3 North Koreans infiltrated US companies in ‘staggering’ alleged telework fraud: DOJ


source: yahoo.com (contributed by FAN, Steve Page)  |  image: pixabay.com


The Justice Department on Thursday unsealed an indictment charging three North Korean workers and a United States citizen with allegedly engaging in “staggering fraud” through a complex scheme where they secured illicit work with a number of U.S. companies and government agencies.

The indictment against the North Korean IT workers — using the aliases Jiho Han, Chunji Jin and Haoran Xu — alleges the group used fraudulent identities belonging to 60 real Americans to secure telework positions between October 2020 and 2023 that ultimately generated nearly $7 million in profits for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

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Defense contractors face a long road on cybersecurity

source: axios.com (contributed by FAN, Steve Page)  |  image: pexels.com


Most defense contractors believe they’re too small and inconsequential for nation-state hackers to target them, a National Security Agency official told Axios.

Why it matters: China, in particular, has been laser-focused on targeting key American critical infrastructure, officials have warned. Continue reading “Defense contractors face a long road on cybersecurity”

Report calls for U.S. biodefense buildup

source: axios.com (contributed by FAN, Bill Amshey)  |  image: pixabay.com


A new report calls on all levels of government to strengthen U.S. biodefense measures and urges policymakers to codify parts of a national strategy to address an array of biological threats.

Why it matters: Threats in the form of infectious disease outbreaks, lab accidents and biology-based weapons are expected to increase in the coming years, according to the report’s authors and other experts.

  • But biodefense investments get caught in a cycle of “panic and neglect” — an intense focus for a short period, after which policymakers, funders and the public move on, the report notes.
  • “Every future administration must ensure that the National Biodefense Strategy keeps pace with the rapidly evolving and increasing biological threat,” the authors of the 2024 National Blueprint for Biodefense write. Continue reading “Report calls for U.S. biodefense buildup”

The rise of Perplexity AI, the buzzy new web search engine

source: zapier.com  |  image: wikipedia.com


Perplexity’s answer engine is altering the way we interact with the internet and might even one day challenge Google’s search dominance.

Perplexity calls itself a “Swiss Army Knife for information discovery and curiosity,” but it’s essentially an AI-powered search engine. Think of it as a mashup of ChatGPT and Google Search—though it’s not a direct replacement for either. Really, it’s the direction Google is trying to go with Gemini—but less chaotically implemented. 

It works like a chatbot: you ask questions, and it answers them. But it’s also able to seamlessly pull in information from recent articles. It indexes the web every day, so you can ask it about recent news, game scores, and other typical search queries. 

But Perplexity is also a kind of search engine. Instead of presenting you with a list of websites that match your query, Perplexity gives you a short summary answer along with the references it used to create it. In some cases, the summary will be all you need. In others, you’ll want to dive into the different sources.

While Perplexity can’t yet replace a traditional search engine, it’s surprisingly functional and effective if you work within its limits. Here’s what you need to know about it. Continue reading “The rise of Perplexity AI”

‘The Next Mass Extinction?’

source: cnn.com (contributed by FAN, Bill Amshey |  image: pexels.com


Bird flu is back. With a large outbreak still unfolding, a New York Review of Books essay by Oliver Wang asks if this particular strain, H5N1, could cause “the next mass extinction.”
Word of the outbreak in animals spread last summer, Wang writes, recounting eerie mass deaths of seals, sea lions, and birds on South American coasts. “By the time I spoke to [Argentine veterinarian Marcela] Uhart, the breeding season in Patagonia had ended. Over 17,000 baby elephant seals—96 percent or more of the juveniles in the region—were estimated to have died, as well as more than 500,000 birds. In some areas there were no longer any organisms to infect. Still, Uhart told me, she saw sick and dead animals on each visit to the beach: a sea lion, a duck, a tern. ‘My suspicion is that the virus will linger on,’ she said. ‘We just don’t know whether it will continue to cause epidemic outbreaks, or whether it will just trickle in like it is now.’”
Continue reading “The Next Mass Extinction?”

Apple’s iPhone Spyware Problem Is Getting Worse. Here’s What You Should Know

source: wired.com | image: pexels.com


The iPhone maker has detected spyware attacks against people in more than 150 countries. Knowing if your device is infected can be tricky—but there are a few steps you can take to protect yourself.


In April, Apple sent notifications to iPhone users in 92 countries, warning them they’d been targeted with spyware. “Apple detected that you are being targeted by a mercenary spyware attack that is trying to remotely compromise the iPhone associated with your Apple ID,” the notification reads.

Users quickly took to social media sites including X, trying to work out what the notification meant. Many of those targeted were based in India, but others in Europe also reported receiving Apple’s warning.

Weeks later, little is still known about the latest iPhone attacks. Former smartphone giant Blackberry, now a security firm, has released research indicating they are linked to a Chinese spyware campaign dubbed “LightSpy,” but Apple spokesperson Shane Bauer says this is inaccurate, and researchers at security firm Huntress say the variant Blackberry analyzed was a macOS version, not iOS. Continue reading “Apple’s iPhone Spyware Problem Is Getting Worse”

AI’s new power: Persuasion

source: axios.com | image: pexels.com


AI startup Anthropic says its language models have steadily and rapidly improved their “persuasiveness,” Axios’ Ryan Heath writes.

  • Why it matters: Persuasion can foster disinformation and push people to act against their own interests, according to new research the company posted yesterday.

There’s relatively little research on how the latest models compare to humans when it comes to their persuasiveness — a skill with widespread social, commercial and political applications.

  • The researchers found that the most capable Anthropic model, Claude 3 Opus, “produces arguments that don’t statistically differ” from arguments written by humans.



Measuring the Persuasiveness of Language Models

While people have long questioned whether AI models may, at some point, become as persuasive as humans in changing people’s minds, there has been limited empirical research into the relationship between model scale and the degree of persuasiveness across model outputs. To address this, we developed a basic method to measure persuasiveness, and used it to compare a variety of Anthropic models across three different generations (Claude 1, 2, and 3), and two classes of models (compact models that are smaller, faster, and more cost-effective, and frontier models that are larger and more capable). Continue reading “AI’s new power: Persuasion”

Brute Force Password Cracking Takes Longer, But Celebration May Be Premature

source: technewsworld.com | image: pexels.com


Brute force cracking of passwords takes longer now than in the past, but the good news is not a cause for celebration, according to the latest annual audit of password cracking times released Tuesday by Hive Systems.

Depending on the length of the password and its composition — the mix of numbers, letters, and special characters — a password can be cracked instantly or take half a dozen eons to decipher.

For example, four-, five-, or six-number-only passwords can be cracked instantly with today’s computers, while an 18-character password consisting of numbers, upper- and lower-case letters, and symbols would take 19 quintillion years to break.

Last year, Hive’s research found that some 11-character passwords could be cracked instantaneously using brute force. This year’s findings revealed the effectiveness of newer industry-standard password hashing algorithms — like bcrypt — for encrypting passwords in databases. Now, that same 11-character password takes 10 hours to crack.

Continue reading “Brute Force Password Cracking Takes Longer, But Celebration May Be Premature”