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#deepweb | From climate mysteries to dead zones, an evolving computer model tackles Puget Sound’s eco-riddles – GeekWire

Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans

The local population of Puget Sound orcas is in decline, having dropped to 73 animals. A computer model built by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is helping scientists studying industrial pollutants, one of the key threats to the killer whales’ survival. (NOAA Photo)

Puget Sound — Washington’s inland sea — is a mysterious place. It’s the southern-most fjord in the lower 48 states. It’s fed by rivers that create shallow, mucky tideflats. In other spots it plunges more than 900 feet deep, giving it oceanic traits, but it doesn’t flow freely in and out of the Pacific Ocean. The main entrance and exit into the Sound is relatively narrow and shallow, creating a sort of bathtub that curtails the exchange of seawater and wildlife.

The Sound is facing serious challenges. The beloved local orcas are in alarming decline, the human population and its polluting cars, roadways and buildings is growing, and the damaging effects of climate change loom large.

PNNL program manager Tarang Khangaonkar explains his research into the effects of climate change on Puget Sound. (GeekWire Photo / Lisa Stiffler)

But scientists are employing a sophisticated computer modeling tool to unravel some of the Puget Sound’s complex puzzles and trigger actions that can help safeguard the iconic Northwest waterway.

“We now are in a position where you can address some really important questions in Puget Sound,” said Joel Baker, director of the University of Washington’s Puget Sound Institute.

One of the more surprising and hopeful results comes from a recently published study on climate change. It predicts that the Sound could in many ways fare a bit better than the Pacific Ocean when considering the damaging effects of a warmer world.

The Salish Sea Model was built by scientists at the Seattle office of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), part of the U.S. Department of Energy. PNNL program manager Tarang Khangaonkar launched the project in 2008 in partnership with the state Department of Ecology. Their goal was to create a model that’s widely useful and built in a collaborative, transparent process.

Scientists can use the model to test theories about how chemicals and creatures move through Puget Sound, tweaking different inputs to understand past and future events. The model has been used to find conditions favorable for native sixgill sharks, guide restoration in the Stillaguamish River delta, and study oyster reproduction.

 We now are in a position where you can address some really important questions in Puget Sound.

Initial work started with a broad riddle. In recent decades, people have observed regularly occurring fish die-offs in Puget Sound. When an event strikes, dead fish litter the beaches, crabs and normally solitary rockfish cluster near shore, and scuba divers report “panting” wolf eels trying to capture enough air with their gills. Scientists knew the cause of death — the level of oxygen in the water was dropping to lethal levels — but the pattern of places experiencing “hypoxia,” or low oxygen, was puzzling.

When scientists tried to understand why some areas were harder hit with the dead zones, Khangaonkar said, “nobody could figure out why.”

Searching for the cause of suffocation

The model encompasses what’s known as the Salish Sea, which spans Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands, a strait running to the northwest tip of Washington and the waters off the east side of Vancouver Island. The researchers also included a stretch of offshore water that extends south along the Washington Coast, past the mouth of the Columbia River.

Early runs of the model could create low-oxygen conditions, but the hypoxia was everywhere, not just the observed hot spots in Hood Canal and other specific inlets and coves. The model included layers of data from multiple sources to create the tides, currents, weather, underwater geographic features, shorelines, water temperature, pH, and salinity. Ecology provided data on nutrients that flowed into Puget Sound from 99 sewage treatment plants, industrial outfalls and other points, plus 161 streams emptying into the sea.

The Salish Sea Model covers all of Puget Sound and waters stretching to the north end of Vancouver Island and past the mouth of the Columbia River. (PNNL Graphic)

But even with all of that information, the Salish Sea Model couldn’t recreate past conditions of hypoxia. Then researchers added data on the muddy, sandy bottom of Puget Sound. The model worked, revealing a key driver of hypoxia.

“Unless you take into account everything,” Khangaonkar said, “it’s not possible to guess at the reason.”

