China successfully launches world’s first quantum communication satellite ‘very exciting’ !


Combined photo shows China launching the world’s first quantum satellite on top of a Long March-2D rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, northwest China’s Gansu Province, Aug. 16, 2016. The world’s first quantum communication satellite, which China has launched, has been given the moniker “Micius,” after a fifth century B.C. Chinese scientist, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) announced Monday. (Xinhua/Jin Liwang)

WASHINGTON, Aug. 15 — China’s successful launch of the world’s first quantum satellite was “very exciting” and can help conduct experiments that may lead to “much more secure” quantum communications, a U.S. quantum expert said.

“The event is indeed very exciting and does carry global importance because this would be the first such experiment,” said Alexander Sergienko, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the Boston University.

The satellite, Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS), lifted off from China’s Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at 1:40 a.m. Tuesday, local time.

Sergienko said the quantum communication race has been going on for the last 20 years since the initial demonstration of quantum key distribution link under Lake Geneva in 1995.

After that, metropolitan secure communication networks have been developed and demonstrated in Boston, Vienna, Beijing, and Tokyo, and many more examples of quantum metropolitan networks have been demonstrated in the last five years covering Canada, Italy, U.K. and Australia, he said.

“The race is now moving in the near space in order to cover longer distances between different metropolitan areas,” he said.

“I know there were plans to develop multiple point-by-point multi-city quantum communication segments to cover the distance between Shanghai and Beijing. A successful implementation of the satellite project would allow covering it in one step.”

Sergienko also predicted that quantum communication and cryptography will be first used to ensure the most important communication lines such as used by the government and by major business in their communication.

China said the 600-plus-kilogram QUESS, nicknamed “Micius,” is expected to circle the Earth once every 90 minutes after it enters a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 500 kilometers.

In its two-year mission, QUESS is designed to establish “hack-proof” quantum communications by transmitting uncrackable keys from space to the ground, and provide insights into the strangest phenomenon in quantum physics — quantum entanglement.

China launches first-ever quantum communication satellite

China launches the world’s first quantum satellite on top of a Long March-2D rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, northwest China’s Gansu Province, Aug. 16, 2016. The world’s first quantum communication satellite, which China is preparing to launch, has been given the moniker “Micius,” after a fifth century B.C. Chinese scientist, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) announced Monday. (Xinhua/Jin Liwang)

China successfully launched the world’s first quantum satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern Gobi Desert at 1:40 am on Tuesday.

In a cloud of thick smoke, the satellite, Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS), roared into the dark sky on top of a Long March-2D rocket.

The 600-plus-kilogram satellite will circle the Earth once every 90 minutes after it enters a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 500 kilometers.

It is nicknamed “Micius,” after a fifth century B.C. Chinese philosopher and scientist who has been credited as the first one in human history conducting optical experiments.

In its two-year mission, QUESS is designed to establish “hack-proof” quantum communications by transmitting uncrackable keys from space to the ground, and provide insights into the strangest phenomenon in quantum physics — quantum entanglement.

Quantum communication boasts ultra-high security as a quantum photon can neither be separated nor duplicated. It is hence impossible to wiretap, intercept or crack the information transmitted through it.

With the help of the new satellite, scientists will be able to test quantum key distribution between the satellite and ground stations, and conduct secure quantum communications between Beijing and Xinjiang’s Urumqi.

QUESS, as planned, will also beam entangled photons to two earth stations, 1,200 kilometers apart, in a move to test quantum entanglement over a greater distance, as well as test quantum teleportation between a ground station in Ali, Tibet, and itself.

“The newly-launched satellite marks a transition in China’s role — from a follower in classic information technology (IT) development to one of the leaders guiding future IT achievements,” said Pan Jianwei, chief scientist of QUESS project with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

The scientists now are expecting quantum communications to fundamentally change human development in the next two or three decades, as there are enormous prospects for applying the new generation of communication in fields like defense, military and finance. SPOOKY & ENTANGLED

Quantum physics is the study of the basic building blocks of the world at a scale smaller than atoms. These tiny particles behave in a way that could overturn assumptions of how the world works.

One of the strange properties of quantum physics is that a tiny particle acts as if it’s simultaneously in two locations — a phenomenon known as “superposition.” The noted interpretation is the thought experiment of Schrodinger’s cat — a scenario that presents a cat that may be simultaneously both alive and dead.

If that doesn’t sound strange enough, quantum physics has another phenomenon which is so confounded that Albert Einstein described as “spooky action at a distance” in 1948.

Scientists found that when two entangled particles are separated, one particle can somehow affect the action of the far-off twin at a speed faster than light.

Scientists liken it to two pieces of paper that are distant from each other: if you write on one, the other immediately shows your writing.

