‘Pokemon Go’ fans accidentally wander over US-Canada border

Updated 25 July 2016

‘Pokemon Go’ fans accidentally wander over US-Canada border

There are no borders in the world of Pokemon Go.
But two young fans of the hit smartphone game were so preoccupied with catching cartoon monsters that they wandered across the US-Canada border in real life.
US Border Patrol agents spotted the pair illegally walking from Canada into the US on Thursday evening, the agency’s office in Sweetgrass, Montana said in a statement.
“Both juveniles were so captivated by their Pokemon Go games that they lost track of where they were. They crossed the international border inadvertently, but agents were able to reunite them with their mother,” public affairs officer Michael Rappold was quoted as saying.
It was a happy ending for the two youngsters.
Other Pokemon Go players have not been so lucky, finding themselves the victims of robbery or violent crimes. Fans have also been blamed for causing traffic accidents.
In Indonesia, a French player was stopped and questioned for several hours after the app led him into a military base.
The free app uses satellite locations, graphics and camera capabilities to overlay cartoon monsters on real-world settings, challenging players to capture and train the creatures for battles.


NFTs losing luster as cryptocurrencies crash

Updated 23 May 2022

NFTs losing luster as cryptocurrencies crash

  • Fraud a major reason cited for the downturn, with amounts lost to scams described as "eye-watering"
  • At least 80 percent of NFTs on leading exchanges OpenSea and LooksRare found to be fake

PARIS: A slew of celebrity endorsements helped inflate a multi-billion dollar bubble around digital tokens over the past year, but cryptocurrencies are crashing and some fear NFTs could be next.
NFTs are tokens linked to digital images, “collectable” items, avatars in games or property and objects in the burgeoning virtual world of the metaverse.
The likes of Paris Hilton, Gwyneth Paltrow and Serena Williams have boasted about owning NFTs and many under-30s have been enticed to gamble for the chance of making a quick profit.
But the whole sector is suffering a rout at the moment with all the major cryptocurrencies slumping in value, and the signs for NFTs are mixed at best.
The number of NFTs traded in the first quarter of this year slumped by almost 50 percent compared to the previous quarter, according to analysis firm Non-Fungible.
They reckoned the market was digesting the vast amount of NFTs created last year, with the resale market just getting off the ground.
Monitoring firm CryptoSlam reported a dramatic tail-off in May, with just $31 million spent on art and collectibles in the week to May 15, the lowest figure all year.
A symbol of the struggle is the forlorn attempt to re-sell an NFT of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s first tweet.
Dorsey managed to sell the NFT for almost $3 million last year but the new owner cannot find anyone willing to pay more than $20,000.

Molly White, a prominent critic of the crypto sphere, told AFP there were many possible reasons for the downturn.
“It could be a general decrease in hype, it could be fear of scams after so many high-profile ones, or it could be people tightening their belts,” she said.
The reputation of the industry has been hammered for much of the year.
The main exchange, OpenSea, admitted in January that more than 80 percent of the NFTs created with its free tool were fraudulent — many of them copies of other NFTs or famous artworks reproduced without permission.
“There’s a bit of everything on OpenSea,” said Olivier Lerner, co-author of the book “NFT Mine d’Or” (NFT Gold Mine).
“It’s a huge site and it’s not curated, so you really have no idea what you’re buying.”
LooksRare, an NFT exchange that overtook OpenSea for volume of sales this year, got into similar problems as its rival.
As many as 95 percent of the transactions on its platform were found to be fake, according to CryptoSlam.
Users were selling NFTs to themselves because LooksRare was offering tokens with every transaction — no matter what you were buying.
And the amounts lost to scams this year have been eye-watering.
The owners of Axie Infinity, a game played by millions in the Philippines and elsewhere and a key driver of the NFT market, managed to lose more than $500 million in a single swindle.

“As soon as you have a new technology, you immediately have fraudsters circling,” lawyer Eric Barbry told AFP.
He pointed out that the NFT market had no dedicated regulation so law enforcement agencies are left to cobble together a response using existing frameworks.
Molly White said strong regulation could help eliminate the extreme speculation but that could, in turn, rob NFTs of their major appeal — that they can bring quick profits.
“I think less hype would be a good thing — in its current form, NFT trading is enormously risky and probably unwise for the average person,” she said.
NFTs are often likened to the traditional art market because they have no inherent utility and their prices fluctuated wildly depending on trends and hype.
But Olivier Lerner suggested a different comparison.
“It’s like the lottery,” he said of those seeking big profits from NFTs. “You play, but you never win.”

