Online Master's Degree Program
Welcome to the September 11, 2020 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."

grad cap, books, diploma, and binary code, illustration ACM Study Gives Most Detailed Picture to Date of U.S. Bachelor's Programs in Computing
September 10, 2020

ACM's eighth annual Study of Non-Doctoral Granting Departments in Computing (NDC) offers a sweeping assessment of undergraduate computing education. The new edition of the study includes for the first time enrollment and degree completion data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, which provide a more complete picture of enrollment and graduation in bachelor's programs by roughly 300,000 U.S. students. The NDC study found 4.7% growth in degree production across all computing disciplines between the 2017-2018 and the 2018-2019 academic years, with software engineering and computer science showing the greatest increase. Women's representation is much greater in information systems and information technology than in computer engineering, the study found; it also showed that African American and Hispanic students had greater representation in bachelor's programs than in Ph.D. programs.

Full Article

hand blocking camera’s view Portland Adopts Landmark Facial Recognition Ordinances
The Hill
Chris Mills Rodrigo
September 9, 2020

The City Council of Portland, OR, on Wednesday adopted two landmark ordinances barring city and private usage of facial recognition technology. The measures ban city bureaus from obtaining or using the technology with minimal exceptions, and prohibit private entities from using face-scanning software for identification in all public accommodations. The bans will go into effect in January, with exemptions permitted for personal verification, such as for opening smartphones. A study by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology released last December found that most facial recognition systems have "demographic differentials" that can undermine their accuracy based on an individual's age, gender, or race.

Full Article

kid on swing looking a wrist watch Kids' Smartwatches a Security Nightmare, Despite Years of Warnings
Andy Greenberg
September 10, 2020

Researchers at Germany's Münster University of Applied Sciences found smartwatch brands marketed for children are exploitable, based on years of similar findings. Of the six brands investigated, four use variants of a model from the same white label manufacturer, with hardware and backend server architecture from Chinese company 3G. Smartwatches using that system lack encryption or authentication in their communications with the server that sends data to and from parents' location-tracking smartphone application. Hackers could exploit such a smartwatch's International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) identifier to spoof communications from the watch for nefarious means, or they could abuse Structured Query Language injection vulnerabilities in 3G's backend server to send malicious commands to the watches. Münster's Sebastian Schinzel said, “It's 2020. How can you sell something that speaks over mobile networks, is unencrypted and has no authentication or anything?”

Full Article
*May Require Paid Registration
Australian Government Releases Voluntary IoT Cybersecurity Code of Practice
Aimee Chanthadavong
September 3, 2020

A voluntary code of practice issued by the Australian government offers a best-practice guide for designing Internet of Things (IoT) devices that incorporate cybersecurity features. The voluntary code, which applies to all IoT devices that connect to the Internet to send and receive data in Australia, is based on 13 principles that include using multi-factor authentication, implementing a vulnerability disclosure process that allows security researchers and others to report cybersecurity issues, and keeping software securely updated. In addition, the code encourages manufacturers to protect personal data in accordance with data protection laws, and to make it easy for consumers to delete their own personal data when they get rid of the device. The Australian Signals Directorate's Australian Cyber Security Center has released guides to help manufacturers implement the code of practice.

Full Article
Secure Quantum Communications Network the Largest of Its Kind
New Scientist
Chris Stokel-Walker
September 2, 2020

Scientists at the U.K.'s University of Bristol have developed a secure quantum communications network based on multiplexing entanglement, a process that can be used to produce a secure encryption key. Multiplexing entanglement splits photons from a single laser based on their wavelength, rather than linking users one-to-one. Bristol's Siddarth Joshi said each wavelength can support a data stream, allowing the system to accommodate 50 to 100 users with existing hardware. Joshi says this method can be used to link millions of devices together, and his goal "is to build the quantum Internet."

Full Article

An illustration showing how Ohm can predict an allosteric pathway in a protein. Computational Tool Enables Prediction of Key Functional Sites in Proteins Based on Structure
Penn State News
September 3, 2020

Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) researchers have developed a new computational tool that uses a protein's structure to predict the mechanisms governing its function and dynamics. Penn State's Nikolay Dokholyan and Jian Wang developed the Ohm algorithm to predict allosteric sites by factoring in interactions between the atoms constituting amino acids, and identifying atomically dense areas in proteins. The researchers tested Ohm's functionality by feeding it genetic data from 20 proteins with known allosteric sites, and the algorithm identified many of the same sites predicted by other approaches. Said Wang, "This tool will be essential for the future of allosteric drug development that seeks to reduce unwanted side effects through specific targeting."

