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Welcome to the September 21, 2020 edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

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Singapore to Pay Citizens for Keeping Healthy with Apple Watch Singapore to Pay Citizens for Keeping Healthy with Apple Watch
Bloomberg
Vlad Savov
September 15, 2020


Apple and Singapore's government have partnered on the two-year LumiHealth initiative, which will monitor and reward user behavior via the Apple Watch and an iPhone application. Singaporeans will be able to earn as much as S$380 ($280) in financial compensation and vouchers by fulfilling goals and tasks—like exercise—set within the LumiHealth app. The app will offer personalized coaching and reminders for health screenings and inoculations, in addition to wellness challenges to encourage healthier dieting and sleep habits. Apple said all user data will be encrypted, with none to be sold or shared for marketing purposes.

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Woman Becomes First Healthcare Cyberattack Death
The Daily Mail
Charlotte Mitchell
September 18, 2020


A woman in Germany suffering a life-threatening illness was the first person to die from a cyberattack on a healthcare system, when a hospital could not admit her because its systems were down. Ransomware infiltrated the University Clinic in Dusseldorf through a flaw in a Citrix virtual private network, which forced the ambulance carrying the victim to be rerouted to Wuppertal, and she died en route. Germany's Federal Office for Information Security was called in to strengthen the hospital's systems; chief Arne Schoenbohm said the office had been aware of the Citrix flaw since December 2019, and had urged healthcare facilities to immediately upgrade their security. Said Schoenbohm, " I can only urge you not to ignore or postpone such warnings but to take appropriate action immediately. This incident shows once again how seriously this danger must be taken."

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Research Teaches AI How People Move with Internet Videos
The Michigan Engineer News Center
September 11, 2020


Research at the University of Michigan (UM) has led to a breakthrough in video training for neural network models, enabling the models to simulate people's movement based on partial views of their bodies. UM's David Fouhey and Chris Rockwell first cropped the networks' earlier training dataset to more closely resemble online videos; they then retrained existing models on these cropped videos, facilitating more reasonable results with new data from Internet videos. The retrained model yielded significantly improved approximations of people's positions compared to two human three-dimensional mesh recovery methods. A second technique enabled models to self-train on unlabeled videos, in order to make good guesses without knowing the solution. Rockwell said, "Modeling people is a step towards understanding them, and before this it was really tough to understand people in consumer videos. With these techniques we can much more readily recognize them."

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Glove-Like Device Mimics Sense of Touch
University of New South Wales Sydney Newsroom
Caroline Tang
September 9, 2020


A soft wearable device developed by engineers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney in Australia recreates the sense of touch using haptic technology. The researchers created a three-way directional skin stretch device that is built into the fingertips of the haptic glove. Said UNSW's Thanh Nho Do, "Our soft, wearable haptic glove enables people to feel virtual or remote objects in a more realistic and immersive way. The inbuilt soft artificial muscles generate sufficient normal and shear forces to the user's fingertips via a soft tactor, enabling them to effectively reproduce the sense of touch."

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NASA to Test Precision Automated Landing System NASA to Test Precision Automated Landing System
TechCrunch
Darrell Etherington
September 18, 2020


The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will test a precision landing system designed for use on the Moon and Mars during an upcoming mission of Blue Origin's New Shepard reusable suborbital rocket. The SPLICE (Safe and Precise Landing–Integrated Capabilities Evolution) system combines a laser array, an optical camera, and a computer to record and process data collected by sensors with advanced algorithms. SPLICE spots potential hazards and changes landing parameters on the fly to ensure a smooth touchdown. The test will assess the performance of terrain relative navigation, Doppler radar, and a descent and landing computer; a LiDAR-based hazard detection element will be tested on future flights.

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Iranian Hackers Found Way Into Encrypted Apps, Researchers Say Iranian Hackers Found Way Into Encrypted Apps, Researchers Say
The New York Times
Ronen Bergman; Farnaz Fassihi
September 18, 2020


Reports from Check Point Software Technologies and the Miaan Group human rights organization indicate Iranian hackers have been operating a massive cyberespionage campaign, using surveillance tools that can thwart encrypted instant-messaging systems. Researchers said hackers have penetrated supposedly secure mobile phones and computers, overcoming protections in encrypted applications like Telegram, and even accessing data on WhatsApp. The most common exploit involves sending malware-laced documents and apps to targets. Miaan said the malefactors' apparent goal is to steal data on Iranian opposition groups in Europe and the U.S., and to spy on Iranians who use mobile apps to organize protests.

