Pipeline attacker Darkside suddenly goes dark—here’s what we know

The closure may mean the group is ceasing or altering ops—or pulling an exit scam.

Pipeline attacker Darkside suddenly goes dark—here’s what we know


Darkside—the ransomware group that disrupted gasoline distribution across a wide swath of the US this week—has gone dark, leaving it unclear if the group is ceasing, suspending, or altering its operations or is simply orchestrating an exit scam.

On Thursday, all eight of the dark web sites Darkside used to communicate with the public went down, and they remain down as of publication time. Overnight, a post attributed to Darkside claimed, without providing any evidence, that the group’s website and content distribution infrastructure had been seized by law enforcement, along with the cryptocurrency it had received from victims.

The dog ate our funds

“At the moment, these servers cannot be accessed via SSH, and the hosting panels have been blocked,” the post stated, according to a translation of the Russian-language post published Friday by security firm Intel471. “The hosting support service doesn't provide any information except ‘at the request of law enforcement authorities.’ In addition, a couple of hours after the seizure, funds from the payment server (belonging to us and our clients) were withdrawn to an unknown account.”

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Researchers force two mice to hang out and induce FOMO in a third

Synchronized activity between brains seems to be the key to socializing.

Researchers force two mice to hang out and induce FOMO in a third

Enlarge (credit: David Aubrey)

Since its advent in 2005, a technique called optogenetics has made it vastly easier to link neural activity with behavior and to understand how neurons and brain regions are connected to each other. Neuroscientists just pick the (animal) neurons they’re interested in, genetically engineer them to express a light-responsive protein, and then stimulate them with the right type of light. This technique can be used to inhibit or excite a select subset of neurons in living, breathing, moving animals, illuminating which neural networks dictate the animals' behaviors and decisions.

Taking advantage of work done in miniaturizing the optogenetic hardware, researchers have now used optogenetics to alter the activity in parts of the brain that influence social interactions in mice. And they’ve exerted a disturbing level of control over the way the mice interact.

Going small

A big limitation for early optogenetic studies was that the wires and optical fibers required to get light into an animal’s brain also get in the animals’ way, impeding their movements and potentially skewing results. Newer implantable wireless devices were developed about five years ago, but they can only be placed near certain brain regions. They're also too tiny to accommodate many circuit components and receiver antennas, and they have to be programmed beforehand. Pity the poor would-be mind controllers who have to deal with such limited tools.

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MINISFORUM’s Game Mini will be a compact, open frame gaming PC powered by AMD

MINISFORUM is a Chinese PC maker that tends to specialize in compact computers with small form-factor bodies, and sometimes it seems like the company has a new model to announce every week. But the new MINISFORUM Game Mini is something a little differ…

MINISFORUM is a Chinese PC maker that tends to specialize in compact computers with small form-factor bodies, and sometimes it seems like the company has a new model to announce every week. But the new MINISFORUM Game Mini is something a little different. It’s a gaming PC that’s still pretty small compared with most gaming […]

The post MINISFORUM’s Game Mini will be a compact, open frame gaming PC powered by AMD appeared first on Liliputing.

Watch Tower Copyright Lawsuit Targets Creator of “DubTown” Lego Animations

An individual who created a series of stop-motion Lego animations is being sued by Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, the supervising body and publisher for the Jehovah’s Witness religious group. ‘Kevin McFree’ was first targeted in 2018 via a DMCA subpoena but with that legal process stalled, Watch Tower has now filed a full-blown copyright infringement lawsuit.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

Dubtown LegoThe Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, the supervising body and publisher for the Jehovah’s Witness religious group, is known to go to extreme lengths to clamp down on those believed to be undermining the faith.

While much of this takes place in the background, Watch Tower’s practices can become public when the group takes legal action against people alleged to have breached its intellectual property rights.

Watch Tower holds registered copyrights for many works so when these are republished, oftentimes by detractors, critics and/or former members, the group is happy to take matters to court.

Stop-Motion Lego Animator ‘Kevin McFree’ First Targeted in 2018

In the summer of 2018, Watch Tower filed an application for a DMCA subpoena at a New York court, as it has done many times before. The aim was to have YouTube/Google hand over the personal details of a user known online as Kevin McFree who operates a YouTube channel of the same name.

“This channel is not intended for children, but rather seeks to provide some light hearted humor for adults who finally see the high control group known as Jehovah’s Witnesses for what they are!” the channel’s description reads. “Content on this channel is primarily EX-JW Stop motion animation stories set in a fictional Jehovah’s Witness town known as DubTown.”

