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wireless networks vulnerable

Researchers discover major flaws in latest wireless security protocol

The Wi-Fi Protected Access protocol which released about 15 months ago was considered by important architects as the most resistant to the password-theft attacks which were rampant in the earlier protocols. But then this did not remain true for a long time, as researchers revealed that there were many serious design gaps in the WPA3, which destroyed its notion to be most secure till now. It led to serious questions regarding what the future of wireless security holds and also regarding the protection of cheap Internet-of-things devices.

There was a big improvement in the recent release over the previous weak models, but the current WPA2 protocol which has been in use since the 2000s has a very grave design flaw which has been known for a very long time. The four way handshake method – a cryptographic process which is used by the WPA2 to validate many devices such as computers, mobile phones, tablets to an access point and also vice versa stores the network password in a hashed form. Anyone who is in the range of the electronic device can record this handshake. After that, the devices are very vulnerable to digital thefts as the passwords which are short or those which are not random can be very easily cracked in a matter of a few seconds.

It was widely promoted that one of the major changes in the WPA3 was the use of Dragonfly which is a fully revamped handshake technique in which the four way handshake key is augmented with a Pairwise Master Key, as a result of which it possesses more entropy than the network passwords.  In the world of WiFi this is known as the Simultaneous Authentication of Equals handshake or just SAE in short. A very crucial feature provided by SAE is that it protects the past sessions against any future attacks on the passwords. This is also known as forward secrecy.

The research paper titled “Dragonblood: A Security Analysis of WPA3’s SAE Handshake” reveals the many vulnerabilities which are present in WPA3, that make the users open to many of the attacks which threatened the users of WPA2. Researchers have warned that many of the faults can persist in the low-cost devices for years. The process of WPA3 being formalized by the WiFi Alliance industry group has also been criticized by the experts.

Experts have agreed on the conclusion that if the alliance agreed to the recommendation to move from the hash-to-group password format to hash-to-curve password encoding, then most of the exploits against the Dragonblood would not have worked.

delivery drone

Google drone delivery gets approval in Australia

Drone company “Wing“—an offshoot of Google’s parent company Alphabet, has been trialling deliveries of coffee and local medication using drones for past 18 years and will now go full time ahead as it receives approval from Aviation Watchdogs on Tuesday.

The spokesman for CASA, Australian aviation authority – Peter Gibson, told the media that the safety of the drones, traffic management system, drone pilot training and operational plans have been verified as 3,000 deliveries have been made which allowed the regulators to judge the safety of the project. He also said that the project was approved with strict conditions which included daylight operating hours around 11-12 hours a day and that they should not be fully automated but need to be piloted, banning the drones from crossing over main roads and staying at a specified altitude.

There were two issues that the regulators did not judge or focus upon which included the invasion of privacy of the residents as they fear that the drone might hinder with it and also the noise created by the drone which disturbed the residents , above whom it flew, since, they claim that the noise could be heard from even a double- glazed glass window. On the other hand, Gibson claimed that CASA did consider the noise issues of the project when it had given the green signal.

The initial area from where the operation will commence covers only one hundred homes lying in the suburbs of Crace, Palmerston and Franklin in Canberra as of now. However, the number is said to expand quickly as per the demand from the public. It is claimed that it will soon expand to Harrison and Gungahlin also.

When a customer uses an app to order any product , it is loaded onto a drone. The drone then hovers over its destination and lowers down the goods on a winch-line cable delivering it directly to the customer before flying away.

In the United States of America, UPS launched the country’s first authorised use of unmanned drones for transporting packages to recipients last month.

The drone delivery is believed to add $30m to $40m of additional annual revenue for ACT(Australian Capital Territory) businesses as estimated by the company.

The project is trumpeting reductions in delivery cost and also in the carbon emissions and predicts that these drones could deliver more than one in four takeaway food orders. It is estimated that this project could deliver 4-6% of all purchases in the Australian Capital Territory(ACT) by 2030.

