Butler County Community College to close for 2 days after ransomware attack

A regional cybersecurity firm is helping restore information, the college’s spokesman William Foley said in a press release.

Source: Butler County Community College to close for 2 days after ransomware attack

US blames China for hacks, opening new front in cyber offensive – CNNPolitics

Washington (CNN)The United States and its foreign allies on Monday accused China of widespread malfeasance in cyberspace, including through a massive hack of Microsoft’s email system and other ransomware attacks, a dramatic escalation in the increasingly urgent attempt by the Biden administration to stave off further breaches.

In a coordinated announcement, the White House and governments in Europe and Asia identified China’s Ministry of State Security, the sprawling and secretive civilian intelligence agency, with using “criminal contract hackers” to conduct a range of destabilizing activities around the world for personal profit, including the Microsoft hack, according to a senior US administration official.
The administration official also said China was behind a specific ransomware attack against a US target that involved a “large ransom request” — and added that Chinese ransom demands have been in the “millions of dollars.”
The public disclosure of the Chinese efforts amounts to a new front in an ongoing offensive by the Biden administration to bat away cyberthreats that have exposed serious vulnerabilities in major American sectors, including energy and food production. The extent of Chinese involvement in hiring criminal networks to invade and extort money around the world came as a surprise to the White House, officials said.
“What we found really surprising and new here was the use of criminal contract hackers to conduct this unsanctioned cyber operation and really the criminal activity for financial gain. That was really eye-opening and surprising for us,” a senior administration official said on Sunday ahead of the announcement.

Source: US blames China for hacks, opening new front in cyber offensive – CNNPolitics

Windows 11 is full of delightful detail – The Verge

It’s all part of Microsoft’s effort to modernize Windows.

Microsoft has started detailing some of the design approaches it has used for Windows 11 and its attention to detail for daily micro-interactions. That includes things like a checkbox that has an animated tick to subtly let you know when you interact with it, or a settings cog that spins when you hover over it. Plenty of buttons in Windows 11 pop with faint signs of life or bounce as you move around the OS.

Source: Windows 11 is full of delightful detail – The Verge

Russian gang blamed for global ransomware attack vanishes from web – POLITICO

The ransomware hacker gang REvil’s websites are offline, about a week and a half after the group’s cyberattack on IT software vendor Kaseya allowed the criminals to breach hundreds of companies around the world.

As of Tuesday morning, the group’s public websitethe dark-web portal that facilitated its ransom negotiations with victims and the site that victims used to pay those ransoms were offline.

In addition to REvil’s websites, “all of their infrastructure” used to control their hacking operations is also dark, said Allan Liska, an intelligence analyst who tracks ransomware for the cybersecurity firm Recorded Future.

REvil’s public spokesperson, who goes by the pseudonym “Unknown,” “hasn’t been active on message boards since last Thursday,” Liska said.

Source: Russian gang blamed for global ransomware attack vanishes from web – POLITICO

AI Designs Quantum Physics Experiments Beyond What Any Human Has Conceived – Scientific American

Originally built to speed up calculations, a machine-learning system is now making shocking progress at the frontiers of experimental quantum physics

AI Designs Quantum Physics Experiments Beyond What Any Human Has Conceived
Credit: Getty Images

Quantum physicist Mario Krenn remembers sitting in a café in Vienna in early 2016, poring over computer printouts, trying to make sense of what MELVIN had found. MELVIN was a machine-learning algorithm Krenn had built, a kind of artificial intelligence. Its job was to mix and match the building blocks of standard quantum experiments and find solutions to new problems. And it did find many interesting ones. But there was one that made no sense.

“The first thing I thought was, ‘My program has a bug, because the solution cannot exist,’” Krenn says. MELVIN had seemingly solved the problem of creating highly complex entangled states involving multiple photons (entangled states being those that once made Albert Einstein invoke the specter of “spooky action at a distance”). Krenn, Anton Zeilinger of the University of Vienna and their colleagues had not explicitly provided MELVIN the rules needed to generate such complex states, yet it had found a way. Eventually, he realized that the algorithm had rediscovered a type of experimental arrangement that had been devised in the early 1990s. But those experiments had been much simpler. MELVIN had cracked a far more complex puzzle.

