Startup will store energy by forcing compressed air in a defunct zinc mine


This post is by Megan Geuss from Ars Technica


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An energy storage startup called Hydrostor is planning to build an Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) project in Australia, using an out-of-operation underground zinc mine as a container for the compressed air.

Hydrostor announced its plans this week after being awarded AUD $9 million (USD $6.4 million) in grants from Australian government institutions.

Compressed air energy storage (CAES) is a sort of physical battery (as opposed to a chemical battery) that uses excess electricity to compress air. The compressed air is stored in a tank, in a balloon, or in an underground cavern. When more electricity is needed, the compressed air is heated, which drives a turbine as it expands.

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States will vote on these energy and environment issues in midterm elections


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Voter voting

Enlarge / A voter casts his ballot in a polling station in Missoula, Montana. (credit: Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

In the United States, mid-term elections are set to take place on Tuesday November 6. Although much of the limelight is on Congressional races and gubernatorial races, US citizens also have the chance to vote on some important initiatives, measures, and amendments that are specific to their state. These state rules can often have a more direct impact on the lives of Americans than their representatives in Congress do, but because proposals tend to be long and nuanced, they also can attract a lot less attention.

Energy and environment topics are among the most contentious of 2018’s ballots, especially in western states where fossil fuel interests are facing a public that’s increasingly concerned with climate change. Here’s a look at seven proposed rules on US state ballots that could influence

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Lithium giants feud over competition, brine in Chile’s Atacama Desert


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Salt flats in South America

Enlarge / A general view of Laguna Colorada located near the border with Chile, in the Uyuni salt flats, Bolivia. The Uyuni salt flats are estimated to contain 100 million tons of lithium, making it one of the largest global reserves of this mineral, according to state officials at the Bolivian Mining Corporation. (credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)

Two of the world’s biggest lithium producers, Albemarle Corporation and Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (otherwise known as SQM), are tangled in two disputes: the first over water rights in Chile’s Atacama desert, and the second over ownership of SQM.

Both Albemarle and and SQM have significant operations in the Atacama desert, where some of the world’s best lithium resources exist. As electric vehicles with lithium-ion batteries become more popular, lithium resources are becoming more valuable. That has created some conflict in an industry that has long remained relatively quiet.

Who’s drinking

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Backdoored images downloaded 5 million times finally removed from Docker Hub


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Enlarge (credit: Oren neu dag / Wikimedia)

A single person or group may have made as much as $90,000 over 10 months by spreading 17 malicious images that were downloaded more than 5 million times from Docker Hub, researchers said Wednesday. The repository finally removed the submissions in May, more than eight months after receiving the first complaint.

Docker images are packages that typically include a pre-configured application running on top of an operating system. By downloading them from Docker Hub, administrators can save huge amounts of set-up time. Last July and August one or more people used the Docker Hub account docker123321 to upload three publicly available images that contained surreptitious code for mining cryptocurrencies. In September, a GitHub user complained one of the images contained a backdoor.

Eight months of inaction

Neither the Docker Hub account nor the malicious images it submitted were taken down. Over the

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Apple bans cryptocurrency mining from its app stores


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Cryptocurrency mining in apps has become such a big deal, Apple updated its app guidelines to make sure that developers don’t sneak the function into any apps within the company’s ecosystem. The update to the rules apparently occurred last week, possibly in response to popular Mac app Calendar 2 that bundled a Monero miner in with its premium upgrade.

Source: Apple

Apple just banned cryptocurrency mining on iOS devices


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(credit: Jhaymesisviphotography)

Apple recently announced new restrictions on the use of cryptocurrencies on iPhones and iPads, a change first noticed by Apple Insider on Monday.

“Apps may not mine for cryptocurrencies unless the processing is performed off device,” Apple’s app store guidelines for iOS now say. This requirement was absent from the same document just a few weeks ago.

Apple’s new policy is apparently motivated in part by concerns that cryptocurrency mining could drain the batteries of mobile devices. “Apps, including any third party advertisements displayed within them, may not run unrelated background processes, such as cryptocurrency mining,” the policy states.

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Cryptocurrency-mining criminals that netted $3 million gear up for more


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Enlarge / Money. (credit: AMC)

Researchers have uncovered what they said is one of the biggest malicious currency mining operations ever, with more than $3 million worth of digital coin. Now, the operators are gearing up to make more.

The unknown criminals generated the windfall over the past 18 months. The campaign has mainly exploited critical vulnerabilities on Windows computers and then, once gaining control over them, installing a modified version of XMRig, an open-source application that mines the digital coin known as Monero. While the group has used a variety of mining services, it has continued to dump the proceeds into a single wallet. As of last week, the wallet had received payouts of almost 10,829 Monero, which, at current valuations, are worth more than $3.4 million.

