Police arrest a teenage boy in connection with the MGM Resorts ransomware attack

A teenage boy may be responsible for a ransomware attack that shut down MGM Resorts in Las Vegas last year. The West Midlands Police Department in England confirmed that they arrested an unidentified 17-year-old on Thursday from the town of Walsall who allegedly shut down the resort and casino on the Las Vegas strip last year.

The teenager was arrested on suspicion of blackmail and violating the UK’s Computer Misuse Act. He was released on bail, according to a statement from the police department.

Police officials tracked the teenage suspect as part of a joint investigation with the UK’s National Crime Agency and the FBI. The police department said they recovered evidence at the teenager’s address including “a number of digital devices which will undergo forensic examination.”

The statement also said the teenager was part of a “global cyber online crime group” but did not specify which group. The ALPHV/BlackCat ransomware group announced their responsibility for the MGM Resorts cyber outage. The attack happened on Sep. 12, 2023 allegedly with a simple 10 minute phone call to a Help desk employee using information obtained from LinkedIn. The group has also claimed responsibility for a similar ransomware attack on the beauty brand Esteé Lauder.

"All ALPHV ransomware group did to compromise MGM Resorts was hop on LinkedIn, find an employee, then call the Help Desk," the organization wrote in a post on X.

MGM Resorts’ system shutdown lasted for nine days and created a massive outage across all of its casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. News later surfaced that other casinos like Caesars were also targeted by a different group but chose to pay the hackers tens of millions of dollars to prevent private company data from being released.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/police-arrest-a-teenage-boy-in-connection-with-the-mgm-resorts-ransomware-attack-223906246.html?src=rss

Twitch restores former President Trump’s Twitch account

Twitch has confirmed that former president and current Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s three-year ban on the gaming stream platform has been reversed. A statement from Twitch confirmed the news about the status of Trump’s ban from the platform.

“We reinstated former President Trump’s Twitch channel,” the statement read. “We believe there is value in hearing from Presidential nominees directly, when possible. Trump is now the official Republican nominee for US President.”

The Amazon-owned platform first issued a temporary suspension on President Trump's account in 2020 for violating its hateful conduct and harassment policies and restored it two weeks later. Twitch disabled the account following the Jan. 6 riot on the US Capitol in 2021 due to “the current extraordinary circumstances and the President’s incendiary rhetoric” before issuing an indefinite suspension two weeks later, according to a Twitch spokesperson.

Four people died and 174 police officers were injured during the attack. Three more police officers involved in the riot died in the days and weeks following Jan. 6, according to the New York Times.

Twitch is the latest Internet platform to lift a ban on one of Trump's accounts. Meta rolled back Trump's restrictions on Facebook and Instagram a week ago.

Trump first joined Twitch in 2019 during his presidential campaign against President Joe Biden. His campaign team used the platform to stream his rallies and other events starting with a stump speech in Minneapolis.

Since then, politics has carved out a notable corner of Twitch with live broadcasts of moments like the recent Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and even its own official category. Pundits and commentators on both sides of the political aisle also regularly broadcast live streams of political events and speeches and host debates on Twitch.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/twitch-restores-former-president-trumps-twitch-account-204327050.html?src=rss

Another ‘missing link’ black hole discovered near the center of the galaxy

A group of international researchers at the University of Cologne in Germany recently discovered one of the rarest types of black holes in the universe. The researchers were observing a cluster of stars in the vicinity of a supermassive black hole named Sagittarius A (Sgr A) at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. They then discovered signs of an intermediate-mass black hole, a type of black hole that’s sometimes referred to as the “missing link” of black holes, according to NASA.

Black holes range in size from supermassive to primordial and the intermediate sits above primordial in size. They are believed to have formed just after the Big Bang and act as “seeds” for creating supermassive black holes.

The star cluster believed to be the latest intermediate-mass black hole dubbed IRS 13 moved in an orderly pattern when they expected them to be randomly arranged. The researchers concluded that the star cluster had to be interacting with the supermassive black hole and “there must be something inside the cluster for it to be able to maintain its observed compact shape,” according to a statement from the University of Cologne. 

Plans are underway to conduct further observations on the intermediate black hole. They will use the James Webb Space Telescope and the Extremely Large Telescope in Chile that’s currently under construction (and yes, that is its real name).

Scientists discovered the first intermediate-mass black hole in 2020 using the Hubble Space Telescope when they found the waves created by its formation. Until then, intermediate-mass black holes were considered to be a “missing link” between stellar-mass and supermassive black holes and could provide more insights on the formation of black holes and the universe.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/another-missing-link-black-hole-discovered-near-the-center-of-the-galaxy-175859313.html?src=rss

Fandango co-founder J. Michael Cline dead at 64

One of the founders of the movie ticketing service Fandango has died following an apparent suicide in New York City.

