Connect with us

Technology

Toyota reveals its work on an honest-to-goodness cloak of invisibility • The Register

Published

on

A team of researchers have detailed a range of techniques which they suggest could one day lead to a genuine cloak of invisibility – although, thanks to Toyota’s involvement, they’re looking to start by making the windscreen pillars disappear from your next car.

“We are always looking for ways to keep drivers and passengers safe while driving,” explained author Debasish Banerjee of the work, which was led by the Toyota Research Institute of North America in partnership with South Korea’s Inha University and the University of Michigan. “We started exploring whether we could make the light go around the pillar so it appeared transparent.”

While the stanchions framing a car’s windscreen provide a key aspect of its structural integrity, they’re annoyingly located right where you would want to look in order to see other road users. Removing them would weaken the car, so Toyota’s looking into the next best thing: rendering them invisible.

The result of its research into that somewhat tricky problem: a paper which reviews the various methods by which optical cloaking may be achieved. Should the company’s efforts succeed, it’s likely to find itself buried under hefty bags of money from a wide range of intelligence and military agencies around the world, who are impressed enough when you can hide tanks from radar or turn a jet into a flock of birds.

“Perfect optical cloaking requires the total scattering of electromagnetic waves around an object at all angles, all polarisations, over a wide frequency range, irrespective of the medium,” the researchers wrote in the paper’s abstract. “Such a device is still far-fetched, requiring the transformation of space around a cloaked region such that the phase velocity is faster than other areas to preserve the phase relationships.

“However, by simplifying the invisibility requirements, pioneering work on spherical transformation cloaks, carpet cloaks, plasmonic cloaks, and mantle cloaks has been realised in narrowband microwave, infrared, and even optical wavelengths.”

The paper ran through a wide range of experiments, theoretical and otherwise, which have been undertaken for cloaking, ranging from metamaterial-based physical cloaks and an “intelligent cloak” made from a reconfigurable metasurface to a “unidirectional invisible cloak,” geometrical optics-based cloaking – including the surprisingly simple approach of, effectively, putting mirrors around the object to be hidden – and digital cloaks which combine cameras and an “output surface” display.

“Despite the many challenges outlined herein,” the team’s paper concluded, “it is undeniable that in recent years, optical invisibility has become a fact rather than ideas from fiction books. Useful cloaking devices have been successfully realised beyond electromagnetics including acoustics, thermal, and fluidic devices, owing to their low-loss physical characteristics compared to optical devices.

“While most of the studies focus on fundamental physics and cloaking device proof of concept designs, it is worth pointing out that the need for invisibility in modern society will remain high in the future. Starting from obvious applications in areas such as modern warfare, surveillance, blind-spot removal in vehicles, spacecraft, and highly efficient solar cells, applications in sensing and display devices are virtually endless.”

The team concluded that we may one day “enjoy optical cloaking technology in everyday life” – but stopped short of offering a timescale to mail-order invisibility cloaks being advertised in the backs of grubby magazines next to the X-ray specs.

The paper is available under open access terms in the Journal of Applied Physics. ®

Source link

Technology

Repligen to create 130 new jobs in Waterford site expansion

Published

on

The project adds to the 74 people already employed at the Artesyn Biosolutions facility acquired by Repligen in 2020.

Repligen Corporation is undertaking an expansion of its Waterford site which will see 130 new jobs created, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, TD, has announced.

The life sciences company is building a new 3,000 sq m facility which will be a centre of excellence for single-use consumable products used in bioprocessing applications. The site currently hosts a 1,000 sq m facility employing 74 people, which was established by Ireland’s Artesyn Biosolutions before that company was acquired by Repligen last November.

Repligen Corporation is a multinational that produces bioprocessing products for use in the pharmaceutical manufacturing process. Headquartered in Massachusetts, the company has sites across the United States and in Estonia, France, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands, as well as here in Ireland.

According to the company, the new building will be certified silver on the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system from the US Green Building Council. The consumable products manufactured there will be used in filtration and chromatography systems during the production of vaccines and other biopharmaceutical products.

