Have you ever wondered how our body functions? Isn’t it interesting to explore how our multicellular system interacts with each other to pass those vital signals that facilitates almost every single process in our body? It is still one of the most fascinating topics, which interests researchers across the world.
It has been always thought that biological communications are entirely based on molecule-to-molecule interaction; this could be either by immediate contact of proteins or by diffusion. However, when you think of a cellular environment as viscous as an egg yolk, the diffusion process could be very slow.
A newly researched study by Shamit Shrivastava and Matthias Schneider at Boston University suggests an entirely new mechanism, two-dimensional sound waves that can travel along cellular surfaces; completely challenging the earlier beliefs. Their research results at Schneider lab suggests that biological communication could occur with sound waves, which is long range and energy efficient. If established, the entire concepts of biological communication could change, giving way to solution of some of the complex problems that could not be solved yet with present concepts.
As the debate continues around the possible role of sound waves in biology, many scientists have started backing the research. A paper published by the two researchers in Journal of Royal Society Interface confirms its growing recognition. The research showed for the first time that sound waves propagating in a model for cellular interface have very peculiar nonlinear properties, which is strikingly similar to signals measured in neurons.
Shrivastava and Schneider are now focussing on applying these concepts of nonlinear sound wave into biochemistry and the activity of enzyme embedded in a model interface. Initial studies in the lab have already shown that two-dimensional sound waves can be excited by variety of stimuli such as a sudden pH change or a photochemical reaction that in turn can alter the activity of enzymes embedded in the acoustic path. This further reinforces the possibility of sound waves as a new physical basis for signalling in biology.
In spite of the abstract nature of research, it already has some very real implications, one of them being the possible explanation of how general anaesthesia works. As a thumb rule, it is generally accepted that greater the solubility of anaesthetic compound in oil, the greater is its anaesthetic potency. While many scientists look for molecular mechanisms, this research simply explains anaesthesia as a change in the elastic properties of the membrane, which inhibits efficient propagation of sound waves resulting in the anaesthetic effect.
Get The Most Out Of Your Phone With These Tips
Most of us live with a smartphone or other device attached to our arm. Technology is such a big part of our lives these days and smartphones in particular continue to thrive and grow in popularity as time goes by.
But are you truly making the most of your smartphone? Today we are going to take a look at smartphones and the tools you can use to truly get the most use out of it.
1. Documents in one place
One of the greatest things about having a mobile phone is that you always have it with you. If you work in an office environment and often need access to files and documents on the go, be sure to use Google Drive and OneDrive. These cloud based services allow you to create, edit, and share word documents and spreadsheets wherever you are. It will make your life so much easier and your working days much more productive.
Not the popular superhero, but the app. If you want to really make the most of your phone, download this magical app. If you are ever listening to a song on the radio or on TV, you can turn the app on and it will tell you exactly what it is.
3. Stay safe
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you lost your phone? Well, if you did lose your phone you might not be able to get it back because the person who finds it won’t know who you are. But, what if there’s an easy way to remedy this? By putting your phone number on your lock screen, anyone who finds your phone will be able to contact you and get it back to you safely.
4. Use Accuweather
There is nothing worse than going outside without a coat on and suffering in the rain. As well as the small losses like this, you want to avoid going outside while storms such as Storm Dennis are around, and Accuweather will send you alerts meaning that you will always know what’s going on outside.
5. Get the best data deal
There’s no point having an amazing smartphone that can do countless things online if you don’t have a great data plan. Use a company like honest mobile to get yourself unlimited data and this will mean you never worry about losing data.
6. Stay in the loop
Although often the news is pretty boring, it is still important for you to know what’s going on in the world so you can make decisions. One of the best tips we have is getting a news app on your phone that will send out Breaking News alerts to you when they happen.
7. Use Mail Drop
Our mobile phones are amazing little gadgets and they almost run like a mini computer, but there is one thing a mobile phone isn’t the best with: files. If you are looking to email a file to someone and it is too large, if you have an iPhone you can use a service called Mail Drop. This will essentially create an iCloud link to the file that is valid for 30 days so that the other party can access the file.
8. Control your PC from your phone
If you are ever out of the house and notice that you have left an important file on your computer that you need at work, don’t get in the car and go home. There is a handy tool you can use to control your computer from where you are and send yourself any files you need. TeamViewer is a remote computer control app that will allow you to use your computer from your phone.
