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Tesla Demonstrates Its New Security System Called Sentry Mode

As we reported before, Tesla has added a new security feature to its cars called Sentry Mode. Sentry Mode uses the car's cameras to monitor its environment to detect potential threats. It will display a message on the touchscreen and record the encounter if the threat is minimal. But if it determines that the threat is severe, Sentry Mode will perform the same actions, but also play loud music through the car's stereo system and sound an alarm. Tesla has released a video of the security system in action.

If a car switches to "Alarm" state, owners will also receive an alert from their Tesla mobile app notifying them that an incident has occurred. They'll be able to download a video recording of an incident (which begins 10 minutes prior to the time a threat was detected) by inserting a formatted USB drive into their car before they enable Sentry Mode.

Posted by cageymaru February 21, 2019 7:51 AM (CST)

Gamers Love Call of Duty 15's New Loot Boxes

After a 4 month absence, loot boxes have finally come to Black Ops 4, and players couldn't be happier... Just kidding. Call of Duty fans in the game's subreddits and other communities aren't pleased with the new microtransaction changes, to say the least, and Eurogamer's writeup on the system largely reflects the opinion of other CoD playing journalists across the web. The publication says that Black Ops 4's crate system "feels particularly grubby," as they don't display probabilities and sometimes contain duplicate items. Additionally, some of the rewards affect gameplay and progression, and some weapons are only attainable through opening loot boxes.

Much of the anger at these loot boxes stems from the growing feeling that Black Ops 4 is buckling under the pressure to generate more money for publisher Activision. Here we have a full price video game with a userbase-splitting £39.99 season pass for DLC maps, a take on Fortnite's incredibly successful battle pass called the Contraband progression system, the ability to pay to complete tiers on the Contraband progression system, Special Orders you can pay real world money for, individual cosmetic items you can spend real world money on directly, and even reticles as microtransactions. It's convoluted, confused and inescapably money-grabbing - and it's also a real shame as the core game underneath all these alternative revenue streams remains fantastic. Indeed, the controversy around loot boxes threatens to overshadow the meaningful changes made this week to Blackout, Black Ops 4's battle royale, which feels like it's being squeezed between Respawn's Apex Legends and the ongoing popularity of Fortnite and PUBG as Treyarch struggles to freshen up the experience often enough.

Posted by alphaatlas February 20, 2019 10:43 AM (CST)

Facebook Is Allegedly Working on Custom Machine Learning Hardware

Nvidia GPUs are the undisputed king of the machine learning hardware market today, but more and more companies are throwing their hat into the AI ring. Google has already introduced their machine learning-focused TPU, and other giants like Amazon and Intel are reportedly following suit, while a number of smaller startups are filling in niches or taking riskier approaches to compete with the bigger players. Last year, various reports surfaced claiming that Facebook was working on their own, custom ASICs, but an EE Times report said that it was "not the equivalent of [Google's] TPU." Now, according to a Bloomberg report published earlier this week, some of Facebook's upcoming custom silicon may focus on machine learning after all. Facebook's chief AI researcher says that "the company is working on a new class of semiconductor that would work very differently than most existing designs," and mentioned that future chips will need radically different architectures.

"We don't want to leave any stone unturned, particularly if no one else is turning them over," he said in an interview ahead of the release Monday of a research paper he authored on the history and future of computer hardware designed to handle artificial intelligence... LeCun said that for the moment, GPUs would remain important for deep learning research, but the chips were ill-suited for running the AI algorithms once they were trained, whether that was in datacenters or on devices like mobile phones or home digital assistants.

Posted by alphaatlas February 20, 2019 9:35 AM (CST)

Rice Researchers Reveal Silicon Based Security Keys

Integrated circuit designers from Rice University claim they've developed a digital fingerprint technology that is "10 times more reliable than current methods" used in IoT devices. Their "physically unclonable function," or PUF, supposedly uses physical imperfections in the security device's silicon itself to generate unique keys that are nearly impossible to spoof. The researchers say their test chip "measures just a few millimeters in size" and generates keys using an array of hundreds of transistors, and does so with a minimal amount of power. The PUF concept itself isn't new, but as you probably know, transistors are sensitive to environmental changes, and previous implementations weren't reliable or small enough to be of practical use. But this particular design was tested at abnormal voltages and at "temperatures ranging from 125 degrees Celsius to minus 55 degrees Celsius." The researcher are scheduled to present their findings at the 2019 International Solid-State Circuits Conference today, but just how far away the tech is from commercialization isn't clear yet.

"Basically each PUF unit can work in two modes," said Yang, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. "In the first mode, it creates one fingerprint, and in the other mode it gives a second fingerprint. Each one is a unique identifier, and dual keys are much better for reliability. On the off chance the device fails in the first mode, it can use the second key. The probability that it will fail in both modes is extremely small." As a means of authentication, PUF fingerprints have several of the same advantages as human fingerprints, he said. "First, they are unique," Yang said. "You don't have to worry about two people having the same fingerprint. Second, they are bonded to the individual. You cannot change your fingerprint or copy it to someone else's finger. And finally, a fingerprint is unclonable. There's no way to create a new person who has the same fingerprint as someone else."

