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Security

Phishing attack pop-up targets MetaMask users visiting popular crypto sites

As if this week weren’t bad enough for many cryptocurrency owners, with stablecoins crashing and Coinbase suffering an outage at a particularly bad time, now they’ve reportedly been targeted by a new phishing attack. As reported by CoinDesk and The Block Crypto, sites including Etherscan, CoinGecko, and DexTools all warned users that they were aware of suspicious popups appearing for visitors, and advised them not to confirm any transactions based on popups.

Like many recent phishing attacks, this one appeared to promise a link to the Bored Ape Yacht Club project, with an ape skull logo and a (now-disabled) nftapes.win domain. It prompted users to connect their MetaMask wallets (a software cryptocurrency wallet that enables access on your phone or via a browser extension) to use on the site, and since it was appearing on domains that many people trust and use every day, they may have fallen for it and given it access.

Last November, the security company Check Point Research identified a phishing attack that used Google Ads that would either attempt to steal someone’s credentials or trick them into logging into the attacker’s wallet so that it would receive any transactions they attempted. In February, a phishing attack stole $1.7 million worth of NFTs from OpenSea users, while a more recent attempt via Discord only snagged $18,000 worth of tokens.

Etherscan said it has disabled third-party integrations for the time being. A tweet from CoinGecko identified the source of the malicious popup as Coinzilla, an industry advertising network that told customers it could deliver over 1 billion impressions per month across more than 600 reputable sites popular with crypto enthusiasts.



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Game

Sonic Frontiers targets Breath of the Wild fans with late 2022 release

As recent leaks had claimed, Sega is gearing up to release another Sonic the Hedgehog game and it’ll be called Sonic Frontiers. The name refers to the nature of the upcoming title, which will be unlike any past installment in the Sonic universe. Put simply, it sure looks like Sega is hoping to draw in Breath of the Wild fans with its next Sonic game.

Image: SEGA

Sonic Frontiers was introduced alongside a teaser trailer at The Game Awards 2021, giving fans their first look at the next installment in the lengthy Sonic the Hedgehog video game series. The upcoming titles will differ from the existing games in one big way, however, by bringing the hedgehogs to their first open-world environment.

Players will be free to explore a vast open world filled with a variety of landscapes, including forests, open fields, waterfalls, deserts, and other regions. In addition to the teaser trailer, Sega has released a handful of screenshots showing the kinds of environments players can expect.

SEGA

Sonic will, Sega says, still have his ultra-fast running ability and players will be tasked with battling enemies spread throughout the open-world environment (Starfall Islands). We see a cinematic version of those kinds of battles in the launch trailer, but Sega hasn’t yet shared any gameplay footage.

Stone structures in flower field

SEGA

Though additional details aren’t yet available — the Holiday 2022 release date aside — it is pretty clear Sega is targeting fans of existing massively popular open-world games like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Nintendo raked in tens of millions of sales with its hit Zelda title, with Breath of the Wild proving to be the most popular installment in the game franchise (via Wikipedia).

An open-world environment was one of the rumors that had been circulating since Sega teased a 2022 Sonic game earlier this year. The big question, though, is whether the company can manage to pull off something as excellent as Breath of the Wild. Some early commentary from players points out that while the idea of an open world is great, the actual environment revealed by Sega seems out of place with the cartoon hedgehogs.

Shallow lake with trees

SEGA

We’ve only seen a few screenshots from this world, so it’s unclear how robust it may be and what kind of buildings it may feature. It is possible that Sega plans to bring the classic landscapes from its side-scrolling titles to the upcoming 3D world, but whether it’ll pull off a style that complements — rather than contrasts — the animated characters is another matter.

Sonic’s modern design history has already been filled with some questionable choices, namely the movie version of the character that somehow managed to reach the promotional stage despite looking like, well, this. Hopefully, Sega took notes amid that design debacle and will be extra careful to give players the kind of world they want, not just cartoon hedgehogs in awkwardly realistic biomes.

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Game

Hacker targets ‘Apex Legends’ in plea to fix ‘Titanfall’ hacking

Apex Legends has reportedly been hacked to raise awareness over the unplayable state of developer Respawn’s other game series Titanfall. Players have taken to social media to report that the battle royale’s server playlists are being replaced with a message that reads “SAVETITANFALL.COM, TF1 is being attacked so is Apex.” Gamers also received an “Important Message” popup after matches directing them to the same URL that has been active for a few months now, according to PC Gamer

The resulting disruption to matchmaking in Apex Legends prompted Respawn to publish a server update that it said resolved the issue. In tweets, the studio added that the attack “has not put players’ personal information or accounts at risk.”