9. Customise your keyboard
Have you ever noticed that the autocorrect function of your phone is a bit out there and funky? Instead of constantly ending up with random words in your sentences like flamingo or umbrella, you can customise your own keyboard and it will learn your patterns of speech. Download a third party keyboard and use this and it will make your life much easier.
10. Conserve your power
Due to the high processing power and heavy use of mobile phones it is no surprise that we often end up draining the battery before lunch time. But there is a simple function on your phone that can reduce this risk. In your settings, there should be a power option and a low battery mode. Turn this on and it will prevent any unnecessary background processes happening while your phone is idle or in use.
11. Make it charge faster
To follow on from the point above, what happens when you need to charge your phone in a short space of time? Turn on airplane mode and it will shut down background processes and allow the phone to charge much quicker.
12. Find your friends
If you have family members or friends that you need to track for meeting up or getting home for dinner, Find my Friends is the ideal app to use. It allows you to see where people are at all times so if your other half is stuck in traffic you can slow down dinner until they get home!
If you have a habit of ignoring the notifications and alerts that pop up on your screen you might often find yourself forgetting about important appointments or reminders. To ensure that you always notice when an alert comes on the screen you can set your phone to flash. Never miss another important alert again!
14. Hard reboot
This tip is one that is known to most of us, but it is an important one to remember if you want to get the most out of your phone. If your mobile phone freezes or it seems to have a serious issue, make sure to reboot the system. We’ve all heard the old adage of turning it off and on again, and honestly, this is often the solution for you. If there is an issue, perform a hard reboot and your phone should be good as new.
15. Get rid of memory clog
As we use our mobile phones throughout our daily lives it is understandable that sometimes our memory gets clogged up with photos, videos, and music and apps. However after a while RAM will fill up so much that it will slow down the performance of the phone. Be sure that you can prevent this happening by getting rid of RAM. Clear out apps you don’t use and put your photos onto a computer or harddrive.
16. Enjoy a good workout
Did you know that there are many free apps out there that will show you workouts you can do at home? Why pay for an expensive gym membership when you can use a free app and workout in your living room instead? There are tonnes of great options such as yoga, pilates, HIIT and more. Take a look and see which ones suit you.
17. Learn to cook
If you are useless in the kitchen and you always feel as if you burn water, use your phone to help you learn. Stand your phone up and get some YouTube tutorials on the go to teach you simple skills in the kitchen. There are many helpful YouTube channels for cooking, including Binging With Babish and SortedFood.
18. Find your way home
If you have an android phone you are in look, and you’ll be able to find your home wherever you are. Head to Google Maps and create a shortcut that will take you home from wherever. It means you will not have to type in your address every time you want to head home from somewhere unfamiliar.
19. Fall asleep easy
If you are the kind of person who needs some background music when they are trying to fall asleep you are not alone. But instead of keeping a TV and then waking up in the middle of the night to switch it off, you can use your phone to lull you to sleep with your own music. The stopwatch app in iPhone allows you to set a ‘stop playing’ timer that will stop all music playing after a certain period.
20. Taking weird angle photos
We all know the real struggle of getting the perfect selfie, and this is made 10 times harder when you are trying to feel around for the little touchscreen button to snap your shot. If you are taking a photo at a weird angle and your finger can’t reach this button, did you know you can use the volume buttons instead? It’s much easier to do and you’ll likely get a less shaky photo as a result.
There are so many things that our phones can do and they truly do change the way we live our lives. Take these little tips and tricks away with you to make the most of your pocket computer this year and impress your friends.
The Impact of Blockchain For Businesses
Throughout the years, the concept of blockchain technology has gradually overtaken the business world. But no longer is it only being associated with cryptocurrency. Now it’s finding its way into other industries such as eCommerce and logistics management.
Helping to digitize businesses, it’s a popular technology due to its ability to solve challenges such as security breaches. But that’s not the only benefit that comes with investing in blockchain technology. If your business is interested in investing in enterprise software development and in blockchain in particular, then the following information can prove to be invaluable.
What is it?