According to Watch Tower, one of McFree’s videos (DUBTOWN – Family Worship July Broadcast) contained around seven and a half minutes of footage leaked from Jehovah’s Witness videos. The video was removed by YouTube but McFree also mounted a defense, challenging the subpoena. Arguments centered around the fair use provisions of the DMCA but after almost three years, the matter is still not settled.

Seemingly in response, Watch Tower has now filed a full-blown lawsuit against McFree.

Defendant Allegedly Used Unpublished Works in Breach of Copyright

Filed this week in the same New York court as the DMCA subpoena, Watch Tower’s complaint alleges that John Doe (aka Kevin McFree) obtained “purloined copies” of four then-unpublished copyrighted audiovisual works and used significant portions in his ‘DUBTOWN – Family Worship July Broadcast video’ published to YouTube.

According to Watch Tower, these four videos were created between August 2017 and January 2018 and were registered with the Copyright Office in August 2018. Precautions were reportedly taken to prevent “premature disclosure to the public”, including requiring production team members to sign legal agreements. However, it’s claimed that Kevin McFree managed to obtain leaked copies of the video from inside the religious group.

WT: Defendant Cannot Rely On Fair Use Defense

Watch Tower says that McFree cannot rely on a fair use defense in this matter. He allegedly “reproduced significant portions” of the original videos including 90% of the visual aspects and more than 50% of the audio aspects of one particular video (‘Never Alone’) and the “heart” and “creative aspects” of the others. All in, Watch Tower claims that its videos made up over half of the DubTown video.

The religious group also claims that the use of the videos was “generally” unaccompanied by criticism or comment, barring the ridiculing of the Watch Tower’s production techniques, which the group suggests was a result of the videos being unfinished.

On another aspect of fair use – whether the DubTown video was produced for profit – Watch Tower claims McFree had a commercial motive. According to the complaint, McFree solicited donations on his YouTube page while promoting a for-profit t-shirt business.

“Upon information and belief, by virtue of his unlawful conduct described above, Defendant has made or will make substantial profits and gains to which he is not in law or equity entitled, including without limitation in the form of Google ad revenue, as well as ‘donations’ and revenue streams from advertised merchandise,” the complaint adds.

References to Earlier DMCA Subpoena

Watch Tower says that when it initially learned of the video’s existence on YouTube, it sent a DMCA takedown notice demanding its removal. YouTube removed the video and Watch Tower filed for a DMCA subpoena to have Google/YouTube hand over McFree’s personal details. McFree filed a motion to quash and as mentioned earlier, the matter is still outstanding.

Watch Tower makes further references to that case, noting that McFree claimed he had obtained the portions of the copyrighted videos from another video (the ‘Cedars Video’) which was posted to YouTube in April 2018. However, Watch Tower says this is demonstrably false as “certain portions” of their videos that were present in the ‘DubTown’ video were not present in the ‘Cedars’ video.

According to the group, McFree later clarified his position by stating that he had obtained copies of the videos before they were completed.

Claim For Relief – Copyright Infringement and Injunctions

Watch Tower says that since it is the author and sole owner of all rights to the four videos, Kevin McFree has committed copyright infringement under Section 501 of the Copyright Act. Watch Tower doesn’t mention any specific monetary value in respect of its claim but if the infringement is deemed to be willful, damages can reach $150,000 per violation.

In addition, the religious group demands preliminary and permanent injunctions enjoining McFree from any further reproduction, copying, performance or exploitation of the copyright works, including via the DubTown video.

Watch Tower’s copyright complaint can be found here (pdf)

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

Despite big Marvel and Star Wars shows, Disney+ falls short of targets

The limits to recent explosive streaming platform growth might be in sight.

Meta-sitcom/adventure series <em>WandaVision</em> was one of Disney+'s most successful recent shows.

Enlarge / Meta-sitcom/adventure series WandaVision was one of Disney+'s most successful recent shows. (credit: YouTube/Disney+)

Analysts expected Disney+ to reach 109 million subscribers in Disney's most recent financial quarter, but the streaming service fell short, landing at 103.6 million. The shortfall resulted in lower revenues than expected for the company and a small stock price stumble.

Alongside word that Netflix also saw fairly slow growth in its quarter, the news suggests that there is, in fact, a limit to the explosive growth that streaming platforms have experienced amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Still, Disney is staying the course with its current strategy of pumping out TV series in established Disney brands like Marvel and Star Wars, as well as releasing new motion pictures on the platform at the same time they premiere in theaters.

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ISPs claim broadband prices aren’t too high—Biden admin isn’t buying it

Biden still plans “bold action” to lower Internet prices despite heavy lobbying.

Illustration of Internet data and dollar signs

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Guirong Hao)

Biden administration officials are not convinced by the broadband industry's claims that Internet prices aren't too high, according to a report today by Axios.