Commenting on the announcement, Varadkar said: “This is excellent news from Repligen with the creation of 130 new jobs in Waterford. It comes on foot of a major jobs announcement by Bausch and Lomb. Waterford is on the move as a centre for jobs and investment.

“I wish the team the very best with their expansion plans.”

James Bylund, senior vice-president at Repligen, added: “We are thrilled to continue the collaboration with the Irish Government and the IDA that was initiated by the Artesyn team. This build-out is an important step in expanding our capacity and establishing dual manufacturing sites for key single-use consumable products used in manufacture of biological drugs.

“With its LEED Silver designation, the facility is closely aligned with our commitment to responsible growth and sustainability.”

Dr Jonathan Downey, managing director at the Waterford facility, said: “Having delivered beyond our commitment in 2019 to bring new jobs to the region through our development of high-end manufacturing capabilities, we are energised and excited about our integration with Repligen and this next phase of growth.

“In addition to our expansion of Artesyn products, and the transfer of manufacturing of certain of Repligen’s current products to our Irish operations, we expect to be utilising the Irish sites to advance additional research, development and innovation programs.”

Source link

Continue Reading

Technology

Emmanuel Macron ‘pushes for Israeli inquiry’ into NSO spyware concerns | France

Published

on

Emmanuel Macron has reportedly spoken to the Israeli prime minister, Naftali Bennett, to ensure that the Israeli government is “properly investigating” allegations that the French president could have been targeted with Israeli-made spyware by Morocco’s security services.

In a phone call, Macron expressed concern that his phone and those of most of his cabinet could have been infected with Pegasus, hacking software developed by the Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group, which enables operators of the tool to extract messages, photos and emails, record calls and secretly activate microphones from infected devices.

The leaked database at the heart of the Pegasus project includes Macron’s mobile phone number.

NSO has said Macron was not a “target” of any of its customers, meaning the company denies he was selected for surveillance using Pegasus. The company says that the fact that a number appeared on the list was in no way indicative of whether that number was selected for surveillance using Pegasus.

The Pegasus project could not examine the mobile phones of the leaders and diplomats, and could therefore not confirm whether there had been any attempt to install malware on their phones.

Quick Guide

What is in the Pegasus project data?

Show

What is in the data leak?

The data leak is a list of more than 50,000 phone numbers that, since 2016, are believed to have been selected as those of people of interest by government clients of NSO Group, which sells surveillance software. The data also contains the time and date that numbers were selected, or entered on to a system. Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based nonprofit journalism organisation, and Amnesty International initially had access to the list and shared access with 16 media organisations including the Guardian. More than 80 journalists have worked together over several months as part of the Pegasus project. Amnesty’s Security Lab, a technical partner on the project, did the forensic analyses.

What does the leak indicate?

The consortium believes the data indicates the potential targets NSO’s government clients identified in advance of possible surveillance. While the data is an indication of intent, the presence of a number in the data does not reveal whether there was an attempt to infect the phone with spyware such as Pegasus, the company’s signature surveillance tool, or whether any attempt succeeded. The presence in the data of a very small number of landlines and US numbers, which NSO says are “technically impossible” to access with its tools, reveals some targets were selected by NSO clients even though they could not be infected with Pegasus. However, forensic examinations of a small sample of mobile phones with numbers on the list found tight correlations between the time and date of a number in the data and the start of Pegasus activity – in some cases as little as a few seconds.

What did forensic analysis reveal?

Amnesty examined 67 smartphones where attacks were suspected. Of those, 23 were successfully infected and 14 showed signs of attempted penetration. For the remaining 30, the tests were inconclusive, in several cases because the handsets had been replaced. Fifteen of the phones were Android devices, none of which showed evidence of successful infection. However, unlike iPhones, phones that use Android do not log the kinds of information required for Amnesty’s detective work. Three Android phones showed signs of targeting, such as Pegasus-linked SMS messages.

