afternoonbuzz

Supermicro, Firefox, Patch Tuesday, More: Thursday Afternoon ResearchBuzz, December 13, 2018

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

TechCrunch: Supermicro says investigation firm found no spy chips. “Supermicro has sent a letter to its customers saying that it has found no evidence of malicious chips on its motherboards. The company asked third-party company Nardello & Co. to audit Supermicro’s hardware. On October 4, a Bloomberg report claimed that China’s spies managed to conceal tiny malicious chips on Supermicro motherboards. Those chips would then end up in data centers operated by Supermicro customers, such as Amazon and Apple.”

Mozilla Blog: Latest Firefox Release Available Today. “It’s the season for spending time with family and friends over a nice meal and exchanging gifts. Whether it’s a monogrammed bag or a nicely curated 2019 calendar of family photos, it’s the practical gifts that get the most use. For Firefox, we’re always looking for ways to simplify and personalize your online experience. For today’s version of Firefox for desktop, we have a couple new features that do just that.”

Neowin: Patch Tuesday: Here’s what’s new for Windows 7 and 8.1. “Today is Patch Tuesday, the second Tuesday of the month when Microsoft releases updates for all supported versions of Windows. Alongside Windows 10, older versions like Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 get updates as well and that includes their corresponding Windows Server versions. This month is a pretty easy one, as all of the updates have the same changelog.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Core77: Eye-Opening Photos and Video Taken Inside Illegal Click Farms. “I live out in the middle of nowhere, but I still get tons of scam-tastic Mandarin robo-calls. It makes me miss the days of being e-mailed by Nigerian princes. Scams evolve as technology improves, and nowhere is this more evident than in the proliferation of click farms.”

New York Times: How Do You Recover After Millions Have Watched You Overdose?. “The first time Kelmae Hemphill watched herself overdose, she sobbed. There she was in a shaky video filmed by her own heroin dealer, sprawled out on a New Jersey road while a stranger pounded on her chest. ‘Come on, girl,’ someone pleaded. Ms. Hemphill’s 11-year drug addiction, her criminal record, her struggles as a mother — they were now everybody’s business, splashed across the news and social media with a new genre of American horror film: the overdose video.”

SECURITY & LEGAL

CBR: New Formjacking Technique Used to Skim Payment Details Off Websites. “Researchers at cybersecurity company Symantec have identified a new formjacking campaign targeting a French ecommerce site that is prominently featured in global shopping aggregator listings. Over 30 online retail websites from all over the world were redirecting traffic to the compromised site. Formjacking is a term used to describe the injection of JavaScript code into the payment section of a website. This code then skims the payment details of unaware customers sending it onto to threat actors to abuse.”

TorrentFreak: Google Gets a Slap on the Wrist For Site-Blocking Failures. “Under Russian law, search engine operators are required to censor their search results to ensure that permanently blocked sites do not appear in their indexes. After failing to comply by interfacing its systems with the national FGIS blacklist database, Google has now been fined 500,000 rubles (US$7,545), the lowest amount that can be levied under existing laws.”

RESEARCH & OPINION

Ars Technica: What’s eating this 400-year-old painting? A whole ecosystem of microbes. “If you could zoom in for a microscopic look at an oil painting on canvas, you would see many thin, overlapping layers of pigments—powdered bits of insects, plants, or minerals—held together with oils or glue made from animal collagens. Many of those pigments and binding materials are surprisingly edible to bacteria and fungi. Each patch of color and each layer of paint and varnish in an oil painting offers a different microbial habitat. So when you look at a painting, you’re not just looking at a work of art; you’re looking at a whole ecosystem.”

EurekAlert: Internet therapy apps reduce depression symptoms, IU study finds . “In the past several years, many internet-based apps and websites have made claims to treat depression. The subjects of the [Indiana University] study were specifically those applications that provide treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy, a form of psychotherapy that focuses on changing thought patterns and behavior to alleviate symptoms of depression and other mental disorders.”

Quartz: Scientists used Google searches to predict heroin overdoses. “The United States is in the midst of an opioid crisis. Every day, over 100 people die from opioid overdoses, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But what if we could know about overdoses before they happen? Scientists in California have opened the possibility of having such preemptive knowledge by creating a model that uses Google searches to predict overdoses from heroin.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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