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Game

Firaxis delays Marvel’s Midnight Suns, maybe until 2023

Take-Two Interactive has once again pushed back the release of Marvel’s Midnight Suns. Following a delay late last year, the from XCOM developer Firaxis was scheduled to arrive on October 7th. The publisher now plans to release the game sometime within its fiscal 2023 year, which ends on March 31st, 2023. Additionally, Midnight Suns won’t arrive on all consoles simultaneously.

“We have made the decision to move back the launch timing of Marvel’s Midnight Suns to ensure the teams at Firaxis Games and 2K deliver the best possible experience for our fans,” Take-Two said in a statement. “The title will launch later this fiscal year on Windows PC, Xbox Series X/S, and PlayStation 5. The Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch versions will follow at a later date.”

Marvel’s Midnight Suns was first announced at Gamescom 2021. Unlike XCOM, the game includes a deck-building component. Battles still unfold over the course of multiple turns, but instead of each superhero bringing the same set of abilities to every battle, you’ll draw cards to determine their capabilities. Some of the characters that will join your roster include Wolverine, Iron Man and Blade. You’ll also create your own superhero named The Hunter.

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Security

Cameo’s CEO fell victim to the latest Bored Ape NFT heist

Non-fungible token, or NFT, thefts aren’t uncommon, but they continue to be a little mind-boggling— a bizarre combination of high risk and massive financial losses. The latest high-profile target is Steven Galanis, the CEO of celebrity video platform Cameo. Galanis reported over the weekend that he’d gotten his Apple ID hacked, and as a result, he lost a variety of NFTs. Most prominently, that included a Bored Ape Yacht Club ape that he bought for nearly $320,000 in January.

Galanis tweeted about the theft of Ape #9012 on Saturday, following a bot reporting the NFT being resold. Galanis originally purchased the ape for 100 Ethereum — around $319,500 at the time of purchase — and the alleged thief flipped it to a new owner for 77 Ethereum, which is now worth around $130,000. Galanis tweeted that he’d also lost several other crypto assets, including BAYC-adjacent Otherside tokens and around 9,000 ApeCoin cryptocurrency tokens, currently worth around $66,000. As of this writing, OpenSea has frozen the ape in question, preventing the new owner — who goes by MonroeSaintJames — from selling it through the platform.

The exact hack mechanics aren’t clear from Galanis’ tweets. Some Twitter users suggested he’d kept a copy of his seed phrase (essentially a security key that can be used to get access to a crypto wallet) in a service that uses iCloud backups, giving the hacker access after his account was compromised. Galanis didn’t immediately reply to a Twitter direct message seeking confirmation from The Verge.

But plenty of other NFT owners have been hacked, sometimes for extraordinary sums. Actor Seth Green had an ape (which was also the star of an upcoming TV series from Green) hacked from his crypto wallet, then purchased it back for around $300,000. More egregiously, a hacker stole over $1 million in tokens by compromising the official BAYC Instagram account and phishing NFT owners. It’s theoretically easy to trace these transactions but essentially impossible to reverse them short of arranging a transfer with the new owner like Green did. So far, Galanis hasn’t done so — but if he wants the ape back, he may have no other choice.



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Computing

Lenovo releases two new ThinkPad workstations

Lenovo has just unveiled two new ThinkPad workstations during SIGGRAPH 2022. The range includes the ThinkPad P15v and the ThinkPad P14s, both of which are laptops.

These new mobile workstations will come equipped with some of the latest hardware from AMD and Nvidia, including AMD Ryzen Pro CPUs and Nvidia’s workstation RTX graphics.

Lenovo

Lenovo’s ThinkPads scarcely need an introduction. The company continues expanding its workstation presence by adding to it every so often, and now, two new models are joining the lineup. Lenovo markets the new releases toward creators, touting the fact that they’re more value-oriented than some of the high-end solutions it also offers.

Made to serve as a way to bridge the gap between the entry-level and premium segments, the two new ThinkPads vary in terms of both specs and size. The P14s is a smaller laptop, and according to Lenovo, it’s also the company’s lightest mobile workstation. With a 14-inch chassis and a weight of less than 3 pounds, it’s certainly going to be a slim, portable device.