The scientists figured out that algae were reproducing in great blooms that eventually died, sank, and rotted in the sediment at the bottom of the sea. The decaying plants pulled oxygen out of the water. The result wasn’t necessarily intuitive at first. While alive, the algae released oxygen, as plants do, so they weren’t an obvious culprit for hypoxia.

That conclusion “led to quite a bit of debate,” Khangaonkar said.

But it also helped researchers think more strategically about which pollution sources need to be curbed to prevent them from essentially fertilizing the algae with nutrients. That includes sewage treatment plants, leaking shoreline septic systems, and lawn chemicals. The model highlighted the fact that Puget Sound is not well flushed by water from the ocean, trapping and recycling pollutants in the inland sea.

Officials with Ecology are using these results to update pollution regulations based on scientific research.

A red-orange algae bloom in Edmonds, Wash. in 2013. (Washington State Department of Ecology, photo submitted by Jeri Cusimano)

“This model is not a black box,” said Cristiana Figueroa-Kaminsky, a pollution and modeling manager for Ecology.

It’s based on open-source code with input from numerous agencies and academic institutions, she said.

The UW’s Baker agreed that it’s a robust model, and added that the university also has the LiveOcean model that can make limited forecasts addressing different issues in the Sound and Pacific.

“They’re as good as any models in the world,” Baker said.

‘Without the numbers you fear’

With the success of the oxygen-level work, Khangaonkar and his team were ready to tackle a bigger question: What will happen to Puget Sound as the planet keeps warming?

The researchers decided to gaze decades ahead to 2095. They added information from a national model and ran the simulation using a trajectory that assumes humankind follows a worst-case scenario path and does little to reduce global warming pollution.

Again, the model generated some surprising predictions.

Using PNNL’s Salish Sea Model, scientists ran projections for the local impacts of climate change by 2095. While waters are generally warmer, the average surface temperatures in Puget Sound are expected to warm less than the Pacific Ocean (top images). But more shallow areas, such as the mouth of the Snohomish River (lower images), will warm more dramatically. RCP 8.5 refers to the scenario used in the model, which simulates a worst-case scenario for warming. (PNNL Graphic)

Puget Sound’s water conditions are greatly impacted by the melting snowpack of surrounding mountains. That water flows from rivers, flushing the inland sea. Warmer weather is shrinking the annual snowpack and reducing its spring and summer runoff. Experts feared that the circulation of the Sound will be disrupted.

“If in the future the flushing strength were to go down, it would lead to catastrophic failure of our ecosystem,” Khangaonkar said.

Because Puget Sound is a relatively small body of water, one might expect it would fare worse than the Pacific Ocean. But the model, pulling together effects of sea level rise, changes in salinity and other factors, predicted a future where the water in Puget Sound’s deep basins would continue circulating, churning the water. That would keep it cooler, less acidic and more oxygenated than the Pacific.

“Climate change brings in a lot of counterintuitive findings,” Baker said. Flooding, however, is another concern.

Khangaonkar and his team published their climate change results in May in a scientific journal.

“Without the numbers you fear… what is it going do to us?” he said. The model gives a glimpse. “Rather than speculate, you can just run it out and get the answer.”

Solving a toxic riddle

For roughly two decades, scientists Jim West and Sandie O’Neill have been sampling Puget Sound wildlife, tracking the amount of pollution they carry. A main focus has been PCBs, a family of long-lasting industrial chemicals banned 40 years ago. Since then, millions of dollars have been spent scrubbing them from Puget Sound.

And yet they’re still here.

PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, show up in resident wildlife, including Pacific herring, Chinook salmon, harbor seals and orcas. What’s particularly weird about the PCBs is that their levels are holding steady or even increasing in some marine creatures, while other pollutants are declining. Although the concentrations of the PCBs in the sediment and water are so low they’re sometimes undetectable, they’re much higher in the fish, seals and whales. The math doesn’t add up.

