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New blast at St. Vincent volcano; cruise ship helps evacuees

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La Soufriere volcano has shot out another explosive burst of gas and ash and a cruise ship has arrived to evacuate some of the foreigners who had been stuck on a St. Vincent island by a week of violent eruptions

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — La Soufriere volcano shot out another explosive burst of gas and ash on Friday as a cruise ship arrived to evacuate some of the foreigners who had been stuck on a St. Vincent island coated in ash from a week of violent eruptions.

The explosions that began on April 9 forced some 20,000 to flee the northern end of the eastern Caribbean island for shelters and contaminated water supplies across the island.

Friday morning’s blast “wasn’t a big explosion compared to the ones that we last weekend, but it was big enough to punch a hole through the clouds,” said Richard Robertson, lead scientist at the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Center, in an interview with local NBC radio. “Probably got up to 8,000 meters (26,000 feet).”

During a comparable eruption cycle in 1902, explosive eruptions continued to shake the island for months after an initial burst killed some 1,700 people, though the new eruptions so far have caused no reported deaths among a population that had received official warning a day earlier that danger was imminent.

Meanwhile, British, U.S. and Canadian nationals were being evacuated aboard Royal Caribbean Cruises’ Celebrity Reflection from the harbor in the Kingstown, capital of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The ship was due to arrive Saturday in Dutch Sint Maarten.

Dozens of foreigners toting luggage descended from tour buses and cars at the port terminal in Kingstown and patiently waited in a line that began in the parking lot and reached deep into the terminal.

They included students from the Trinity School of Medicine along with stranded tourists, including families with young children in arms.

“As of right now, we are being evacuated for our safety and to keep the island as safe as possible,” said LLeah Ransai, a Canadian student at Trinity. “Between the school, the government and the embassies of the US and Canada, we’re being evacuated now.”

The U.S. Embassy said those aboard would have to make their own travel arrangements home.

It also noted in an official statement that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had recommended against travel on cruise ships because the chance of getting COVID-19 and said people who had been in close contact with suspected COVID-19 cases were barred from the trip. All aboard were supposed to have a negative rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours of boarding.

Meanwhile, thousands of locals were stuck n emergency shelters with no idea when they might be able to return home.

Levi Lewis, 58, a retired public servant from the town of Fancy, said the eruption had left him trying to get by with practically nothing.

“I just reusing clothing cause i didn’t walk with much,” he said. “Plus water is an issue, so I’m trying to conserve it still.”

“I want to go back home, or to whatever is left of it,” he added.

A few people, however, never left, defying evacuation orders.

Raydon May, a bus conductor in his late 20s who stayed in Sandy Bay throughout the eruptions, said he had always planned to stay if the volcano erupted and was trying to protect properties in the community while making occasional trips outside the evacuation zone to pick up water and supplies.

He said so much ash had fallen that the roofs of houses were collapsing under the weight.

“One roof might get on like three truckloads of sand,” he said. “We trying to help … but we can’t help everybody.”

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Google is about to start automatically enrolling users in 2FA

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In recent months, vulnerable apps, hacked websites, and zero-day exploits have accounted for an increasing amount of the reporting that we do here at BGR. There is risk in everything we do online, but there are many ways to mitigate that risk, such as turning on two-factor authentication (2FA) for any apps, services, or accounts that offer it. Speaking of 2FA, Google decided to take matters into its own hands on that front, as the company announced Thursday that it will soon enable 2FA by default for anyone with an “appropriately configured” Google account.

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“Today we ask people who have enrolled in two-step verification (2SV) to confirm it’s really them with a simple tap via a Google prompt on their phone whenever they sign in,” Google’s Director of Product Management, Identity and User Security, Mark Risher, said in a blog post. “Soon we’ll start automatically enrolling users in 2SV if their accounts are appropriately configured. (You can check the status of your account in our Security Checkup). Using their mobile device to sign in gives people a safer and more secure authentication experience than passwords alone.”

Basically, your account is “appropriately configured” if you have provided Google with recovery information, which could be a secondary email address, a phone number, or an authenticator app. You should already be using Google’s two-step verification, but if you’re not, at least make sure to visit the Security Checkup site.

As Google notes earlier in the blog post, searches for the phrase “how strong is my password” increased by 300% in 2020. Meanwhile, millions of you are still using passwords like “123456” or “password” or “qwerty,” so the resounding answer to that search query is an unequivocal “NO.” Make your passwords strong and difficult to guess, use different passwords for all of your accounts, and take advantage of Google’s Password Manager, which not only stores all of your passwords, but also lets you know when and if they have been compromised.

