Largest DDoS for hire site gets taken down

Four individuals were arrest Tuesday after an extensive investigation concluded that they were the administrators of the worlds largest DDoS service provider. DDoS, or distributed denial of service attacks, flood company websites with traffic, temporarily shutting them down to users. offered this service for a fee from their customer, allowing them to flood any site they desired. The main targets for these attacks were typically banks, government institutions, police forces, schools, and gaming companies. The site offered package deals to their customers; from $18.99 a month for “bronze membership” to $49.99 a month for “platinum membership”. They accepted payments ranging from paypal to bitcoin, even giving a 15% discount to those who used the popular cryptocurrency.

The site was based in the Netherlands in a small Dutch village, but when they were alerted to the investigation, they attempted to relocate to Germany. The site had launched upwards of 6 million attacks, most of them on American sites. While they may have taken down the largest site, there are still many more of these providers out there that need to taken down before they can do more harm. That being said, it is a huge step and in the right direction and a huge victory for the team that led the investigation. The team is also expose the users of this site and bring those individuals to justice as well. DDoS and other attacks like it are on the rise and causing big issues for companies and individuals alike. It is a growing problem that many are unaware of.

Cable Television is on its Death Bed

The past decade has seen a major shift from the old format of rigid broadcasting schedules to new mobile streaming platforms using the internet. Why is this? Well, to put it simply, public broadcasting is outdated. How so? There is a couple reasons for that.

For one thing, streaming platforms can be accessed on the go. Streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime can easily be used on mobile devices. They connect to your account via wifi. These platforms are built for the internet unlike cable. These streaming platforms also allow their user to pick from a wide variety of shows or movies at any time. This allows for users to binge their favorite shows all the way through without interruption. Cable is limited in that sense. Select shows and movies are played at certain times, which may not be convenient for the user. Another advantage that streaming has over cable is price. A typical cable TV package will cost you about $100 a month, not including the cost of a cable box and any installation fees. Streaming services will only run you about $40 a month including a free trial period.

Many people today have satellite TV and subscribed to a Streaming service, but as time goes on, cable TV is projected to fall to the more convenient and cheaper streaming giants. The only thing that keeps cable afloat is sports packages. Even so, this does not seem sustainable because of more digestible snippets of game highlights. Younger people would rather watch a 3-5 minute video of their favorite players highlights rather than sitting down and watching a whole game for at least 2hrs.

SoundCloud gets a Huge Bailout, but Barely Staying Afloat

Many aspiring musicians and artists call platforms like SoundCloud home. They produce music and post it on the site to hopefully gain notoriety and develop themselves as young artists. Some of today’s biggest (and youngest) artists owe their fame and fortune to the free music sharing site. But SoundCloud has been in trouble over the past couple years. They are losing money. Fast.

SoundCloud, like many music streaming sites, allows for users to create accounts and access music for free. Platforms like Spotify and Apple Music allow users to access limited features for free, or upgrade to a premium account where they can access all the features of the platform for a monthly fee. In 2017, SoundCloud attempted to mimic the ‘Freemium’ model used by Spotify with little success. Because of the nature of SoundCloud, it is seen as a platform where anybody can create music and post it, its market is music creators more so than music consumers. Because of this, SoundCloud was hemorrhaging money throughout 2017 and projected to go bankrupt by the end of the year, all while rivaling Spotify for the number one streaming service.

SoundCloud, once valued at one billion dollars, was trying to sell itself at a price of $250 million. SoundClouds revenue now exceeds $100 million thanks to a $170 million bailout and new CEO Kerry Trainor. Even so, the company is still in trouble. Its premium services still fail to gain any traction and the company is still bleeding money. While services like Spotify boast a subscriber count of 71 million, SoundCloud has about 100,000.

Even with this lack of success, the company still manages to be extremely popular. Many artist who ascribe their success to the site have been making huge waves in the music industry, especially when it comes to hip hop.

SoundCloud’s Revenue Just Topped $100 Million. Here’s Why That Probably Doesn’t Matter.

China’s Secret Weapon to Combat Malaria

The Beijing Institute of Technology has been developing radar technology that would allow them to detect the flap of a mosquito wing from over a mile away. Mosquito’s are considered the world deadliest insect because they carry fatal diseases like Malaria and Zika. Mosquito are responsible for about 1 million deaths per year according to the world health organization. The team received over 82 million yuan in funding, which equates to about 12.9 million USD.

The purpose of the sensitive radar system is to snuff out colonies of mosquitoes but some of its capabilities are far more impressive. This technology has the capability to identify the species, flying speed, direction, and gender of a mosquito as well as whether it has eaten or not. By teaming up with insect experts, the group is able to find ways to combat the spread of diseases like malaria. The vast quantity of data collected from the machine is useful to insect behavior researchers as well.

It does not come without challenges though. Mosquito wings are much harder to detect than a jet plane for obvious reasons. Mosquitoes fly at low speeds which makes it hard for radars designed to detect fast moving objects to spot. The biggest issue is the radio waves, which are very weak and can be interrupted by background interference.

VAR will be used in the 2018 World Cup

FIFA has approved the use of VAR, video assistant referee, in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. VAR has been a polarizing issue for soccer fans. The technology is being used across the world in the sports biggest leagues. Italy, Spain, the United States have started using the system, and now England plans to use it in their FA Cup tournament. VAR has seen varying degrees of success since it first started being used. There have been controversial call changes that have directly impacted the game. For example, Luis Suarez of Barcelona had a crucial goal disallowed by the video replay system that ended up costing his team the win. The game ended in a 2-2 draw.

