Vermont power company finds malware linked to Russian hackers

A malware signature linked to ‘Grizzly Steppe’ by the FBI and DHS was found on a single laptop.

Just a few days ago, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security released a report detailing their assessment that Russian hackers were behind a series of attacks on US agencies and citizens. While the Obama administration issued sanctions, code linked to those hackers has been shared with other agencies, and on Friday, the Burlington Electric Department found malware with a matching signature on one of its laptops. The discovery raises more questions than it answers, but with recent reports of Russian hackers attacking the power grid in Ukraine, it obviously has raised alerts all over.

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Giant Avatar-style robot takes first steps in South Korea 

A giant South Korean-built manned robot that walks like a human but makes the ground shake under its weight has taken its first baby steps.

Designed by a veteran of science fiction blockbusters, the four-metre-tall (13-foot), 1.5 ton Method-2 towers over a room on the outskirts of Seoul.

An employee controls the arms of a manned biped walking robot "METHOD-2" during a demonstration in Gunpo, South Korea

The hulking human-like creation bears a striking resemblance to the military robots starring in the movie “Avatar”.

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Verizon knocks $100 off the second generation Moto 360

Time to get a watch

Smartwatches might be in a slide, but the good news is that means we’re bound to see some decent deals as a result. Price was always one of our hangups with the second generation Moto 360, but Verizon is now selling it for $200 with free shipping — at least $100 cheaper than you can find most other places.

Lenovo, LG, and Huawei all announced earlier this year that they aren’t planning to release new smartwatches anytime soon, so this is likely to be the last Moto 360 for a while. The good news is that the second generation Moto 360 is one of the watches that will support Android Wear 2.0 when it’s released.

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Apple working with Consumer Reports to pin down inconsistent MacBook Pro battery test results

On December 22nd, Consumer Reports said it could not recommend the MacBook Pro — a first for a Mac laptop. It caused a stir! Consumer Reports’ reasoning was simple: it got wildly inconsistent battery test results every time it tried to test multiple versions of the laptop. Its test is one that’s pretty common across the industry, loading up web pages one after another:

For the battery test, we download a series of 10 web pages sequentially, starting with the battery fully charged, and ending when the laptop shuts down. The web pages are stored on a server in our lab, and transmitted over a WiFi network set up specifically for this purpose. We conduct our battery tests using the computer’s default browser—Safari, in the case of the MacBook Pro laptops.

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Cyanogen failed to kill Android, now it is shuttering its services and OS as part of a pivot

It’s been a rocky few months for Cyanogen, the ambitious startup that aimed to build a better version of Android than Google. It has laid off staff, let go of its CEO and parted ways with another co-founder — now it is shutting down its services and nightly software builds on December 31.

The news was announced in a brief blog post released late on Friday:

As part of the ongoing consolidation of Cyanogen, all services and Cyanogen-supported nightly builds will be discontinued no later than 12/31/16. The open source project and source code will remain available for anyone who wants to build CyanogenMod personally.

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Tesla’s Autopilot will now stick to the speed limit

And the promised Enhanced Autopilot update is still awaiting validation.

Autopilot-enabled Teslas are about to become slightly more conservative drivers. The company’s latest software update will match the top speed to the posted speed limit when the vehicle’s Autosteer function is engaged, TechCrunch reports today. In the previous version, Autopilot was allowed to speed by about five mph on undivided highways, but the new cap won’t apply on freeways where the system is limited to 90 mph.

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Why the Trump administration needs a chief data officer

After President-elect Donald Trump’s surprising win — despite almost all national polls showing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton a virtual lock for victory — a narrative has emerged that the stunning result was a loss for big data, too. “Tonight, data died,” Republican strategist Mike Murphy said on MSNBC.

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The government body that oversees the security of voting systems was itself hacked

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission, which is responsible for testing and certifying voting systems, among other things, was hacked around the time of the election, security outfit Recorded Future reports. The EAC confirmed a “potential intrusion” in a statement issued to TechCrunch.

This isn’t a smoking gun for a stolen election or anything like that; the EAC doesn’t actually run the elections, nor does it handle voter information. But it is a shameful display all the same, especially considering how loudly and frequently the hacking threat has been bruited by officials this year.

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Oracle CEO Safra Catz joins Trump transition team

Oracle’s chief executive Safra Catz will join President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, an Oracle spokesperson told TechCrunch.

Catz was one of several top tech executives that attended a meeting with Trump, his children and his advisors yesterday at Trump Tower in New York. Catz was the most outspokenly optimistic attendee prior to the meeting, saying, “I plan to tell the President-elect that we are with him and are here to help in any way we can.”

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America’s problems are Silicon Valley’s next investment

Rounds versus appropriations. Term sheets versus term limits. Silicon Valley and Washington speak different languages, but we mostly understand each other. The same is less true of conversations between the economic and political elites and the constituencies they serve.

President-elect Trump and members of the new administration met with tech leaders on Wednesday, where Trump told Elon Musk, Larry Page, and Sheryl Sandberg, among others, that “there’s no one in the world like you!”

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