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Crimeware Pays

Adware, phishing, and spam are a strange--and big--business

3 min read

As recently as five years ago, online crime--malware, Trojan horses, phishing--was still a kid's game, dominated by grandstanding cliques of hackers. But today, according to new industry studies, ”crimeware” has become an emerging worldwide business. Often based in former Soviet bloc countries like Russia and Romania, where Internet access is high but policing low, burgeoning syndicates regularly launch attacks on users around the world. The first comprehensive analysis of crimeware business models finds a multitude of ways to make money. Of them, phishing is the fastest-growing sector, but adware is the steady moneymaker.

Adware is code secretly installed by a Web site that generates pay-per-click advertising on a user's computer. As frustrated users try to click their way out of a sudden flurry of pop-up ads, each ad's owner must send money to the adware supplier. (Generally, the advertiser is unaware that malicious adware is involved.)

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The Future of Deep Learning Is Photonic

Computing with light could slash the energy needs of neural networks

10 min read
Image of a computer rendering.

This computer rendering depicts the pattern on a photonic chip that the author and his colleagues have devised for performing neural-network calculations using light.

Alexander Sludds

Think of the many tasks to which computers are being applied that in the not-so-distant past required human intuition. Computers routinely identify objects in images, transcribe speech, translate between languages, diagnose medical conditions, play complex games, and drive cars.

The technique that has empowered these stunning developments is called deep learning, a term that refers to mathematical models known as artificial neural networks. Deep learning is a subfield of machine learning, a branch of computer science based on fitting complex models to data.

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