• Why do we need to know about prime numbers with millions of digits?

    Prime numbers are more than just numbers that can only be divided by themselves and one. They are a mathematical mystery, the secrets of which mathematicians have been trying to uncover ever since Euclid proved that they have no end. An ongoing project – the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search – which aims to discover more and more primes of a particularly rare kind, has recently resulted in the discovery of the largest prime number known to date. Stretching to 23,249,425 digits, it is so large that it would easily fill 9,000 book pages. You may be wondering, if the number stretches to more than 23m digits, why we need to know about it? We need to know about the properties of different numbers so that we can not only keep developing the technology we rely on, but also keep it secure. But whether or not huge prime numbers, such as the 50th known Mersenne prime with its millions of digits, will ever be found useful is an irrelevant question. The merit of knowing these numbers lies in quenching the human race’s intellectual thirst that started with Euclid’s proof of the infinitude of primes and still goes on today.

  • Russian hackers who hacked DNC are now targeting U.S. Senate: Experts

    Russian hackers from the group known as “Fancy Bear” are targeting the U.S. Senate with a new espionage campaign, according to cybersecurity firm TrendMicro. Fancy Bear was one of the Russian government’s hacking groups employed by the Kremlin in 2016 to help Donald Trump win the presidency, and TrendMicro analysts say the group has spent the past few months laying the groundwork for an espionage campaign against the U.S. Senate. Analysts say that the group’s efforts to gather the emails of America’s political elite suggest that the Kremlin plans to continue to interfere in the American political process.

  • Quantum speed limit may put brakes on quantum computers

    Over the past five decades, standard computer processors have gotten increasingly faster. In recent years, however, the limits to that technology have become clear: Chip components can only get so small, and be packed only so closely together, before they overlap or short-circuit. If companies are to continue building ever-faster computers, something will need to change. One key hope for the future of increasingly fast computing is my own field, quantum physics. Quantum computers are expected to be much faster than anything the information age has developed so far. But my recent research has revealed that quantum computers will have limits of their own – and has suggested ways to figure out what those limits are.

  • Report details two decades of Putin’s attacks on democracy, U.S. vulnerability to Kremlin's interference

    A Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democratic staff report released Wednesday details Russian president Vladimir Putin’s nearly two decades-long assault on democratic institutions, universal values, and the rule of law across Europe and in his own country. The report finds that President Trump’s refusal to publicly acknowledge the threat posed by the Russian government has hampered efforts to mobilize the U.S. government, strengthen U.S. institutions, and work with U.S. European allies to counter Putin’s interference in democracies abroad. In the absence of unequivocal presidential leadership, the United States remains vulnerable to Russian interference. The report includes more than thirty recommendations for the United States and its allies.

  • Sputnik partner “required to register” under U.S. Foreign-Agent law

    State-supported Russian media outlet Sputnik says its U.S.-based partner company RIA Global LLC has been ordered to register as a foreign agent by the U.S. government. According to Sputnik, the Justice Department said that RIA Global produces content on behalf of state media company Rossiya Segodnya and thus on behalf of the Russian government.

  • Bitcoin risks: What you should know about the digital currency

    If you own Bitcoin or want to invest in the mercurial digital currency, which soared to more than $19,000 before plunging in value, watch out, says an expert. Security and privacy issues, not to mention the possibility of a Bitcoin market crash, should give you pause for concern, according to Rutgers’s Janne Lindqvist. Bitcoin, a digital currency introduced in 2009, features a peer-to-peer network with a public online ledger for tracking transactions. Bitcoin prices have soared in recent months, and people can buy and sell Bitcoins with some anonymity.

  • Russia’s Europe meddling; 2018 election security plan; Russia hacks Winter Olympics, and more

    · Intelligence Committee prepares election security plan to thwart Russian hacking

    · Everything we know so far about Russian election meddling in Europe

    · Congress’ grilling of tech companies in 2017 foreshadows the debates of 2018

    · Why is WikiLeaks trying to kneecap Michael Wolff’s book?

    · The digger who commissioned the Trump-Russia dossier

    · Czechs fear Russian fake news in presidential election

    · We are being defeated in a digital war – but there is still time to fight back

    · Sneaky malware disguises itself as an Adobe Flash Player installer

    · Fancy Bear: Alleged Russian hackers leak ‘emails and documents’ from Olympic body

    · Republicans work to frustrate Mueller’s Russia investigation as probes close in on Trump White House

  • Apple, Android and PC chip problem – why your smartphone and laptop are so at risk

    Less than a week into 2018 and we may have already seen the year’s biggest technology story. Researchers have identified a security flaw in the computer processors made by three of the world’s biggest chip designers, Intel, AMD and ARM, and a second flaw in Intel chips. This means that almost every smartphone, tablet, laptop and business computer in the world could be vulnerable to having sensitive data including passwords stolen. The cloud servers that store websites and other internet data are also at risk. This is one of the biggest cyber security vulnerabilities we’ve ever seen in terms of the potential impact to personal, business and infrastructure computer systems. What’s more, because the flaw is located in such a fundamental part of the computer, there’s no way to know whether or not a machine has been targeted and what data might have been accessed.