“Something is happening where the PCBs are getting into the environment and an awful lot of them are ending up in the pelagic [or marine] food web,” said O’Neill, who works with West at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Researchers collecting samples for research on the levels of pollutants in Puget Sound fish. (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Photo)

The chemicals can disrupt the growth of Chinook salmon, the local orcas’ favorite food, and are believed to threaten the killer whales directly by harming their immune systems and ability to reproduce.

One of the main theories of how toxics get into the marine food web is that chemicals settle into the sediment, get consumed by microscopic organisms, and move their way up the food chain.

But it seems that something else is happening in Puget Sound.

It appears that upland sources of PCBs found in sources such as industrial caulk, electrical transformers, and contaminated soils are still being washed into the sea. West and O’Neill suspect that some of the PCBs are getting sucked into the food chain straight from the water before they even settle into the mud.

There are a couple of ways the PCBs could move from the open water into marine life. The chemicals are lipophilic, meaning they love to stick to fats, which includes the outside of bacteria and algae. The PCBs can also get sucked up by microscopic zooplankton floating in the water column.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife researchers Stefanie Karney (left) and Laurie Niewolny processing juvenile Chinook salmon at the department’s Marine Resources Laboratory in Olympia, Wash. (Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Photo)

As those tiny organisms are eaten by small fish that are eaten by bigger fish that are eaten by marine mammals, the PCBs move through the food chain to larger predators. Their levels build as the toxics are stored in body fat, and mothers can pass PCBs to their babies through their milk. When the animals die and decay, the PCBs are recycled back into the food chain via smaller creatures.

While the hypothesis makes sense, scientists need more data to prove it. They’re eager to pinpoint the pollution sources and pathways of movement in order to close the PCB tap. And for local orcas, whose population has sunk from highs in the 200s to just 73 animals, time is running out.

When Khangaonkar suggested a collaboration, West and O’Neill jumped at the chance. They now have results for the first phase of their research, which included work with UW scientists, and are starting another study correlating the model with pollutants in plankton.

The Salish Sea Model has the potential to “inform us about where the PCBs are coming into the food web, then you can do something about them,” O’Neill said. It could identify hot spots for cleanup that could most benefit marine life. “You can’t clean up the whole of the Puget Sound basin,” she added. “It’s too much.”

It’s just the kind of project that Khangaonkar gets excited about.

“We have developed this [model] for everybody to be able to use,” he said. “And when folks are interested in using it, there is a strong commitment to actually work with them and make it happen.”

Editor’s Note: Funding for GeekWire’s Impact Series is provided by the Singh Family Foundation in support of public service journalism. GeekWire editors and reporters operate independently and maintain full editorial control over the content.

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#cybersecurity | #hackerspace | Analyst Discusses Reporting Hack Of Computer System At Indian Nuclear Reactor | Avast

Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans This week a report of hackers gaining access to an Indian nuclear power plant’s computer network led to alarm, confusion, and denial before officials admitted the hack took place. The threat analyst who reported the issue experienced a unique vantage point in the middle of that […] View full post on

#cyberfraud | #cybercriminals | Internet’s most dangerous celebrity searches include Alexis Bledel, James Corden, says computer security company McAfee

Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans

When it comes to cyber-scams ‘Gilmore Girls’ actress Alexis Bledel is the internet’s most dangerous celebrity.

The computer security company McAfee said searches for Bledel lead to the most malicious and unreliable websites and links.

Late night talk-show host James Corden came in second.

Jimmy Fallon, Jackie Chan and Nicki Minaj also made the top ten.

McAfee has put the list out for 13 years now and cautions against clicking on suspicious websites, reported CNN.

Previous ‘most dangerous’ celebs included Emma Watson, Ruby Rose, Avril Lavigne and Amy Schumer.

Copyright © 2019 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.

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How to #Know If Your #Slow #Computer Is #Secretly #Mining #Cryptocurrency

Mining cryptocurrency used to require thousands of dollars worth of equipment to see any kind of meaningful return, but not anymore. Newer digital currencies like Monero, ByteCoin, and AEON have given would-be miners the ability to mine tokens right from their laptops. This might benefit small-time miners that want to get involved in the sector, but for every good thing online there are always people that figure out a way to use it for bad.