Related


Major US airline CEOs warn 5G could ground some planes, wreak havoc

Updated 18 January 2022

Major US airline CEOs warn 5G could ground some planes, wreak havoc

  • FAA warned that potential interference could affect sensitive airplane instruments such as altimeters and significantly hamper low-visibility operations
  • AT&T and Verizon on Jan. 3 agreed to buffer zones around 50 airports to reduce interference risks

WASHINGTON: The chief executives of major US passenger and cargo carriers on Monday warned of an impending “catastrophic” aviation crisis in less than 36 hours, when AT&T and Verizon are set to deploy new 5G service.
The airlines warned the new C-Band 5G service set to begin on Wednesday could render a significant number of widebody aircraft unusable, “could potentially strand tens of thousands of Americans overseas” and cause “chaos” for US flights.
“Unless our major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will essentially be grounded,” wrote the chief executives of American Airlines , Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and others in a letter first reported by Reuters.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has warned that potential interference could affect sensitive airplane instruments such as altimeters and significantly hamper low-visibility operations.
“This means that on a day like yesterday, more than 1,100 flights and 100,000 passengers would be subjected to cancelations, diversions or delays,” the letter https://twitter.com/davidshepardson/status/1483148794690740224?s=20 cautioned.
Airlines late on Monday were considering whether to begin canceling some international flights that are scheduled to arrive in the United States on Wednesday.
“With the proposed restrictions at selected airports, the transportation industry is preparing for some service disruption. We are optimistic that we can work across industries and with government to finalize solutions that safely mitigate as many schedule impacts as possible,” plane maker Boeing said on Monday.

Workers install 5G telecommunications equipment on a T-Mobile tower in Seabrook, Texas,on May 6, 2020. (REUTERS/File Photo)

Action is urgent, the airlines added in the letter also signed by UPS Airlines, Alaska Air, Atlas Air , JetBlue Airways and FedEx Express. “To be blunt, the nation’s commerce will grind to a halt.”
The letter went to White House National Economic Council director Brian Deese, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.
Airlines for America, the group that organized the letter, declined to comment. The government agencies did not immediately comment.

’Intervention is needed’
AT&T and Verizon, which won nearly all of the C-Band spectrum in an $80 billion auction last year, on Jan. 3 agreed to buffer zones around 50 airports to reduce interference risks and take other steps to cut potential interference for six months. They also agreed to delay deployment for two weeks until Wednesday, temporarily averting an aviation safety standoff, after previously delaying service by 30 days.
Verizon and AT&T declined comment on Monday.
The CEOs of major airlines and Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun held a lengthy call with Buttigieg and Dickson on Sunday to warn of the looming crisis, officials told Reuters.
The airlines ask “that 5G be implemented everywhere in the country except within the approximate 2 miles (3.2 km) of airport runways” at some key airports.
“Immediate intervention is needed to avoid significant operational disruption to air passengers, shippers, supply chain and delivery of needed medical supplies,” they said.
The airlines added that flight restrictions will not be limited to poor weather operations.
“Multiple modern safety systems on aircraft will be deemed unusable causing a much larger problem than what we knew... Airplane manufacturers have informed us that there are huge swaths of the operating fleet that may need to be indefinitely grounded.”
One area of concern is whether some Boeing 777s will be unable to land at some key US airports after 5G service starts, as well as some Boeing cargo planes, airline officials told Reuters. The airlines urged action to ensure “5G is deployed except when towers are too close to airport runways until the FAA can determine how that can be safely accomplished without catastrophic disruption.”
The FAA said on Sunday it had cleared an estimated 45 percent of the US commercial airplane fleet to perform low-visibility landings at many airports where 5G C-band will be deployed and they expect to issue more approvals before Wednesday. The airlines noted on Monday that the list did not include many large airports. 


