GW Online Master's in Systems Engineering
Welcome to the September 25, 2019 edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

ACM TechNews mobile apps are available for Android phones and tablets (click here) and for iPhones (click here) and iPads (click here).

To view "Headlines At A Glance," hit the link labeled "Click here to view this online" found at the top of the page in the html version. The online version now has a button at the top labeled "Show Headlines."
Healthcare Data Hacking Could Lead to Identity Thefts
Linda Carroll
September 23, 2019

A study by Michigan State University (MSU) and Johns Hopkins University (JHU) researchers found 71% of U.S. healthcare data breaches have involved sensitive demographic or financial data that could lead to identity theft. MSU's Xuefeng Jiang said the black market for medical data is limited, but pointed out that financial and demographic data can be sold on the dark web. Jiang and JHU’s Ge Bai sifted through U.S. Department of Health and Human Services records on 1,461 breaches between 2009 and 2019, and found 66% involved compromising demographic data, while 35% exposed service or financial data that could be used in identity theft or financial fraud. Said Jiang, “The main message for hospitals and health care providers is, if you have limited resources to safeguard information, you should put more emphasis on the sensitive kinds of information that can be sold on the dark web.”

Full Article

Photo captured by mobile phone detection camera, showing a driver using their phone while driving Australia Using Technology to Catch Drivers on Phones
Associated Press
Rod McGuirk
September 23, 2019

The Australian state of New South Wales will be the first jurisdiction in the world to use new cameras to catch distracted drivers on their smartphones. The New South Wales government plans to deploy 45 Mobile Phone Detection Cameras throughout the state by December. Each dual-camera unit captures photos of a vehicle's license plate, and of what drivers are doing with their hands. Onboard artificial intelligence screens out images of drivers who are not touching their phones, and images displaying suspected illegal behavior are verified by human scrutiny before an infringement notice and fine is sent to the vehicle's registered owner. Some cameras will be in permanent roadside installations, while others will be installed in mobile units on trailers. A six-month pilot of two fixed cameras this year checked 8.5 million vehicles and spotted over 100,000 drivers with their hands on their phones.

Full Article

MIT researchers have fabricated a diamond-based quantum sensor on a silicon chip Quantum Sensing on a Chip
MIT News
Rob Matheson
September 25, 2019

Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists have manufactured a diamond-based quantum sensor on a silicon chip using traditional fabrication techniques. The design combines a microwave generator, optical filter, and photodetector with nitrogen-vacancy (NV)-based quantum sensors, which all operate at room temperature. The sensors detect the direction and magnitude of magnetic fields to measure atomic-scale frequency shifts. The chip architecture positions and stacks tiny, inexpensive elements with standard complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) technology, allowing a complete system on a chip, with only a diamond and green light-emitting diode on top. The researchers demonstrated the sensor’s ability to measure atomic-scale shifts in frequency due to surrounding magnetic fields. They said with further refining, the sensor could be useful for applications that range from mapping electrical impulses in the brain to detecting unseen objects.

Full Article
Virtual Human Hand Simulation Holds Promise for Prosthetics, VR, Education
USC Viterbi News
Caitlin Dawson
September 23, 2019

Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) have integrated visual effects techniques and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to create an ultra-realistic animated simulation of the human hand in motion. The model combined laser scans of the hand's surface with an MRI-based model of the underlying bone structure. The researchers used lifecasting materials to produce a plastic replica of a model’s hand, then made a negative three-dimensional mold to hold the hand in a single pose for MRI scanning; the procedure was repeated 12 times in different poses, and a data-driven skeleton kinematic model was built, with soft tissue simulation added to calculate musculoskeletal movements consistent with bone movements. Said USC's Jernej Barbic, "Understanding the motion of internal hand anatomy opens the door for biologically inspired robotic hands that look and behave like real hands."

Full Article
Map Shows All the Code Connections Between Russia's Hacker Groups
Andy Greenberg
September 24, 2019

Israeli cybersecurity firms Check Point and Intezer have charted Russian hackers' toolkits from wide-ranging analysis of 2,500 malware samples. Intezer's automated tools sifted through samples for matches or similarities, weeding out false positives and revealing clusters that probably represent independent hacker groups. The biggest clusters of linked nodes exhibit tightly interconnected tools used by established groups, in addition to surprising code links between hacking teams; for example, BlackEnergy malware and the malware of a team called Cozy Bear shared code that originated from a credential-stealing tool called LdPinch. Check Point's Yaniv Balmas said the relative absence of links between certain clusters of hackers' code suggests several Russian groups are building complete toolkits independently. Said Balmas, "That shows the huge amount of resources that Russia is willing to put into cyber offense."

Full Article
*May Require Paid Registration

Getty image of swimming fish Fast Swimming Fish Robot Could Perform Underwater Surveillance
New Scientist
Leah Crane
September 18, 2019

University of Virginia (UVA) researchers have built a fish-inspired robot that can swim as fast as actual fish and faster than similar robots. The 25-centimeter-long Tunabot is fabricated from three-dimensionally-printed steel and resin, and clad in elastic skin; it mimics an adolescent tuna, but lacks fins apart from the tail. Tunabot wiggles back and forth up to 15 times a second and can attain a speed of at about one meter a second (just over 2 mph) when swimming, which is almost as fast as an actual tuna. UVA's Hilary Bart-Smith said, “There’s still a lot to learn in terms of the roles of the different appendages on the tuna itself, like the fins that the robot doesn’t have.”