The ThinkPad P14s can be configured with an AMD Ryzen Pro U-series CPU, including Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 options, with up to eight cores and a maximum clock speed of 4.7GHz. It doesn’t come with a discrete GPU, however, so it may do a better job in less graphics-intensive workloads — but with an integrated Radeon card, it will still suffice for many use cases.

Moving on to the ThinkPad P15v, this is the bigger and better of the two siblings, equipped with discrete graphics and a larger display. It weighs in at just under 5 pounds. It comes with a 15.6-inch display and a maximum resolution of UHD, meaning 3840 x 2160, although there’s also an FHD option at 1920 x 1080. Both screens feature IPS panels for increased brightness and better color reproduction.

Engineer, wearing a hard hat, works on the Lenovo ThinkPad P14s as another engineer works in the background.
Lenovo

Processor options are similar, but here we have AMD Ryzen Pro H-series CPUs, including Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 variants with the same core configuration and clocks as the P14s. Customers will be able to pick out an up to Nvidia RTX A2000 graphics card, making this one a strong option for content creators and various creatives.

Storage and memory options include up to 32GB of LPDDR5-6400 RAM for the P14s and a maximum of 64GB DDR5-4800 for the P15v, as well as up to 2TB storage for the smaller workstation and up to 4TB for the bigger version. You can pick either Windows 11 Pro or Home, Windows 10 Pro, or Linux.

It’s unclear when exactly the new workstations will be up for sale or how much they will cost. Each can be configured to match your specific needs, so the price will surely vary based on the specs that are picked.

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Security

Twilio employees were tricked into a phishing scam… and some customers were affected

Digital communication platform Twilio was hacked after a phishing campaign tricked its employees into revealing their login credentials (via TechCrunch). The company disclosed the data breach in a post on its blog, noting that only “a limited number” of customer accounts were affected by the attack. Twilio allows web services to send SMS messages and place voice calls over telephone networks and is used by companies including Uber, Twitter, and Airbnb.

The hack occurred on August 4th and involved a bad actor sending SMS messages to Twilio employees that asked them to reset their password or alerted them to a change in their schedule. Each message included a link with keywords, like “Twilio,” “SSO” (single sign-on), and “Okta,” the name of the user authentication service used by many companies. The link directed employees to a page that mimicked a real Twilio sign-in page, allowing hackers to collect the information employees inputted there.

After it became aware of the breach, Twilio worked with US phone carriers to shut down the SMS scheme and also had web hosting platforms take down the phony sign-in pages. Despite this, Twilio says that hackers managed to swap to new hosting providers and mobile carriers to continue their campaign.

“Based on these factors, we have reason to believe the threat actors are well-organized, sophisticated and methodical in their action,” Twilio adds. “Socially engineered attacks are — by their very nature — complex, advanced, and built to challenge even the most advanced defenses.”

Twilio’s working with law enforcement to find out who’s responsible for the campaign and says it also heard from companies that “were subject to similar attacks.” Twilio has since shut down access to the compromised employee accounts and will also alert any customers affected by the breach.

Social engineering is becoming an increasingly common tactic for hackers. Earlier this year, a report from Bloomberg revealed that both Apple and Meta shared data with hackers pretending to be law enforcement officials. Last year, a hacker tricked a Robinhood customer service representative into disclosing the information of over 7 million customers.

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Computing

Intel Arc Pro is real — three new workstation GPUs revealed

Intel has three new graphics cards coming up, but they don’t include the gaming Arc Alchemist that you probably had in mind. The company has just announced the Intel Arc Pro A-series, a new discrete graphics card line made for professionals.

Announced during SIGGRAPH 2022, the range includes the Arc Pro A30M for mobile workstations and the Arc Pro A40 and Arc Pro A50 for small-form-factor desktops.

It seems that the previous rumors were true — there is, in fact, an Intel Arc Pro lineup, and the company has just officially unveiled it. With three new GPUs coming soon, Intel is entering the workstation market with its discrete graphics cards.

Intel said that the new GPUs were made to meet the requirements of all kinds of professional software. This includes applications within the design, manufacturing, media, entertainment, architecture, engineering, and construction segments.

Although the exact specifications of these new workstation GPUs have not yet been revealed, we know that the Arc Pro A30M will find its way into laptop workstations and the other two will be installed in compact desktops. One more thing we know is that the Arc Pro A40 is a single-slot GPU and the Arc Pro A50 is a dual-slot model. Given the naming convention, we expect that these will be entry-to-midrange options, seeing as Intel’s flagship Arc GPU is the A770.

