US Medical-Device Maker Suffers Data Breaches

US government officials recently released information that Medtronic, the world's fourth-largest medical device maker, was hit with a cyberattack in 2013 and also lost some patient records in another 2013 breach. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released this information in connection with the company’s 10-K  regulatory filing, required annually by the government to convey information about publically traded companies’ businesses and finances. “Medtronic, along with two other large medical device manufacturers, discovered an unauthorized intrusion to our systems that was believed to originate from hackers in Asia,” Medtronic stated in a 10-K filing released this week. Hackers didn’t breach patient information databases, but, Medtronic reported, an undisclosed number of patient records were missing. These were from its diabetes business unit, but the specific type of patient information contained in these patient records was not disclosed. The company did not respond to requests for additional information. The US Department of Health and Human Services has questioned Medtronic about the records loss. Medical-device makers’ cybersecurity of typically lags that of other industries, Tom Kellermann, vendor Trend Micro’s chief security officer told Reuters. “The security posture of most device manufacturers is in critical condition,” he said, adding that he did not have detailed information about the Medtronic attacks. (Reuters)(Star Tribune)

Virtual Great White Shark Hunt Crashes Research Website

A 14-foot, 2,300 lb. great white shark named Katherine is so popular that throngs of fans have crashed the research site tracking her daily movements. She is one of 50 sharks being monitored by OCEARCH < >, a nonprofit global project that tracks sharks and other major oceangoing predators. Katherine is popular in part because of her current trek, which is taking her close to the shoreline along the well-populated Gulf Coast from Florida to Texas. She may also be pregnant. OCEARCH tags sharks with four different technologies: a dorsal fin tag for satellite tracking, an RFID implant activated when it passes a specially-equipped underwater buoy, an accelerometer, and a Pop-off satellite archive tag that records information such as average water depth, temperature, and light levels. These tags collect about 8.5 million data points per day and create a 3D image of a shark’s activities. . The public can see the tracking data < > at the same time as OCEARCH researchers. OCEARCH says its research is designed to educate the public about how harmless most sharks are despite their proximity to beaches, and to draw attention to the ongoing killing of sharks worldwide. OCEARCH Expedition Leader and Founding Chair Chris Fischer told Computerworld that one good thing about its servers crashing is that it indicates a lot of interest in the organization’s activities. The nonprofit is now looking for a technology partner to help run its infrastructure. (SlashDot)(Computerworld)(OCEARCH)

Researchers Use Crowdsourcing to Solve Computationally Challenging Problems

Scientists are turning to crowdsourcing to solve a particularly challenging research problem because computation alone has proven unable to do the job. The University of California, Los Angeles, scientists are trying to use X-ray crystallography, a method for identifying the atomic and molecular structure of a crystal, to gain phase information about crystalline material. This information would allow them to model a crystallized molecule, which could help determine the structure of molecules such as those in proteins, DNA, or other substances that could be useful for purposes such as developing medications or treatments. To crowdsource their problem, the UCLA scientists created an online computer game based on a genetic algorithm, CrowdPhase, in which players are given a set of random images of electron-density maps of the crystal reflection phases. The players then pick the two images that best fit the researchers’ various criteria from these sets of phases. The process continues with the players ultimately helping to select the fittest and final solution. The researchers used CrowdPhase ( successfully for two different phasing-related puzzles. (EurekAlert)(International Union of Crystallography)(Biological Crystallography Online)

Microsoft Uses Reserve IPv4 Addresses, rather than IPv6 Addresses, for Cloud Service

Even though advocates are pushing for increased adoption of IPv6 Internet-addressing technology, Microsoft has decided to use its limited reserve of non-USIPv4 addresses to support its US-based Azure cloud-computing service. Experts say this demonstrates the challenge of migrating organizations to IPv6, which offers a much greater number of addresses than IPv4, whose worldwide stock of available addresses is dwindling fast. They say Microsoft could have found the addresses it needed for Azure by using IPv6 technology but chose not to do so. The technology-oriented IDG News Service noted, “The newer version of the Internet Protocol adds an almost inexhaustible number of addresses thanks to a 128-bit long address field, compared to the 32 bits used by version 4.” However, IPv6 adoption worldwide—which may require the purchase of new networking equipment—has been less than hoped for, even as the number of available IPv4 addresses has plummeted. Microsoft did not comment about not using IPv6 addresses for Azure; however, on its Azure website, it says it is working on adding IPv6 to Azure, but is “unable to share a date when IPv6 support will be generally available at this time." (SlashDot)(Network World)(PC World)(US Federal Communications Commission)(Microsoft Azure Blog)(Microsoft)

Amazon Launches Smartphone

Amazon is releasing its first smartphone, which offers features such as 3D effects; a new navigation approach; and image, text and audio recognition. The Fire Phone, which will retail for $199 with 32 Gbytes of memory and $299 with 64 Gbytes, is scheduled to ship 25 July 2014 and will be available only on the AT&T network with a two-year contract. The device will have four face-tracking cameras and gesture controls that let users view objects in 3D and from different perspectives when they move their heads. Another feature lets users tilt the device to scroll or navigate pages on the device. However said Francisco Jeronimo, a mobile devices analyst at market research firm IDC, this isn’t new and hasn’t been very popular on phones on which it appears. The Amazon phone also offers Firefly, an image-, text- and audio-recognition technology designed to facilitate instant Amazon purchases for users. The application can evaluate physical and e-mail addresses, QR and barcodes, audio clips, and other information.  Amazon claims Firefly can recognize 70 million products, 35 million songs, 245,000 movies and TV episodes, and 160 live TV channels. Analysts don’t think customers are likely to move to the Fire Phone. James McQuivey, principal analyst at Forrester, told CNBC. “I think Amazon will have to offer more than just a year of free Amazon Prime service” to attract consumers. The phone is unlikely to make a dent in Apple’s market share, but could “have a minor impact” on Android smartphone vendors says Brian White, analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald. (BBC)(Bloomberg Businessweek)(CNN)(PC Magazine)(CNBC)(The New York Times)

