November 20, 2020

Dutch tech journalist crashes secret European meeting

Filed under: Technology by Orangemaster @ 7:26 pm

Dutch tech journalist and author Daniël Verlaan, who recently hacked the lights on Rotterdam’s Erasmus Bridge, has now crashed an online secret meeting of the European Ministers of Defence.

Verlaan popped in and people started laughing. The President of the Council, Spain’s Josep Borrell Fontelles, said “Somebody has gone into the system! Who are you?” The President made a crack to the meeting participants about ‘having to invest in secrecy’, which is spot on. Verlaan said hello, identified himself as a Dutch journalist, said sorry, and quickly left.

Before he left, he was told “You know that you have been jumping into a secret conference?” (sic) […] It’s a criminal offence!” said Fontelles.

How did Verlaan do it? Dutch Minister of Defence Ank Bijleveld had posted a picture on Twitter where five digits out of the six digits of the meeting login code was visible, and the last one was found ‘in just a few tries’. Apparently, there wasn’t any additional security, either.

The meeting was then stopped because it was no longer confidential. Cue a good rant about online security.

(Link: rtlnieuws.nl)

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November 19, 2020

Dutch data award for major bird database

Filed under: Animals,Science,Technology by Orangemaster @ 10:51 am

Led by Antica Culina and Marcel Visser of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), Studies of Populations of Individuals (SPI-Birds) is a network of researchers who collect, secure and use long-term breeding population data of 1.5 million individually recognisable birds, an amount that keeps increasing. SPI-Birds have recently been awarded the Dutch Data Incentive Prize for the Medical and Life Sciences and very recently published their first scientific paper in the Journal of Animal Ecology, which coincides with them receiving the award. They’ve got the wind under their wings.

“Behind the paper describing our initiative, there are around 120 people and 1.5 million individually marked birds from 80 populations and 19 species. And an army of people who have been collecting these data, in sunshine and rain, adding up to over 2000 seasons of fieldwork.” explains Culina.

Having access to this database means preventing lost data and increasing future data quality with a community-supported standard. “SPI-Birds is important, because it allows comparative studies among populations by making the data FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable). Converting the various data formats into a single standard data format, especially, really facilitates the use of the data.” says Visser.

The first SPI Bird paper aims to describe the network for new members and stakeholders, and its ‘lessons learned’ in order to inspire other communities. “We hope SPI-Birds will serve as an encouragement to other research communities to create their own standards,” Culina adds.

(Link: phys.org)

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November 11, 2020

Dutch tech journalist hacks lights on Rotterdam bridge

Filed under: Technology by Orangemaster @ 6:00 am

On 9 November Dutch tech journalist and author Daniël Verlaan hacked the online lighting system of the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam. Although he went for the colour pink, most people said it looked more like purple, but that’s besides the point.

In a tweet he claims that the lighting system had been accessible to everyone for a year, and there wasn’t even a password protecting it. That fact is very interesting since his very first book just came out and is aptly called ‘Ik weet je wachtwoord‘ (‘I Know Your Password’). Verlaan got the tip from a white hat hacker who pointed the wide open bridge system out to him. Using the keyword ‘Rotterdam’, the open system showed up in one of the first results on search engine Shodan.io, made for smart devices. The system was accessible online using an IP, protected by an easy to circumvent login.

The city of Rotterdam has now taken the system offline. And the lights are only for special occasions.

(Link: rtlnieuws.nl, Photo of Erasmus Bridge by Joop van Houdt – Beeldbank.rws.nlSome rights reserved)

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November 10, 2020

Leiden University prints a micro-sized Star Trek starship

Filed under: Film,Science,Technology by Orangemaster @ 11:59 am

According to CNN and BoingBoing on Twitter, while developing methods to 3D print synthetic micro-swimmers, microscopic devices that can propel themselves by interacting with the chemicals in their surrounding environment, researchers at Leiden University printed a model of Star Trek’s USS Voyager that’s just 15 micrometers long. As a comparison, a human hair is around 75 micrometers in diameter.

By studying synthetic micro-swimmers, we would like to understand biological micro-swimmers,” Samia Ouhajji, one of the study’s authors, told CNN. This understanding could aid in developing new drug delivery vehicles; for example, microrobots that swim autonomously and deliver drugs at the desired location in the human body.

Why did they go for Star Trek and why one of the franchise’s later starships? Jonas Hoecht, one of the study’s co-authors, claims to be a big Star Trek fan and was told he could print anything he wanted. Of course, I still want to know why he opted for Voyager and not a version of the Enterprise, but it’s still extremely cool.

(Link boingboing.net, image ealclearscience.com)

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July 27, 2020

Horse helped determine law in the age of the Internet

Filed under: Animals,Dutch first,Technology by Branko Collin @ 2:48 pm

It was 1914, there was a world war being fought, and a clever man thought he had found a way to smuggle a horse.

In that year, exporting horses from Azewijn, in the neutral Netherlands, to warring Germany was illegal. As local newspaper De Graafschap-bode told the story at the time:

L. Lueb, 32 years of age and farmer in Klein Netterden (Germany) is being tried for exporting a horse on 7 September 1914 from the municipality of Bergh across the border at Klein Netterden, by pulling said animal through the water of said canal towards the place from which he was pulling whilst standing on the German side of the border canal while the horse was on the other side of said canal, with clear intent and by means of a rope tied around the neck of said horse.

People used so many words in those days…

The courts could just smell that Mr Lueb was guilty, but legally, a whiff is not enough. A law needs to be found by which to convict a person. But more than that, they had to agree they had jurisdiction. The law rarely determines that somebody can be tried for something they did in another country.

The result was that the case ended up before the Dutch supreme court.

The original court held that not the location of the perpetrator, but rather the ‘exportable object’ determined the location of the crime, Haal Je Recht writes.