Google’s dream of killing passwords once and for all is still just that — a dream — but as we slowly work our way toward that glorious day, do what you can to keep your accounts and your personal data safe.

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Jacob started covering video games and technology in college as a hobby, but it quickly became clear to him that this was what he wanted to do for a living. He currently resides in New York writing for BGR. His previously published work can be found on TechHive, VentureBeat and Game Rant.


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Finding Dark Ships Via Satellite

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It would seem that for as long as there have been ships on the ocean, there’s been smuggling. The International Maritime Organisation requires ships to have AIS, the automatic identification system which is akin to a transponder on an airplane. However, if you don’t want to be found, you often turn off your AIS. So how do governments and insurance companies track so-called dark ships? Using satellite technology. A recent post in Global Investigative Journal tells the story of how lower-cost satellites are helping track these dark ships.

Optical tracking is the obvious method, but satellites that can image ships can be expensive and have problems with things like clouds. Radar is another option, but — again — an expensive option if you aren’t a big military agency with money to spend. A company called HawkEye 360 uses smallsats to monitor ship’s RF emissions, which is much less expensive and resource-intensive than traditional methods. Although the data may still require correlation with other methods like optical sensing, it is still cost-effective compared to simply scanning the ocean for ships.

The post tells the tale of an Iranian crude oil tanker. Noting a long gap in the AIS signal from the ship, HawkEye 360 attempted to locate the ship the next time it went dark. Of course, AIS can be off for other reasons, such as equipment failure or fear of piracy. Simply not squawking AIS isn’t a definite sign of malfeasance.

Using the satellite, radio transmissions on VHF channel 16 (156.8 MHz) — the standard calling frequency — were found from the ship and it appeared they were offloading crude oil to a refinery in Syria. With a specific target in mind, commercial satellite imaging picked up 3-meter resolution images of the ships and — apparently there is a database of ships at that resolution — identified four Iranian flag tankers at the site, three of which had arrived in stealth mode.

The HawkEye 360 satellites can pick up radar, emergency beacons, satellite phones, and VHF radio signals. A map shows the difference between the number of AIS signals in the South China Sea and the number of X-band radar signals. The AIS map looks sparse, whereas the radar map shows 3-4 times the number of vessels.

In another example, uses ESA’s Sentinel 1 satellite and synthetic aperture radar to locate ships going from China to North Korea. ICEYE, another smallsat company, is tracing illegal fishing activity around Argentina and smuggling near the UAE.

It is amazing to see how much satellite tech that would have been deep secret a few years ago is now commercially available. It isn’t just useful for law enforcement, either. The resolution is a far cry from the old weather satellites people tend to eavesdrop on.

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Phil Schiller expressed concern over scam apps as early as 2012 | AppleInsider

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Apple’s Phil Schiller ranted about scam and knockoff apps on the App Store as early as 2012, per documents revealed in the Epic Games v. Apple trial.

In February 2012, Schiller sent out a furious email to the App Store team — which included Greg Joswiak, Eddy Cue, and Matt Fischer — about an apparently fake version of Temple Run. At the time, Temple Run was among the most popular iOS games.

“What the hell is this????” Schiller asked. “How does an obvious rip off of the super popular Temple Run, with no screenshots, garbage marketing text, and almost all 1-star ratings become the #1 free app on the store?”

He continued by asking “is no one reviewing these apps? Is no one minding the store?” before calling the situation “insane.”

At another point in 2012, Schiller brought several other apps to the attention of the app Store team, including a fake palm reading app and another app called “Hide My Fart,” which Schiller said “should never have been approved.”

The internal emails were revealed as part of Epic Games’ opening presentation in its trial with Apple. The slide deck contained other communications from different Apple executives about the prevalence of scam apps on the App Store.

Low-quality, knockoff, or outright scammy apps do sometimes slip through the cracks and make it past Apple’s App Review team. Earlier in 2021, vocal app developer Kosta Eleftheriou sued Apple over the alleged enablement of the app scams. Eleftheriou is known for highlighting several scam apps, including one that grosses $1 million a month.

According to a report from cybersecurity firm Avast, scam “fleeceware” apps cost App Store consumers more than $400 million. Other types of scams include knockoffs of established and popular apps.

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