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InfoSec News Nuggets 4/13/2020

Facebook proposes 3D navigation task for training autonomous robots

Researchers at Facebook, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Oregon State University describe in a preprint paper published this week a new task for AI — navigating a 3D environment by listening to natural language directions (e.g., “Go down the hall and turn left at the wooden desk”). They say this could lay the groundwork for robot assistants that follow natural language instructions. The researchers’ task, which they call vision-and-language navigation in continuous environments (VLN-CE), takes place in Habitat, Facebook’s simulator that can train AI agents to operate in settings meant to mimic real-world environments.


iOS 14 leak reveals feature that lets you use apps even if you haven’t installed them

According 9to5Mac’s analysis of an alleged leaked build of iOS 14, the next major release of Apple’s mobile operating system for iPhones, iPads, and iPods will introduce a new API that will let developers offer some functionality of their apps to users who have not actually downloaded or installed those apps. The publication says that Apple refers to the feature as “Clips” and that it is built off of the existing tools that allow users to navigate to app-specific content via QR codes. The idea seems to be that tapping an app-targeted link or scanning a QR code could bring up content in a temporary “floating card” of the app on the device that allows you to consume the content or perform some other app-related action.


Radware Report: Malicious Bots More Human-Like

A report published by Radware finds well over half (58%) of the malicious bots tracked in February by the provider of IT security platforms can now mimic human behavior. Ben Zilberman, head of product marketing for application security at Radware, said as botnets are being employed to launch more cyberattacks, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for IT security platforms to tell the difference between legitimate users and application activity emanating from a botnet. Not only are the malicious bots increasing in size and number, he said, but they also are becoming more sophisticated in their ability to mimic human behavior. Over a quarter of the malicious bots tracked by Radware are fourth-generation capable of going well beyond performing basic tasks such as logging into a site, said Zilberman.


Signal: If Congress cripples anonymous speech with EARN IT Act, we’ll shut US ops

Secure messaging app developer Signal says its US operation hangs in the balance due to a proposed law in America. In a blog post on Thursday, the non-profit said it will have to shut down it stateside presence should the EARN IT Act be passed and signed into law. Legal and liability concerns would make it impossible to operate in the US, it claims. However, that isn’t to say Signal would close down entirely, or not offer aservice in America, just that its operations in the country would need to move elsewhere.


How you’ll use Apple and Google’s coronavirus tracking tool

Earlier today, Apple and Google announced a Bluetooth-based COVID-19 contact tracing platform that could alert people if they’ve been exposed to the novel coronavirus. Contact tracing is a huge component in ending mass pandemic “stay-at-home” orders, and while phone tracking can’t replace traditional methods like interviews, it can supplement them. Google and Apple are using Bluetooth LE signals for contact tracing. When two people are near each other, their phones can exchange an anonymous identification key, recording that they’ve had close contact. If one person is later diagnosed with COVID-19, they can share that information through an app. The system will notify other users they’ve been close to, so those people can self-quarantine if necessary. Ideally, this means you won’t have to reveal your name, location, or other personal data.


Researchers Made Silicon Glow and It Could Make Computers a Lot Faster

After 50 years of continual invention and innovation into making computer chips faster, Moore’s Law isn’t as dead as it seemed. Researchers have figured out a way to make silicon glow, according to a new report from Wired. That means instead of doubling the amount of transistors in computer chips every two years, it now seems possible that we can use photons, or microscopic particles that emit light, to transmit data.


Amazon has a new plan for drone home delivery: Radar landing pads

With everything that’s going on right now, a lot of people probably wish a drone could deliver them groceries instead of having to battle it out in the real world or wait for a delivery slot to open up. But landing autonomous drones in someone’s backyard without killing anyone or crashing into anything is a fair bit harder than it sounds. One solution Amazon appears to be looking at is placing radar devices at landing sites, which could bounce signals to a drone to let it know where to land or things to avoid. In one drawing in the patent, that just looks like a sheet with a massive “X” in the middle of it. Hopefully when the drone comes in for a landing, it’ll say something like, “Ahoy, me mateys, here’s yer treasure!”

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