Why outbreaks like coronavirus spread exponentially, and how to “flatten the curve”

FREE-FOR-ALL VS. ATTEMPTED QUARANTINE

MODERATE SOCIAL DISTANCING vs. EXTENSIVE SOCIAL DISTANCING

This so-called exponential curve has experts worried. If the number of cases were to continue to double every three days, there would be about a hundred million cases in the United States by May.

That is math, not prophecy. The spread can be slowed, public health professionals say, if people practice “social distancing” by avoiding public spaces and generally limiting their movement.

Still, without any measures to slow it down, covid-19 will continue to spread exponentially for months. To understand why, it is instructive to simulate the spread of a fake disease through a population.

We will call our fake disease simulitis. It spreads even more easily than covid-19: whenever a healthy person comes into contact with a sick person, the healthy person becomes sick, too.

In a population of just five people, it did not take long for everyone to catch simulitis.

In real life, of course, people eventually recover. A recovered person can neither transmit simulitis to a healthy person nor become sick again after coming in contact with a sick person.

Let’s see what happens when simulitis spreads in a town of 200 people. We will start everyone in town at a random position, moving at a random angle, and we will make one person sick.

Notice how the slope of the red curve, which represents the number of sick people, rises rapidly as the disease spreads and then tapers off as people recover.

Our simulation town is small — about the size of Whittier, Alaska — so simulitis was able to spread quickly across the entire population. In a country like the United States, with its 330 million people, the curve could steepen for a long time before it started to slow.

[Mapping the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. and worldwide]

When it comes to the real covid-19, we would prefer to slow the spread of the virus before it infects a large portion of the U.S. population. To slow simulitis, let’s try to create a forced quarantine, such as the one the Chinese government imposed on Hubei province, covid-19’s ground zero.

Whoops! As health experts would expect, it proved impossible to completely seal off the sick population from the healthy.

Leana Wen, the former health commissioner for the city of Baltimore, explained the impracticalities of forced quarantines to The Washington Post in January. “Many people work in the city and live in neighboring counties, and vice versa,“ Wen said. “Would people be separated from their families? How would every road be blocked? How would supplies reach residents?”

As Lawrence O. Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University, put it: “The truth is those kinds of lockdowns are very rare and never effective.”

Fortunately, there are other ways to slow an outbreak. Above all, health officials have encouraged people to avoid public gatherings, to stay home more often and to keep their distance from others. If people are less mobile and interact with each other less, the virus has fewer opportunities to spread.

Some people will still go out. Maybe they cannot stay home because of their work or other obligations, or maybe they simply refuse to heed public health warnings. Those people are not only more likely to get sick themselves, they are more likely to spread simulitis, too.

Let’s see what happens when a quarter of our population continues to move around while the other three quarters adopt a strategy of what health experts call “social distancing.”

More social distancing keeps even more people healthy, and people can be nudged away from public places by removing their allure.

“We control the desire to be in public spaces by closing down public spaces. Italy is closing all of its restaurants. China is closing everything, and we are closing things now, too,” said Drew Harris, a population health researcher and assistant professor at The Thomas Jefferson University College of Public Health. “Reducing the opportunities for gathering helps folks social distance.”

To simulate more social distancing, instead of allowing a quarter of the population to move, we will see what happens when we let just one of every eight people move.

The four simulations you just watched — a free-for-all, an attempted quarantine, moderate social distancing and extensive social distancing — were random. That means the results of each one were unique to your reading of this article; if you scroll up and rerun the simulations, or if you revisit this page later, your results will change.

Even with different results, moderate social distancing will usually outperform the attempted quarantine, and extensive social distancing usually works best of all. Below is a comparison of your results.

Finishing simulations…

Simulitis is not covid-19, and these simulations vastly oversimplify the complexity of real life. Yet just as simulitis spread through the networks of bouncing balls on your screen, covid-19 is spreading through our human networks — through our countries, our towns, our workplaces, our families. And, like a ball bouncing across the screen, a single person’s behavior can cause ripple effects that touch faraway people.

[What you need to know about coronavirus]

In one crucial respect, though, these simulations are nothing like reality: Unlike simulitis, covid-19 can kill. Though the fatality rate is not precisely known, it is clear that the elderly members of our community are most at risk of dying from covid-19.

“If you want this to be more realistic,” Harris said after seeing a preview of this story, “some of the dots should disappear.”

What China’s coronavirus response can teach the rest of the world

Researchers are studying the effects of China’s lockdowns to glean insights about controlling the viral pandemic.

 

 

A man wearing a mask sells breakfast to nurses behind a makeshift barricade wall in Wuhan, China.

Social distancing has been used to halt the transmission of the coronavirus in China.Credit: Getty

As the new coronavirus marches around the globe, countries with escalating outbreaks are eager to learn whether China’s extreme lockdowns were responsible for bringing the crisis there under control. Other nations are now following China’s lead and limiting movement within their borders, while dozens of countries have restricted international visitors.

In mid-January, Chinese authorities introduced unprecedented measures to contain the virus, stopping movement in and out of Wuhan, the centre of the epidemic, and 15 other cities in Hubei province — home to more than 60 million people. Flights and trains were suspended, and roads were blocked.