Before getting into the advantages, it’s important to first understand exactly what blockchain is. Arguably one of the most disruptive technologies, it’s something that should no longer be ignored. To put it simply, blockchain is a collection of digital technology information which is stored within a database. This will typically include:
- Information about certain customer transactions including key data such as the time, monetary amount, date and more.
- Information about exactly who is buying your products or services. Revealing shopping behaviors, it’s stored with a digital signature rather than a specific name.
- Unique blocks of information – which can easily be distinguished from one another. For example, if one customer buys one item and then in the future buys a different one, they will be in different blocks.
What Are The Benefits?
- An Increased Level of Efficiency
One of the most important benefits that come with implementing blockchain technology within your business is the elevated level of efficiency it can provide. Removing the need for a third-party due to its more decentralized design, it will make your operating processes far more streamlined.
With blockchain technology, you can step away from the more traditional, time-consuming processes that were rife with human error and automate them. Ensuring that they are completed more quickly and accurately, you can spend the time that you saved on other areas of your business.
As well as making the overall process more streamlined and convenient, it allows for everyone to access the same information at one time – making financial record-keeping more trustworthy in the long term.
One industry that could particularly benefit from faster payments and transactions is the real estate market. With a simpler system of ownership records, it will make the process of selling properties far easier. It will also open up the possibility of automating agreements between tenants and landlords, which will similarly speed up the process.
- Greater Transparency Overall
A notable characteristic that blockchain has is its ability to be transparent. As the technology is a type of a transaction or distributed ledger, it allows those within a network to share all of the same documentation instead of individual copies.
By making this open to viewing, it directly adds a remarkable layer of accountability, giving each sector within the business the responsibility to act correctly towards the company’s growth and its customers. The fact that each document can only be updated through the agreement of all participants also ensures that no illegitimate changes can be made. More consistent, transparent and accurate, the staff will perform better together in the long run.
- An Increased Level of Security
As aforementioned, an increased level of security is one of the key benefits that come with blockchain technology. Far more secure than the more traditional record-keeping systems, it will ensure that each transaction that’s made is heavily encrypted and linked to the last transaction. But how does it do this?
Without getting too technical, blockchain technology is created with several ‘blocks’ which are formed by a computer network. Once created, they are added to a ledger which fuses a chain of information. As it is such a complex technology that exists across several serves rather than one (as most traditional technologies are), it’s one of the most protected from breaches.
This level of security is particularly important for businesses that store sensitive customer data such as – healthcare, within the government and in financial services.
- Reduced Costs
For many businesses, it’s important to cut costs where you can. And with blockchain technology, you can do exactly that. Although the initial investment might seem expensive, the benefits that come with it make it more than worth it for many businesses. As mentioned above, it removes the need for third parties. And because of this, you can work directly with your clients and customers.
This will, in turn, help to reduce your overall costs. With this new automated technology, you also no longer have to review information separately. Helping to save time and therefore save money. You can then reinvest the money that you’ve saved by not having to deal with third parties in other aspects of your business – such as marketing or IT.
- Enhanced Traceability
Traceability is key within many businesses – as without it, you can’t identify transactions. With blockchain technology, you can reap the benefits that come with an enhanced level of traceability. For example, every time that someone purchases a product from your business, it will create a digital audit trail which is recorded within the blockchain. Showcasing who and when they were bought, it can easily be traced if need be.
Helping to prevent fraud (if you have a business that’s involved in exchange), verify the authenticity and improve security, it’s an essential addition for many. In particular, this heightened level of traceability can be ideal if your business traditionally deals with products which are traded through a very complex supply chain – such as within medicine. Tracking exactly who manufactured and distributed each item, it will be easier to recall products if need be.
The impact that blockchain technology can have within a business is clear. A type of technology that is ever-developing and growing in popularity, it’s something that’s here to stay. Of course, before you invest in the technology, it’s vital that you thoroughly research the pros and cons and how it could directly affect your business’ operations.
Inside the New WhatsApp Buffer Overflow Vulnerability
Facebook’s WhatsApp mobile app has had a rough time lately with regard to software vulnerabilities. In November 2019, the social media company quietly issued a security patch for a buffer overflow vulnerability contained in their messaging application.
