Wednesday, February 21News That Matters

Technology

Twitter suspends thousands of accounts for bot behavior; some cry censorship

Twitter suspends thousands of accounts for bot behavior; some cry censorship

Technology
A number of "alt-right," pro-Trump, and self-described conservative social media personalities awoke this morning to find that they had a lot fewer followers on Twitter than they had the night before. The apparent cause was the latest culling by Twitter of accounts that in some way violated the company's terms of service, a Twitter spokesperson told Ars, including "behaviors that indicate automated activity or violations of our policies around having multiple accounts, or abuse." The sweep has some on the right accusing Twitter of politically motivated censorship. "Twitter's tools are apolitical, and we enforce our rules without political bias," a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement emailed to Ars. The accounts were targeted as part of "our ongoing work in safety," the spokesperson...
Electric car boom prompts Apple to get serious about securing cobalt

Electric car boom prompts Apple to get serious about securing cobalt

Technology
Enlarge / Cobalt chips (credit: Alchemist-hp) Apple may cut out the cobalt middlemen by obtaining supplies for its batteries on its own. According to a Bloomberg report, Apple is in talks with miners to buy long-term supplies of cobalt, a key ingredient in the lithium-ion batteries used in Apple's iPhones and iPads. Apple has reportedly been in discussions to secure contracts for "several thousand metric tons" of cobalt each year for at least five years. If a deal comes to fruition, it would be the first time Apple has secured its own supplies of cobalt for batteries. The tech giant currently leaves cobalt buying to battery manufacturers, but now the company wants to ensure it can lock down enough of the metal to maintain a sufficient supply. The growth of the electric car industry has...
uTorrent bugs let websites control your computer and steal your downloads

uTorrent bugs let websites control your computer and steal your downloads

Technology
Enlarge / A screenshot of one of the uTorrent PoC exploits in action. (credit: Google Project Zero) Two versions of uTorrent, one of the Internet's most widely used BitTorrent apps, are vulnerable to a host of easy-to-exploit vulnerabilities that allow attackers to execute code, access downloaded files, and snoop on download histories, a Google Project Zero researcher said. uTorrent developers are in the process of rolling out fixes for both the uTorrent desktop app for Windows and the newer uTorrent Web product. The vulnerabilities, according to Project Zero, make it possible for any website a user visits to control key functions in both the uTorrent desktop app for Windows and in uTorrent Web, an alternative to desktop BitTorrent apps that uses a web interface and is controlled by a b...
Navy selects five contenders for LCS follow-on frigate fight

Navy selects five contenders for LCS follow-on frigate fight

Technology
Lockheed Martin The US Navy's Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) has announced the award of development contracts to five contenders for the FFG(X) program—a 20-ship class of "next-generation" guided-missile frigates intended to fill the gap in capabilities left by the retirement of the 1980s-era FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry class and not quite filled by the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program. Two of the contenders are modified, more heavily armed versions of the LCS designs, while the other three are based on ship designs being produced for other navies—or in one case, for the US Coast Guard. Since each of the designs is based on an existing "parent" ship design and should use existing technologi
Tesla cloud resources are hacked to run cryptocurrency-mining malware

Tesla cloud resources are hacked to run cryptocurrency-mining malware

Technology
Enlarge (credit: Scott Olson | Getty Images) Add Tesla to the legion of organizations who have been infected by cryptocurrency-mining malware. In a report published Tuesday, researchers at security firm RedLock said hackers accessed one of Tesla's Amazon cloud accounts and used it to run currency-mining software. The researchers said the breach in many ways resembled compromises suffered by Gemalto, the world's biggest SIM card maker, and multinational insurance company Aviva. In October, RedLock said Amazon and Microsoft cloud accounts for both companies were breached to run currency-mining malware after hackers found access credentials that weren't properly secured. The initial point of entry for the Tesla cloud breach, Tuesday's report said, was an unsecured administrative console fo...
Latest Prime perk: 5 percent back at Whole Foods with Amazon Visa

Latest Prime perk: 5 percent back at Whole Foods with Amazon Visa

Technology
(credit: Rachel Murray / Getty Images) Amazon's latest grocery push focuses on enticing Prime members to shop at Whole Foods with cash back. Amazon announced that Prime members using the company's Rewards Visa card will now get 5 percent back on Whole Foods purchases. The new rewards are in addition to the card's existing rewards for eligible Prime members, which include 5 percent back on Amazon.com purchases; 2 percent back on restaurant, gas station, and drugstore purchases; and 1 percent back on everything else. You don't have to be a Prime member to be approved for Amazon's Rewards Visa, but it pays if you are. Non-Prime members will get only 3 percent back on Whole Foods purchases under the new plan, which is the same as the 3 percent back those cardmembers get on Amazon.com purch...
Cryptocurrency-mining criminals that netted $3 million gear up for more

Cryptocurrency-mining criminals that netted $3 million gear up for more

Technology
Enlarge / Money. (credit: AMC) Researchers have uncovered what they said is one of the biggest malicious currency mining operations ever, with more than $3 million worth of digital coin. Now, the operators are gearing up to make more. The unknown criminals generated the windfall over the past 18 months. The campaign has mainly exploited critical vulnerabilities on Windows computers and then, once gaining control over them, installing a modified version of XMRig, an open-source application that mines the digital coin known as Monero. While the group has used a variety of mining services, it has continued to dump the proceeds into a single wallet. As of last week, the wallet had received payouts of almost 10,829 Monero, which, at current valuations, are worth more than $3.4 million. "The ...