Soon after, people in many Chinese cities were told to stay at home and venture out only to get food or medical help. Some 760 million people, roughly half the country’s population, were confined to their homes, according to The New York Times.

It’s now two months since the lockdowns began — some of which are still in place — and the number of new cases there is around a couple of dozen per day, down from thousands per day at the peak. “These extreme limitations on population movement have been quite successful,” says Michael Osterholm, an infectious-disease scientist at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

In a report released late last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) congratulated China on a “unique and unprecedented public health response [that] reversed the escalating cases”.

But the crucial question is which interventions in China were the most important in driving down the spread of the virus, says Gabriel Leung, an infectious-disease researcher at the University of Hong Kong. “The countries now facing their first wave [of infections] need to know this,” he says.

Nature talked to epidemiologists about whether the lockdowns really worked, if encouraging people to avoid large gatherings would have been enough and what other countries can learn from China’s experience.

What happened after the lockdowns?

Before the interventions, scientists estimated that each infected person passed on the coronavirus to more than two others, giving it the potential to spread rapidly. Early models of the disease’s spread, which did not factor in containment efforts, suggested that the virus, called SARS-CoV-2, would infect 40% of China’s population — some 500 million people.

But between 16 and 30 January, a period that included the first 7 days of the lockdown, the number of people each infected individual gave the virus to dropped to 1.05, estimates Adam Kucharski, who models infectious-disease spread at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “That was amazing,” he says.

The number of new daily infections in China seems to have peaked on 25 January — just two days after Wuhan was locked down.

As of 16 March, roughly 81,000 cases have been reported in China, according to the WHO. Some scientists think that many cases there were unreported — either because symptoms were not severe enough for people to seek medical care, or because tests were not carried out. But it seems clear that measures implemented during this time did work, says Christopher Dye, an epidemiologist at the University of Oxford, UK. “Even if there were 20 or 40 times more cases, which seems unlikely, the control measures worked,” says Dye.

Could China’s response have worked better?

Epidemiologists say China’s mammoth response had one glaring flaw: it started too late. In the initial weeks of the outbreak in December and January, Wuhan authorities were slow to report cases of the mysterious infection, which delayed measures to contain it, says Howard Markel, a public-health researcher at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “The delay of China to act is probably responsible for this world event,” says Markel.

A model simulation by Lai Shengjie and Andrew Tatem, emerging-disease researchers at the University of Southampton, UK, shows that if China had implemented its control measures a week earlier, it could have prevented 67% of all cases there. Implementing the measures 3 weeks earlier, from the beginning of January, would have cut the number of infections to 5% of the total.

A volunteer disinfects a Christian church in Wuhan

A church in Wuhan is sprayed with disinfectant. Credit: Feature China/Barcroft Media/Getty

Data from other cities also show the benefits of speed. Cities that suspended public transport, closed entertainment venues and banned public gatherings before their first COVID-19 case had 37% fewer cases than cities that didn’t implement such measures, according to a preprint1 by Dye on the containment measures used in 296 Chinese cities.

Did China’s travel bans specifically work?

Multiple analyses of air travel suggest that the Hubei travel bans, which stopped people leaving the province on planes, trains or in cars, slowed the virus’ spread, but not for long2. A 6 March study3 published in Science by scientists in Italy, China and the United States found that cutting off Wuhan delayed disease spread to other cities in China by roughly four days.

The bans had a more lasting effect internationally, stopping four of five cases from being exported from China to other countries for two to three weeks, the team found. But after that, travellers from other cities transported the virus to other international cities, seeding new outbreaks. The team’s model suggests that even blocking 90% of travel slows the virus’s spread only moderately unless other measures are introduced.

Since travel bans can only slow the spread of this type of disease, it’s important that bans be implemented in a way that encourages trust, says Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. “If you encourage people to lie or try to circumvent the ban, it is destined to fail,” he says.

Dozens of countries across Europe, the Americas and Africa and Asia have now introduced travel restrictions.

Although the WHO warns against them, saying they aren’t usually effective in preventing an infection’s spread, and they could divert resources from other more helpful measures and block aid and technical support, in addition to harming many industries.

What are the lessons for other countries?

Tatem and Lai’s model assesses the combined effect of China’s early detection and isolation, the resulting drop in contact between people and the country’s intercity travel bans on reducing the virus’s spread. Together, these measures prevented cases from increasing by 67-fold — otherwise, there would have been nearly 8 million cases by the end of February.

The effect of the drop in contact between people was significant on its own. Using mobile-phone location data from Chinese Internet giant Baidu, the team found a dramatic reduction in people’s movements, which they say represents a huge drop in person-to-person contact. Without this decrease, there would have been about 2.6 times as many people infected at the end of February, the pair says.

But early detection and isolation was the most important factor in reducing COVID-19 cases. In the absence of those efforts, China would have had five times as many infections as it did at the end of February. “If you are to prioritize, early detection and isolation are the most important,” says Tatem.

