Month: October, 2018

Facebook Security Breach Exposes Accounts of 50 Million Users

Facebook, already facing scrutiny over how it handles the private information of its users, said on Friday that an attack on its computer network had exposed the personal information of nearly 50 million users.

The breach, which was discovered this week, was the largest in the company’s 14-year history. The attackers exploited a feature in Facebook’s code to gain access to user accounts and potentially take control of them.

The news could not have come at a worse time for Facebook.

It has been buffeted over the last year by scandal, from revelations that a British analytics firm got access to the private information of up to 87 million users to worries that disinformation on Facebook has affected elections and even led to deaths in several countries.

Senior executives have testified several times this year in congressional hearings where some lawmakers suggested that the government will need to step in if the social network is unable to get tighter control of its service.

On Friday, regulators and lawmakers quickly seized on the breach to renew calls for more oversight.

This is another sobering indicator that Congress needs to step up and take action to protect the privacy and security of social media users,” Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia and one of Facebook’s most vocal critics in Congress, said in a statement.

A full investigation should be swiftly conducted and made public so that we can understand more about what happened.”




In the conference call on Friday, Guy Rosen, a vice president of product management at Facebook, declined to say whether the attack could have been coordinated by hackers supported by a nation-state.

Three software flaws in Facebook’s systems allowed hackers to break into user accounts, including those of the top executives Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, according to two people familiar with the investigation but not allowed to discuss it publicly.

Once in, the attackers could have gained access to apps like Spotify, Instagram and hundreds of others that give users a way to log into their systems through Facebook.

The software bugs were particularly awkward for a company that takes pride in its engineering: The first two were introduced by an online tool meant to improve the privacy of users.

The third was introduced in July 2017 by a tool meant to easily upload birthday videos.

Facebook said it had fixed the vulnerabilities and notified law enforcement officials. Company officials do not know the identity or the origin of the attackers, nor have they fully assessed the scope of the attack or if particular users were targeted.

The investigation is still in its beginning stages.

Facebook has been roundly criticized for being slow to acknowledge a vast disinformation campaign run by Russian operatives on its platform and other social media outlets before the 2016 presidential election.

Facebook has been reshuffling its security teams since Alex Stamos, its chief security officer, left in August for a teaching position at Stanford University.

Instead of acting as a stand-alone group, security team members now work more closely with product teams across the company.

The move, the company said, is an effort to embed security across every step of Facebook product development.

Users who posted breaking stories about the breach from The Guardian, The Associated Press and other outlets were prompted with a notice that their posts had been taken down.

So many people were posting the stories, they looked like suspicious activity to the systems that Facebook uses to block abuse of its network.

We removed this post because it looked like spam to us,” the notice said.

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Pass it on: Popular Scinece

NASA’s TESS Shares First Science Image in Hunt to Find New Worlds

NASA’s newest planet hunter, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), is now providing valuable data to help scientists discover and study exciting new exoplanets, or planets beyond our solar system.

Part of the data from TESS’ initial science orbit includes a detailed picture of the southern sky taken with all four of the spacecraft’s wide-field cameras.

This “first light” science image captures a wealth of stars and other objects, including systems previously known to have exoplanets.

In a sea of stars brimming with new worlds, TESS is casting a wide net and will haul in a bounty of promising planets for further study,” said Paul Hertz, astrophysics division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

This first light science image shows the capabilities of TESS’ cameras, and shows that the mission will realize its incredible potential in our search for another Earth.

TESS acquired the image using all four cameras during a 30-minute period on Tuesday, Aug. 7. The black lines in the image are gaps between the camera detectors.

The images include parts of a dozen constellations, from Capricornus to Pictor, and both the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, the galaxies nearest to our own.

The small bright dot above the Small Magellanic Cloud is a globular cluster — a spherical collection of hundreds of thousands of stars — called NGC 104, also known as 47 Tucanae because of its location in the southern constellation Tucana, the Toucan.