Northrop Grumman flying wing aircraft concept

MIT and NASA engineers share new airplane wing concept

Engineers of MIT and NASA have shared a design of an airplane wing of a new kind, which is made of hundreds of tiny identical pieces. It is capable of changing the shape so that it can control the flight. This wing design has been tested and it has been described in the journal Smart Materials and Structures, co-authored by Nicholas Cramer (engineer at NASA Ames in California), MIT alumnus Kenneth Cheung and Benjamin Jenett, a student in MIT Centre for Bits and Atoms with eight others. The creators claim that the design may boost aircraft production, flight, and maintenance efficiency. 

Tested in NASA wing tunnel, the typical wing designs possess moveable surfaces to control the pitch and the roll of the plane. To give greater control over movement the new wing can move the sections and even the entire wing. The wing comprises of stiff and flexible components with individual pieces made up of a polymer such that on being bolted together, the pieces from framework of an open lattice. It is energy efficient as it is much lighter than typical aircraft wings. The research team describes the plane to be made up of ‘thousands of tiny triangles of matchstick-like struts’ giving an empty framework.

A meta-material, stiff like a polymer but extremely light as an aerogel, is formed from the combined pieces. This design could change its shape in order to be in optimal design in accordance to the flight depending on different aerodynamic conditions. The self-moving wing is only achieved through placement of different amounts of flexibility or stiffness possessing struts allowing the wing to be able to bend in several ways according to its current state.

Cramer, the paper’s lead author says, “We’re able to gain efficiency by matching the shape to the loads at different angles of attack.” While this prototype wing was hand assembled by students, however, in future it could easily be built by a swarm of small, simple autonomous assembly robots. Each piece is made using injection moulding and a complex 3D modelling and hence can easily be built by a pool of small autonomous assembly robots

Each piece looks like a hollow cube made of matchstick-size struts along the edges taking a mere 17 seconds to be created. “Now we have a manufacturing method,” he says. The wing design may do away from the familiar tapered hollow tube. “You can make any geometry you want. The fact that most aircraft are the same shape is because of expense,” said Cramer. 


Godfathers of AI

The Godfathers of AI receive the prestigious Turing Award

The 2018 Turing Award, acknowledged as the “Nobel Prize of computing” has been awarded to a trio of researchers who have set the foundations for the current success in artificial intelligence.

The term artificial intelligence merely refers to the intelligence that is demonstrated by the computers. Artificial intelligence is renowned for its cycles of boom and bust, and the issue of hype is as old as the field itself. When the research fails to meet the inflated expectations, it generates a freeze in the funding and interest known as an “AI winter”. It was at the tail end of one such winter in the late 1980s that Bengio, Hinton, and LeCun began exchanging ideas and working on interconnected problems. These included neural networks. They are computer programs made from connected digital neurons that have become a key building block for contemporary and modern AI.

Yoshua Bengio, Geoffrey Hinton, and Yann LeCun, who are often referred to as the ‘godfathers of AI’ have been recognized with the $1 million annual prize for their work evolving the AI subfield of deep learning. The techniques the trio developed in the 1990s and 2000s assisted huge breakthroughs in tasks like computer vision and speech recognition. Their work fortifies the current proliferation of AI technologies, from self-driving cars to automated medical diagnoses.

All three have ever since taken up prominent places in the Artificial intelligence research ecosystem, by straddling with the academic world and the tech industry. Hinton splits his time between Google and the University of Toronto; Bengio is an associate professor at the University of Montreal and has started an AI company called Element AI, while LeCun is Facebook’s chief AI scientist and an instructor and professor at NYU.

Google’s head of AI, Jeff Dean also praised the trio’s achievements. “Deep neural networks are accountable for some of the greatest advances in modern computer science,” said Dean in a statement.

Let us hope that people like this trio improve AI and all of us use AI in the right way. Tell us your view on AI and what do you think about the future of AI with a quick comment.

India's anti-satellite weapon

India successfully tests Anti-Satellite Weapon

The Indian government announced on March 27 that it has successfully fired a ground-based anti-satellite weapon against a satellite in low Earth orbit, a test that is likely to intensify concerns about space security and orbital debris.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the country’s military efficaciously demonstrated an anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon in a test known as “Mission Shakti.” It was a ground-based missile – a version of an existing ballistic missile interceptor, which hit the satellite at an altitude of approximately 300 kilometers.