The White House announced on March 31 that President Biden "is committed to working with Congress to find a solution to reduce Internet prices for all Americans." Though Biden hasn't revealed exactly how he intends to reduce prices, the announcement set off a flurry of lobbying by trade groups representing ISPs to convince Biden and the public that Americans are not paying too much for Internet access. ISPs even claim that prices have dropped, despite government data showing that the price Americans pay has risen four times faster than inflation.

A Biden official told Axios that the ISPs have not made a convincing case. "A senior administration official told Axios the bulk of the evidence shows prices have gone up recently and prices are higher than they are for comparable plans in Europe," Axios wrote. "Biden noted the high cost of Internet service in March, and the official told Axios, 'I don't think we've seen anything since he made those comments to make us feel like we were wrong about that. We're still committed to taking some bold action to make sure that we bring those prices down for folks.'"

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Cases of mysterious health “attacks” rise to 130, US officials confirm

The cases, linked to brain injuries, are still piling up, with one in the last few weeks.

1950s cars driving past a Brutalist, multistory concrete building is peak Cuba.

Enlarge / Picture of the US embassy in Havana, taken on September 29, 2017, after the United States announced it was withdrawing more than half its personnel in response to mysterious "health attacks" targeting its diplomatic staff. (credit: Getty | AFP)

Reports of mysterious health incidents that have led to brain injuries and caused a range of symptoms among government personnel continue to stream in. One of the latest cases occurred just within the last few weeks, and the total number of US personnel affected is now over 130, according to reports.

The New York Times reported earlier this week that at least three CIA officers have suffered serious health effects from enigmatic episodes that occurred overseas since last December, one of them within the last few weeks. All three of the CIA officers required outpatient treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center or other medical facilities, the Times noted.

Officials told the Times that the number of cases is now topping 130, up from the previously reported 60 cases, which were mainly among diplomats and their families stationed in Cuba and Guangzhou, China.

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TSMC is considering a 3 nm foundry in Arizona

The already planned 5 nm Arizona plant may be joined by a second, 3 nm plant.

In a few years, Phoenix residents will be seeing a lot more of this logo.

Enlarge / In a few years, Phoenix residents will be seeing a lot more of this logo. (credit: SOPA Images)

Reuters reports that TSMC—Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the chip foundry making advanced processors for Apple, AMD, and Qualcomm—is beefing up its plans to build factories in Arizona while turning away from an advanced plant in Europe.

Last year, TSMC announced that it would invest $10-$12 billion to build a new 5 nm capable foundry near Phoenix, Arizona. According to Reuters' sources, TSMC officials are considering trebling the company's investment by building a $25 billion second factory capable of building 3 nm chips. More tentative plans are in the works for 2 nm foundries as the Phoenix campus grows over the next 10-15 years as well.

US President Joe Biden called for $50 billion to subsidize US chip manufacturing facilities, and the US Senate may take action on the item this week. Strong domestic manufacturing capacity is seen as critical, since US chip firms such as Nvidia and Qualcomm rely on Asian manufacturing facilities. TSMC would be competing with Samsung and Intel to secure these Biden administration subsidies.

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Mount Vesuvius victims died just moments away from rescue

A skeleton unearthed at the site may belong to a high-ranking naval officer.

armi del soldato

armi del soldato

When Mount Vesuvius destroyed the Roman city of Pompeii in 79 CE, the eruption also killed hundreds of people huddled on the shores of nearby Herculaneum. A recent study of the remains of one victim, who died on the beach not far from a small naval vessel, suggests that he might have been a senior naval officer. If so, archaeological director Francesco Sirano and his colleagues suggest, the man may have been a rescue mission leader who arrived just in time to die with the people he was trying to save.

An untimely rescue

Pliny the Elder was a Roman naturalist and author who also found time to command the imperial fleet in the port city of Misenum, across the Bay of Naples from Pompeii and Herculaneum. During the height of Mount Vesuvius' eruption, Pliny the Elder sent boats to rescue survivors from the beach at Herculaneum, which lies northwest of Pompeii and almost due west of the volcano. At least 300 people had fled for the shore, only to find themselves trapped between the volcano’s wrath and the sea. Some sought shelter in nearby boat sheds while others gathered on the beach to wait for help.

They never made it off the beach. A towering plume of material that had blasted skyward from the volcano finally collapsed under its own weight and sent a deadly wave of hot gas and debris, called a pyroclastic flow, flooding down the mountain’s slopes at nearly 100 kilometers per hour (62 miles per hour). Like the pyroclastic flows that struck Pompeii, this one brought instant, searing death.

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