Babies using Smart Phones

baby using smart phones

baby using smart phones

More than one-third of babies are tapping on smartphones and tablets even before they learn to walk or talk, and by 1 year of age, one in seven toddlers is using devices for at least an hour a day, according to a study to be presented Saturday, April 25 at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in San Diego.

The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the use of entertainment media such as televisions, computers, smartphones and tablets by children under age 2. Little is known, however, when youngsters actually start using mobile devices.

Researchers developed a 20-item survey to find out when young children are first exposed to mobile media and how they use devices. The questionnaire was adapted from the “Zero to Eight” Common Sense Media national survey on media use in children.

Parents of children ages 6 months to 4 years old who were at a hospital-based pediatric clinic that serves a low-income, minority community were recruited to fill out the survey. Participants were asked about what types of media devices they have in their household, children’s age at initial exposure to mobile media, frequency of use, types of activities and if their pediatrician had discussed media use with them.

Results from 370 parents showed that 74 percent were African-American, 14 percent were Hispanic and 13 percent had less than a high school education. Media devices were ubiquitous, with 97 percent having TVs, 83 percent having tablets, 77 percent having smartphones and 59 percent having Internet access.

Children younger than 1 year of age were exposed to media devices in surprisingly large numbers: 52 percent had watched TV shows, 36 percent had touched or scrolled a screen, 24 percent had called someone, 15 percent used apps and 12 percent played video games.

By 2 years of age, most children were using mobile devices.

Lead author Hilda Kabali, MD, a third-year resident in the Pediatrics Department at Einstein Healthcare Network, said the results surprised her.

“We didn’t expect children were using the devices from the age of 6 months,” she said. “Some children were on the screen for as long as 30 minutes.”

Results also showed 73 percent of parents let their children play with mobile devices while doing household chores, 60 percent while running errands, 65 percent to calm a child and 29 percent to put a child to sleep.

Time spent on devices increased with age, with 26 percent of 2-year-olds and 38 percent of 4-year-olds using devices for at least an hour a day.

Finally, only 30 percent of parents said their child’s pediatrician had discussed media use with them.

Source:  disinformation.com

Computers Hacked Using High-Frequency Sound

Computers Can Be Hacked Using High-Frequency Sound:

Computers Can Be Hacked Using High-Frequency Sound

Computers Can Be Hacked Using High-Frequency Sound

 

 

Using the microphones and speakers that come standard in many of today’s laptop computers and mobile devices, hackers can secretly transmit and receive data using high-frequency audio signals that are mostly inaudible to human ears, a new study shows.

Michael Hanspach and Michael Goetz, researchers at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing, and Ergonomics, recently performed a proof-of-concept experiment that showed that “covert acoustical networking,” a technique which had been hypothesized but considered improbable by most experts, is indeed possible.

“If you have a high demand for information security and assurance, you would need to prepare countermeasures,” Hanspach wrote in an email to Inside Science.

In particular, it means “air-gapped” computers — that is, computers that are not connected to the Internet — are vulnerable to malicious software designed to steal or corrupt data.

“This is indeed a newsworthy development,” said retired Navy Capt. Mark Hagerott, a cybersecurity professor at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

“These arms races between defensive and offensive advanced technologies have been going on for [a long time], but now, with the low cost of writing code, it may get progressively more challenging to defend against,” said Hagerott, who was not involved in the study.

Secret transmissions

In their experiments, Hanspach and Goetz were able to transmit small packets of data between two air-gapped Lenovo business laptops separated by distances of up to about 65 feet (20 meters). Moreover, by chaining additional devices that picked up the audio signal and repeated it to other nearby devices, the researchers were able to create a “mesh network” that relayed the data across much greater distances. Importantly, the researchers were able to emit and record the ultrasonic and near-ultrasonic frequencies, which cannot be detected by humans, using the sound processor, speakers and microphone that came standard with the laptops.

The researchers experimented with a variety of software, but the best one was a program originally developed to transmit data acoustically under water. Created by the Research Department for Underwater Acoustics and Geophysics in Germany, the so-called adaptive communication system modem proved more reliable than the other techniques, but it had one significant drawback: it could only transmit data at a paltry rate of about 20 bits per second — a tiny fraction of today’s standard network connections.

