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Norway Is the Latest Massive-Cyberattack Victim

Norway’s National Security Authority (NSM) confirmed late last week that hackers had attacked networks belonging to organizations in the nation’s energy sectors. They appear to have stolen and sent out of the country sensitive data from the oil and defense industries in at least 10 different attacks throughout the year, the NSM said. The organization did not release the identities of specific targets but said this is one of the most extensive data-espionage attacks against the nation to date. NSM head of information Kjetil Berg Veire said the attack methods varied, which means more than hacker was probably involved. These attacks reportedly transpired as the energy companies were negotiating large contracts with customers, according to the Associated Press. Norwegian organizations have been previously targeted by hackers, most notably the Nobel Institute. (PhysOrg.com)(PC Magazine)(Associated Press)(National Security Authority)

Thai Flooding Disrupts Global Electronics Supply Chain

The worst flooding in Thailand in decades has disrupted computer hard-drive production, prompting analysts to say that consumers may see higher prices throughout the market in 2012, particularly for external drives. Thai-based firms supply 40 to 45 percent of the world’s hard-drives. Market-research firm IDC estimates PC shipments will drop up to 20 percent in the first quarter of 2012 because of component shortages. The PC-component market was already shaky following this year’s Japanese earthquake and tsunami, which affected the supply of semiconductor materials including silicon wafers. Dell, Toshiba, and Western Digital have already been affected by component shortages, as have firms such as Pioneer, Sony, Canon, and Nikon. The Thai manufacturing facilities remain flooded, and observers say it is difficult to estimate when production might resume. (PhysOrg.com)(New Zealand PC World)(MarketWatch)

[Conference News] Twitter Spread Misinformation during Swine Flu Panic

Twitter is one of today’s central hubs for the publishing, dissemination, and discovery of online media, whether user-generated content or news from traditional outlets. Either can vary widely in journalistic and scientific accuracy. The Swine Flu pandemic of 2009 highlighted this effect. Global events created a large online buzz, with some dubious medical facts leaking into public opinion. In a paper presented at the 2011 IEEE/WIC/ACM International Conferences on Web Intelligence and Intelligent Agent Technology, a team of researchers from City University London described its investigation of how online resources relating to Swine Flu were discussed on Twitter in real time, working to identify and analyze the popularity of trusted information sources like CNN, Reuters, USA Today and the World Health Organization versus nontraditional sources like blogs and social media posts. Authors Martin Szomszor, Patty Kostkova, and Connie St Louis conclude that reputable sources were demonstrably more popular than untrusted ones, but that information with poor scientific merit still leaked into network space where it had the potential to cause harm.

Papers from WI-IAT 2011 are available to Computer Society Digital Library subscribers at www.computer.org/csdl.

Cooling Green Data Centers with Microturbines

Providing servers with reliable power and efficient cooling and are the cornerstones of data-center management. Microturbines promise to solve both challenges and their use is becoming increasingly popular. These small power units, which run on natural gas, provide reliable off-grid DC power and the heat they generate can be used to cool the servers. The heat generated by the microtubines is captured and converted into chilled water via absorption chillers. Heat exchangers in the racks capture the heat generated by the computers. That heat is transported out of the system as the chilled water is brought in. Syracuse University implemented the devices, which were designed and installed by GEM Inc., in its Green Data Center, created in 2010 along with IBM. The University of Toledo, with the Ohio Third Frontier and GEM Inc., will create a similar system scheduled to be operational in late 2012. Using microturbines has reduced the amount of fossil fuel the Syracuse University data center uses by 50 percent. (SlashDot)(IT World)(GEM Inc.)

DreamWorks, Intel Move toward Real-Time Animation Rendering for Video

DreamWorks and Intel are moving closer to a longtime goal for animators: rendering animation for video in real-time. This would greatly speed up the animation process. DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg told Techonomy conferees that his company has been working with Intel on approaches that would let them effectively use scalable multicore processors. They also rewrote their rendering software so that it would work more effectively with Intel’s processors. He said this speeds up the process, enabling rendering 50 to 70 times faster than anything possible today. Currently, Katzenberg said, an experienced 3D animator needs a week—mostly spent waiting for images to render—to create three seconds of film. (SlashDot)(Forbes)(PC Magazine)

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