While game hacking is often associated with cheating or theft, it seems in this case it was an extreme case of fan frustration over Respawn’s lack of attention toward Titanfall. Using it to advocate for an end to game hacks is also something you don’t see that often.

In short, Titanfall has suffered from numerous vulnerabilities that are leading to crashed or overloaded servers and disconnections. After years of complaints, Respawn recently confirmed that it was working on a fix for the problems, which have plagued the title on Origin and Steam.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.



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Game

LG Targets Gamers With 120Hz Dolby Vision for C1 and G1 TVs

LG is going after gamers with new features for its C1 and G1 series OLED TVs that are aimed at offering the best possible visual experience.

In an announcement on Monday, June 28, the Korean tech company said its latest firmware (03.15.27) makes LG’s C1 and G1 TVs the first in the world to support Dolby Vision HDR at 4K 120Hz on select gaming platforms.

LG

Digital Trends has reached out to LG for more information on which specific platforms will benefit and we will update this article when we hear back.

Gaming with Dolby Vision HDR at 4K 120Hz should offer an elevated experience with stunning, silky smooth visuals.

LG a confirmed that other premium models in its 2021 TV lineup — including its OLED Z1 series, QNED Mini LED QNED99 series, and NanoCell 99 series TVs — will also receive the update in July, with other 2021 and 2020 TVs undergoing testing for possible Dolby Vision gaming in either 60Hz or 120Hz.

“With enhanced gaming capabilities and convenient, user-friendly controls, LG’s premium TVs are ready to deliver sublime next-gen gaming experiences,” the company said in a release.

Game dashboard

LG’s latest firmware update also brings with it another feature aimed at pleasing gamers who own an LG TV equipped with Game Optimizer. Called “Game Dashboard,” the floating onscreen menu is described by LG as “similar to the head-up display (HUD)” already found in many games.

The Game Dashboard give users fast access to the TV’s settings, enabling you to quickly jump between different genres — Standard, FPS, RPG, or RTS — without pausing the action.

“The dashboard also shows the status of other modes such as black stabilizer, low latency, and variable refresh rate (VRR),” LG said. To access more options, you can use the Game Dashboard to launch the Game Optimizer.

With their four HDMI 2.1 ports, support for both G-Sync and FreeSync Premium, and various gaming-specific picture adjustments, LG’s C1 and G1 series OLED TVs already caught the eye of Digital Trends’ reviewers as devices that will delight gamers.

Indeed, even before Monday’s announcement, Digital Trends’ reviewer described the C1 as having “a really comprehensive suite of gamer-friendly features” that made it “one of the best TVs for gaming.”

Editors’ Choice




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AI

Enterprise AI platform Dataiku targets all teams with fully managed service

Elevate your enterprise data technology and strategy at Transform 2021.


Enterprise-focused AI and machine learning platform Dataiku has launched a fully managed hosted online analytics service that lets companies access its platform while minimizing internal IT resource expenditure.

Founded in 2013, Dataiku helps data analysts, scientists, and other employees (coders and non-coders) glean insights from disparate unstructured data and create their own predictive AI models, with connectors for data sources such as Amazon S3, Azure Blob Storage, Google Cloud Storage, Snowflake, and NoSQL/SQL databases. The company has raised around $250 million in external funding from some big-name backers including Alphabet’s CapitalG.

Businesses have increasingly turned to AI to bring greater intelligence to their decision-making process. Dataiku and its ilk help them become AI creators, rather than purely consumers, reducing their dependency on specialized in-house data scientists. The new fully managed hosted plan, which starts at $499 per month, builds on that principle by doing most of the heavy lifting for them — this could be particularly useful for big businesses looking to bolster their existing data science team or smaller companies just starting out.

With Dataiku Online, companies get instant access to everything they need to develop and manage their analytics projects without worrying about administering their own servers or upgrading their installation. It makes it easy to connect their data warehouses and includes tools for data preparation, automated machine learning (AutoML), and reporting and visualization dashboards, with support for up to 10 users.

Dataiku’s news comes just a few months after the New York-based company launched a bunch of tools designed to democratize AI in the workforce, including the ability to run “what-if” AI model simulations to determine the potential impact of any changes to the data.

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Security

Colonial Pipeline hackers apologize, promise to ransom less controversial targets in future

The group behind the ransomware that took down Colonial Pipeline late last week has apologized for the “social consequences,” claiming that its goal is to make money, not cause societal problems. The group is called DarkSide, and the FBI has confirmed that the group’s malware was responsible for compromising one of the US’s largest fuel pipelines.

