Catch up on this week’s round-up of the latest hosting and tech news. Here’s what we’ve uncovered since our last edition.
Microsoft 365 login theft causes mayhem for US Gov
According to the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, an intruder has hacked into an unnamed government agency using stolen Office 365 login credentials. Once in, the hacker was able to access the agency’s internal network via its VPN and, from there, stole data and installed malware. It was only after the event that CISA’s intrusion detection system picked up the hack.
The login details, which included those for domain administrators, were themselves stolen through exploiting a vulnerability in the US government’s security software. Details of the hacker’s activities include browsing and downloading files from a SharePoint server, from where they found details of how to connect to the agency’s VPN; accessing individual Office 365 accounts, including sensitive email attachments; connecting to an external virtual server via SMB; and using admin credentials to install malware and to create a permanent network presence.
National Robotarium helps assisted living
The National Robotarium at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh is a world-leading centre for robotics and artificial intelligence that aims to find pioneering solutions to global challenges. One of those challenges is how to make life easier and give more independence to those needing assisted living.
Its newest lab is an assisted living home, built on-campus, that makes use of a stunning array of the latest technologies, including cameras, sensors, artificial intelligence, IoT devices and cloud technology. With these, researchers working in collaboration with end-users and carers are developing realistic and affordable solutions that can work in the real world.
Researchers invite people to live in the flat and then gather data about how it is used to help them create new products and improve existing technologies to make life easier. This also involves the use of robots to see how these can complement existing care provision.
COVID reinventing theatre
While it’s been a tough time for performers since the theatres went dark in March, some of those in the industry are using their creativity to find new ways to bring back live performances. One of the key tools has been the video streaming platform, Zoom, which not only enables the audience to see the performers but also lets the actors get live feedback from the crowd.
This, however, is only part of the innovation. Theatre companies are mixing live performance with recorded film, green screen technology and games technology. For example, when Creation Theatre Company decided to perform Alice In Wonderland on Zoom, they teamed up with Charisma AI which aside from creating an interactive Cheshire Cat that the audience could talk to, made use of a 3D games engine which enabled the audience interact with the performance.
To make live performances work, theatre companies are making increased use of the internet, doubling up broadband connections in actors’ homes and building redundancy into servers to ensure performances and their interactive elements don’t go offline.
For families thinking they’ll have to miss out on the Christmas panto this year, watch this space: Oxford-based Creation’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ was even recommended by The New York Times and Time Out New York.
Unnecessary data access
A survey of 1,200 UK and US professionals by security firm, Forcepoint, has revealed that 38% of those in private companies and 36% of those in the public sector believe they have access to sensitive data that they don’t need. A further 14% thought that their organisations didn’t have a clear picture of who had access to their data. Worryingly, half of respondents said that users with higher-level privileges browsed sensitive data purely through curiosity and 40% said some could be persuaded into sharing their login details.
The survey highlights the risk of data being stolen both internally by rogue employees and by staff falling victims to phishing scams. Organisations are being urged to review access privileges to ensure that only those who need access are given it. Refresher training on password security is also recommended.
AI robot wins gold at curling
An AI-assisted robot has beaten one of Korea’s elite women’s curling teams and the country’s national wheelchair team at curling. The robot uses a throwing unit to launch the curling stone and makes use of visual data of the target from a ‘skipper unit’ to help calculate the best trajectory.
To improve its performance in different environments and to enable it to adapt to the range of scenarios that present themselves with each turn, the machine’s developers trained the robot using a deep reinforcement learning algorithm.
The AI involved in the robot’s performance adapts each shot, depending upon temperature, humidity and friction, how other curling stones are positioned and how accurately it can perform its throw – it can even plan a strategy for winning the game. This is done with the help of the skipper robot, which is placed in the target area and which reads the position of the stones.
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