“It shows the remarkable dexterity of India’s outstanding scientists and the accomplishment of our space programme,” PM Modi said in a series of tweets announcing the test. PM Modi also made a televised proclamation, in Hindi, about the test.

While Indian government hails the event as an ambitious achievement, India’s Anti-satellite weapon test also represents an increasing fear toward space warfare and also heightens the risk that humanity could lose access to critical regions of the space around Earth.

According to a statement from India’s Ministry of External Affairs, the missile was initially launched from the Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam Island complex in the northeast part of India. The missile struck a pre-planned Indian satellite.

“The test was fully efficacious and achieved all parameters as per plans,” the ministry said. The threat that debris poses isn’t just limited to expensive satellites. Right now, six crew members are living on board at the International Space Station (ISS) roughly 250 miles (400 kilometers) above Earth which is almost about 65 miles (100 kilometers) higher than the 185 miles (300 kilometers) altitude of India’s now obliterated satellite, but there is nonetheless a chance some debris could reach higher orbits and threaten the space station.

The potential risk to the ISS and other satellites is only scratches on the surface but there are larger worries associated with destroying spacecraft, either intentionally or accidentally.

Any collision in space creates a cloud of debris, with each piece moving at about 17,500 mph (28,000 kilometers per hour).

That’s roughly the speed required to keep a satellite in low-Earth orbit and more than 10 times as fast as a bullet shot from a gun.

At such velocities, even a stray paint chip can disable a satellite. Jack Bacon, a scientist at NASA, told Wired in 2010 that a strike by a softball-sized sphere of aluminum would be akin to detonating 7 kilograms (15 pounds) of TNT explosives.

This is worrisome for a global society increasingly reliant on space-based infrastructure to make calls, get online, find the most efficient route home via GPS, and more.


The ultimate fear is a space-access nightmare called a “Kessler syndrome” event, named after Donald J. Kessler, who first described such an event in 1978 while he was a NASA astrophysicist. Kessler Syndrome is basically a scenario where the density of space debris in lower earth orbit is very high.

Keeping all that aside, let us hope that we will use all these technologies in the right way. Let us know what do you think about such projects with a quick comment.

Drone AK-47 Russian Patent

Russian patent shows strange idea of flying drone with built in AK-47

The Russian Federal Service has just emerged with a new patent of a flying drone which can be thought of as an assault rifle with wings. Though the drone is designed around a classic Kalashnikov’s AK-47, which has a timeless design and substantial recognition in warfare, the only thing missing was it to fly.

This patent was originally presented by the Russian state-owned company, Almaz Antey which is an air and defense corporation involved in the business of making arms and ammunition. The patent emerged by Almaz Antey displays a spectacle and shows images of a minimalist drone that is formed around the Kalashnikov-styled rifle.

There is no specific pattern to how the aircraft looks, but with fairly evident propellers on either side, which may support propulsion, it seems to have a large control surface which is built into vertically rear stabilizers and towards the gun’s barrel which lies at the front of the aircraft. It has a protruding and jutting barrel system in the front. The Rifle seems to be built into the fuselage between two glider-like wings on either side facing the propellers. The aircraft-gun shows no signs of a streamlined body or aerodynamically pleasing appearance.

Drone with AK-47 labelled image

This gun drone was designed by a Russian defence contractor (Source: thesun.co.uk)

With no active propellers and stabilizers, the unmanned aircraft surely seems to pose an evident threat to the world of warfare. An assault rifle usually works against a group of people or targets that remain unarmored. It becomes hard to imagine a scenario which would require Russia to need small flying assault rifle aircraft to shoot people mid-air. The wedged frame of the iconic AK-47 has no obvious way of propelling itself. The patent seems to propagate the idea that the rifle can fire more than 30 rounds at a time, but unless it has a hidden capacity to change the magazines in-flight, each drone gun would not be able to fire accurately more than 30 rounds. There also seems no way to keep a track of targets during shooting. It is definitely a worrisome concept that has been unleashed onto the world. The gun’s recoil during shooting would also likely cause the light aircraft to spin wildly out of control as the plane is not in control of a pilot and could pose danger.