Controversies like these have raised question of weather video replay technology like VARS should have any part in a sport that has traditionally been officiated in real time by human referees for generations. Many believe that video replay will slow down the pace of soccer, a game designed around fluidity and continuity. Extra stoppages will make the games choppier, deteriorating the identity of the sports.

Now VAR will make its debut on sports biggest stage this summer. FIFA claims that VAR will only be used to correct “clear and obvious mistakes”, but VAR has the power to disallow or allow goals, award or deny penalties, and give players red cards. That is a lot of power that can certainly impact the out come of a game. For decades, soccer has relied on the snap decision of a referee, and it has worked out well for the worlds most ubiquitous sport, can we really trust machines with shaky track records on the worlds biggest stage?

Synthetic Credit Fraud Is Now Causing Big Problems For Credit Card Companies

Over the past couple of years, Credit card companies have noticed a concerning trend. Identity theft is on the rise, but now, a single fraudster can cause significant issues for some of the largest credit companies. How? By making hundreds to thousands of fake credit card accounts.

Fraudsters do this by first finding unassigned Social Security on the Deep Web. The average price of one of these unassigned Social Security Numbers? A single US Dollar. Fake Social Security accounts prove to be a challenge for Credit Card Companies to spot. It never used to be like this, The pioneers of SSN fabrication used to base fake numbers off of real peoples SSNs. Companies were able to catch onto this trend. But now, advanced computing allows these forgers to create convincing SSNs by using randomly generated numbers.

The next step for fraudsters is to open a Credit File. Any time a request is made to open a credit account, the a credit card company will create a credit file, even if the request gets rejected. Credit Card companies will reject a request if the applicants credit for several reason: poor credit score, or in more relevant cases, red flags that may indicate stolen or forged information. As these tactics for identifying red flags become more advanced, so have the tactics of fraudsters to avoid detection.

Once a Credit File is approved, fraudsters use fake names and other information to open credit card accounts. These fraudsters create hundreds of accounts, then rack up hundred of thousands of dollars in debt, which never ends up getting paid. This has been crippling for these companies. In 2016, synthetic ID fraud cost credit card companies a total of 6 billion dollars. Investigations into these fake accounts yield little information. Only by tracking down the IP addresses in where the fake accounts are created, can investigators track down these criminals. Synthetic credit card fraud is not a new tactic, but it is a growing one that is causing huge issues for companies.

How Technology Changed the Olympics

Olympic athletes have to train for years to reach the level they are at. Advancements in sports and medicine has led to the development of technologies that help athletes reach their peak performance. In competitions where the difference between winning and losing is milliseconds, athletes and trainers will use anything to gain an edge. The 2018 Winter Olympics introduced the world to some of the latest sports and fitness technologies.

Though skiing is one of the most entertaining events in the Winter Olympics, it is also one of the most dangerous. Skiers risk head, neck, and back trauma every time they hit the slopes at high speeds. In order to reduce the risk of head trauma, the United States Skiing team started wearing the MIPS helmet. The Multi-Directional Impact Protection helmet aims to minimize spine and neck injuries by reducing the amount of rotational movement in an impact.

Even further measures are being taken to ensure the athletes safety. Vests with built in airbags have been developed to protect athletes in the event of a severe accident. The vest have built in sensors that detect when the user is losing his or her balance and deploy airbags. These types of technologies have proven to save lives.

While safety is naturally important for athletes, training is essential is if they want to remain in peak condition. The use of technology in training has assisted athletes to reach further than originally thought possible. This Olympics has showcased some of the latest developments in sports training. The Dutch speed skating team has implemented the use of SmartSuits to help refine the skaters technique and correct any mistakes. The suits are embedded with sensors that send real time information to the staff. The staff and trainers can then send information back to the skaters if they need to adjust or correct anything. Technology is developing so quickly; it is amazing how versatile and useful it can be in our lives. The technologies being used today by some of the top athletes are so advanced that it is hard to believe they actually exist.

Does VAR Belong in the Premier League?

Technology plays a crucial role in the officiating of professional sporting events. Before the implementation of the 24 second shot clock in 1954, NBA basketball games were low scoring affairs where teams would make a shot, then hold onto the ball the rest of the game. One of the biggest innovations in the NFL, instant replay, evolved from the Replay System first used in 1986, allowing fans to see all angles of every play for the first time.

Not all sports leagues have been so eager to embrace technology. The English Premier League, as well as other European soccer leagues, continue to officiate matches the traditional way. Line judges and referees rely on their intuition to make calls, completely unassisted by replay systems or different camera angels. While other large European league have decided to test technologies like VAR and goal line cameras, the Premier League is hesitant to adopt these technologies.

Video Assistant Referee is a new technology that allows an assistant referee to review the head referee’s decision on any type of call using video footage. In soccer, the clock never stops and any time that is wasted on injury or substitution is added on at the end of each half as extra time. Many believe that the introduction of reviewable calls will destroy the fluidity of the game.

Controversies with VAR started earlier this month when a questionable decision was made in a Portuguese league match. VAR was set to review a missed offside call that led to a goal. Even though the player was offside, VAR could not disallow the call because the camera was obstructed by a supporters flag. Without VAR’s ruling, the ref could not overturn the call.

Criticisms of VAR have only grown since then, this week it was involved in another incident. In a FA cup round 5 matchup, Manchester United had a goal disallowed after Juan Mata was controversially called offside, despite the lines appearing to be crooked.

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FIFA is set to decide next month whether they will support the VAR system. It is a big decision that will have a huge implication. The FIFA World Cup in Russia kicks off in 2018 and should FIFA decide to go forward with VAR, we will certainly see if it preforms without any further issues.