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Chinese Games Will Force Players To Use Their Real Names

Mon, 08/03/2020 - 17:03
The Chinese government will soon require video game users to log in with their real names. According to the South China Morning Post, the government is rolling out a state-run authentication system that will ask game makers to join the system in batches. From the report: The plan has been in the works for some time, with the government pushing for tighter controls based on the argument that it needs to protect minors. In 2019, the State Administration of Press and Publications (SAPP), the body in charge of regulating games, introduced new limits on how much time and money minors can spend on games. Anyone under 18 years old is limited to 90 minutes on weekdays and three hours on holidays. To enforce these limits, players are required to to give out their real names which can be checked against ID numbers. Tencent and NetEase, the country's two largest gaming companies, got a jump on these plans by introducing their own verification systems. For now, not much is known about how the national verification system will work or whether it will resemble the independent systems already in place. In some cases, the private systems have introduced some stringent controls. In Honour of Kings, the immensely popular Tencent game known as Arena of Valor overseas, the verification system includes a facial recognition scan. China also has other rules governing what games are even allowed in the country. One requirement is for game publishers to submit games for content and monetisation review before they can be legally distributed in China.

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Google To Buy Stake In ADT In Home Security Push For $450 Million

Mon, 08/03/2020 - 16:25
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Alphabet's Google is picking up a 6.6% stake in ADT for $450 million, betting on the home security company's strong customer base and an army of technicians to drive sales of its Nest devices. The investment gives ADT the backing of a high-profile technology partner and broadens its services business. In return, Google gets access to about 6.5 million customers, strengthening its presence as it competes with Amazon's Ring and Boston-based SimpliSafe, among others. ADT said on Monday that the two companies would work on ways to package popular Google products like Home Mini, Nest Thermostat and Nest Wifi with ADT's strength in installation and maintenance. "Later this year, we will begin integrating Google devices and make them available for installations to our customers," ADT Chief Executive Officer Jim DeVries told Reuters. "We will exclusively support Nest products," DeVries said, adding that the companies will build products together and start rolling them out next year. The companies will commit an additional $150 million each for co-marketing, product development, technology and employee training, ADT said.

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DOD, FBI, DHS Release Info on Malware Used in Chinese Government-Led Hacking Campaigns

Mon, 08/03/2020 - 15:45
The U.S. government today publicly exposed malware used in Chinese government hacking efforts for more than a decade. From a report: The Chinese government has been using malware, referred to as Taidoor, to target government agencies, entities in the private sector, and think tanks since 2008, according to a joint announcement from the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the Department of Defense, and the FBI. The Chinese Communist Party has been using the malware, in conjunction with proxy servers, "to maintain a presence on victim networks and to further network exploitation," according to the U.S. government's malware analysis report (MAR). In particular, Taidoor has been used to target government and private sector organizations that have a focus on Taiwan, according to previous FireEye analysis. It is typically distributed to victims through spearphishing emails that contain malicious attachments. U.S. Cyber Command, the DOD's offensive cyber unit, has also shared samples of Taidoor through malware-sharing platform VirusTotal so information security professionals can further examine it. Cyber Command has been uploading malware samples to VirusTotal since 2018 in an effort to help the private sector better protect against foreign adversaries, as well as to deter adversaries from running hacking campaigns. But it appeared to be the first time in the program's approximately two-year history that the Pentagon has chosen to identify malware that looks to be Chinese in origin. The DOD has frequently exposed North Korean hacking through VirusTotal uploads, as well as campaigns linked with Russian and Iranian hacking.

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Japan Acted Like the Virus Had Gone. Now It's Spread Everywhere.

