Science & Technology

WhatsApp sued Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group on Tuesday, accusing it of helping government spies break into the phones of roughly 1,400 users across four continents in a hacking spree whose targets included diplomats, political dissidents, journalists and senior government officials.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco, messaging service WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook Inc., accused NSO of facilitating government hacking sprees in 20 countries. Mexico, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain were the only countries identified.

WhatsApp said in a statement that 100 civil society members had been targeted, and called it an unmistakable pattern of abuse.

NSO denied the allegations.

"In the strongest possible terms, we dispute today's allegations and will vigorously fight them," NSO said in a statement. "The sole purpose of NSO is to provide technology to licensed government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to help them fight terrorism and serious crime."

WhatsApp said the attack exploited its video calling system in order to send malware to the mobile devices of a number of users. The malware would allow NSO's clients — said to be governments and intelligence organisations — to secretly spy on a phone's owner, opening their digital lives up to official scrutiny.

WhatsApp is used by some 1.5 billion people monthly and has often touted a high level of security, including end-to-end encrypted messages that cannot be deciphered by WhatsApp or other third parties.

Citizen Lab, a cybersecurity research laboratory based at the University of Toronto that worked with WhatsApp to investigate the phone hacking, told Reuters that the targets included well-known television personalities, prominent women who had been subjected to online hate campaigns and people who had faced assassination attempts and threats of violence.

Neither Citizen Lab nor WhatsApp identified the targets by name.

Governments have increasingly turned to sophisticated hacking software as officials seek to push their surveillance power into the furthest corners of their citizens' digital lives.

Companies like NSO say their technology enables officials to circumvent the encryption that increasingly protects the data held on phones and other devices. But governments only rarely talk about their capabilities publicly, meaning that the digital intrusions like the ones that affected WhatsApp typically happen in the shadows.

Unprecedented move

Lawyer Scott Watnik called WhatsApp's move "entirely unprecedented", explaining that major service providers tended to shy away from litigation for fear of "opening up the hood" and revealing too much about their digital security. He said other firms would be watching the progress of the suit with interest.

"It could certainly set a precedent," said Watnik, who chairs the cybersecurity practice at the Wilk Auslander law firm in New York.

The lawsuit seeks to have NSO barred from accessing or attempting to access WhatsApp and Facebook's services and seeks unspecified damages.

NSO's phone hacking software has already been implicated in a series of human rights abuses across Latin America and the Middle East, including a sprawling espionage scandal in Panama and an attempt to spy on an employee of the London-based rights group Amnesty International.

NSO came under particularly harsh scrutiny over the allegation that its spyware played a role in the death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul a little over a year ago.

Khashoggi's friend Omar Abdulaziz is one of seven activists and journalists who have taken the spyware firm to court in Israel and Cyprus over allegations that their phones were compromised using NSO technology.

Amnesty has also filed a lawsuit, demanding that the Israeli Ministry of Defense revoke NSO's export license to "stop it profiting from state-sponsored repression".

NSO has recently tried to clean up its image after it was bought by London-based private equity firm Novalpina Capital earlier this year. In August, NSO co-founder Shalev Hulio appeared on CBS' 60 Minutes and boasted his spyware had saved "tens of thousands of people". He provided no details.

NSO has also brought on a series of high-profile advisers, including former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge and Juliette Kayyem, a senior lecturer in international security at Harvard University. Last month, NSO announced it would begin abiding by United Nations guidelines on human rights abuses.

NEW YORK (AP) — Samsung’s folding phone is finally hitting the U.S.

Samsung will start selling the Galaxy Fold, a phone with a screen that folds together like a book, on Friday. There will be an AT&T version as well as an unlocked version sold at Best Buy and Samsung stores.

The South Korean tech giant had put the Galaxy Fold’s launch on hold for months after reviewers encountered problems with the device’s innovative folding screen. Some reviewers peeled back a protective layer meant to stay on the screen, other devices flickered and turned black.

The nearly $2,000 phone launched on Sept. 6 in South Korea and Sept. 18 in France, Germany and Britain, with versions for next generation 5G networks available in the latter two countries. The U.S. phone does not support 5G.

چینی کمپنی ٹی سی ایل نے کانسیپٹ اسمارٹ گلاس متعارف کرایا ہے جو کہ ہوم تھیٹر کی طرح کام کرتا ہے۔

جی ہاں اس اسمارٹ گلاس میں 2 او ایل ای ڈی ڈسپلے دیئے گئے ہیں جو آنکھوں کے سامنے ایسا احساس دلاتے ہیں کہ آپ کسی سنیما میں ہی بیٹھے ہوئے ہیں۔

آئی ایف اے ٹیکنالوجی نمائش کے دوران اسے متعارف کرایا گیا اور سونی، گوگل یا دیگر کمپنیوں کے برعکس ٹی سی ایل نے اپنے اسمارٹ گلاس کو تفریحی مقاصد کے لیے تیار کیا ہے جس میں اسپیکر کمانی میں نصب ہیں۔

