Connect with us


I don’t think it’s a crime to dump 111k people’s details online in Google Earth format • The Register

Voice Of EU



The person who reformatted the Guntrader hack data as a Google Earth-compatible CSV has said they are prepared to go to prison – while denying their actions amounted to a criminal offence.

The pseudonymous person spoke to The Register by email late last week after dumping the personal data of 111,000 UK firearm and shotgun certificate owners online in a CSV formatted for ease of importing into Google Earth, pinpointing gun owners’ homes.

They told us: “If a judge and jury of our peers finds us guilty of any offense, we will of course accept the punishment with good grace and apologise to anyone who can be defined as a victim. However we don’t see what we have done is criminal.”

Although the person used the pseudonym Ernie Goldman, their responses used the royal “we”. Their blog is called Hunting Leaks and was featured in news reports earlier this year when it first emerged as a platform for doxxing fox-hunting supporters.

When asked who they were, “Ernie” told The Reg: “We are people who are angry with the Countryside Alliance, for spying and building up illegal databases on hunt saboteurs, we remain anonymous to protect ourselves from the people we are up against, namely those involved in fox hunting and the wider hunting community.”

The Countryside Alliance allegedly maintains a database of people who turn up to countryside fox hunts (in the traditional English sense involving hunters on horseback and packs of hounds) and attempt to disrupt them.

“Ernie” claimed to have been alerted to the leak by press coverage. The original file, as we reported first, appeared to be a dump of a SQL database saved as a CSV file. The latest leak saw columns in that file re-ordered to make it easier for Google Earth to ingest, displaying location information as pinpoints on a map of Britain.

“Our desired goal was to provide a database that can be used as a reference point by people who are trying to stop wildlife from being killed. If for example you are involved in trying to stop the badger cull, spot who you thought was a shooter’s car parked up at a house you could check the database to see if they are gun owners,” wrote “Ernie”.

On their blog they had encouraged fellow travellers to contact firearm owners and demand information about their activities.

Although no agreed figures are readily available, many tens of thousands of firearm owners around the country either shoot rifle range targets or clay pigeons. Some of those don’t agree with shooting live quarry and take no part in it.

The activist added, of the inclusion of those people in his data dump: “The reverse is obviously not true, not everyone on the databse [sic] will be involved in shooting wildlife, that should be obvious by the very nature of the database and who is on it.”

It is not obvious from the database’s contents. Those are simply rows of personal information including names, phone numbers, login credentials, postal addresses, geo-location coordinates collected by Guntrader, and more.

Whatever, I’m just like the news

The activist did not express remorse over the inclusion of five-year-old data in the file, which included location and address information of Guntrader users stretching between 2016 and July this year, writing: “The date modified column would indicate to anyone looking at the database how recently the person used the guntrader site.”

Aside from the obvious potential problem of targeting people who have never shot at animals in their lives, the inclusion of five-year-old addresses puts at risk those who may have moved into a home after a gun owner moved out. It raises the spectre of robbers demanding homeowners hand over something they simply don’t have.

“Ernie” also sought to paint themselves as morally equivalent to the news media, blaming The Register for reporting the breach, which was circulating on various social media platforms after criminals first obtained the database and hosted it on the clearnet.

When asked if they had any regrets about other criminals or terrorists possibly obtaining and using the data, “Ernie” said: “Probably about the same as you, or any other journalist or blogger commenting and drawing attention to a hack that had nothing to do with us.”

Responsible journalism does not involve publishing the stolen personal data of hundreds of thousands of people in an easy-to-make-into-a-map format. Neither does it include denying responsibility for the consequences of that action; two days after “Ernie” dumped the data online, a domestic home included in the breach was targeted during a burglary where a shotgun was stolen from a locked gun cabinet during a one-hour time window.

Police: We’re on it and we’ve told licensing units

Detective Inspector Louise Boyce from the South West Regional Cyber Crime Unit (SW RCCU) told The Register last week: “Our criminal investigation into the Guntrader data breach continues and we are pursuing a number of lines of enquiry to identify those responsible for both the original offence and further publishing of the stolen data online.”

“We continue to work closely with the National Crime Agency to manage any risk associated with the incident and all local police force Firearms Licensing Units have been made aware of the breach and publication of user data,” she added.

An NCA spokesperson said: “The NCA is aware that information has been published online as a result of a recent data breach which impacted Guntrader. We are working closely with the South West Regional Cyber Crime Unit (SWRCCU), who are leading the criminal investigation, to support the organisation and manage any risk.”

