Microsoft Discovers Self-Replicating Ransomware

What’s worse than ransomware? Self-replicating ransomware. “Dubbed ‘Ransom:Win32/ZCryptor.A,’ or simply ‘ZCryptor,’ the malware is distributed by the usual spam email infection vector. Once executed, the malware makes sure it runs once the system is booted. Furthermore, to be able to reproduce itself, it drops an autorun.inf in removable drives, a “zycrypt.lnk” in the start-up folder, along with a copy of itself as {Drive}:\system.exe and %APPDATA%\zcrypt.exe. Lastly, it changes the file attributes to hide itself from the user in the file explorer.”

There’s a Werner Herzog Chatbot on Facebook

Because the Internet isn’t weird enough, there’s now a Werner Herzog chatbot on Facebook. “This is the first thing WernerBot — a whimsical Facebook message bot that claims to be the “best and only way to chat with Werner Herzog over the Internet” — will say to you when first engage it with a simple greeting, ‘Hello Werner.’ WernerBot is not affiliated with the famed director, but it responds in a way that one can’t help hearing Herzog’s excited voice.”

Searching For Videos and Images By Sketch

A new software/tech package lets you do image and video searches by sketch. “Researchers at the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Basel have developed a system known as ‘vitrivr’, which allows a search for images and videos by means of a sketch. The user creates a sketch of the desired object on a tablet or interactive paper, and the program delivers the images and video clips that most resemble it. For videos, the user can even specify on the sketch in which direction an object is moving in the searched sequence.” The system is open source.

Google Now More Popular Than Yandex in Russia?

In Russia, Google is now more popular than Yandex. “The American company’s success over Russian web giant Yandex has been attributed to increasing numbers of users accessing the service through tablets and smartphones, Vedomosti reported. Statistics provided by market research agency TNS showed Google reached 20.5 million Russian users in April 2016. Yandex was only narrowly beaten with 20.4 million monthly users, while Mail.ru reached 19.3 million.”

Is AlphaGo Getting Another Human Challenger?

Uh-oh, looks like Google’s Go-playing AI AlphaGo is playing another human challenger. “The world’s top Go (or Weiqi) player, 19-year-old Chinese Ke Jie, is likely to compete with an AI-powered Go-playing system in October in Hainan province, according to a tweet on Chinese Twitter-like Sina Weibo. The tweet is believed to have been posted by the account of Ke’s official fan club. It also quoted a picture originally tweeted by Ke on his personal Weibo account, illustrating that he is confident he will defeat AlphaGo even though the system has defeated South Korean Go master Lee Sedol.”

Facebook, Other Social Media Networks Agree to EU “Hate Speech” Rules

Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Microsoft have reached an agreement with the EU over its hate speech rules. ” Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and YouTube today agreed to European regulations that require them to review ‘the majority of’ hateful online content within 24 hours of being notified — and to remove it, if necessary — as part of a new ‘code of conduct’ aimed at combating hate speech and terrorist propaganda across the EU. The new rules, announced Tuesday by the European Commission, also oblige the tech companies to identify and promote ‘independent counter-narratives’ to hate speech and propaganda published online.”

BBC Makes Micro:bit Available to Everybody

The BBC is making its micro:bit computer available to everybody. “The BBC micro:bit is a small, 32-bit computer, with LED lights and buttons which can be programmed to do your bidding. It also has Bluetooth support, an accelerometer and a compass, widely expanding the number of usage scenarios.”

Reddit Resetting Some Account Credentials After “Takeovers”

Reddit hasn’t been hacked, it says, but is resetting some account credentials after “account takeovers”. “Reddit has reset more than 100,000 user passwords following a rise in account takeovers. Reddit explained that it hasn’t been hacked, but that it has noticed a surge in account takeovers by malicious, or ‘spammy’, third parties, probably owing to a number of recent high-profile attacks such as that on LinkedIn.” Reddit is also considering 2FA. Yes!

Twitter Research: Congress and Climate Change

From Northeastern: Researchers mine Twitter to reveal Congress’ ideological divide on climate change. “In a new paper pub­lished Monday in the journal Cli­mate Change Responses, [Brian] Hel­muth and his North­eastern col­leagues ana­lyzed the Twitter accounts of U.S. sen­a­tors to see which leg­is­la­tors fol­lowed research-​​oriented sci­ence orga­ni­za­tions, including those cov­ering global warming. Democ­rats, they found, were three times more likely than Repub­li­cans to follow them, leading the researchers to note that ‘overt interest in sci­ence may now pri­marily be a “Demo­crat” value.’ Yet out of that polit­ical polar­iza­tion, says Hel­muth, came a ray of hope: 15 Senate Repub­li­cans bridged the aisle, dis­playing a draw to sci­ence and thus a way to bring sci­en­tific infor­ma­tion to those not receiving it on their own.”

KICKSTARTER CORNER: Drought Solution Database for California

KICKSTARTER CORNER: Britanny Bunk (I’m not kidding, that’s her name) is trying to raise money for an open database of California drought solutions. “The database’s goal is reducing preventable water consumption for surviving a drought (esp. in California). The data (in Excel) helps in making conscious decisions that lead to societal changes (within consumer/lifestyle habits and of businesses/government entities). Database includes references and formulas to get analyses. This project is open for comments. The more funding this project gets, the more it can grow!” It’s a worthy project, but a pledge goal of $17K? And the first rewards tier is at $200?

Romania Has Online Museum of Corruption

Romania has a new online museum for corruption. “Romania’s new Corruption Museum hosts the Bribes’ Gallery, where visitors can find some of the most famous cases of bribery in Romania, and the Bribe Test, which lets people test their knowledge on local corruption. The museum’s website is currently available only in Romanian.” Dang. I tried translating this site with Google Translate and no luck. No good with Bing either.