However, the vulnerability disclosed in November 2019 is not the only recent vulnerability discovered and patched in the secure messaging application. Earlier in 2019, another buffer overflow vulnerability was discovered and patched by the company. Both of these vulnerabilities are rated as “severe” due to the fact that an attacker exploiting them can run malicious code on the target device.
To make things worse, the vulnerabilities in WhatsApp can be exploited by an unauthenticated attacker. These vulnerabilities were discovered in functions that process data sent by another WhatsApp user to the target. By taking a simple action – initiating a WhatsApp call or sending an MP4 video to the target – an attacker can trigger the vulnerability, giving them control over the device. These vulnerabilities can then be exploited to place spyware on the victim’s device and to view the user’s messaging history within the app.
A Brief History of WhatsApp Security
The recent WhatsApp vulnerability is not the first buffer overflow contained within the mobile app. In May 2019, a different buffer overflow vulnerability was discovered in how WhatsApp processed the data contained within an incoming call.
This vulnerability was created because WhatsApp uses a special binary format for sending data between devices and then unpacks this data at the recipient device. If an attacker sent a specially formatted packet, which lied about the length of a certain field, the recipient’s WhatsApp would unpack the data into a place on the stack that did not have sufficient space for it. As a result, the attacker would have the ability to write to memory that should have been outside of their control. This vulnerability was concerning since it allowed remote code execution on a target device without any user interaction required. The malicious packet was sent as part of initiating a call, so, even if the user rejected the call, the damage was already done.
This past WhatsApp vulnerability has been the source of significant controversy. While Facebook was in the process of patching the vulnerability, they observed someone trying to exploit it on the device of a UK-based human rights lawyer. Additional investigation pointed to the use of the vulnerability to spy upon individuals who would be of interest to certain governments.
The Israeli-based NSO Group is well known for developing and selling exploits to governments for use in surveillance activities that fall outside the scope of law enforcement activities. This, and the fact that the observed attack used infrastructure previously linked to the NSO Group, has led Facebook to believe that the company was beyond the exploitation of the WhatsApp vulnerability. As a result, Facebook has begun a lawsuit against the NSO Group for exploitation of a vulnerability in one of their products.
The Newest WhatsApp Vulnerability
The buffer overflow vulnerability disclosed in May was not the last such vulnerability in the WhatsApp platform. In November 2019, Facebook patched another vulnerability in WhatsApp that was similar in scope, severity, and potential impact.
This vulnerability dealt with how WhatsApp handled MP4 video files. Along with a video file comes a stream of metadata containing details about the file. When parsing this metadata, WhatsApp is vulnerable to a stack-based buffer overflow attack. This would allow the attacker to perform a Denial of Service attack (crashing the app) or to run attacker-controlled code on the app that could give access to previous conversations that the user has performed on the app. Exploitation of the vulnerability only requires an attacker to know the phone number of the victim and to send them a malicious MP4 video via WhatsApp.
Luckily, while the new vulnerability had the potential to be at least as damaging as the previous buffer overflow flaw, it appears that this one was not being actively exploited by attackers prior to being patched by Facebook. However, this demonstrates the importance of keeping such applications up-to-date (so that Facebook-provided security patches are applied) and to consider the risks associated with using these applications for personal communications.
Protecting Against Buffer Overflow Vulnerabilities
Buffer overflow vulnerabilities are nothing new. They are extremely simple vulnerabilities – only involving a failure to properly manage memory and user input – yet they can be extremely difficult to detect. A wide range of buffer overflow vulnerabilities exist, and sometimes apparently “safe” code can be vulnerable since another vulnerability can be exploited to bypass existing protections against buffer overflows.
The two major WhatsApp vulnerabilities disclosed and patched in 2019 demonstrate the potential impact of a buffer overflow vulnerability in a critical application. Both of these vulnerabilities could be exploited without user interaction, and enabled an attacker to run malicious code within the victim application. In one case, the vulnerability was exploited multiple times to spy upon parties of interest to various governments, leading to a lawsuit by Facebook against the suspected perpetrator.
Protecting against buffer overflow vulnerabilities requires the ability to identify and block potential exploits before they reach a vulnerable application. Deploying a strong web application firewall (WAF) to protect an organization’s web presence and runtime application self-protection (RASP) for critical or potentially vulnerable assets is an important first step toward protecting an organization and its software assets against exploitation.
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