  • Multi-channel, nonlinear-optical processing devices to reduce cost of high-speed internet connections

    Breakthrough research could lead to a dramatic reduction in the cost and energy consumption of high-speed internet connections. Nonlinear-optical effects, such as intensity-dependent refractive index, can be used to process data thousands of times faster than what can be achieved electronically. Such processing has, until now, worked only for one optical beam at a time because the nonlinear-optical effects also cause unwanted inter-beam interaction, or crosstalk, when multiple light beams are present.

  • Election hacking, as we understand it today, is not a cybersecurity issue

    Many lawmakers and analysts argue that the Kremlin’s successful 2016 campaign to undermine American democracy, increase societal conflict and political polarization, and help Donald Trump win the presidency, had to do with weak cybersecurity measures – and that the way to prevent similar efforts by foreign powers to influence U.S. elections is to bolster U.S. cybersecurity. Herb Lin writes that it is not at all obvious that the success of Russian meddling in the 2016 election was primarily the result of failures in the nation’s cybersecurity posture. Rather, much more decisive in Russia’s successful meddling was the Kremlin’s sophisticated disinformation campaign on social media platforms. Even fully funded and well-implemented measures the strengthen the cybersecurity aspects pf American elections will not ameliorate the effects of Russian efforts to increase the polarization of the U.S. electorate. “For this reason, a focus on preventing the hacking of election systems is misleading and dangerous—it distracts us from the real danger to the republic today, which is the toxic nature of political discourse in an internet-enabled information environment that Russia can manipulate in entirely legal ways.”

  • Russian influence in Mexican and Colombian elections

    Russia’s ongoing effort to destroy faith in democracy is not only a problem for the United States and Europe. The Kremlin has set its sights on destabilizing next year’s Mexican and Colombian elections, and has been strengthening its instruments of political influence in both countries. In 2015, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, then in his capacity as Commander of U.S. Southern Command, warned that under President Vladimir Putin, Russia is “using power projection in an attempt to erode U.S. leadership and challenge U.S. influence in the Western Hemisphere.”

  • McMaster says U.S. must reveal “insidious” Russian meddling to prevent further attacks

    The president’s national security adviser H. R. McMaster says one of the most important tasks in defending U.S. national security is to reveal Russia’s “insidious” interference in elections worldwide to prevent Moscow from meddling again in the democratic process. “What we have to do is come up with a way to deal with this very sophisticated strategy [of meddling],” McMaster said. “This new kind of threat that Russia has really perfected…the use of disinformation and propaganda and social-media tools to really polarize societies and pit communities against each other, to weaken their resolve and their commitment,” he added. U.S. intelligence officials concluded last January that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an “influence campaign” targeting the 2016 election, aiming to undermine confidence in U.S. democracy, tarnish the reputation of Democrat Hillary Clinton, and help Republican Donald Trump.

  • Practically all Intel processors produced in the last decade found to have major security flaw

    A major security flaw has been discovered in practically all Intel processors. The flaw will require fixes within Windows, macOS, and Linux. Developers are currently working overtime to fix what they describe as a significant security hole within the Intel chips. Patches are already available within some versions of Linux and some testing versions of Windows. Experts note that the fixes, once in place, will slow down computers and cloud servers considerably.

  • Experts: “Russian public media spread Catalan pro-independence propaganda”

    A year ago, a British parliament committee – the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee – began an investigation into fake news, exploring evidence that media outlets with ties to the Russian government have tried to destabilize the EU and NATO by disseminating disinformation. The members of the committee – five from the Conservative Party, five from the Labor Party, and one from the Scottish National Party – have already taken evidence from dozens of experts, scholars, and journalists on the subject of fake news. The experts appearing before the committee noted that there have been a similar pattern between Russian government’s interference and meddling activities with the Brexit referendum campaign, and Russian meddling activities pushing for Catalan independence.

  • Aussies tipped FBI to Russia’s meddling; the latest 2018 election-hacking threat; Putin’s political provocateurs, and more

    · Report: ex-Trump aide told Australians of Russian “dirt” on Clinton

    · Book review: In “Collusion,” Guardian reporter makes case for Russian manipulation of Trump

    · Putin’s political provocateurs: “Meddling” created blueprint for 21st-century subversion

    · “Whoever controls cyberspace will control the world”: Russian hackers waging cyber war on Ukraine “training” for Western targets

    · What we learned about Trump, Russia, and collusion in 2017

    · The latest 2018 election-hacking threat: 9-month wait for government help

    · Should we believe a Russian hacker who claims he hit the DNC for a rogue operative in the FSB?

    · What Russian journalists uncovered about Russian election meddling

    · Forgetting the past: The U.S. response to Russian disinformation

    · Pressure builds to improve election cybersecurity