It is unclear to the audience that how effective the assault rifle would perform in a combat situation during an actual war. With the presence of serious design flaws, questions remain unanswered whether the drone would fly back when it runs out of magazines or keep track of targets? Defense contractors for arms and ammunitions routinely file patents for a variety of innovations and don’t always follow through with them, so it’s unclear if we’ll ever see this strange assault rifle actually flying around. We can only wait for the patent to be accepted or for the company to pursue its idea in the future if it wants to, but the point is, this idea should not be unleashed as it poses a large threat to the civilians.

Google Stadia announcement at GDC

Google showcases its cloud based gaming platform Stadia

During the school days, we have always have played games on our play stations during the summer vacations or on holidays. As technology advances, now there are various other gaming boxes which are available in the market. But gaming boxes also have their own limitations. A technology has been showcased by Google called “Google Stadia”.

This new product was unveiled by Google at the Game Developers Conference (GDC). However not much is known about the product since it is still in the development stage.

There are certain details that are provided to us for example- The game is available on YouTube and Chrome. YouTube is one of the major platforms through which “Google Stadia” will get publicized. The various gaming experts can recommend their viewers to search for this new product and the viewers would be able to find the various games on YouTube. As YouTube and Chrome are to be used for gaming and streaming, it clearly indicates that this product has been developed for the YouTube generation.

Chrome as well plays a very important role in order to promote this new member of the Google family. “Stadia” would be available to play on Google Chrome, Chromecast and on all Android devices. Google has already demonstrated this service on their devices during the keynote. However, it is pretty unclear as to on how many browsers would this be available.

Google is using Linux as its operating system and the disadvantage that it provides is that game creators will have to upload new games on “Stadia” for Linux platform, and not any game that you own on different gaming portal. In the GDC, Google only showed certain games, it failed to answer certain questions like when it will be launched, will this be subscription based and many more.

The biggest question that Google has to answer is the internet connectivity that “Stadia” requires to play different games. Currently, Google is using its own compression technology to stream games in 1080p or 4K to devices. However, in order to access “Stadia” the most active and reliable internet connection would be required. According to Google, a connection of  “approximately 25 Mbps” for 1080p resolution at 60 fps will be required.

In an interview with Kotaku, Google Stadia boss Phil Harrison said, “We will be able to get to 4K, only if we raise the bandwidth to about 30 Mbps.” However, we don’t know the exact bitrates of Stadia just yet, but watching a regular HD Netflix stream uses around 3GB per hour, and this more than doubles for 4K streams.

Google Stadia Controller

Google Stadia Controller (Source: 9to5google.com)

The biggest advantage that Google has is due to its cloud infrastructure, but if you are not present in the area where the data center is located, then you’ll not get the most ideal experience. In order to play these games, Google is launching its own “Stadia Controller” which will be connected directly to the server you’re playing on over Wi-Fi, but it has no control over the thousands of ISPs and how they route this traffic to its data centers.

All of this makes Stadia look like an early beta for what will be a part of the future of gaming. Google has hired a lot of industry talents for this ambitious project. Phil Harrison, a former Sony and Microsoft executive, is leading the Stadia project, and Jade Raymond, who has previously worked at Sony, Electronic Arts, and Ubisoft, is heading up the company’s first-party games. Xbox Live Arcade creator Greg Canessa is also working on Stadia, alongside former Xbox gaming partnerships lead Nate Ahearn. All of this experience should help Google in its cloud gaming fight.

Levitating Object Using Light

Researchers devise a way to levitate objects using only light

During childhood days we have been to the magic shows and we have always wondered as to how the objects over there fly in the air. Now we know that it wasn’t magic, but it was physics applied that made it look like magic.

Now the researchers at the California Institute of Technology claim that they have found a way to levitate and propel objects using light, even though for time being the work remains theoretical. It is believed according to a paper published in Nature Photonics that this technique could be used for trajectory control of ultra-light spacecraft and even laser propelled light sails for space exploration. It means that no fuel needed, just a powerful laser fired at a spacecraft from the earth.

