond" in partnership with Blockstream, a digital assets infrastructure company. Part of El Salvador's nationwide move into bitcoin also involved launching a national virtual wallet called Chivo that which offers no-fee transactions and allows for quick cross-border payments. For a country where 70% of citizens do not have access to traditional financial services, Chivo is meant to offer a convenient onramp for those who have never been a part of the banking system. IMF directors agreed that the Chivo e-wallet could facilitate digital means of payment, thereby helping to "boost financial inclusion," though they emphasized the need for "strict regulation and oversight." Many Salvadorans have reported cases of identity theft, in which hackers use their national ID number to open a Chivo Wallet, in order to claim the free $30 worth of bitcoin offered by the government as an incentive to open a digital wallet. For months, the IMF has bemoaned Bukele's bitcoin experiment. [...] El Salvador has also been trying since early 2021 to secure a $1.3 billion loan from the IMF -- an effort which appears to have soured over this bitcoin row. The country will need to figure out some other backstop to shore up its finances. The IMF predicts that under current policies, public debt will rise to 96% of GDP by 20216, putting the country on "an unsustainable path."

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SAT Will Soon Be All-Digital, Shortened To 2 Hours

Wed, 26/01/2022 - 00:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: The SAT taken by prospective college students across the country will go all-digital starting in 2024 and will be an hour shorter, the College Board announced in a statement Tuesday. The transition comes months after the College Board pilot-tested a digital SAT in November 2021 in the US and internationally. 80% of students said they found it less stressful, and 100% of educators reported a positive experience, according to the College Board. The decision comes as the College Board has felt increasing pressure to change its stress-inducing test in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and questions around the test's fairness and relevance. The test has long been criticized for bias against those from poor households as well as Black and Hispanic students. The high-stakes nature of the test means that those with more resources can afford to take expensive test prep courses -- or even, as the 2019 college admissions scam revealed, to cheat on the test. Schools have increasingly made such tests optional over the past few years. More than 1800 colleges and universities have dropped requirements that applicants take the SAT or ACT, according to the National Center for Fair & Open Testing. As part of the changes, sharpened No. 2 pencils will no longer be needed, and calculators will be allowed in the entire Math section. In addition, the new digital SAT will be shortened from 3 hours to 2 hours, with more time per question. It will feature shorter reading passages with one question each and will "reflect a wider range of topics that represent the works students read in college," the College Board said. Students will also get back scores within days rather than weeks. The move to a digital test will apply to all of the SAT Suite. The PSATs and international SAT will go digital in 2023 followed by the US SAT a year later. Last year, the company dropped the SAT's subject tests and the essay section. Despite these changes, the SAT will still be scored out of 1600 and be administered in a school or test center.

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UK Government Plans To Release Nmap Scripts for Finding Vulnerabilities

Tue, 25/01/2022 - 23:25
The UK government's cyber-security agency plans to release Nmap scripts in order to help system administrators in scanning their networks for unpatched or vulnerable devices. From a report: The new project, titled Scanning Made Easy (SME), will be managed by the UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and is a joint effort with Industry 100 (i100), a collaboration between the NCSC and the UK private sector. "When a software vulnerability is disclosed, it is often easier to find proof-of-concept code to exploit it, than it is to find tools that will help defend your network," the NCSC said yesterday. "To make matters worse, even when there is a scanning script available, it can be difficult to know if it is safe to run, let alone whether it returns valid scan results." The NCSC said that the SME project was created to solve this problem by having some of the UK's leading security experts, from both the government and public sector, either create or review scripts that can be used to scan internal networks. Approved scripts will be made available via the NCSC's SME GitHub project page, and the agency said it's also taking submissions from the security community as well. Only scripts for the Nmap network scanning app will be made available through this project, the NCSC said on Monday.

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China Gives 'Fight Club' New Ending Where Authorities Win

Tue, 25/01/2022 - 22:42
The first rule of Fight Club in China? Don't mention the original ending. The second rule of Fight Club in China? Change it so the police win. From a report: China has some of the world's most restrictive censorship rules with authorities only approving a handful of foreign films for release each year -- sometimes with major cuts. Among the latest movies to undergo such treatment is David Fincher's 1999 cult classic "Fight Club" starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. Film fans in China noticed over the weekend that a version of the movie newly available on streaming platform Tencent Video was given a makeover that transforms the anarchist, anti-capitalist message that made the film a global hit. In the closing scenes of the original, Norton's character The Narrator, kills off his imaginary alter ego Tyler Durden -- played by Pitt -- and then watches multiple buildings explode, suggesting his character's plan to bring down modern civilisation is underway. But the new version in China has a very different take. The Narrator still proceeds with killing off Durden, but the exploding building scene is replaced with a black screen and a coda: "The police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding". It then adds that Tyler -- a figment of The Narrator's imagination -- was sent to a "lunatic asylum" for psychological treatment and was later discharged. The new ending in which the state triumphs sparked head scratching and outrage among many Chinese viewers -- many of whom would likely have seen pirated versions of the unadulterated version film.

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FAA Provisionally Clears 90% of Aircraft To Fly Near 5G Networks

Tue, 25/01/2022 - 22:12
About 90% of the U.S. commercial aircraft fleet is at least somewhat shielded from interference caused by new 5G wireless networks, the Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday. From a report: The FAA expanded the roster of aircraft that it says can perform "most" low-visibility landings in the presence of the 5G radio waves to include several models of regional jets, according to a notice on the agency's website. The FAA approvals don't cover every plane at every airport, and are subject to revisions each month as the agency reviews the addition of new 5G cell towers, the agency said. They could also be limited if wireless companies increase power levels. New wireless phone service that began on Jan. 19 broadcasting on frequencies near those used by aircraft has prompted the FAA to raise concerns about radio interference. The latest action by the agency combined with an agreement by wireless companies to temporarily limit power levels and the placement of cell towers near airports has meant that the most severe impacts have been avoided for now.

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