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Maker of ATM bombing tutorials blew himself up, says Europol • The Register

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A 29-year-old man alleged to have been part of a group that blew up at least 15 cash machines in Germany managed to kill himself and injure an associate last year while filming a video tutorial on how to blow up ATMs, according to European authorities.

Europol in a statement this week said the Dutch and German police had arrested a total of nine suspects over the course of an 18-month investigation that concluded earlier this week.

The inquiry began in February 2020, according to Europol, after authorities in Osnabrück, Germany, took note of unusual orders of ATM machines from a German ATM vendor.

“Special surveillance measures were put in place, which led the investigators to Utrecht, the Netherlands, where a 29-year-old individual and his 24 year-old accomplice were running an illegal training center for ATM attacks,” Europol said. “There, the pair was ordering different models of ATMs and recording tutorials on how to most effectively blow them up.”

These tutorials were reportedly intended to be presented in-person to like-minded individuals, presumably out of concern that posting the videos to the internet would attract the wrong kind of attention.

In September 2020, the pair were filming one of these tutorials when things didn’t go as planned. The 29-year-old died and the 24-year-old was injured and taken into custody, according to Agence France Presse.

A report in the NLTimes last year says that a 29-year-old was killed in an explosion in Utrecht on September 5, 2020. It does not explain the source of the blast and does not mention any other survivors.

The investigation found ties between the bomb video makers and more than 15 attacks on ATMs in Germany estimated to have cost €2.15m (~$2.5m) in lost funds and property damage.

By April 2021, Dutch and German authorities had set up a Joint Investigation Team, with funding from Eurojust, and Europol took part in a separate Operational Taskforce to coordinate the sharing of resources between the two countries.

The investigation wrapped up on September 28, 2021, when a search of seven houses in Utrecht, Amsterdam and the Hague in the Netherlands led to the arrest of three suspects. These three now await extradition to Germany. The six others in custody were arrested during the past year.

In April, the European Association for Secure Transactions (EAST) published a report on ATM crime in 2020. Overall, ATM crime in the EU was down as a result of the social consequences of COVID-19.

“While it is good news to see such a significant fall in terminal fraud attacks, there is concern that explosive attacks at ATMs have only fallen by 6 per cent, and that related losses are up by 39 per cent,” said EAST Executive Director Lachlan Gunn in a statement. “The average cash loss for a solid explosive attack is estimated at €28,218, and collateral damage to equipment and buildings can be significant.”

There were 923 explosive attacks on ATMs in the EU last year, down from 977 in 2019.

However, malware and logical attacks against ATMs increased 44 per cent during the same period (from 35 to 129). All of these were “Black Box attacks” in which unauthorized hardware sends commands to empty or “jackpot” cash dispensers. ®

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Chinese could hack data for future quantum decryption, report warns | Hacking

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Chinese hackers could target heavily encrypted datasets such as weapon designs or details of undercover intelligence officers with a view to unlocking them at a later date when quantum computing makes decryption possible, a report warns.

Analysts at Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting firm, say Chinese hackers could also steal pharmaceutical, chemical and material science research that can be processed by quantum computers – machines capable of crunching through numbers at unprecedented speed.

In a report titled “Chinese threats in the quantum era”, the consultancy says encrypted data could be stolen by “Chinese threat groups”. It says quantum-assisted decryption will arrive faster than quantum-assisted encryption, giving hackers an edge.

“Encrypted data with intelligence longevity, like biometric markers, covert intelligence officer and source identities, social security numbers, and weapons’ designs, may be increasingly stolen under the expectation that they can eventually be decrypted,” the report says. It says “state-aligned cyber threat actors” will start to steal or intercept previously unusable encrypted data.

However, it adds there is a “very small” likelihood that quantum computing could break the latest encryption methods before 2030. The analysts say quantum computing’s advantages over classical computing – the computing used in everything from laptops to mobile phones – are at least a decade away.

“Although quantum computers’ current abilities are more demonstrative than immediately useful, their trajectory suggests that in the coming decades quantum computers will likely revolutionize numerous industries – from pharmaceuticals to materials science – and eventually undermine all popular current public-key encryption methods,” the report says.

Quantum computing is viewed as an exciting development. For example, experts say it could predict accurately what a complex molecule might do and thus pave the way for new drugs and materials.

China is already a strong player in the field, and Booz Allen Hamilton says it expected the country to surpass Europe and the US – where IBM recently made the most powerful quantum processor – in quantum-related research and development.

