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Bitcoin Mining Banned In Plattsburg New York


Thursday evening, the city council in Plattsburgh, New York unanimously voted to impose an 18-month ban on Bitcoin mining in the city.

Mining is the extremely energy-intensive computational process that secures the Bitcoin blockchain and rewards miners with bitcoins. The Bitcoin ban was proposed by Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read earlier this month after local residents began complaing about wildly inflated electricity bills in January. The ban affects only new commercial Bitcoin operations and will not affect companies that are already

Most cryptocurrencies require a “mining” process in which servers are used to guess the solution to a complex equation—the computer that gets the answer gets the newly minted coin. It takes a lot of electricity to be a miner, and the ones who are successful tend to use a large network of mining rigs. To cut down on their energy expenses, miners have flocked to cities with cheap power and we’re just beginning to learn what cost that brings for the municipalities themselves.

Photo: Getty

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Google Has A Quantum Computer

Image result for quantum computer


Google has announced its newest 72-qubit quantum computer, called Bristlecone.  Quantum computing, or computing based on the principles of physics’. Some researchers are trying to demonstrate that their quantum computers can solve problems that supercomputers can’t. 

Computers perform calculations using bits, which are physical systems that assume one of two choices. We usually call these choices “zero” and “one.” Qubits, or quantum bits, also have zeroes and ones, but exist and interact with one another based on the rules of quantum mechanics. They take on “zero” and “one” simultaneously with different strengths (technically it’s a linear combination of zero and one with complex constants serving as “probability amplitudes”) while they’re calculating. Performing these calculations require entangling the qubits, essentially making their output reliant on one another, which causes certain combinations of outcomes to become more or less likely. This new system could have important potential uses in breaking current cryptography strategies or optimizing searching in the long term. But in the shorter term, they could potentially be useful for things like modeling complex molecules better than classical computers, finding optimal solutions to complicated problems, and improving artificial intelligence


Records Reveal FBI Paid Best Buy Geek Squad As Informants

EFF filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice in May 2017 seeking records about the FBI’s training and use of Best Buy Geek Squad employees to conduct warrantless searches of customers’ computers.

A federal prosecution of a doctor in California revealed that the FBI has been working for several years to cultivate informants in Best Buy’s national repair facility in Brooks, Kentucky, including reportedly paying eight Geek Squad employees as informants.

EFF sent a FOIA request to the FBI in February 2017 seeking agency records about the use of informants, training of Best Buy personnel in the detection and location of child pornography on computers, and policy statements about using informants at computer repair facilities.The FBI denied the request, saying it doesn’t confirm or deny that it has records that would reveal whether a person or organization is under investigation. A suit  was filed after the Department of Justice failed to respond to our administrative appeal of the FBI’s initial denial.



New Ransomeware Thanatos On The Prowl


When the Thanatos Ransomware infects a computer it will use a new key for each encrypted file. The problem, according to researcher Francesco Muroni, is that these keys are never saved anywhere. This means that if a user pays the ransom, the ransomware developer does not have a method that will actually be able to decrypt each file. Therefore, it is not recommended that victims pay the Thanatos ransom for any reason.

While the encryption part of Thanatos is a mess, the ransomware  is the first to accept Bitcoin Cash as a ransom payment.

While Thanatos accepts both Bitcoin and Etherum as a ransom payment, this is the first time that Bitcoin Cash has been accepted as shown in the ransom note below.

Thanatos Ransom Note

Thanatos Ransom Note

How Thanatos Encrypts a File

When encrypting files it will append the .THANATOS extension to an encrypted file’s name. For example, a file named test.jpg would be encrypted and renamed as test.jpg.THANATOS.

Thanatos Encrypted Files
Thanatos Encrypted Files

After the encryption process is completed, it will then connect to URL in order to keep track of the amount of victims that have been infected.

Finally, it will generate an autorun key called “Microsoft Update System Web-Helper” that opens the README.txt ransom note every time a user logs in. This ransom note can be seen in the article’s previous section.

