by Larry Hardesty

 
A new MIT programming tool would automatically plug holes that hackers exploit.
 

More and more, malicious hackers are exploiting web site security holes to attack their victims' computers. Programmers try to identify those holes in advance and plug them with code that performs security checks; but if they find a hundred holes and miss one, their programs are still insecure. At next week's ACM Symposium on Operating Systems Principles, however, MIT researchers will present a new system called Resin, which automatically calls up security checks whenever they're required, even in unforeseen circumstances.

by Larry Hardesty

The World Wide Web Consortium weighs in on government transparency

On May 21, the day the White House unveiled its Open Government Initiative, it also launched the website data.gov, which put information like Medicare cost reports, residential energy consumption and toxic waste reports online. Finding new technical means to make data accessible is central to the Obama administration's plans for increasing government transparency, and as those plans unfold, the administration will have growing support from the World Wide Web Consortium's eGovernment interest group.

by Eric Frazier

Computer security mimics nature

In the never-ending battle to protect computer networks from intruders, security experts are deploying a new defense modeled after one of nature’s hardiest creatures — the ant.

Unlike traditional security devices, which are static, these “digital ants” wander through computer networks looking for threats, such as “computer worms” — self-replicating programs designed to steal information or facilitate unauthorized use of machines. When a digital ant detects a threat, it doesn’t take long for an army of ants to converge at that location, drawing the attention of human operators who step in to investigate.

The precise conditions inside a white dwarf star in the hours leading up to its explosive end as a Type Ia supernova are one of the mysteries confronting astrophysicists studying these massive stellar explosions. But now, a team of researchers, composed of three applied mathematicians at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and two astrophysicists, has created the first full-star simulation of the hours preceding the largest thermonuclear explosions in the universe.

In a paper to be published in the October issue of Astrophysical Journal, Ann Almgren, John Bell and Andy Nonaka of Berkeley Lab's Computational Research Division, with Mike Zingale of Stony Brook University and Stan Woosley of University of California, Santa Cruz, describe the first-ever three-dimensional, full-star simulations of convection in a white dwarf leading up to ignition of a Type Ia supernova. The project was funded by the DOE Office of Science.

A new study by a University of Warwick researcher has demonstrated that researchers trying to model a range of processes could use the power and capabilities of a particular XBox chip as a much cheaper alternative to other forms of parallel processing hardware.

Dr Simon Scarle, a researcher in the University of Warwick’s WMG Digital Laboratory, wished to model how electrical excitations in the heart moved around damaged cardiac cells in order to investigate or even predict cardiac arrhythmias (abnormal electrical activity in the heart which can lead to a heart attack). To conduct these simulations using traditional CPU based processing one would normally need to book time on a dedicated parallel processing computer or spend thousands on a parallel network of PCs.

by Tom Simonite

In cult sci-fi tale Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the most powerful computer in the universe was charged with finding the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

In the real world, a newly built supercomputer that is the most powerful ever dedicated to science will be tackling questions about energy use and generation, climate change, supernovas, and the structure of water.

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