Daily Archives: April 14, 2016

How to Write a Twitter Bot in 5 Minutes

Twitter Bots can do interesting things. You can tweet questions like “how many calories are in diet coke” to @DearAssistant and the Twitter bot, like Google Now or Apple Siri, will reply with the answer. The @HundredZeros bot tweets links to eBooks that are free on Amazon. Another Twitter bot @WhatTheFare will tell you the Uber fare between two locations.

A bot is a program that runs in the background and, when it encounters a command, it performs some action. For instance, you can have a grammar bot that looks for tweets containing misspellings and tweet the correct spelling.

A bot can automatically favorite or retweet tweets that match certain criteria. It can follow Twitter user who have tweeted a particular phrase. A brand may build an auto-reply bot that automatically responds when the brand gets a @mention on Twitter. You may have a bot that auto-sends a DM (direct message) to users who follow you on Twitter.

Writing a Twitter bot is easy and you can get one up and running in 5 minutes. Our Twitter bots run on Google servers and you don’t need any coding skills to create the bot. The bots are internally written using Google Scripts.

continue http://www.labnol.org/internet/write-twitter-bot/27902/

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SANS man lists five security things you’re not doing but should

SANS Institute dean of research and head of the SANS Internet Storm Center (ISC) Johannes Ullrich has given systems admins some some light weekend reading with a list of five neglected security controls that “nobody implements”.

Ullrich reckons that if put these controls in place your security posture will improve and things will get better for all internet users.

“‘Nobody’ may be wording it a bit strong,” Ullrich says.

“But adoption of these security features is certainly not taking off.”

His favourite security orphan technology is DNSSEC, which helps eradicate spoofing by providing authentication to DNS with extensions that validate origin of DNS data and data integrity.

There are reasons why admins put it off, however; there is a “good chance” domains will go dark if the complex implementation is borked, and few breaches have been caused by a failure to deploy.

It is high risk, low gain, Ullrich says, but admins can pair with registrars who make it easy to deploy.

Outbound firewall rules are surprisingly uncommon with most networks blocking inbound connections only, and as such should be on the admin’s weekend reading list.

Ullrich says blocking incoming fire only offers a marginal improvement to security compared to preventing servers from downloading malcode or shipping off data to command and control servers.

continue http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/04/08/weekend_reading_five_security_things_youre_not_doing_but_should/

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Testing anti-paedophilia drugs

How do you run an ethical randomised trial to stop paedophilia? This is the question that hovers over research into drugs which are intended to stop unwanted sexual impulses.

Swedish doctors at the Karolinska Institute are investigating the effectiveness of a prostate cancer drug called Firmagon, which blocks the production of testosterone in the testes. It is effectively a form of chemical castration.

Other drugs are already in use, but there is very little hard evidence of how well they work. One of the reasons for this is the legal and ethical issues surrounding paedophilia. Doctors are supposed to report patients if they discover that they have committed a criminal offence like downloading child pornography, so men are understandably reluctant to volunteer for trials. The ethics of giving some patients who are at risk of offending a placebo are also murky. One of the goals of the study is to clarify the ethics of the methodology, in view of the social importance of the topic.
– See more at: http://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/testing-anti-paedophilia-drugs/11822#sthash.nfWAVJeu.dpuf

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Motorcycle Deaths Fell after Mandatory Helmet Law Repeal

A Grand Rapids doctor generated national headlines with his study that claimed motorcyclist head injuries and deaths have increased sharply since the state repealed a mandatory helmet law in 2012.

Dr. Carlos Rodriguez, the author of the study, said that he noticed a spike in injuries and deaths while working in the trauma unit at Spectrum Health Hospital.

“Injuries soar after Michigan stops requiring motorcycle helmets,” is what the Reuters news service said in a headline.

But statistics compiled by the Michigan State Police don’t support a claim of a large increase in motorcycle-related injuries or deaths since the helmet law was lifted.

“We are reporting what we are finding (at Spectrum Health Hospital),” Rodriguez said. “That’s the only thing we can report.”

His study looked at 345 individuals treated at the West Michigan hospital for motorcycle crashes during the months of April through October during the years 2011 through 2014. The helmet law was repealed in April 2012.

continue https://fee.org/articles/motorcycle-deaths-fell-after-mandatory-helmet-law-repeal/

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ARRIS SURFboard Modems Plagued by CSRF Flaw

Several ARRIS SURFboard broadband cable modem models suffer from cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability that allows an attacker to reboot them without authentication.

The issue was discovered in ARRIS (formerly Motorola) SURFboard 6141 broadband cable modems running under firmware released by Time Warner Cable. The modem’s LAN-side web interface, which can be accessed by typing a fixed IP address, does not require authentication and is susceptible to the CSRF flaw through which the modem can be rebooted with a single click.

SURFboard 6141 is one of the most popular ARRIS modems to date, but the exact number of sold devices isn’t know at the moment. While the modem’s product page said last week that the company distributed 135 million units, the mention has since been removed.

