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Setting Bait to Track Data Thieves

Germans use unguarded PCs as honeypots

2 min read

Seven computers hum through the Rhineland night at the University of Mannheim’s Laboratory for Dependable Distributed Systems. All they do is collect bad news and nasty infections from the open Internet.

This is the lab’s honeypot ­network, says Thorsten Holz, a doctoral student at the lab. The honeypots are machines that are walled off from the German university’s network but connected to the Internet. By leaving themselves unguarded and pretending to be operated by naive humans, they tirelessly troll for the latest in spam, worms, viral infections, and malware. Then the honey­pots ­execute the bad code and record what ­happens. Researchers hope that by ­studying the results they’ll get a better understanding of how data is stolen and what happens to it.

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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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