Leading the News
Black Hat Hackers Demonstrate How To Hack EMV Technology At PoS Systems, ATMs.
ComputerWorld (8/4) provides continuing coverage on Wednesday’s Black Hat conference, where a senior security engineer from Rapid7 demonstrated a $6 device that can break into hotel rooms by duplicating keycards. The device “can also potentially inject malicious code to compromise point-of-sale (PoS) systems” and break open cash registers. Such an attack could work on “most Windows-based PoS systems that are designed to work with a keyboard.”
eWeek (8/4) reports Rapid7 researchers also demonstrated an attack on an ATM “that ended up with the machines shooting out a string of fake $100 bills.” Researcher Tod Beardsley explained that the attack exploited design flaws in the EMV chip system via a “shimmer” tool installed in the ATM to steal EMV data. He added that as ATMs are in the process of upgrading to EMV, the risk of such attacks is concerning. ZDNet (8/4) also discusses the Black Hat ATM hack, which showed how criminals could steal up to $550,000 from an ATM in under 15 minutes, despite chip-and-PIN technology. Rapid7 security researchers “have disclosed full details about the vulnerability in chip-and-PIN ATMs to the major machine makers and banks.”
Fortune (8/4) says tech company NCR presented a way to rewrite the magnetic stripe codes on EMV chip cards to trick payment terminals into reading them as cards without chips. According to the researchers, “the hack is only possible because many retailers are not encrypting their transactions, leaving the information in plain sight for a hacker in the retailer’s system.” However, US Payments Forum director Randy Vanderhood said while the hacking appears simple, the back end of the system would “recognize that data had been altered and reject the transaction.”
CBS News (8/4) features a general video on the Black Hat conference, where hackers meet to raise awareness of cybersecurity issues and help companies improve their security.
Also reporting is RT (8/4).
ITT Tech Faces Possible Loss Of Accreditation.
Inside Higher Ed (8/4) reports that the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools held a hearing this week on whether to continue to accredit ITT Technical Institutes, which “has been facing federal and state investigations and has a need for more cash” amid sharply falling enrollment. A spokesperson for the firm said it does not expect to lose accreditation because it is in compliance with all requirements.
Parties Differ On How To Address Student Debt Crisis.
USA Today (8/3, Herrera) reports that while both major parties agree that the cost of college is two high, they “differ greatly” on how to address the issue. The GOP platform “calls for the federal government to get out of the business ‘originating’ student loans—in other words, the Republicans want the government to stop providing loans to college students.” Meanwhile, “Democrats now advocate that families earning under an unspecified amount should not have to pay tuition for their child to attend public colleges or universities.”
Elite Colleges With Big Endowments Offer Little Aid To Low Income Students.
The Hechinger Report (8/4) reports that of the 138 US colleges with the largest amounts of cash in their endowments, “four in five charge poor students so much that they’d need to surrender 60 percent or more of their household incomes just to attend, even after financial aid is considered.” Many of these schools have very low enrollment of such students. The article says the information comes from an Education Trust report which said that few wealthy schools “are spending that largess at anywhere near the rate they could to ease college costs for talented low-income students.” The piece quotes Under Secretary Ted Mitchell saying last year, “We have to keep our eye on this problem of education becoming a luxury good. We have to challenge elite institutions to do more.”
NCES Report: Many Students Don’t Apply For Financial Aid.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer (8/4) reports that according to a new study from ED’s National Center for Education Statistics, “many college undergraduates don’t apply for financial aid because they believe they would not qualify, or think they can afford school and don’t want debt.” The report indicates that some 20% of students are failing to fill out their FAFSA forms.
Controversy Surrounds Texas Campus Carry Law.
The Christian Science Monitor (8/4) reports on the controversy surrounding Texas’ new law “requiring public institutions to allow for the concealed carry of firearms in classrooms,” with debate swirling around whether the new law makes students and faculty safer or more at risk. The paper notes that a number of University of Texas professors “have sued the institution” and state officials “over the right to forbid guns in their specific classrooms.”
Research and Development
New Device Could Create Artificial Airway In Wounded Soldiers.
