Friday Five for August 11th, 2017

Thu, 31 Aug 2017 at 9:58

Biohackers Encoded Malware in a Strand of DNA


When biologists synthesize DNA, they take pains not to create or spread a dangerous stretch of genetic code that could be used to create a toxin or, worse, an infectious disease. But one group of biohackers has demonstrated how DNA can carry a less expected threat -- one designed to infect not humans nor animals but computers.


In new research they plan to present at the USENIX Security conference on Thursday, a group of researchers from the University of Washington has shown for the first time that it's possible to encode malicious software into physical strands of DNA, so that when a gene sequencer analyzes it the resulting data becomes a program that corrupts gene-sequencing software and takes control of the underlying computer. While that attack is far from practical for any real spy or criminal, it's one the researchers argue could become more likely over time, as DNA sequencing becomes more commonplace, powerful, and performed by third-party services on sensitive computer systems. And, perhaps more to the point for the cybersecurity community, it also represents an impressive, sci-fi feat of sheer hacker ingenuity.


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Sorry boss, can't make it in today, DNA got hacked.


Intel 18-core Core i9-7980XE Launches September 25 for $2,000


Intel's monstrous 18-core, 36 thread Core i9-7980XE CPU launches September 25 for a whopping $2,000, Intel announced [Tuesday]. It will be joined by the $1,700 16C/32T i9-7960X and the $1,400 14C/28T i9-7940X, while the 12C/12T i9-7920X launches a month earlier on August 28 for $1,200. UK prices are TBC, but the top-end chip will likely start at around the £1,900 and then work its way down from there.


Alongside release dates, Intel also revealed TDPs and boost clock speeds -- information that was curiously missing from the original X299 announcement back in May. The Core i9-7980XE features a 2.6GHz base clock, a Turbo Boost 2.0 clock of 4.2GHz, and a Turbo Boost 3.0 clock (up to two cores) of 4.4GHz. That's accompanied by 24.75MB of L3 cache, 44 PCIe lanes, and a 165W TDP (the 10-core i9-7900 has a 140W TDP).


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Next year: The Intel i9X-9987XYZ PRO-X


Google Fires Author of Divisive Memo on Gender Differences


Alphabet Inc's Google has fired an employee who wrote an internal memo blasting the web company's diversity policies, creating a firestorm across Silicon Valley.


James Damore, the Google engineer who wrote the note, confirmed his dismissal in an email, saying that he had been fired for "perpetuating gender stereotypes." He said he's "currently exploring all possible legal remedies."


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I mean, did he expect a pat on the back and a raise?


The FCC Wants to Classify Mobile Broadband by Establishing Standard Speeds


The latest "state of the internet" inquiry by the FCC is now seeking comment regarding the default speed for mobile "broadband" connectivity. The document lists 10Mbps as the standard download speed and 1Mbps for uploads. It's part of the FCC's yearly investigation into the rate at which internet connectivity is being deployed to the general American population.


At one time, the term "broadband" was used to classify always-on internet access that's faster than a dial-up modem. In 2010, the FCC determined that basic broadband access had a standard download speed of 4Mbps, and an upload speed of 1Mbps. Those numbers increased in 2015 to 25Mbps for downloads, and 3Mbps for uploads, which still remain effective.


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Nailed it, FCC. Our need for speed is declining...


Breakthrough Device Heals Organs with a Single Touch


Researchers at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Ohio State's College of Engineering have developed a new technology, Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT), that can generate any cell type of interest for treatment within the patient's own body. This technology may be used to repair injured tissue or restore function of aging tissue, including organs, blood vessels and nerve cells.


"By using our novel nanochip technology, injured or compromised organs can be replaced. We have shown that skin is a fertile land where we can grow the elements of any organ that is declining," said Dr. Chandan Sen, director of Ohio State's Center for Regenerative Medicine & Cell Based Therapies, who co-led the study with L. James Lee, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering with Ohio State's College of Engineering in collaboration with Ohio State's Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center.


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Is this what ACDC was singing about?