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Facebook Embarrassed by Hack Attack that Exposed Data of 50 Million Users

Hackers successfully compromised 50 million Facebook accounts to steal confidential user data, forcing the social media giant to re-set 90 million accounts as a “precautionary step.”

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Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

Mountain View, CA, United States (4E) – Hackers successfully compromised 50 million Facebook accounts to steal confidential user data, forcing the social media giant to re-set 90 million accounts as a “precautionary step.”

Facebook was forced to reset users’ accounts to protect their security. Nearly 50 million people were affected by the hack attack. Facebook also reset the accounts of another 40 million users just to be on the safe side.

Facebook admitted the sophisticated cyberattack used a vulnerability in the site’s “View As” feature. To prevent further damage, the “View As” feature was deactivated, and trying to use it will result in an error message. As a result, 90 million users were logged out of their Facebook accounts on Sept. 28.

Facebook’s “View As” feature lets users see what their profile looks like from someone else’s view. Exploiting a flaw in this fearure allowed attackers to steal “access tokens” that provide entry to users’ personal accounts, said Facebook.

The affected access tokens keep users logged into Facebook on their devices. This feature saves users from having to reenter their password every time they want to use the site.

Facebook reset these access tokens because of the attack. This meant that 90 million users were automatically logged out of their Facebook accounts, as well as any other apps using Facebook to login.

Facebook has more than two billion users and the View As attack adds another ignominious chapter in a book of humiliations that include the infamous Cambridge Analytica flap.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company is unsure if the affected accounts were actually accessed. He noted that logging-out the additional 40 million people, which includes users who have never used the “View As” feature, was simply precautionary.

“We face constant attacks from people who want to take over accounts or steal information around the world,” wrote Zuckerberg. “While I’m glad we found this, fixed the vulnerability, and secured the accounts that may be at risk, the reality is we need to continue developing new tools to prevent this from happening in the first place.”

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First Spaceflight for SpaceX Dragon 2 Reset to 2019

The first uncrewed orbital test mission of the Dragon 2 spacecraft made by SpaceX has been re- scheduled for launch in January 2019.

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Hawthorne, CA, United States (4E) – The first uncrewed orbital test mission of the Dragon 2 spacecraft made by SpaceX has been re- scheduled for launch in January 2019.

The mission designated “SpX-DM1 (SpaceX Demonstration Mission 1)” will test the approach and automated docking procedures of Dragon 2 with the International Space Station (ISS). According to the mission profile, the Dragon 2 spacecraft will remain docked at the ISS for a few weeks.

Thereafter, the spacecraft will conduct the full re-entry, splashdown and recovery steps to provide data needed to qualify for flights transporting humans to the ISS. The same Dragon 2 will be re-used for an in-flight abort test.

The mission was originally scheduled to fly in December. The re-scheduling follows misgivings by Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX’s vice president of build and flight reliability, about scheduling issues that might push the test flight into 2019.

“The hardware might be ready, but we might still have to do some paperwork on the certification side of it,” said Koenigsmann. “It’s going to be a close call whether we fly this year or not.”

Despite the delay, both SpaceX and NASA still intend to have all systems prepared for launch in December,

“Having completed a number of additional milestones including substantial training and numerous integrated mission simulations, end-to-end Dragon checkouts at the Cape, complete Falcon 9 vehicle integration review, and installation of the crew access arm at LC-39A, SpaceX is on track for launch readiness in December,” said SpaceX spokesperson Eva Behrend.

“We look forward to launching our first demonstration flight of Crew Dragon — one of the safest, most advanced human spaceflight systems ever built — as part of the Commercial Crew program and working with NASA to identify the specific launch target date soon.”

The uncrewed test flights are preparation for crewed test flights. SpX-DM2 (SpaceX Demonstration Mission 2) will be the first crewed test flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, and is scheduled fror June 2019. This mission will carry a crew of two astronauts. It will be the first manned flight of an American spacecraft into orbit since STS-135 in July 2011.

STS-135 was the final mission of the iconic Space Shuttle Program. It was flown by the shuttle Atlantis on July 8, 2011.

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World’s Beer Supply Threatened by Climate Change

Scientists are warning severe climate events could cause shortages in the global beer supply. Beer is the most popular alcoholic drink in the world by volume consumed and the imminent threat to its future is already cause for concern among beer brewing firms worldwide.

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Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

East Anglia, United Kingdom (4E) – If there ain’t no beer in heaven, the same thing might one day be happening on Earth.