“When we understood what was going on, we were immediately able to generalize [the solution],” says Krenn, who is now at the University of Toronto. Since then, other teams have started performing the experiments identified by MELVIN, allowing them to test the conceptual underpinnings of quantum mechanics in new ways. Meanwhile Krenn, working with colleagues in Toronto, has refined their machine-learning algorithms. Their latest effort, an AI called THESEUS, has upped the ante: it is orders of magnitude faster than MELVIN, and humans can readily parse its output. While it would take Krenn and his colleagues days or even weeks to understand MELVIN’s meanderings, they can almost immediately figure out what THESEUS is saying.“It is amazing work,” says theoretical quantum physicist Renato Renner of the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, who reviewed a 2020 study about THESEUS but was not directly involved in these efforts.

Krenn stumbled on this entire research program somewhat by accident when he and his colleagues were trying to figure out how to experimentally create quantum states of photons entangled in a very particular manner: When two photons interact, they become entangled, and both can only be mathematically described using a single shared quantum state. If you measure the state of one photon, the measurement instantly fixes the state of the other even if the two are kilometers apart (hence Einstein’s derisive comments on entanglement being “spooky”).

In 1989 three physicists—Daniel Greenberger, the late Michael Horne and Zeilinger—described an entangled state that came to be known as “GHZ” (after their initials). It involved four photons, each of which could be in a quantum superposition of, say, two states, 0 and 1 (a quantum state called a qubit). In their paper, the GHZ state involved entangling four qubits such that the entire system was in a two-dimensional quantum superposition of states 0000 and 1111. If you measured one of the photons and found it in state 0, the superposition would collapse, and the other photons would also be in state 0. The same went for state 1. In the late 1990s Zeilinger and his colleagues experimentally observed GHZ states using three qubits for the first time.

Source: AI Designs Quantum Physics Experiments Beyond What Any Human Has Conceived – Scientific American

Hackers demand $70 million to end biggest ransomware attack on record – CBS News

An affiliate of the notorious REvil gang, best known for extorting $11 million from the meat-processor JBS after a Memorial Day attack, infected thousands of victims in at least 17 countries on Friday, largely through firms that remotely manage IT infrastructure for multiple customers, cybersecurity researchers said.

REvil was demanding ransoms of up to $5 million, the researchers said. But late Sunday it offered in a posting on its dark web site a universal decryptor software key that would unscramble all affected machines in exchange for $70 million in cryptocurrency.

Earlier, the FBI said in a statement  that while it was investigating the attack its scale “may make it so that we are unable to respond to each victim individually.” Deputy National Security Advisor Anne Neuberger later issued a statement saying President Joe Biden had “directed the full resources of the government to investigate this incident” and urged all who believed they were compromised to alert the FBI.

Mr. Biden suggested Saturday the U.S. would respond if it was determined that the Kremlin is at all involved. Less than a month ago, he pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop giving safe haven to REvil and other ransomware gangs whose unrelenting extortionary attacks  the U.S. deems a national security threat.

On Monday, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was asked if Russia was aware of the attack or had looked into it. He said no, but suggested it could be discussed by the U.S. and Russia in consultations on cybersecurity issues for which no timeline has been specified.

Source: Hackers demand $70 million to end biggest ransomware attack on record – CBS News

Download Windows 10 for free right now

Microsoft has ended support for Windows 7, so it’s time to make the move to Windows 10.

Support for Windows 7 ended more than a year ago, and Microsoft wants holdouts to upgrade to Windows 10 to keep devices running securely and smoothly — particularly before the operating system gets a big redesign later this year, and possibly morphs into Windows 11.

If you have an older PC or laptop still running Windows 7, you can buy the Windows 10 Home operating system on Microsoft’s website for $139 (£120, AU$225). But you don’t necessarily have to shell out the cash: A free upgrade offer from Microsoft that technically ended in 2016 still works for many people. With the potential new version of Windows right around the corner, now may be a good time to make sure you’re on the latest version to make any future updates easier.