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Accident Prevention Software for Autonomous Vehicles
Technical University of Munich (Germany)
September 15, 2020


Researchers at Germany's Technical University of Munich (TUM) have created accident-preventing software for autonomous vehicles that anticipates variations of traffic scenarios. The software analyzes and predicts events while driving, recording sensor data and re-assessing the traffic situation each millisecond, calculating all possible movements for every traffic participant (provided they comply with traffic regulations). The system projects three to six seconds ahead and from this ascertains movement options for the vehicle, while simultaneously calculating potential emergency maneuvers. TUM's Matthias Althoff said testing the software in simulations proved "that the safety module does not lead to any loss of performance in terms of driving behavior, the predictive calculations are correct, accidents are prevented, and in emergency situations the vehicle is demonstrably brought to a safe stop."

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Majority of Europeans Would Consider Human Augmentation, Study Finds
The Next Web
Thomas Macaulay
September 18, 2020


A survey of more than 14,000 people in 16 countries by cybersecurity firm Kaspersky found most Europeans would consider technological augmentation to their bodies, with 81% of Italians saying they would mull this, versus 33% of those in the U.K. Older respondents were more supportive of augmentation that would enhance their health, while younger persons were more interested in augmenting their appearance and sporting abilities. Nearly half (48%) of men surveyed considered human augmentation "completely" or "mostly" acceptable, compared to roughly a third (38%) of women surveyed. All supporters prioritized improving physical health and quality of life via augmentation, yet 69% expected only wealthy individuals would be able to afford such enhancements, and 88% fear their augmented bodies could be exploited by cybercriminals.

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European Commission Declares €8-Billion Investment in Supercomputing
HPCwire
September 18, 2020


The European Commission (EC) is boosting its commitment under the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking with a planned €8-billion ($9.4-billion) infusion into developing European supercomputing leadership and digital sovereignty. The commission proposed the investment as a new regulation, which has not yet been approved by the Council of the European Union. The new regulation also highlights quantum computing leadership, including both quantum computers and hybrid quantum-classical systems. European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton said, "Our objective is to rapidly reach the next standard of computing with exascale computers—but also and foremost to already integrate quantum accelerators to develop hybrid machines and position Europe very early on this disruptive technology."

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Burglars Beware: Tech Pioneers Aim to Make South Africa's Townships Safer Burglars Beware: Tech Pioneers Aim to Make South Africa's Townships Safer
The Guardian (U.K.)
Nick Dall
September 18, 2020


South African technological pioneers Ntsako Mgiba and Ntandoyenkosi Shezi earlier this year launched an affordable community alarm system to improve safety in poverty- and crime-ridden townships. The Jonga system integrates battery-powered wireless motion sensors with a 100-decibel siren and an Android application that sends text messages to predetermined contacts when the alarm is triggered. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced Jonga's founders to shift their original strategy of door-to-door rollouts to community launches through partnerships with organizations. Coca-Cola, for example, has installed Jonga devices in its Bizniz in a Box shipping container, while non-governmental organizations have offered to sponsor community units.

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Raccoon Attack Allows Hackers to Break TLS Encryption 'Under Certain Conditions'
ZDNet
Catalin Cimpanu
September 9, 2020


Researchers at Ruhr-University Bochum, the University of Paderborn, and the Federal Office for Information Security (BIS) in Germany, and Tel Aviv University in Israel, disclosed a theoretical attack on the TLS cryptographic protocol that could decrypt the HTTPS connection between users and servers to access sensitive communications. The so-called Raccoon attack, which targets the Diffie-Hellman key exchange process, is a timing attack in which the time needed to perform known cryptographic operations is measured by a malicious third party to determine parts of the algorithm. All servers that establish TLS connections using the Diffie-Hellman Key exchange are vulnerable. Said the researchers, "The vulnerability is really hard to exploit and relies on very precise timing measurements and on a specific server configuration to be exploitable." Microsoft, Mozilla, OpenSSL, and F5 Networks have released patches to block such attacks.

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The Tech Behind the Mind Reading Pangolin Dress The Tech Behind the Mind Reading Pangolin Dress
IEEE Spectrum
Stephen Cass
September 11, 2020


The electrode-outfitted Pangolin dress designed by researchers at Austria's Johannes Kepler University Linz (JKU), medical engineering company G.tec, and fashion technology designer Anouk Wipprecht combines, analyzes, and converts the wearer's neural signals into colors displayed by light-emitting diodes and servo-driven scales. The resulting display reflects the wearer's mental state through light and motion. The dress utilizes a single-channel chip combining an amplifier, an analog-to-digital converter, and a digital signal processor; the chip's low energy requirements mean it can be powered by a nearby base station and send data wirelessly. This would remove the need to connect patients to test systems in a wired setup, and even make batteries in wireless brain-computer interface systems redundant.

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