IPv6 Adoption Hits 32%. Will Stats Show How Many Returned to the Office?

Long-time Slashdot reader Tim the Gecko writes: Google’s IPv6 connectivity stats topped 32% last Saturday for the first time.
But the main story has been the midweek stats. Most mobile phone networks and a good chunk of residential broadband have migrated to IPv6, but the typical corporate network where people used to spend their 9 to 5 is largely IPv4-only. There used to be a big dip in the IPv6 stats during the working week, but widespread working from home has halved that dip, with the typical midweek IPv6 connectivity for Google queries moving upwards from 26% to 29%.

Looking at this graph will be a good way of checking how fast people are returning to the office.

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An advanced and unconventional hack is targeting industrial firms

A large amount of zeroes and ones.

Enlarge / Binary code, illustration. (credit: KTSDESIGN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images)

Attackers are putting considerable skill and effort into penetrating industrial companies in multiple countries, with hacks that use multiple evasion mechanisms, an innovative encryption scheme, and exploits that are customized for each target with pinpoint accuracy.

The attacks begin with emails that are customized for each target, a researcher at security firm Kaspersky Lab reported this week. For the exploit to trigger, the language in the email must match the localization of the target’s operating system. For example, in the case of an attack on a Japanese company, the text of the email and an attached Microsoft Office document containing a malicious macro had to be written in Japanese. Also required: an encrypted malware module could be decrypted only when the OS had a Japanese localization as well.

Recipients who click on a request to urgently enable the document’s active content will see no indication anything is amiss. Behind the scenes, however, a macro executes a Powershell script. The reason it stays hidden: the command parameters:

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Biz & IT – Ars Technica

2018 ‘Hacking Attempt’ Claimed By Georgia Was A Security Test They’d Requested Themselves

An anonymous reader quotes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
It was a stunning accusation: Two days before the 2018 election for Georgia governor, Republican Brian Kemp used his power as secretary of state to open an investigation into what he called a “failed hacking attempt” of voter registration systems involving the Democratic Party. But newly released case files from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation reveal that there was no such hacking attempt.

The evidence from the closed investigation indicates that Kemp’s office mistook planned security tests and a warning about potential election security holes for malicious hacking.

Kemp then wrongly accused his political opponents just before Election Day — a high-profile salvo that drew national media attention in one of the most closely watched races of 2018… The internet activity that Kemp’s staff described as hacking attempts were actually scans by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that the secretary of state’s office had agreed to, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Kemp’s chief information officer signed off on the DHS scans three months beforehand.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also reports that the Democratic party’s only role was apparently forwarding an email about vulnerabilities to two cybersecurity professors at Georgia Tech, who then alerted authorities:

Richard Wright, a Georgia Tech graduate and Democratic voter who works for a software company…found that he could look up other voters’ information by modifying the web address on the site, a flaw confirmed by ProPublica and Georgia Public Broadcasting before it was fixed….An election security vendor for the state, Fortalice Solutions, later concluded, however, that there was no evidence that voter information had been accessed, manipulated or changed by bad actors…
While publicly denying Wright’s claims about vulnerabilities, behind the scenes, Kemp’s staff was working to correct them…. The secretary of state’s firewall hadn’t been set up to block access to the locations identified by Wright, according to a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent’s report. Election officials then “set up safeguards to restrict access to the vulnerable areas” on the last two days before the 2018 general election… This type of weakness, called broken access control, is one of the 10 most critical web application security risks, according to the Open Web Application Security Project, an organization that works to improve software security.

In 2016 Kemp also accused the Department of Homeland Security of trying to breach his office’s firewall. But a later investigation revealed the activity Kemp cited “was the result of normal and automatic computer message exchanges,” apparently caused by someone cutting and pasting data into a Microsoft Excel document.

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Dell’s All-AMD Gaming Laptop Hailed as a ‘Budget Blockbuster’

AMD “has a potent combination of both CPU and GPU technologies,” writes Slashdot reader MojoKid, that “can play well in the laptop market especially, where a tight coupling of the two processing engines can mean both performance and cost efficiencies.”

One of the first all-AMD laptops to hit the market powered by the company’s new Ryzen 4000 mobile processors is the Dell G5 15 SE, it’s a 5.5 pound, 14.4-inch machine [with a 15.6-inch display] that sports an understated design for a gaming notebook but with an interesting glittery finish that resists fingerprints well. With a retail price of $1199 (starting at $879), the model tested at HotHardware is powered by an AMD Ryzen 4800H 8-core processor that boosts to 4.2GHz and an AMD Radeon RX 5600M mobile GPU with 6GB of GDDR6 memory…

In the benchmarks, AMD’s SmartShift technology load-balances CPU and GPU power supply for optimal performance and very respectable numbers that are competitive with any similar Intel/NVIDIA powered machine. The Dell G5 15 SE put up north of 60 FPS frame rates at maximum image quality in current-gen game titles, but with a significantly better price point, relatively speaking.

