Security

India uses controversial Aadhaar facial biometrics to identify COVID vaccination recipients

Safer than eyeballs or fingerprints, apparently


India’s National Health Authority has commenced a pilot of facial recognition software as a means of identifying people as they queue in the nation's COVID-19 vaccine centres.

The reason for using facial biometrics is simple: fingerprints or eyeball scans require touching equipment and getting close to machinery, both risky activities during the pandemic. A touchless and more sanitary facial recognition system therefore makes sense.

The system uses facial scans captured under India's Aadhaar national ID scheme.

National Health Authority CEO R.S. Sharma told Indian online newspaper, ThePrint:

We have started a pilot in Jharkhand which is reporting more than 1,000 successful authentications via facial recognition on a daily basis at the vaccination sites.

The program will expand across the country once the pilot has between 50,000 and 60,000 facial authentications completed, according to Sharma, who praised Aadhaar because citizens whose faces were scanned in 2011 can now use facial recognition.

Indian payment app MobiKwik denies theft of customer data, has no idea how the info ended up on the dark web: Maybe it was your fault?

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Aadhaar is the world's largest biometric ID system. Users opt in by providing biometric and demographic data in exchange for a 12-digit unique identity number. While presented as an optional system, critics say that India residents face more and more pressure to use the system, which collects a wealth of data, some of it accessible by non-government entities, without many privacy assurances.

For example, India made Aadhaar mandatory for e-gov services in 2017. A few months later, India's Supreme Court ruled that the nation's constitution gives its citizens a right to privacy, complicating matters for Aadhaar, which saw over 135 million financial records leaked at what appeared to be an inside job.

The breach was downplayed by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the government authority that collects the data. ®

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Rapping otters and automated database knob-twiddling: An obvious combination in some universe or other

OtterTune to compete with Oracle automation, but also for open source databases

A university spin-out startup has announced a private beta of an automated database tuning service which its founder claims can double the performance or halve the cost of the popular AWS Relational Database Service.

Among its marketing hype, though, is the, erm, novel approach of launching a hip-hop album of beats and screeching otters. More of that later.

Originating from a project at Carnegie Mellon Database Group, OtterTune is based on the idea you can use machine learning to identify the optimal setting for database parameter knobs, a task well beyond most developers and something even seasoned DBAs struggle with, given the number of databases on the market that they might be required to manage.

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NHS-backed org reacted to GitHub leak disclosure with legal threats and police call, complains IT pro

Retention of now-deleted security breach evidence sparks spat

+Comment IT pro Rob Dyke says an NHS-backed company not only threatened him with legal action after he flagged up an exposed GitHub repository containing credentials and insecure code, it even called the police on him.

Dyke, who has previously appeared in this organ, in March said he received letters from lawyers representing the Apperta Foundation after he told the business he had found a public repo containing the source code for an insecure online portal and its database containing usernames, hashed passwords, email addresses, and API keys.

We're told the repository contained two branches, and dated back to 2019. It clearly shouldn't be public as it could be used to view internal purchasing, receipting, budgets, and expenditure information through the portal. The material was left visible to the public for so long that the Internet Archive mirrored a copy of it, which indicated the files were committed to GitHub by a now-deleted account that appeared to belong to a senior Apperta person.

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For the marketeer that has everything – except a CPU fan

You know it's time for an upgrade when your PC gets spanked by a sign

Bork!Bork!Bork! The mean streets of Birmingham in England's West Midlands are our destination today, with an entry in the bork archive reminding us of the raw power of signage.

We at the bork desk often scratch our heads at why Microsoft Windows is used to power something as simple as a digital sign. While Windows itself is not at fault in this example of borkage spotted by a Register reader, the hardware within seems a little at odds with what is a jumped-up version of what used to be done with a bit of paper and paste.

Seen this week on Birmingham's Corporation Street (the bit with the tram tracks, just up from Poundland), we'd suggest this technological marvel cost a bit more than the average selling price of the product on sale from the shop next door. 16GB of memory, a 10th-generation Intel i7 chip and a 250GB NVMe PCIe SSD. Quite an impressive bit of kit is sat behind the screen on the street.

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Your private data has been nabbed: Please update your life as soon as possible while we deflect responsibility

Because our golf-obsessed boss has wandered off fondling his balls

Something for the Weekend, Sir? "I am writing with regard to a data security incident relating to you."