Hackers have begun using these tools to infect computers and websites to secretly mine cryptocurrencies. This emerging type of malware attack has been dubbed as “cryptojacking”, and it could cause your computer to overheat and crash. Luckily, spotting these hidden miners isn’t all that difficult.

Cryptojacking essentially hijacks your computer’s CPU power to mine. This means when you’re browsing the web, the malware is running in the background completely unbeknownst to you. There are a few types of this malware, and some run only when you visit a certain website and others can be maliciously installed on your computer. The best way to prevent this is by using antivirus software and adblockers.

If you’ve already been hit with this kind of malware, you’ll notice either your computer acting sluggish, getting warmer than usual, or its fan constantly spinning. If you aren’t running any kind of demanding software, like video games or video editing programs, this should be the first hint that your computer is working overtime.

If you’ve noticed your laptop acting up, it’s time to go check on what’s going on under the hood. Mac users can view a detailed breakdown of everything their computer is running by searching “Activity Monitor” and using the magnifying glass icon at the top-right of the screen. Windows users can simply hold down the Ctrl-Alt-Del keys to bring up “Task Manager.”

Both of these menus will display a graph of how much of your computer’s processing power is being used. Any massive spikes should be red flags. You’ll also see an ordered list of the programs using the most processing power at the moment. Before ending any of these programs be sure to research what they are, as you could be ending a crucial part of your operating system.

Both Tesla and the Los Angeles Times have had their sites infected by cryptojacking software. Companies with popular websites are the most at risk, as hackers can embed code onto their servers and use the CPU power of everyone who visits the site. But making it a habit to check on how your computer is running will ensure your device isn’t getting used to make someone else a crypto fortune.


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Computer #Hackers Are #Demanding #Money From #Cities, #States, And #Companies In The #U.S.

Computer hackers are getting more sophisticated. They are not afraid to hold cities, states, and companies’ hostage until they pay a ransom. Hackers are modern day tech pirates that disrupt computer programs and turn shareholders into anxiety-ridden puppets. Computer networks in Denver, Atlanta, and Baltimore, as well as a computer network of Boeing Airlines, are recent victims. Atlanta’s computers went down on March 22nd when a hacker locked important data behind an encrypted wall. The wall would stay in place, according to the hackers, until the city pays the hackers $51,000 in Bitcoins. Atlanta has a week to comply. If the city doesn’t pay, all that important data will vanish, according to the computer pirates. No one is sure if Atlanta paid the money, according to a Fox News report. But Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms didn’t rule out payment.

The hacking group calls itself “SamSam.” SamSam is not new to the hacking world. The group pocketed more than $800,000 in 2017. The city of Leeds, Atlanta paid SamSam $12,000 in February 2018 to release their data. But Atlanta is not the only city that SamSam has in its hacking sights this month. Officials in Baltimore said their 911 dispatch system was under attack. The system was down for 17 hours recently to prove the hackers were serious. The hackers were able to get into the system after the city made an internal change to their firewall. But the Baltimore hackers didn’t ask for money, and that is concerning, according to Frank Johnson, Baltimore’s chief information officer.

Boeing, the world’s top aerospace company, is also under attack by the now famous WannaCry ransomware. WannaCry is the same ransomware that crippled Britain’s healthcare services in 2017. The Boeing attack is not as serious as the attack in Britain, according to Boeing’s head of communications Linda Mills. Mills also said the 777 jet program was not part of the hack. Mills said only a few company machines were under attack.

Denver also had a suspicious outage when and, as well as other online services, suddenly stopped in March. Some city staffers lost access to their email account. Denver officials claim the shutdown was the work of a computer bug, but Colorado’s Department of Transportation was a SamSam victim in February. The hackers said the information would come back to them if Colorado paid in Bitcoins, according to a news report by Denver7.