In the quantum entanglement theory, this bizarre connection can happen even when the two particles are separated by the galaxy.

By harnessing quantum entanglement, the quantum key technology is used in quantum communications, ruling out the possibility of wiretapping and perfectly securing the communication.

A quantum key is formed by a string of random numbers generated between two communicating users to encode information. Once intercepted or measured, the quantum state of the key will change, and the information being intercepted will self-destruct.

According to Pan, scientists also plan to test quantum key distribution between QUESS and ground stations in Austria. Italy, Germany and Canada, as they have expressed willingness to cooperate with China in future development of quantum satellite constellations, said Pan. LIFE CHANGING

With the development of quantum technology, quantum mechanics will change our lives in many ways. In addition to quantum communications, there are quantum computers that have also drawn attentions from scientists and governments worldwide.

Quantum computing could dwarf the processing power of today’s supercomputers.

In normal silicon computer chips, data is rendered in one of two states: 0 or 1. However, in quantum computers, data could exist in both states simultaneously, holding exponentially more information.

One analogy to explain the concept of quantum computing is that it is like being able to read all the books in a library at the same time, whereas conventional computing is like having to read them one after another.

Scientists say that a quantum computer will take just 0.01 second to deal with a problem that costs Tianhe-2, one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world, 100 years to solve.

Many, however, is viewing this superpower as a threat: if large-scale quantum computers are ever built, they will be able to crack all existing information encryption systems, creating an enormous security headache one day.

Therefore, quantum communications will be needed to act like a “shield,” protecting information from the “spear” of quantum computers, offering the new generation of cryptography that can be neither wiretapped nor decoded. GOING GLOBAL?

With the launch of QUESS, Chinese scientists now are having their eyes on a ground-to-satellite quantum communication system, which will enable global scale quantum communications.

In past experiments, quantum communications could only be achieved in a short range, as quantum information, in principle, could travel no more than 500 kilometers through optical fibers on the land due to the loss of photons in transmission, Pan explained.

Since photons carrying information barely get scattered or absorbed when travelling through space and Earth’s atmosphere, said Pan, transmitting photons between the satellite and ground stations will greatly broaden quantum communications’reach.

However, in quantum communications, an accurate transmission of photons between the “server” and the “receiver” is never easy to make, as the optic axis of the satellite must point precisely toward those of the telescopes in ground stations, said Zhu Zhencai, QUESS chief designer.

It requires an alignment system of the quantum satellite that is 10 times as accurate as that of an ordinary one and the detector on the ground can only catch one in every one million entangled photons fired, the scientist added.

What makes it much harder is that, at a speed of eight kilometers per second, the satellite flying over the earth could be continuously tracked by the ground station for merely a few minutes, scientists say.

“It will be like tossing a coin from a plane at 100,000 meters above the sea level exactly into the slot of a rotating piggy bank,” said Wang Jianyu, QUESS project’s chief commander.

Given the high sensitivity of QUESS, people could observe a match being lit on the moon from the Earth, Wang added.

After years of experimenting, Chinese scientists developed the world’ s first-ever quantum satellite without any available reference to previous projects. Now they are waiting to see QUESS’s performance in operation.

According to Pan, his team has planned to initiate new projects involving research on quantum control and light transmission in space station, as well as tests on quantum communications between satellites, all-time quantum communications and the application of quantum key network.

“If China is going to send more quantum communication satellites into orbit, we can expect a global network of quantum communications to be set up around 2030,” said Pan. – Xinhuanet

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Quantum satellite: China successfully launches its first

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China’s Long March-7 Rocket shipped to South China’s Launch Center, Hainan


https://player.cntv.cn/standard/cntvOutSidePlayer.swf

 

TIANJIN,May 8, 2016 (Xinhua) — A container carrying China’s new-generation Long March-7 rocket is seen at the port in north China’s Tianjin, May 7, 2016. The Long March-7 rocket departed for its launch base in Hainan on Sunday from Tianjin. It has taken researchers eight years to develop
the medium-sized rocket, which can carry up to 13.5 tonnes to low Earth orbit, said Li Hong, director of the Carrier Rocket Technology Research Institute with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.
(Xinhua/Chen Xi)

China’s new-generation Long March-7 rocket departed for its launch base in Hainan on Sunday from north China’s port of Tianjin.

It has taken researchers eight years to develop the medium-sized rocket, which can carry up to 13.5 tonnes to low Earth orbit, said Li Hong, director of the Carrier Rocket Technology Research Institute with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

“The Long March-7 launch scheduled for late June will be of great significance as it will usher in China’s space lab mission,” said Yang Baohua, deputy manager of the company.

