Researchers used a laser to hack Alexa and other voice assistants

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San Francisco (CNN Business)Usually you have to talk to voice assistants to get them to do what you want. But a group of researchers determined they can also command them by shining a laser at smart speakers and other gadgets that house virtual helpers such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant.

Researchers at the University of Michigan and Japan’s University of Electro-Communications figured out they could do this silently and from hundreds of feet away, as long as they had a line of sight to the smart gadget. The finding could enable anyone (with motivation and a few hundred dollars’ worth of electronics) to attack a smart speaker from outside your house, making it do anything from playing music to opening a smart garage door to buying you stuff on Amazon.

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‘Quantum Apocalypse’: How ultra-powerful computers could cripple governments and effectively break the internet

 

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A new era of computing could bring about a ‘quantum apocalypse’

‘Our modern systems of finance, commerce, communication, transportation, manufacturing, energy, government, and healthcare will for all intents and purposes cease to function,’ cyber security expert warns

A new era of unfathomably fast computers is just a few years away, with quantum computers set to transform the way we communicate, cure disease, and even solve problems previously thought impossible.

But some computing experts fear functional quantum computers could also effectively break the internet as we know it.

Recent progress made by Google means their arrival could be sooner than expected. A leaked research paper suggests the company has achieved what is known as quantum supremacy, whereby a quantum computer performed a calculation that was far beyond the reach of today’s most powerful supercomputers.

First theorised by the physicist Richard Feynman in 1982, quantum computers combine the peculiar properties of quantum physics with computer science to achieve processing power that is exponentially more powerful than traditional computers.

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Political operatives are faking voter outrage with millions of made-up comments to benefit the rich and powerful

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A fierce battle over the regulation of the internet was riddled with millions of fake comments in the most prolific known instance of political impersonation in US history.

Sarah Reeves sat on her couch in Eugene, Oregon, staring at her laptop screen in furious disbelief. She was reading the website of a government agency, where her mother appeared to have posted a comment weighing in on a bitter policy battle for control of the internet. Something was very wrong.

For a start, Annie Reeves, who loved to lead children’s sing-alongs at the Alaska Zoo, had never followed wonky policy debates. She barely knew her way around the web, let alone held strident views on how it should be regulated — and, according to her daughter, she definitely didn’t post angry comments on government websites.

But Sarah Reeves had a more conclusive reason to feel sure her mother’s name had been taken in vain: Annie Reeves was dead. She died more than a year before the comment was posted.

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Here’s what quantum supremacy does—and doesn’t—mean for computing

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Google has reportedly demonstrated for the first time that a quantum computer is capable of performing a task beyond the reach of even the most powerful conventional supercomputer in any practical time frame—a milestone known in the world of computing as “quantum supremacy.”

The ominous-sounding term, which was coined by theoretical physicist John Preskill in 2012, evokes an image of Darth Vader–like machines lording it over other computers. And the news has already produced some outlandish headlines, such as one on the Infowars website that screamed, “Google’s ‘Quantum Supremacy’ to Render All Cryptography and Military Secrets Breakable.” Political figures have been caught up in the hysteria, too: Andrew Yang, a presidential candidate, tweeted that “Google achieving quantum computing is a huge deal. It means, among many other things, that no code is uncrackable.”

Nonsense. It doesn’t mean that at all. Google’s achievement is significant, but quantum computers haven’t suddenly turned into computing colossi that will leave conventional machines trailing in the dust. Nor will they be laying waste to conventional cryptography in the near future—though in the longer term, they could pose a threat we need to start preparing for now.

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IBM’s new 53-qubit quantum ‘mainframe’ is live in the cloud

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IBM has boosted its growing stable of quantum computers with a new 53-quantum bit (qubit) device, the most powerful ever offered for commercial use.

Google announced a more powerful 72-qubit ‘Bristlecone’ model last year, but that was for its internal techies only. IBM’s, by contrast, feels significant because it can be used by absolutely anyone who can find a use for such a computer.

The new and still-to-be-named computer will sit in the company’s Quantum Computation Center in Poughkeepsie, New York State, which has recently turned into a hotbed for commercial development.

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You won’t see quantum internet coming

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The quantum internet is coming sooner than you think—even sooner than quantum computing itself. When things change over, you might not even notice. But when they do, new rules will protect your data against attacks from computers that don’t even exist yet.

Despite the fancy name, the “quantum internet” won’t be some futuristic new way to navigate online. It won’t produce any mind-blowing new content, at least not for decades. The quantum internet will look more or less the same as the internet you’re using now, but scientists and cryptographers hope it could provide protection against not only theoretical threats but also those we haven’t dreamed up yet.

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How a trivial cell phone hack is ruining lives

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On a Tuesday night in May, Sean Coonce was reading the news in bed when his phone dropped service. He chalked it up to tech being tech and went to sleep. When he woke up, his Gmail account had been stolen and by Wednesday evening he was out $100,000.