The Baltimore Sun (8/4, Cohn) “Picture of Health” blog reports that “biomedical engineering students in the Johns Hopkins University Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design Teams Program” have designed “the CricSpike, a device medics could use to create an artificial airway and pump air into the lungs.” The device, which offers a safer alternative to a cricothyrotomy, “could keep” wounded “soldiers alive until they reach a hospital.”
Researchers Develop Biodegradable Pill Robot.
Bloomberg BusinessWeek (8/4, Kharif) says Director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory Daniela Rus and a team of researchers have developed a new robot that can be placed in a pill and swallowed by humans. The pill dissolves in the stomach in a minute or two. The biodegradable robot then expands, does its work, and eventually breaks down in the stomach like food. The robot is placed into an inch-long, 0.09-ounce pill, which “unfolds like an origami” and can be guided “with a tiny magnet to remove a foreign object from the stomach or treat a wound by administering medication.”
Clemson Researchers Working On Hydroponic Space Farming.
The Greenville (SC) News (8/3) reports that Clemson researchers are working on “technology for growing crops in outer space,” noting that the mechanical engineering department is using a research grant from NASA on “a hydroponic growing system that operates inside 40-foot-long refrigerated shipping containers.” The technology “is now being used by about 60 restaurants to produce fresh lettuce, herbs and other leafy greens year-round,” and Clemson “will modify the design to make it more efficient and suitable for space travel.”
WSPA-TV Greenville, SC (8/3) also covers this story, explaining that the technology will use “LED lights and 10 gallons of nutrient rich water to grow leafy greens, like lettuce and kale, on other planets.”
Recent University Of Texas Engineering Graduate Tests Drone Controlled By Mass-Actuation.
Phys (UK) (8/3) reports that Sampath Vengate, a new aerospace engineering graduate from the University of Texas-Arlington, “is the first person to successfully flight test an unmanned aerial vehicle that uses moving weights in its wings instead of traditional control surfaces or ailerons to turn.” Vengate “used existing UTA research to design, build and test a UAV that uses mass actuation – weights that move back and forth within the wings to change the center of gravity from side to side – to turn while airborne.”
Apple Offers Bug Bounties To Researchers.
Reuters (8/4, Finkle) reports Apple plans to offer bounties of up to $200,000 to researchers who identify security bugs in its products. The program will initially be limited to “about two dozen researchers” on the advice of companies who have previously launched similar programs. According to security analyst Rich Mogull, limiting participation will save Apple from dealing with “a deluge of ‘low value’ bug reports.”
Michael Hayden: Best Response To Cyberthreat: Invest In STEM Education. In the Washington Times (8/4), former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency Michael Hayden writes the best response to increased cyberthreat over the long term “might simply be quiet and sustained investment in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education.” Hayden notes that one activist group, the Computer Science Education Coalition, “has called for the relatively modest investment of $250 million to support more than 50,000 classrooms and to reach more than 3.5 million students.”
MIT’s Interactive Dynamic Video Could Vastly Improve AR/VR Technology.
Business Insider (8/4, BI Intelligence) reports MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Laboratory has developed a new imaging technique called Interactive Dynamic Video (IDV) that “has the potential to dramatically improve augmented- and virtual-reality (AR/VR).” IDV allows real-world objects to be manipulated and virtualized through digital interface. The applications provided by this innovation are numerous, “from engineering and architecture to stress test infrastructure, to entertainment in producing special effects, to developing AR/VR environments.” The biggest impact the technology would have on AR/VR would be through compatibility with smartphones. IDV’s “motion-tracking algorithms” would improve the AR/VR space for multiple reasons including: it “provides a more cost-efficient way to produce special effects and AR/VR,” it permits “users to visually interact with the physical world,” and it “enables complex interactions between virtual objects and the physical world.”
Engineering and Public Policy
DOE Proposes Battery Charger Conservation Standards.
The Hill (8/4, Devaney) reports the Energy Department has proposed “new energy conservation standards for certain battery chargers.” The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at DOE “proposed Thursday new efficiency rules for certain battery chargers known as uninterruptible power supplies.” The public will have the chance to comment for the next 60 days.
Pact Among State AGs Aims To Keep Climate Probe Confidential.
