New Linux-Based Ransomware Targets VMware Servers

"Researchers at Trend Micro have discovered some new Linux-based ransomware that's being used to attack VMware ESXi servers," reports CSO Online. (They describe the ESXi servers as "a bare-metal hypervisor for creating and running several virtual machines that share the same hard drive storage.") Called Cheerscrypt, the bad app is following in the footsteps of other ransomware programs — such as LockBit, Hive and RansomEXX — that have found ESXi an efficient way to infect many computers at once with malicious payloads. Roger Grimes, a defense evangelist with security awareness training provider KnowBe4, explains that most of the world's organizations operate using VMware virtual machines. "It makes the job of ransomware attackers far easier because they can encrypt one server — the VMware server — and then encrypt every guest VM it contains. One compromise and encryption command can easily encrypt dozens to hundreds of other virtually run computers all at once." "Most VM shops use some sort of VM backup product to back up all guest servers, so finding and deleting or corrupting one backup repository kills the backup image for all the hosted guest servers all at once," Grimes adds.... The gang behind Cheerscrypt uses a "double extortion" technique to extract money from its targets, the researchers explain. "Security Alert!!!" the attackers' ransom message declares. "We hacked your company successfully. All files have been stolen and encrypted by us. If you want to restore your files or avoid file leaks, please contact us."

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Star Trek Wines: the Next Generation. Ars Technica Taste-Tests Klingon Blood Wine

Would you drink a glass of Klingon Blood Wine? Or Cardassian Kanar Red Blend? Maybe you'd prefer the Andorian Blue Premium Chardonnay, or the United Federation of Planets Special Reserve Sauvignon Blanc... Star Trek wines — a collaboration between CBS Consumer Products and Wines That Rock — has now added those four new flavors to their original two (which Ars Technica described as "far better than we expected, although very much over-priced.") So Ars hosted a wine tasting including the new wines, with their six testers joining "Q himself — aka actor John de Lancie." Also taste-testing was The Orville writer Andre Bormanis (a former science advisor for Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise). "Wine assessments were anonymous, in keeping with the gathering's super-casual vibe. And the wine was purchased out of pocket, not gifted for promotional purposes." They'd tried this once before in 2019. Their three-year mission? To explore strange new wines... Next up: A Bordeaux blend from Chateau Picard (although the label claims it's a 2386 vintage to keep the conceit going): 85 percent cabernet and 15 percent merlot. As I noted [in 2019], this is a bona fide winery, with a centuries-old vineyard in the St.-Estephe region. It just so happens that Jean-Luc Picard's family has long run a fictional vineyard of the same name, albeit in the Burgundy region rather than Bordeaux — it features prominently in Picard. The real winery agreed to collaborate on a special edition of their cru bourgeois vintage for the Star Trek collection. The Bordeaux blend also came out on top with the 2022 tasting crew, who declared it "perfectly quaffable" and "surprisingly good." The wine is light and dry, "easy on the palate," with "a clean finish," and fairly well balanced. It's almost as if Bordeaux wine makers have had centuries of experience to draw upon. This was the only bottle the tasting crew polished off completely. Alas, the four new varieties in the Star Trek wine collection fall far, far short of their predecessors.... I will give the Star Trek Wine folks props for creative bottle design, especially the corkscrew shape of the Cardassian blend. The broad consensus was that the Klingon Blood Wine is trying to be a pinot noir and falling short; it's basically a very fruity California cabernet, with perhaps a hint of pepper. "Whoever supplied this blood ate nothing but fruit salad the week prior," one taster noted, with another simply writing, "Way too sweet." The most generous assessment was that it is "drinkable but not extraordinary...." With the evergreen caveat that taste in wine is highly subjective, here's our recommendation. Stick with the original two bottles for your Star Trek wine, or save yourself some money and get something comparable for a fraction of the price — unless, of course, you're really keen to collect the whole set of unusual bottle designs. Or you're a Cardassian who loves really sweet wine. Meanwhile, William Shatner himself is auctioning off a bottle of "James T. Kirk" whiskey — the actual prop used on Star Trek: Picard. "The bottle does not contain real Bourbon just a colored liquid," its description notes — but the bottle has actually been autographed by 91-year-old Shatner. Shatner is also auctioning off dozens of other memorabilia items for "The Priceline Hollywood Charity Horse Show, Sponsored by Wells Fargo", including several autographed books, Star Trek-related artworks, action figures of Captain Kirk and the Gorn, and even the dinner jacket from his Kennedy Center performance with Ben Folds.

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The Case for a Small Modular Reactor Revolution in Nuclear Energy

Dr. Sola Talabi, an adjunct assistant professor of nuclear engineering, believes nuclear power "has the ability to solve" the world's two biggest problems: global energy poverty and global warming. He tells the Daily Beast, "Nuclear can uniquely address those issues." While novel in the civilian energy sector, SMRs have powered naval warships and submarines for almost 70 years. U.S. naval nuclear reactors have logged more than 5,400 reactor years, and steamed more than 130 million miles without a single radiological incident or radiation-related fatality. This sterling safety record allows the U.S. Navy to operate its reactors largely without controversy even in Japan, a country that has a strong anti-nuclear movement birthed by Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and amplified by Fukushima... [T]he plant can remove heat generated by its fuel even if electrical power is lost. Next-generation SMRs are also designed such that they don't require a pressurizing system like the one that failed at Three Mile Island. Even in the extraordinarily improbable event of a core meltdown, Talabi said that SMRs are still remarkably safe. Unlike their large-scale predecessors, the diminutive size of SMRs eliminates the need for active safety systems backed by human operators. If radionuclide particles — an unstable element that's harmful to humans — are released from the core, gravity and other natural phenomena such as thermal and steam concentration will force them to settle safely within the confines of the plant's containment vessel. In the yet more unlikely case that radionuclide particles breach the containment vessel, Talabi's research indicates they will settle over a much smaller area than if they were released from a large-scale reactor, posing far less of a health and environmental hazard and simplifying cleanup... [E]conomists don't realize that many of the systems required by large-scale reactors, such as the ones that maintain pressure and coolant flow in the plant's core, won't be miniaturized in the smaller plants. They'll be eliminated. SMRs should also be less expensive because they can be factory-fabricated, and their smaller parts will be easier for more manufacturers to produce.... Despite his optimism for SMRs' potential, Talabi acknowledges that they have some drawbacks. Widespread use may slash carbon emissions, but will necessitate increased uranium mining. They also create a security risk, as nuclear fuel will need to be transported between thousands of locations, and reactor sites may be targeted by warring states and terrorists. Government statutes also fail to account for differences between SMRs and large-scale reactors, inhibiting their construction.... That said, Talabi believes that SMRs' potential in solving climate change and global energy poverty far outweighs their risks, and makes overcoming their obstacles well worth it.... "It's not a technology challenge," Talabi said. With public and government support, SMRs could soon be powering the globe with carbon-free electricity. To Talabi, it's just a matter of awareness and understanding. Thanks to long-time Slashdot reader WindBourne for sharing the article

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