“This is still very raw (I haven’t even told my family yet),” Coonce wrote in an anguished Medium post. “I can’t stop thinking about the small, easy things I could have done to protect myself along the way.”

On a Monday night in June, Matthew Miller’s daughter woke him up to say that his Twitter account had been hacked. He had no cell phone service; within a few days Miller lost his Gmail and Twitter account and $25,000 from his family bank account.

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A quantum revolution is coming

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Quantum physics, the study of the universe on an atomic scale, gives us a reference model to understand the human ecosystem in the discrete individual unit. It helps us understand how individual human behavior impacts collective systems and the security of humanity.

Metaphorically, we can see this in how a particle can act both like a particle or a wave. The concept of entanglement is at the core of much of applied quantum physics. The commonly understood definition of entanglement says that particles can be generated to have a distinct reliance on each other, despite any three-dimensional or 4-dimensional distance between the particles. What this definition and understanding imply is that even if two or more particles are physically detached with no traditional or measurable linkages, what happens to one still has a quantifiable effect on the other.

Now, individuals and entities across NGIOA are part of an entangled global system. Since the ability to generate and manipulate pairs of entangled particles is at the foundation of many quantum technologies, it is important to understand and evaluate how the principles of quantum physics translate to the survival and security of humanity.

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Mark Zuckerberg: The Internet needs new rules. Let’s start in these four areas.

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Mark Zuckerberg is founder and chief executive of Facebook.

Technology is a major part of our lives, and companies such as Facebook have immense responsibilities. Every day, we make decisions about what speech is harmful, what constitutes political advertising, and how to prevent sophisticated cyberattacks. These are important for keeping our community safe. But if we were starting from scratch, we wouldn’t ask companies to make these judgments alone.

I believe we need a more active role for governments and regulators. By updating the rules for the Internet, we can preserve what’s best about it — the freedom for people to express themselves and for entrepreneurs to build new things — while also protecting society from broader harms.

From what I’ve learned, I believe we need new regulation in four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.

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Two-thirds of all Android antivirus apps are frauds

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Only 23 Android antivirus apps had a 100 percent detection rate with no false positives.

An organization specialized in testing antivirus products concluded in a report published this week that roughly two-thirds of all Android antivirus apps are a sham and don’t work as advertised.

The report, published by Austrian antivirus testing outfit AV-Comparatives, was the result of a grueling testing process that took place in January this year and during which the organization’s staff looked at 250 Android antivirus apps available on the official Google Play Store.

The report’s results are tragicomical –with antivirus apps detecting themselves as malware– and come to show the sorry state of Android antivirus industry, which appears to be filled with more snake-oilers than actual cyber-security vendors.

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How a Bitcoin evangelist made himself vanish, in 15 (not so easy) steps

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In October 2017, a SWAT team descended on Jameson Lopp’s house in North Carolina. Someone — it still isn’t clear who — had called the police and falsely claimed that a shooter at the home had killed someone and taken a hostage. After the police left, Mr. Lopp received a call threatening more mayhem if he did not make a large ransom payment in Bitcoin.

To scare off future attackers, Mr. Lopp quickly posted a video on Twitter of himself firing off his AR-15 rifle. He also decided he was going to make it much harder for his enemies — and anyone else — to find him ever again.

Mr. Lopp, a self-described libertarian who works for a Bitcoin security company, had long been obsessed with the value of privacy, and he set out to learn how thoroughly a person can escape the all-seeing eyes of corporate America and the government. But he wanted to do it without giving up internet access and moving to a shack in the woods.

Many celebrities and wealthy people, wary of thieves, paparazzi and other predators, have tried to achieve Mr. Lopp’s vision of complete privacy. Few have succeeded.

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Android is helping kill passwords on a billion devices

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IT’S MORE IMPORTANT than ever to manage your passwords online, and also harder to keep up with them. That’s a bad combination. So the FIDO Alliance—a consortium that develops open source authentication standards—has pushed to expand its secure login protocols to make seamless logins a reality. Now Android’s on board, which means 1 billion devices can say goodbye to passwords in more digital services than seen before.

On Monday, Google and the FIDO Alliance announced that Android has added certified support for the FIDO2 standard, meaning the vast majority of devices running Android 7 or later will now be able to handle password-less logins in mobile browsers like Chrome. Android already offered secure FIDO login options for mobile apps, where you authenticate using a phone’s fingerprint scanner or with a hardware dongle like a YubiKey. But FIDO2 support will make it possible to use these easy authentication steps for web services in a mobile browser, instead of having the tedious task of typing in your password every time you want to log in to an account. Web developers can now design their sites to interact with Android’s FIDO2 management infrastructure.

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