However, with other models affected as well, including SURFboard 5100 and 6121, millions of units could indeed be affected. The SURFboard 5100 model was discovered to include the same vulnerability eight years ago, when they were sold under Motorola’s brand, while the issue with SURFboard 6121 devices was reported last year.

continue http://www.securityweek.com/arris-surfboard-modems-plagued-csrf-flaw

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Posthumanism and Contemporary Art

The art in MOCA’s Winter/Spring exhibition Stranger, is art of the posthuman era. The idea of the posthuman is a big new philosophical and scientific concept, and big new philosophical or scientific concepts often cause paradigm shifts in the way we think about our world, about ourselves, and about our relation to the universe. And that, in turn, changes art. Which changes us, because art reflects and anticipates our struggles to absorb and assimilate new ideas and how they relate to us.


The paradigm shift we are moving through now is being caused by the increasing saturation of our daily existence by emerging technology. This saturation is so complete that we are not even fully conscious of it all. It has become so much a part of us: our ties to smart phones, virtual games, and social media are becoming increasingly umbilical and routine—so much so that these digital artifacts alone are changing the very fabric of our society.

But there is more: many thinkers say emerging technology will change what it means to be human, and that, in fact, it is already doing so. One small example of this is the growing collection of devices that allow us to alter our natural human limits: we have robots that allow us to experience planets by proxy—and in ways, as with the Mars Rover’s infrared sensors, that we could not do naturally. Modern science has also recently provided us with artificial retinas and inner ears (cochleae), artificial voices (like the kind that allows the famed physicist Stephen Hawking to talk); and even with pacemakers, automatic defibrillators and insulin pumps that allow us to cheat death itself. In fact, for the first time, technology experts think that we are on the verge of speeding up and controlling our own evolution, even of transforming ourselves into a new species—one that is beyond human, one that is posthuman. Thus the name that some have given to our current era: a posthuman, and post-humanist one. These are two different but related concepts in that both are marked by rapidly accelerating technological change.

continue http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/LaGrandeur20160408

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Flaccid Sales Plague Female Viagra Drug

Last August, Sprout Pharmaceuticals had a new pill on its hands that quickly captured the nation’s imagination. The Food and Drug Administration had just approved its drug Addyi to treat low sex drive in women.

Late-night comedians joked about “female Viagra.” Wall Street analysts conjectured about blockbuster sales. In clinical trials, women reported a small, but statistically significant, uptick in the number of satisfying sexual experiences per month.

“This was just such a huge moment for women,” Cindy Whitehead, Sprout’s chief executive, told Fortune magazine at the time.

Things got even better for Sprout a day after the F.D.A. approval, when Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, a drug company whose deal-making acumen had made it a stock-market darling, bought Sprout for an astonishing $1 billion — twice its value just two months earlier.

What could go wrong? Well, just about everything.

Within weeks of the deal, Valeant went from investor idol to pariah as its business model of buying older drugs and raising the prices attracted international scorn. Since then, its stock has fallen 85 percent. On Monday, Valeant dismissed the entire sales force behind the drug and said it planned to reintroduce Addyi this year. Doctors had prescribed the drug fewer than 4,000 times as of February.

continue http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/10/business/female-viagra-addyi-valeant-dysfunction.html

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‘Fart detector’ wins Chinese Physics prize

China has awarded a prestigious “Pineapple Prize” to a fart-detector.

The Pineapple Prizes are organised by Guokr.com, a Chinese popular science publication that named the award after the fruit which in China is said to be so ugly that only the brave and curious would explore its delicious interior. The prizes therefore look for discoveries that are both useful and amusing.

This year that approach saw Li Jigong of Tianjin University take out the Physics prize for a device Chinese state media says “not only solves the mystery of who farted, but provides a way to locate the source of any odor through the complex dynamics of air.”

A spot of research suggests there’s actually some serious work behind this one, as Jigong is co-author of a paper titled Odor source localization using a mobile robot in outdoor airflow environments with a particle filter algorithm.

continue http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/04/11/fart_detector_wins_chinese_physics_prize/

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Hack The Pentagon, Legally

The United States Department of Defense just launched the world’s first government-funded bug bounty program named HackThePentagon. Following the example of Facebook, Google, and other big US companies, the DoD finally provides “a legal avenue for the responsible disclosure of security vulnerabilities”.

However, breaking into the Pentagon’s weapon programs will still get you in trouble. This pilot program has a very limited scope of the Pentagon’s cafeteria menu some non-critical systems and is open only between April 18 and May 12 this year. In total, about $150,000 of bounties may be rewarded to responsible hackers.

Anyone can take part in the program, but to receive financial rewards, you need to fulfill a list of criteria. Your profile will undergo a criminal background check and certain restrictions based on your country of residence may apply. Also, to hack into the government’s computer system and get a tax return, you must be a US taxpayer in the first place.

Even though this framework turns the initiative more into one-month hacking contest than a permanently installed bug bounty program, it is certainly a good start. The program itself is hosted on HackerOne, a platform that aims to streamline the process of distributing bug bounties.

source http://hackaday.com/2016/04/11/hack-the-pentagon-legally/

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