US aviation authority sets rules for some Boeing 787 landings near 5G service

Updated 15 January 2022

US aviation authority sets rules for some Boeing 787 landings near 5G service

  • FAA says 5G interference at airports could leave only the brakes of a Boeing 787 to slow the plane
  • Telecom companies and FCC insist 5G networks do not pose a threat to aviation

Federal safety officials are directing operators of some Boeing planes to adopt extra procedures when landing on wet or snowy runways near impending 5G service because, they say, interference from the wireless networks could mean that the planes need more room to land.
The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday that interference could delay systems like thrust reversers on Boeing 787s from kicking in, leaving only the brakes to slow the plane.
That “could prevent an aircraft from stopping on the runway,” the FAA said.
Similar orders could be issued in the coming days for other planes. The FAA has asked Boeing and Airbus for information about many models. Boeing said it is working with its suppliers, airlines, telecom companies and regulators “to ensure that every commercial airplane model can safely and confidently operate when 5G is implemented in the United States.”
The order for the Boeing jets comes a day after the FAA began issuing restrictions that airlines and other aircraft operators will face at many airports when AT&T and Verizon launch new, faster 5G wireless service Wednesday.
The agency is still studying whether those wireless networks will interfere with altimeters, which measure an aircraft’s height above the ground. Data from altimeters is used to help pilots land when visibility is poor.
The devices operate on a portion of the radio spectrum that is close to the range used by the new 5G service, called C-Band.
This week’s FAA actions are part of a larger fight between the aviation regulator and the telecom industry. The telecom companies and the Federal Communications Commission say 5G networks do not pose a threat to aviation. The FAA says more study is needed.
The FAA is conducting tests to learn how many commercial planes have altimeters that might be vulnerable to spectrum interference. The agency said this week it expects to estimate the percentage of those planes soon, but didn’t put a date on it.
“Aircraft with untested altimeters or that need retrofitting or replacement will be unable to perform low-visibility landings where 5G is deployed,” the agency said in a statement.
The order regarding Boeing 787s covers 137 planes in the US and 1,010 worldwide. The 787 is a two-aisle plane that is popular on longer routes, including many international flights.
The FAA said that based on information from Boeing, the 787s might not shift properly from flying to landing mode if there is interference, which could delay the activation of systems that help slow the plane.
AT&T and Verizon have twice agreed to postpone activating their new networks because of concerns raised by aviation groups and the FAA, most recently after the FAA and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg weighed in on the aviation industry’s side. Buttigieg and FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson warned that flights could be canceled or diverted to avoid potential safety risks.
Under an agreement with the telecom companies, the FAA designated 50 airports that will have buffer zones in which the companies will turn off 5G transmitters or make other changes to limit potential interference through early July.
The 50 include the three major airports in the New York City area — LaGuardia, JFK and Newark Liberty — O’Hare and Midway in Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth International, Bush Intercontinental in Houston, Los Angeles International and San Francisco.
That concession by the telecoms was modeled after an approach used in France, although the FAA said last week that France requires more dramatic reductions in cell-tower reach around airports.
 

Related


NASA telescope set for launch on million-mile voyage

Updated 25 December 2021

NASA telescope set for launch on million-mile voyage

  • Webb follows in the footsteps of the legendary Hubble — but intends to show humans what the Universe looked like even closer to its birth nearly 14 billion years ago
  • The telescope's mirror measures 6.5 meters in diameter, triple that of Hubble’s mirror

KOUROU, French Guiana: The world’s most powerful space telescope is set to blast off on Saturday to its outpost 1.5 million kilometers (930,000 miles) from Earth, after several delays caused by technical hitches.
The James Webb Space Telescope, some three decades and billions of dollars in the making, will leave Earth enclosed in its Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou Space Center in French Guiana.
The launch, scheduled in a brief window after 9:20 am (1220 GMT), will send the telescope on a month-long journey to its remote orbit.
It is expected to beam back new clues that will help scientists understand more about the origins of the Universe and Earth-like planets beyond our solar system.
Named after a former NASA director, Webb follows in the footsteps of the legendary Hubble — but intends to show humans what the Universe looked like even closer to its birth nearly 14 billion years ago.
Speaking on social media, Webb project co-founder John Mather described the telescope’s unprecedented sensitivity.
“#JWST can see the heat signature of a bumblebee at the distance of the Moon,” he said.
All that power is needed to detect the weak glow emitted billions of years ago by the very first galaxies to exist and the first stars being formed.

The telescope is unequalled in size and complexity.
Its mirror measures 6.5 meters (21 feet) in diameter — three times the size of the Hubble’s mirror — and is made of 18 hexagonal sections.
It is so large that it had to be folded to fit into the rocket.
That maneuver was laser-guided with NASA imposing strict isolation measures to limit any contact with the telescope’s mirrors from particles or even human breath.
Once the rockets have carried Webb 120 kilometers, the protective nose of the craft, called a “fairing,” is shed to lighten the load.
To protect the delicate instrument from changes in pressure at that stage, rocket-builder Arianespace installed a custom decompression system.
“Exceptional measures for an exceptional client,” said a European Space Agency official in Kourou on Thursday.
Crew on the ground will know whether the first stage of the flight was successful about 27 minutes after launch.
Once it reaches its station, the challenge will be to fully deploy the mirror and a tennis-court-sized sun shield.
That intimidatingly complex process will take two weeks and must be flawless if Webb is to function correctly.
Its orbit will be much farther than Hubble, which has been 600 kilometers above the Earth since 1990.
The location of Webb’s orbit is called the Lagrange 2 point and was chosen in part because it will keep the Earth, the Sun and the Moon all on the same side of its sun shield.
Webb is expected to officially enter service in June.