Intel promises support for all the latest technologies utilized by professionals. The new graphics cards all feature built-in ray tracing, AV1 hardware encoding acceleration, and machine learning capabilities. This includes the widely used Blender as well as various open-source libraries included in the Intel oneAPI Rendering Toolkit.

Intel is demo-ing the cards in a few different applications during this year’s SIGGRAPH, marking the first time that the Arc Pro is running live in public. The manufacturer will be showing off its new product, and more precisely its hardware-accelerated artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, in Topaz Video Enhance AI, a software that enhances video quality and resolution.

Intel's demo of Topaz, comparing the quality of two images.
Intel

The GPUs will also be seen running Trimble’s SketchUp, a 3D designing app often used for architectural purposes. This will be done to show that even an entry-level workstation running an Arc Pro GPU will be able to perform these tasks due to hardware-accelerated ray tracing and hardware-assisted A.I. via Intel’s XeSS.

You don’t have to be there in person to see what Intel Arc Pro can do — Intel has little previews on its official website with sliders that let you compare the “before” with the “after.” The video enhanced by Topaz loses some of its colors and contrasts but turns out a whole lot less grainy. The SketchUp preview turns a drawing into a lifelike-looking render.

Intel Arc Pro A-series graphics cards will be available at an undisclosed time later this year. For now, there’s no info on pricing, though. Seeing as we’re also awaiting the official and global launch of the Intel Arc lineup made for consumers, it now seems that Intel will be releasing several GPUs before the year is done.

Editors’ Choice




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Game

SNK is making its first new Fatal Fury game in 23 years

Many classic fighting game series have a reasonably consistent stream of sequels, but not Fatal Fury — the last title (Garou: Mark of the Wolves) made its appearance on the Neo Geo in 1999. SNK is ready to make amends after 23 years, however. The developer has confirmed work on a new Fatal Fury game. The teaser trailer below reveals nothing about the gameplay, plot, platform support or release date, but the company claimed the sequel would represent a “new turning point” in fighters — don’t expect much humility, then. 

The franchise played an important role in SNK’s history, and by extension fighting games as a whole. The first game, 1991’s Fatal Fury: King of Fighters, made a splash at a time when Street Fighter II dominated the genre. It was designed by the original Street Fighter‘s Takashi Nishiyama, and focused more on story and special moves than SF2‘s combos. It showed that there was room for multiple games in the upper pantheon of fighting games, and ultimately spawned the still-active King of Fighters series.

The challenge, of course, is persuading gamers to revisit Fatal Fury. The fighting game world has evolved considerably in the past two decades, ranging from 3D series like Tekken through to many-character extravaganzas like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. It’s a crowded arena, and there’s no certainty that nostalgia will give SNK an edge.

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AI

Wildlife photos are a treasure trove for AI-driven conservation research

If you look at a photograph of leopards, would you be able to tell which two were related based on their spots?

Unless you’re a leopard expert, the answer is most likely not, says Tanya Berger-Wolf, director of the Translational Data Analytics Institute (TDAI) at Ohio State University. But, she says, computers can.

Berger-Wolf and her team are pioneering a new field of study called imageomics. As the name suggests, imageomics uses machine learning to extract biological data from photos and videos of living organisms. Berger-Wolf and her team have recently begun collaborating with researchers studying leopards in India to compare spot patterns of moms and children using algorithms.

“Images have become the most abundant source of information now, and we have the technology, too. We have computer vision machine learning,” says Berger-Wolf. She compares this technology to the invention of the microscope, offering scientists a completely different way to look at wildlife.

Building on TDAI’s open-source platform called Wildbook, which helps wildlife researchers gather and analyze photos, the team is now focusing on generative AI approaches. These programs use existing content to generate meaningful data. In this case, they are attempting to analyze crowdsourced images to make biological traits that humans may naturally miss computable, like the curvature of a fish’s fin — or a leopard’s spots. The algorithms scan images of leopards publicly available online, from social media to digitized museum collections.

In simple terms, the algorithms “quantify the similarity,” she says. The aim is to help wildlife researchers overcome a data deficiency problem and, ultimately, better protect animals at risk of extinction.