Here we go again. Yet another bunch of jokers has allowed a third party to saunter onto its network and rummage around where it keeps sensitive customer information. It's enough to drive you to drink. (Mine's a boilermaker, thanks.)

This has been a busy week for unwelcome messages.

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Chinese AI censoring some live-streamed Alpacas – beasts with a very NSFW and political back story

Be alert, not a-llam-ed

Douyin, the Chinese app known as TikTok in the rest of the world, is apparently censoring Alpacas.

Yes, Alpacas, the llama-related beasties that produce lovely wool and can be quite cute.

So cute that a few Chinese citizens manage to make a little cash live-streaming vision of coiffed and costumed alpacas on Douyin.

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Protip: If Joe Public reports that your kit is broken, maybe check that it is actually broken

Because now you have a bill to replace all these perfectly functional devices

On Call Welcome back to On Call where this week we peek behind the scenes and see what happens when public-facing kit is reported as borked.

Our reader, Regomised as "Sean", had a varied brief at a company based in Northern England. "My responsibilities," he told us, "included software development, CAD design, electronics, and 'whatever else needs doing'."

The "else" included being called out to smooth the ruffled feathers of uppity customers.

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South Korea creates $451bn semiconductor stimulus package

Samsung and SK Hynix singled out as nation tries to become a titan

South Korea's government announced a support package worth 510 trillion won (US$451bn) to bolster in-country chip production with the hopes of becoming a global supply chain leader.

Additionally, the Finance Ministry will raise tax deduction ratio for semiconductor R&D to forty percent, up from the current 30 points, and double deductions for facility investments to six percent.

Over 150 Korean semiconductor companies qualify for the program, even existing giants Samsung and SK Hynix.

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An actress, an internet billionaire, and Tom Cruise walk into a space station ... not necessarily at the same time

It's Space Race 2 for Russia and America

Internet clothing mogul Yusaku Maezawa on Thursday said he and an assistant will take a 12-day trip to the International Space Station in December.

And Russia's space agency said actress Yulia Peresild and film director Klim Shipenko will blast off to the orbiting platform in early October.

Incredibly, Tom Cruise and director Doug Liman are expected to head to the ISS that same month to film a Hollywood space movie with NASA. No date has been set for that journey. It appears Russia and America are in a space race to get the first movie stars into orbit. Or as the Russians put it, to make "the first feature film to be filmed in space."

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RIP Spencer Silver: Inventor of the Post-it Note, aka the office password reminder, dies

Pen and sticky paper still a great analog productivity hack

Obit Spencer Silver, the co-creator of Post-it Notes found in offices all over the world – occasionally with passwords written on them – has died at the age of 80.

Born in San Antonio, Texas, in 1941, Silver studied chemistry at Arizona State University, and then completed a PhD at the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1966.

He joined 3M not long after graduation and focused on experimenting with adhesives.

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Cloudflare launches campaign to ‘end the madness’ of CAPTCHAs

Testing dongle-driven ‘Cryptographic Attestation of Personhood’ and WebAuthn as alternative

Poll Cloudflare has called on the world to “end this madness” by consigning Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart (CAPTCHAS) to the dustbin of history.

The internet-grooming firm’s beef with CAPTCHAS - specifically those that require users to identify images - is that they take 32 seconds to complete, are frustrating, work poorly on mobile devices, assume cultural knowledge of the objects on display, and that completion often requires certain physical and cognitive capabilities that not all users will possess.

Cloudflare research engineer Thibault Meunier assumed that the average internet user sees a CAPTCHA once ever ten days and multiplied that by world’s 4.6 billion internet users and Cloudflare’s 32-second CAPTCHA-completion estimate to assert that humanity collectively spends 500 years every day completing CAPTCHAs.

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Alibaba Cloud growth slows after mystery international customer quits over ‘non-product related’ factors

First loss as a listed company thanks to Beijing’s $2.8bn antitrust fine

Chinese tech giant Alibaba has posted its first loss as a listed entity, thanks to the $2.8bn antitrust fine imposed by local authorities, and also revealed that it has lost a major cloud customer “due to non-product related requirements.”

The company’s numbers were typically enormous: in Q4 the company counted $28.6bn of revenue, 811 million annual active customers and 925 million monthly mobile active users. For the full year revenue reached $109.5bn, annual active customers cracked the billion mark and net income was $21.87bn.

Cloud was a standout across the year, achieving profitability for the second consecutive quarter and second time ever Q4, and posting 50 per cent year-on-year growth to deliver $9.2bn of revenue.

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