Amnesty shared “backup copies” of four iPhones with Citizen Lab, a research group at the University of Toronto that specialises in studying Pegasus, which confirmed that they showed signs of Pegasus infection. Citizen Lab also conducted a peer review of Amnesty’s forensic methods, and found them to be sound.

Which NSO clients were selecting numbers?

While the data is organised into clusters, indicative of individual NSO clients, it does not say which NSO client was responsible for selecting any given number. NSO claims to sell its tools to 60 clients in 40 countries, but refuses to identify them. By closely examining the pattern of targeting by individual clients in the leaked data, media partners were able to identify 10 governments believed to be responsible for selecting the targets: Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Hungary, India, and the United Arab Emirates. Citizen Lab has also found evidence of all 10 being clients of NSO.

What does NSO Group say?

You can read NSO Group’s full statement here. The company has always said it does not have access to the data of its customers’ targets. Through its lawyers, NSO said the consortium had made “incorrect assumptions” about which clients use the company’s technology. It said the 50,000 number was “exaggerated” and that the list could not be a list of numbers “targeted by governments using Pegasus”. The lawyers said NSO had reason to believe the list accessed by the consortium “is not a list of numbers targeted by governments using Pegasus, but instead, may be part of a larger list of numbers that might have been used by NSO Group customers for other purposes”. They said it was a list of numbers that anyone could search on an open source system. After further questions, the lawyers said the consortium was basing its findings “on misleading interpretation of leaked data from accessible and overt basic information, such as HLR Lookup services, which have no bearing on the list of the customers’ targets of Pegasus or any other NSO products … we still do not see any correlation of these lists to anything related to use of NSO Group technologies”. Following publication, they explained that they considered a “target” to be a phone that was the subject of a successful or attempted (but failed) infection by Pegasus, and reiterated that the list of 50,000 phones was too large for it to represent “targets” of Pegasus. They said that the fact that a number appeared on the list was in no way indicative of whether it had been selected for surveillance using Pegasus. 

What is HLR lookup data?

The term HLR, or home location register, refers to a database that is essential to operating mobile phone networks. Such registers keep records on the networks of phone users and their general locations, along with other identifying information that is used routinely in routing calls and texts. Telecoms and surveillance experts say HLR data can sometimes be used in the early phase of a surveillance attempt, when identifying whether it is possible to connect to a phone. The consortium understands NSO clients have the capability through an interface on the Pegasus system to conduct HLR lookup inquiries. It is unclear whether Pegasus operators are required to conduct HRL lookup inquiries via its interface to use its software; an NSO source stressed its clients may have different reasons – unrelated to Pegasus – for conducting HLR lookups via an NSO system.

Thank you for your feedback.

The Macron-Bennett phone call reportedly took place on Thursday, but was first reported by Israel’s Channel 12 News on Saturday evening after the end of Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest.

The prime minister’s office has declined to comment on the phone call or the two leaders’ conversation. According to Channel 12, an unnamed source said Bennett had stressed that the alleged events occurred before he took office in May, and that a commission was examining whether rules on Israel’s export of cyberweapons such as Pegasus should be tightened.

The Pegasus project – a consortium of 17 media outlets, including the Guardian – revealed last week that government clients around the world have used the hacking software sold by NSO to target human rights activists, journalists and lawyers.

The investigation has been based on forensic analysis of phones and analysis of a leaked database of 50,000 numbers, including that of Macron and those of heads of state and senior government, diplomatic and military officials, in 34 countries.

In multiple statements, NSO said the fact a number appeared on the leaked list was in no way indicative of whether it was selected for surveillance using Pegasus. “The list is not a list of Pegasus targets or potential targets,” the company said. “The numbers in the list are not related to NSO Group in any way.”

But the list is believed to provide insights into those identified as persons of interest by NSO’s clients. It includes people whose phones showed traces of NSO’s signature phone-hacking spyware, Pegasus, according to forensic analysis of their devices. The analysis was conducted by Amnesty International’s security lab, which discovered traces of Pegasus-related activity on 37 out of 67 phones that it analysed.