While not practical for transmitting video or other large files, this low transmission rate is still sufficient for sending and receiving keystrokes and other sensitive data such as private encryption keys or login credentials.

“If you have small-sized files of high value, you do not want to take the risk,” Hanspach suggests.

Historical parallels

The low transmission rate would also suffice to send an electronic signal to a malware program that had been inadvertently installed — through a tainted USB stick, for example — onto an air-gapped computer and trigger an electronic attack, said Hagerott.

Moreover, Hagerott said, if history is any guide, it will only be a matter of time before someone refines the technique and increases its maximum transmission rate.

“Once you demonstrate that you can do something like this, other people will keep enhancing it,” Hagerott said.

Hagerott also saw parallels between the current cyber arms race and the contest between real-world arms races of past eras. For example, experts once declared that there was no way a plane could sink a battle ship.

“They said, the planes weren’t big enough, but then they got bigger and began carrying bigger bombs. But sadly, the experts didn’t fully absorb this lesson until two British battleships in 1941 were sent to the bottom,” Hagerott said.

Countermeasures

Military history also suggests that countermeasures will eventually be developed against the new security threat that Hanspach and Goetz demonstrated. In their paper, the researchers themselves suggest several that might work. For example, one could simply switch off the audio input and output of devices, or use audio-filtering techniques to block high-frequency audio signals.

Devices running the Linux could implement the latter technique using tools that have already been developed for the operating system, the researchers write. They also propose the use of an “audio intrusion detection guard,” a device that Hanspach and Goetz said would “forward audio input and output signals to their destination and simultaneously store them inside the guard’s internal state, where they are subject to further analyses.”

Oftentimes, though, the weakest links in cyber security systems are not hardware or software, but the humans who interact with them. For example, the Stuxnet virus that spread to air-gapped machines in the Iranian Natanz nuclear facilities and the Conficker digital worm that turned millions of PCs into a giant botnet in the city of Manchester, England, are believed to have been spread when employees used infected USB sticks.

 

$80 million and Hotfile shuts down

Hotfile shuts down after settling with MPAA for $80 million:

Hotfile shuts down after settling with MPAA for $80 million

Hotfile shuts down after settling with MPAA for $80 million

MPAA action has resulted in yet another major file-sharing site closing down. Visit Hotfile.com today, and you’ll see the above notice. It’s the result of a massive settlement with the MPAA, who were set to do battle with Hotfile in court next week. Under the terms of the settlement, Hotfile has agreed to pay damages amounting to $80 million.

Unlike some of the larger sites the MPAA and RIAA have gone after, Hotfile didn’t exactly have a stellar track record when it came to copyright takedowns. Prosecutors claimed that more than 10 million requests had been sent to Hotfile before the lawsuit was filed (back in 2011) and that only 43 user accounts had been terminated as a result. That’s not the kind of vigilance that keeps the Copyright monopoly off your back.

Hotfile also made things worse by offering what amounted to a cash incentive system for uploaders, who in turn responded by making copywritten content a substantial 10% of Hotfile’s total holdings. Hotfile did eventually put a copyright filtering mechanism in place, though not until well after the lawsuit had been filed. Clearly it turned out to be too little, too late to satisfy the MPAA.

Presiding Judge Kathleen Williams had already ruled that Hotfile wasn’t eligible for DMCA Safe Harbor protection, so net week’s trial would have been focused on sorting out the total bill for damages. Now that a settlement has been reached, all that remains to be seen is how much of the $80 million the MPAA will actually be able to collect from Hotfile.

That, and how much money actually makes it back to the supporting cast of folks who produced the content in question. After the lawyers and MPAA take their cut, there likely won’t be a whole lot left. But hey, a win against piracy is still a win — at least that’s what the MPAA always says.

‘Rare’ Atom May Advance Quantum Computers

‘Rare’ Atom Finding May Advance Quantum Computers:

'Rare' Atom Finding May Advance Quantum Computers

‘Rare’ Atom Finding May Advance Quantum Computers

 

 

Quantum computers could crack codes and run more complex simulations than current machines, but actually building one is hard to do. The bits that store this complex data don’t last long, because they are made of single atoms that get knocked around by stray electrons and photons in the environment.