China also plans to launch the heavy lift Long March-5 to transport cargo for the planned space station.

China’s second orbiting space lab, Tiangong-2, will also be launched this fall, and it is scheduled to dock with manned spacecraft Shenzhou-11 in the fourth quarter.

Yang said that the Long March-7 carrier is more environmentally friendly than earlier Long March models. The rocket will
become the main carrier for space launches.

A container carrying China’s new-generation Long March-7 rocket is seen at the port in north China’s Tianjin, May 7, 2016. The Long March-7 rocket departed for its launch base in Hainan on Sunday from Tianjin. It has taken researchers eight years to develop the medium-sized rocket, which can carry up to 13.5 tonnes to low Earth orbit, said Li Hong, director of the Carrier Rocket Technology Research Institute with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. (Xinhua/Chen Xi)

 

A
container carrying China’s new-generation Long March-7 rocket is seen at the port in north China’s Tianjin, May 7, 2016. The Long March-7
rocket departed for its launch base in Hainan on Sunday from Tianjin. It has taken researchers eight years to develop the medium-sized rocket, which can carry up to 13.5 tonnes to low Earth orbit, said Li Hong, director of the Carrier Rocket Technology Research Institute with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. (Xinhua/Chen Xi)

 

 

A container carrying China’s new-generation Long March-7 rocket is lifted at the port in north China’s Tianjin, May 7, 2016. The Long March-7 rocket departed for its launch base in Hainan on Sunday from Tianjin. It has taken researchers eight years to develop the medium-sized rocket, which can carry up to 13.5 tonnes to low Earth orbit, said Li Hong, director of the Carrier Rocket Technology Research Institute with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. (Xinhua/Chen Xi)

 

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Nobel Prize for Chinese traditional medicine expert who developed malaria cure


Developed for Communist troops fighting in the Vietnam War, Tu Youyou’s treatment was major breakthrough in global fight against malaria

Tu Youyou, right, working with Prof Lou Zhicen in the 1950s (Xinhua via AP)

Video: Nobel Prize for Chinese traditional medicine expert who developed malaria cure

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/journalists/colin-freeman/11912754/Nobel-Prize-for-Chinese-traditional-medicine-expert-who-developed-malaria-cure.html

A Chinese scientist who pioneered a malaria treatment for Communist troops fighting America in the Vietnam War has won the Nobel Prize for Medicine.

Tu Youyou spearheaded a secret programme set up by Chairman Mao to see if traditional Chinese herbal cures could reduce the number of North Vietnamese troops dying to malaria.

After sifting through thousands of different folk remedies, she finally unearthed a 1,600-year-old recipe using sweet wormwood that formed the basis for one of the most effective treatments ever discovered.

Under Mao’s Cultural Revolution, which saw academics as part of the despised bourgeoisie, her name was kept anonymous for decades, and until recently, even colleagues had never heard of her.

Now, though, at the age of 84, she has finally taken her rightful place in world medical history, with the Nobel judges announcing on Monday that she would be a joint winner of this year’s $960,000 award.

Pharmacologist Tu Youyou attends an award ceremony in Beijing in 2011 (Reuters)

The other two winners are Irish-born William Campbell and Japan’s Satoshi Omura, who developed avermectin, derivatives of which are used to treat river blindness and elephantiasis.

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“The two discoveries have provided humankind with powerful new means to combat these debilitating diseases that affect hundreds of millions of people annually,” the Nobel committee said. “The consequences in terms of improved human health and reduced suffering are immeasurable.”
Ms Tu’s work created the drug artemisinin, which now forms part of the mainstay of malaria treatment in Africa. Used in tandem with insecticide-impregnated bednets, it is credited with helping to halve malaria mortality rates worldwide in the last 15 years.

Yet for decades, its exact origins remained unknown – as did the remarkable story of its creator, which could easily form the script for a Hollywood movie.

It begins in 1969, when Ms Tu – then a mid-career scientist – was recruited to Chairman Mao’s top-secret Project 523. Its task was to investigate cures for malaria, which in the 1960s was developing resistance to existing drugs such as chloroquine.

An illustration describing Ms Tu’s work displayed during the press conference announcing the winners of the Nobel Medicine Prize (AFP)

It was also taking a heavy toll on the armies of China’s communist ally, North Vietnam, who were losing more soldiers to malaria in their jungle warfare against US troops than they were to American bombs or bullets.

At the time, the quest for an effective alternative to chloroquine had baffled the world’s scientific community, which had tested some 240,000 different compounds without success.

It was then that Ms Tu, who had studied both Chinese and Western medicines, began reviewing some 2,000 ancient herbal recipes from the Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Beijing.