Phishing Campaigns Target Dating Websites

Dating website users may see more spearphishing attempts in their email inboxes. Members of, eHarmony, Zoosk, Christian Mingle, and other dating sites are receiving more emails based on this approach, according to analysts with Netcraft, an Internet security and monitoring company. Spearfishing attacks typically send emails to users within a group, addressed from someone else within the same group in a position of trust, and request information such as logins and passwords. Another spearphishing approach asks users to click on a link, which deploys spyware that can steal data. The attacks on the dating sites use the latter approach via a phishing kit with hundreds of scripts. When a victim logs in to a legitimate dating website from a link in a poisoned email, the spyware it installs steals the credentials and sends them to 300 or more distinct email addresses presumably belonging to the hackers. The attackers use the stolen data to craft new phishing campaigns that steal money from victims via social engineering, said Netcraft. Netcraft security analyst Paul Mutton described the attacks as “massive.” (BBC)(Netcraft)

US Government Mistakenly Releases Bitcoin Auction List

The US Marshals Service accidentally sent an email containing a private list of people interested in bidding on government-seized bitcoins to all of the bidders who had sent queries in regarding the auction. The 27 June 2014 auction of 30,000 bitcoins (worth $17.9 million)—which the US Federal Bureau of Investigation seized in an October 2013 raid related to the controversial Silk Road anonymous marketplace—was to have been anonymous, with bidders not knowing who their competitors are. The Marshals Service’s message to 40 potential bidders concerned new information about the auction. However, the agency carbon-copied, rather than blind carbon-copied, the recipient list, making all the names visible.  (BBC)(CoinDesk)(Tech Crunch)

YouTube Threatens to Remove the Video Content of Major Artists with Independent Music Companies

Google-owned YouTube says it plans to remove music videos by independent-label artists who haven’t signed a contract with the site. The company is renegotiating its contracts in advance of launching its YouTube Music Pass service and is set to block content featuring popular artists—such as Adele, Arctic Monkeys, and Radiohead—who don’t sign “in a matter of days.” According to the artists’ recording companies—which include XL Recordings, 4AD, Cooking Vinyl, and Domino—YouTube’s contract terms are unfavorable. The companies—which account for a significant percentage of all music sales worldwide—have appealed to the European Commission for help. Worldwide Independent Network, a European trade group, has filed a formal complaint with the commission regarding the negotiations. YouTube head of content and business operations Robert Kyncl , told the Financial Times that the proposed contracts are good because they offer music partners “new revenue streams” and that the major labels—the Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and the Warner Music Group have signed new agreements. YouTube Music Pass would charge people to watch and listen to music without advertisements and to download songs to mobile devices. (BBC)(The Guardian)

US Court Approves Bitcoin Exchange’s Bankruptcy Proceedings

A US bankruptcy court has allowed Mt. Gox—which was once the world’s largest bitcoin exchange but which closed earlier this year amid confusion about missing money—to begin Chapter 15 bankruptcy proceedings in the United States. The company filed 9 March for Chapter 15 protection, which, for example, prevents US customers involved in a class action suit from seizing its assets. Mt. Gox shut down after it lost 850,000 bitcoins—750,000 belonging to customers—and subsequently found only 200,000 a digital wallet. The company is finalizing both a settlement with its US customers and the sale of its business. A federal court must approve the settlement, which would let US and Canadian customers divide the 200,000 bitcoins Mt. Gox found and share in a 16.5 percent stake in the company when and if it sells. In Japan, a court liquidated the company and appointed a trustee to investigate the missing bitcoin. The trustee says it is too early in the court proceedings to consider any offers. The US decision allows the Japanese trustee to examine witnesses, gather and review evidence, and oversee any US assets involved, such as computer servers. (Reuters)(Engadget)(CoinDesk)(Bloomberg)

Report: UK IT-Industry Gender Gap Widens

The gender gap in the UK’s IT industry is increasing, according to a newly released study from the British Computer Society’s Chartered Institute for IT and E-skills UK. Women account for only 20 percent of IT employees in the UK and earn, on average, 16 percent less than their male colleagues, according to the 2014 Women in IT Scorecard <>. The gap exists throughout Europe but is bigger in the UK. “The continuing decline in women entering the IT profession is a real threat for the UK and an issue that clearly we need to address,” said BCS Women chair Gillian Arnold,. The study found that although girls consistently outperform boys in secondary-school computing tests, girls account for just 6.5 percent of students taking the A-level exam and only 13 percent study for a computer science General Certificate of Secondary Education. The report concluded, “It’s clear gender imbalance is still a large problem in IT. Reports such as this show, however, that the issue is not one of competence—if anything the performance of girls in education shows that the IT profession is missing out on high quality potential. It’s still a question of keeping this issue in the public eye.” (BBC)(Computerworld UK)(BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT -- 1)(BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT – 2)

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