The GPU also has 2,304 stream processors across 36 compute units, and “Overall, we think Dell hit it out of the park with the new G5 15 SE,” the review concludes.
“This all-AMD budget blockbuster has all of the gaming essentials: a fast processor, a powerful GPU, and a 144 Hz display.”

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As Coronavirus Hospitalizations Rise in the US, Many States Hide Their Data

In America, “Federal and state officials across the country have altered or hidden public health data crucial to tracking the coronavirus’ spread, hindering the ability to detect a surge of infections as President Donald Trump pushes the nation to reopen rapidly,” reports Politico:

In at least a dozen states, health departments have inflated testing numbers or deflated death tallies by changing criteria for who counts as a coronavirus victim and what counts as a coronavirus test, according to reporting from POLITICO, other news outlets and the states’ own admissions… About a third of the states aren’t even reporting hospital admission data — a big red flag for the resurgence of the virus…

Nearly half the U.S., meanwhile, has registered rising caseloads as states press ahead with reopening the economy. While some of that reflects increased testing, an accompanying uptick in hospitalizations is worrying experts, including former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb… [He tweeted Sunday that “Daily covid hospitalizations showed sustained decline for two weeks but then over preceding week started to rise nationally.”]

In addition to pulling back from its historic role as the central health authority during public health crises, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has established few firm standards for how states should monitor Covid-19 and made little overt effort to coordinate its messaging with state and local health departments. That’s created a patchwork system where key health information is collected and communicated with little uniformity, and amid rising concern over whether Americans are receiving reliable reports about the pandemic fight. At least a half-dozen states have admitted to inflating their testing figures by mixing two different types of tests into its totals, a practice widely derided as scientifically unsound. In Georgia, where Gov. Brian Kemp has been among the strongest proponents of reopening, the inclusion of antibody tests inflated the state’s overall testing count by nearly 78,000 — a disclosure that came a few weeks after officials posted a chart of new confirmed cases in Georgia with the dates jumbled out of order, showing a downward trajectory….
Florida has weathered a string of controversies over its evidence to support GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis’ boasts that the state is faring better than most, including an attempt to block access to information on nursing home deaths and the firing of a health department official who now alleges she was pushed out for refusing to manipulate the state’s data.

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Many Scientists Warn CDC’s New Death Rate Estimates Far Too Low

Slashdot reader DevNull127 quotes Buzzfeed News: Public health experts are accusing the CDC of bending under political pressure to say the coronavirus is less deadly. New CDC estimates of coronavirus death rates look suspiciously low and present almost no data to back them up, say public health experts who are concerned that the agency is buckling under political pressure to restart the economy…

While no one yet knows the coronavirus’s actual death rate, the agency’s range of possible rates seemed alarmingly low to many epidemiologists, compared to existing data in places both inside and outside the US. For instance, estimates of New York City’s total death rate, 0.86% to 0.93%, are even higher than the CDC’s worst-case scenario. Estimates from countries like Spain and Italy are also higher, ranging from 1.1% to 1.3%. Researchers also lambasted the CDC’s lack of transparency about its data sources. The eight-page document disclosed almost nothing about its numbers, citing only internal data and a preprint — a study that has not been peer-reviewed — led by scientists in Iran. “This is terrible. This is way too optimistic,” Andrew Noymer, an associate professor of population health at the University of California at Irvine, told BuzzFeed News, adding, “With this document, the CDC is determined to smash its credibility with the public health community of which it is supposedly a leader.”
The CDC did not return multiple requests for comment…

A preliminary analysis of more than two dozen studies from Europe, China, the US, and elsewhere, conducted by Meyerowitz-Katz and colleague Lea Merone, suggests that the overall infection fatality rate is between 0.5% and 0.78%. Even the lower end of that range is higher than what the CDC says is its “best estimate” for the rate, which is about 0.26%. The CDC’s proposed fatality rates “are more in line with a relatively mild seasonal flu season than with COVID-19,” said Gerardo Chowell, a public health expert at Georgia State University. Those estimates are at least an order of magnitude lower than ones elsewhere in the world, he added, including South Korea, which has a case fatality rate around 0.7% and one of the highest testing rates for the coronavirus in the world….
The CDC document provided almost no sources for its projections, making it impossible for scientists to understand how it came up with them.

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Source: Slashdot

Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro mini-review: A vast improvement

The past year has brought big changes to the iPad. First, the branch from iOS to iPadOS—and some accompanying changes to the software—signaled an effort by Apple to make real productivity possible on the platform. Second, Apple introduced trackpad support, bringing a whole new user interface paradigm to the iPad.

