Most Clicked SmartBrief on ExecTech Stories

1. Snowden: NSA uses hijacked malware to mask attacks

SmartBrief on ExecTech | Jan 20, 2015

The U.S. National Security Agency piggybacks on computers infected by third-party malware to mask its activities, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has revealed. The activity, which takes place as part of a program called DEFIANTWARRIOR, reportedly relies on a network of infected computers and targets only foreign machines. ZDNet (01/19) Computerworld (01/19)

2. Researchers come close to debunking dinosaur-killing asteroid theory

SmartBrief on ExecTech | Jan 22, 2015

For decades, scientists have theorized that the demise of the dinosaurs could be attributed to an asteroid hitting Earth, but new research is casting doubt on that theory. After carefully reconstructing the fallout from the impact 65 million years ago that left a crater in Mexico, researchers in the U.K. have determined that the event probably wouldn't have been large enough to precipitate massive global fires, as once suspected. (01/22)

3. Obama discusses technology in State of the Union

SmartBrief on ExecTech | Jan 21, 2015

President Barack Obama emphasized technology during his State of the Union address Tuesday night. From Obama's passing references to social media platform Instagram to his call for cracking down on hackers who target American computer networks, Adam Mazmanian writes that the focus on technology marked a rare break from convention, in which tech takes a back seat to more political issues, such as national security and the economy. Federal Computer Week (01/20)

4. Millions wasted on ineffective malware alerts, report finds

SmartBrief on ExecTech | Jan 19, 2015

Companies spend a fortune each year on alerts to inform them of potential malware threats, but thanks to a rash of false positives, their efforts are more likely to waste money than protect their IT assets. A report from the Ponemon Institute finds that while companies receive an average of 17,000 malware alerts a week, only 19% wind up being credible. ZDNet (01/19)

5. Amazon reportedly in talks to acquire Annapurna Labs

SmartBrief on ExecTech | Jan 23, 2015

Amazon may be considering acquiring Annapurna Labs, a Israeli semiconductor development firm, for as much as $370 million, a source says. The deal could bring another research and development operation to Israel, a market Amazon wants to enter to boost its cloud offerings, the source says. Bloomberg Businessweek (01/22) ZDNet (01/22)

6. A wormhole in the Milky Way is possible, study suggests

SmartBrief on ExecTech | Jan 23, 2015

If dark matter is taken into consideration, a wormhole could exist at the center of the Milky Way's dark matter halo, according to a study published in the Annals of Physics. The research team's conclusions depend on the Navarro-Frenk-White density profile and the Universal Rotation Curve model, two specific scenarios for the behavior of dark matter. "We're not claiming that our galaxy is definitely a wormhole, but simply that, according to theoretical models, this hypothesis is a possibility," said Paolo Salucci, one of the study's authors. NBC News (01/21)

7. Scientists get glimpse inside ancient burned scroll with 3D X-ray technique

SmartBrief on ExecTech | Jan 21, 2015

Researchers have used a 3D X-ray technique sometimes used in breast scans to see the ink left within a fragile, rolled-up scroll burned in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. The scroll is part of a classical library in Herculaneum, which was buried in the ancient volcanic blast, and previous efforts to unroll the scrolls and read their contents were abandoned because the unwinding process damaged or destroyed them. To view the raised ink, researchers used X-ray phase-contrast tomography, which shows the letters in relief, a study published in Nature Communications says. BBC (01/20)

8. Oracle's Larry Ellison touts X5 system

SmartBrief on ExecTech | Jan 23, 2015

Oracle's Larry Ellison revealed the company's latest engineered system, the X5, which he called "the future of the data center." "The big deal is it's fully automated, so it's easy to operate, and you never lose data. It's as [much of] a no-brainer appliance as we have," Ellison said. ZDNet (01/21)

9. FDA may clamp down on wearables making specific health claims

SmartBrief on ExecTech | Jan 22, 2015

The rising popularity of fitness wearables is prompting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to clarify what sorts of health claims such products can make without being regulated as medical devices. A draft guidance currently open for public comments says that "general wellness devices," such as Fitbit, are not subject to the agency's regulations. PCWorld (01/20) Engadget (01/20)

10. Deeply submerged grounding zone in Antarctica may hold clues to glacial melting

SmartBrief on ExecTech | Jan 19, 2015

Scientists have drilled deep into the grounding zone, a submerged area of Antarctica underneath the Ross Ice Shelf, hoping to find clues about the long-term stability of glaciers. What they found were pebbles sitting on top of sandy mud, which could indicate that the ice is melting more quickly. "From the looks of it, there's been quite a change in the environment," said glaciologist Ross Powell. (01/16)

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