Machine learning can be used to identify all the relevant parts of a photo, including wildlife of interest.
Photo by Tanya Berger-Wolf

Ecologists and other wildlife researchers are currently facing a data crunch — it’s tedious, expensive, and time-consuming for people to spend time in the field monitoring animals. Due to these challenges, 20,054 species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species are labeled as “data deficient,” meaning there’s not enough information to make a proper assessment of its risk of extinction. As Berger-Wolf sums it up, “biologists are making decisions without having good data on what we’re losing and how fast.”

The platform started with supervised learning — Berger-Wolf says the computer uses algorithms “simpler than Siri” to count how many animals are in the image, as well as where it was taken and when, which could contribute to metrics like population counts. Not only can AI do this at a much lower cost than hiring people but also at a faster rate. In August 2021, the platform analyzed 17 million images automatically.

There are also barriers that only a computer can seem to overcome. “Humans are not the best ones at figuring out what’s the informative aspect,” she says, noting how humans are biased in how we see nature, focusing mostly on facial features. Instead, AI can scan for features humans would likely miss, like the color range of the wings on a tiger moth. A March 2022 study found that the human eye couldn’t tell male polymorphic wood tiger moth genotypes apart — but moth vision models with ultraviolet light sensitivity could.

“That’s where all the true innovation in all of this is,” Berger-Wolf says. The team is implementing algorithms that create pixel values of patterned animals, like leopards, zebras, and whale sharks, and analyze those hot spots where the pixel values change most — it’s like comparing fingerprints. Having these fingerprints means researchers can track animals non-invasively and without GPS collars, count them to estimate population sizes, understand migration patterns, and more.

As Berger-Wolf points out, population size is the most basic metric of a species’ well-being. The platform scanned 11,000 images of whale sharks to create hot spots and help researchers identify individual whale sharks and track their movement, which led to updated information about their population size. This new data pushed the IUCN to change the conservation status of the whale shark from “vulnerable” to “endangered” in 2016.

There are also algorithms using facial recognition for primates and cats, shown to be about 90 percent accurate, compared to humans being about 42 percent accurate.

Generative AI is still a burgeoning field when it comes to wildlife conservation, but Berger-Wolf is hopeful. For now, the team is cleaning the preliminary data of the leopard hot spots to ensure the results are not data artifacts — or flawed — and are true biologically meaningful information. If meaningful, the data could teach researchers how species are responding to changing habitats and climates and show us where humans can step in to help.

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Categories
Computing

North Korean hackers are targeting this huge crypto exchange

North Korean hackers are attempting to lure in cryptocurrency experts via bogus job offers for crypto exchange platform Coinbase.

As reported by Bleeping Computer, a campaign orchestrated by the well known North Korean Lazarus hacking group has been uncovered, and its target is those involved in the increasingly popular fintech (financial technology) industry.

Getty Images

In what is clearly part of a social engineering attack, the hacking group engages in conversation with targets through LinkedIn, which ultimately culminates in a job offer being presented to the potential victim.

Coinbase is a leading cryptocurrency exchange company, so, at face value, many who are not privy to the attack will naturally be interested in adding them to their resumes. However, if the attack were to succeed, then the consequences could lead to untold amounts of crypto wallets being seized and stolen.

Hossein Jazi, who works as a security researcher at internet security firm Malwarebytes and has been analyzing Lazarus since February 2022, said individuals from the cybergang are masquerading as employees from Coinbase. The scam attracts potential victims by approaching them to fill the role of “Engineering Manager, Product Security.”

If that individual falls for the fake job offer, then they’ll eventually be given instructions to download a PDF explaining the job in full. However, the file itself is actually a malicious executable utilizing a PDF icon to trick people.

The file itself is called “Coinbase_online_careers_2022_07.exe,” which seems innocent enough if you didn’t know any better. But while it opens a fake PDF document created by the threat actors, it also loads malicious DLL codes onto the target’s system.

A fake job offer for Coinbase in the form of a PDF.
Bleeping Computer/@h2jazi

After it’s successfully deployed onto the system, the malware will then make use of GitHub as a central command center in order to receive commands, after which it has free rein to carry out attacks on devices that have been breached.

U.S. intelligence services have previously issued warnings regarding Lazarus’ activity in issuing cryptocurrency wallets and investment apps infected with trojans, effectively allowing them to steal private keys.