Early detection paid off for Singapore. The country was one of the quickest to identify cases, because doctors had been warned to look out for a ‘mysterious pneumonia’, says Vernon Lee, who heads the communicable-disease response team for Singapore’s health ministry. As the first cases popped up in Singapore, doctors promptly identified and isolated those people and started contact tracing, says Lee.

The country still has under 250 COVID-19 cases, and it didn’t need to introduce the drastic movement restrictions used in China. Some events have been cancelled, people with COVID-19 are being quarantined and temperature screening and other community measures are in place, says Lee. “But life is still going on,” he says.

The impact of school closures in China is unknown. A preprint study4 of the spread of COVID-19 in Shenzhen has found that although children are just as likely to be infected as adults, it is still not clear whether children, many of whom don’t show symptoms, can transmit the virus. “This will be critical in evaluating the impact of school closures,” says Lessler, the co-author of the study.

Are COVID cases coming to an end in China?

New cases of COVID-19 have slowed dramatically in China, but some fear that once the country fully eases its control measures, the virus could start circulating again. It could even be reintroduced into China from the countries now experiencing outbreaks. Because China’s measures protected so many people from infection, a large pool of people have no immunity against the virus, says Leung.

China is suppressing the virus, not eradicating it, says Osterholm. The world will need to wait until about eight weeks after China resumes to some form of normality to know what it did or didn’t accomplish with its population-movement limitations, he says .

There is probably a fierce debate going on in China about when to relax the lockdown measures, says Roy Anderson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London. He suggests there could be a second wave of new infections when they are lifted.

Lockdowns have to end at some point, and governments should remind people to maintain social distancing and good hygiene, says Anderson. “It’s our actions more than government measures that will matter,” he says.

Source: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00741-x

Tech industry discussing ways to use smartphone location data to combat coronavirus

The U.S. government is in active talks with Facebook, Google and a wide array of tech companies and health experts about how they can use location data gleaned from Americans’ phones to combat the novel coronavirus, including tracking whether people are keeping one another at safe distances to stem the outbreak.

Public-health experts are interested in the possibility that private-sector companies could compile the data in anonymous, aggregated form, which they could then use to map the spread of the infection, according to three people familiar with the effort, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the project is in its early stages.

Analyzing trends in smartphone owners’ whereabouts could prove to be a powerful tool for health authorities looking to track coronavirus, which has infected more than 180,000 people globally. But it’s also an approach that could leave some Americans uncomfortable, depending on how it’s implemented, given the sensitivity when it comes to details of their daily whereabouts. Multiple sources stressed that — if they proceed — they are not building a government database.

In recent interviews, Facebook executives said the U.S. government is particularly interested in understanding patterns of people’s movements, which can be derived through data the company collects from users who allow it. The tech giant in the past has provided this information to researchers in the form of statistics, which in the case of coronavirus, could help officials predict the next hotspot or decide where to allocate overstretched health resources.

Google also confirmed late Tuesday it had been in conversations with government officials, tech giants and health experts. The company says it is working on its own to tap its trove of location data, particularly any insights it can derive from its popular maps app.

“We’re exploring ways that aggregated anonymized location information could help in the fight against COVID-19. One example could be helping health authorities determine the impact of social distancing, similar to the way we show popular restaurant times and traffic patterns in Google Maps,” spokesman Johnny Luu said in a statement, stressing any such partnership “would not involve sharing data about any individual’s location, movement, or contacts.”

At the White House, an official at the Office of Science and Technology Policy, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the government is “encouraged by American technology companies looking to leverage aggregated, anonymized data to glean key insights for covid-19 modeling efforts.”

The official added those insights might “help public health officials, researchers, and scientists improve their understanding of the spread of covid-19 and transmission of the disease.”

A task force created by tech executives, entrepreneurs and investors presented a range of ideas around disease mapping and telehealth to the White House during a private meeting Sunday. The discussions included representatives from tech giants, including Apple and Google; investors led by the New York-based firm Hangar and well-known Silicon Valley venture capitalist Ron Conway; public-health leaders from Harvard University; and smaller telehealth start-ups like Ro, two people said.

“We are still in the process of collecting ideas, recommendations, and proposed actions from task-force members, which we intend to present to the White House in the coming days,” said Josh Mendelsohn, the managing partner at Hangar, who helped organize the effort.

Many of those involved either did not respond or declined to comment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not respond to a request for comment. Apple said Tuesday it has only worked on issues related to telehealth and distance learning, stressing it doesn’t collect iPhone users’ locations.

The early, unprecedented collaboration between Washington and Silicon Valley reflects the urgent, nationwide scramble to stop a deadly malady that has shuttered businesses, skewered the stock market, sent students home from school and now threatens to overwhelm the U.S. medical system with patients in need of critical care.

Over the past week, White House officials led by Michael Kratsios, the country’s chief technology officer, have convened meetings to leverage the tech expertise of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, IBM and other technology leaders. The government has encouraged social-media sites to take a more aggressive approach to thwart coronavirus conspiracy theories, The Washington Post has reported, responding to concerns that foreign misinformation might be stoking panic about the outbreak. And the Trump administration has explored partnering with the tech industry to improve telework and telehealth offerings for millions of Americans.