یو ایس بی سی کی مدد سے اسے اسمارٹ فون (فی الحال ٹی سی ایل فون) سے کنکٹ کیا جاسکتا ہے اور اسے چلتے پھرتے نہیں بلکہ آرام سے بیٹھ کر ہی استعمال کیا جاسکتا ہے، یا ٹرین میں سفر کے دوران ہوم تھیٹر کا مزہ لیا جاسکتا ہے۔

آنکھوں کے سامنے موجود 2 ڈسپلے اتنے بڑے ہیں کہ فلم دیکھتے ہوئے سنیما کا احساس تو ہوتا ہی، مگر آنکھوں کے سامنے منظر بھی دیکھا جاسکتا ہے۔

دماغ کو یہ دھوکا دینے کے لیے کہ آپ 100 انچ اسکرین پر فلم دیکھ رہے ہیں، یہ ڈیوائس بہترین کام کرتی ہے، بالکل ایسا محسوس ہوتا ہے کہ آپ کسی چھوٹے کمرے میں نہیں بلکہ ملٹی پلیکس سنیما میں موجود ہیں۔

ڈسپلے کے گرد موجود ٹرانسپیرنٹ ہالہ صارف کے تحفظ اور آس پاس کے حالات سے آگاہی کے لیے دیا گیا جبکہ ڈیوائس کو چلانے کے لیے سر کو حرکت دینا کافی ہوتا ہے تاہم اسمارٹ فون کو بھی کنٹرولر کے طور پر استعمال کیا جاسکتا ہے۔

اس کمپنی نے اپنا پروٹوٹائپ فولڈنگ فون بھی پیش کیا جو آئندہ سال کسی وقت باقاعدہ متعارف کرایا جائے گا۔

7.2 انچ کے فولڈ ایبل ٹیبلیٹ ڈسپلے والے اس کاسنیپٹ فون میں باہر کی جانب سیکنڈری ڈسپلے نہیں دیا گیا جبکہ 2 کے امولیڈ ڈسپلے دیا گیا ہے۔

کمپنی کے مطابق اس ڈیوائس کو 2 لاکھ بار فولڈ کیا جاسکتا ہے تاہم باضابطہ ماڈل میں اسے مزید بہتر کیا جائے گا۔

This file photo shows the first photograph of a black hole and its fiery halo, released by Event Horizon Telescope astronomers (EHT), which is the "most direct proof of their existence," one of the project's lead scientists had told AFP.  — AFP

WASHINGTON: The 347 scientists who collaborated to produce the world’s first image of a black hole were honoured on Thursday with the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, winning $3 million for what is known as the “Oscars of science”.

The Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration grabbed global headlines on April 10 when they published the first image of a supermassive black hole circled by a flame-orange halo of white hot plasma.

Directed by Shep Doelman at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the team spent over a decade simulating an Earth-sized computational telescope that combined the signals received by eight radio telescopes working in pairs around the world with their sights trained on the Messier 87 (M87) galaxy, 55 million light years away.

Through this technique, they were able achieve an unprecedented resolution and observe the black hole’s silhouette for the first time in history, confirming theoretical predictions about these celestial objects.

“For many years, I would tell people that we were going to image a black hole, and they would say, ‘Well, we’ll believe it when we see it,’ Doelman said in an interview. “But when you finally come with very strong evidence, when you make a breakthrough like this, then you have the satisfaction of really giving birth to a new field. We are now in an era of precision imaging of black holes, we can approach the event horizon and map spacetime for the first time,” he added.

The event horizon of a black hole is the point at which its gravitational effects are strong that light cannot escape its pull. Now in its eighth year, the Breakthrough Prize was launched by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to recognise and reward the world’s top scientists.

 

ریون پاکٹ نامی اے سی فی الحال صرف جاپان میں دستیاب ہوگا — فوٹو بشکریہ سونی

 

کیا آپ کو گرمی بہت لگتی ہے اور دل کرتا ہے کہ ہر وقت ائیرکنڈیشنر آپ کے ساتھ ہو؟

اگر ہاں تو اچھی خبر یہ ہے کہ جاپانی کمپنی سونی نے اس کا حل لگتا ہے کہ تلاش کرلیا ہے۔

جی ہاں یہ کمپنی ایسا وئیرایبل ائیرکنڈیشر متعارف کرانے کا ارادہ رکھتی ہے جسے جیب میں رکھا جاسکتا ہے جبکہ اسے استعمال کرنے کے لیے ایک خاص ٹی شرٹ کو پہننا ہوگا۔

 

ریون پاکٹ نامی اے سی کو اس خصوصی ٹی شرٹ کی گردن اور کمر کے درمیان موجود جیب میں رکھ دیا جائے گا اور یہ خاموش ڈیوائس گردن پر ٹھہر کر تھرمو الیکٹرک کولنگ خارج کرے گی۔

اگر موسم گرم ہے تو یہ اے سی آپ کا جسمانی درجہ حرارت 13 ڈگری تک پہنچائے گا جبکہ سرد موسم میں یہ جسمانی درجہ حرارت بڑھا کر 8 ڈگری تک لے جائے گا۔