Martin Parker, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation’s head of firearms, said in a statement: “We will remain in contact with the NCA and SWRCCU as the situation develops and we are pressing to ensure the agencies get to the bottom of this. It was already a significant breach of data, but this latest development is particularly concerning.”

Advice from the NCA to firearm and shotgun certificate holders includes double-checking all doors and windows are locked when you leave the home; keeping gun cabinet keys secured away from the safe itself in a discreet location; being aware of “any suspicious activity such as people watching your property, or following you back from places where the shotgun may have been used/seen”; and not leaving firearms or shotguns unattended in a vehicle.

BASC has also published detailed security advice for firearm and shotgun certificate holders.

Not a terror crime?

SWRCCU confirmed to The Register that it is not treating the latest Guntrader data dump as a terrorism offence. Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 prohibits the collecting of information likely to be useful to a terrorist, and a map of potential firearm storage locations, stolen from a firearms sales website and pinpointed on a Google Earth map seemingly would be useful to a would-be terrorist.

Some might also argue the publication by “Ernie” may be intended to intimidate the 111,000 members of the public included in it, meeting the definition of terrorism in section 1(1)(b) of the act.

The breach remains one of the worst-case data breaches in recent infosec history. While small on the grand scale of things, what makes this data leak unique is its publication in circumstances where ne’er-do-wells were urged to act on the data and use it to intimidate (or worse) members of the public doing their own thing.

The Information Commissioner’s Office is aware of the Guntrader breach. ®

Source link


Crypto is starting to lose its cool – just look at El Salvador | Rowan Moore

Voice Of EU



To its evangelists, bitcoin is a frictionless, empowering form of money that liberates citizens of the world from the shackles of banks and national governments. To sceptics, the cryptocurrency is a tool of kleptocrats and gangsters, environmentally monstrous in its consumption of energy, a digitally glamorised Ponzi scheme whose eventual crash will most hurt those least able to afford a loss.

Confidence may or may not have been enhanced by the unveiling, by President Nayib Bukele, of images of a proposed bitcoin-shaped Bitcoin City in El Salvador, funded with a bitcoin bond, the currency’s logo embedded in the central plaza, a metropolis powered with geothermal energy from a nearby volcano. Bukele, the self-styled “coolest dictator in the world”, a former publicist who wears baseball caps back to front, has already made El Salvador the first country to adopt bitcoin as the official currency. “The plan is simple,” he said. “As the world falls into tyranny, we’ll create a haven for freedom.”

Leaving aside the worrisome Pompeii vibe of the city’s location, some shine has come off the president’s vision with the news that the country’s investments in cryptocurrency have lost 45% of their value, that it scores CCC with the credit rating agency Fitch, and that the perceived risk of its bonds is up there with that of war-torn Ukraine. And Bukele’s talk of freedom doesn’t sit well with Amnesty International’s claim that his recent state of emergency has created “a perfect storm of human rights violations”.

But why worry about any of this when you have shiny computer-generated images of a fantasy city to distract you?

Unsecured credit line

Boris Johnson waves his arms behind a podium with the Elizabeth line sign.
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan looks on as Boris Johnson gives a speech at Paddington station on 17 May 2022. Photograph: Reuters

The use of constructional bluster by populist leaders – Trump’s wall, for example – is not in itself anything new. See also the island airport, garden bridge, Irish Sea bridge, 40 new hospitals and 300,000 homes a year promised but not delivered by Boris Johnson, and the nuclear power stations he has implausibly pledged to build at a rate of one a year.

Last week his fondness for Potemkin infrastructure took a new twist. Rather than over-promise illusory schemes and under-deliver them, he decided to take credit for something actually built, the £19bn Elizabeth line in London, formerly known as Crossrail, whose central section opens to the public on Tuesday. “We get the big things done,” he boasted to the House of Commons, choosing to ignore the fact that the line was initiated under a Labour prime minister and a Labour mayor of London. He almost makes Nayib Bukele look credible.

Behind the red wall

Characters from The House of Shades gather around a table on stage
Mounting misery: The House of Shades. Photograph: Helen Murray

If you want a light-hearted night out – a date, a birthday treat – then The House of Shades, a new play by Beth Steel, might not, unless you are an unusual person, be for you. It is a cross between Greek tragedy and what was once called kitchen sink drama, a story of ever-mounting misery set in a Nottinghamshire town from 1965 to 2019. It covers the collapse of manufacturing, the rise of Thatcherism, the promises of New Labour and the disillusionment that led to “red wall” seats voting Conservative in 2019.

