QUANTUM LEAP NEWSLETTER
Hackers reportedly linked to the Russian government managed to hack into multiple U.S government agencies in what could perhaps be the largest hack of government systems ever. Malware inserted into third-party software may have given hackers access to various government systems for months. It went undetected until last week when a cybersecurity company, FireEye, which makes hacking tools discovered reported that its own systems were breached.
Security agencies are currently assessing exactly which departments were breached and what information was accessed. So far, the Commerce Department has confirmed it was hacked, and the Treasury and State departments, Department of Homeland Security, parts of the Pentagon, and the National Institutes of Health are reported to have been affected. There will likely be more.
According to anonymous officials, the hackers are a Russian group called Cozy Bear, also known as APT29. It was also behind the hack of the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 U.S presidential campaign, as well as the 2014 hack of the White House and State Department’s unclassified networks. Cozy Bear is also believed to be behind recent attacks on various organizations developing Covid-19 vaccines. The group is linked to Russian intelligence, although Russia has denied any involvement — a position it maintains now.
“Malicious activities in the information space contradicts the principles of the Russian foreign policy, national interests and our understanding of interstate relations. Russia does not conduct offensive operations in the cyber domain.”
~ Russian Embassy in the U.S
The hacked Cybersecurity company FireEye stated that it was a supply chain attack trojanizing legitimate SolarWinds Orion business software updates to distribute malware. This hacking campaign, which may date back to as early as fall 2019, affects vulnerable Orion versions 2019.4 HF 5 through 2020.2.1.
According to FireEye, a SolarWinds digitally-signed component of the Orion software framework contains a backdoor, dubbed SUNBURST, that communicates via HTTP to attacker-owned CC servers. This takeover of SolarWinds’ Orion software, an IT performance monitoring platform that integrates into a businesses’ full IT stack, is akin to handing over the keys to SolarWinds’ customers’ networks to attackers.
Researchers have developed an airborne method for imaging underwater objects by combining light and sound to break through the seemingly impassable barrier at the interface of air and water.
Engineers at the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis have developed a system in which oxygen and hydrogen could be directly coerced out of briny water, however, that brine electrolysis process would be much less complicated — and less expensive.
First created in 2006 by Graydon Hoare as a side project while working at browser-developer Mozilla, Rust blends the performance of languages such as C++ with friendlier syntax, a focus on code safety and a well-engineered set of tools that simplify development.
Israeli startup NewRocket has unveiled what it says is a “new generation” of rocket engines that are gel-fueled, low-cost and environmentally friendly. The company’s engines are suited for space and defense purposes.
Danish researchers propose an alternative type of antivenom, named Serpentides, that is simple to make, cheaper to produce and can be used by anyone, anywhere.
Researchers programmed a Pebble watch to measure heart rate and body movements during sleep. It would send vibrations to the wearer’s wrist when those indicators increased, signaling the beginning of a nightmare.
Lancaster University researchers studying a crystalline material have discovered it has properties that allow it to capture energy from the sun. The energy can be stored for several months at room temperature, and it can be released on demand in the form of heat.
The new system enables realistic variations in glossiness across a 3D-printed surface. The advance could aid fine art reproduction and the design of prosthetics.
Amazon’s self-driving vehicle company, Zoox, is taking the wraps off of its first robotaxi — an electric, fully driverless vehicle that’s built for ride-hailing. It’s a “carriage-style” car, which means that passengers face each other and there’s no space for a driver or passenger seat since there’s no steering wheel. It has space for up to four passengers.
A team in Paris has made the most precise measurement yet of the fine-structure constant, killing hopes for a new force of nature. Numerically, the fine-structure constant, denoted by the Greek letter α (alpha), comes very close to the ratio 1/137.
About 110 million years ago along the shores of an ancient lagoon in what is now north-eastern Brazil, a two-legged, chicken-sized Cretaceous period dinosaur made living hunting insects and perhaps small vertebrates like frogs and lizards.
The height of Mt Everest has grown by 86cm to now measure 8848.86m, the foreign ministers of Nepal and China revealed at a joint virtual live event recently. The new height puts end to speculation about whether Mt Everest had risen or shrunk and by how much after the 2015 earthquake.