J. Michael Cline, the co-founder of the movie ticket website and service Fandango, died Tuesday after falling from the balcony of a Manhattan hotel in what the medical examiner’s office ruled as a suicide, according to The New York Times.

Cline co-founded Fandango in 2000 with former chief operating officer Art Levitt during the dot-com boom and became one of the biggest online retailers. Fandango launched with seven movie theater chains, according to Variety.

Fandango found success by completely changing the way people went to the movies. Moviegoers didn’t have to wait in long ticket lines only to find out that the 6 PM showing of Battlefield Earth was already sold out. They could purchase their tickets before they even left home and still have time to buy an overpriced box of Milk Duds and a watered down Shasta.

The company’s flashy orange “F” logo also made it one of the most recognizable online brands in the industry. Cline described his company's whimsical sounding name to Variety as “fast and fun” and a “perfect match to a service designed to make going to the movies easier and more enjoyable than ever before.”

Five years after its launch, online movie ticket sites like Fandango and its competitor Movietickets.com sold tickets worth over $30 million in one year. Comcast bought the Fandango brand in 2007 for an undisclosed sum. Fandango also bought some of the Internet’s hottest movie properties such as the aggregated movie review website Rotten Tomatoes in 2017. The movie ticket brand went through subsequent parent sales until it landed with its current owners NBCUniveral and Warner Bros., which expanded the Fandango brand to a streaming service called Fandango at Home as a replacement for Vudu.

Fandango continues to thrive as an online ticket retailer even at a time when movie theaters are seeing a huge slump in sales. During the Barbenheimer craze last summer, Fandango sold 3.5 million tickets alone just to the Oscar nominated and winning films Barbie and Oppenheimer.

Cline left Fandango in 2011 and went on to become the executive chairman of the tech investment firm Juxtapose that helped launch health and wellness companies like Care/of and Corduroy, according to the firm’s website.

Levitt described his former business partner to the New York Times as a formidable entrepreneur who was “a bit of an adventurer” and someone who “saw an opportunity in the market” with Fandango.

In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 or you can simply dial 988. Crisis Text Line can be reached by texting HOME to 741741 (US), 686868 (Canada), or 85258 (UK). Wikipedia maintains a list of crisis lines for people outside of those countries.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/fandango-co-founder-j-michael-cline-dead-at-64-214725046.html?src=rss

The final trailer for Alien: Romulus looks tense, bloody and awesome

The last couple of Alien movies have been good for the most part but it feels like they’ve been missing the raw, skin-shredding tension of the first few films. The latest trailer for Alien: Romulus looks like the series is headed back to its dark, claustrophobic roots.

Alien: Romulus features a whole new crew of doomed space-trekking souls who encounter the deadly Xenomorph on a derelict spacecraft. This time, it’s a crew of space colonizers who are scavenging for resources from abandoned ships and stations.

This Alien film was co-written and directed by Fede Alvarez, the filmmaker behind cult horror flicks such as the two Don’t Breathe movies and the Evil Dead remake. So, yes, Alien: Romulus is gonna be very tense and very, very bloody. Where the original Alien merely strapped a parasitoid xenomorph to a crew member's face, the trailer for Romulus is willing to show a facehugger penetrating some poor guy's head. Yikes.

Alien: Romulus hits theaters on Friday, Aug. 16.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-final-trailer-for-alien-romulus-looks-tense-bloody-and-awesome-191908758.html?src=rss

Meta gives researchers access to Instagram data for teen mental health study

Serious concerns have been raised about the effect of social media on teenagers’ mental well-being. Meta is letting a group of researchers examine some of Instagram’s data to determine if social media is psychologically damaging younger users.

The Verge reported that the Center for Open Science (COS) is launching a new joint pilot program with Meta to produce independent studies about how social media affects teenagers’ mental health.

The Instagram Data Access Pilot for Well-Being Research program will conduct “independent academic” research using up to six months of Instagram data to determine the “potential positive or negative associations of Instagram use” among teens and young adults. The study will also examine the positive and negative differences of large populations across the world and the causes of “statistical relationships between Instagram and social or emotional health,” according to the program’s website.

The data researchers can access may include an Instagram user’s followers and the accounts they follow, account settings and the amount of time they spend on the photo sharing service. The researchers will not have access to users’ demographic information or the contents of their posts and comments. The data will come from accounts based in 24 countries including the US and UK, according to the request for proposal (RFP).

Other scientific studies conducted by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and New York University and Stanford have found parallel links between social media use and the state of a person’s mental health. The link earned greater awareness last year when Arturo Béjar, a former director of engineering for Protect and Care at Facebook, testified before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee that he alerted the company and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg by email of the dangers their product could have on young people.