It features illegal abortion, graphically portrayed, and the effects of inflation, both newly significant. All presented at the Almeida theatre in the famously metropolitan London borough of Islington, not far from the former restaurant where Tony Blair and Gordon Brown did the 1994 deal that shaped some of the events in the play. There’s irony here to make this audience squirm. Which, along with several other not-comfortable emotions, is probably the desired effect.

Rowan Moore is the Observer’s architecture correspondent

Source link

Continue Reading


Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon’s lava tubes • The Register

Voice Of EU



Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world’s data.

“It’s inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we’re setting off bombs and burning things,” Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. “We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe.”

Stott said Lonestar’s efforts to build a data storage facility in space are a bit like trying to preserve all of the world’s seeds in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, located on the Norwegian Arctic island ofSpitsbergen. But instead of trying to protect crop diversity, the upstart wants to safeguard human knowledge. 

“If we don’t do this, what will happen to our data on Earth?,” he asked. “The seed bank flooded due to effects of climate change. It’s also susceptible to other forms of destruction like war or cyber attacks. We need to have somewhere we can keep our data safe.” Lonestar has its sights set on the Moon.

One side of our bigger natural satellite is tidally locked and constantly faces Earth, meaning it would be possible to set up a constant, direct line-of-sight communication between devices on the Moon and our planet.

Lonestar is currently closing its $5m seed round from investors like Seldor Capital and 2 Future Holding. To raise more money, it’ll have to prove its technology is feasible and will start with small demos on commercial lunar payloads. Last month, it announced it had signed contracts to launch prototype demonstrations of its software and hardware capabilities aboard two lunar landers with NASA-funded aerospace biz Intuitive Machines.

Under the space agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, Intuitive Machines will, after some delay, send its Nova-C lander to the Moon for its first mission, dubbed IM-1, at the end of 2022. Lonestar will run a software-only test, storing a small bit of data on the lander’s hardware. IM-1 is expected to last one lunar day, an equivalent of two weeks on Earth. 

The second launch, IM-2, is more ambitious. Intuitive Machines plans to send another Nova-C lander to the Moon’s South Pole carrying various bits of equipment, including NASA’s PRIME-1 drill for ice and a spectrometer as well as Lonestar’s first hardware prototype: a one-kilogram storage device, the size of a hardback novel, with 16 terabytes of memory. IM-2’s is expected to launch in 2023.

Robots and lava tubes

The tiny proof-of-concept datacenter will be storing immutable data for Lonestar’s early beta of its so-called Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), Stott told us. “[We will be] performing upload and download tests (think refresh and restore of data), and performing edge processing tests of apps as well. It will be running Ubuntu.” The company is still in the process of determining bandwidth rates, and has secured permissions to transmit data to the Moon and back to Earth in the S, X, and Ka-Bands in the radio spectrum.

Lonestar’s opportunity to test its technology on the Moon for the first time will depend on whether Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C landers successfully make it to the lunar surface in one piece. Soft landings on the Moon are notoriously difficult; numerous endeavors from the Soviets and the US in the Sixties have ended in failure. The last two attempts that ended badly were in 2019, when Israel’s SpaceIL and India’s National Space agency’s respectively crashed their Beresheet and Chandrayaan-2 lunar landers.

The strong gravitational pull of the Moon and its very thin atmosphere means the speeds at which spacecraft approach the surface have to be considerably slowed in a short amount of time to land gently. Nailing the landing process is key to lunar exploration, whether it’s sending robotic spacecraft or a crew of astronauts. 

“Our turnkey solution for delivering, communicating, and commanding customer payloads on and around the Moon is revolutionary,” Intuitive’s president and CEO, Steve Altemus, told us in a statement. “Adding Lonestar Data Holdings and other commercial payloads to our lunar missions are critical steps toward Intuitive Machines creating and defining the lunar economy.”

The path from a book-sized prototype to real fully fledged cloud storage datacenters, however, is handwavy. Stott said Lonestar has plans for future missions to launch servers capable of holding five petabytes of data in 2024, and 50 petabytes of data by 2026. By then, he hopes the datacenter will be able to host data traffic to and from the Moon at rates of 15 Gigabits per second – much faster than home internet broadband speeds – beamed from a series of antennas. 

If the company is to continue scaling and storing data long-term, it’ll have to figure out how to protect its datacenters from cosmic radiation and deal with the Moon’s fluctuating surface temperatures, which can go from a scorching 222.8°F (106°C) during the day to a -297.4°F (-183°C) at night.