کمپنی کے مطابق اس اے سی میں پلیٹیر ایفیکٹ استعمال کیا گیا ہے جو کہ عام طور پر گاڑی کو ٹھنڈا کرنے کے لیے استعمال کیا جاتا ہے۔

اس اے سی کو ایک موبائل ایپ کی مدد سے کنٹرول کیا جاسکے گا جبکہ آٹومیٹک موڈ بھی کمپنی مستقبل میں متعارف کرانے کا ارادہ رکھتی ہے اور ہاں سنگل چارج پر 24 گھنٹے کام کرسکے گا۔

اس کے بعد یو ایس بی سی پورٹ سے 2 گھنٹے میں اسے مکمل چارج کرنا ممکن ہوگا۔

فی الحال یہ اے سی کراﺅڈ فنڈنگ کے لیے پیش کیا جارہا ہے جس کی شپنگ مارچ 2020 میں شروع ہونے کا امکان ہے اور وہ بھی صرف جاپان میں۔

اس کی قیمت 12 ہزار جاپانی ین (لگ بھگ 19 ہزار پاکستانی روپے)سے زائد رکھی گئی ہے۔

اس ڈیوائس کا وزن محض 85 گرام ہے جبکہ حجم ایک اسمارٹ فون سے بھی چھوٹا ہے۔

 

 

A Huawei company logo is seen at Consumer Electronics Show Asia 2019 in Shanghai. ─ Reuters

Huawei will delay the launch of its much-touted foldable 5G Mate X smartphone by three months, the latest setback for the company that was slapped with US sanctions last month.

The Mate X, a competitor to Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Fold, is expected to be rolled out globally in September, Vincent Pang, Huawei's head of corporate communications, said on the sidelines of the WSJTech D.Live conference in Hong Kong.

It was originally slated for a June launch.

The delay comes as Huawei phones face being cut off from updates of Google's Android operating system (OS) in the wake of the US blacklist that bans American companies from doing business with the Chinese firm.

Pang, however, denied the delay was due to the ban, saying Huawei was in the process of running certification tests with various carriers that were expected to be completed in August.

He also told Reuters that Huawei, the world's second-largest maker of smartphones, could roll out its Hongmeng operating system (OS) ─ which is being tested ─ within nine months.

“Our preference will of course be Google and Android as we have been partners for many years,” said Pang, also a senior vice president at Huawei.

“But if the circumstances force us to, we can roll out Hongmeng in six to nine months.”

Hongmeng is based on the version of Android that is publicly available via open-source licensing and is mainly meant for phones, Pang said. Hongmeng will support other devices later.

Alphabet Inc's Google had earlier said it would no longer provide Android software for Huawei phones after a 90-day reprieve granted by the US government expires in August.

Huawei has applied to trademark its Hongmeng OS in various countries, Reuters reported on Thursday, in a sign it may be deploying a back-up plan in key markets.

At home, Huawei applied for a Hongmeng trademark in August last year and received a nod last month, according to a filing on China's intellectual property administration's website.

Pang denied recent media reports that Huawei was cancelling the roll out of its next new laptop and said it will still launch at a later date.

Ban fallout

Huawei has come under mounting scrutiny for over a year, led by US allegations that “back doors” in its routers, switches and other gear could allow China to spy on US communications.

The company has denied its products pose a security threat.

However, consumers spooked by how matters have escalated are offloading their devices amid Android worries.

Huawei's hopes to become the world's top-selling smartphone maker in the fourth quarter this year have now been delayed, a senior Huawei executive said this week.

Problems at Huawei, the world's largest network-equipment maker, are spilling over to the broader chip industry.

Broadcom Inc has warned of a broad slowdown in chip demand, blaming the US.

China trade conflict and export restrictions on Huawei, and cut its revenue forecast for the year by 8 per cent. Huawei accounted for about or 4pc of the company's overall sales last year.

Micron Technology Inc's CEO Sanjay Mehrotra said at the WSJconference on Friday that the ban on Huawei brings “uncertainty and disturbance” to the semiconductor industry.

Mehrotra said Micron was assessing impact from the ban on Huawei, one of its largest customers.

China's Huawei Technologies launched on Monday what it said was the world's first 5G communications hardware for the automotive industry, in a sign of its growing ambitions to become a key supplier to the sector for self-driving technology.

Huawei said in a statement that the so-called MH5000 module is based on the Balong 5000 5G chip which it launched in January. “Based on this chip, Huawei has developed the world's first 5G car module with high speed and high quality,” it said.

It launched the module at the Shanghai Autoshow, which began last week and runs until Thursday.

“As an important communication product for future intelligent car transportation, this 5G car module will promote the automotive industry to move towards the 5G era,” Huawei said.

It said the module will aid its plans to start commercialising 5G network technology for the automotive sector in the second half of this year.

Huawei has in recent years been testing technology for intelligent connected cars in Chinese cities such as Shanghai, Shenzhen and Wuxi and has signed cooperation deals with a swathe of car makers including FAW, Dongfeng and Changan.

The company, which is also the world's biggest telecoms equipment maker, is striving to lead the global race for next-generation 5G networks but has come under increasing scrutiny from Washington which alleges that its equipment could be used for espionage. Huawei has repeatedly denied the allegations.

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