Mon, 08/03/2020 - 15:03
After initial success, Japan is facing a reality check on the coronavirus. From a report: The country garnered global attention after containing the first wave of Covid-19 with what it referred to as the "Japan Model" -- limited testing and no lockdown, nor any legal means to force businesses to close. The country's finance minister even suggested a higher "cultural standard" helped contain the disease. But now the island nation is facing a formidable resurgence, with Covid-19 cases hitting records nationwide day after day. Infections first concentrated in the capital have spread to other urban areas, while regions without cases for months have become new hotspots. And the patient demographic -- originally younger people less likely to fall seriously ill -- is expanding to the elderly, a concern given that Japan is home to the world's oldest population. Experts say that Japan's focus on the economy may have been its undoing. As other countries in Asia, which experienced the coronavirus earlier than those in the West, wrestle with new flare ups of Covid-19, Japan now risks becoming a warning for what happens when a country moves too fast to normalize -- and doesn't adjust its strategy when the outbreak changes. While Japan declared a state of emergency to contain the first wave of the virus, it didn't compel people to stay home or businesses to shut. That was ended in late May and officials quickly pivoted to a full reopening in an attempt to get the country's recessionary economy back on track. By June, restaurants and bars were fully open while events like baseball and sumo-wrestling were back on -- a stark contrast to other places in the region like Singapore which were re-opening only in cautious phases.

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Trump Says TikTok Will Be Banned If Not Sold By Sept. 15, Demands Cut of Sale Fee

Mon, 08/03/2020 - 14:26
President Trump said Monday that TikTok will be shut down in the U.S. if it hasn't been bought by Microsoft or another company by Sept. 15, and claimed that the U.S. Treasury should get "a very substantial portion" of the sale fee. From a report: Trump appears to have backed off his threat to immediately ban TikTok after speaking with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who said Sunday that the company will pursue discussions with TikTok's Chinese parent company ByteDance to purchase the app in the U.S. TikTok has come under intense scrutiny in the U.S. due to concerns that the vast amounts of data it collects could be accessed by the Chinese government, potentially posing a national security threat.

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FCC Chair Says Agency Will Take Public Comment on Trump Social Media Petition

Mon, 08/03/2020 - 13:49
The Federal Communications Commission will take public comment for 45 days on a petition filed by the Trump administration seeking new transparency rules in how social media companies moderate content, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said on Monday. From a report: Pai rejected calls from Democrats that he summarily dismiss the petition without public comment. The decision came after President Donald Trump directed the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to file the petition after Twitter Inc in May warned readers to fact-check his posts about unsubstantiated claims of fraud in mail-in voting. Pai has said previously he does not see a role for the FCC to regulate websites like Twitter, Facebook or Alphabet's Google, but said on Monday the FCC "should welcome vigorous debate -- not foreclose it. The American people deserve to have a say, and we will give them that chance." FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter that Congress, not the FCC, should act. "Perhaps when comments are in we can package up the whole docket and send it over to Congress-where this debate belongs," Starks wrote.

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Justice Department Is Scrutinizing Takeover of Credit Karma by Intuit, Maker of TurboTax

Mon, 08/03/2020 - 13:09
The Department of Justice is scrutinizing Silicon Valley giant Intuit's $7 billion takeover attempt of Credit Karma, an upstart personal finance firm that became a competitor when it launched a free tax prep offering that challenges Intuit's TurboTax product. From a report: The probe comes after ProPublica first reported in February that antitrust experts viewed the deal as concerning because it could allow a dominant firm to eliminate a competitor with an innovative business model. Intuit already dominates online tax preparation, with a 67% market share last year. The article sparked letters from Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., urging the DOJ to investigate further. Cicilline is chair of the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee. Government lawyers worry that allowing Intuit to snuff out a promising startup could harm American consumers seeking free tax prep options, according to a June memo from the company side that describes Intuit's legal strategy, which was obtained by ProPublica. The government is particularly interested in "the influence that Intuit's purchase of Credit Karma will have on consumer tax preparation platforms and [the] software market," according to the memo. Further reading: Inside TurboTax's 20-Year Fight to Stop Americans From Filing Their Taxes for Free.

