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ASEAN bloc agrees to work on digital trade pact that might get real by 2025 • The Register

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The ASEAN economic and free trade bloc has agreed to develop a digital trade pact, and South Korea wants to play.

ASEAN has ten members that collectively have about the same economic heft as the UK or France, and negotiate as one on trade matters with other blocs like the European Union. Bloc members Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines are seen as likely to grow very quickly in coming years, making ASEAN of considerable importance to global trade and diplomacy.

The bloc’s ministers with economic responsibilities have met over the last week, and one item they’ve agreed on is the “ASEAN Digital Transformation Agenda to Accelerate ASEAN’s Economic Recovery and Digital Economy Integration” – a document that describes a plan “to deepen ASEAN’s digital integration and connectivity from 2021 to 2025 against the backdrop of COVID-19”.

The Transformation Agenda describes a wider agreement called the ASEAN Digital Economy Framework Agreement (DEFA) that the ministers have agreed to define by 2023 and start negotiating by 2025.

The aim of the agreement is seamless and secure flows of data among members, in the service of faster flows of physical goods. Harmonisation of rules is required to make that all work, hence the rather long horizons on getting the Framework Agreement written.

South Korea is not an ASEAN member, but fresh from its Monday decision to sign up to the Digital Economic Partnership Agreement (DEPA) – a trade pact that has very similar aims to ASEAN’s DEFA – suggested DEPA might be a very fine model for a pact between South Korea and ASEAN, or perhaps for ASEAN itself.

Again, smoother trade is the aim. So is providing a counterweight to China’s ambitions, as the Middle Kingdom’s Belt and Road initiative includes both physical infrastructure to move goods and digital initiatives to ease the unavoidable administrivia that accompanies cross-border trade. ®

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Older people using TikTok to defy ageist stereotypes, research finds | TikTok

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Older TikTok users are using the online platform, regarded as the virtual playground of teenagers, to defy ageist stereotypes of elderly people as technophobic and frail.

Research has found increasing numbers of accounts belonging to users aged 60 and older with millions of followers. Using the platform to showcase their energy and vibrancy, these TikTok elders are rewriting expectations around how older people should behave both on and off social media.

“These TikTok elders have become successful content creators in a powerful counter-cultural phenomenon in which older persons actually contest the stereotypes of old age by embracing or even celebrating their aged status,” said Dr Reuben Ng, the author of the paper Not Too Old for TikTok: How Older Adults are Reframing Ageing, and an assistant professor at Yale University.

Interestingly, said Ng, most TikTok elders are women who “fiercely resist common stereotypes of older women as passive, mild-mannered and weak, instead opting to present themselves as fierce or even foul-mouthed,” he said.

The immense reach that these older TikTok users have means they have the potential to transform negative age stereotypes that proliferate on social media.

“There is considerable evidence that ageist stereotypes preponderate among the young on social media,” said Ng. These prejudices reached an all-time high during the Covid pandemic, during which the deadly virus was labelled a “Boomer remover”.

“The strength of anti-age prejudices means the participation of older adults in social media is vital in ensuring that such ageist ideas are not left unchallenged,” said Ng, whose paper is to be published in the Gerontologist journal.

The paper looked at 1,382 videos posted by TikTok users who were aged 60 or older and had between 100,000 and 5.3 million followers. In total, their videos, all of which explicitly discussed their age, had been viewed more than 3.5bn times.

Ng found that 71% of these videos – including those from accounts such as grandadjoe1933, who has 5.3 million followers, and dolly_broadway, who has 2.4 million followers – were used to defy age stereotypes. A recurring motif was the “glamma”, a portmanteau combining “glamorous” and “grandma”, with videos including those of a 70-year-old woman joyfully parading around the streets in a midriff-bearing top.

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Almost one in five of the videos analysed made light of age-related vulnerabilities, and one in 10 called out ageism among both younger people and their own contemporaries. Other videos positioned older users as superior to younger people. “I may be 86 but I can still drink more than you lightweights” says one clip. “I may be 86 but I can still twerk better than you,” says another, showing an octogenarian leaping up from a fall down the stairs with a twerk.