Enter a team of physicists at Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. They found a way to get the bits to last long enough to do computations with, using the magnetic properties of a rare earth element called holmium and the symmetry of platinum. The experiment, detailed in tomorrow’s (Nov. 14) issue of the journal Nature, is an important step in creating quantum computers and making quantum memory useful.

What makes quantum computers powerful is the nature of the bit. Ordinary computers have bits that are 1 or 0, stored in the current in a circuit or the alignment of magnetic fields on a disk. Due to the weirdness of quantum physics, quantum bits, called qubits, can be both 0 and 1 at the same time. That means a quantum computer can do certain kinds of calculations much, much faster. [Wacky Physics: The Coolest Quantum Particles Explained]

One way for qubits to store information in the so-called spin magnetic moments of atoms. Elementary particles such as electrons can have spins that are either up or down. The total spins of the electrons — each has a spin of one-half — will induce the magnetic moment, which is a way of measuring how much torque a magnetic field might exert on a loop of wire. In atoms, the moment has a direction, just like the spins, and it is either up or down.

Magnetic moments

In the study, led by Toshio Miyamachi, the researchers placed a single atom of holmium on a sheet of platinum with a scanning tunneling microscope. The holmium atom’s moments were in a certain state, either up or down. That up or down state represented a bit of information, a 1 or 0 that makes up the language of computers. [Facts About Rare Earth Elements (Infographic)]

To cut down on the chances that a stray photon or electron would interact with the holmium atom, the whole apparatus operates at near absolute zero temperatures.

Ordinarily they would have expected the holmium’s magnetic moment state to last a few milliseconds at most. Physicist Wulf Wulfhekel, whose lab did the work, told LiveScience that other research groups have managed that. But his lab group managed to keep the holmium in a given state for about 10 minutes. To a computer, that’s a long time.

“One of the main problems with quantum computers is that the quantum bit loses its information rather quickly… In our case, you would have 10 minutes time to perform the calculation,” Wulfhekel wrote in an email.

The key to the long-lasting spin magnetic moment state was the arrangement of atoms in the platinum. Atoms’ spin states get upset because in any metal, a few electrons are always on the move. So when a holmium (or any other) atom is on top of the platinum layer, the spin state of a passing electron will link to that of the holmium atom storing the bit and flip the magnetic moment, ruining the quantum state.

The platinum atoms, though, were in a pattern that had three-fold symmetry, which means that an object rotated one-third of the way around looks the same as when you start. If you were the size of a holmium atom and standing on the platinum, you’d see the same pattern turning 120 degrees, like a set of hexagonal or triangular tiles on a floor, Wulfhekel said.

The total spin of the holmium’s inner electrons adds up to 8 — and that number isn’t evenly divisible by three, which is the symmetry of the platinum. That means the holmium atoms are “invisible” to the electrons moving through the platinum.

“This is really a beautiful result,” said Michael Flatté, a professor of physics at the University of Iowa and an expert on spintronics. Flatté, who was not involved in the research, said the paper is likely to be influential because it shows another approach to stabilizing spin states using the structure of the material itself.

Better than diamond?

Even so, there’s still some way to go. Flatté noted that there are other materials that show this phenomenon — one of them is diamond, and it doesn’t need to be kept at cryogenic temperatures. But the problem is that for a computer to be useful one has to be able to manipulate the bits. Bigger atoms, like heavy metals, are easier to work with because it’s possible to move them around with electric or magnetic fields.

That’s one reason this work is important, Flatté said. Miyamachi and Wulfhekel found a way around the trade-off between atoms that are easy to interact with, but at the same time can hang on to their quantum states.

“This is an appealing system,” he said. “They still have a ways to go to challenge diamond.”

Wulfhekel said his experiment only involved a single atom, and to be useful as a real computer it would require more, something that will be the focus of future work.

The team will also look at other elements. Praseodymium is a possibility, though Wulfhekel said he hasn’t tried it yet. The bit-storing atoms have to have spins that have a non-integral relationship to the symmetry of the atoms around them, so that limits the number of elements available.

quantum-computer