It’s deeply saddening to learn of Françoise Hardy’s passing. It seems like only yesterday she was 25, effortlessly gracing the iconic CB-750K0 with her presence. While we mourn a true legend, the enduring spirit of the machine she once rode lives on, cherished by those fortunate enough to appreciate its legacy.

 

Is AI Making Hackers Smarter?

By Skeeter Wesinger

Artificial intelligence (AI) significantly influences the advancement of hacking techniques, enhancing the creativity and complexity of hacker strategies. Here are the primary ways AI is transforming hacking:


AI enables the automation of various hacking activities. It streamlines tasks such as scanning for network vulnerabilities, executing phishing attacks, and cracking passwords. This efficiency allows hackers to target multiple systems at once with minimal effort.

AI also plays a crucial role in developing malware that can evade detection. By learning from its operational environment, AI-enhanced malware can modify its behavior to bypass security measures, making it more challenging for conventional security tools to detect and prevent attacks.

In the realm of social engineering, AI, particularly through natural language processing (NLP), can create more convincing phishing emails and other deceptive tactics. These AI tools analyze extensive data from social media and other sources to tailor attacks more personally, increasing their likelihood of success.

AI systems can rapidly assess the results of their actions and adjust strategies promptly. When an attack method becomes ineffective, AI can swiftly identify alternative approaches, enhancing the threat posed by AI-driven attacks.

Hackers can use AI to detect patterns and vulnerabilities in software and systems that have eluded human researchers. These zero-day exploits, which exploit previously unknown vulnerabilities, are invaluable for compromising secure systems. Moreover, AI can make strategic decisions about which targets are most susceptible and thus more worthwhile to attack, helping hackers optimize their resources.

AI also reduces the barrier to entry for aspiring hackers by automating complex tasks, enabling individuals with limited hacking expertise to launch advanced attacks and expand the threat landscape.

However, it is crucial to recognize that AI technologies are also being used to strengthen cybersecurity defenses, setting the stage for a continuous arms race between attackers and defenders. AI-enhanced security systems can quickly analyze threats, adapt to new methods, and automate responses, providing an essential countermeasure to AI-powered hacking efforts.

BitLocker, Microsoft’s encryption software for SSDs, has faced various challenges since its debut. The upcoming Windows 11 version 24H2 update, also known as the 2024 update, may introduce a new concern for users: BitLocker could be enabled by default during the installation process for all editions of Windows, including the Home edition. This information comes from a report by the German news outlet Deskmodder, which was subsequently covered by Neowin. Enabling BitLocker by default is seen as problematic for several reasons outlined below.

Firstly, enabling BitLocker, which encrypts and decrypts data continuously on your SSD, can significantly decrease your PC’s performance. Specifically, it could slow down system performance by up to 45% in Windows Pro, with similar impacts likely on other versions of the operating system.

Secondly, there is a risk for users who are not familiar with encryption. They might end up encrypting their data unintentionally during installation and could face difficulties decrypting it later if they misplace or fail to save the necessary decryption key. This could render both the CPU and the SSD inaccessible.

A third concern highlighted involves security vulnerabilities in BitLocker. According to YouTuber Stacksmashing, BitLocker’s encryption can be easily breached. They demonstrate that with a modest investment in a $10 Raspberry Pi Pico and physical access to the machine, encrypted data on a system with an external Trusted Platform Module (TPM) can be decrypted.

However, there is a straightforward remedy for this automatic encryption: users can disable Device Encryption in the Privacy & security section of the Settings menu. While this option exists, many Windows 11 users, particularly those with the Home version, may not be aware of it or know how to manage these settings.

If these reports are accurate, it would be prudent for Microsoft to reconsider the default auto-encryption feature before releasing the update. Such a feature seems to introduce more problems than it resolves.

Why “American Graffiti” is George Lucas’s Best Film

Story by Skeeter Wesinger

When George Lucas unveiled “American Graffiti” in 1973, it wasn’t just a film but a time machine. The year was 1962, and Lucas’s canvas was the nocturnal sprawl of Modesto, California, his boyhood backdrop. This was America before it lost its innocence, before the seismic shifts of the Vietnam War, the assassinations of JFK and MLK, the Manson Family horrors, and the Watergate scandal. It was an America that existed just before everything changed, and Lucas captured it with aching nostalgia.

Remember 1973? Nixon was reshaping America’s financial landscape by detaching the dollar from the gold standard. Protests against the Vietnam War were a fixture in the news. Yet amidst this turmoil, Lucas offered a retreat to a seemingly simpler past. “American Graffiti” parked us squarely on those sun-baked Modesto streets where the biggest worry was what song the DJ would play next.

