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Attention! Now viewing an image online could hack into your computer

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Who would have thought that an innocent looking image file might prove to be a disastrous intruder in your personal computer?

In the new age digital world, inventions and discoveries have to be scrutinized in and out to find out their hidden attributes. One can’t be sure if a discovery is ever entirely beneficial or not.

As reported by motherboard.vice.com, Saumil Shah, a security researcher from India has devised a technique called “Stegosploit”    through which a hacker could hide malicious code inside the picture’s pixels. The technique that he has put to use is known  as ‘steganography’. It consists of stashing secret text or images in a different text or images.

Shah calls it the “magic sauce” behind Stegosploit. In this case, the malicious code or exploit is encoded inside the picture’s pixels, and it’s then decoded using an HTML 5 element called Canvas, which allows for dynamic rendering of images.

“I don’t need to host a blog, I don’t need to host a website at all. I don’t even need to register a domain,” Shah told Motherboard, during the demo last week. “I can take an image, upload it somewhere and if I just point you toward that image, and you load this image in a browser, it will detonate.”

 

The malicious code, which Shah calls “IMAJS,” is a mix of image code and javascript hidden into a JPG or PNG file. Shah hides the code within the picture’s pixels, and from the outside, unless you zoom a lot into it, the picture looks just fine.

Admitting that the technique might not work everywhere, Shah adds that he, himself hasn’t fully tested his technique on known image sharing sites such as Imgur or Dropbox,. The malicious file has to be uploaded without an extension for the browser to be tricked into rendering it, and some sites, such as Dropbox, don’t allow that. Moreover sites like Facebook reprocess the images when they are uploaded, causing the loss of the malicious code, according to Shah.

Still, Shah believes it’s just a matter of time and that “these techniques are coming, sooner or later.”

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Just in! Like Computer Software, Scientists can now Programme Cells in your Body to Fight Diseases!

Scientists found that RNA which is produced abundantly by humans, plants and animals can be genetically engineered to allow scientists to programme cells with specific commands

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Programme cells
Scientists have found that cells can be programmed with pre-defined RNA commands, in the manner of a computer's microprocessor VOA

London, September 19, 2017 : A new technique can help programme cells like a computer to fight cancer, influenza, and other serious conditions, suggests new research.

A common molecule — ribonucleic acid (RNA), which is produced abundantly by humans, plants and animals — can be genetically engineered to allow scientists to programme cells, said the study published in the journal Nucleic Acids Research.

RNAs carry information between protein and DNA in cells, and the research proved that these molecules can be produced and organised into tailor-made sequences of commands — similar to codes for computer software — which feed specific instructions into cells, programming them to do what we want.

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Cells have the capacity to process and respond to instructions and codes inputted into their main system, said lead researcher Alfonso Jaramillo, Professor at University of Warwick in Britain.

Similar to software running on a computer, or apps on a mobile device, many different RNA sequences could be created to empower cells with a ‘Virtual Machine’, able to interpret a universal RNA language, and to perform specific actions to address different diseases or problems, the study said.

This will allow a novel type of personalised and efficient healthcare, allowing us to ‘download’ a sequence of actions into cells, instructing them to execute complex decisions encoded in the RNA.

The researchers made their invention by first modelling all possible RNA sequence interactions on a computer, and then constructing the DNA encoding the optimal RNA designs, to be validated on bacteria cells in the laboratory.

After inducing the bacterial cells to produce the genetically engineered RNA sequences, the researchers observed that they had altered the gene expression of the cells according to the RNA programme — demonstrating that cells can be programmed with pre-defined RNA commands, in the manner of a computer’s microprocessor.

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“The capabilities of RNA molecules to interact in a predictable manner, and with alternative conformations, has allowed us to engineer networks of molecular switches that could be made to process arbitrary orders encoded in RNA,” Jaramillo said.

As well as fighting disease and injury in humans, scientists could harness this technique to control plant cells and reverse environmental and agricultural issues, making plants more resilient to disease and pests.

“Throughout last year, my group has been developing methodologies to enable RNA sensing the environment, perform arithmetic computations and control gene expression without relying on proteins, which makes the system universal across all living kingdoms,” Jaramillo said.

“The cells could read the RNA ‘software’ to perform the encoded tasks, which could make the cells detect abnormal states, infections, or trigger developmental programmes,” he added.  (IANS)