Two stars, Beta Gruis and R Doradus, are so bright they saturate an entire column of pixels on the detectors of TESS’s second and fourth cameras, creating long spikes of light.

This swath of the sky’s southern hemisphere includes more than a dozen stars we know have transiting planets based on previous studies from ground observatories,” said George Ricker, TESS principal investigator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research in Cambridge.

TESS’s cameras, designed and built by MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts, and the MIT Kavli Institute, monitor large swaths of the sky to look for transits.

Transits occur when a planet passes in front of its star as viewed from the satellite’s perspective, causing a regular dip in the star’s brightness.

TESS will spend two years monitoring 26 such sectors for 27 days each, covering 85 percent of the sky. During its first year of operations, the satellite will study the 13 sectors making up the southern sky.

Then TESS will turn to the 13 sectors of the northern sky to carry out a second year-long survey.

MIT coordinates with Northrop Grumman in Falls Church, Virginia, to schedule science observations. TESS transmits images every 13.7 days, each time it swings closest to Earth.

NASA’s Deep Space Network receives and forwards the data to the TESS Payload Operations Center at MIT for initial evaluation and analysis.

Full data processing and analysis takes place within the Science Processing and Operations Center pipeline at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California, which provides calibrated images and refined light curves that scientists can analyze to find promising exoplanet transit candidates.

TESS builds on the legacy of NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, which also uses transits to find exoplanets. TESS’s target stars are 30 to 300 light-years away and about 30 to 100 times brighter than Kepler’s targets, which are 300 to 3,000 light-years away.

The brightness of TESS’ targets make them ideal candidates for follow-up study with spectroscopy, the study of how matter and light interact.

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How To Record Professional Audio

We’re going to show you how to record audio with a smartphone microphone.

Video is powerful. It can make your business more accessible and open up a dialogue with your customers. But hiring a production company can be expensive.

What if all you want to make is a quick little video to send to clients?

Maybe you need a video cover letter? We’re going to show you how, with minimal outlay, you can make the best looking, best sounding video on your mobile phone.

Why sound is important

Even if you don’t want to invest heavily in film gear, we implore you not to skimp on audio. Online audiences are somewhat tolerant of bad lighting and dodgy effects, but poor sound is going to drive them away in droves.

Before you learn anything else, we want to be sure that you know how to capture the best sound when recording on your phone.

All you’re going to need is your smartphone and a lavalier mic from amazon or eBay. If you want to be able to monitor your recording, you’ll also want to get some kind of headphone splitter.




Where to record

First thing we’re going to discuss is where you’ll be shooting. Ambient sound can compete with your voice and distract the audience. Where possible, try to record your video in a space where you can control the ambient noise.

In an office setting fans, air conditioning and computers generate a lot of sound. Switching these off or switching them to their lowest setting will mitigate any humming or droning sounds.

Another thing to be wary of is big empty rooms. If you go into a professional recording booth, you’ll notice how small they are. This is because sounds bounces, which causes echo.

When you’re looking for a space to record, look out for high ceilings, hard floors and no furniture.

These spaces produce an awful echo that can be hard to get rid of. Now you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars making your office acoustically insulated.

Filming outdoors presents different challenges. A little bit of ambient sound is okay, in fact the audience will expect a little bit of natural sound.

But strong wind is a nightmare for sound recording. Covering the mic or hiding it in your clothing can mitigate the effects of wind, but if it’s really strong you may have consider another location.

Monitoring and playback

It’s always a good idea to play back and listen to anything that you’ve recorded. Sound problems are incredibly difficult to fix after the fact.

If you want to monitor the recording, you’ll need that headphone splitter we mentioned earlier. This device lets you plug in both a microphone and headphones.

But let’s say you don’t want to film yourself wearing headphones. If you don’t have a friend or colleague you can coerce into monitoring your audio, the safest option is to play back what you’ve just recorded.

When in doubt, do one more recording for safety.

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Pass it on: Popular Science