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December, 2018

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Teen scientist checks for alien lasers around famously weird star – CNET

A high school junior dug deep into the data on a mysteriously dimming star to search for evidence of a highly advanced civilization. …read more

Source:: CNet

Sony Boosts 3D Camera Output After Interest From Phone Makers

Sony, the biggest maker of camera chips used in smartphones, is boosting production of next-generation 3D sensors after getting interest from customers including Apple. From a report: The chips will power front- and rear-facing 3D cameras of models from several smartphone makers in 2019, with Sony kicking off mass production in late summer to meet demand, according to Satoshi Yoshihara, head of Sony’s sensor division. Sony’s bullish outlook for 3D cameras provides much needed optimism to the global smartphone industry, which is suffering a slowdown as consumers find fewer reasons to upgrade devices. The Tokyo-based company has started providing software toolkits to outside developers so they can experiment with the chips and create apps that generate models of faces for communication or virtual objects for online shopping. “Cameras revolutionized phones, and based on what I’ve seen, I have the same expectation for 3D,” said Yoshihara, who has worked for more than a decade on wider industry adoption of cameras in smartphones. “The pace will vary by field, but we’re definitely going to see adoption of 3D. I’m certain of it.”

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Source:: Slashdot

NASA New Horizons to photograph Ultima Thule in historic New Year’s flyby – CNET

As 2019 nears, the New Horizons spacecraft is zooming toward mysterious space rock Ultima Thule on a historic flyby. …read more

Source:: CNet

Malware Attack Crippled Production of Major U.S. Newspapers

Reports have linked the attack to the Ryuk ransomware. …read more

Source:: Threatpost

Scientists Drill Into 3,500 Feet of Ice To Reach a Mysterious Antarctic Lake

Late last week, a team of about 50 scientists, drillers, and support staff successfully punched through nearly 4,000 feet of ice to access an Antarctic subglacial lake for just the second time in human history. From a report: On Friday, the Subglacial Antarctic Lakes Scientific Access (SALSA) team announced they’d reached Lake Mercer after melting their way through an enormous frozen river with a high-pressure, hot-water drill. The multi-year effort to tap into the subglacial lake — one of approximately 400 scientists have detected across Antarctica — offers a rare opportunity to study the biology and chemistry of the most isolated ecosystems on Earth. The only other subglacial lake humans have drilled into — nearby Lake Whillans, sampled in 2013 — demonstrated that these extreme environments can play host to diverse microbial life. Naturally, scientists are stoked to see what they’ll find lurking in Lake Mercer’s icy waters. “We don’t know what we’ll find,” John Priscu, a biogeochemist at Montana State University and chief scientist for SALSA, told Earther via satellite phone from the SALSA drill camp on the Whillans Ice Plain. “We’re just learning, it’s only the second time that this has been done.”

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Source:: Slashdot

Ryan Reynolds shares a behind-the-scenes peek at Detective Pikachu – CNET

Get a closer look at the main character in the upcoming live-action Pokemon movie. …read more

Source:: CNet

The Great British Curry: Put down the takeaway, you’re cooking tonight

Yes, while half-sauced yourself…

Post-Pub Neckfiller The late and much-missed Lester Haines wrote a series called Post-Pub Nosh Neckfiller, high calorie food you can cook when drunk, or hungover. These veered into sophisticated recipes hard to rustle up when sober, let alone drunk – like home made polenta Eggs Benny with home made hollandaise sauce.…

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Source:: TheRegister

Podcast: The Growing World Of APTs And Government Hackers

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Source:: PacketStorm

Cybersecurity and Insurance

Insurance is a funny business. Life insurance, for example, is essentially betting someone you will die before your time. With the recent focus on companies getting hacked, it isn’t surprising that cybersecurity insurance is now big business. Get hacked and get paid. Maybe.

The reason I say maybe is because of the recent court battle between Zurich and Mondelez. Never heard of them? Zurich is a big insurance company and Mondelez owns brands like Nabisco, Oreo, and Trident chewing gum, among others.

It all started with the NotPetya ransomware attack in June of 2017. Mondelez is claiming it lost over $100 million dollars because of the incident. But no problem! They have insurance. If they can get the claim paid by Zurich, that is. Let’s dig in and try to see how this will all shake out.

That’s a Lot of Money

By anyone’s standards, $100 million is a pretty big wad of cash. Apparently, Mondelez uses Windows-based software for shipping and order fulfillment. By adding up property damage (lost hard drives, perhaps), supply and distribution disruption, customer order loss they came up with the $100 million figure.

You might argue if that number is really accurate. Hard drives could be reformatted, but then again that takes time so in the age of $80 hard drives, does that really make sense? If a supermarket got Oreos a week late, was that really more than an inconvenience? Were there penalties in their contracts with the customers or are they assuming that a huge number of store-brand cookies were sold when the Oreos ran out? We don’t know.

However, even if you deflated the estimate by an order of magnitude, you are still talking about a $10 million dollar loss. Not small change. Having lived through some major cyberattacks, I can tell you just the time spent in meetings between IT, executives, and lawyers can add up pretty quickly.

Loophole

As you can probably guess, Zurich isn’t wanting to pay the claim. Insurance companies have a reputation for being happier to take your payments than they are paying your claim, and things like this are why. On the other hand, insurance companies have a fiduciary responsibility to their other customers and their shareholders to not pay out any more than they have to, and we get that too. So other than the “We didn’t know you’d ask for $100 million dollars!” defense, how can Zurich not pay if they agreed to underwrite Mondelez against cyberattacks?

Many insurance policies have a clause in them that excludes things like acts of God and acts of war. Well, the technical term is “force majeure” but it covers things like earthquakes and other natural disasters. The theory is if a tornado comes and destroys 100s of cars it would be a burden on the insurance company to replace them all, so they’d have to charge you more. Since you don’t think that’s likely, you’ll take the force majeure exclusion and save a bit.

If you have a homeowner’s policy, you probably don’t want a …read more

Source:: Hackaday

Nancy Grace Roman, ‘Mother Of Hubble’ Space Telescope, Has Died, At Age 93

Russell Lewis, writing for NPR: When Nancy Grace Roman was a child, her favorite object to draw was the moon. Her mother used to take her on walks under the nighttime sky and show her constellations, or point out the colorful swirls of the aurora. Roman loved to look up at the stars and imagine. Eventually, her passion for stargazing blossomed into a career as a renowned astronomer. Roman was one of the first female executives at NASA, where she served as the agency’s first chief of astronomy. Known as the “Mother of Hubble,” for her role in making the Hubble Space Telescope a reality, Roman worked at NASA for nearly two decades. She died on Dec. 25 at the age of 93.

Roman fought to earn her place in a field dominated by men, paving the path for future female scientists. She was born in Nashville, Tenn. in 1925 and organized an astronomy club in fifth grade. She attended high school in Baltimore, where she requested to take a second year of algebra instead of a fifth year of Latin. When she made the appeal, she recounted in a 2017 interview with NPR that the guidance counselor wasn’t supportive of her dream to become a scientist.

Her efforts helped lead to the creation of the Hubble Space Telescope. In her role at NASA, Roman developed and planned the Hubble Space Telescope, which is famous for its stunning images of space. Because of the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists have been able to collect data and gain insight into even the most remote galaxies of the universe. The success of the project led to future space telescopes. Roman’s work, however, reached far beyond just the Hubble Space Telescope. In an interview with NASA, Roman once stated that one of the highlights of her career was when she discovered the first indication that common stars were not all the same age.

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Source:: Slashdot

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