The Hill (8/4, Cama) reports that a wide-ranging “common interest agreement” between the 18 attorneys general, led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, “seeks to limit public disclosure of their climate investigations, including probes into ExxonMobil.” The Energy & Environment Legal Institute obtained the agreement through public-records litigation. The pact states that the attorneys general might go after other companies in order to fight climate change, including pursuing “investigations of representations made by companies to investors, consumers and the public regarding fossil fuels, renewable energy and climate change.” Schneiderman’s office defended the agreement to Reuters, calling it “routine practice.” The Washington Times (8/4, Richardson) reports that the agreement was signed “as part of their collaborative pursuit of fossil-fuel companies, academics and think tanks that challenge the narrative of catastrophic climate-change.”
Reuters (8/4, Wade) similarly reports.
Michigan AG Schuette Joins Lawsuit Against EPA’s Methane Emissions Rule, Without State Backing.
The Detroit News (8/4, Oosting) reports that on Tuesday, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette joined a lawsuit led by a coalition of states to block the EPA’s new methane rules “on behalf of ‘the people of Michigan’ rather than the state of Michigan.” Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder did not sign off on the lawsuit, claiming that although the administration has “serious concerns regarding the vagueness” of the EPA rule and the state’s ability to apply it constitutionally, but “that was not the focus of the suit brought by the attorney general and thus the state did not join as a party to the suit.”
Missouri Teachers Get Training To Boost Math, Science AP Test Scores.
KWMU-FM St. Louis (8/4) reports that the National Math and Science Initiative is providing training for teachers in St. Louis, Missouri intended to better prepare them for working with AP students. The initiative “offered the training as part of a three-year program to increase the number of high schoolers who pass Advanced Placement exams.” Nine districts across the country are taking part in the program, which is funded by a $20 million ED grant.
Inland Schools Use New Approach To Teaching Science.
The Riverside (CA) Press Enterprise (8/4, Wall) reports that Riverside Unified School District’s Mountain View Elementary School teacher Emerson Treacy is using a new method to teach science by first letting “his third-graders do experiments and hands-on activities” instead of starting “with vocabulary and concepts,” allowing them to “use problem-solving skills to form their own conclusions, which makes learning fun and helps them remember the material.” According to the Press Enterprise, “this model is a key part of a statewide shift in science instruction” at Inland district schools, which “are rolling out what’s known as the Next Generation Science Standards, which identify ideas and practices all students should learn by the end of high school.”
Hampton High School Workshop Aimed At Getting Girls Interested In Engineering.
The Newport News (VA) Daily Press (8/4, Subscription Publication) reports that 19 female students from Hampton High School in grades 10 and higher participated in the school’s “Introduce a Girl to Engineering” workshop. According to the Daily Press, the National Science Foundation’s Women, Minorities and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering report showed “women held just 14.8 percent of the more than 1.5 million engineering jobs counted.” Hampton’s aerospace engineering and digital electronics teacher Ervin Myrick said, “It’s mainly to make the girls aware that tech and engineering is available and to increase the enrollment of girls in engineering at Hampton High School.”
MAST Academy Student Gets Internship At Space Research Center.
The Miami Herald (8/4, Richardson) reports that “Sebastian Calvo of MAST Academy in Key Biscayne was selected to attend the Student Enhancement in Earth and Space Science summer internship at the University of Texas’ Center for Space Research.” The program, aimed at improving “the teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering and math through space education,” was offered through “a partnership between Texas Space Grant Consortium, NASA, and the University of Texas at Austin.”
Thursday’s Lead Stories
• Apple Claims Improved Gender, Racial Diversity Numbers In New Report.
• Study Finds Calculus, Confidence Keep Women Out Of STEM.
• NSF Gives University Of Rochester $2 Million For Photonics Research.
• Execs: Cyber Talent Shortage Causing Harm.
• Study: Ride Sharing To Help, Not Harm Auto Industry.
• Auto Industry, NHTSA, And Environmentalists Clash Over Fuel Efficiency Goals.
• Nebo School District Awarded Grant To Interest Kids In Coding And Create High School STEM Ambassadors.