Welcome to our latest round-up of news from the technology and hosting world. Here’s what we’ve discovered this month.
Security researchers have issued a warning about a sophisticated malware, botnet that has gone undetected for over two years. Named Horabot, it has been targeting businesses in a range of sectors, using a banking trojan and spam tools to steal sensitive financial information and seize control of email accounts, including Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook, to send malicious emails to users’ contacts.
According to researchers from Cisco Talos, Horabot allows cybercriminals to manipulate victims’ Outlook mailboxes, extract email addresses and send phishing emails with malicious attachments to all contacts. It can also harvest login credentials, operating system data and keystrokes, and even steal one-time security codes from online banking apps.
At present, the malware has predominantly been used to target Spanish-speaking users in the Americas, with those in the accounting, construction, engineering and investment sectors being the main victims.
Nuclear Clear-Up Robots
Scotland’s biggest nuclear clean-up, at Dounreay, is exploring the use of dog-like robots to assist in hazardous areas. The Dounreay plant, which is currently undergoing decommissioning and closure, is partnering with Cumbria-based Createc, to conduct trials of the four-limbed robot, developed by Boston Dynamics. The remarkable robot dog, which we have mentioned in previous newsletters, can navigate stairs, avoid obstacles and traverse rough terrain. It’s previously been trialled for shepherding sheep and aiding both police and military operations.
At Dounreay, its function will be to survey areas that are too radioactive for humans. This will include conducting 3D laser scans of the site’s facilities and monitoring inaccessible locations. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is providing funding for the trials.
Mercedes-Benz has introduced Mercedes Pay, enabling customers in the US to conveniently book and pay for off-street parking using their vehicles. Vehicles equipped with the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system can now locate and reserve parking spaces, with automatic payment upon arrival. To work, the system uses the services of Parkopedia, a company that supplies data on available parking spaces.
The MBUX system can be controlled through voice commands, touch inputs or gestures, it eliminates the need for separate mobile apps and offers a seamless experience for Mercedes customers.
The move towards connected cars, with over 800 million vehicles expected to be connected to mobile networks by 2030, presents opportunities for various sectors, including financial services. Insurers, for example, can tap into the revenue potential of car connectivity by offering products such as usage-based insurance models.
The Welsh Ambulance Service Trust (WAST) is embarking on an upgrade of communications technology in hundreds of its vehicles in order to minimise disruptions to life-saving services. The modernisation involves a collaboration between Panasonic Toughbooks, which supplies mobile hardware, and Telent, which provides communications services. Panasonic will provide Toughbook touchscreen tablets, while Telent will supply the technology for the mobile data components of the communication equipment within the ambulances.
The aim of the project is to improve communication between control rooms and emergency vehicles so that it aligns with the NHS Ambulance Radio Programme’s ‘Mobile Data and Vehicle Solution’ (MDVS). MDVS replaces existing mobile communication systems with new digital services across all Ambulance Trusts in England. WAST’s upgrade will be locally implemented in Cardiff and North Wales, reducing costs and vehicle downtime. This upgrade ensures ambulance services in Wales will have uninterrupted communication for their essential operations.
Elon Musk’s brain-chip company, Neuralink, has secured approval from the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) to commence initial human tests. The company aims to establish a brain-computer interface that can restore vision and mobility in individuals. Although Neuralink currently has no immediate plans to recruit participants, the approval marks a significant step forward, following an earlier rejection based on safety concerns.
Neuralink’s chips, which have previously been tested on primates, are designed to interpret signals in the brain and transmit information to external devices via Bluetooth. While experts caution that much more testing is necessary to overcome technical and ethical challenges, Neuralink remains committed to its mission of helping individuals with paralysis, blindness and disabilities through technology.
The news comes at the same time that Swiss researchers at Lausanne University successfully inserted electronic implants into the brain and spine of a paralysed man, enabling him to walk just by thinking about it. The implants, which wirelessly transmit the man’s thoughts to his lower limbs have allowed him to stand, walk and even climb stairs.
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