“The perpetrator, allegedly of Chinese origin, has been running the XMRig miner on many versions of Windows and has already

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Attackers used Telegram to deliver cryptocurrency-mining malware


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Kaspersky Lab says it spotted evidence of a vulnerability in the desktop version of Telegram that allowed attackers to install cryptocurrency mining malware on users’ computers. The zero-day exploit was used to trick Telegram users into downloading malicious files, which could then be used to deliver cryptocurrency mining software and spyware. According to Kaspersky, those behind the exploit used the computers their malware had been installed on to mine digital currencies like Monero, Zcash, Fantomcoin and others. Kaspersky also says it found a stolen cache of Telegram data on one of the attackers’ servers.

Via: Bloomberg

Source: Kaspersky

The harmful drive-by currency mining scourge shows no signs of abating


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Aw, damn. (credit: cibomahto)

The scourge of drive-by currency mining—in which websites and apps covertly run resource-draining code on other people’s devices—shows no sign of abating. Over the weekend, researchers added two more incidents: one involves more than 4,200 sites (some operated by government agencies), while the other targets millions of Android devices.

The first incident affected sites that offer a free text-to-speech translation service called Browsealoud. On Sunday, someone changed the JavaScript code hosted here to include currency-mining code from Coinhive, a controversial site that uses the devices of site visitors, usually without their permission, to generate digital coin known as Monero.

In the process, any site that included a link to the Browsealoud JavaScript suddenly saddled its visitors with code that, by default, uses 100 percent of its CPU resources, with no attempt to warn end users or get their permission. Search results show that the breach

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Now even YouTube serves ads with CPU-draining cryptocurrency miners


This post is by Dan Goodin from Ars Technica


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Enlarge (credit: Diego Betto)

YouTube was recently caught displaying ads that covertly leach off visitors’ CPUs and electricity to generate digital currency on behalf of anonymous attackers, it was widely reported.

Word of the abusive ads started no later than Tuesday, as people took to social media sites to complain their antivirus programs were detecting cryptocurrency mining code when they visited YouTube. The warnings came even when people changed the browser they were using, and the warnings seemed to be limited to times when users were on YouTube.

Hackers find new ways to print digital money for free


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(credit: US Treasury Department)

The sky-high valuations of cryptocurrencies isn’t lost on hackers, who are responding with increasingly sophisticated attacks that covertly harness the computers and electricity of unwitting people to generate digital coins worth large sums of money.

One example is a recently uncovered mass hack of servers that has mined about $6,000 worth of the cryptocurrency known as AEON in the past 23 days. Based on the rate the underlying cryptographic hashes are being generated, Morphus Labs Chief Research Officer Renato Marinho estimated that about 450 separate conscripted machines are participating. Marinho analyzed one of the servers and found that attackers gained control over it by exploiting CVE-2017-10271, a critical vulnerability in Oracle’s WebLogic package that was patched in October. The owner of the compromised server, however, had yet to install the fix.

“The exploit is pretty simple to execute and comes with a Bash script to

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Cryptojacking craze that drains your CPU now done by 2,500 sites


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Enlarge / A music streaming site that participated in Coinhive crypto mining maxes out the visitor’s CPU. (credit: Malwarebytes)

A researcher has documented almost 2,500 sites that are actively running cryptocurrency mining code in the browsers of unsuspecting visitors, a finding that suggests the unethical and possibly illegal practice has only picked up steam since it came to light a few weeks ago.

Willem de Groot, an independent security researcher who reported the findings Tuesday, told Ars that he believes all of the 2,496 sites he tracked are running out-of-date software with known security vulnerabilities that have been exploited to give attackers control. Attackers, he said, then used their access to add code that surreptitiously harnesses the CPUs and electricity of visitors to generate the digital currency known as Monero. About 80 percent of those sites, he added, also contain other types of malware that can steal visitors’ payment

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Forest Service suggests Trump could reopen uranium mining near Grand Canyon


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Canyon Uranium Mine Tower, Arizona, 2013. (credit: Kaibab National Forest)

The US Forest Service recently submitted a report (PDF) to the Trump Administration, suggesting that an Obama-era order could be revised to allow uranium mining on National Forest land, reopening old tensions in an area that sustains tribal interests, mining operations, and outdoor activities.