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TikTok Accuses Facebook of 'Plagiarism and Smears'

Mon, 08/03/2020 - 12:23
hackingbear writes: TikTok owner ByteDance has accused Facebook of plagiarism and smears although it did not elaborate on the accusation. "ByteDance has always been committed to becoming a global company. During this process, we have faced all kinds of complex and unimaginable difficulties, including the tense international political environment, collision and conflict of different cultures and plagiarism and smears from competitor Facebook," it said in a statement late on Sunday posted on its official account on Jinri Toutiao, a news aggregator app it owns. TikTok has attracted criticism from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who last year accused the app of censoring political protest, after Facebook couldn't get its way in China by pretending to be nice to China. TikTok has denied the claim. Facebook has been copying various Chinese apps and features including TikTok and WeChat, the all-in-one messaging apps in China.

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China's Xiao-i Sues Apple for $1.43 Billion Over Siri AI Infringement

Mon, 08/03/2020 - 11:46
Chinese artificial intelligence company Shanghai Zhizhen Intelligent Network Technology, also known as Xiao-i, has filed a lawsuit against Apple, alleging it has infringed on Xiao-i's patents. From a report: Xiao-i is calling for 10 billion yuan ($1.43 billion) in damages and demands that Apple cease "manufacturing, using, promising to sell, selling, and importing" products that infringe on the patent, it said in a social media post. Xiao-i argued that Apple's voice-recognition technology Siri infringes on a patent it applied for in 2004 and was granted in 2009.

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Anxious WHO Implores World To 'Do It All' in Long War on COVID-19

Mon, 08/03/2020 - 11:05
The World Health Organization warned on Monday that there might never be a "silver bullet" for COVID-19 in the form of a perfect vaccine and that the road to normality would be long, with some countries requiring a reset of strategy. From a report: More than 18.14 million people around the world are reported to have been infected with the disease and 688,080 have died, according to a Reuters tally, with some nations that thought they were over the worst experiencing a resurgence. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and WHO emergencies head Mike Ryan exhorted nations to rigorously enforce health measures such as mask-wearing, social distancing, hand-washing and testing. "The message to people and governments is clear: 'Do it all'," Tedros told a virtual news briefing from the U.N. body's headquarters in Geneva. He said face masks should become a symbol of solidarity round the world. "A number of vaccines are now in phase three clinical trials and we all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection. However, there's no silver bullet at the moment -- and there might never be."

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Google Announces Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a 5G

Mon, 08/03/2020 - 10:34
Google today unveiled two Pixel smartphones. First is the $349 Pixel 4A, which is available for preorder now and will ship on August 20th. And second, there's the Pixel 4A 5G, which will cost $499 and also ship sometime this fall. From a blog post: With the same incredible camera experiences from Pixel 4 and a redesigned hole-punch design, Pixel 4a brings the same features that have helped millions of Pixel owners take great shots. HDR+ with dual exposure controls, Portrait Mode, Top Shot, Night Sight with astrophotography capabilities and fused video stabilization -- they're all there. The Pixel 4a comes in Just Black with a 5.8-inch OLED display. It has a matte finish that feels secure and comfortable in your hand and includes Pixel's signature color pop power button in mint. Check out the custom wallpapers that have some fun with the punch-hole camera. In addition to features like Recorder, which now connects with Google Docs to seamlessly save and share transcriptions and recordings (English only), Pixel 4a will include helpful experiences like the Personal Safety app for real-time emergency notifications and car crash detection. Pixel 4a also has Live Caption, which provides real-time captioning (English only) for your video and audio content. New with the Pixel 4a launch -- and also rolling out for Pixel 2, 3, 3a and 4 phones -- Live Caption will now automatically caption your voice and video calls. The Pixel 4a has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G Mobile Platform, Titan M security module for on-device security, 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage with an even bigger battery that lasts all day1. [...] This fall, we'll have two more devices to talk about: the Pixel 4a (5G), starting at $499, and Pixel 5, both with 5G2 to make streaming videos, downloading content and playing games on Stadia or other platforms faster and smoother than ever. Pixel 4a (5G) and Pixel 5 will be available in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Japan, Taiwan and Australia. In the coming months, we'll share more about these devices and our approach to 5G.