“Chinese threat groups will likely soon collect encrypted data with long-term utility, expecting to eventually decrypt it with quantum computers,” the report says. “By the end of the 2020s, Chinese threat groups will likely collect data that enables quantum simulators to discover new economically valuable materials, pharmaceuticals and chemicals.”

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UK Space Agency asks kids to make a logo for first launches • The Register

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Good news for those in the UK with primary school-aged kids and wondering what to do when the next bout of home-schooling hits: design a logo for the first UK satellite launches.

2022 could be a big year for launching satellites from Blighty’s shores as the first launchers gear up for a historic blast-off. Assuming the facilities have been built and all the necessary consents given and boxes ticked.

There are currently seven possible spaceport sites across the UK, from Cornwall in England through Llanbedr in Wales and up to the Western Isles in Scotland. Cash has been lobbed Cornwall’s way to support a horizontal launch by Virgin Orbit from Spaceport Cornwall and more toward Scotland for Orbex’s ambitions to launch vertically from Sutherland.

Should all the approvals happen and construction be completed, there is every chance the UK might host its first launch at some point in 2022.

Hence the need for a logo and thus a competition aimed at inspiring kids to consider a career in the space industry. And, of course, it is all worthy stuff: “Logo designs,” intoned the UK Space Agency, “should reflect how data from small satellites can help inform solutions to climate change as well as generate a source of pride in the UK’s space ambitions.”

What, we wondered, could possibly go wrong?

We put this question to Rob Manuel, one of those behind web stalwart b3ta.com. B3ta has a long history of (among other things) image challenges, the results of which tend to pop up, often unattributed, in timelines around the world. Now heading into its third decade, the site continues to push out a weekly Friday newsletter to email subscribers.

In terms of how to engage participants, Manuel said: “If anyone asks me, and they rarely do, I encourage competitions to be as open as possible – publish the results as they’re coming in. Try and create a buzz that something is happening rather than everything going in the bin.”

“As for things going wrong,” he went on, “well, there’s always an element who’ll want to subvert it.”

The competition is open to children aged 4-11 and will run until 11 March 2022. There are two age categories (4-7 and 7-11) over 12 regions in the UK. Designs can be drawn, painted, or created on a computer and either submitted on the logoliftoff.org.uk site or via post. Some basic questions also need to be answered, and children can work on their own or in a team of up to four.

We asked the UK Space Agency if it would take Manuel’s advice and post entries ahead of the competition close. We will update should it respond. ®

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Video analytics platform RugbySmarts named ‘most investable’ at SportX

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The Galway tech start-up was one of two winners at the sport-focused pre-accelerator programme.

A start-up developing real-time video analytics for sports has been named ‘most investable’ at SportX, a new pre-accelerator in Ireland for founders with sports and wellness business ideas.

RugbySmarts took the title at the inaugural SportX showcase last week, securing a cash prize.

The Galway-based start-up aims to automate and simplify sports analytics using AI,  machine learning and computer vision, helping coaches to improve player and team performance with a platform that could also be transferred to other sports.

RugbySmarts was founded last year by CTO William Johnstone, who has previously worked with Connacht Rugby, and CEO Yvonne Comer, who is a former Ireland international rugby player.

Meanwhile, the award of ‘best impact on sport’ was given to TrojanTrack. This start-up, founded in 2021 by Dublin-based Stephen O’Dwyer, is looking to combine quantitative biomechanical analysis with deep neural network tech in the equine industry.

The aim is to gain feedback on a horse’s injury or gait imbalance without using invasive technology, such as motion-tracking software that requires markers to be attached to the animal’s skin.

‘Next-gen sports-tech entrepreneurs’

SportX was launched earlier this year by advisory firm Resolve Partners, Sport Ireland and ArcLabs – the research and innovation centre at Waterford Institute of Technology.

The aim of the pre-accelerator programme was to build on tech and business ideas for the sport and wellness industries, giving founders access to academic, clinical and commercial resources.

The six-week programme involved workshops and engagement with advisers, entrepreneurs, subject experts and investors. Participants also had the opportunity to pitch to the US-based Techstars Sports Accelerator.

At the SportX showcase last week, nine teams had five minutes each to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges.

The two winners were selected by the panel, which featured Gary Leyden of the ArcLabs Fund 1 GP, Sport Ireland’s Benny Cullen and Niall McEvoy of Enterprise Ireland.

At the launch of SportX earlier this year, Leyden said the goal of the programme was to find “the next generation of sports-tech entrepreneurs who can leverage the amazing enterprise and sports-related supports within the south-east of Ireland”.

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