North Korea denies role in WannaCry ransomware attack

WannaCry infected some 300,000 computers in 150 nations in May, encrypting user files and demanding hundreds of dollars from their owners for the keys to get them back. (AFP)
Updated 21 December 2017
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North Korea denies role in WannaCry ransomware attack

SEOUL: North Korea on Thursday denied US accusations it was behind the WannaCry global ransomware cyberattack, saying Washington was demonizing it.
WannaCry infected some 300,000 computers in 150 nations in May, encrypting user files and demanding hundreds of dollars from their owners for the keys to get them back.
The White House this week blamed Pyongyang for it, adding its voice to several other countries that had already done so.
A spokesman for Pyongyang’s foreign ministry said the US allegations were “absurd,” adding: “As we have clearly stated on several occasions, we have nothing to do with cyber-attacks.”
Washington had “ulterior” motives, the spokesman added according to the North’s KCNA news agency.
“This move is a grave political provocation by the US aimed at inducing the international society into a confrontation against the DPRK by tarnishing the image of the dignified country and demonizing it,” he said.
North Korea is subject to multiple United Nations sanctions over its banned nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and tested its third ICBM last month.
Leader Kim Jong-Un declared his country had achieved full nuclear statehood, in a challenge to US President Donald Trump who responded with promises of “major sanctions.”
According to experts North Korea’s cyberwarfare targets have expanded from the political — it was accused of hacking into Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014 to take revenge for “The Interview,” a satirical film that mocked Kim — to the financial, as it seeks new sources of funding.
A South Korean cryptocurrency exchange shut down on Tuesday after losing 17 percent of its assets in a hacking — its second cyberattack this year, with the North accused of involvement in the first.
Investigators are probing the possibility that Pyongyang was also behind Tuesday’s incident, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News reported.
The North is blamed for a massive $81 million cyber-heist from the Bangladesh Central Bank (BCB) in 2016, as well as the theft of $60 million from Taiwan’s Far Eastern International Bank in October.
Pyongyang has angrily denied the accusations — which it described as a “slander” against the authorities — but analysts say the digital footprints left behind suggest otherwise.


Aston Martin unveils ‘sports car for the skies’ at Farnborough Airshow

Updated 18 July 2018
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Aston Martin unveils ‘sports car for the skies’ at Farnborough Airshow

  • The Volante Vision Concept design has vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capabilities and will be able to hit speeds of around 200mph
  • Aston Martin believes it could corner the market for luxury flying vehicles in the future

FARNBOROUGH: James Bond would love it. Aston Martin, maker of the luxury sports cars favored by the fictional British spy, has now come up with a futuristic personal aircraft it has dubbed “a sports car for the skies.”
Aston Martin unveiled the three-seater hybrid-electric vehicle this week at the Farnborough Airshow and, though the concept remains for now the stuff of science fiction, believes it could help one day to revolutionize travel.
The Volante Vision Concept design has vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capabilities and will be able to hit speeds of around 200 miles per hour (322 kph), “so you can go from the center of Birmingham to the center of London in about 30 minutes,” Aston Martin’s Simon Sproule told Reuters.
Aviation and technology leaders are working to make electric-powered flying taxis a reality, including Airbus, US ride-sharing firm Uber and a range of start-ups including one backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, called Kitty Hawk.
Aston Martin believes it could corner the market for luxury flying vehicles in the future.
“The same way that you have Uber and you have an Aston Martin, you’ll have ‘Uber in the skies’ and you’ll have ‘Aston Martin in the skies’,” said Sproule, adding that such an aircraft won’t come cheap.
“This is clearly a luxury object — it’s a sports car for the skies — so pricing is going to be commensurate with that, so certainly into the seven figures.”

“FEELS LIKE A FIGHTER JET”
The company has partnered with Cranfield University, Cranfield Aerospace Solutions and British jet engine maker Rolls-Royce to develop the concept vehicle, including artificial intelligence-powered autonomous capabilities.
“It feels like a fighter jet but at the same time it has the Aston Martin luxury,” said David Debney, chief of future aircraft concepts at Rolls-Royce.
Commenting on how to pilot the vehicle, Cranfield’s Helen Atkinson said: “You’ve got to detect what’s going on in the external environment and then turn that around incredibly quickly in the computer system with the artificial intelligence built in to actually achieve the necessary level of autonomy.”
Separately at Farnborough, Rolls-Royce unveiled plans for a flying taxi — an electric vertical take-off and landing (EVTOL) vehicle which could carry four to five people at speeds of up to 250 miles (400 km) per hour for approximately 500 miles.
The company said it was starting a search for partners to help develop a project it hopes could take to the skies as soon as early next decade.