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NetWalker Ransomware Gang Has Made $25 Million Since March 2020

Mon, 08/03/2020 - 09:50
The operators of the NetWalker ransomware are believed to have earned more than $25 million from ransom payments since March this year, security firm McAfee said today. From a report: Although precise and up-to-date statistics are not available, the $25 million figure puts NetWalker close to the top of the most successful ransomware gangs known today, with other known names such as Ryuk, Dharma, and REvil (Sodinokibi). McAfee, who recently published a comprehensive report about NetWalker's operations, was able to track payments that victim made to known Bitcoin addresses associated with the ransomware gang. However, security experts believe the gang could have made even more from their illicit operations, as their view wasn't complete.

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Microsoft Confirms It's in Talks To Buy TikTok from ByteDance, Says Trump is On Board

Mon, 08/03/2020 - 09:06
Microsoft has confirmed that it is in talks to purchase TikTok from its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, and may make moves before summer is out. From a report: The decision, according to Microsoft, follows a conversation between its CEO and President Trump, who just days ago threatened to use an executive order to ban the app from the United States. In a blog post published Sunday night, Microsoft also said it may "invite other American investors to participate" in the deal, though "on a minority basis." These discussions will be wrapped up by Sept. 15. TikTok has increasingly come under scrutiny over largely baseless claims that it hands American users' data over to the Chinese government. Detractors say even the potential for that makes the app, best known for viral challenges and teen dance trends, a national security threat. Trump has been among the loudest, though it's been speculated that his most recent outburst was nothing more than a negotiation ploy. Further reading: Chinese internet users brand ByteDance CEO a 'traitor' as TikTok seeks US buyer.

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SpaceX Asks FCC To Allow 5 Times More Internet Terminals for Starlink's Satellites

Mon, 08/03/2020 - 06:34
CNBC reports: SpaceX said Starlink, its nascent satellite internet service, has already seen "extraordinary demand" from potential customers, with "nearly 700,000 individuals" across the United States indicating they are interested in the company's coming service. Due to the greater-than-expected interest, SpaceX filed a request with the Federal Communications Commission on Friday — asking to increase the number of authorized user terminals to 5 million from 1 million. User terminals are the devices consumers would use to connect to the company's satellite internet network... SpaceX is beginning a private beta test of Starlink's service this summer, which it says will be "followed by public beta testing." Elon Musk's company told the FCC that Starlink will begin offering commercial service in the northern United States and southern Canada" before the end of this year, "and then will rapidly expand to near-global coverage of the populated world in 2021...."

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Chrome and Edge Rise In Popularity. Firefox, Opera, and Safari Drop.

Mon, 08/03/2020 - 02:34
July's statistics from web analytics firm Net Applications showed continuing changes in the most frequently-used web browsers. Softpedia reports: Last month, Google Chrome increased its market share from 70.19% to 71.00%, while Microsoft Edge jumped from 8.07% to 8.46%... The migration to the Chromium engine allowed Microsoft to turn Edge into a cross-platform browser, and this is one of the reasons that contributed to the growth of the new app. Edge is now available not only on Windows 10, but also on Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and even macOS. At the same time, Microsoft is also working on a Linux version of the browser, and a preview build is expected by the end of the year. But what made Microsoft Edge the second most-used desktop browser out there so fast after the switch to Chromium is definitely Microsoft offering it as the default browser in Windows 10. But what about Firefox? And Opera, and Apple's Safari? Computerworld reports: A decade ago, Mozilla's browser may have dreamed of upsetting the then-order of things, taking its April 2010 share of 25.1% and parlaying it into victory over IE — down to 61.2% by then... But that was Firefox's peak. At the end of July, Firefox stood at 7.3%, down three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month... Firefox let its second-place spot (far, far behind Chrome) slip away in March, when Edge snatched it. That did not change in July. The gap between the two more than doubled, in fact, to 1.2 points. On almost every browser share metric, Firefox is in trouble... Since the end of January, Firefox has been stuck in the 7s; for the eight months before that, it was mired in the 8s; and between May 2018 and March 2019, Firefox floundered in the 9s. The trend is crystal clear... Elsewhere in Net Applications' numbers, Apple's Safari plunged to 3%, a loss of six-tenths of a point, its lowest mark since late 2008. Opera software's Opera also took a dive, ending July at 0.8%, a decline of three-tenths of a point. Those numbers have to be frightening to both those browsers' makers.