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International Conference Advanced Computer Information Technologies (ACIT)

General Cybersecurity Conference

 June 1 – 3, 2018 | Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic

Cybersecurity Conference Description 


1. Providing podium for scientists to present the results of their researches and scientific results in the field of advanced computer information technologies.
2. Motivation for scientific activity.
3. Exchange of progressive ideas and research results.
4. Development of creativity in scientific activity.

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The #future of #computer #security is #machine vs #machine

A growing number of computer security thinkers, including myself, think that in the very near future, most computer security will be machine versus machine–good bots versus bad bots, completely automated. We are almost there now.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll get to a purely automated defense for a long, long time.

Today’s security defenses
Much of our computer security defenses are already completely automated. Our operating systems are more securely configured out of the box, from firmware startup to the operating system running apps in secure hardware-enforced virtual boundaries, than ever before. If left alone in their default state, our operating systems will auto-update themselves to minimize any known vulnerabilities that have been addressed by the OS vendor.

Most operating systems come with rudimentary blacklists of “bad apps” and “bad digital certificates” that they will not run and always-on firewalls with a nice set of “deny-by-default” rules. Each OS either contains a built-in, self-updating, antimalware program or the users or administrators install one as one of the first administrative tasks they perform. When a new malware program is released, most antimalware programs get a signature update within 24 hours.

Most enterprises are running or subscribing to event log message management services (e.

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Russian group #hacked German #government’s secure #computer #networks

Source: National Cyber Security News

A Russian-backed hacker group known for many high-level cyber attacks was able to infiltrate the German government’s secure computer networks, the dpa news agency reported Wednesday.

Dpa cited unidentified security sources saying the group APT28 hacked into Germany’s foreign and defence ministries and managed to steal data.

The attack was noticed in December and may have lasted a year, dpa reported.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement that “within the federal administration the attack was isolated and brought under control.” The ministry said it was investigating.

A spokesman wouldn’t give further details, citing the ongoing analysis and security measures being taken.

“This case is being worked on with the highest priority and considerable resources,” the ministry statement said.

APT28, which has been linked to Russian military intelligence, has previously been identified as the likely source of an attack on the German Parliament in 2015, as well as on NATO and governments in eastern Europe.

Also known by other names including “Fancy Bear,” APT28 has also been blamed for hacks of the U.S. election campaign, anti-doping agencies and other targets.

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Computer Forensic Analyst

Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans

Taxation & Finance, State – Albany, NY
Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Forensics, Computer Science, or related field AND a minimum of (24) months of satisfactory experience performing the duties of a Computer Forensic Analyst 3 or its equivalent in another computer forensic environment; AND possession of a Computer Forensics certification such as EnCE, CFCE, ACE or similar certification. Certification may be substituted with a minimum of (160) hours of Computer Forensics training with computer forensic tools such as Encase, Access Data FTK and ASR SMART OR a professional certification such as the Certified Computer Forensics Examiner, Certified Computer Examiner, GIAC Certified Forensic Examiner or GIAC Certified Computer Analyst; AND verifiable training with computer forensics tools such as Encase, Access Data FTK and ASR SMART; AND significant Computer Forensics casework experience and experience testifying before a court of law or administrative hearing as a Computer Forensics expert. Candidates must be able to obtain and maintain a professional certification such as the Certified Computer Forensics Examiner, Certified Computer Examiner, GIAC Certified Forensic Examiner or GIAC Certified Computer Analyst within one year of appointment to this level. 

Substitution: (4) years of work-related experience in the field of Computer Forensics may be substituted for the required Bachelor’s Degree. 

The duties that the incumbent of the vacancy will be expected to perform. Duties Description 
Under the general direction of the Director, the Computer Forensic Analyst 4 performs the following duties: 

• In accordance with Department policy, rules and regulations, office guidelines and industry standards, conducts data acquisition and archival; hardware, software and tool testing and validation; and physical examinations of computers, electronic devices and various Department computer network systems. 

