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27 Jul

Defcon 2017 a playground for hackers

UNITED STATES (WNF) - Thousands of hackers descend on Las Vegas, Nevada, for 25th Defcon (DC25) fun and games. No real names are required at the cash-only event.
The cyber-security world, which has coined expressions such as “spear phishing” for certain types of email attacks, categorize some hackers as black hat or white hat. The black hatters exploit Internet security systems. The white hat kind build and protect the systems. They mingle, indistinguishable from each other and from the thousands who come to Defcon purely for the satisfaction of the contests or to recruit talent.

The superstars reveal themselves in contests that include cyber lock-picking and password cracking. The most prestigious challenge is Capture The Flag. Competitors must pre-qualify for the so-called World Series of Hacking, and the prize is free entry to Defcon for life.

The theme for DC25 is: Community, Discovery and the Unintended Uses of Technology.

Defcon was started in 1993 by Jeff Moss, a hacker also known as Dark Tangent. It has seen explosive growth every year.

The Black Hat conference, also in Las Vegas, precedes Defcon, and there is considerable crossover of attendees. Black Hat speeches and attractions are geared for the corporate side of cyber-security. #22153 Published: 05/05/2017

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30 Jul

Venezuela to vote on constituent assembly as international isolation deepens

VENEZUELA (GN) - Venezuela’s government is set to press ahead with a vote to elect a constituent assembly, prompting the opposition to blast the body as a sham designed to keep embattled President Nicolas Maduro in power.
Beset by near-daily street protests, Maduro in May announced a plan to create a “constituent assembly” with powers to rewrite the constitution, in what he says is a bid to bring peace back to the oil-rich nation.

Opponents say Maduro, helped by a compliant Supreme Court and National Electoral Council, is seeking to dodge national elections and is ignoring protester demands for an end to crushing food and medicine shortages.

Unrest prompted by food shortages has resulted in the deaths of at least 64 people since April.

The opposition has vowed to boycott the constituent assembly, and is calling for early presidential elections and respect for the existing congress, which has been led by Maduro critics since early 2016.

Domestic woes are not the only issues besetting the crisis-hit South American country. United Airlines recently announced that it would end its daily flight service to Venezuela in July, deepening the country’s isolation from international travel after the exit of many major airlines in recent years.

Many airlines left after a protracted dispute over billions of dollars they say Maduro’s government owes them. They say his administration failed to reimburse companies in hard currency for ticket sales in local currency, as per strict currency controls in the socialist nation.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in 2016 that US $3.78 billion was owed to international airlines by Venezuelan authorities. A handful of airlines including Copa and Avianca - part of the Star Alliance network alongside United - as well as Air France and Iberia, continue to operate in the beleaguered OPEC nation. #22212 Published: 06/19/2017

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European Space Agency launches project with Moon outpost in distant view

GERMANY (WNF) - The European Space Agency (ESA) opens a lunar analogue facility in Cologne, with an eventual Moon Village – and possible Chinese collaboration – in its sights. (July 2017
The analogue unit, opening at the ESA’s European Astronaut Centre (EAC), is to familiarize astronauts with the hostile conditions they will have to cope with on the Moon. EAC is already researching technology and designs needed for a permanent Moon base. The Future Lunar Exploration habitat (FLEXhab) project sees EAC researching 3D printing technology as a potential means of producing habitat elements from lunar materials.

Other ESA facilities are undertaking related projects – EXOHAB at ESA-ESTEC/ILEWG in the Netherlands, and the Modular Analogue Research Station project (MARS) in Poland.

Asked about the outpost in an ESA article, the director general of the 22-member ESA, Johann-Dietrich Woerner, described it as conforming to the spirit of the International Space Station. “In the Moon Village we would like to combine the capabilities of different spacefaring nations,” he explained, “with the help of robots and astronauts. The participants can work in different fields, perhaps they will conduct pure science and perhaps there will even be business ventures like mining or tourism.”

The secretary general for China's space agency, Tian Yulong, disclosed the talks about the envisioned lunar base in Chinese state media in April. ESA spokesman Pal Hvistendahl confirmed the talks.

China’s ongoing lunar missions will bring valuable technological innovation to a collaborative project with the ESA and other partners. The China National Space Administration plans to launch a mission to collect samples from the Moon by the end of this year. In 2018 it plans the first mission to the far side of the Moon to bring back mineral samples. #22148 Published: 04/28/2017

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