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DARPA's New Plans: Crowdsource Intel, Edit DNA

Wired News (02/02/10) Drummond, Katie

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA's) future plans call for crowdsourcing military
intelligence, creating an immune system for Defense Department networks, and
conducting research that could lead to editing soldiers' DNA. DARPA wants to
improve how the military uses its intelligence information by turning it into an
open call for contributions. The project, called Deep ISR Processing by Crowds,
looks to "harness the unique cognitive and creative abilities of large numbers
of people to enhance dramatically the knowledge derived from ISR systems,"
according to DARPA. The agency also wants innovation to take the place of
individual analysis and decision making. Meanwhile, DARPA is developing a
cyberdefense model called Cyber Immune that can detect an attack, fight back,
and heal itself automatically to prevent future infiltration. DARPA wants a
system that "assumes security cannot be absolute, yet ... can still defend
itself in order to maintain its (possibly degraded) capabilities, and possibly
even heal itself." DARPA also aims to create microchip implants that restore
senses and movement in traumatic injury patients and edit human genes to boost
troop performance in the field.


Indo-German Centre on Computer Science Opened at IIT, Delhi
NetIndian News Network (02/03/10)

The Indian government and the Max Planck Society have formally unveiled a new center
in Delhi that will serve as a hub for collaboration between computer scientists
from India and Germany. The Indo-German Max Planck Center on Computer Science
(IMPECS) at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) will focus on research
areas such as algorithms and complexity, database and information retrieval,
graphics and vision, and networking. The team at IMPECS will work with
researchers from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, IIT
Kanpur, IIT Bombay, and IIT Madras, as well as scientists from the Max Planck
Institute for Informatics in Germany. India hopes to become more skilled in
computer science, while Germany wants to gain access to India's top scientists
and pool of young talent. IMPECS will have an initial duration of five
years.


Google to Enlist NSA to Help It Ward Off Cyberattacks
Washington Post (02/04/10) P. A1; Nakashima, Ellen

Google and the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) are collaborating to fortify defenses against future cyberattacks. NSA will assist Google in studying
an assault that allegedly originated in China and targeted Google's computer
networks. The agreement also calls for NSA to aid Google in understanding
whether it is deploying the proper security measures by assessing
vulnerabilities in hardware and software and to calibrate the adversary's level
of sophistication. Sources say the partnership will permit the two organizations
to exchange crucial data without breaching Google's policies or statutes that
shield the privacy of U.S. citizens' online communications. NSA also reportedly
is reaching out to other government agencies that play major cybersecurity roles
and might be able to assist in the Google probe. "As a general matter, as part
of its information-assurance mission, NSA works with a broad range of commercial
partners and research associates to ensure the availability of secure tailored
solutions for Department of Defense and national security systems customers,"
says NSA's Judi Emmel.
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Grid Computing for the Masses
ICT Results (02/04/10)

A European research team has developed KnowARC, middleware that enables any computer running any operating system to access
grid-based computers. The KnowARC project, led by the University of Oslo's Farid
Ould-Saada, wants to make grid computing as easily accessible as information is
on the Internet. "Getting access to the grid should be as simple as installing a
new browser to get on the Internet," says Ould-Saada. "Only then will the
survival and expansion of the grid be assured." KnowARC is based on Advanced
Resource Connector (ARC) middleware, which provides interoperability between
computing systems, architectures, and platforms. Ould-Saada says that ARC has
great potential for wide deployment in new domains due to its ease of
installation and interoperability. ARC middleware also is being used in grid
computing for medical research, bioinformatics, and geographical data. "In a
matter of years, I hope to see resources and storage being as easy to access
remotely as information is on the Internet today," Ould-Saada says.


U.S. Scientists Given Access to Cloud Computing
New York Times (02/04/10) Markoff, John

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and Microsoft have agreed to offer U.S.
scientific researchers free access to a new cloud computing service called
Azure. The three-year project aims to give scientists the computing power to
handle large amounts of research data. Access to the service will come in the
form of grants from the foundation. Recently, emphasis has been placed on
computing systems capable of storing and analyzing vast amounts of data. "We're
trying to figure out how to engage the majority of scientists," says Microsoft's
Dan Reed. He says Microsoft is prepared to invest millions of dollars in the
program, which could provide thousands of scientists with access to the cloud
computing service. "It's all about data," says Jeannette M. Wing, NSF's
assistant director of computer and information science and engineering
directorate. "We are generating streams and rivers of data."


Madly Mapping the Universe
Berkeley Lab News Center (02/03/10) Preuss, Paul

Researchers at Berkeley Lab's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) are designing computational
tools to create maps of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). NERSC's Julian
Borrill, Radek Stompor, and Andrew Jaffe developed the Microwave Anisotropy
Dataset Computational Analysis Package (MADCAP) with an emphasis on mapmaking.
Mapping the CMB requires accurately accounting for the noise in the data. "To
make a map it takes a special code to weigh and account for the noise in each
pixel at each point in time," Borrill says. The special code is called MADmap.
Although MADmap was designed with CMB data in mind, "it was always intended to
be independent of the specifics of any one experiment," Borrill says. MADmap has
been used in several different experiments, including MAXIMA, which mapped a
portion of the northern sky in 1998, BOOMERANG, which circled the South Pole in
1999, and the European Space Agency's Planck satellite. Another satellite,
Herschel, carries a powerful infrared telescope, and two highly sensitive
bolometers as part of the Photoconductor Array Camera and Spectrometer.


