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In Search for Extraterrestrial Life - Archive of Articles (from SETI and Space.com)

In Search for Extraterrestrial Life - Archive of Articles (from SETI and Space.com) | Straightforward Security | Scoop.it

A checklist for the requirements of life as scientists define it could help ground speculation about the possibilities of alien life on distant worlds, new research suggests. Astronomers have confirmed the existence of more than 1,700 planets beyond the solar system, and may soon prove the existence of thousands more of such exoplanets.


"As we find more and more exoplanets, we are certainly going to discover worlds that resemble Earth to some degree," said study author Chris McKay, an astrobiologist at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. "This raises the question of whether or not such exoplanets could support life and what kind of life might live there."

 

To understand whether life might exist on alien worlds, McKay suggested scientists should evaluate both the requirements for life on Earth and the limits of life on Earth. Although scientific understanding of the requirements for life has not changed in many years, researchers' thoughts on the limits of life are have altered significantly in the past few decades, McKay said.

 

There are four general categories of the requirements for life on Earth: energy, carbon, liquid water and miscellaneous factors, McKay said.

 

The energy for life on Earth all comes from the shuffling of electrons from molecule to molecule by chemical reactions, which is driven by light-absorbing proteins in the case of photosynthesis. Carbon is the backbone of life on Earth because it can support an extraordinary variety of molecules for use in biology. Liquid water serves as the solvent in which the chemical reactions of life on Earth take place. Other factors required by life on Earth include elements such as nitrogen, which is used to make proteins and DNA, among many other molecules.

 

McKay noted that life could dominate exoplanets, and hence be detectable over interstellar distances. But that would only happen if that life is powered by light, he said. Still, life may not need much light in all cases; algae on Earth that live in the deep sea or under ice can survive on sunlight at levels less than one-100,000th of what Earth receives, a value that exceeds the amount of light that Pluto receives by about 100-fold.

 

Light can also provide energy for life in ways beyond photosynthesis. For instance, on worlds like Saturn's moon Titan, sunlight generates molecules such as acetylene and hydrogen gas in the atmosphere that could be used for energy in alien biology.

 

"Microorganisms on the surface of Titan would have these food sources just coming down from the sky, no need to bother with photosynthesis," McKay explains.

 

To investigate the limits of life on Earth, researchers look at extremophiles, organisms that have adapted to live in environmental extremes, such as extremes of heat, cold and radiation. The highest temperature at which scientists know life can live has increased significantly, from 176 degrees F (80 degrees C) to a whopping 251 degrees F (122 degrees C), or well above boiling. Recently, investigators also discovered microbes can live in temperatures as cold as 5 degrees F (minus 15 degrees C), or well below freezing.

 

McKay suggested that many potential limits to life, such as acidity, saltiness or ultraviolet radiation, are unlikely to be extreme enough to stifle life. He said the most important parameter for Earth-like life may be the presence of liquid water, but studies of life in extreme deserts show that even a small amount of rain, fog, snow and even simple humidity can help sustain life. Moreover, alien life may not even need liquid water; the liquid hydrocarbons on Titan, for example, might serve as the basis for life, playing the same role water does for life on Earth.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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For those hoping for a better life off-world...

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Collecting new InfoSec news, useful content and anything that helps to demystify security for you me and the board. For more on infospectives visit our award winning blog http://infospectives.co.uk
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Contract for cybersecurity awarded by federal agencies

Contract for cybersecurity awarded by federal agencies | Straightforward Security | Scoop.it
The Office of Personnel Management and Department of Defense awarded a cybersecurity contract.
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Physical Security Remains Key Factor in Cyber Protection for Critical Infrastructure

Physical Security Remains Key Factor in Cyber Protection  for Critical Infrastructure | Straightforward Security | Scoop.it
NERC compliance requirements in the utilities industry have made it essential to monitor and report on physical access to various facilities, control rooms, substations and critical assets. A major utility company in the United States, whom we will call UTILCO, completed a large merger. As the operations were being combined, UTILCO wanted to have a system that allowed its corporate security managers to use job roles to decide who has access to specific facilities and how much area access they should have within those facilities.
Infospectives's insight:

It could arguably have stopped Stuxnet - Physical security and critical national infrastructure - is too long spent focussing on the cyber horizon?

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Data Breaches by the Numbers | SecurityWeek.Com

Data Breaches by the Numbers | SecurityWeek.Com | Straightforward Security | Scoop.it
A quantitative analysis confirms the rising tide of breaches and gives us insight into how they are happening.
Infospectives's insight:

As with all security breach statistics, bring your pinch of salt, but some handy headlines to reuse.

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Threat Modeling 101: Top 10 Traps You Don’t Want to Fall Into

Threat Modeling 101: Top 10 Traps You Don’t Want to Fall Into | Straightforward Security | Scoop.it
Tripwire recently hosted Adam Shostack who shared with us how threat modeling can drive security through your product, service or system.
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Is lack of consumer awareness of cyber security costing companies? | Information Age

Is lack of consumer awareness of cyber security costing companies? | Information Age | Straightforward Security | Scoop.it
The commercial world needs to be teaching consumers that cyber security is their responsibility too
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Why is Uber hiring hackers?