Full Article
Drones Deployed in Africa's 'Leapfrog' Vaccine Drive
Financial Times
David Pilling
September 23, 2019

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, supports initiatives to improve the delivery and distribution of vaccines in Africa by "leapfrogging" to advanced technologies, including mobile communications and drones. Gavi CEO Seth Berkley said, “We have new vaccines, new drugs ... but those tools don’t work unless you can get them to people.” Berkeley said drones are particularly useful in rural regions. Gavi is currently testing drone deliveries of vaccines and plasma in Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Other technologies Gavi uses to aid the African vaccination push include chatbots for spreading immunization messages in multiple languages, as well as crowdsourcing of information from patients in Nigeria, which helps health authorities learn more quickly of locations in need of vaccines.

Full Article
*May Require Paid Registration
Microsoft Poses Threat to Germany's Digital Sovereignty, Warns Study
Cathrin Schaer
September 20, 2019

An analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers has confirmed that the German government is too dependent on the software of just a few software providers. The study found that was particularly the case with Microsoft, as nearly all German public officials run Office and Windows programs on their computers. The report said such dependence creates "pressure points in the federal government that work in opposition to the government's [stated] strategic IT goals," adding that concerns about Microsoft's information security could "endanger the country's digital sovereignty." Options detailed in the report include establishing a framework and rules for the future use of other software (such as open source) and negotiating deals with other software providers. Said Dirk Riehle of Friedrich Alexander University in Nuremberg, "Digital sovereignty is possible, yes, but there will be high costs."

Full Article

Robots work alongside people at an XPO Logistics facility U.S. Government Urged to Boost R&D Spending
The Wall Street Journal
Agam Shah
September 18, 2019

The nonprofit Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) think tank has called on the U.S. government to invest an additional $40 billion annually in technology research and development (R&D), to increase worker productivity. ITIF president Robert Atkinson said total federal R&D funding last year was $125 billion. The think tank proposes to increase yearly R&D spending by $4 billion for a decade, potentially boosting productivity 3.4% a year. Atkinson and other experts said R&D investment should concentrate more on existing technologies, in order to remain competitive globally. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's David Autor suggested the U.S. should adopt Germany's R&D model. “Investments in human capital, having proper incentives, and having good institutions that kindle productivity are incredibly important,” Autor said.

Full Article
*May Require Paid Registration
AI Program Better at Detecting Depressive Language in Social Media
Folio (University of Alberta)
Justin Dupuis
September 20, 2019

Researchers at the University of Alberta (U of A) in Canada have developed an artificial intelligence-based technology to detect depressive language in social media posts with greater accuracy than current systems, using less data. U of A's Nawshad Farruque employed language derived from online depression forums to train a deep learning model to identify depression-associated language in tweets; the technique also helps machines comprehend which words or word combinations communicate depressed feelings. Said Farruque, "The to detect depression in its early stages so people can be pointed towards the proper resources as soon as possible."

Full Article
Algorithms Could Stop 'Internet of Things' Attack From Bringing Down Power Grid
Princeton University
Molly Sharlach
September 24, 2019

Princeton University researchers, who previously found a security flaw that hackers could exploit to hijack electrical power grids, have developed algorithms that can improve the grid’s resiliency. The algorithms are designed to address attacks aimed at overloading the grid by spiking demand from high-wattage appliances on the Internet of Things, in order to overload the grid and cause outages and other disruptions. The new algorithms consider the capacity thresholds of transmission lines and a grid's power-production capabilities, to compute solutions that reroute power flows and adjust generator operations to prevent line failures. The team evaluated the algorithms on a power grid testbed, and found one algorithm could enhance a grid's robustness against an attack that spikes demand by 9%, for an increase in cost of 6%. Princeton's Saleh Soltan said, "It's a tradeoff between how much you increase the cost and how much robustness you have against these attacks."

Full Article

Legged Locomotion and Movement Adaptation, or LLAMA U.S. Army Research Advances Autonomous Systems
Army Research Laboratory
September 11, 2019

The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Command Army Research Laboratory (ARL) has designed an autonomous quadruped mobility research platform modeled after dogs and similar animals, to aid soldiers by lightening the loads they must carry in the field and enhance their “mobility, protection, and lethality.” The electric Legged Locomotion and Movement Adaptation (LLAMA) robot was engineered for mobility in both structured and unstructured environments. It was developed by ARL as part of its Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance. Said ARL's Jason Pusey, "The platform not only has the mobility capabilities, it also includes perception and intelligence."

Full Article
Virginia Tech Master of Information Technology
ACM Publications

Association for Computing Machinery

1601 Broadway, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10019-7434

ACM Media Sales

If you are interested in advertising in ACM TechNews or other ACM publications, please contact ACM Media Sales or (212) 626-0686, or visit ACM Media for more information.

To submit feedback about ACM TechNews, contact: [email protected]