The relationship hasn’t been without its hiccups: On Friday, President Trump announced Google would be developing a website so Americans could learn how to get tested for coronavirus, which causes the disease covid-19. That differed from the initial statements from Google’s parent company, Alphabet, which had indicated it planned a more limited offering targeting residents of California. Ultimately, though, Google said soon after it would unveil a website to provide information for U.S. patients nationwide.

On Monday, White House leaders, tech experts and health officials struck a more unified note, unveiling a portal for roughly 29,000 research papers on coronavirus. The portal allows the tech industry’s artificial-intelligence tools — which can scan and analyze data en masse — to process the papers rapidly to uncover new insights about the global malady.

“Decisive action from America’s science and technology enterprise is critical to prevent, detect, treat, and develop solutions to COVID-19,” Kratsios said in a statement.

The new efforts by Washington and Silicon Valley arrived the same week that dozens of engineers, executives and epidemiologists issued an open letter, calling on companies to take a greater stand against coronavirus. Specifically, they encouraged Apple and Google to adopt “privacy preserving” features that might enable authorities to help doctors determine people who were in contact with a patient that later tested positive for coronavirus.

“Technology companies have taken important steps already, such as closing offices in affected areas or showing custom search results in place of user generated content. But we believe there is a lot more that Silicon Valley can do to assist with large scale mitigation,” they wrote.

Smartphones regularly transmit their locations to wireless carriers and often to major tech companies as well, including Google and Facebook, to make some of their services work. The makers of apps that deliver weather reports, hail rides or help people find a coffee shop also frequently collect location information, and some sell it to firms that mine the data for business insights and opportunities.

Privacy advocates typically look skeptically on such commercial uses of location data, calling for stricter laws governing its use. Recent news about Israel’s plans to use location data to help track the coronavirus similarly sparked intense discussions about the legal and ethical implications of deploying such data to thwart the spread of disease and get medical help to infected people.

“The balance between privacy and pandemic policy is a delicate one,” Al Gidari, director of privacy at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, tweeted last week. “The problem here is that this is not a law school exam. Technology can save lives, but if the implementation unreasonably threatens privacy, more lives may be at risk.”

The issues are all the more sensitive for Silicon Valley because the companies faced a severe backlash in 2013, following disclosures about the role of tech company data in surveillance by the National Security Agency, made public by agency contractor Edward Snowden. Relations between tech companies and government officials were severely strained for years after and have improved only gradually.

“Privacy is the first to go when there are national security issues,” said Ashkan Soltani, a former Federal Trade Commission chief technologist who covered the Snowden revelations as a journalist.

In seeking to battle the coronavirus, the U.S. government is not seeking to collect and maintain a database of Americans’ whereabouts, sources cautioned. Rather, U.S. officials have asked whether companies’ vast stores of geolocation data might help epidemiologists spot trends, including vulnerable populations, or identify areas at risk, such as hospitals under strain, two people said.

Facebook is already working with health researchers and nonprofits in several countries to provide anonymized and aggregated statistics about people’s movements through a project called disease-prevention maps.

Facebook populates its maps with the aid of its users, who have given the company permission to collect their location — harnessed via their smartphones — while its app runs in the background. Those locations are then aggregated and anonymized by Facebook engineers, who can calculate the likelihood people in one city or town are likely to visit another area, potentially spreading the outbreak there.

The most granular data Facebook provides to outsiders can locate a person to within about a third of a mile, Facebook officials say. The tech giant does not provide any data about individuals’ movement, aggregated or otherwise, to governments for disease tracking, the company says.

“You’re trying to predict the probability that a group of people in Prince George’s County might interact with a group of people from D.C.,” said Laura McGorman, who leads the project, referring to the Maryland county in suburban Washington. Such a prediction could offer clues for how infections might travel.

McGorman said government officials, including those in California, are also interested in seeing whether people are practicing social distancing and whether it is an effective strategy. She said engineers had labored over the past 48 hours to help authorities with their requests.

She said the project is in the early phases because it is challenging to map real-time location streaming in from smartphones against analog information coming in from hospitals and cities. “It is very humbling because we have one piece of the puzzle that we can offer but there are so many other inputs in understanding how disease will spread.”

For its part, Google said Tuesday it had not shared any aggregated, anonymized data, stressing the project is still in its early stages — and that it was still considering whether to participate. The company added it did not plan to tap its cache of users’ location information to help in so-called “contact tracing” efforts to find people at risk of contracting coronavirus, explaining the data could not be adapted to help in that manner.

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/03/17/white-house-location-data-coronavirus/

Israeli Spyware Firm NSO Wants to Track Data to Stop Coronavirus Spreading

An Israeli technology company, which has gained notoriety for the spyware it sells, has developed a new product it says has the ability to track the spread of the coronavirus.

NSO Group Ltd.’s product analyzes huge volumes of data to map people’s movements to identify who they’ve come in contact with, which can then be used to stop the spread of infection, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Global Curbs Tighten; Mnuchin Seeks $850 Billion: Virus Update

About a dozen countries are testing the NSO technology, the person familiar said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a private matter. The software takes two weeks of mobile-phone tracking information from the infected person — the incubation time of the virus — then matches with location data collected by national mobile phone companies that pinpoints citizens who were in the patient’s vicinity for more than 15 minutes and are vulnerable to contagion, the person said.