Related


Governments turn tables on ransomware gang REvil by pushing it offline

Updated 22 October 2021

Governments turn tables on ransomware gang REvil by pushing it offline

  • Law enforcement and intelligence cyber specialists were able to hack REvil's computer network infrastructure, obtaining control of at least some of their servers
  • One person familiar with the events said that a foreign partner of the US government carried out the hacking operation that penetrated REvil's computer architecture

The ransomware group REvil was itself hacked and forced offline this week by a multi-country operation, according to three private sector cyber experts working with the United States and one former official.
Former partners and associates of the Russian-led criminal gang were responsible for a May cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline that led to widespread gas shortages on the US East Coast. REvil's direct victims include top meatpacker JBS. The crime group's "Happy Blog” website, which had been used to leak victim data and extort companies, is no longer available.
Officials said the Colonial attack used encryption software called DarkSide, which was developed by REvil associates.
VMWare head of cybersecurity strategy Tom Kellermann said law enforcement and intelligence personnel stopped the group from victimizing additional companies.
"The FBI, in conjunction with Cyber Command, the Secret Service and like-minded countries, have truly engaged in significant disruptive actions against these groups,” said Kellermann, an adviser to the US Secret Service on cybercrime investigations. “REvil was top of the list.”
A leadership figure known as "0_neday," who had helped restart the group's operations after an earlier shutdown, said REvil's servers had been hacked by an unnamed party.
"The server was compromised, and they were looking for me," 0_neday wrote on a cybercrime forum last weekend and first spotted by security firm Recorded Future. "Good luck, everyone; I'm off."
US government attempts to stop REvil, one of the worst of dozens of ransomware gangs that work with hackers to penetrate and paralyze companies around the world, accelerated after the group compromised US software management company Kaseya in July. 
That breach opened access to hundreds of Kaseya's customers all at once, leading to numerous emergency cyber incident response calls.

Decryption key
Following the attack on Kaseya, the FBI obtained a universal decryption key that allowed those infected via Kaseya to recover their files without paying a ransom.
But law enforcement officials initially withheld the key for weeks as it quietly pursued REvil's staff, the FBI later acknowledged. 
According to three people familiar with the matter, law enforcement and intelligence cyber specialists were able to hack REvil's computer network infrastructure, obtaining control of at least some of their servers.
After websites that the hacker group used to conduct business went offline in July, the main spokesman for the group, who calls himself "Unknown," vanished from the internet.
When gang member 0_neday and others restored those websites from a backup last month, he unknowingly restarted some internal systems that were already controlled by law enforcement.
“The REvil ransomware gang restored the infrastructure from the backups under the assumption that they had not been compromised,” said Oleg Skulkin, deputy head of the forensics lab at the Russian-led security company Group-IB. “Ironically, the gang's own favorite tactic of compromising the backups was turned against them.”
Reliable backups are one of the most important defenses against ransomware attacks, but they must be kept unconnected from the main networks or they too can be encrypted by extortionists such as REvil.
A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council declined to comment on the operation specifically.
"Broadly speaking, we are undertaking a whole of government ransomware effort, including disruption of ransomware infrastructure and actors, working with the private sector to modernize our defenses, and building an international coalition to hold countries who harbor ransom actors accountable," the person said.
The FBI declined to comment.
One person familiar with the events said that a foreign partner of the US government carried out the hacking operation that penetrated REvil's computer architecture. A former US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the operation is still active.
The success stems from a determination by US Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco that ransomware attacks on critical infrastructure should be treated as a national security issue akin to terrorism, Kellermann said.
In June, Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General John Carlin told Reuters the Justice Department was elevating investigations of ransomware attacks to a similar priority.
Such actions gave the Justice Department and other agencies a legal basis to get help from US intelligence agencies and the Department of Defense, Kellermann said.
"Before, you couldn't hack into these forums, and the military didn't want to have anything to do with it. Since then, the gloves have come off." 

Related