When Windows 10 was first released in July 2015, Microsoft offered an unprecedented free upgrade offer for Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 users, good through July 2016. But in 2017, Ed Bott of CNET sister site ZDNet reported that the free upgrade tool was still functional. I tried it out in November 2019, and was able to upgrade a 2014 Dell OptiPlex 9020 desktop from Windows 7 Pro to Windows 10 Pro. As June 2021, readers are still emailing me and commenting below, saying that it’s worked for them as well.

Read more: Windows 10 tips: How to take screenshots, find the secret Start menu and more 

Source: Download Windows 10 for free right now

Windows 11: What to expect

  • A build of the expected Windows 11 that leaked last week provides a hint of what Microsoft might announce at a Windows event Thursday.
  • Analysts will be listening for signs of any business model updates.
  • Refreshing the 35-year-old operating system can result in additional revenue growth for the world’s second-most valuable public company, behind only Apple. Over time, the new Windows will likely be widely adopted as millions of consumers and office workers make the upgrade from Windows 10, the top PC operating system.

Source: Windows 11: What to expect

Antivirus pioneer John McAfee found dead in Spanish prison

MADRID (AP) — John McAfee, the creator of McAfee antivirus software, was found dead in his jail cell near Barcelona in an apparent suicide Wednesday, hours after a Spanish court approved his extradition to the United States to face tax charges punishable by decades in prison, authorities said.

The eccentric cryptocurrency promoter and tax opponent whose history of legal troubles spanned from Tennessee to Central America to the Caribbean was discovered at the Brians 2 penitentiary in northeastern Spain. Security personnel tried to revive him, but the jail’s medical team finally certified his death, a statement from the regional Catalan government said.

“A judicial delegation has arrived to investigate the causes of death,” it said, adding that “everything points to death by suicide.”

The statement didn’t identify McAfee by name but said the dead man was a 75-year-old U.S. citizen awaiting extradition to his country. A Catalan government official familiar with the case who was not authorized to be named in media reports confirmed to The Associated Press that it was McAfee.

Spain’s National Court on Monday ruled in favor of extraditing McAfee, 75, who had argued in a hearing earlier this month that the charges against him by prosecutors in Tennessee were politically motivated and that he would spend the rest of his life in prison if returned to the U.S.

The court’s ruling was made public on Wednesday and was open for appeal, with any final extradition order also needing to get approval from the Spanish Cabinet.

McAfee was arrested last October at Barcelona’s international airport and had been in jail since then awaiting the outcome of extradition proceedings. The arrest followed charges the same month in Tennessee for evading taxes after failing to report income from promoting cryptocurrencies while he did consulting work, made speaking engagements and sold the rights to his life story for a documentary. The criminal charges carried a prison sentence of up to 30 years.

Source: Antivirus pioneer John McAfee found dead in Spanish prison

Southwest Airlines grounds all flights amid computer outage

Southwest Airlines grounded flights across the country Tuesday for the second time in less than 24 hours, amid reports of nationwide computer issues.

Air travelers took to Twitter by the thousands with reports of what airline staff reportedly told them was a computer system outage — hours after “intermittent performance issues” with a third-party weather app forced a similar group stop Monday night.

“We are aware of system issues and are working quickly to resolve. We will share more info soon,” Southwest posted on its official Twitter account at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Airline operations resumed shortly before 4 p.m., Southwest said in a statement.

The carrier attributed Tuesday’s meltdown to “intermittent performance issues with… network connectivity,” and said it had “proactively canceled” about 500 flights because of the disruption.

“We’re working with those Customers to get them to their destinations as quickly as possible,” said spokesman Chris Mainz.

Source: Southwest Airlines grounds all flights amid computer outage

How to Protect Your Home Network From ‘FragAttacks’




Hearing your wireless devices are vulnerable to something called “FragAttacks” doesn’t exactly inspire joy. However, the word is scarier than the risk; there’s no evidence that anyone is actively exploiting wireless devices via these vulnerabilities, even given the millions that could be susceptible to FragAttacks—short for “fragmentation and aggregation attacks.”