Béjar testified that seven days before the hearing, 13 percent of users on Instagram between the ages of 13-15 receive unwanted sexual advances. He also testified that his own 16-year-old daughter exhibited signs of a momentary decline in mental health when a user commented that she should “get back to the kitchen” under one of her posts.

A month before the hearing, 41 states filed a lawsuit against Meta for allegedly misleading the public about the potentially addictive nature of its platforms like Facebook and Instagram among teenagers.

"My experience, after sending that email and seeing what happened afterwards, is that they knew there were things they could do about it, they chose not to do them and we cannot trust them with our children," Béjar said during the hearing. "It's time for Congress to act. The evidence, I believe, is overwhelming."

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/meta-gives-researchers-access-to-instagram-data-for-teen-mental-health-study-204322979.html?src=rss

No Man’s Sky’s newest update is a buried tech module full of new goodies

No Man’s Sky has been sending players on interstellar explorations for more than eight years now, and explorers probably haven’t uncovered a tenth of this computer-generated universe. A huge new update called Worlds Part I expands this already sizable game with a ton of new gadgets, story driven missions and new worlds to discover and explore.

The Worlds Part I update is available now in No Man’s Sky across all consoles as well as PC and Mac. All told, there are over 40 new features, improvements or fixes and additions.

The game already has over 18 quintillion planets but there are a few new types added to this mix. One of the new world types now have “gravitational distortions” that have altered terrains to create floating islands that can be mined, altered or used as a platform to build a new homebase in the sky. No Man’s Sky has also transformed some of its words into “sub-zero” landscapes with new flora, mineral formations and terrains. Some worlds have even generated new forms of life such as plant-animal hybrids with features like “stamen-like whiskers” and “petal-like faces,” according to the official website.

The Worlds Part I update also comes with a bunch of new graphics improvements and features. Hello Games has given pretty much every part of its worlds a new look from the “new volumetric clouds” in the sky to the “high definition water” and “dynamic water” that’s more responsive to wind, depth and weather conditions.

Hello Games just released a huge update for No Man's Sky called Worlds Part I.
Hello Games

Some planets have visually enhanced atmospheres that can produce familiar weather like rain and snow as well as unusual conditions such as falling ash and ember and storm crystals. The update also provides some engine enhancements to improve the game’s graphics and performance and render environments faster and clearer. There are even new sky and water colors across the universe’s many landscapes and horizons.

The new update isn’t just a cosmetic fix. There’s also some new toys in the game that help you alter planets’ terrains or blow giant holes in your enemies’ spacecraft. The coolest are the Liquidator combat mechs that look like giant Star Wars imperial walkers (if you cut off its head and attached a pair of arms to either side). You can also mount weapons on the arm such as the new Minotaur Flamethrower that can cause “extreme damage at close range.”

A flamethrower will come in handy when you’re engaged in combat in one of the new “walker battles” featuring new, deadly Sentinel units to fight or taking on one of the “vile insect queens” or a hostile beetle (or gentle but still roastable). Once you’ve defeated them, you can turn their carcasses into mounted trophies for your living space. There’s also new biological based accessories you can build including a “Chitin Flight Pack” and an insect based armor set if you want your explorer to look more GWAR-esque.

There’s even a new menu of “strange nutrients” to keep your explorer sated and healthy with ingredients like “nourishing slime,” “syrupy nectar” and “juicy grubs.” These components can create new dishes to consume like “Mucal Doughnuts,” “Seeping Pies” and “Juicy Thoraxes” that make Scottish cuisine sound like items from the French Laundry.

Hello Games just released a huge update for No Man's Sky called Worlds Part I.
Hello Games

Now that you’ve got new items from your arsenal like bug-based armor and flamethrowers, you can take them out for a test-toast on new story-driven missions like the “Vile Brood Nexus Mission” to eradicate an invasive species. Once you get your Liquidator mech, you can go on a “Bug Hunt Expedition” to exterminate species of giant, dangerous insects and other biological horrors.

Phew, that’s one massive update. No Man’s Sky is known for its huge updates and patches that throw a ton of new stuff into the game’s virtual universe. The Orbital update released in March added new features like a ship editor and a new Guild system. The Echo package generated a new form of mechanical life called the Autophage, multi-tool salvaging and a graphics boost for PlayStationVR 2.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/no-mans-skys-newest-update-is-a-buried-tech-module-full-of-new-goodies-182151743.html?src=rss

Spotify’s AI music DJ can now speak Spanish

AI seems to be seeping into every facet of society these days, but that may not be the case in communities where English isn’t the dominant language. Spotify is working to correct that by offering a Spanish-speaking version of its DJ feature.

Spotify announced the new Spanish speaking feature for its DJ mode also known as Xavier or “X” on Wednesday. The new DJ is named Livi and Spotify has even given its new DJ a backstory describing her as a “Senior Music Editor at Spotify based out of Mexico City” and “a music expert who has spent her entire career in the music industry.

