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Nia Sanchez, Miss Nevada Wins Miss USA 2014 Pageant

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Nia Sanchez

Nia Sanchez, Miss Nevada was crowned as Miss USA 2014 on Sunday night in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Erin Brady, of Connecticut, Miss USA 2013 winner, gave up her crown to Sanchez after the three-hour show from the Baton Rouge Civic Center.

Veteran pageant host Giuliana Rancic and MSNBC news anchor Thomas Roberts introduced the 51 contestants before the judges voted them down to 20 semi-finalists to compete in the swimsuit, evening gown and lastly, the interview competition.

The top ten finalists included Miss Florida, Miss North Dakota, Miss Georgia, Miss Maryland, Miss Wisconsin, Miss Iowa, Miss Nevada, Miss Louisiana, Miss California and Miss South Carolina.

The 62-year-old Miss USA pageant got brought into the modern times with social media. This year viewers voted to keep one of their favorite contestants in the top six by tweeting the hashtag #SaveTheQueen and a mystery word, revealed during the broadcast.

The top six were: Miss Louisiana Brittany Guidry; Miss Georgia Tiana Griggs, Miss Florida Brittany Oldehoff and Miss Iowa Carlyn Bradarich.

Fifth runner-up Miss Iowa won the #SaveTheQueen Twitter votes to get a spot in the top six finalists, but drew critizim from Twitter after answering a question about technology saying sending selfies and photos on social media makes today’s youth “narcissistic.”

The question came from judge Melissa Peterman about whether she would agree that, as a recent New York Times story suggested, “narcissism is an epidemic” and America’s youth today are turning into a “hyper-entitled, self-absorbed generation.”

Miss Iowa’s response: “I actually do agree with that. I think social media and technology has allowed the youth to post pictures of themselves and videos of themselves. That kinda, to me, seems narcissistic.”

Dani tweeted, “#MissIowa said we’re a narcissistic generation because of social media but she’s only on the top 6 because of social media #SituationalIrony”

Twitter was also exploding with applause about Miss Indiana, Mekayla Diehl who had a real normal looking body.

“I love how Miss Indiana isn’t crazy skinny,” Katie Plowman tweeted.

In the end, the 24-year-old from Las Vegas with a fourth-degree black belt in the Korean martial art of taekwondo, Nia Sanchez beat out 50 other contestants from all the states and the District of Columbia on Sunday night for the title of Miss USA 2014. First runner-up was Miss North Dakota Audra Mari.

Sanchez will go on to represent the U.S. at the Miss Universe competition later this year.

Miss Nevada USA 2014

Miss Nevada is crowned Miss USA 2014

Miss USA Press Conference

Miss USA 2014 news conference.

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Environmentalist. Consumer Tech Journalist. Science Explorer. And, a dreamer. I've been contributing informative news content since 2010. Follow me on all socials!

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Arts & Entertainment

‘The Persistence Of Chaos’: A Million Dollar Artwork That Is Basically A Laptop That Is Infected By 6 Malware

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A laptop that is infected by six notorious malware is up for auction as an artwork called "The Persistence Of Chaos."
Image credit: Guo O Dong / Deep Instinct

Coming across with one of the most malware infected device in the world, one would think that the owner should throw the device away and wish that his data was not stolen and the infection would end. But that is not the case with a laptop that is infected with so much malware – the world’s nastiest ones – that some people call art for its own merits.

And people are willing to pay hefty amounts of money; even millions of dollars to earn possession of the infamous “art piece.”

The admired Samsung netbook that is currently in an auction has been infected with six infamous pieces of malware is now technically considered an art piece called “The Persistence of Chaos.” It is not an ordinary art project, however. According to reports, the art project is a collaboration between Guo O Dong, a Chinese internet artist, and security firm Deep Instinct, with bidding currently running at $1.13 million (around £900,000, AU$1.65 million) at the time of writing.

The six pieces of malware installed are WannaCry, BlackEnergy, ILoveYou, MyDoom, SoBig, and DarkTequila – each of which has earned notoriety for scamming huge amounts of money from their victims.

But of course, the intention of the installation isn’t to infect other devices and networks, so the Samsung netbook has been air-gapped (meaning it isn’t connected to the internet or anything else) to prevent any spread of these nasty pieces of malware. The auctioneers note these malware infections have caused a total estimated financial damage of around $95 billion (£75 billion, AU$140 billion) over the years. All the PC’s ports will be disabled post-auction, too.

Etienne Greeff, CTO, and co-founder of SecureData, raised an interesting point on the potential reaction from the shady world of malware peddlers and cybercriminals.