Full Article
China Launches Initiative to Set Global Data Security Rules
The Wall Street Journal
Chun Han Wong
September 8, 2020

China on Tuesday launched the Global Initiative on Data Security to establish international data-security standards, in an attempt to counter U.S. efforts to persuade other nations to exclude Chinese vendors and technology from their networks. The initiative urges countries to manage data security in a "comprehensive, objective, and evidence-based manner," while maintaining an open, secure, and stable supply chain for data and communications technology and services. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said global rules would "reflect the will and respect the interests of all countries," and offset risks to data security and politicization by rival nations. The initiative was announced about a month after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's declaration of the Clean Network program, which would bar Chinese suppliers and technology from the Internet infrastructure of the U.S. and other nations.

Full Article
*May Require Paid Registration

A hand holding a cellphone with job data floating above it. Job Satisfaction Jumps for U.S. Engineers While Salary Growth Slows
IEEE Spectrum
Tekla S. Perry
September 9, 2020

The latest IEEE-USA Salary & Benefits Survey found the typical technology professional IEEE member earned $148,500 in 2019, a 2.4% increase from 2018, while job satisfaction jumped. Overall satisfaction passed the 1.0 mark (on a scale of -2 to +2) for the first time last year, extending through all categories of satisfaction tracked in recent years, including satisfaction with technical challenges, employer support for technical vitality, compensation, and advancement opportunities. Consumer electronics engineers saw the highest median income of tech professionals last year at $185,000, while educators’ median income ranked lowest with $105,707, and machine learning specialists' median income fell from $185,000 to $130,800 year-over-year. Although just 8.6% of respondents employed full time in their primary area of technical concept identified as female, the overall median-income gap between men and women rose 18% year-over-year, according to the survey, which also reported income gaps between Caucasians and African-Americans widened.

Full Article
Monitoring Sleep Positions for Healthy Rest
MIT News
Becky Ham
September 11, 2020

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have developed a wireless device for monitoring a person's sleep posture via reflected radio signals. MIT's Shichao Yue said the BodyCompass device can provide accurate sleep data by transmitting radio signals around the room and collecting them as they bounce and return through multiple pathways. Researchers map these pathways, working in reverse from the reflections to determine the body's posture. A customized neural network deduces the sleeping body's angle by analyzing the signal reflections. The researchers said BodyCompass could predict correct body posture with 94% accuracy when trained on a week's worth of sleep data.

Full Article

A Ghost Robotics Vision 60 prototype operates at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, on September 3. Robot Dogs Join U.S. Air Force Exercise
Brad Lendon
September 9, 2020

A recent U.S. Air Force (USAF) exercise utilizing robot dogs offered a potential preview of things to come on battlefields, with the legged machines dispatched to visually scout for threats after planes land in potentially hostile areas. The Vision 60 autonomous unmanned ground vehicles from Ghost Robotics can operate on any terrain and in any environment and can carry multiple sensors and radios. The electronic canines are part of the U.S. military’s Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS), which employs artificial intelligence and rapid data analytics to detect and counter threats to military assets in space, as well as possible attacks against the U.S. USAF assistant secretary Will Roper said, " Valuing data as an essential warfighting resource, one no less vital than jet fuel or satellites, is the key to next-gen warfare.”

Full Article

An infographic of how scientists have solved a long-standing puzzle of human gene activation. AI Aids Gene Activation Discovery
University of California, San Diego
Mario Aguilera
September 9, 2020

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) used artificial intelligence (AI) to identify a DNA activation code that could eventually be used to control gene activation in biotechnology and biomedical applications. The team cultivated a pool of 500,000 random versions of DNA sequences and evaluated each version's downstream core promoter region (DPR) activity. From this, the researchers used 200,000 versions to produce a machine learning model that could accurately forecast DPR activity in human DNA. The results were so impressive that the researchers created a similar model to identify TATA box sequences, sequences that resemble the DNA chain (TATAAA) known to transcribe almost 25% of human genes. UCSD's James T. Kadonaga said, "There is hidden information that is encrypted in the DNA sequence that makes it an active DPR element. The machine learning model can decipher that code, but we humans cannot.”

Full Article
The Sparse Fourier Transform
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]