It’s basically a cruder version of how Jon Hamm can digitally assign backgrounds and perspectives to “cookies” in Black Mirror’s Christmas episode. Does this mean X and Livia will start screaming if we play Wizzard’s “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” on an endless loop?

DJ is an AI generated list of curated songs based on a Spotify user’s listening history. The DJ feature also includes an AI voice introducing and commenting on some of the songs it picks just like a radio DJ would except this DJ plays songs you actually want to hear. The music streaming service launched DJ last year using OpenAI. Six months later, Spotify expanded DJ’s reach to 50 countries but only in English.

Spotify’s DJ is also starting to get some competition. YouTube Music just announced its own AI-generated conversational DJ radio generator for select users. If they don’t call him “YouGene,” then they are missing out on pure pun gold.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/spotifys-ai-music-dj-can-now-speak-spanish-180022156.html?src=rss

Hear Kevin Conroy’s final performance as Batman in Crisis on Infinite Earths

The sudden and tragic passing of Kevin Conroy, the revered voice actor who voiced Batman/Bruce Wayne for Batman: The Animated Series and the Batman Arkham games and died in 2022 at 66, somehow felt worse with the release of the Suicide Squad game. Rocksteady’s disappointing open world DC Comics game almost marked the last time that Conroy would voice The Dark Knight and an evil Batman at that. Even if the game was good, it wouldn’t feel right letting Conroy’s credit list end on such a down note.

Thankfully, a new Warner Bros. Animation trilogy based on the Justice League: Crisis of Infinite Earths DC comics series will feature the final voiceover performance of Conroy as Batman. The climatic scene showing his final moments found its way to X yesterday.

Conroy's final voiceover occurs in the final film of the trilogy. If you don’t want to know how it ends before you’ve had a chance to watch the whole thing, you should stop scrolling down right now.

The whole scene feels like a purposeful nod and tribute to Conroy and his contributions to the animated and pixelated Batmen. The scene starts with lightning as the virtual camera pans down to Batman. He’s standing on a building overlooking Gotham City just like in the opening credits of Batman: The Animated Series, the 90s afternoon TV cartoon that first glued Conroy’s voice to the image of Batman.

The Joker, voiced by Troy Baker, sneaks up behind ol’ Bats and tries to sucker punch him but fails. He strikes Joker to the ground and Joker says with a smile, “I’m flattered. The end of the world and you wanted to spend it with me. I didn’t know you cared.”

Some kind of destructive force envelopes the city and sky. Batman remarks just before the world implodes, “I care, Joker, about Gotham, about justice and if it has to end, at least I go out like this. Being Batman.”

We also should’ve included a Kleenex warning because it’s such a touching way to pay tribute to Conroy and his legacy to the Batman series.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/hear-kevin-conroys-final-performance-as-batman-in-crisis-on-infinite-earths-221556477.html?src=rss

New photos reveal more details about Google’s Pixel 9 Pro Fold

Google’s secret new line of Pixel 9 phones isn’t that big of a secret anymore. Taiwan’s National Communications Commission (NCC) released new photos of the phones including the Pixel 9 Pro Fold from almost every conceivable angle.

Android Authority found the photos in the NCC archives and uploaded galleries of each of the four phones including the Pixel 9, 9 Pro, 9 Pro XL and 9 Pro Fold. They reveal some interesting details about the new Pixel phones.

The charging rates will be a little faster than the last generation of Pixel phones: Taiwanese authorities measured 24.12W for the base model, 25.20W for the Pro and 32.67W for the 9 Pro XL. The Pixel 9 Pro Fold, however, was the slowest of all of them at 20.25W. These numbers don’t often match up perfectly with the advertised ratings, so expect Google to be promoting higher numbers at its event.

Speaking of chargers, it looks like Google needed a bigger charger to power its new phones. Photos included in the NCC leak show each phone will come with a wall charger that’s around 45W depending on which model you purchase. The charger’s plug moved from the middle to the top of the brick.

The Google Pixel 9 Pro Fold can fully unfold.
NCC/Android Authority

The latest photo dump also shows the 9 Pro Fold unfolded for the first time. Google has moved the selfie camera to the inside screen for a wider field of view. The 9 Pro Fold also has a slimmer top and bottom, a reduced fold crease on the display and a full 180 degree unfolding angle to make a screen that’s just over 250mm or just under 10 inches.

These photos are the latest in a very long list of leaks of Google Pixel 9 photos. The last Pixel 9 leak came down yesterday showing two prototype models of the base and XL models. Google might look into buying a new combination lock for the high school locker where they apparently keep all their unreleased gear.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/new-photos-reveal-more-details-about-googles-pixel-9-pro-fold-213344869.html?src=rss