“Somewhere in Russia, a hacker is wondering how he only made a measly $300,000 from his ransomware attack when he could have made $1,000,000 selling it as art. Where there is muck, there is money […] However, there’s really no value in paying $1,000,000 for what we already know. Malware is malicious, and the people writing it are even more so. I wonder if the guy creating the installation got permission from the authors. If not, and if I were them, I would be very, very careful about how I use my computer in the future.”

Persistence of Malware

Malware is considered one of the most destructive cyberwarfare tool in existence. As mentioned, more than $95 billion has been scammed out of people’s pocket from all the six malware that infected the art/laptop alone, and there is other malware out there that have also gained notoriety especially in the recent days.

The malware found in The Persistence of Chaos piece is windows strains of the malware. However, Windows OS is not the only operating system that is being targeted by malware. Recently, researchers have found a Linux version of a malware used by Chinese hackers in the high-profile cybercrime against a Vietnamese game company in 2015.

Winnti’s Linux version was discovered by researchers from Google’s Chronicle, and they have a lot to say regarding their discovery.

“As with other versions of Winnti, the core component of the malware doesn’t natively provide the operators with distinct functionality. This component is primarily designed to handle communications and the deployment of modules directly from the command-and-control servers. During our analysis, we were unable to recover any active plugins. However, prior reporting suggests that the operators commonly deploy plugins for remote command execution, file exfiltration, and socks5 proxying on the infected host. We expect similar functionality to be leveraged via additional modules for Linux,” the team said regarding the discovered malware.

Of course, as the persistence of malware attacks grew over time, law enforcement and cybersecurity experts have been doubling their effort to fight against infections and those people who deliberately cause them. Recently, ten Europeans were indicted for spearheading a series of malware attacks against American companies and institutions across all sectors. The victims of the malware attacks included a Washington law firm, a church in Texas, a furniture business in California and a casino in Mississippi.

Officials reveal that the malware in the current court case has infected more than 41,000 computers by disguising as legitimate messages or invoice and was sent as spam emails. Once the email was opened, hackers will be able to record all keystrokes in the infected computer, sweeping data like baking information and wire money away from the victim’s account.

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Celebrities

Millions Of Celebrity And Influencer Personal Info Exposed In A Database

Instagram influencers and celebrities had their data scraped and stored in an unprotected online database. It also contained computed value of each influencer used to determine how much to pay them for sponsored ads. Click To Tweet

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Influencers and Celebrities
Photo: TT Marketing | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

An unsecured database containing the private contact information of millions of Instagram influencer, celebrities and brand accounts have been discovered and is said to have included personal information such as phone numbers and email addresses. The database was supposed to be unprotected, and anyone could have access to the plethora of sensitive information that it contains.

The discovery was first reported by Zack Whittaker from Tech Crunch and said that cybersecurity researcher Anurag Sen discovered the exposed and unprotected database, hosted by Amazon Web Services. According to the initial report, there were already 49 million records in the database and seemed to have been growing by the hour.

In hindsight, each record in the database contained publicly listed data scraped from influencer, celebrity, and brand Instagram accounts including their bio, profile picture, their follower count, verification status, and their location by city and country. However, the database also contained private contact information, including email address and phone number.

Several high profile influencers and celebrities were found in the database, including some prominent beauty and fashion bloggers, food bloggers, celebrities, and other famous social media influencers. According to Whittaker, he contacted several people on the list at random whose information was found in the database, and some of them indeed replied, confirming that some – or most – of the data contained in the database are actual data scraped from their Instagram accounts.

The database was then traced back to an India-based social media marketing company, Chtrbox, a firm that pays Instagram influencers to post sponsored content on their accounts. The report revealed that each record, aside from public and personal information of the account owner, also includes an estimated worth of each account, factored by the number of followers they have, the engagement level they receive, the width of their reach, likes, and shares they had. The calculation was used as a metric to determine how much to pay an influencer to post a sponsored content on their account as an ad.

Those who responded have said that they used the email and the phone number as default to sign up for Instagram and they also denied having been involved in a business with Chtrbox.

The researchers were able to contact Chtrbox and was successfully in having them take the database offline; however, Pranay Swurap, the founder of the social media marketing firm and it’s Chief Executive Officer, refused to comment and answer questions raised by the researchers.

Until now, it is unclear how the company was able to obtain the massive data they have.

One theory made by the researchers is that two years ago, a security bug in the developer API of Instagram has allowed hackers to obtain email addresses and phone numbers of six million Instagram accounts. The hacker later sold the data they were able to scrape by exploiting the bug was sold to highest bidders for bitcoin.

Hackers have launched a website with a searchable database of some Instagram users’ alleged personal info. The data, a sample of which the hackers provided t, appears to include email addresses and phone numbers for a selection of high profile Instagram users, including politicians, sports stars, and media companies. The data also seems to contain information on more ordinary accounts, too.