According to Vice, the group’s apology was posted to its dark web site. It reads:

We are apolitical, we do not participate in geopolitics, do not need to tie us with a defined government and look for other our motives.

Our goal is to make money and not creating problems for society.

From today, we introduce moderation and check each company that our partners want to encrypt to avoid social consequences in the future.

According to NYT cybersecurity reporter Nicole Perlroth, DarkSide isn’t necessarily associated with a specific nationstate, but it does tend to avoid holding victims for ransom if their systems are running in certain Russian and Eastern European languages (see embedded tweet below). Bloomberg reports that the group is known to speak Russian.

According to The New York Times, the 5,500-mile-long Colonial Pipeline is responsible for carrying 45 percent of the fuel for the Eastern US, including jet fuel and gas. The company that runs the pipeline has put out a statement saying that it’s currently bringing parts of its system back online, after halting all operations due to the cyberattack. Colonial Pipeline says its goal is to restore service by the end of the week.



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Tech News

Nextdoor app targets toxic behavior with anti-racism warning

Nextdoor, the app that allows neighbors to connect with each other and share details about their communities, is introducing a new feature that will detect and warn against potentially racist content. The company announced the new feature today, explaining that it will ask users to reconsider their posts before sharing them if certain offensive language is detected.

If you’ve ever used Nextdoor, you’re likely familiar with some of the drama that can take place on community boards — as well as abusive behavior that not only ruins the experience for everyone, but that can also be harmful to people living in the community. Nextdoor’s new feature aims to reduce those messages.

The company says that it has rolled out an anti-racism prompt that will appear in the app when certain phrases are detected. Though the user won’t be blocked from posting, they will be asked to consider editing their content before publishing it to ensure it doesn’t violate the company’s policy and bring harm to users.

For example, Nextdoor has banned the use of the phrase ‘White Lives Matter’ and doesn’t allow the use of ‘Blue Lives Matter’ or ‘All Lives Matter’ if the post aims to ‘undermine racial equality.’ Users will see the warning starting this week on mobile devices.

This isn’t the first time Nextdoor has introduced a prompt designed to reduce problematic content on its platform. Back in 2019, Nextdoor introduced a warning called the ‘Kindness Reminder’ that spots ‘offensive language’ and encourages the user to edit their post or comment before sharing it.

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AI

Google targets AI ethics lead Margaret Mitchell after firing Timnit Gebru

Google has revoked Ethical AI team leader Margaret “Meg” Mitchell’s employee privileges and is currently investigating her activity, according to a statement provided by a company spokesperson. Should Google fire Mitchell, it will mean the company has effectively chosen to behead its own AI ethics team in under two months. In an interview with VentureBeat last month, former Google AI ethics co-lead Timnit Gebru said she had worked with Mitchell since 2018 to create one of the most diverse teams within Google Research.

Gebru tweeted Tuesday evening that Google’s move to freeze Mitchell’s employee account echoed the way hers was frozen before she was fired. When VentureBeat emailed Google to ask if Mitchell was still an employee, a spokesperson provided the following statement:

“Our security systems automatically lock an employee’s corporate account when they detect that the account is at risk of compromise due to credential problems or when an automated rule involving the handling of sensitive data has been triggered. In this instance, yesterday our systems detected that an account had exfiltrated thousands of files and shared them with multiple external accounts. We explained this to the employee earlier today. We are actively investigating this matter as part of standard procedures to gather additional details.”

Last month, Google fired Gebru following a demand by Google leadership that she rescind an AI research paper she coauthored about the negative consequences of large-scale language models, including their disproportionate impact on marginalized communities in the form of environmental impact and perpetuating stereotypes. Since then, Google released a trillion parameter language model and told its AI researchers to strike a positive tone on topics deemed “sensitive. Some members of the AI research community have pledged not to review the work of Google researchers at academic conferences in protest.

Mitchell has publicly criticized actions taken by Google leaders like AI chief Jeff Dean following the ousting of Gebru.

After Gebru was fired, April Curley, a queer Black woman who said she was fired by Google last fall, publicly recounted numerous negative experiences during her time as a recruiter of talent from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU).

On Tuesday, news emerged that Google CEO Sundar Pichai will meet with HBCU leaders following allegations of racism and sexism at the company by current and former employees.

Members of Congress interested in regulating AI and more than 2,000 Google employees have joined prominent figures in the AI research community in questioning Gebru’s dismissal. Members of Google’s AI ethics team called for her reinstatement in a series of demands sent to company leadership.

