Android phones turned into spambots
ABINGDON, England, July 5 (UPI) -- A new malware is targeting Android-based smartphones and turning them into a spam botnet, a British security firm says.
Security company Sophos said spam messages promoting counterfeit Viagra and other pharmaceuticals are being sent from Google Android phones and tablets using Yahoo's mail service.
The spam botnet appears to be affecting users who downloaded pirated copies of paid Android apps that were infected with trojans, said Chester Wisniewski, a senior security adviser at Sophos.
"Android users should exercise caution when downloading applications for their devices and definitely avoid downloading pirated programs from unofficial sources," Wisniewski told PCworld. "Google, Amazon and others may not be perfect at keeping malware off of their stores, but the risk increases dramatically outside of their ecosystems."
Spam messages have been identified as coming from Argentina, Ukraine, Pakistan, Georgia and Russia.
Study questions planet formation theories
ATHENS, Ga., July 5 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say a study challenges current assumptions on planet formation, suggesting planets might form much faster than previously thought.
Either that, they said, or stars harboring planets could be far more numerous than astronomers have up to now believed.
The study, by several U.S. universities and the Australian National University, made a curious and unexpected finding, that the cloud of dust circling a young star in a so-called stellar nursery has simply disappeared.
"The most commonly accepted time scale for the removal of this much dust is in the hundreds of thousands of years, sometimes millions," study co-author Inseok Song of the University or Georgia said. "What we saw was far more rapid and has never been observed or even predicted. It tells us that we have a lot more to learn about planet formation."
The star in the Scorpius-Centaurus stellar association 450 light years from Earth was observed in 1983 surrounded by a cloud of dust that had mostly disappeared when new observations were made in 2010, a UG release reported Wednesday.
The speed of the disappearance surprised astronomers.
"It's as if you took a conventional picture of the planet Saturn today and then came back two years later and found that its rings had disappeared," co-author Ben Zuckerman of UCLA said.
Planet formation in a circumstellar disk is commonly thought to occur over hundreds of thousands of years.
"If what we observed is related to runaway growth, then our finding suggests that planet formation is very fast and very efficient," Song said. "The implication is that if the conditions are right around a star, planet formation can be nearly instantaneous from [an] astronomical perspective."
South Korea proposes to resume whale hunt
IMPINGTON, England, July 5 (UPI) -- South Korea says it proposes to conduct "research" whaling with a program similar to that of Japan, a proposal condemned by many other nations.
A whale hunt targeting minke whales for research purposes would take place near the Korean coast, but how many would be caught under the proposal is unclear, the BBC reported Thursday.
The Wall Street Journal reported the 1986 International Whaling Commission ban on whaling makes a narrow exemption for whaling done for research purposes.
The South Korean delegation told a meeting of the International Whaling Commission the research was needed "for the proper assessment of whale stock," but many governments at the meeting condemned the proposal.
"We believe that scientific whaling on this [minke] stock borders on the reckless," New Zealand's delegation head, Gerard van Bohemen, said.
"I'm very disappointed by this announcement by South Korea," Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said. "We are completely opposed to whaling, there's no excuse for scientific whaling."
Joon-Suk Kang, head of the South Korean IWC delegation, said the proposed hunting was necessary to answer questions about minke whale stocks that non-lethal research had been unable to provide.
Conservation groups argue Japan's scientific whale hunts -- and Korea's, if allowed -- flout regulations designed to allow for the hunting of a few whales here and there, but not hundreds per year.
"This is commercial whaling, clear and simple," Australian IWC delegate Donna Petrochenko told the meeting.
The South Korean government banned commercial whaling the same year the ban went into effect, but still allows for the sale of meat from whales accidentally snared in fishing nets.
Star pair orbits surprise astronomers
LONDON, July 5 (UPI) -- Astronomers using a British telescope in Hawaii say they've seen four pairs of stars, known as binaries, that orbit each other closer than was thought possible.
While binary stars are common, believed to have formed close together and orbiting each other since birth, it was always thought that if binary stars form too close to each other, they would quickly merge into one single, bigger star.
Observations during the last three decades have found an abundant population of stellar binaries, but none with orbital periods shorter than 5 hours.
However, astronomers using the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope say the four binary systems they found orbit each other in less than 4 hours, with one system orbiting in just 2.5 hours, previously thought impossible.
"It means that we have to rethink how these close-in binaries form and evolve," lead study author Bas Nefs from Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands said.
Writing in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the researchers describe investigating binaries of red dwarfs, stars as much as 10 times smaller and a thousand times less luminous than the sun.
"To our complete surprise, we found several red dwarf binaries with orbital periods significantly shorter than the 5 hour cut-off found for sun-like stars, something previously thought to be impossible," Nefs said.
It is possible intense magnetic field lines radiating out from the companions could apply the brakes to these spinning stars, slowing them down so that they move closer together, researchers said.
|Additional Technology Stories|
LAUDERHILL, Fla., May 23 (UPI) --Police said they have arrested a Florida man who mistakenly pocket-dialed 911 while planning a killing earlier this month.
LONDON, May 23 (UPI) --U.S. rocker Jon Bon Jovi is advising 19-year-old pop star Justin Bieber to respect his fans if he wants to have a long and successful career.
WASHINGTON, May 22 (UPI) --U.S. researchers say they've discovered what may be the world's largest methane seep on the ocean floor, where life thrives under extreme conditions.
KATHMANDU, Nepal, May 23 (UPI) --Yuichiro Miura, 80, scaled Mount Everest Thursday, becoming the oldest person to reach the summit of the world's tallest peak, his office said.