“Instagram clearly hasn’t yet understood the full impact of this bug,” said one of the people behind the site, dubbed ‘Doxagram.’

Some of the accounts in the list are seemingly high profile. One entry is allegedly for the official President of the United States’ Instagram account. Another alleged account appears to belong to Cristiano Ronaldo, the world-famous soccer player.

As for why the database contains high profile users, the hackers claimed they set up their scraper to initially target all users with over 1 million followers, and then recursively harvest other users. In all, the hackers claim to have over 6 million accounts in their database.

Meanwhile, in a statement made by Facebook following the disclosure of the database said that the company is investigating the matter.

“We’re looking into the issue to understand if the data described – including email and phone numbers – was from Instagram or from other sources,” said an updated statement. “We’re also inquiring with Chtrbox to understand where this data came from and how it became publicly available,” it added.

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TV Shows

‘Young Sheldon’ Season 2 Finale: What’s Meant To Be Will Always Find Its Way To You

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Young Sheldon Season 2 Final Scenes
Young Sheldon Season 2 Finale

As you get older, sometimes do you also think and reflect if you are moving closer to your goals in life? Did you become a better person than you were a year before? Are you making good use of your talents or potential? What if you’re falling behind or what if you don’t achieve that thing you wanted to have in the future?

Last May 16 in Young Sheldon’s Season 2 finale episode titled A Swedish Science Thing and the Equation for Toast, I somehow learned that “what’s meant to be will always find it’s way to you” and won’t just pass by.

Young Sheldon is about a nine-year-old genius from East Texas who turned out to be a brilliant theoretical physicist in the hit comedy sitcom Big Bang Theory. In the mentioned episode, he invited some of his family and friends to have a Nobel Prize Announcement party, to listen to the radio broadcast of 1990 Nobel Prize dedication. But nobody joined him.

During that time, he was heartbroken, and he thought he was a neutrino fated to be sad and lonely forever. But in the future, he was happy to be wrong. It turns out he’s a quark.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a quark is one of the primary forms of matter that make up an atom. Anyways, he said that one of the remarkable characteristics of quarks is that they are bonded together.  After the voice over, we see Sheldon’s younger Big Bang Theory friends at different sides of the world. Sheldon was not alone after all.

The young Leonard Hofstadter was also listening alone in his room, in his table, we can see his inhaler. Penny (Leonard’s future wife) is sleeping.  Raj (the future Astrophysicist) was doing his homework in his rocket/spaceships themed room. Howard (the future Engineer and astronaut) was playing a video game in his bedroom which was full of magic kit items. Bernadette (Howard’s future wife) was also sleeping, and in her night table, we can see her glasses, a photo of her and a pageant trophy. Lastly, Amy (Sheldon’s future wife) is still awake, but she’s not listening to the Nobel prize broadcast. She is reading a book.

The episode was shown in CBS, a few minutes in CBS after BBT‘s last episode ever. Fans were overjoyed and teary-eyed to have this surprise. It proves that even though Sheldon was alone during that time, in the end, he’ll meet real friends who will love, support and accept him as he is, who will also be there for him when he wins the Nobel Prize.

According to Steve Molaro, they somehow want to honor Big Bang Theory in their momentous night and give a love letter in the form of a cross over. Without BBT, Young Sheldon won’t be possible.

The series is an origin story set in 1989; it centers on how Sheldon Cooper became the guy that he is in Big Bang Theory and how he survived high school at a very young age. In this show,  we’ll get to know more about  Sheldon and his love for trains, his fanboy tendencies to Professor Proton and his childhood friends like Tam. The cast includes  Ian Armitage (young Sheldon), Zoe Perry (Mary, Sheldon’s mom), Lance Barber (George, Sheldon’s dad), Reagan Revord (Missy, Sheldon’s twin sister), Montana Jordan ( George Jr, Sheldon’s big brother) and Annie Potts (Meemaw, Sheldon’s grandma). 

Young Sheldon is somehow different from the Big Bang Theory. It is shot using a single camera while BBT is shot using a three-camera in front of a live studio audience.  Parsons is one of the Executive Producers of the show. At the same time in the series, we can hear him narrate as adult Sheldon in some of the significant parts of the show.  Zoe Perry (who plays Young Sheldon’s mother) is the biological daughter of Laurie Metcalf (who plays the Older Sheldon’s mother in BBT).

According to the producers Chuck Lorre and Steve Molaro, they have been interested in and discussing plans on having Sheldon’s childhood story for almost ten years. But, The prequel series started with Jim Parsons’ idea when he was bonding with his intellectually gifted nephew. He plays the older Sheldon in Big Bang Theory. He then emailed Chuck Lorre, BBT’s co-creator. Young Sheldon’s first ever episode premiered last September 25, 2017.

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