Why is Uber hiring hackers? | Straightforward Security | Scoop.it
The ride-sharing company has hired the two security researchers who demonstrated how to remotely hack a Jeep Cherokee last month.
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How to Address the PCI DSS Requirements for Data Encryption in Transit Using Amazon VPC

How to Address the PCI DSS Requirements for Data Encryption in Transit Using Amazon VPC | Straightforward Security | Scoop.it
How to Address the PCI DSS Requirements for Data Encryption in Transit Using Amazon VPC http://t.co/BVRK2GK9nM
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Data retention and the end of Australians' digital privacy

Data retention and the end of Australians' digital privacy | Straightforward Security | Scoop.it
The government's Orwellian new surveillance regime is set to render privacy a thing of Australia's past, writes Quentin Dempster.
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Domain hijacking spear-phisher foiled by the last line of defense—paranoia

Domain hijacking spear-phisher foiled by the last line of defense—paranoia | Straightforward Security | Scoop.it
An Ars editor's paranoia is all that prevents a successful spear phish—this time.
Infospectives's insight:

In praise of paranoia - or as I'd prefer to call it: A rationally secure default to deny'(outside your circle of verified trust of course).

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Data protection clarity needed says expert as German watchdogs outline reform ... - Out-Law.com

Data protection clarity needed says expert as German watchdogs outline reform ... - Out-Law.com | Straightforward Security | Scoop.it
The Information Daily
Data protection clarity needed says expert as German watchdogs outline reform ...
Out-Law.com
Munich-based IT and data protection law expert Marc L.
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4 Common Scenarios for Dormant Functionality in Malware

4 Common Scenarios for Dormant Functionality in Malware | Straightforward Security | Scoop.it
A recent blog post published by Lastline identifies four common scenarios in which dormant functionality may manifest in malware.
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Vendor Risk Management Is Broken

Vendor Risk Management Is Broken | Straightforward Security | Scoop.it
Risks are only put on paper and not properly vetted. Experts find that companies are often ignoring much of the basics of managing vendor risk.
Infospectives's insight:

Does your vendor security risk management activity stop after assessment results are logged?

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Hardened Linux stalwarts grsecurity pull the pin after legal fight

Hardened Linux stalwarts grsecurity pull the pin after legal fight | Straightforward Security | Scoop.it
Multi-billion company accused of ripping off name and code, still doing security wrong
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How the people with the biggest legal stick beat sense, value and security

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Fraudsters using credentials harvested from massive breaches, study finds

Fraudsters using credentials harvested from massive breaches, study finds | Straightforward Security | Scoop.it
Digital identities are being exploited on a routine basis by sophisticated cybercriminals, says a just released ThreatMetrix study.
Infospectives's insight:

Are we really surprised (as Neira Jones wryly remarked). What may surprise us is how far we've got to go to help customers tackle this risk and deal with the fallout from scooped data. 

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Could Emoji Passcodes be Safer for Online Bank Users?

Could Emoji Passcodes be Safer for Online Bank Users? | Straightforward Security | Scoop.it
Don't be surprised if some banking apps start to ask you for your emoji passcode sooner rather than later.
Infospectives's insight:

Security and an opportunity to graphically represent your opinion of the institution you are accessing? What do the pros think?

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More companies add cyber security pros to boardrooms

More companies add cyber security pros to boardrooms | Straightforward Security | Scoop.it
LOS ANGELES — The board of directors at construction and engineering company Parsons Corp. needed to fill a seat two years ago. Naturally, they wanted someone with communication and leadership skills. They also needed someone new: an expert to help
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​User data manifesto seeks to give people control of their data | ZDNet

​User data manifesto seeks to give people control of their data | ZDNet | Straightforward Security | Scoop.it
A European-led effort defines the basic rights for users over their personal data.
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Speed of Patching Versus Breach Likelihood

Speed of Patching Versus Breach Likelihood | Straightforward Security | Scoop.it
I am a big fan of the Verizon DBIR.  I was just reading this interview with Mike Denning  from Verizon on Deloitte's web site about this year's report.  The whole article is worth reading, but I wa...
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Balance in all things, including patching and related statistics says Mr Bell

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U.S. court hands win to NSA over metadata collection

U.S. court hands win to NSA over metadata collection | Straightforward Security | Scoop.it
A U.S. appeals court on Friday threw out a judge's ruling that would have blocked the National Security Agency from collecting phone metadata under a controversial program that has raised privacy
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NSA scoping phone metadata - US appeals court overturns ban

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Full text: Leading US academics urge Silicon Valley to be cautious in dealing with Modi government

Full text: Leading US academics urge Silicon Valley to be cautious in dealing with Modi government | Straightforward Security | Scoop.it
Digital India initiative ignores key questions about the collection of personal information and the near-certainty that such systems will be used to enhance surveillance, says statement.
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Caution urged over Digital India: When privacy, security, commerce, politics, ethics and civil liberties intersect: 

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INSIGHT: Do CEOs understand information security risk? - Computerworld New Zealand

INSIGHT: Do CEOs understand information security risk? - Computerworld New Zealand | Straightforward Security | Scoop.it
"CEOs and executive boards need to ensure that information security is consistently on their agenda."
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When Business Culture Eats Cybersecurity For Breakfast - Part One

When Business Culture Eats Cybersecurity For Breakfast - Part One | Straightforward Security | Scoop.it
Wild Speculation & IT Transformation - A four-part story of budget cuts, blamestorming, breaches and massive bumps in the road to mature security.
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Ashley Madison Chief Steps Down After Data Breach

Ashley Madison Chief Steps Down After Data Breach | Straightforward Security | Scoop.it
The change came after hackers stole the online dating service’s data and released personal information related to more than 30 million accounts.
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A rare detailed look inside the IRS’s massive data breach, via a security expert who was a victim

A rare detailed look inside the IRS’s massive data breach, via a security expert who was a victim | Straightforward Security | Scoop.it
The story of how hackers stole 334,000 Americans' personal data, filed fake tax returns, and walked off with $50 million in rebates.
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