Analysis by the Pew Research Centre has found a remarkable uptake of technology by older Americans during recent years: in 2000, 14% of people aged 65-plus were internet users; in 2019, it was 73%. Only half of adults owned smartphones in 2014, 81% of those aged 60 to 69 have them today.

Emma Twyning, the director of communications at the Centre for Ageing Better said: “We need to see much more diverse portrayals if we are to truly shift attitudes and cast off negative perceptions of growing older. Social media is the perfect platform to do this and to call out ageism more generally.”

Stuart Lewis, the chief executive of Rest Less, said TikTok was the ideal platform for midlife influencers to take to the stage and defy ageist stereotypes. “Creators are encouraged to be original, raw and unedited – making it the ideal soapbox on which to stand if you want a space to debunk stereotypes and be your uncensored self,” he said.

Prof Fiona Gillison, from the Healthy Later Living Network at the University of Bath, who is leading work on challenging stereotypes about ageing, said the study was important. But she added: “There is a balance to be struck in challenging stereotypes about ageing while also accepting that it is OK to want different things from younger people as we grow older, and accepting that our interests and abilities may change.”

Ultimately, she said, people need to “take the stigma out of needing adjustments as we age while also challenging assumptions that can accompany these. For example that having a hearing aid somehow implies that we are ‘fragile’ or ‘infirm’ in other ways.”

The older users showcasing their energy and vibrancy

@grandadjoe1933

The 88-year-old Staffordshire man is TikTok’s wealthiest “granfluencer”, his videos apparently earning him about £134,000 a year. Grandad Joe has won 5.4 million followers and 156.7 million likes for videos including one of him giggling after his youngest granddaughter gives his grown-up daughter “attitude just like she gave me [when she was younger]”.

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@grandma_droniak

92-year-old Grandmother Droniak went viral, reaching 4.2 million followers, after laying down rules for her funeral including “Cry, but not too much,” “Bertha isn’t invited” and “Get drunk afterwards”.

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@grandmaann2

Grandmaann2 lures viewers to her account with the strapline “I’m old so follow before I die”. Two million people couldn’t resist, and to date they have given her lip-syncs and comedy skits 63.5m likes.

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@its_j_dog

Jenny Krupa, 87, has won 2 million followers and 93m likes since a 2019 video accidentally posted by her grandson, Skylar Krupa, titled “Perks of being old” reached 1,000 views in about 15 minutes.

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@dolly_broadway

The latest video for her 1 million followers shows 89-year-old Dolores Paolino dressing up in a Marilyn Monroe-type dress and telling Kim Kardashian she looks better in it than her.

Other videos show the grandmother from south Philadelphia wearing sequined jumpsuits and swigging from a bottle on her birthday, and pushing ice-cream cones into her grandchildren’s face.

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Monero-mining botnet targets Windows, Linux web servers • The Register

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The latest variant of the Sysrv botnet malware is menacing Windows and Linux systems with an expanded list of vulnerabilities to exploit, according to Microsoft.

The strain, which Microsoft’s Security Intelligence team calls Sysrv-K, scans the internet for web servers that have security holes, such as path traversal, remote file disclosure, and arbitrary file download bugs, that can be exploited to infect the machines.

The vulnerabilities, all of which have patches available, include flaws in WordPress plugins such as the recently uncovered remote code execution hole in the Spring Cloud Gateway software tracked as CVE-2022-22947 that Uncle Sam’s CISA warned of this week.

Once running on a compromised system, Sysrv-K deploys a Monero cryptocurrency miner, which will siphon compute resources from the system to generate digicash. It can also rifle through WordPress files on compromised machines to take control of web server software, and use Telegram as a communications channel, Microsoft warned.

“A new behavior observed in Sysrv-K is that it scans for WordPress configuration files and their backups to retrieve database credentials, which it uses to gain control of the web server,” the Microsofties wrote in a series of tweets. “Sysvr-K has updated communication capabilities, including the ability to use a Telegram bot.”

Sysrv-K, like previous variants, also scans for SSH keys, IP addresses, and host names on infected machines so that it can use this information to spread via SSH connections. The researchers warned that these invaded systems can be rolled into a remote-controlled botnet relatively easily.