The name “FragAttack” actually refers to a group of vulnerabilities related to frames, or packets of data, that can be exploited to either steal someone’s information as it passes between networked devices, or to take over a device entirely—whether that’s a simple IoT smart switch or that old laptop you use to browse the web at home. Attackers can either inject unwanted, unencrypted frames into a network, or they can take advantage of how frames are aggregated together (or how aggregates are split apart) to inject and execute data that wasn’t there in the first place.

The best way to keep your network as safe as possible against FragAttack vulnerabilities is to keep your devices updated—and you’ll note this is the same advice we give everyone about every security vulnerability ever. Make sure your routers, smart devices, laptops, phones, or whatever else are all running the most up-to-date firmware and software updates you can find. If you’re lucky, your devices’ manufacturer will have a means for updating them automatically. Otherwise, you’ll need to make sure you’re checking on a regular interval (say, quarterly) for critical updates that can patch up vulnerabilities like these.

Read Source: How to Protect Your Home Network From ‘FragAttacks’

Pittsburgh Public Schools prepared for April 6 reopening – Pittsburgh Current

About 4,800 Pittsburgh students are expected to return on April 6. They are a group that includes PreK and kindergarten students and others who have been determined to not be making progress in eLearning, who have disabilities, are English language learners or in other vulnerable groups.

On April 26 another cohort of about 5,200 students —  those who were making “some” progress — will be brought back to the classrooms.

On May 3 the remainder of students, a group of about 10,000, will return.

The majority of students will attend via a hybrid model, with some in class on Mondays and Tuesdays and others attending Thursdays and Fridays. Schools will be cleaned on Wednesdays, when all students learn online.

Source: Pittsburgh Public Schools prepared for April 6 reopening – Pittsburgh Current

Pennsylvania Covid-19 vaccination appointment hotline intercepted by hackers – CNN

At some point “mid-afternoon,” the Allegheny County health department and the 2-1-1 service became aware that a hacker was intercepting callers and diverting them away from the help line without their knowledge, officials said.

Source: Pennsylvania Covid-19 vaccination appointment hotline intercepted by hackers – CNN

New videos explain recycling at Westmoreland Cleanways center in Unity | TribLIVE.com

If you’re not sure what electronics you can recycle at Westmoreland Cleanways and Recycling, the Unity-based nonprofit has a video for you.

As Westmoreland Cleanways Executive Director Ellen Keefe notes in one of four new informational videos posted on the organization’s website, among the most frequent calls received at its center near Pleasant Unity are inquiries about recycling televisions and computers.

Keefe points out that Pennsylvania law prohibits landfill disposal of computers, computer printers and keyboards, televisions and any other electronic device with a screen measuring more than 5 inches. But those items are accepted at the Cleanways center.

“We’re one of the very few places that will take them,” Keefe said. “People don’t think about how to get rid of this stuff until they have to. It’s a constant question and a constant educational necessity.”

“There’s no limit on size or quantity that you bring in,” Keefe says of the television sets accepted at Cleanways.

She noted there’s no charge for recycling a TV as long as it’s intact. If the TV has been disassembled or its casing is broken open, a handling fee will apply because of the potential for release of toxic materials in the sets — the reason why they can’t be placed in landfills.

“I was driving home and saw a TV sitting out on the curb with someone’s garbage,” she said, despite the law banning the sets from landfills.

There are some electronics Cleanways won’t accept, such as stereo speakers and music CDs. A complete list of the various items that can be dropped off at the center for recycling can be found on the nonprofit’s website at westmorelandcleanways.org.

Source: New videos explain recycling at Westmoreland Cleanways center in Unity | TribLIVE.com

Security Researcher Reveals Solarwinds’ Update Server Was ‘Secured’ With The Password ‘solarwinds123’ | Techdirt

The attack was so widespread and potentially catastrophic, the DHS’s cyber wing issued an emergency directive that stated the only way to mitigate damage was to airgap devices and uninstall affected Orion software. Meanwhile, SolarWinds filed an update with the SEC detailing the extent of the damage. It was limited, but only if you consider 18-33,000 potential infections “limited.” It’s only a small percentage because Solarwinds’s customer base is so large. The company boasts 300,000 customers, among them several government agencies and all five branches of the military. (It’s not boasting much these days. It has memory-holed its “Customer” page during this trying time.)