• Copies data from multiple operating systems and mobile computing devices. Prepares copied data for archiving into digital media. Verifies the integrity of the forensic copies to be used for analysis. 

• Conducts physical examinations of computer and other electronic computing devices by inspecting the hardware peripherals in devices submitted as evidence. Document the physical condition of evidence computers and devices. 

• Disassemble and reassemble various types of electronic data or communication devices. 

• Test and validate computer hardware, software and forensic analytical tools using established procedures and guidelines. 

• Prepare and submit required documentation for admittance into evidence in court proceedings. 

• Perform computer hardware, software, network and internet related research to troubleshoot and maintain computer forensic laboratory equipment and network. 

• Assist in the review and preparation of evidence. Prepare computer and multimedia digital evidence for court presentations. 

• Testifies in court and other proceedings regarding casework involving routine laboratory processes such as acquisition, archival and analysis. 

• Examine computers and other electronic storage devices submitted as evidence. Analyze data by using computer forensic utilities and analytical techniques. 

• Prepare comprehensive analysis reports to be used in the course of investigations and entered into evidence during court proceedings. 

• Research industry standards and assist Department Investigators in developing procedures for the various stages of computer forensic processes, such as acquisition, archival and analysis of data. 

• Properly maintains the chain of custody and meets evidence handling requirements. 

• Provide technical assistance to Department Investigators during extraction of multimedia digital evidence from computer networks and other technical forensic processes in the field. 

• Recommends changes in operating procedures, equipment, and personnel. 

• Assists with the implementation of hardware and software, as well as modifications to the laboratory equipment and network as requested by management. 

• Analyzes the most complex cases which may involve multiple operating systems and mobile computing devices. 

• Testifies in court or other adverse proceedings regarding the validity of analysis performed by lower-level Computer Forensic Analysts; the processes used, and the relation of evidence to the overall investigation. 

• Advise Department Investigators of possible alternative methods of analysis that would increase accuracy, efficiency and timeliness. 

• Review examinations and analyses completed by staff. 

Additional comments regarding the vacancy. Additional Comments This is a newly classified position and jurisdictional class assignment (non-competitive) is still pending approval. As such, the incumbent will serve temporary in the position until the jurisdictional class is approved. At that time, the incumbent’s status can be changed to permanent. 

Work hours to be determined.

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Two #Women #Charged With #Hacking Bucks #Computer #Systems

A Bucks student and her cohort were arrested and charged with hacking the college’s computer system to alter her grades and the grades of other students in a microbiology course.
The two women arrested were Aleisha Morosco, a 30-year-old part-time student, and Kelly Margaret Marryott, a 37-year-old employed at a medical office.

Bucks officials have suspected since July that someone had been meddling with students’ grades, and once it was reported to the police, the suspicion was confirmed.

Police said Marryott used the personal information of a Bucks faculty member she gained from her employment at a medical office. From there Morosco allegedly hacked the school’s computer network to change her own grade and the grades of other students.

Stephanie H. Shanblatt, president of Bucks County Community College, released the following statement about the incident:
“Dear Colleagues: Last week, the Newtown Township Police arrested two women in connection with an attempt to change grades at the college last summer. I wanted to assure you that this was an isolated incident. When the college discovered the problem, we reported it to Newtown Township Police and worked cooperatively with law enforcement to resolve the case. Bucks takes the integrity of our data systems very seriously. All of the grades altered in the breach were restored to their correct level. I would like to thank the Newtown Township Police Department for their professionalism in bringing this investigation to its appropriate conclusion. In addition, our gratitude goes out to the Office of Security and Safety, Information Technology, and Online Learning for their prompt attention to this matter.”

Both women have been charged with unlawful use of computer, computer crimes, computer trespass, identity theft, and criminal conspiracy.

Computer trespassing is a very serious crime. PhiladelphiaCriminal- states that “If you are indicted on federal computer crime charges, you can face being sent to a federal prison for years.” The two women were arraigned before District Judge Mick Petrucci and released on $40,000 unsecured bail.

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