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After 5 Years, Australia Finally Cracked a Drug Kingpin's BlackBerry

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 23:34
"An encrypted BlackBerry device that was cracked five years after it was first seized by police is poised to be the key piece of evidence in one of the state's longest-running drug importation investigations," reports the Sydney Morning Herald: In April, new technology "capabilities" allowed authorities to probe the encrypted device, which was used by one of the alleged kingpins and revealed 3000 messages over a one-month period, a Sydney court has heard. The development has paved the way for the arrest of another five members of an alleged criminal syndicate. For at least two of the men — Frank Farrugia and Deniz Kanmez — the cracked BlackBerry was allegedly the "silver bullet" in netting their arrest, according to a source close to the investigation. Strike Force Millstream detectives arrested the five men in a series of raids from Sydney to Dubai last month. The arrests culminated a seven-year investigation into money laundering, criminal groups and at least four commercial importations between 2013-14, valued at $1.5 billion. Nearly two dozen men have been implicated... It is the second device to be unlocked as part of the investigation, after Canadian authorities successfully cracked another BlackBerry in 2017, which was central in an earlier trial of four men linked to the syndicate.

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A 17-Year-Old's Journey: Minecraft, SIM-Swapping Bitcoin Heists, Breaching Twitter

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 20:44
The New York Times tells the story of the 17-year-old "mastermind" arrested Friday for the takeover of dozens of high-profile Twitter accounts. They report that Graham Ivan Clark "had a difficult family life" and "poured his energy into video games and cryptocurrency" after his parents divorced when he was 7, and he grew up in Tampa, Florida with his mother, "a Russian immigrant who holds certifications to work as a facialist and as a real estate broker." By the age of 10, he was playing the video game Minecraft, in part to escape what he told friends was an unhappy home life. In Minecraft, he became known as an adept scammer with an explosive temper who cheated people out of their money, several friends said.... In late 2016 and early 2017, other Minecraft players produced videos on YouTube describing how they had lost money or faced online attacks after brushes with Mr. Clark's alias "Open...." Mr. Clark's interests soon expanded to the video game Fortnite and the lucrative world of cryptocurrencies. He joined an online forum for hackers, known as OGUsers, and used the screen name Graham$... Mr. Clark described himself on OGUsers as a "full time crypto trader dropout" and said he was "focused on just making money all around for everyone." Graham$ was later banned from the community, according to posts uncovered by the online forensics firm Echosec, after the moderators said he failed to pay Bitcoin to another user who had already sent him money to complete a transaction. Still, Mr. Clark had already harnessed OGUsers to find his way into a hacker community known for taking over people's phone numbers to access all of the online accounts attached to the numbers, an attack known as SIM swapping. The main goal was to drain victims' cryptocurrency accounts. In 2019, hackers remotely seized control of the phone of Gregg Bennett, a tech investor in the Seattle area. Within a few minutes, they had secured Mr. Bennett's online accounts, including his Amazon and email accounts, as well as 164 Bitcoins that were worth $856,000 at the time and would be worth $1.8 million today... In April, the Secret Service seized 100 Bitcoins from Mr. Clark, according to government forfeiture documents... Mr. Bennett said in an interview that a Secret Service agent told him that the person with the stolen Bitcoins was not arrested because he was a minor... By then, Mr. Clark was living in his own apartment in a Tampa condo complex... [L]ess than two weeks after the Secret Service seizure, prosecutors said Mr. Clark began working to get inside Twitter. According to a government affidavit, Mr. Clark convinced a "Twitter employee that he was a co-worker in the IT department and had the employee provide credentials to access the customer service portal." The plan was to sell access to the breached Twitter accounts, but Clark apparently began cheating his customers again, the Times reports — "reminiscent of what Mr. Clark had done earlier on Minecraft..." "Mr. Clark, who prosecutors said worked with at least two others to hack Twitter but was the leader, is being charged as an adult with 30 felonies."

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Will Elon Musk License Tesla's Technology To Other Automakers?