One of them, written in a 1,600 year old text called “Emergency Prescriptions Kept Up One’s Sleeve”, recommended soaking sweet wormwood in water and then drinking the resulting juice.

Tried out first on mice and monkeys, it proved highly effective, although it then had to be tested to see if was harmful of humans. As head of the research group, Ms Tu volunteered to be the first test subject herself. Subsequent trials on labourers who had caught malaria while working in dense forests proved that it could banish malarial parasites from the bloodstream within just over a day.

While such a discovery might have won Ms Tu considerable fame in the West, in Maoist-era China, she gained no kudos at all. At the time, scientist and intellectuals were viewed with suspicion at best, with Ms Tu’s husband having been banished to the countryside, and the idea of an individual scientist claiming credit for a breakthrough sat uneasily with Maoist notions of collective endeavour. Tu was not even allowed to publish her findings until 1977, a year after Mao’s death, and even then, her contribution remained anonymous.

News of her work only emerged in the West when Louis Miller, an American research scientist, met Chinese scientists in 2005 and chanced to ask who had discovered artemisinin. Intrigued at the blank stares that his question produced, he began investigatingin detail.

An illustration describing the research on roundworm infections by Nobel Medicine Prize winners (AFP)

Various official paperwork – much of it once secret – revealed it to be Ms Tu, who by then was living in a shabby apartment block in Beijing. At the time, she was known by colleagues as “The Professor of the Three Nos”, since she had no post-graduate degree, was not a member of any national academy, and had no foreign research experience.

While Ms Tu received America’s top medical accolade, the Lasker award, in 2011, this is the first time that any expert in Chinese traditional medicine has been awarded a Nobel.

“This is indeed a glorious moment,” said Li Chenjian, a vice provost at Peking University. “This also is an acknowledgement to the traditional Chinese medicine, for the work began with herbal medicine.”

Artemisinin-based drugs are now routinely used by pharmaceuticals giants like Sanofi and Novartis in the fight against malaria, which still kills half a million people a year.

It is not yet clear whether the ageing Ms Tu will attend the Nobel annual award ceremony, which takes place on December 10. Each winner will also get a diploma and a gold medal.

AT A GLANCE

Nobel Prizes 2015

Pic: AP/Fernando Vergara

Nobel Prize for Medicine

Awarded jointly for discoveries that assisted the treatment of infections caused by roundworm parasites, and Malaria
  • William C Campbell & Satoshi Omura
  • Youyou Tu

Nobel Prize in Physics

Awarded jointly “for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which shows that neutrinos have mass”
  • Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. McDonald

Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Awarded jointly to three people for “mechanistic studies of DNA repair”
  • Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar

Nobel Peace Prize

  • To be announced 9 October

Prize for Economics Science

  • To be announced 12 October

Nobel Prize in Literature

  • Awarded to the Belarusian author Svetlana Alexievich
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Harness STEM for engineering


https://rightways.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/8748e-iem1.jpgDATUK IR. LIM CHOW HOCK, President The Institution of Engineers, Malaysia

AS Malaysia gears up to developed nation status by 2020, there is still much to do to get there.

One of the most direct ways to arrive at the vision is to ensure a sufficient and growing number of engineers.

Increase in the number of engineering students is paramount to meet the nation’s need for engineers who would implement and maintain the many economic development projects.

During his visit to the International Bureau of Education (IBE) in Geneva in April, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin spoke of the need for Malaysia to harness skills and knowledge in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Muhyiddin also pointed out that the countries which started on the same level as Malaysia had moved much further ahead, crediting it to their wisdom in making full use of STEM to boost their country’s fortunes.

As such, he emphasised the need for human capital development in STEM, which he considers vital in the national transformation process.

To achieve this, a strategy comprising a series of actionable plans must be able to support the production rates needed for generating skilled STEM human capital at two levels, namely secondary schools and tertiary institutions, to reach the target of 500,000 STEM graduates by 2020, according to Muhyiddin.

Although the solution is apparent, its execution remains challenging.

One of the factors hindering this step to greater national development is getting students to love science, or science classes. Science and mathematics as school subjects must be made interesting, easy to understand, as well as more hands-on and exploratory. This is in line with the Government’s aim for 60% science and technology-based education by 2020.

For the engineering profession, interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in school will result in more qualified students who are eligible to pursue engineering courses in universities.

Through the increase in engineering students, the nation’s need for engineers would be met. This would translate into greater implementation and maintenance of the country’s economic development projects.

The Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) lauds the Government’s effort to promote interest among students to study science in schools.

Without the large number of science students, there will surely be a corresponding limitation in the ability of universities to produce the number of engineers needed.

As a national association with the nation’s interests at heart, IEM has been actively involved in conducting school career awareness talks, arranging competitions and exhibiting interesting projects on engineering to school children to promote interest in engineering. IEM has also set up IEM Student to encourage students to choose sections in various universities in Malaysia.