Scientists developed photonic levitation and propulsion system by designing a complex pattern that could be etched into an object’s surface.

The way the concentrated light beam reflected from the etching causes the object to “self-stabilize“, they say, as it attempts to stay inside the focused laser beam.

The groundwork for the new research was the development of optical tweezers and the big downside to it was that it could manipulate tiny objects at the microscopic level only.

Generic Optical Tweezer Diagram

Generic Optical Tweezer Diagram (Credit: Wikimedia)

Ognjen Ilic, post-doctoral scholar and first author of the new study, explains the tweezer concept and its limitations in much simpler terms: “One can levitate a ping pong ball using a steady stream of air from a hairdryer. But it wouldn’t work if the ping pong ball were too big, or if it were too far away from the hair dryer, and so on.

Though the theory is still untested in the real world, the researchers say that if it pans out, it could send a spacecraft to the nearest star outside our Solar System in just 20 years.

There is an audaciously interesting application to use this technique as a means for propulsion of a new generation of spacecraft,” said Harry Atwater, a professor at the Caltech Division of Engineering and Applied Science.

He also said, “We’re a long way from actually doing that, but we are in the process of testing out the principles.”

Published Research: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41566-019-0373-y

JILA 3D Strontium Atomic Clock

Breakthrough: Researchers developing atomic clocks to replace GPS and Galileo

Recently, scientists in the Emergent Photonics Lab (EPic Lab) at the University of Sussex, have made a discovery of an important element of atomic clock devices which could reduce reliance on satellite mapping in the future using cutting-edge laser beam technology.

Dr. Alessia Pasquazi from the EPic Lab in the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Sussex said, “With a portable atomic clock, an ambulance, for example, will be able to still access their mapping whilst in a tunnel, and a commuter will be able to plan their route whilst on the underground or without mobile phone signal in the countryside. Portable atomic clocks would work on an extremely accurate form of geo-mapping, enabling access to your location and planned route without the need for satellite signal.

Our breakthrough improves the efficiency of the part of the clock responsible for counting by 80%. This takes us one step closer to seeing portable atomic clocks replacing satellite mapping, like GPS, which could happen within 20 years.

This technology will change people’s everyday lives as well as potentially being applicable in driverless cars, drones and the aerospace industry. It’s exciting that this development has happened here at Sussex.”

Their invention will greatly improve the efficiency of the lancet (which in a traditional clock is responsible for counting), by 80%. And in the future, portable atomic clocks will completely replace satellite mapping within 20 years.

GPS working

Components involved when updating the GPS almanach using A-GPS and a GSM network (Source: Wikimedia/ Adlerweb)

Professor Marco Peccianti from the University of Sussex EPic Labs said, “We are moving towards the integration of our device with that of the ultra-compact atomic reference (or pendulum) developed by Professor Matthias Keller’s research group here at the University of Sussex. Working together, we plan to develop a portable atomic clock that could revolutionize the way we count time in the future.

Our development represents a significant step forward in the production of practical atomic clocks,and we’re extremely excited by our plans, which range from partnerships with the UK aerospace industry – which could come to fruition within five years –  through to portable atomic clocks that could be housed in your phone and within driverless cars and drones within 20 years.”

According to researchers, the compact laser-based atomic clock developed by the University of Sussex team could revolutionize the way we count time in the future.

More Infohttps://www.nature.com/articles/s41566-019-0379-5

Immunotherapy a Modern Cure for Cancer

Immunotherapy: A Modern Cure for Cancer

Immune systems are made up of various WBC or White Blood Cells with several tissues and organs. The main job of the immune system is to fight against germs and microorganisms and keep the body healthy. Immunotherapy drugs aid the immune system to work well, and that makes it easier for the body to get rid of certain cancer cells.

Immunotherapy helps to slow down the growth and flow of cancer cells. It restricts cancer to spread in the body and helps the immune system to respond well by destroying the cancer cells. There are numerous immunotherapy drugs explicitly tested in labs, which can fight cancer.

Immunotherapy can have major side effects. If you are being advised for immunotherapy by your doctor, then there are a lot of reasons to talk about them before you decide to go for this curing process. Immunotherapy is known to be a cancer treatment which can boost your body’s natural defenses to fight against cancer, but it can also make them rogue which may end up attacking healthy, functioning parts of a person’s body, causing unpredictable side effects that may be life-threatening if not treated early.