Stott has an answer for that: nestle the datacenters in lunar lava tubes, cavernous pits bored below the surface of the Moon by the flow of ancient basaltic lava. Inside these pits, the temperature will be steadier and the servers will be better shielded from harmful electromagnetic rays.

And how will the Lonestar get them down there? “Robots… lots of robots,” Stott said. ®

Source link

Continue Reading


Here are the Royal Irish Academy’s newest members from STEM

Voice Of EU



14 of the 29 new members being welcomed by the Royal Irish Academy this year are from STEM. We take a quick look at what they do.

Every year, the Royal Irish Academy admits new members to its prestigious roster of researchers from across the island of Ireland for their exceptional contributions to the sciences, humanities, social sciences and public service.

This year, the 236-year-old institution has elected 29 new members from universities and bodies across Ireland, officially welcoming 24 of them at its Admittance Day event held in Dublin today (20 May).

Future Human

“We are immensely proud of these 29 new members who we are recognising today for their scholarly achievements, their research and international distinction or for significant contributions to Irish society,” said Dr Mary Canning, president of the Royal Irish Academy.

“As new members of the Academy, they will contribute to and strengthen our capacity to provide expert advice on higher education and research policy.”

Here we take a quick look at 14 new members who have a background in STEM-related fields.

Linda Doyle, TCD

Doyle made history by becoming the first woman provost of Trinity College Dublin in its 429-year history last year. Before that she was a professor of engineering and the arts at Trinity and the university’s dean of research from 2018.

Geraldine Boylan, UCC

A former Science Foundation Ireland Researcher of the Year, Boylan is the director of the Infant research centre for maternal and child health research and professor of neonatal physiology at University College Cork.

Mary Cannon, RCSI

Cannon is a consultant psychiatrist and professor of psychiatric epidemiology and youth mental health at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. She is a leading researcher in the area of youth mental health and childhood and adolescent risk factors for mental illness.

Rónadh Cox, Williams College

One of this year’s five honorary members, Cox is the Brust Professor of Geology and Mineralogy at Williams College, Massachusetts. She is prominent internationally within the coastal erosion and geomorphology community.

Marie Donnelly, Climate Change Advisory Council

Donnelly is the only new member in this list not associated with any university. Instead, she is the chair of the Climate Change Advisory Council. She previously worked with the European Commission for three decades.

Gary Donohoe, NUI Galway

A professor of psychology at NUI Galway, Donohoe is an internationally known researcher in the cognitive neuroscience and mental health space. His work focuses on understanding and treating factors relevant to social and occupational function.

Fiona Doohan, UCD

Doohan is a professor of plant health at University College Dublin’s School of Biology and Environmental Science. She is one of the co-founders of agricultural sustainability company CropBiome, which is one of the many high-potential start-ups backed by Enterprise Ireland.

David Jones, QUB

A professor of pharmaceutical and biomaterial engineering at Queen’s University Belfast, Jones is an internationally recognised researcher in polymer-based implanted medical devices and enhanced pharmaceutical dosage forms.

Patricia Kearney, UCC

Kearney is a professor of epidemiology in the School of Public Health at UCC. A recognised clinical triallist, her research focuses on population health and health services.

Mairead Kiely, UCC

Another researcher working in the area of health, Kiely is a professor of human nutrition at UCC. Her research focuses macronutrients, particularly vitamin D, and their impact on health and child development.

Hannah McGee, RCSI

McGee is the deputy vice-chancellor for academic affairs at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and a scholar in psychology. A former president of the European Health Psychology Society, she was also appointed as the deputy chair of Ireland’s National Research Ethics Committee for Covid-19.

James P O’Gara, NUI Galway

A professor of microbiology at NUI Galway, O’Gara’s research focuses on the mechanisms underpinning biofilm production and antimicrobial resistance in staphylococci, including MRSA.

Stefan Oscarson, UCD

Oscarson is a professor of chemical biology at UCD and an internationally known researcher in the field of carbohydrate chemistry. His synthetic work underpins the development of drug and vaccine candidates against various infectious diseases.

Patrick Wyse Jackson, TCD

Curator of the Geology Museum based in Trinity College Dublin, Jackson is also a professor of geology at the university. He is an expert on the history of Irish geology and his research focuses on fossil bryozoans – a large phylum of invertebrate animals.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Source link

Continue Reading


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates 
directly on your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!