Unfortunately, the directive from CISA was delivered a bit too late. CISA itself was compromised by the hack, something acknowledged by the DHS less than 24 hours after its dire directive was issued.

The fallout from this hacking — which may have begun as early as March of this year — will continue for a long, long time. But this latest news — delivered by Zack Whittaker — adds another layer of irony to the ongoing debacle. Orion is Solarwinds’ one-stop shop for IT software. It promises to secure customers’ IT infrastructure by bundling in the company’s network security products.

No doubt the company claims to take security seriously. But while users are being subjected to password requirements that demand them to utilize most of the alphabet and multiple shift key presses, internal security isn’t nearly as restrictive. Here’s the “OMFG are you goddamn kidding me” news via Reuters, which first broke the news of the malicious hacking.

Security researcher Vinoth Kumar told Reuters that, last year, he alerted the company that anyone could access SolarWinds’ update server by using the password “solarwinds123”.

All five branches of the military. The NSA. The IRS. The USPS. DHS. The Treasury Department. Nearly every Fortune 500 company. All ten of the top ten telcos. The list goes on and on. And with this access, attackers could move laterally, using compromised credentials to eavesdrop on mutuals of targeted entities. And all of this “secured” by a password so simple an idiot could have created it.

Source: Security Researcher Reveals Solarwinds’ Update Server Was ‘Secured’ With The Password ‘solarwinds123’ | Techdirt

Web design tips to keep users coming back – The Pittsburgh 100

The design of your website – down to the font, color and image quality on each page – can make or break your business.

When it comes to font choice, go with a “sans serif” font like Open Sans or Roboto. These are more readable and preferred by users. To keep users on your site longer, consider introducing a chat box feature to allow visitors to ask questions and learn more about services or products.

Finally, make sure your website graphics are clear. This is so important; you should partner with a professional a few times a year to ensure production quality.

Source: Web design tips to keep users coming back – The Pittsburgh 100

Major hospital system hit with cyberattack, potentially largest in U.S. history

Computer systems for Universal Health Services, which has more than 400 locations, primarily in the U.S., began to fail over the weekend, and some hospitals have had to resort to filing patient information with pen and paper, according to multiple people familiar with the situation.

Source: Major hospital system hit with cyberattack, potentially largest in U.S. history

PS5 cost may have been leaked by Spanish retailer ahead of PS5 event | GamesRadar+

The price lines up with similar leaks from Amazon last month

Multiple images have surfaced from a major Spanish retailer that may have revealed the PS5 price. Photos from El Corte Inglés appeared overnight, potentially revealing the cost of both versions of the upcoming console ahead of official word from Sony.

Both images stem from El Corte Inglés, which is one of the biggest retailers in Spain, Pictures of the store’s internal systems that appear to show entries for both the standard and digital versions of the PS5 were shared on messaging service Telegram, listing two prices for the console. According to both of these photos, one version of the PS5 will cost €499.90 ($594/£460), while the other will cost €399.90 ($475/£369). The digital-only version of the console is very likely to be the cheaper version.

Source: PS5 cost may have been leaked by Spanish retailer ahead of PS5 event | GamesRadar+

A new 5G BlackBerry phone with Android and a physical keyboard will arrive in 2021 – The Verge

The BlackBerry brand rides once more.

The once-respected BlackBerry brand has been licensed yet again by a company hoping to use a familiar name to make a dent in the competitive Android phone market. This time, it’s a new Texas startup named OnwardMobility that’s taking the reins, promising to release a 5G BlackBerry device with Android and a physical QWERTY keyboard in 2021.

Little else is known about the device, including screen size or internal specs, but OnwardMobility told The Register it would come with a completely new keyboard design that will “reflect the brand values from a keyboard typing experience and input experience.” Which, yeah, sure! I love to reflect brand values. Do it all the time.

Another question mark hanging over the yet-unnamed device is what form factor it’ll take, be that a slider mechanism similar to 2015’s BlackBerry Priv, or a more conventional “candy bar” design. While the latter will undoubtedly prove more durable, and will appeal to die-hard QWERTY enthusiasts, a slider mechanism will allow punters to better make use of any display real-estate.