The report was submitted in response to a March presidential order requiring all agencies to review their body of rules, policies, and guidelines pertaining to energy development in the United States. Agencies were directed to provide the White House with a list of items that might weigh down the development of domestic energy resources “with particular attention to oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy resources,” according to the Forest Service, which is an agency within the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The Forest Service ultimately outlined 15 agency rules, regulations, and agreements that could

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A surge of sites and apps are exhausting your CPU to mine cryptocurrency


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Enlarge / A cryptocurrency mining farm. (credit: Marco Krohn)

The Internet is awash with covert crypto currency miners that bog down computers and even smartphones with computationally intensive math problems called by hacked or ethically questionable sites.

The latest examples came on Monday with the revelation from antivirus provider Trend Micro that at least two Android apps with as many as 50,000 downloads from Google Play were recently caught putting crypto miners inside a hidden browser window. The miners caused phones running the apps to run JavaScript hosted on Coinhive.com, a site that harnesses the CPUs of millions of PCs to mine the Monero crypto currency. In turn, Coinhive gives participating sites a tiny cut of the relatively small proceeds. Google has since removed the apps, which were known as Recitiamo Santo Rosario Free and SafetyNet Wireless App.

Last week, researchers from security firm Sucuri warned that at

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King under the mountain: Building Colorado’s Cold War command center


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COLORADO SPRINGS, CO—Across the highway from the US Air Force Academy is a tiny cluster of buildings that represents one of Colorado Springs’ earliest claims to fame: mining.

The Western Museum of Mining and Industry (WMMI) looks out onto a glorious expanse of the Rocky Mountains and is home to all manner of antique equipment that extracted minerals from those mountains.

But on a balmy April night, as a spring snowstorm rolled in from the west, Ars attended a lecture at the museum about a nearby mining marvel that was not intended to extract riches, but

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Amnesty International report: Children mine cobalt used in gadget batteries


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(credit: UNICEF)

Children as young as seven years old are working for up to $2 daily mining in dangerous conditions to gather cobalt used in lithium batteries for 16 multinational corporations like Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Sony, and others, according to Amnesty International.

If true, a report by the human rights group about mining conditions in the Democratic Republic of Congo counters claims by gadget producers that child labor is not involved in their production stream. The report said at least 80 miners have died in the past year in the DRC, which produces about half the world’s cobalt. Unicef estimates that there are as many as 40,000 child miners in the region. Amnesty International interviewed dozens of workers, who usually wear no protective clothing while toiling long hours.

A 14-year-old orphan named Paul said he works so long underground that “I had to relieve myself down in the tunnels,”

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President signs pro-asteroid mining bill into law


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        <img src="http://o.aolcdn.com/dims-shared/dims3/GLOB/crop/4840x3257+0+418/resize/1200x808!/format/jpg/quality/85/http://hss-prod.hss.aol.com/hss/storage/midas/5534a4a998f6f11f0126d79f31edb68f/203042310/9519092016_c5e3ea9a66.jpg" />And just like that, American asteroid mining efforts are legal.  President Obama has signed the US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (CSLCA) into law following Congress&#039; approval, letting companies keep whatever resources they collect beyon...

Recommended Reading: Marvel’s ‘Jessica Jones’ is a different kind of hero


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        <img src="http://o.aolcdn.com/hss/storage/midas/728978f88dd7a777fc84a0c1ef140dc5/202998139/jessi_s1_014_h.jpg" />

Recommended Reading highlights the best long-form writing on technology and more in print and on the web. Some weeks, you'll also find short reviews of books that we think are worth your time. We hope you enjoy the read.

Marvel's Astounding 'Jess…

Congress approves space mining, minus regulation


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        <img src="http://o.aolcdn.com/hss/storage/midas/2d118eefa3ea22e50834b31bc3b3cc9a/203004074/nasa-asteroid-visit.jpg" />

American companies now have the all-clear to pursue their dreams of mining in space. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have passed the US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, a measure that lets US companies own any non-orga…

South American ice chemistry records rise of Incas, arrival of Spanish


This post is by Scott K. Johnson from Ars Technica


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Ice cores are often relied on to be natural archives of past climate, capturing information that predates both our measurements and our greenhouse gas emissions. They’re a way of having records of the natural world that we don’t have a history of. However, natural archives like these can also act as records of human history, either directly (via fossils or artifacts) or indirectly.

In mountainous regions, glacial ice doesn’t go as deep into the past as in Greenland or Antarctica, but it can tell stories of the recent past with excellent resolution. Airborne pollutants, for example, stand out sharply in measurements of the ice. They don’t say “pure as the driven snow” for nothing.

Not much of this kind of work has been done in South America, though. Some lake sediment archives have shown the influence of local mining, but the timeline was fuzzy. In a new study, a team led by Chiara Uglietti, now at Switzerland’s Paul Scherrer Institute, has produced a detailed ice core record of air pollution from Peru’s Quelccaya Ice Cap that goes back to the year 793.

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