NSO’s new product is being tested just as Israel approves the use of a tracking technology developed to combat terrorism to retrace the movements of coronavirus patients and people they’ve encountered. The step has proved controversial, with critics saying it constitutes an invasion of Israeli citizens’ privacy.

NSO itself has a history fraught with privacy and human rights controversy. Its spyware has been suspected of helping Saudi Arabia spy on murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an accusation the company has denied. Speculation its software may have been used to hack the phone of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos was also denied by the company. WhatsApp has filed a lawsuit against NSO, alleging that it violated the messaging platform’s terms of service by using it as a delivery mechanism for its spyware.

Why You Don’t Need to Be Bezos to Worry About Spyware: QuickTake

Civilian Product

The data analysis tool is the company’s first civilian product. Unlike NSO’s better-known Pegasus spyware, the big-data software doesn’t track mobile phones or conduct surveillance, the person said. It’s a civilian product sold to national health ministries and doesn’t need special export permission from Israel’s Ministry of Defense, the person said.

Should the software determine a possible case of contagion, a text message is sent to the SIM number, without revealing the owner’s identity to authorities, the person familiar said. Only when citizens test positive for the virus — and give permission — can officials correlate their SIM cards with their identities, the person said.

An NSO spokesman confirmed that the company developed a new data-analysis product with the ability to map the spread of the epidemic and help contain it. He declined further comment.

NSO has said it sells its surveillance technology to law enforcement and intelligence agencies to help catch criminals and terrorists. It can tap into a phone’s microphone and camera, view email and messages and collect location data on the user.

‘Surveillance Democracy?’

On Monday, the Israeli government authorized the country’s Shin Bet internal security agency to deploy a similar technology to track the virus among its citizens, which was originally developed to monitor the movement of militants.

Critics raised concerns about putting such technology in governments’ hands.

“We can use any technology to fight this horrible disease,” said Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler, head of the democracy in the information age program at the Israel Democracy Institute research center. “The question is, who will do it? And who will supervise it? And who will promise that after this is over, we won’t become a surveillance democracy?”

In Taiwan, Singapore and all of Europe, governments hired private companies that send the data they collect to health ministries, Altshuler noted.

“Nowhere have they involved the secret services,” she said.

The disease, which originated in China late last year, has spread to 141 countries and regions, infecting more than 180,000 people, killing more than 7,000 and sending economies cratering. Israel has 304 confirmed cases, with no deaths.

Israel’s Internal Security Agency to Track Coronavirus Patients

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the technology “will greatly assist us in locating patients and thereby stop the spread of the virus” and stressed “strict oversight” of the tools “to ensure they would not be abused.”

source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-17/surveillance-company-nso-supplying-data-analysis-to-stop-virus

Top 15 Most Secure Linux Distros

The number of Linux users is increasing immensely day by day. Their specialty is that they are less common than the other operating systems out there. And still, they are working to be more technical in the upcoming days.

Here is the list of the Most Secure Linux Distros which are ’Specially Focused on Linux security.’ That means this article is done especially by focusing on Sharp Security that a Linux user is more concern about.

1. Qubes OS


If you are looking for the most secure Linux distro for your desktop here, Qubes comes up at the top. Why am I saying that? Well, Qubes is a Fedora-based operating system which focused on desktop security. This OS will secure you by isolating and virtualizing various VM separately.

Qubes isolate your personal files from the malware without being affected. It’s cool. Note that this OS is best for advanced users. So if you are new, then it will be a bit tough for you to manage this system.

Download Qubes OS

2. Tails


Tails is one of the best most Secure Linux Distros out there after Parrot Security OS. Tails first released in 2009. This Operating System developed especially targeting on personal computers. If you are looking for an OS which will keep you safe while browsing the internet, then Tails will take the first place.

tails

It’s a live CD and a pre-installed Operating System with the Tor browser bundle using the onion circuit. Since all the outgoing connection goes through the Tor so it allows you to use the internet anonymously and whatever you do it never leaves any trace behind.

Tails OS doesn’t use any space of hard disk; instead, it only uses the required space in your RAM, but it will be erased automatically when you shut down your system. It can be used as a live DVD or live USB. It will be more convenient to boot from a USB stick rather a DVD. However, there are some issues with this OS. Recently most of the users are claiming that Tails requires 2 USB stick while installing which is boring.

Download Tails

3. Parrot Security OS


FrozenBox develops parrot Security OS and released in 2013. This software is a game-changer when it comes about security & privacy concern of a Computer’s Operating System. Parrot Security OS is specially designed to test an authorized simulated attack on your computer system, which helps to assess the vulnerabilities of your system, whether it is strong enough or not.

It comes with a full portable laboratory which protects your system from any unwanted disease while working on the internet, browsing anything and playing a game, etc. Again if you are a forensic expert, then this operating system is the best, and nothing can go beyond this.