“We highly recommend organizations to secure internet-facing systems, including timely application of security updates and building credential hygiene,” they wrote, adding that their Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, natch, detects both Sysrv-K and older variants as well as related behavior and payloads.

A quick study

Sysrv was spotted in December 2020, and has evolved rapidly since. In a blog post in the fall, Dorka Palotay, senior threat researcher with cybersecurity vendor Cujo AI, noted that the worm and cryptominer malware has undergone several iterations.

One way that it stood out was the use of the Go programming language, which brings with it easy cross-compilation capabilities – it has a single code base that can output executables for disparate architectures – and its large file size makes the binaries a pain to reverse engineer, Palotay wrote.

“At its core, Sysrv is a worm and a cryptocurrency miner,” she wrote. “The two modules were in separate files in its early versions, but its developers have since combined the two. The worm module simply initiates port scans against random IPs to find vulnerable Tomcat, WebLogic, and MySQL services and tries to infiltrate the servers with a hard-coded password dictionary attack.”

As the botnet evolved, more exploit code was added to enhance its worm capabilities. The malware starts with a simple script file that deploys modules of exploits against potentially vulnerable targets.

“People used to say that Linux was free from malware,” Palotay wrote. “Well, not only was it not true for the past 25 years, but we now live in an age where Linux is as promising a target for threat actors as some Windows endpoints due to its widespread usage as an operating system across many organizations. And, even more importantly, it serves as the OS for popular Internet-of-Things devices.”

She listed more than two dozen Sysrv exploits that are useful against a range of software suites, including Jboss, Adobe ColdFusion, Atlassian Confluence and Jira, various Apache tools, and Oracle WebLogic.

“Sysrv included a small set of exploits in its initial campaigns. Over time, as it was developed and transformed, Sysrv continually incorporated new exploits to spread more effectively,” Palotay wrote.

“Interestingly, we not only saw exploits being added to the code, but also some specific exploits undergoing several development stages. Sysrv’s developers updated some functions in multiple samples until they either reached a satisfying result or simply got rid of them. Some exploits were used only in one or two samples, while others proved useful and stuck around.” ®



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Galway’s Vivasure Medical raises €22m for its intravascular patch tech

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The funding round was led by an unnamed multinational, which has the option to buy Vivasure upon reaching ‘certain milestones’.

Vivasure Medical, a medtech company based in Galway, has raised €22m to help fund the clinical development and regulatory approval of its percutaneous vessel closure technology.

The company has built a device called PerQseal, which it pitches as the first sutureless and fully absorbable synthetic implant for large-bore arterial vessel punctures, available to physicians across Europe for use in endovascular procedures.

Future Human

Its proprietary bioabsorbable intravascular patch seals blood vessels from the inside, returning the artery or vein to its natural state without leaving behind the remains of any materials such as collagen, metal implants or sutures commonly used in other closure methods.

The fresh investment was led by an unnamed multinational strategic corporation. The financing includes the option to buy Vivasure Medical when it reaches “certain milestones”.

Existing investors Fountain Healthcare Partners, Orchestra BioMed, LSP Health Economics Fund, Panakès Partners and Evonik Venture Capital also participated in this round.

Vivasure, which has been previously backed by the European Innovation Council, said this is just the first part of a Series D round that could to raise up to €52m in total.

“As minimally invasive approaches have become the standard of care for cardiovascular procedures, conventional vessel closure techniques have proven to prolong recovery and lead to bleeding complications for patients,” said Vivasure CEO Andrew Glass.

“We are encouraged by early clinical progress from leading heart centres participating in studies currently underway for PerQseal+ and PerQseal Blue, and we look forward to initiating a US pivotal study for PerQseal+ later this year that will support our submission to the FDA.”

While PerQseal and PerQseal+ are medical devices for arterial closure, PerQseal Blue is for venous closure. The financing will help fund the clinical development and regulatory approval of all three devices in the US and Europe.

“While tremendous progress has been made for minimally invasive structural heart procedures, vascular issues related to the closure of the procedure remain the most common complication of these interventions,” said Azeem Latib, MD and director of interventional cardiology at Montefiore Health System.

“The novel PerQseal technology is designed to address these shortcomings and has tremendous potential to improve patient outcomes and enhance procedure efficiency.”

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