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 18:39
Audi's CEO "willingly admits that Tesla is two years ahead of the industry in some critical areas of building electric vehicles," reports Electrek. But where will that lead? "Earlier this week, Musk made a subtle comment on Twitter that could majorly upend the auto industry," reports Inc. magazine: In response to an article in Teslarati highlighting German automakers' attempts to bridge the gap between Tesla's technology and their own, Musk tweeted the following: "Tesla is open to licensing software and supplying powertrains & batteries," tweeted Musk. "We're just trying to accelerate sustainable energy, not crush competitors!" Consider for just a moment the brilliant potential of Musk's statement. In addition to leading its rivals in electric vehicle production (and the larger style batteries needed to support these), Tesla is also at the forefront of utilizing modern technology in its vehicles. In fact, many have described Tesla as "a tech company that happens to make cars." In contrast, though, Musk has repeatedly spoken on the challenges of actually manufacturing cars at consistent quality, as well as delivering them. At one point, he described Tesla's journey as going from "production hell to delivery logistics hell...." [L]egacy automakers excel where Tesla is weak: namely, manufacturing and delivery. Since they've been making cars so long, they've developed huge factories, along with consistent and refined processes. But what if Tesla could reach a deal with automakers to license its strength — software and battery technology? Then everyone benefits... If you're surprised by Musk's tweet, you shouldn't be. In fact, for years Musk has insisted that his primary goal is not to compete with larger automakers but rather to win them over.... If the legacy automakers are smart, they'll jump at the opportunity to negotiate a licensing deal. The article cites a 2014 blog post in which Musk promised Tesla wouldn't initiate patent lawsuits against companies who wanted to use its technology, "in the spirit of the open-source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology..." "Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world's factories every day."

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Microsoft Fixes Edge Bug That Made It Crash When Searching With Google

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 17:48
"Microsoft's new Edge browser started randomly crashing when users typed into the address bar," reported the Verge on Thursday. "The issues appear to have affected Edge users who had selected Google as the default search engine." Microsoft investigated the problem and now says it's believed to have been resolved. The Microsoft Edge crashes started at around 7PM ET, and were affecting macOS and Windows users. Microsoft resolved the problems after around four hours of crashes, but it's not clear why they were only limited to Google search users in Edge. If users switched to Microsoft's Bing search engine within Edge, the crashes never occured.

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Do Animals Really Anticipate Earthquakes? Sensors Hint They Do

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 16:48
An anonymous reader quotes Scientific American: For centuries, people have described unusual animal behavior just ahead of seismic events: dogs barking incessantly, cows halting their milk, toads leaping from ponds... Now researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior and the University of Konstanz, both in Germany, along with a multinational team of colleagues, say they have managed to precisely measure increased activity in a group of farm animals prior to seismic activity... The researchers used highly sensitive instruments that record accelerated movements — up to 48 each second — in any direction. During separate periods totaling about four months in 2016 and 2017, they attached these biologgers and GPS sensors to six cows, five sheep and two dogs living on a farm in an earthquake-prone area of northern Italy. A total of more than 18,000 tremors occurred during the study periods, with more seismic activity during the first one — when a magnitude 6.6 quake and its aftershocks struck the region. The team's work was published in July in Ethology... Analyzing the increased movements as a whole, the researchers claim, showed a clear signal of anticipatory behavior hours ahead of tremors. "It's sort of a system of mutual influence," Wikelski says. "Initially, the cows kind of freeze in place — until the dogs go crazy. And then the cows actually go even crazier. And then that amplifies the sheep's behavior, and so on...." This "swarm intelligence" can happen within or across species, Wikelski says. For example, "we did a study on Galápagos marine iguanas, and we know that they are actually listening in to mockingbirds' warnings about the Galápagos hawks," he adds. "These kinds of systems exist all over the place. We're just not really tuned in to them yet." The researchers say the farm animals appeared to anticipate tremors anywhere from one to 20 hours ahead, reacting earlier when they were closer to the origin and later when they were farther away. This finding, the authors contend, is consistent with a hypothesis that animals somehow sense a signal that diffuses outward.

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