Source: A new 5G BlackBerry phone with Android and a physical keyboard will arrive in 2021 – The Verge

Zoom putting research and development center in Pittsburgh, plans to hire hundreds of software engineers

Zoom Video Communications Inc said it plans to hire hundreds of software engineers over the next two years for research and development locations it is putting in Phoenix and Pittsburgh.

“It’s great news for Pittsburgh,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. “It just continues in showing where our economy is not only heading but is actually there.”

“We’re already a hub for a lot of great technology,” said Mark Thomas, President of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance. “I think what makes Pittsburghers really proud is seeing growth companies, companies are really having a pop culture moment, choose Pittsburgh. I think that’s what Zoom really represents. This is transformative because it does elevate the types of companies who may not have had a Pittsburgh connection to really pay attention to what’s happening here and truly consider investing here.”Zoom says it has seen a large spike in usage as people use its software to connect while under stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic.Zoom said last month it has about 300 million daily meeting participants, which is up from 10 million in December.Zoom Chief Financial Officer Kelly Steckelberg said the company is looking for offices near Arizona State University and Carnegie Mellon University to tap engineering talent coming out of the schools.

Source: Zoom putting research and development center in Pittsburgh, plans to hire hundreds of software engineers

You need to be careful with these social media trends, FBI Pittsburgh warns

PITTSBURGH — Be careful what information you share on social media. That’s the warning from FBI Pittsburgh as a number of trending social media topics can lead to fraud.

While they might seem like fun games, they can reveal answers to common password retrieval security questions, according to the FBI. Fraudsters then use that information to reset account passwords and gain access.

Examples of things the FBI wants you to be careful of are posting high school photos in support of the Class of 2020, posting pictures of your first car, answering questions about your best friend and providing the name of your first pet, as well as identifying your first concert, favorite restaurant or favorite teacher. Tagging your mother is also advised against because it could reveal a maiden name.

Source: You need to be careful with these social media trends, FBI Pittsburgh warns

Windows 10X needs to be perfect if it’s launching first on laptops | Windows Central

hen we first started hearing about Windows 10X (codenamed Santorini at the time,) it was clear that this new, modern version of Windows was going to be quite different from the Windows 10 we know and love. It was positioned internally as a lightweight OS for mobile PCs, including laptops, 2-in-1’s, and indeed foldable PCs. But when Microsoft officially announced Windows 10X in October, it positioned the platform as being exclusive to foldable PCs.

Microsoft did this as to set expectations for Windows 10X. Its entire user experience is new and different, and since Windows 10X is built on Windows Core OS, it’s also missing a lot of legacy features and components that some users may be accustomed to. Limiting Windows 10X to a new ecosystem of devices would’ve allowed Microsoft to set the stage appropriately and have users come into the platform with fresh eyes.

Best online learning tools for kids: ABCmouse, Reading IQ, & more

But now, new rumors suggest that Microsoft is shifting back to prioritizing Windows 10X for traditional form factors too. This is great news for early adopters who like the look of Windows 10X but aren’t entirely sold on the idea of foldable PCs. However, this shift also opens up Windows 10X to a whole new level of customer expectation that it previously didn’t need to worry about. If Windows 10X is launching on laptops, it needs to be good enough to replace Windows 10 on day one.

Source: Windows 10X needs to be perfect if it’s launching first on laptops | Windows Central

Americans getting more inactive, computers partly to blame

Americans are becoming increasingly sedentary, spending almost a third of their waking hours sitting down, and computer use is partly to blame, a new study found.

Over almost a decade, average daily sitting time increased by roughly an hour, to about eight hours for U.S. teens and almost 6 1/2 hours for adults, according to the researchers. That includes school and work hours, but leisure-time computer use among all ages increased too.

By 2016, at least half of American kids and adults spent an hour or more of leisure time daily using computers. There are many services like this Managed IT Services Chicago who are bringing in courses which can help people understand and develop on the skill. The biggest increase was among the oldest adults: 15% of retirement-aged adults reported using computers that often in 2003-04, soaring to more than half in 2015-16.

Source: Americans getting more inactive, computers partly to blame

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