Critics might argue that Lucas’s later works surpass this early outing with their grander scales and technological innovations. Yet, “American Graffiti” stands out in Lucas’s filmography as his most personal film, a lovingly detailed tableau of his youth. The film’s power lies in its ability to evoke nostalgia without being blinded by it. Lucas doesn’t just remind us of the past; he makes us feel the poignancy of losing it.

The soundtrack alone—featuring hits like “At the Hop,” “Runaway, and “16 Candles”—is a masterclass in storytelling, each track capturing the zeitgeist of early ’60s teen culture. It’s an era encapsulated in the blissful ignorance of the film’s characters, teenagers on the cusp of adulthood, unaware of the tumultuous changes awaiting them in the decade.

“American Graffiti also set a stylistic precedent that resonates through cinema today—from the teen angst of “The Breakfast Club to the nostalgic echoes in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Lucas’s film isn’t just a reflection on youth; it’s a commentary on the American experience, a mirror held up to a society perpetually in flux.

In a filmography filled with faraway galaxies and epic sagas, “American Graffiti does something remarkable. It brings us home. It reminds us of where we came from and, more poignantly, how far we have traveled. That’s why, in my view, it remains not just a significant work in Lucas’s oeuvre but his finest film.

AMD finally patches gaping Zenbleed security hole — MSI releases AGESA 1.2.0.Ca BIOS update for Zen 2

AMD

MSI has published new BIOS updates featuring AMD’s AM4 AGESA 1.2.0.Ca firmware update, which targets Zenbleed attacks. The new firmware targets a vulnerability in AMD’s Ryzen 4000 series Zen 2 APUs that “may allow an attacker to potentially access sensitive information.”

It appears MSI is rolling out the new BIOS updates as we speak. The new firmware update is available on almost all X570 motherboards, but only a few of MSI’s other chipsets and motherboards (including the 400 series) have the new firmware update at the time of writing.

AGESA 1.2.0.Ca specifically addresses Zen 2 vulnerability CVE-2023-20593, classified as a medium-level threat by AMD. Specific details on the threat itself were not disclosed, however, AMD does say that this threat can allow an attacker access to sensitive information “under specific microarchitectural circumstances”.
Even though AGESA 1.2.0.Ca is targeted at Ryzen 4000 “Renior” APUs, the threat exists in all Zen 2 processors. It just happens that AMD already patched this security vulnerability in prior AGESA microcode updates—1.2.0.C and 1.0.0.B—in Ryzen 3000 processors before it got around to rectifying the issue in the Ryzen 4000 series.

AMD has already patched the security threat for other Ryzen-based CPUs outside of the AM4 platform, including the Ryzen 3000 Threadripper HEDT chips, 7002 EPYC server CPUs, and Ryzen 4000, 5000, and 7020 series mobile CPUs (yes, some Ryzen 7000 mobile parts are Zen 2-based). The only Zen 2 platform that remains vulnerable is AMD’s Ryzen Embedded V2000 CPus, which was supposed to get the EmbeddedPi-FP6 1.0.0.9 AGESA firmware update by April.

AMD did not state if this new security update impacts performance. When we tested Zenbleed fixes previously, we found that while gaming was unaffected, other performance could drop as much as 15%.

To re-iterate, this specific vulnerability only affects Zen 2-based chips, so if you have an AM4 chip using a different architecture — like Zen+ or Zen 3, you don’t need to update your BIOS.

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Deep learning is likely to profoundly impact the human experience in various ways, spanning from daily conveniences to significant shifts in how we work, communicate, and make decisions. Here are some key areas where deep learning could influence our lives.

Deep learning will enable higher levels of automation in many industries, from manufacturing to services. While this will increase efficiency and lower costs, it raises concerns about job displacement. Specific roles, especially those involving routine tasks, are more susceptible to automation. However, deep learning also creates new job opportunities in tech, data analysis, and AI system maintenance, demanding a shift in skills in the workforce.

For instance, deep learning can revolutionize diagnostics and treatment planning in the medical field. Algorithms can analyze medical images, genetic data, or electronic health records to help diagnose diseases earlier and with higher accuracy than human practitioners. This could lead to more personalized medicine, improving treatment outcomes and extending life expectancy.

Things Autonomous vehicles will be powered by deep learning, and this will transform transportation by reducing accidents caused by human error and, ultimately, optimizing traffic flow. This shift could change how cities are planned and reduce pollution, but it poses enormous regulatory and ethical challenges.