And the group’s efforts have been lucrative, to say the least — the FBI found that it had stolen cryptocurrency with a value of over $617 million at the time.

This particular attack, which is connected to a blockchain-based game, materialized due to another deceptive PDF file, which was sent as a job offer to one of the blockchain’s engineers. Once the file was opened, the individual’s system was infected, subsequently paving the way for Lazarus to locate a security flaw and take advantage of it in a big way.

In any case, the prospect is a scary one: opening a single PDF file leading to the entire network being compromised. In the case of Coinbase, which handles billions of dollars in crypto transactions, one can only imagine what the outcome and financial ramifications would be if Lazarus indeed manages to find a way in.

For the time being, if you’re approached by Coinbase in any capacity, it might be a good idea to be cautious of opening any files.

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Computing

One of the most anticipated laptops of 2022 launches soon

Asus has confirmed the launch date of its unique foldable laptop, the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED, for August 31 at 5 a.m. PDT.

Asus first showcased the laptop at CES 2022 in January with plans to announce it by mid-year. However, those plans were pushed until the IFA 2022 conference, which takes place from September 2 to September 6, according to Notebookcheck.

A portable AND foldable monitor?! 👀🤯

The #Zenbook17Fold OLED is almost here and we're ready to tell you everything you want to know!

Set a Reminder >> 💻 https://t.co/8sfXTdChL6#IFA2022 #ASUS pic.twitter.com/p5kJW3xRk8

— ASUS North America (@ASUSUSA) August 4, 2022

The Zenbook 17 Fold OLED features a 17-inch monitor when flat and a 12.5-inch display when folded. It is only the second foldable laptop introduced to the market, with the first being the ThinkPad X1 Fold, which launched in September 2020, the publication added.

It appears that OLED might consistently be the standard for devices in this category moving forward, likely due to quality and durability. OLED displays are similarly often used on foldable smartphone counterparts.

The Zenbook 17 Fold OLED also features an Intel Core i7-1250U processor, 16 GB of RAM, a 75-watt-hour battery, Thunderbolt 4 ports, and WiFi 6E connectivity.

Currently, price details for the foldable laptop are not available; however, don’t expect it to be cheap. For reference, the much smaller 13.3-inch Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold sold for $2,500 when it was released.

Zenbook 17 Fold OLED availability for Europe and North America also remain uncertain at this time.

While Asus’ Zenbook 17 Fold OLED will soon be announced, there are still many more foldable laptops that remain in concepts and rumors. Samsung also showcased its foldable laptop called the Flex Note at CES 2022. It lays flat as a 17-inch monitor and folds into a 13-inch setup. However, not much else has been revealed about this device.

Reports from industry experts, including Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC) analyst Ross Young, indicate Apple is planning a foldable notebook with a 20-inch display and a resolution of 4K or higher. Sources have said Apple is looking to introduce “a new product category” of foldable laptops with its device. However, the company is not in a rush, and this product likely won’t be released until 2026 or 2027.

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Game

‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II’ multiplayer reveal set for September 15th

Activision and Infinity Ward are set to reveal Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II‘s multiplayer mode along with other details at the Next showcase event on September 15th. They also announced that the early access beta will start rolling out on September 16 and 17 on PlayStation consoles and arrive in an open crossplay beta to all consoles and PCs starting September 24th.

As shown below, you’ll need to pre-order to get the open and early access beta releases, with PlayStation owners getting first dibs. After the early access, PlayStation 4 and 5 users will get the open beta from September 18-20, and then Xbox and PC will get early access (crossplay beta) from September 22-23, with PlayStation getting the open crossplay beta on the same dates. Finally, the open beta (crossplay) will be available on all platforms from September 24-26.

'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II' multiplayer reveal set for September 15th

Infinity Ward

Along with the multiplayer mode, Infinity Ward said it would show “the imminent future of [what] Call of Duty will look like, including many more details regarding Modern Warfare II, information on the next Call of Duty: Warzone, and more on the mobile version of Call of Duty: Warzone (also known as Project Aurora).” It also promised you’d see YouTubers streamers playing the games in real time, along with surprise information. 

If you haven’t pre-ordered, you may still be able to get a beta code for early access from various streamers and YouTubers. Modern Warfare II is the successor to 2019’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, based on the original Modern Warfare subseries launched in 2007. The new title is set to arrive on October 28th and cost $70 across all platforms. 

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