Brewing Up Java Skills for the Knowledge Economy
Silicon Republic (02/04/10) Boran, Marie

University College Dublin's (UCD's) School of Computer Science and Informatics will offer a second round of Java courses to companies that do not
have the time and money to train their own employees. A year ago, UCD drew
approximately 500 people for its Java training program. This year, UCD will
offer a week of classes in foundation and advanced Java. UCD professor John
Murphy says that more than 10 participants from last year are now pursuing a
master's degree in Computer Science by Negotiated Learning, which is a
pioneering concept in Ireland and allows students to choose a module from wide
range of subjects, such as courses in the School of Business, for developing
entrepreneurial skills. "It has brought people back into the academic fold,"
Murphy says. "UCD is looking to make a contribution to the economy and this is a
good way of building relationships with both individuals and organizations in
the technology sector." UCD also is considering offering training in other key
technology skills.


The Dozens of Computers That Make Modern Cars Go (and Stop)
New York Times (02/04/10) Motavalli, Jim

The electronics within today's cars are under increasing scrutiny in the wake of the recent problems reported with some Toyota vehicles. Modern cars and
trucks contain as many 100 million lines of computer code, more than in some jet
fighters. "It would be easy to say the modern car is a computer on wheels, but
it's more like 30 or more computers on wheels," says SAE International's Bruce
Emaus. The on-board computers control several functions, including the brakes,
cruise control, and entertainment systems. Built-in electronics, as a percentage
of total vehicle costs, rose to 15 percent in 2005 from five percent in the late
1970s, and likely is higher today, reports IEEE Spectrum. Throttle-by-wire
technology has replaced cables or mechanical connections. These systems are
designed to protect against the kind of false signals or electronic interference
that could cause sudden acceleration. Emaus says the software controlling a
car's electronics is engineered with defensive programming to prevent problems,
but he acknowledges it is nearly impossible to test for every eventuality.


Interactive Board Games Will Come to Life
MSNBC (02/02/10) Hsu, Jeremy

Queen's University researchers have built the prototype of an interactive board game that enables
users to touch tiles together or "pour" the contents of a tile onto another to
make virtual villages rise up from the ground or soldiers swarm off a ship to do
battle. Queen's computer scientist Roel Vertegaal says the developers drew
inspiration from the popular board game "Settlers of Catan," in which players
try to build settlements, cities, and roads that control certain resources. The
researchers used blank hexagonal tiles that could serve as backgrounds for a
digital projection. A computer then renders virtual board game action onto the
tiles. Eventually, board games could use organic light-emitting diodes or E-Ink
technologies, similar to those in ebook readers, which could turn each tile into
a visual display. Such interactive board games could come to life in the next
five to 10 years, Vertegaal says. Queen's Human Media Lab also has experimented
with projecting interfaces from smartphones onto three-dimensional objects such
as Styrofoam.


Hybrid Video Could Lighten the Search and Rescue Load
New Scientist (02/02/10) Campbell, MacGregor

Integrating visible and infrared video could lead to more successful rescue and search missions, according to Brigham Young University's Nathan
Rasmussen, who has created a hybrid system that makes it easier to interpret
video images. To calibrate feeds from visible and infrared cameras, Rasmussen
filmed a grid of black wires on a white blackboard. Sending a current down the
wires to heat them up enabled the infrared camera to "see" the wires. He also
developed an algorithm to align the vertices of the grids and make up the
differences in viewing angles. Warmer areas in natural environments picked up by
the infrared camera appear magenta on the hybrid video stream. During tests,
volunteers were asked to watch either the hybrid feed or the two separate
visible and infrared video streams while a series of beeps was played. Both
groups were able to identify objects in the footage, but the viewers of the
hybrid video were more accurate in noting the number of beeps they had heard,
which suggests the hybrid feed was easier to interpret.
View Full Article - May Require Free Registration | Return to Headlines


Code Defends Against "Stealthy" Computer Worms
Penn State Live (02/01/10) Messer, Andrea

Pennsylvania State University (PSU) researchers have developed an algorithm that defends against the spread of
local scanning worms that search for hosts in "local" spaces within networks or
subnetworks. The algorithm works by estimating the size of the targeted host
population and monitoring the occurrence of infections. It then sets a threshold
value just equal to or below the average number of scans necessary to infect a
host. "By applying the containment thresholds from our proposed algorithm,
outbreaks can be blocked early," says PSU postdoctoral fellow Yoon-Ho Choi. The
algorithm was tested and proved to be able to determine the size of the
susceptible host population as well as an efficient estimator of worm virulence.
"Our evaluation showed that the algorithm is reliable in the very early
propagation stage and is better than the state-of-the-art defense," Choi
says.


US Oil Industry Hit by Cyberattacks: Was China Involved?
Christian Science Monitor (01/25/10) Clayton, Mark

Industrial espionage is shifting from traditional intelligence gathering methods to Internet intelligence capture, as evidenced by a series of
cyberattacks against the oil industry that are believed to have been executed by
foreign governments or their surrogates. Multiple sources say that Marathon Oil,
ConocoPhillips, and ExxonMobil were breached by attacks that used a combination
of bogus emails and customized spyware programs to target specific data. This
has led to speculation by experts that the parties behind the attacks were
"Level 3" intruders who may have been connected to a foreign government. Still,
it is difficult to prove infiltration, given many companies' unwillingness to
admit to having been hacked. Furthermore, many corporate executives are not
aware of the growing sophistication of espionage software and still resort to
outdated electronic safeguards. Some of the cyberattacks on the oil giants were
traced to China, but there is no definitive proof that the Chinese government or
even Chinese nationals were responsible. On the other hand, the oil intrusions
coincide with increasing numbers of coordinated assaults in the United States
that experts do consider China to be accountable for. In the end, experts say it
is less important for U.S. industry to know who is responsible than to recognize
and prepare for the expanding threat of cyberespionage.

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