Engineering students are also encouraged to join IEM as Student Members which will enable them to access IEM resources and activities such as talks and networking. IEM is one of the supporting members (together with AAET, MiGHT, Utar and NSC) for the Kuala Lumpur Engineering Science Fair, an annual programme to promote interest in STEM among primary and secondary school pupils.

We believe that career prospects will be a major factor in the students’ decision in their studies and career options.

Prospects for engineers include top level positions, attractive remuneration as well as status recognition, which will be a great motivation for students to take up STEM Education and thus pursue a career in engineering.

Students must be made aware that job prospects for engineering graduates remain bright as Government allocation for infrastructure development has supported the demand for engineers.

National development towards an industrial nation has also spurred the demand for engineers.

Students, and parents too, must realise that a career in engineering is not only limited to the five traditional branches of engineering, namely Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Electronic and Chemical Engineering. Through the years, engineering has expanded into many new disciplines such as Aeronautical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Maritime Engineering, Mining Engineering, Oil and Gas Engineering, among many others, which would be exciting career options for students.

The Government being the largest employer should provide equal opportunity and create a structured pathway for all science-based professionals, in particular engineers, to take up high positions in the civil service.

Recognition of the contribution of engineering success and seeing it as a pathway to top positions in the civil service will be a great motivator for students to pursue STEM education in Malaysia.
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2015 Hack of a year ahead!


Hack 20152014 has seen a tsunami of epic hacks and identity thefts, including the recent massive cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment. Security experts are predicting more or worse cases of such hackings, including in Malaysia where the awareness of cyber threats and security measures is still very low

Hack_getimageBrace for more cyber attacks

PETALING JAYA: If you think that a cyber attack like what happened to Sony Pictures Entertainment could only happen in Hollywood, think again.

It is a sign of what’s to come globally in 2015, say cyber security experts.

In the attack on Sony on Nov 24, the attackers hacked the company’s network and took terabytes of private data, deleted original copies from the company’s computers and left messages threatening to release the information if Sony did not comply with their demands.

Nigel Tan, director of systems engineering for software security firm Symantec Malaysia said the prominent data leaks of 2014 would keep cyber security in the spotlight in 2015.

“With the interconnected nature of a global Internet and cloud infrastructures, cross-border flow of data is unavoidable and needs to be appropriately addressed.

“Malaysia was affected in the data breaches this year and will continue to be affected next year,” he said.

Tan recalled a hack last month by a site called Insecam, which downloaded and displayed images from unsecured webcams of CCTV and simple IP cameras around the world, including from Babycams.

Symantec expects more mega data breaches next year, especially with the rising use of mobile devices for e-payment and the cloud computing technology for storage of personal and confidential information.

“Mobile devices will become even more attractive targets for cyber attackers in 2015 as mobile carriers and retail stores transition to mobile payments.

“Mobile devices are also used to store troves of personal and confidential information. They are left switched on all the time, making them the perfect targets for attackers,” said Tan.

He said the growing use of smart home automation, like smart televisions, home routers and connected car apps had also increased the potential of cyber attacks as more devices were being connected to the network.

Cyber law expert Dr Sonny Zulhuda agreed that the idea of synchronisation and interlinking of smart home automation (or the Internet of things) would be too tempting for both users and “abusers”.

“Users need to balance the use of these devices and smart technology with the efforts to preserve security, privacy or confidentiality.

“Just imagine how many mobile users are concerned about installing a good malware scanner on their devices. In the mind of the criminals, on the other hand, this will make their work even easier.”

Dr Sonny, who is assistant professor at the law faculty of the International Islamic University Malaysia, said it would come to a point where people would get too tired with the intrusion and abuse of their privacy.

“In Malaysia, for example, more people are being aware about the need to protect personal data thanks, to the enforcement of the PDPA 2010 (Personal Data Protection Act).

“Perhaps it is timely now to consider the development and penetration of cyber insurance as a new product for our insurance industries,” he said.

Imam Hoque, managing director of business analytics software and services company SAS said another reason why more cyber criminals target mobile devices was the increasing number of corporations embracing the “bring your own device” (BYOD) to work policy.

“This coupled with a general trend for business to provide more methods of interaction with consumers using mobile devices opens up further opportunities for hackers.

“The emergence of more mainstream malicious software kits for these mobile devices will accelerate the number of attacks on the mobile channel,” he said.

Hoque said that the continued trend to store data within the cloud, coupled with the high-publicised data losses from corporations such as Sony would encourage more hackers to consider large data loss exploitation.