This ransom note contains instructions to send a $200 USD ransom payment to one of the listed Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Bitcoin Cash addresses. The user is then instructed to contact with their unique victim ID in order to receive a decryption program.

 If anyone is infected with this ransomware, they should contact us about the possible creation of a brute force program.

How to protect yourself from the Thanatos Ransomware

 First and foremost, you should always have a reliable and tested backup of your data that can be restored in the case of an emergency, such as a ransomware attack.

You should also have security software that incorporates behavioral detections to combat ransomware and not just signature detections or heuristics.  For example, Emsisoft Anti-Malware and Malwarebytes Anti-Malware both contain behavioral detection that can prevent many, if not most, ransomware infections from encrypting a computer.

Last, but not least, make sure you practice the following security habits, which in many cases are the most important steps of all:

  • Backup, Backup, Backup!
  • Do not open attachments if you do not know who sent them.
  • Do not open attachments until you confirm that the person actually sent you them,
  • Scan attachments with tools like VirusTotal.
  • Make sure all Windows updates are installed as soon as they come out! Also make sure you update all programs, especially Java, Flash, and Adobe Reader. Older programs contain security vulnerabilities that are commonly exploited by malware distributors. Therefore it is important to keep them updated.
  • Make sure you use have some sort of security software installed that uses behavioral detections or white list technology. White listing can be a pain to train, but if your willing to stock with it, could have the biggest payoffs.

Winter Olympics Was Hacked


Game organizers have verified rumors that the Olympics were hacked during Friday’s opening ceremony. However, the source of the attack has yet to be revealed. While systems including the internet and television services were affected on Friday evening, organizers assured media that the breach “had not compromised any critical part of their operations,” according to a Reuters report.

Cybersecurity experts noted in January that there were early suggestions that Russia-backed attackers may have wanted a payback as a retaliation against the nation’s ban from the Pyeongchang Games. The Russian federation has not been allowed to compete as a result of anti-doping regulations (though Russian athletes have been taking part of the games as the Olympic Athletes from Russia, or OAR).

Russia denies the hacking and North Korea may also serve as a prime suspect. The hack was short-lived and quickly addressed. “All issues were resolved and recovered yesterday morning

Judges in Various States Rely On Artificial Intelligence To Determine Jailtime



Cleveland and a growing number of other local and state courts, judges are now guided by computer algorithms before ruling whether criminal defendants can go free have to stay locked up awaiting trial.

A bipartisan bail reform movement has found an alternative to cash bail: AI algorithms that can scour through large sets of courthouse data to search for associations and predict which people are most likely to flee or commit another crime.

Experts say the use of these risk assessments may be the biggest shift in courtroom decision-making since American judges began accepting social science and other expert evidence more than a century ago.

Critics, however, worry that such algorithms could end up superseding a judges’ own judgment, and might even perpetuate biases in ostensibly neutral form.

States such as New Jersey, Arizona, Kentucky, and Alaska have adopted these tools. Defendants who receive low scores are recommended for release under court supervision.

Among other things, such algorithms aim to reduce biased rulings that could be influenced by a defendant’s race, gender or clothing — or maybe just how cranky a judge might be feeling after missing breakfast.

The AI system used in New Jersey, developed by the Houston-based Laura and John Arnold Foundation, uses nine risk factors to evaluate a defendant, including age and past criminal convictions. But it excludes race, gender, employment history and where a person lives.

It also excludes a history of arrests, which can stack up against people more likely to encounter police — even if they’re not found to have done anything.

An investigative report by ProPublica found that a commercial system called Compas used to help determine prison sentences for convicted criminals, was falsely flagging black defendants as likely future criminals almost twice as frequently as white defendants.

Other experts have questioned those findings, and the U.S. Supreme Court last year declined to take up a case of a Wisconsin man who argued the use of gender as a factor in the Compas assessment violated his rights.

Advocates of the AI approach argue that the people in robes are still in charge. Others worry the algorithms will make judging more rote over time. Research has shown that people tend to follow specific advisory guidelines in lieu of their own judgment, said Bernard Harcourt, a law professor at Columbia.

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