Organizers cited the way Google treated Gebru and the impact AI can have on society as motivators behind the establishment of the Alphabet Workers Union, which was formed earlier this month and as of a week ago counted 700 members including Margaret Mitchell. Gebru had previously endorsed the idea of a workers union as a way to help protect AI researchers from company retribution.

“With AI permeating every aspect of our world—from criminal justice, to credit scores, to military applications—paying careful attention to ethics within the industry is critical,” the Alphabet Workers Union said in a statement shared with VentureBeat.

“As one of the most profitable players in the AI industry, Alphabet has a responsibility to continue investing in its ethical application. Margaret founded the Ethical AI team, built a cross-product area coalition around machine learning fairness, and is a critical member of academic and industry communities around the ethical production of AI. Regardless of the outcome of the company’s investigation, the ongoing targeting of leaders in this organization calls into question Google’s commitment to ethics—in AI and in their business practices. Many members of the Ethical AI team are AWU members and the membership of our union recognizes the crucial work that they do and stands in solidarity with them in this moment.”

The incoming Biden administration has in recent days shared a commitment to diversity and to addressing algorithmic bias and other AI-driven harms to society through its science and technology policy platform. Experts in AI, law, and policy told VentureBeat last month that Google’s treatment of Gebru could impact a range of policy matters, including the passage of stronger whistleblower protections for tech workers and more public funding of independent AI research.

What happens to Mitchell will continue to shape attitudes toward corporate self-governance and speculation about the voracity of research produced with Big Tech funding. A research paper published in late 2020 compared the way Big Tech funds AI ethics research to Big Tobacco’s history of funding health research.

Updated 7:18 am PT January 21 to include a statement from the Alphabet Workers Union.

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Security

Microsoft president sounds alarm on ‘ongoing’ SolarWinds hack, identifies 40 more precise targets

Microsoft president Brad Smith warned that the wide-ranging hack of the SolarWinds’ Orion IT software is “ongoing,” and that investigations reveal “an attack that is remarkable for its scope, sophistication and impact.” The breach targeted several US government agencies and is believed to have been carried out by Russian nation-state hackers.

Smith characterized the hack as “a moment of reckoning” and laid out in no uncertain terms just how large and how dangerous Microsoft believes the hack to be. It “represents an act of recklessness that created a serious technological vulnerability for the United States and the world,” Smith argues.

He believes that it “is not just an attack on specific targets, but on the trust and reliability of the world’s critical infrastructure in order to advance one nation’s intelligence agency.” Though the post stops short of explicitly accusing Russia, the implication is very clear. “The weeks ahead will provide mounting and we believe indisputable evidence about the source of these recent attacks,” according to Smith.

To illustrate just how far-reaching the hack was, Smith included a map that used telemetry taken from Microsoft’s Defender Anti-Virus software to show people who had installed versions of the Orion software that contained malware from the hackers.

A map showing customers affected by the malware in SolarWinds’ Orion.
Image: Microsoft

Microsoft has also been working this week to notify “more than 40 customers that the attackers targeted more precisely and compromised through additional and sophisticated measures,” according to Smith. Approximately 80 percent of those customers are located in the US, but Microsoft also identified victims in Canada, Mexico, Belgium, Spain, the UK, Israel, and the UAE. “It’s certain that the number and location of victims will keep growing,” Smith said.

Investigations into the hack are ongoing. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) issued a joint statement on Wednesday to say that they were coordinating a “whole-of-government response to this significant cyber incident.” And Smith warned that “we should all be prepared for stories about additional victims in the public sector and other enterprises and organizations.”

Earlier on Thursday, Reuters reported that Microsoft had been hacked as part of the breach and that “it also had its own products leveraged to further the attacks on others.” But Microsoft denied that claim in a statement to The Verge:

Like other SolarWinds customers, we have been actively looking for indicators of this actor and can confirm that we detected malicious Solar Winds binaries in our environment, which we isolated and removed. We have not found evidence of access to production services or customer data. Our investigations, which are ongoing, have found absolutely no indications that our systems were used to attack others.

Microsoft has been responding to the hack since December 13th, including blocking versions of SolarWinds Orion that contained the malware. Microsoft and a coalition of tech companies also seized control a domain that played a key role in the SolarWinds breach, ZDNet reported.

SolarWinds has also taken the step of hiding a list of high-profile clients from its website, perhaps to protect them from negative publicity. The list included more than 425 of the companies on the Fortune 500.

As for Microsoft, Smith used his post to call for a more organized, communal response against cyberattacks, both at a government level and amongst private institutions. “We need a more effective national and global strategy to protect against cyberattacks,” he writes. Microsoft is also looking for “stronger steps to hold nation-states accountable for cyberattacks.”

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