“This in turn will lead to higher levels of identity theft and the ability of hackers to compromise the relationships between individuals and the institutions with which they interact,” he said.

CyberSecurity Malaysia CEO Dr Amirudin Abdul Wahab said while malware would continue to rise steadily on mobile devices to attack individuals, cyber criminals would also exploit the mobile device for advanced persistent threats (APT) on specific targets, resulting in high impacts on security, prosperity and public safety like critical infrastructure and big corporations.

“We foresee sophisticated APT carried out using a combination of technical sophistication, excellent planning and coordination, and social engineering,” he said, adding that another major cyber threat next year was the increasing influence of social media.

“Social media can be exploited to propagate political and racial radicalism as well as religious extremism that could destabilise our national security and societal harmony which we have taken for granted all these years.”

BY Hariati Azizan The Star/Asia News Network

Common hack job used to attack Sony Pictures 

Hack_SonyThe entrance of Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California is seen December 16, 2014. “Guardians of Peace” hackers invoked the 9/11 attacks in their most chilling threat yet against Sony Pictures, warning the Hollywood studio not to release a film which has angered North Korea. – AFP

PETALING JAYA: The hack on Sony Pictures Entertainment might have been one of the most incredible cyber attacks ever, but it was carried out in one of the most common modus operandi of cyber crime.

As reported on Friday, US investigators had evidence that hackers stole “the keys to the entire building” of Sony Pictures by getting the password of a top-level information technology employee in the entertainment company.

Security experts in Malaysia have warned that we are also vulnerable to similar attacks with low level of awareness of cyber threats and security measures.

Cyber criminals exploit “users’ ignorance”, along with the rise of social media and mobile devices, to mount attacks against them,” said CyberSecurity Malaysia CEO Dr Amirudin Abdul Wahab.

He said more cyber criminals were using a combination of technical sophistication and social engineering – a non-technical method of intrusion that relies heavily on human interaction – to trick people into breaking normal security procedures and giving up their personal data.

Nigel Tan, director of systems engineering for Symantec Malaysia, cautioned that user behaviour will continue to be big target points for cyber crime next year.

“Sometimes the weakest link is the person behind the keyboard. If they visit dodgy websites, click on unknown links in fake emails and download apps or malicious software, cyber criminals will take advantage of this to siphon off information like passwords for online banking or e-mails.”

Tan said as most people still tend to use the same password for all their online transactions, services and websites, a stolen password can give the thief access to the victim’s whole life.

“And once they access your email, they can reset all your passwords and take over your identity,” he said.

Imam Hoque, managing director (Fraud and Security Solutions) with business analytics software firm SAS said the growing number of online services has created a goldmine for cyber criminals.

“If you think about how many different services you interact with over web and mobile channels, the numbers are forever growing.

“You need to consider what a hacker would need to know to compromise your accounts and then what damage they could do,” he said, stressing that hackers tend to go for the weakest link and then work their way from there.

Tan highlighted the case of a group of hackers in August who claimed to have stolen 1.2 billion usernames and passwords belonging to more than 500 million e-mail addresses in a hack described as the “largest data breach known to date”.

“They did it by targeting every site their victims visited, instead of focusing on one large company,” he said.

Cyber law expert Dr Sonny Zulhuda said cyber criminals tended to exploit people’s greed to attack them.

“While it is important to equip ourselves with some technical knowledge about the risks and threats to security, we also need to use our common sense when facing possible threats.

“One thing we need to understand with technology is the law of economy – why would people provide you mobile apps for free? Or any online service for that matter, for free?”

“How do they make profit if not from the access to users’ information that they acquire when you install such a free app? If one is keeping this in his mind, then he will be more mindful and careful in using the mobile devices.”

Dr Amirudin warned local computer experts not to be seduced by the seemingly easy but lucrative reward of cyber crime.

“Cyber crime is preferred by criminals due to its profitability, convenience and low risk, and their ‘success’ has boosted the global underground economy. It has even become a money-making profession for some computer experts.

“If this trend affects Malaysians, our own experts could be recruited to join the lucrative international underground economy, while our general public become their potential victims.”

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Stem education for life to reach new heights


It is necessary for the nation to embrace Stem education in order to reach new heights.

IT is imperative that schools and educational institutions do their part to emphasise the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Stem) to meet the country’s educational objectives for future growth and development and to meet the nation’s 2020 vision.

Stem EducationProf Ewe Hong TatUniversiti Tunku Abdul Rahman vice president (Internationalisation and Academic Development) Prof Dr Ewe Hong Tat

This is especially after Malaysia was ranked in the bottom third of 74 participating countries, in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) below the international and OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) average.

It is with this in mind that Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR ) is taking the initiative to promote and create awareness on the importance of Stem education among students and the community.

