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Mafia III Gets Demo and First Paid DLC

Today, 07:16 AM

Mafia III launched last October and if you are considering getting it, but have not yet decided, 2K and Hangar 13 have made a playable demo of it available. This demo covers the first act of the game, allowing you to experience the bank heist gone wrong that sets Lincoln Clay on his path to take down the Italian mob in New Bordeaux. The demo is available on PC through Steam, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. Conveniently the download sizes have also been provided for these platforms, so if you want to try it on PC it will be a 24 GB download, 25 GB on Xbox One, and 27 GB on the PS4. Like demos for other games, your progress will be carried over if you choose to purchase the main game, which is currently 50% off until April 17.



Today also marks the release of the Faster Baby! DLC, the first of the game's three paid DLC. It adds a new narrative and the Sinclair Parish to explore as Lincoln works with Roxy Laveau against the corrupt Sherriff "Slim" Beaumont. The DLC also adds new weapons and vehicles to Lincoln's collection along with new driving and combat mechanics. The DLC can be purchased individually or comes with the Season Pass, along with the Stones Unturned and Sign of the Times DLC that will be launching in the Summer.



Source: Mafia Game Website [1] and [2]

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StarCraft Remastered Announced by Blizzard

Yesterday, 07:20 AM

In 1998 Blizzard released StarCraft, a game that has unquestionably left its mark on the world with how it changed the RTS genre and laid the foundation for modern esports. Now the company has announced StarCraft Remastered, an overhaul of the classic and StarCraft: Brood Wars expansion. It will update the graphics and audio but preserve the original gameplay while adding new features such as advanced matchmaking, cloud saves for the campaign, custom maps, replays, and keybinds. Multiplayer over LAN remains, so you will be able to enjoy the game and its new visuals on your 4K monitor at a LAN party.

StarCraft Remastered is to launch this Summer for Windows and Mac, though the exact date and pricing will be revealed at a later date.



Source: Blizzard

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Method Found to Inject Malware Into Antiviruses and Other Programs

25 March 2017 - 01:15 PM

Researchers at Cybellum, a security company focused on zero-day attacks, have discovered a means to use a Microsoft tool to inject malicious code into processes, including security processes. The tool is the Microsoft Application Verifier, which has been a part of Windows since XP and is meant to help developers find programming errors. It does this by loading a "verifier provider DLL" into the process for runtime testing, and once this has been done the DLL is added to the registry as a provider DLL for that program. After this happens, Windows will automatically inject the DLL into every process with the registered name. What Cybellum discovered is that it is possible to register a malicious DLL that will then be loaded into a security product or any program, hijacking it for a variety of purposes. This means it could be used to turn a piece of malware into an advanced persistent threat that survives reboots.

The researchers have named this attack DoubleAgent and it works in every version of Windows, including Windows 10. Also, because it is a legitimate tool there is no way to block the technique from being used, just the malicious attack. Cybellum has made several vendors aware of the issue, but not all have responded yet. AVG, Kaspersky, Malwarebytes, and Trend Micro have already responded to fix this vulnerability. Other notified vendors include Avast, Avira, Bitdefender, ESET, F-Secure, McAfee, Panda, Quick Heal, and Symantec (Norton). Comodo was also notified but claimed they were not vulnerable, however it has been demonstrated that they are, but it is more difficult and involves a different, unreleased proof-of-concept of the DoubleAgent attack. Cybellum published its findings after the vendors had more than 90 days to check if their products were vulnerable.

Cybellum has also stated that it is possible to stop DoubleAgent attacks using protected processes, a concept from Windows 8.1 that protects anti-malware services. This protection has only been added to Windows Defender though. The video below demonstrates the attack on Norton.



Source: SecurityWeek and Cybellum

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Thin and Smooth Layer of Silver Could Advance Displays and Computers

24 March 2017 - 11:51 AM

For a long time the material indium tin oxide (ITO) has been a requirement in several technologies because it is a transparent conductor. One issue with ITO is that indium is quite rare, making the material ever more expensive, and another is that it is rather fragile. A potential alternative for a transparent conductor is a silver ultrathin film, which has issues of its own but researchers at the University of Michigan have recently solved some of these.

When trying to create a thin film of silver, it typically cannot be smaller than 15 nm because silver likes to cluster into islands and not form an even coating. What the Michigan researchers discovered is that adding just 6% aluminum the silver can be coaxed to form a film just 7 nm thick. After applying an anti-reflective coating they were able to make one layer up to 92.4% transparent. The aluminum is even more useful than that though, as the ultrathin film did not tarnish in open air after months, unlike pure silver films that tarnish almost immediately, disrupting its conductive properties and transparency.

While there are some obvious uses in displays, this silver ultrathin film has far more potential than that. In this form, silver is able to carry plasmon polaritons, which are oscillations created when light strikes a metal and they carry the information of the light wave. Plasmons can be much smaller than the wavelength of the light though, allowing the silver film to act as a kind of superlens. This gives the film potential uses inside of computer chips as a means to transmit information optically, allowing for faster data transfer than electronic transmission currently allows. On top of that, by alternating layers of the silver film with an insulator, like glass, a metamaterial hyperlens could be made, which could then image objects smaller than the wavelength of light and enable laser patterning, such as that used to etch computer chips, to reach smaller feature sizes.

Source: University of Michigan

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Stardock Will be Streaming Galactic Civilizations III: Crusade Later Today

23 March 2017 - 07:01 AM

Since the announcement last month for the Galactic Civilizations III: Crusade expansion, Stardock has been releasing Dev Diaries covering some of the changes that will be coming with this apparently quite large and significant expansion. So far the Civilization Builder, Galactic Citizens, changes to the 4X experience to resolve the late game grind, the new espionage system, and the new choices players will face have been covered. If you want to do more than just read about Crusade but actually see it, Stardock will be previewing it on its Twitch channel at 1 PM ET today with Stardock CEO Brad Wardell, who has also been authoring the Dev Diaries. This is the start of weekly Crusade streams.

If you are interested in the current state of Galactic Civilizations III, I reviewed it following its v2.0 patch. Galactic Civilizations III: Crusade is to release this Spring.

Source: Press Release

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