Posted by alphaatlas February 20, 2019 8:55 AM (CST)

Google Forgets to Tell Consumers That Its Nest Security System Has a Built-in Mic

Google recently announced that Google Assistant features are coming to its Nest Secure home security system. Giving consumers free features seems like a great idea, but Google forgot to list the microphone in the technical specifications for Nest Secure devices. Google says it was an "error" to not list the microphone in the tech specs. A Google spokesperson told Business Insider the microphone functionality was never enabled on the devices and was included to add additional features such as a glass breakage sensor at a later date.

On Tuesday, a Google spokesperson told Business Insider the company had made an "error." "The on-device microphone was never intended to be a secret and should have been listed in the tech specs. That was an error on our part," the spokesperson said. Google says that "the microphone has never been on and is only activated when users specifically enable the option."

Posted by cageymaru February 20, 2019 6:59 AM (CST)

Google Might Announce a Game Streaming Platform Next Month claims that Google has sent out a round of invitations for a GDC keynote address on March 19. While the invitation was particularly short on details, as both and Kotaku's Jason Schreir note, its not hard to guess the direction Google will take. They recently streamed Assassin's Creed: Odyssey for free as an early test for Project Stream, and Schreier speculates that "their focus will be more on building a platform than a console. Wouldn't be surprised to see them put their streaming platform on both their own hardware and other people's." I've watched others play AC: Odyssey during the test, and Google's streaming service offered a better experience than I expected, but what kind of platform Google will announce next month is still anyone's guess.

The invitation includes a .gif image of a hallway with a white light at the end of it that becomes blinding before displaying the date of the keynote and the slogan "Gather around." "All will be revealed at the Google Keynote," the invitation promises. "10:00am on March 19, 2019. Find us in Moscone South, San Francisco."

Posted by alphaatlas February 19, 2019 11:30 AM (CST)

Facebook Bug Would've Allowed for One Click Account Takeovers

A security researcher spotted a bug in Facebook that would've allowed attackers to take over accounts from users that clicked on a single link. According to Youssef Sammouda, a vulnerable endpoint easily allowed him to makes posts on a user's timeline, delete profile picture, or delete accounts with a single, relatively simple URL. But putting up an external domain with a simple script allowed samm0uda to completely take over Facebook accounts. Fortunately, Facebook's security team is more diligent than most, as they immediately responded to his bug report and fixed it in a matter of days. This security researcher seems to be a particularly prolific bug hunter, as he's posted over a dozen separate exploits in the last month alone, and Facebook has officially listed him as one of their top security researchers. Thanks to The Hacker News for spotting the post.

This bug could have allowed malicious users to send requests with CSRF tokens to arbitrary endpoints on Facebook which could lead to takeover of victims accounts. In order for this attack to be effective, an attacker would have to trick the target into clicking on a link... The attack seems long but it's done in a blink of an eye and it's dangerous because it doesn't target a specific user but anyone who visits the link in step 1.

Posted by alphaatlas February 19, 2019 11:08 AM (CST)

Huawei is Allegedly Stealing Technology from Apple Suppliers

Last week, we posted a report claiming that Huawei was trying to reverse engineer screen hardening tech from a U.S. startup. The claims about Akhan Semiconductor's potential military applications were seemingly confirmed yesterday, as they've just been selected by the Army for the integration of their coatings in future U.S. Army aircraft, so it's no surprise that the FBI quickly got involved in their case so quickly. But, according to a pay-walled report from The Information that Kitguru reported on today, that incident was part of a larger effort by Huawei to steal tech from Apple suppliers. Neither Apple nor Huawei have chosen to comment on the report yet, but the accusations certainly won't help Huawei's existing problems business outside their home country.

According to the stories, Huawei has had an interesting relationship with Apple suppliers. Alongside suggesting a supplier run with a "design you already have experience with" and being knocked back from another supplier that recognised the hinge technology to be identical to that seen on the MacBook Pro, Huawei assured a third supplier that its wearable schematics were similar enough to the Apple Watch to warrant similar pricing for a heart-rate sensor. While being careful not to create an impossible task by requesting Apple's factory workers smuggle components out of the building, Huawei has also been accused of paying off disgruntled staff members to draw the parts as they see them on the line.

Posted by alphaatlas February 19, 2019 9:58 AM (CST)

Millions of Sensitive Swedish Medical Calls Leak Out

According to a recent BBC report, about 2.7 million calls made to a Swedish national health service telephone line have been "exposed." The calls date back to 2013, and supposedly contain sensitive medical information and social security numbers, while Martin Svensson says that there was no encryption or authentication on the server the calls were found on. From the looks of things, all 170,000 hours of those calls were stored out in the open as uncompressed, unprotected .wav files, but access to the website is "currenty blocked."