In the series of articles from UTAR, Part 1 and Part 2 ( STEM Education for life, part 2 introduces Stem and why such education is necessary for the nation’s development and what the University is doing to promote it.

Engineering gains

During the turn of the century, the National Academy of Engineering of USA (http://www.nae.edu/) did a detailed study and listed the top 20 engineering achievements of the 20th century (www.greatachievements.org) that changed the world.

Of these the prominent ones were computers, aviation, the Internet, air-conditioning and refrigeration, highways, health technologies, laser and fibre optics, water supply and distribution; among many others. Consumers used them daily without realising that these were the results of engineering research and innovation that propelled the world forward.

Therefore, for a nation to continue to develop and grow, it is important to promote and use Stem education as the foundation and propeller of growth.

After all, it is through Stem education that design, discovery and inventions that bring forth life-changing growth and development, have been introduced.

In the 21st century, new innovations have emerged such as renewable energy and resources, Internet of Things (IoT), advanced materials and biotechnology which need new talents to continue to drive growth.

Without a strong foundation in Stem education, these talents will not be groomed to excel.

In the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013 – 2025 (Chapter 3), Malaysia’s performance in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (Timss) Eighth Grade Mathematics and Science against other countries over three cycles (1999, 2003, 2007), showed that in 2007, there was a marked downturn in both Mathematics and Science scores. In 2003, Malaysia obtained 10th position out of 45 countries for Mathematics and 20th position out of 45 countries for Science.

In 2007, Malaysia obtained 20th position out of 48 countries for Mathematics and 21st position out of 48 countries for Science, thus indicating a declining performance in students’ scores for both subjects.

Malaysia participated in the Pisa assessment for the first time in the Pisa 2009 + exercise and was ranked in the bottom third for Reading, Mathematics and Science, well below the International and OECD average in all the three areas, lower than Thailand.

Therefore, there is a great need to raise the interest and standards in Stem among students, educationists and policy makers in our country to ensure that we remain competitive and relevant in the world market in future.

The National Science Foundation, a leading authority in scientific research and funding in the United States, defines Stem in a broader definition which includes subjects in the fields of engineering, chemistry, computer and information technology science, geosciences, life sciences, mathematical sciences, physics and astronomy, and social sciences (which includes anthropology, economics, psychology and sociology), Stem Education and learning research.

As indicated in the education blueprint, the case for increased emphasis on Stem education would need several initiatives and steps to be taken across schools in the country.

It is imperative that we need to develop strong fundamentals in Stem starting from primary schools and to create and sustain interests in this discipline.

For a start, it would be a good idea to allow a lot more experiments and hands-on projects in Stem subjects.

Experiential learning 

If we want to promote a society with higher order thinking skills, the exam-oriented paper and format-based school exams need to be complemented with more practical and experiential learning.

Learning science subjects through a textbook is nothing compared to the trial and discovery methods of science experiments.

Through the process of experimenting, trials and discovery, students think, analyse and deduce before coming to a solution; all these thinking processes help to develop higher order thinking.

Students need to learn actively to seek creative solutions and applications and to be inquisitive to foster inventions.

The recent announcement by the Education Ministry to reintroduce practical exams for the SPM science subjects of Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Additional Science in 2015, is a move in the right direction.

In addition, the media radio could play a bigger role in promoting Stem.

There could be more focus on Stem and related topics for schoolchildren and even the community, if more films and documentaries on Stem were shown, and how it is important for national growth.

Simple videos could be made on how our everyday resources of food, water, air and energy require qualified engineers, agriculturists, scientists and more to ensure quality, production, convenience and sustainability for the future.

The influence of the internet is pervasive and with Wi-Fi and broadband services increasingly available in many homes and public places, more information can be made available and accessed online.

To promote interest in Stem, perhaps students could be guided towards self-directed learning after school.

Several educational websites support such learning. Massive Open Online Courses (Mooc) are widely available through the web with unlimited participation and many websites provide course materials such as videos, readings and problem-solving papers, while others have more interactive user forums that allow discussions and networking to build a community for students, teachers, professors, and tutors to seek support.

Among the more reliable websites for online courses for students are three more prominent ones such as www.edx.org, www.khanacademy.org and www.coursera.org

EdXoffers free online classes and Mooc from the world’s best universities such as Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Australian National University and the University of California, Berkeley on subject contents including Computer Science, Mathematics, Sciences, Medicine and more than 200 courses that students could take online and be awarded a certificate.

The support from these reputable universities gives credibility to the courses and is ideal for students at home.

Khan Academy also provides free online materials and resources in mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics and even finance and history; mostly of secondary school level that are easily available to students, teachers and anyone interested in learning about simple educational topics which makes learning more fun.

