This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekly newsletter offering a daily dose of what’s happening in the tech world.
Chinese hackers exploit software flaws years ago to break into telecom giants
The news: Hackers employed by the Chinese government have broken into several large telecommunications companies around the world in a cyberespionage campaign that has lasted at least two years, according to a new piece of advice from US security agencies.
How it happened: Hackers allegedly breached their targets by exploiting old and known critical vulnerabilities in popular network hardware. Once they got a foothold within their targets, hackers used the compromised devices to gain full access to the network traffic of numerous private companies and government agencies, U.S. officials said. They did not name those affected by the campaign, nor did they explain the impact it has had.
That means: The campaign is a warning about the need for better basic cybersecurity for some of the world’s most important networks, and a spectacular illustration of the dangers of software defects even years after they were discovered and made public. . Read the whole story.
—Patrick Howell O’Neill
The aviation industry can meet its emissions targets, but new fuels must fly first
Reducing aircraft emissions will be difficult, but not impossible, according to a new report by the International Council on Clean Transport.
The report outlines possible ways for aviation to reduce emissions enough to do its part to keep global warming below 2 ° C above pre-industrial levels, the goal set by the Paris agreement. He says around 60% of emissions reductions are expected to come from low-carbon fuels, with the rest coming from efficiency and lower demand. Read the whole story.
I combed the internet to find the funniest / most important / scary and fascinating stories about technology.
1 Twitter has agreed to give Elon Musk access to millions of tweets
Which could make it much harder for him to withdraw from the company’s purchase. (NYT $)
+ One of Musk’s financiers is linked to a Russian tycoon. (Bloomberg $)
+ Texas’ decision to investigate fake Twitter accounts is purely political. (NOW $)
2 How Big Tech’s data accumulation hurts us all
And why not share it with them? (Hour $)
+ Collective data rights can prevent big technologies from obliterating privacy. (MIT Technology Review)
3 A start-up has been accused of dispensing ADHD drugs too liberally
Particularly during the pandemic, when regulations on remote prescribing were relaxed. (WSJ $)
4 Uneven batteries work best at freezing temperatures
Lithium ion flat batteries fight the cold; changing the shape of its components could be a solution. (New scientist $)
+ This startup wants to pack more energy into the batteries of electric vehicles. (MIT Technology Review)
5 South Korea is investigating the company behind the stable currency crash
About the allegations that a worker embezzled his cryptographic shares. (FT $)
+ Workers who think about switching to web3 think about it more. (Vox)
6 Smart windows are an obvious way to save energy
The problem, as always, is to make them affordable enough to become widespread. (Knowable Magazine)
7 Hurricane activity in the Caribbean is at an all-time low
And it has been surprisingly long. (Hakai Magazine)
+ Maybe we should start calling the heat waves the way we do with hurricanes. (Axios)
+ How to keep energy on during hurricanes and heat waves. (MIT Technology Review)
+ Vibration tracking could help experts anticipate sudden flooding. (Economist $)
8 Not all NFT art is terrible
It turns out that most of the really famous pieces are. (The edge)
+ Bored Apes has been dethroned as the most popular NFT project. (motherboard)
9 A saxophonist introduced secrets to the USSR using an encrypted musical code
Make the information indecipherable to everyone, but to experienced musicians. (cable $)
10 It’s time to get over The Current Thing
Our collective ability to forget what outrages us should help. (FT $)
Appointment of the day
“There is literally no computer in this clinic unless I bring my laptop home.”
—Mia Raven, policy director at an Alabama abortion clinic, tells NBC News that she is stepping up security measures as part of better measures to protect clients, as the risk of Roe being repealed is ‘approx.
The big story
Ghost ships, crop circles and soft gold: a GPS mystery in Shanghai
On a summer night in July 2019, the MV Manukai arrived at the port of Shanghai, near the mouth of the Huangpu River. The city would be the last stop of the American container ship in China before making its long voyage to Long Beach, California.
As the crew carefully maneuvered the 700-foot ship through the busiest port in the world, their captain watched their navigation screens closely. According to Manukai screens, another ship was sailing along the same channel at about seven knots (eight miles per hour). Suddenly, the other ship disappeared from the AIS screen. A few minutes later, the screen showed the other ship returning to the dock. Then he went to the canal and moved again, then back to the dock and then left again.
Finally, bewildered, the captain grabbed his binoculars and explored the dock. The other boat had been parked at the dock all along. Now, new research and previously unseen data show that the Manukai, and thousands of other ships, are falling victim to a mysterious new weapon that is capable of counterfeiting GPS systems in a way never seen before. Read the whole story.
We can still have beautiful things
A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these weird moments. (Do you have any ideas? Send me a line o tweet me.)
+ This version of Highway to Hell’s oompah band will get your Thursday off to a perfect start (thanks Allegra!)
+ Who knew bamboo salt was it that interesting
+ Riley is one LGBTQ + icon after our own hearts.
+ How a mango tree seems to grow from a seed over the course of a year (don’t expect it to bear fruit soon.)
+ It’s asparagus season: here’s how to cook them to perfection.