Download Parrot Security OS

4. Kali Linux


Kali Linux is a pre-installed Debian derived Linux distro, which is developed especially focusing on Pen Testing and Forensic Experts. Kali comes along with a package of tools such as-Aircrack-ng, Ettercap, Foremost, Wireshark, Kismet, Maltigo and many others which helps you in many ways like exploiting a victim network or application, performing network discovery, or surveying a target IP address.

Not only that Kali includes a graphical cyber attacking tool name Armitage which allows you to lunch and exploits, get exploits recommendation and advanced features of the Metasploit Framework’s meterpreter. Kali Linux has considered one of top-ranked most secure Linux distros out there for developers.

Like Tails, this OS also can be booted as a live DVD or USB stick, and it is easy to use than the other OS available out there. Whether you run 32 or 62 operating systems, Kali Linux can be used on both. This OS requires minimum 512mb RAM & 10GB hard disk space to be installed.

Download Kali Linux

5. Whonix


If you want to private your IP address, then Whonix is the perfect one you can have. Whonix is a Debian based operating system that focused specifically on anonymity privacy and security. Whonix provides security by isolation. It’s an operating system which uses explicitly the principle of isolation to enable security, privacy, and anonymity.

This operating system is developed by two major programs. One is a workstation, and the other one is Gateway. The gateway acts as a middleman here, and it forces all the connection to go through the Tor network. So there is no opportunity for the IP address to be leaked, and this is how the Whonix OS keeps you secured.

Download Whonix

6. Discreete Linux


Maybe you are trying to keep your data safe and yet to find out any better security distro for your Linux Operating System. Let your scare fly away. Here you have Discreete Linux OS called one of the most secure Linux distros to protect your valuable data.

This OS doesn’t make any connection with the internet while working, which separates the Data & cryptographic keys to be protected from the non-trusted network. Another exciting thing is that this OS is a pure live system, so you don’t need to install it on your computer; instead, you can quickly run it with a USB stick.

Download Discreete Linux

7. Linux Kodachi


Do you love to stay fully anonymous while surfing the internet? Then Kodachi Linux is one of the best most secure Linux distros that you would love to have. Many users are saying that this is the most secure Linux distro that they have ever had. Personally, I have never tested, though. This Operating System comes with Tor, a VPN, and DNSCrypt and can be booted easily from a DVD or USB drive.

kodachi Linux

You can choose the exit routes country whenever you surf the internet. This operating contains many other useful application like Pidgin internet messenger, Transmission, VirtualBox, Geany, FileZilla, and many more. Finally, I must say, this Operating System comes with everything that a user needs to be secured.

Download Linux Kodachi

8. BlackArch Linux


BlackArck Linux is a new Linux security distro which is designed especially focusing on Pen Testing and Security research. It comes up with a vast number of tools that is twice even thrice as more as Kali Linux has.

This is straight Out Of The Box. They can be installed separately or if you want you can install in a group as well. This operating system is straightforward to use. This OS is lightweight enough so you can run it in any hardware.

Download BlackArch Linux

9. Heads OS


Heads is a GNU/Linux based free security distro. This OS is significantly smaller than the other OS out there and pretty easier to manage. Heads use only free software that means this OS gives more value on users freedom and community.

heads OS

Like the other OS above, Heads also uses Tor so that you can be anonymized while surfing online. All of your traffics are enforced to go through Tor by default, but they give the option to make it stop if you want. Heads always give priority to their users.

Download Heads OS

10. Subgraph OS


Like Tails, Subgraph Operating system is also a Debian based operating system which prevents the surveillance and interference by sophisticated adversaries from the Internet. This OS is designed for everyone. Its GNOME-based desktop environment is incredibly user-friendly.

While talking about security & privacy, this security distro prevents the attack through intelligent access control; memory corruption-based exploit prevention with a package of patchset (grsecurity patchset and Pax). Grsecurity patchset provides a package of security, such as addressing space protection, enhanced auditing, and process control.

Download Subgraph OS

11. IprediaOS


This security distro is good to use to browse the web, emailing, chat, and sharing any files through the internet anonymously. All of the connections are routed to go through I2P software.

Unlike some other distro out there, IprediaOS supports TORRENTS. This Operating System is competitively fast then Tor even you are going to use it on your older computer this OS will work well on that as well.

Download IprediaOS

12. PureOS


If you are looking for a user-friendly security distro that will allow you the freedom to modify it. Then PureOS is that one. PureOS is a free software which delivers a security package including “Duck Duck Go” search engine.

pureosIt will protect your privacy by avoiding personal search results as it’s free software so you can download it without purchasing anything. You can ask for its source code even you are allowed to modify it as well.

Download PureOS

13. Openwall GNU/*/Linux


Openwall is a security-enhanced Linux distro based operating system which is specially designed for servers and Applications. Openwall provides security by reducing the flaws in its software components with the Openwall patch (Best known as a (non-exec stack patch). It’s a free intended server platform.

Download Openwall GNU/*/Linux

14. Alpine Linux


Alpine Linux is a mus libc, and BusyBox based most secure Linux distro. It is so lightweight that you can ever think. The size of its base system is around 5 MB which is smaller than the other systems available out there. And this is why this Linux distro is that much popular.