In the future, deep learning will power personalized experiences in technology use, from customized news feeds and shopping recommendations to personalized learning platforms. While this enhances user experience, it also raises issues around privacy and the potential for echo chambers, where algorithms continuously present content that reinforces users’ beliefs.

In the bygone times of the 1990s, when the internet was less guarded, every piece of data transmitted from one computer to another was exposed. This was an era where not just the innocuous content of websites but also the critical confidences of usernames and passwords were exposed. With the advent of universal encryption, this blatant espionage was primarily curtailed, yet the adversaries of the digital age adapted swiftly, crafting new means to breach even these fortified defenses.

Among the nefarious tactics that gained currency was the sinister stratagem known as the man-in-the-middle attack; this has now evolved in nomenclature to reflect its changing nature—machine-in-the-middle, adversary-in-the-middle, or on-path attacks. This technique allows interlopers to clandestinely position themselves between a user’s device and the server it seeks to communicate with, thereby pilfering login credentials and session cookies to usurp control of accounts.

The ruse typically begins with an unsuspecting click on a phishing link, leading the user to a deceptive facsimile of a trusted site. In this crafted illusion, credentials are entered and captured, along with access tokens, before the user is unwittingly redirected to the actual website.

These MitM attacks pose a threat even to accounts secured by robust, unique passwords and buttressed by two-factor authentication (2FA)—a disconcerting fact highlighted by recent incidents involving Google and Microsoft accounts targeted by an innovative phishing kit, making hacking as accessible as subscribing to a software service.

Yet, the situation is not devoid of hope. Far from powerless, individuals can fortify their defenses against such MitM attacks with prudent changes to their login practices, among other security measures. While seemingly simple, these steps can significantly bolster one’s digital ramparts. Don’t fall victim. Think before clicking!

Sun Pass

Beware, fellow travelers of Florida’s highways, for amidst the innocuous currents of digital communication lurks a cunning deception. A seemingly benign message professing to address unpaid tolls through the venerable institution of SunPass emerges as a treacherous ruse designed to ensnare unwitting drivers in a web of deceit.

The artifice employed by these swindlers is as subtle as it is insidious. With meticulous attention to detail, they craft missives of alarming authenticity, purporting urgent demands for trifling toll fees. Yet, beneath this veneer of urgency lies a calculated scheme, a sly attempt to coerce unsuspecting victims into relinquishing their most guarded possessions: their personal information and, most perilously, their credit card details.

Pause, dear reader, and scrutinize these missives with discerning eyes of $3.95. scam. Note well that the path delineated by the hyperlink does not lead to the hallowed halls of SunPass; rather, it veers sinisterly towards the abyss of identity theft and financial ruin. This is naught but a stratagem, a subterfuge engineered to plunder your coffers and lay waste to your financial security.

Stand vigilant, for you need not fall prey to these nefarious machinations. Arm yourself with knowledge, and let not haste cloud your judgment. By unraveling the cloak of deception that shrouds these SunPass toll text scams, we may yet emerge unscathed from the clutches of these perfidious schemers. Behold, as we illuminate the workings of this fraudulent enterprise, exposing its dark underbelly to the light of scrutiny and thereby fortify ourselves against its pernicious advances.

In the annals of contemporary commerce, the specter of cyber intrusion casts a long and ominous shadow. As the digital age marches forward, so does the peril it brings, as evidenced by the grim tidings of 2023. It was a year that saw the global average toll of a data breach swell to a staggering $4.45 million, a disconcerting escalation from years prior.

Echoes of this modern menace reverberate through the corridors of corporate power, where a note, ominous in its simplicity, landed upon the doorstep of a venerable bank. “Don’t be a victim,” it intoned, bearing the unmistakable mark of hackers. One could almost hear the sinister undertones lurking beneath its terse message, posing a chilling question to those it targeted: Would your employer yield to the demands or face the ignominy of cyber subjugation?

Indeed, the stakes are dire, with the 15% surge from the preceding year a stark reminder of the growing menace. Is your company’s firewall fortified and vigilant against such digital marauders? If not, take heed and act swiftly, for the consequences of complacency are dire.

In this crucible of digital warfare, swift action is imperative. Reach out to us without delay; a simple call or email is the first step toward safeguarding your enterprise. Let us fortify your defenses. Let us shield your network from the ravages of cyber siege. For in this age of peril, the choice is clear: stand vigilant or risk being swept away by the tempest of digital malfeasance.

Don’t delay call us for a quote today!