"We were absolutely astounded by what we found on there. People talking about their symptoms, diseases, their kids' illnesses, giving out their social security numbers. This data is as private as it gets," explained Marcus Jerrang, editor-in-chief at Computer Sweden. Sweden operates a national advice line - 1177 - run by a firm called Medhelp. In turn, this Swedish firm subcontracts out-of-hours calls to Medicall. Medicall had not responded to requests for comment from the BBC. Mr Jerrang told the BBC that a brief conversation between the reporter who uncovered the website and Medicall chief executive Davide Nyblom ended with him denying such a breach was possible and then hanging up when the reporter offered to play one of the files.

Posted by alphaatlas February 19, 2019 9:21 AM (CST)

Hardware Unboxed Calls NVIDIA DLSS "The Biggest RTX Fail of Them All"

Hardware Unboxed has released its newest video where they dissect the image quality of Battlefield V with the new NVIDIA technology called Deep Learning Super Sample (DLSS) enabled. They not only compare the DLSS image quality to the native 4K image; Tim takes it a step further and compares the DLSS image to an 1685p upscaled 78% resolution scale image. They chose 1685p because it performs at a similar frame rate as when DLSS is enabled in-game. In all instances, the DLSS image looks to be a smeared image and the 1685p upscaled 78% resolution scale image is much more pleasing to look at. Tim Schiesser says, "The 1685p image destroys the DLSS image in terms of sharpness, texture quality, clarity; basically everything." He goes on to say, "The 78% scaled image preserves the fine detail on the rocks, the sign, the sandbags, the cloth, the gun; pretty much everywhere. With DLSS everything is blurred to the point where this detail is lost." Resolution scaling has been available to gamers for decades. They hold back no punches and say, "DLSS sucks."

But the real kicker is looking at the visual quality comparisons. We'll start with native 4K versus 4K DLSS. Across all of the scenes that I've tested, there is a severe loss of detail when switching on DLSS. Just look at the trees in this scene. The 4K presentation is just as you'd expect; sharp, clean, high detail on both the foliage and trunk textures. But DLSS is like a strong blur filter has been applied. Texture detail is completely wiped out. In some cases it's like you've loaded a low texture mode. While some of the fine branch detail has been blurred away, or even thickened in some cases. Which makes the game look kinda weird in some situations. Of course this is to be expected. DLSS was never going to supply the same image quality as native 4K while also providing a 37% performance uplift. That would be pretty much black magic. But the quality difference comparing the two is almost laughable at how far away DLSS is from the native presentation in these stressful areas.

Posted by cageymaru February 18, 2019 4:28 PM (CST)

Police are Using Drones in 911 Calls

VentureBeat reports that police in Chula Vista, California are successfully using drones to witness and record crimes as they happen. The police department launched the partnership with Cape last year, and since October, the two remotely piloted drones have reportedly "assisted in 21 arrests, spanning 249 flights over the course of 81 flight hours." The report specifically mentions a case where a woman allegedly tried to run over a man on an (allegedly) stolen bike, and that the drone's observation of events will be used in court even though no police officers were physically there to witness the crimes. Fire departments are reportedly interested in the drones as well, and it sounds like the trials will expand to other areas sometime soon.

Other participants in San Diego, the largest city in the country participating in the program that required a regional government sponsor, include UC San Diego Health to deliver blood and medical supplies, Uber Eats for food deliveries, and AT&T to test 5G networks. The first responder concept means drones are not deployed after a crime occurs, but proactively deployed for a large number of scenarios. In almost all instances, Sallee said, the drones gets there before officers in vehicles on the ground. The pilot program is currently limited to a one-mile radius around headquarters in downtown Chula Vista, the area of the city most likely to make 911 calls for police.

Posted by alphaatlas February 18, 2019 11:17 AM (CST)

Alibaba Allegedly Developed a Chinese Propaganda App

Amid accusations that they're collaborating with the Chinese government, China-based tech companies are facing increased scrutiny abroad. Many of them deny any involvement in such activity, and Alibaba in particular previously slammed the U.S's treatment of Huawei as "extremely unfair." But a recent report from Reuters accuses Alibaba of developing a propaganda app for the Chinese government. The app was reportedly the most popular one on Apple's Chinese app store last week, and Alibaba has refused to comment on the report so far.

The app, which includes short videos, government news stories and quizzes, was created by an Alibaba team. A user of Alibaba's own messaging app DingTalk can use their login credentials to log into Xuexi Qiangguo. Alibaba said the app was built using DingTalk's software... At least part of the app's runaway popularity can be attributed to directives issued by local governments and universities that require people in China's expansive party member network to download the app. The app has been downloaded over 43.7 million times on Apple and Android devices since its launch in January, according to estimates by Beijing-based statistical consulting firm Qimai. It was not immediately clear whether Alibaba makes money from the app, or who initiated its development.

Posted by alphaatlas February 18, 2019 9:54 AM (CST)