All you need to know about Immunotherapy

There are numerous treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery and radiation which are widely approved as the standard way of treatments to stop cancer. Many additional drugs are utilized to restrict the growth and spread of cancer cells. Treat your side effects which arise due to radiation, surgery, and you can manage the pain. Moreover, the traditional cancer treatment can kill several diseases where the patient’s body is under attacked by different diseases.  However, it is sometimes dangerous, exhausting, and its side effects are explicitly substantial.

The idea and the new treatment have caught several attentions of doctors and scientists. The results for different patients are credible. And it is known as Immunotherapy, and the goal is to boost your immune system to stop cancer. Those who are interested in the medical field of immunotherapy recognize the main power of the human body. According to the sources and researches, it has been found that the immune system can eliminate the tumors on a patient body by simply co-opting inhibitory pathways. Thus it put a break on the response of the immune system. The idea of immunotherapy includes the engineering, or it enhances the immune cells of the patients that wipe out the cancer elements.

The therapy is also known as ACT (Adoptive Cell Transfer), and its clinical results are simply remarkable. Remain cancer free by simply eliminating the cancer cells and improve your health. Experts clearly agree to the fact that the human immune system can do well if the right amount of tools is provided to it.

Immunotherapy is classified as a ‘Living Drug.’

Immunotherapy is known as the ‘living drug’ because it is responsible for building the T-cells. A patient’s blood collects these, and the cells are further altered to build “special receptors” which are referred to CAR’s or Chimeric Antigen Receptors. Basically, these CAR’s are the protein which allows these T-cells to strikes the antigen-protein which is found in the cancer cells.

The T-cells are then engineered in the lab which is simply allowed to grow in billions. These T-cells are injected inside the patient, and hence the T-cells reproduce to soak out the antigens and damage them. First, the T-cells experimentation was begun in the late 1990s, and the researchers considered it as the new cancer treatment. And today, the scientists and the researchers are finding many different ways for generating new yet powerful T-cells which can eliminate the cancer cells from a patient’s body.

How the concept of Immunotherapy works?

  • The T-cells protects your body from getting infected, and hence they destroy the infected cells.
  • As you know, cancer cells produce the molecules that stop the T-cells and helps cancer to grow in your body.
  • The drug gets attached to the T-cells and blocks the cancer cells. The T-cells continuously attacks and destroys the cancer cells. And meanwhile, the ipilimumab helps the T-cells to multiply.

What are the benefits of Immunotherapy?

There are many great benefits of Immunotherapy, and it’s a good choice for patients to get rid of cancer diseases. There are many cancers such as skin cancer which doesn’t respond to chemotherapy and radiation. But the use of immunotherapy has helped the patients to eliminate the cancer cells.

The T-cells are largely grown in the laboratory and then it is injected inside the patient’s body, and hence your body performs well. Hence, immunotherapy is classified as the broad category that is designed to stimulate the immune system of your body for better recognition and fighting cancer.

Some side effects of Immunotherapy

The ACT simply causes bothersome effects which are referred to as Cytokine- a release syndrome. The T-cells that are engineered eliminates the cytokines- which are the chemical messengers which help T-cells to complete their mission. A large number of cytokines in your bloodstream can cause low blood pressure and high fever.

Many of the patients have experienced syndrome, and on the other hand, some have reported only mild side effects. Researchers and scientists are putting their best efforts to improve the ACT process so that it can be used as a standard process for the treatment of cancer.

Most of the drugs have delayed the spread of cancer but unable to cure the cancer disease. Your immune system is designed in such a way that it couldn’t destroy or attacks your own cells. The immunotherapy is not being used for a long period, and it is a long hope that the immunotherapy drugs can teach the body to destroy the cancer cells.

Later, cancer will be banished, and you will be enjoying your healthy life in the coming years. And it is truly an exciting idea for patients who are suffering from cancer diseases. These researches show that the patients can give a powerful one or two punch against these virally infected diseases.