The latest product of that particular effort is the introduction of the Magic Keyboard peripheral from the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models. It combines a keyboard modeled after the keyboard peripheral of the same name for Macs—a generally beloved design—with the first trackpad made by Apple specifically for the iPad.

After spending some time with the Magic Keyboard, we’re ready to share our impressions. It’s just a peripheral, though, so this is going to be a very short review. We’re not going to get too much into the software side of things, as we’ve done that in our previous coverage of iPadOS as well as our most recent iPad Pro review. And we’re going to go into even more detail in an upcoming article entirely about working with trackpads and keyboards on the iPad.

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Source: Tech – Ars Technica

Comcast, Charter and ViacomCBS Join Forces to Make TV Commercials More Targeted

wyattstorch516 writes: Comcast has spun off its blockchain division and is now partnering with Spectrum Reach (the advertising sales division of Charter Communications) and Viacom. Customized ad delivery in the TV space has significantly lagged the technology for online video providers such as Youtube. Blockgraph holds out the promise that will allow advertisers to target key demographics while safeguarding subscriber information. Can this help prop up the declining broadcast video market? One-third of Blockgraph will now be owned by each company. Blockgraph Chief Executive Jason Manningham says the platform will help brands and ad-inventory sellers match data sets without sharing too much personal data on the viewers.

“For instance, if a car maker buys a data set of people in the market for a car, it could use Blockgraph’s technology to match that list up with cable subscribers based on their home address,” reports The Wall Street Journal, citing Manningham. “The car company could use this data either to learn which programs and time of day draw more viewers from their desired audience, or to buy ads targeted only at households on the in-market list.”

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Amazon Will No Longer Support the Echo Look, Encourages Owners To Recycle Theirs

“Amazon is discontinuing its Echo Look camera, a standalone device that gave owners fashion advice using artificial intelligence and machine learning,” reports The Verge. The gadget raised eyebrows when it was first announced as it included a virtual assistant with a microphone and a camera specifically designed to go somewhere in your bedroom, bathroom, or wherever the hell you get dressed. From the report: The Look’s companion app and the device itself will stop functioning on July 24th. Between now and July 24th, 2021, Look users can back up their images and videos by making a free Amazon Photos account. (People with existing Photos accounts will have their media backed up automatically.) Anyone who wants to delete all their existing photos and videos will have to do so before the July 2020 deadline; otherwise, they’ll have to call Amazon’s customer service to have them deleted. They can currently delete them through the Look app.

Amazon points out that much of the Echo Look’s functionality is now included in the Amazon Shopping app, including Style by Alexa, which involves the AI offering fashion pointers. The company says people should download the app to keep consulting with Amazon, and they should also recycle their Look through Amazon’s program.

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Eye-Catching Advances in Some AI Fields Are Not Real

silverjacket writes: A story in this week’s issue of Science. Artificial intelligence (AI) just seems to get smarter and smarter. Each iPhone learns your face, voice, and habits better than the last, and the threats AI poses to privacy and jobs continue to grow. The surge reflects faster chips, more data, and better algorithms. But some of the improvement comes from tweaks rather than the core innovations their inventors claim — and some of the gains may not exist at all, says Davis Blalock, a computer science graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Blalock and his colleagues compared dozens of approaches to improving neural networks — software architectures that loosely mimic the brain. “Fifty papers in,” he says, “it became clear that it wasn’t obvious what the state of the art even was.” The researchers evaluated 81 pruning algorithms, programs that make neural networks more efficient by trimming unneeded connections. All claimed superiority in slightly different ways. But they were rarely compared properly — and when the researchers tried to evaluate them side by side, there was no clear evidence of performance improvements over a 10-year period. The result [PDF], presented in March at the Machine Learning and Systems conference, surprised Blalock’s Ph.D. adviser, MIT computer scientist John Guttag, who says the uneven comparisons themselves may explain the stagnation. “It’s the old saw, right?” Guttag said. “If you can’t measure something, it’s hard to make it better.”

Researchers are waking up to the signs of shaky progress across many subfields of AI. A 2019 meta-analysis of information retrieval algorithms used in search engines concluded the “high-water mark … was actually set in 2009.” Another study in 2019 reproduced seven neural network recommendation systems, of the kind used by media streaming services. It found that six failed to outperform much simpler, nonneural algorithms developed years before, when the earlier techniques were fine-tuned, revealing “phantom progress” in the field. In another paper posted on arXiv in March, Kevin Musgrave, a computer scientist at Cornell University, took a look at loss functions, the part of an algorithm that mathematically specifies its objective. Musgrave compared a dozen of them on equal footing, in a task involving image retrieval, and found that, contrary to their developers’ claims, accuracy had not improved since 2006. “There’s always been these waves of hype,” Musgrave says.

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