Its another component BusyBox includes a lot of tools, and very few of them are bunzip2,bzip2, less, lzma, unlzma, vi, wget. Those tools are in an Alpine base image that is not in Debian base image. It’s application manager APK is way faster than other and very easy to use.

Download Alpine Linux

15. Container Linux (Formerly CoreOS)


If you love to serve on various machines and update machines without any downtime, then Container Linux (Formerly CoreOS) will be your go-to Linux distro. Container Linux is a lightweight Linux Distro which is designed for clusters and server. This security distro is getting popular nowadays because it’s easy to deploy, manage, and run containers. In earlier CoreOS supported only Dockers platform but recently it supports rkt (Rocket) as an alternative of Docker. This software updates automatically when they need to be updated, which improves security.

The Last Words


Here I have reviewed the 15 Most Secure Linux Distros available out there, some of which I have tested personally and the rest I have ranked by exploring the best features from their website, researching on the internet, gathering reviews from the users.

So I hope you will find this article helpful in choosing the best one for yourself. If it does so, then please share it on your social media, with your friends and family who are also trying to have the best one for themselves. And also don’t forget to leave your valuable suggestion in the comment box.

Source: https://www.ubuntupit.com/15-most-secure-linux-distros-for-privacy-and-security-concern-users/

Bill Gates orders £500m hydrogen-powered superyacht

Microsoft billionaire’s innovative and eco-fuelled 112m Aqua vessel to launch after 2024

The ‘Aqua’ superyacht powered by liquid hydrogen
The ‘Aqua’ superyacht powered by liquid hydrogen – a snip at £500m. It can travel 3,750 miles before it needs to refuel. Photograph: Sinot/Cover Images

Bill Gates has ordered the world’s first hydrogen-powered superyacht, worth an estimated £500m ($644m) and featuring an infinity pool, helipad, spa and gym.

The billionaire co-founder of Microsoft has commissioned the Aqua ship – a 112-metre (370ft) luxury vessel completely powered by liquid hydrogen – which was publicised last year at the Monaco yacht show by the Dutch design firm Sinot.

Speaking about the project last year, the marine designer Sander Sinot said: “For the development of Aqua we took inspiration from the lifestyle of a discerning, forward-looking owner, the fluid versatility of water and cutting-edge technology, to combine this in a superyacht with truly innovative features.”

The boat has five decks and space to accommodate 14 guests and 31 crew members. In a further environmentally friendly feature, gel-fuelled fire bowls allow guests to stay warm outside without having to burn wood or coals.

But its most cutting-edge feature is tucked away below decks – two 28-tonne vacuum-sealed tanks that are cooled to -423F (-253C) and filled with liquid hydrogen, which powers the ship. The fuel will generate power for the two one-megawatt motors and propellors via on-board fuel cells, which combine hydrogen with oxygen to produce electricity. Water is a byproduct.

The vessel is unlikely to take to the seas before 2024, according to the Sunday Telegraph, which reported the Gates commission. When it does, it has the potential to reach speeds of 17 knots (about 20mph) and travel 3,750 miles (or roughly London to New York) before it needs to refuel. The Sunday Telegraph said the boat would have a “diesel back-up” due to the scarcity of hydrogen refuelling stations.

Gates, 64, who is currently ranked as the world’s second-richest man with a $118bn (£92bn) fortune, is a regular superyacht holidaymaker who has not previously owned his own vessel. Typically renting yachts for his own use, in the past he has holidayed off the coast of Sardinia onboard the $330m yacht Serene, which is owned by the Stolichnaya vodka magnate, Yuri Scheffler.

The investment underlines Gates’s long-standing interest in alternative fuels, and his enthusiasm for new technology that could tackle emissions from industry and transport that together make up 75% of the world’s carbon footprint.

He is an investor in Heliogen, a Californian startup that aims to turn sunlight into a source of heat exceeding 1,000C that could help replace fossil fuels. It is the first company in the world to concentrate sunlight to reach temperatures that are high enough to power heavy industry without carbon emissions.

Gates has also pledged to give most of his estimated $118bn fortune to good causes via The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This week he donated $100m to help tackle the coronavirus.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/feb/09/bill-gates-orders-500m-hydrogen-powered-superyacht

Tech companies tried to help us spend less time on our phones. It didn’t work.

Last year, tech companies couldn’t get enough of letting you use their products less.

Executives at Apple and Google unveiled on-device features to help people monitor and restrict how much time they spent on their phones. Facebook and Instagram, two of the biggest time sucks on the planet, also rolled out time spent notifications and the ability to snooze their apps — new features meant to nudge people to scroll through their apps a little less mindlessly.

These companies all became fluent in the language of “time well spent,” a movement to design technology that respects users’ time and doesn’t exploit their vulnerabilities. Since the movement sprang up nearly seven years ago, it has invoked mass introspection and an ongoing debate over technology use, which people blame for a swath of societal ills including depression and suicide, diminished attention spans, and decreased productivity.

But a year after Big Tech rolled out their time-well-spent features, it doesn’t seem like they’re working: The time we spend on our devices just keeps increasing.