Scientists are warning severe climate events could cause shortages in the global beer supply. Beer is the most popular alcoholic drink in the world by volume consumed and the imminent threat to its future is already cause for concern among beer brewing firms worldwide.

A study involving the University of East Anglia (UEA) warns that increasingly widespread and severe drought and heat may cause substantial decreases in barley yields worldwide. In turn, this will affect the supply used to make beer, and ultimately result in “dramatic” falls in beer consumption and rises in beer prices.

The study noted the vulnerability of the world’s beer supply to extremes of drought and heat, which will increase substantially in a range of future climate scenarios, has never been assessed.

In recent years, the beer industry worldwide consumed some 17% of global barley production. This consumption, however, varies greatly across major beer-producing countries. For example, it stands at 83% in Brazil and 9% in Australia.

Results from the new study reveal potential average yield losses ranging from 3% to 17%, depending on the severity of the climate change conditions. Decreases in the global supply of barley lead to proportionally larger decreases in barley used to make beer

During the most severe climate events, the results indicate that global beer consumption might decline by 16%, or 29 billion liters. This amount is equal to the total annual beer consumption in the USA. A drop of this magnitude will lead to a doubling of beer prices on the average. Even in less severe extreme events, beer consumption drops by 4% and prices rise by 15%.

The published findings suggest that total beer consumption decreases most under climate change in countries that consumed the most beer by volume in recent years. The volume consumed in China — the world’s largest beer consuming country — plummets by more than any other country as the severity of extreme events increases. Beer cconsumption in China might drop 4.34 billion liters in the most severe climate change events.

In the UK, beer consumption could fall by between 0.37 billion and 1.33 billion liters, while the price might double. Consumption in the U.S. could decrease by between 1.08 billion and 3.48 billion liters.

“While the effects on beer may seem modest in comparison to many of the other — some life-threatening — impacts of climate change, there is nonetheless something fundamental in the cross-cultural appreciation of beer,” said Dabo Guan, coordinator of the research and lead UK author. Guan is a professor of climate change economics at UEA’s School of International Development.

“It may be argued that consuming less beer isn’t itself disastrous, and may even have health benefits. Nevertheless, there is little doubt that for millions of people around the world, the climate impacts on beer availability and price will add insult to injury.”

The international study involved researchers from the UK, China, Mexico, and the U.S., who identified extreme climate events and modelled the impacts of these on barley yields in 34 world regions. They then examined the effects of the resulting barley supply shock on the supply and price of beer in each region under a range of future climate scenarios.

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Latest Facebook Hack Sees a Lot of User Info Stolen

Facebook says 30 million users, and not 50 million as it initially revealed, were compromised by a recent security breach.

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Menlo Park, CA, United States (4E) – Facebook says 30 million users, and not 50 million as it initially revealed, were compromised by a recent security breach.

It admitted that 400,000 users had their accounts nearly fully accessed while another 14 million had broad categories of personal data stolen. Initially, Facebook said it wan’t clear whether any information had been stolen.

In late September, Facebook detected unusual activity in the compromised accounts and discovered the flaws that allowed the hackers entry. These bugs were later disabled.

More disturbingly, Facebook has confirmed hackers accessed personal details in most of those cases. Facebook hasn’t revealed a suspect or a motive at the FBI’s request. The bureau is actively investigating the hack attack.

Fifteen million of users had their names and contact details accessed. These details could have included their email addresses or phone numbers. Hackers also gained access to the accounts of about one million users, but did not steal any data, claimed Facebook.

In the more serious breach, 14 million people had a lot of their data stolen. The stolen data included their gender, religion, relationship status, birthday, current city and hometown, device types, education and work history.

Hackers also saw those users’ last 15 searches, and the last 10 locations they either checked into or were tagged by someone else.

The 400,000 users whose accounts were first hacked were the most seriously compromised. Hackers read their posts; their friend lists; their group memberships and the names of recent message conversations.

Facebook pointed out no passwords were compromised, but hackers were able to gain “access tokens” that let them use accounts as though they were logged in as another person.

It said the attacks took place from Sept. 14 to 27. The hackers moved controlled one account at first. From here, they accessed that account’s friends to initially steal access tokens for 400,000, and 30 million more accounts before they were detected.

“We have no reason to believe the attackers were interested in that information” from those 400,000 users, claims Guy Rosen, Facebook vice president of product management. “They were (doing) that in order to get the access tokens for those people’s friends.”

The company also said the hackers could hypothetically have been able to view the last four characters of users’ credit card numbers, but there is no evidence they sought out that information.

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