The appeals court disagreed and came up with a post-human solution: the rope is an extension of the arm, and the arm was on Dutch soil at the time of the crime. The Dutch supreme court reworded the verdict, but came pretty much to the same conclusion: one can use an instrument to act in a different place from where one currently is.

In our current day and age, it has become much easier to use an instrument to act in a different place. The supreme court referenced the Case of the Horse of Azewijn as recent as last year when it convicted skimmers who had tried to plunder Dutch bank accounts from an ATM in Milan, Italy.

In 1915, Mr Lueb was convicted to a prison sentence of three months. What happened to the horse, I don’t know.

Photo of he German – Dutch border canal near Netterden by Pieter Delicaat, some rights reserved.

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May 10, 2020

City council meeting plague by porn

Filed under: General,Technology by Orangemaster @ 6:06 pm

The Dutch town of West Betuwe, Gelderland recently held online meetings of its city council using the popular meeting software Zoom. In the spirit of wanting to show its residents what they were up to, folks could follow the meeting by clicking on a link. Problem is, the wrong link was made public and city council was bombarded with racist slurs, fascist symbols and pornography.

It’s simple: city council supplied the wrong link to the public, but the Dutch media had fun blaming Zoom, hackers and everybody else but the officials who apparently didn’t know what they were doing. Of course, they had to cut their meetings short and need to figure out how Zoom works – Have they? They are considering going to the police as well since they had to deal with very nasty stuff.

Meeting in person like they used to is currently not possible due to the coronavirus. And it was also the first time citizens could watch. Now West Betuwe has a reason to figure out how online meetings work. However, I can imagine that it was a terrible experience for city council. It was so shocking that meeting again in person following Covid-19 measures is back on the table.

(Link: binnenlandsbestuur.nl, Photo of Paris Louvre facepalm by Phelan Riessen, some rights reserved)

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February 19, 2020

Vintage Dutch tech site calls it a day

Filed under: History,Online,Technology by Orangemaster @ 5:50 pm

Webwereld, one of the oldest tech news sites of the Netherlands, is going to cease to exist. We enjoyed using them as a source for subjects such as high speed wireless internet (wimax), NL-alert (national alarm system), net neutrality and quite a few more.

The tech-savvy site had been around since 1995, and editorial staff were sent packing about a month ago. The site will go offline on 1 March, and its owner, IDG, will apparently continue on with business sites.

Way back in in the day, having a 24-hour online news service about IT was a big deal and quite new, at least in such a small country and language region as the Netherlands. One of the cool things they did was launch ‘lektober’ (‘leaktober’) in 2011, which featured company data leaks back when companies didn’t quite know how to deal with them (they still don’t, but OK).

Thanks for the good stories, Webwereld!

(Link: bright.nl)

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February 5, 2020

University of Maastricht pays 197.000 euro in ransomware

Filed under: Technology by Orangemaster @ 4:21 pm

Just before Christmas, the University of Maastricht fell victim to a cyberattack, as their IT system was held hostage and shut down for weeks. The university saw no other way out than to pay a whopping 197.000 euro to get control back of their computers.

According to a computer security company, hackers got into the system after someone on a laptop clicked on a link in a phishing email. In October and November 2019, the hackers were getting ready to hold six servers hostage that didn’t have the proper updated security updates. On 21 November, they controlled the entire system, and on 23 December, they deactivated the antivirus software and froze up the entire IT system.

The hackers were probably Grace-RAT (TA505), an Eastern European, Russian-speaking cybercriminals who have been around since 2014 and from the likes of it, business is going well: 197,000 euro is a whole lot of ‘dengi’ (‘money’).

(Link: bright.nl)

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December 4, 2019

Dutch-Chinese space explorer now behind the moon

Filed under: Technology by Orangemaster @ 5:21 pm

Last week The Netherlands-China Low Frequency Explorer (NCLE) that was hanging in space for over a year finally had its three antennas unfolded, while it settled in behind the moon. As well, the accompanying satellite, QueQiao, initially planned to be a communications satellite, was turned into a radio observatory.

The NCLE is the first Dutch-Chinese space observatory for radio astronomy. With these shorter antennas, the instrument is sensitive to signals from around 800 million years after the Big Bang. Once unfolded to their full length, they will be able to capture weak radio signals from a period just following the Big Bang, called the Dark Ages.

Marc Klein Wolt, Managing Director of the Radboud Radio Lab and leader of the Dutch team, Albert-Jan Boonstra of Astron as well as Heino Falcke of Radboud University are all thrilled in their own way about being able to perform their observations during the fourteen-day-long night behind the moon. “This is a unique demonstration of technology that paves the way for future radio instruments in space,” Boonstra said.

(Link: phys.org)

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November 7, 2019

Tom Scott visits Waterloopbos, a former open air laboratory to study the way water flows

Filed under: Nature,Science,Sustainability,Technology by Branko Collin @ 7:56 pm

YouTuber Tom Scott visited the Waterloopbos in Marknesse in the Noordoostpolder and had a little chat with Leo van Rijn, a specialist in modelling the flow of watercourses.

As wiki says: “The Waterloopbos [literally ‘Watercourse Forest’] was the property of Delft Hydraulics […]. In 35 large scale models of sea arms and harbours, such as the Deltaworks and the harbour of Lagos, tests were performed in order to learn how to predict the way large hydraulic systems influence the course of water.”

The laboratory closed in 1995 and the forest is now owned by Natuurmonumenten and is open to visitors from sunrise to sunset (Dutch). It is part of the Voorsterbos, the oldest forest in Flevoland, a province that was entirely reclaimed from the water.

Read more about Waterloopbos at Holland.com.

(Photo: screen capture of a video by Tom Scott / Youtube)

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