Fortunately, the problem might not be that bad in the first place. Though correlations exist, there’s no causal link between digital media usage and the myriad problems some speculate it causes.

“Every time new tech comes out, there’s a moral panic that this is going to melt our brains and destroy society,” Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT, told Recode. “In almost every case, we sort of look back at these things and laugh.”

What “time well spent” has done is spurred a whole cottage industry to help people “digitally detox,” and it’s being led in part by the big tech companies responsible for — and that benefit from — our reliance on tech in the first place. As Quartz writer Simone Stolzoff put it, “‘Time well spent’ is having its Kendall Jenner Pepsi moment. What began as a social movement has become a marketing strategy.”

Politicians are also jumping on the dogpile. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) has proposed a bill to reduce what some call social media addiction by banning infinite scrolling and autoplay and by automatically limiting users to spending a maximum of 30 minutes a day on each platform. The bill currently has no cosponsors and is unlikely to go to a vote, but does demonstrate that the topic is on lawmakers’ radar.

These efforts, however, have yet to dent our insatiable need for tech.

The data on device usage

By all accounts, the time we spend attached to our digital devices is growing.

American adults spent about 3 hours and 30 minutes a day using the mobile internet in 2019, an increase of about 20 minutes from a year earlier, according to measurement company Zenith. The firm expects that time to grow to over four hours in 2021. (Top smartphone users currently spend 4 hours and 30 minutes per day on those devices, according to productivity software company RescueTime, which estimates average phone usage to be 3 hours and 15 minutes per day).

We’re spending more time online because pastimes like socializing that used to happen offline are shifting online, and we’re generally ceding more of our days to digital activities.

The overall time Americans spend on various media is expected to grow to nearly 11 hours per day this year, after accounting for declines in time spent with other media like TV and newspapers that are increasingly moving online, according to Zenith. Mobile internet use is responsible for the entirety of that growth.

Nearly a third of Americans said they are online “almost constantly” in 2019, a statistic that has risen substantially across age groups since the study was conducted the year before.

Not all our online activities are on the uptick, however.

Online measurement company SimilarWeb has found that time spent with some of the most popular social media apps, like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, has declined in the wake of “time well spent” efforts — though the decline could instead reflect the waning relevance of those social media behemoths. At least for now, the average amount of time on those apps is still near historic highs:

Since overall time spent online is going up, the data suggests we’re just finding other places online to spend our time, like with newer social media like TikTok or with online video games.

Some have argued that sheer time spent isn’t important psychologically, but rather it’s what we’re doing with that time online. And what we’re doing is very fragmented.

Rather than use our devices continually, we tend to check them throughout the day. On average, people open their phones 58 times a day (and 30 of those times are during the workday), according to RescueTime. Most of those phone sessions are under two minutes.

Even on our phones, we don’t stick to one thing. A recent study published in the journal Human-Computer Interaction found that people switched on average from one screen activity to another every 20 seconds.

And what’s the result of all these hours of fragmented activity? Just one in 10 people RescueTime surveyed said they felt in control of how they spend their day.

What to do with our growing smartphone usage

It’s tough to separate finger-wagging judgments about tech from valid concerns about how tech could be degrading our lives. But the perception, at least, that tech is harming our lives seems to be very real.

Numerous articles instruct people on how to put down their phones. And richer Americans — including the people making the technology in the first place — are desperately trying to find ways to have their kids spend less time with screens.

MIT’s Zuckerman suggests building better “pro-civic social media,” since he thinks it’s already clear we’re going to spend lots of our time online anyway.

“I am deeply worried about the effects of the internet on democracy. On the flip side, I was deeply worried about democracy before everyone was using the internet,” he said. “What we probably have to be doing is building social media that’s good for us as a democracy.”

This social media would emphasize the best aspects of social media and would better defend against scourges like content that promotes political polarization and misinformation. He gave the example of gell.com, which uses experts to outline arguments for and against major social issues, and then encourages user participation to further develop and challenge the ideas.

Nir Eyal, author of Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life, thinks we’re overusing the language of addiction when it comes to technology usage. If we really want to limit our technology usage, he told Recode, solutions are close at hand.

“We want to think that we’re getting addicted because an addiction involves a pusher, a dealer — someone’s doing it. Whereas when we call it what it really is, which is distraction — now in the US, we don’t like to face that fact — that means we have to do something that’s no fun,” Eyal said.

Instead of blaming tech companies, he asks people, “Have you tried to turn off notifications, for God’s sake? Have you planned your day so that you don’t have all this white space where you’re free to check your phone all the time?”

For those who are addicted — a percentage he says is probably in line with the portions of the population that are addicted to anything else, like alcohol or gambling — he thinks tech companies should notify users that they’re in the top percentiles of usership and offer them resources, such as software tools and professional assistance (and his book).

In the meantime, the time we spend on our digital devices will continue to increase, and there’s still a need for conclusive research about whether that actually matters. Perhaps while we wait for clarity, we can turn off our notifications about how much time we spend on our phones.

Source: https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/1/6/21048116/tech-companies-time-well-spent-mobile-phone-usage-data