Q&A

What is the Pegasus project?

Show

The Pegasus project is a collaborative journalistic investigation into the NSO Group and its clients. The company sells surveillance technology to governments worldwide. Its flagship product is Pegasus, spying software – or spyware – that targets iPhones and Android devices. Once a phone is infected, a Pegasus operator can secretly extract chats, photos, emails and location data, or activate microphones and cameras without a user knowing.

Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based nonprofit journalism organisation, and Amnesty International had access to a leak of more than 50,000 phone numbers selected as targets by clients of NSO since 2016. Access to the data was then shared with the Guardian and 16 other news organisations, including the Washington Post, Le Monde, Die Zeit and Süddeutsche Zeitung. More than 80 journalists have worked collaboratively over several months on the investigation, which was coordinated by Forbidden Stories.

Thank you for your feedback.

While the rest of the world grapples with the seismic consequences of the revelations, in Israel reaction has been muted. Meretz, a leftwing party long in opposition but now part of the new government coalition, has asked the defence ministry for “clarification” on the issue, but no party is seeking a freeze of export licences or an inquiry into NSO’s close links to the Israeli state under the tenure of the former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The defence minister, Benny Gantz, has defended export licences for the hacking tools, claiming that “countries that purchase these systems must meet the terms of use”, which are solely for criminal and terrorism investigations.

But as the mammoth impact of the disclosures has become clearer, the diplomatic pressure on Israel is mounting. On Thursday, the senior Israeli MP Ram Ben-Barak – a former deputy head of the Mossad spy agency – confirmed that the Israeli defence establishment had “appointed a review commission made up of a number of groups” to examine whether policy changes were needed regarding sensitive cyber exports.

US defence officials have also asked their Israeli counterparts for more details on the “disturbing” disclosures stemming from the Pegasus project, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Saturday.

Source link

Continue Reading

Technology

Google fixes ‘Chromebork’ one-character code typo that prevented Chrome OS logins • The Register

Published

on

Bug of the week Google has fixed a bug in Chrome OS version 91.0.4472.165 that surfaced on Monday and prevented some users from being able to login to their systems.

Chrome OS downloads updates automatically but doesn’t apply them until reboot, so only those who restarted their Chromebooks to ingest the force-fed broken update were affected.

Earlier this week, the internet titan on its Google Workplace status page said, “Our engineering team has identified an issue on Chrome OS 91.0.4472.165. The rollout of this version was halted.”

As a workaround for those bitten by the bug, Google advised users: to “powerwash” their Chrome OS devices back to factory settings; to rollback the Chrome OS device to a previous version via USB; or to remove the affected account and add the account back to the device. All three mitigations, however, clear local data on the device.

The programming blunder consists of a single missing character, an ampersand (&), that was inadvertently omitted from the Chrome OS C++ code. That oversight changed the logical AND operator (&&) in this conditional statement to a bitwise AND (&):

if (key_data_.has_value() && !key_data_->label().empty())

That means, for one thing, both sides of the conditional statement would be evaluated every time, rather than the right-hand-side call to empty() only being made if the left-hand-side has_value() returned true. In any case, omitting the ampersand changed the behavior of Chrome OS’s code.

The typo was committed to the Chrome OS source on July 2, 2021, and didn’t affect anyone until this week. The typo was discussed on Reddit earlier this week.

Google’s patch, Chrome OS 91.0.4472.167, was issued on Wednesday and has been rolling out gradually per Google’s release pattern.

“Affected devices can login via guest mode or an account that hasn’t signed into the device and follow the steps in this [Help Center] article to download the update,” said Google.

This is the second Chrome OS version 91 update to go awry this month. An update to version 91.0.4472.147, issued on June 30, 2021, proved problematic for certain hardware configurations, causing extreme CPU usage. Google undid the offending update about a week ago but the problematic code has yet to be dealt with. ®

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

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

You have Successfully Subscribed!