Another website worth looking up is www.coursera.org which provides free online classes from more than 80 top universities (such as Stanford University, Yale University and Princeton University) and organisations around the world on topics covering a wide range of disciplines including science, engineering, medicine and social sciences.

A host of varied educational information is available on the web and most are on Stem subjects and topics that are taught in our schools.

Many of the topics in these websites also talk about scientific principles which are applied to everyday things like electrical appliances, transportation, automobiles, food cultivation and processing which are not only educational but also thought-provoking.

The colours and visuals used, the video and notes are all captivating; making learning so much more fun and engaging.

Even the teaching of simple Mathematics in schools is presented methodically and simply with good visuals and commentary.

The advantage of these online courses is that students canrepeat any part as often as they like until they get it right.

These online courses could perhaps be introduced as supplementary learning to students who can log on after school to learn more and cultivate their interests in Stem.

Perhaps parents and teachers alike can also guide students which will be more informative and educational than Facebook and Twitter.

Contributed by Prof Dr Ewe Hong Tat The Star/Asia News Network

The writer, an AAET Fellow, is the vice-president of the Internationalisation and Academic Development, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR). This article is the first of a two-part series on Stem Education.

Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR)
Dr. Ewe Hong Tat
QUALIFICATION  BEng(Hons)(Mal), S.M. (MIT), PhD(MMU)
POSITION  Vice President (Internationalisation and Academic Development)Professor, Faculty of Engineering and Science (FES)
RESEARCHINTERESTS  Microwave Remote Sensing, Applied Electromagnetics, Satellite Image Processing, Sensing Network and Intelligent Systems
 CONTACT ADDRESS  Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (PetalingJaya Campus),No. 9, Jalan Bersatu 13/4,
46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, MALAYSIA.
 PHONE  +(60)-3-7958-2628 ext 7152
FAX  +(60)-3-7956-1923
 E-MAIL  eweht@utar.edu.my
HT Ewe received his First Class Honours Bachelor of Engineering degree in Electrical Engineering from University of Malaya, Malaysia in 1992, and S.M. (Master of Science) degree in EECS (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, U.S.A. in 1994. He obtained his PhD degree from Faculty of Engineering, Multimedia University, Malaysia in 1999. From September 1994 to April 1997, he was with the Electrical Engineering Department, University of Malaya (Malaysia). In May 1997, he joined Multimedia University (Malaysia) in Melaka Campus and was transferred totheCyberjaya Campus in January 2000 and worked there until Aug 2008. In Sep 2008, hejoinedUniversiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) andiscurrently a Professor in the Faculty of Engineering and Science (FES).

Experience Publication 

 
 
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LiFi, instead of WiFi: Chinese scientists achieve Internet access through lightbulbs


Lightbulbs may one day be used for connecting to Internet

LiFi Successful experiments by Chinese scientists have indicated the possibility of the country’s netizens getting online through signals sent by lightbulbs (LiFi), instead of WiFi.

Four computers under a one-watt LED lightbulb may connect to the Internet under the principle that light can be used as a carrier instead of traditional radio frequencies, as in WiFi, said Chi Nan, an information technology professor with Shanghai’s Fudan University, on Thursday.

A lightbulb with embedded microchips can produce data rates as fast as 150 megabits per second, which is speedier than the average broadband connection in China, said Chi, who leads a LiFi research team including scientists from the Shanghai Institute of Technical Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

LiFi_environment

With LiFi cost-effective as well as efficient, netizens should be excited to view 10 sample LiFi kits that will be on display at the China International Industry Fair that will kick off on Nov. 5 in Shanghai.

The current wireless signal transmission equipment is expensive and low in efficiency, said Chi.

“As for cell phones, millions of base stations have been established around the world to strengthen the signal but most of the energy is consumed on their cooling systems,” she explained. “The energy utilization rate is only 5 percent.”

Compared with base stations, the number of lightbulbs that can be used is practically limitless. Meanwhile, Chinese people are replacing the old-fashioned incandescent bulbs with LED lightbulbs at a fast pace.

“Wherever there is an LED lightbulb, there is an Internet signal,” said Chi. “Turn off the light and there is no signal.”

However, there is still a long way to go to make LiFi a commercial success.

“If the light is blocked, then the signal will be cut off,” said Chi.

More importantly, according to the scientist, the development of a series of key related pieces of technology, including light communication controls as well as microchip design and manufacturing, is still in an experimental period.

The term LiFi was coined by Harald Haas from the University of Edinburgh in the UK and refers to a type of visible light communication technology that delivers a networked, mobile, high-speed communication solution in a similar manner as WiFi.

Contributed by Shanghai Xinhua  Editor: Fu Peng

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