Marc Levoy, the researcher who used software to turn Google’s Pixel camera into a powerhouse, has joined Adobe to build a universal camera app, Adobe announced today.
Levoy headed up the team that developed the impressive computational photography technology used in Google’s Pixel smartphones, including features like Night Sight, Portrait Mode, and HDR+. His work also helped Pixels take great photos without requiring as much hardware as competing phones — the Pixel line famously only needed a single camera to stay competitive with Apple’s iPhones, until a desire for sharper zoom images pushed Google to add a second, telephoto lens with last year’s Pixel 4. (The first iPhone with a second lens, the iPhone 7 Plus, came out in 2016.)
At Adobe, it sounds like Levoy could be planning to make a great camera not just for Pixel users, but for anyone with a smartphone. Levoy will be working on computational photography initiatives across Adobe, and intriguingly, his efforts will be “centered on the concept of a universal camera app,” the company said in an email. That said, Adobe wasn’t immediately able to define “universal camera app” for us — we’ve also heard that phrase refer to an app platform that companies like Facebook and Snapchat could use to produce their own camera apps or an app that could work across, say, a cameraphone and a larger camera like a DSLR. We’re hoping to narrow that down.
Adobe already offers a camera app in Photoshop Camera, and there’s one built into the Adobe Lightroom app, too, but perhaps Adobe has a grander vision for its camera apps. And Adobe said in an email that Levoy will also be working with the Photoshop Camera, Adobe Research, and Sensei AI teams, so maybe Photoshop Camera will be the focus for these bigger efforts. Levoy will report to Adobe CTO Abhay Parasnis, and he starts today.
Levoy left Google in March after nearly six years at the company. Before he joined Google full time, Levoy worked on the camera in the $1,500 Google Glass Explorer Edition as visiting faculty at Google’s former Moonshot division, Google X, and he launched a Google-funded research project at Stanford in 2002 that eventually became Street View in Google Maps. Levoy is also a computer graphics researcher at Stanford, and he helped get the world interested in light field photography with some of his writing there.
Correction: The first iPhone with a second camera lens was the iPhone 7 Plus, not the iPhone X, like we said originally. We regret the error.
Cyberattack exposes lack of required defenses on U.S. pipelines
The shutdown of the biggest U.S. fuel pipeline by a ransomware attack highlights a systemic vulnerability: Pipeline operators have no requirement to implement cyber defenses.
The U.S. government has had robust, compulsory cybersecurity protocols for most of the power grid for about 10 years to prevent debilitating hacks by criminals or state actors.
But the country’s 2.7 million miles (4.3 million km) of oil, natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines have only voluntary measures, which leaves security up to the individual operators, experts said.
“Simply encouraging pipelines to voluntarily adopt best practices is an inadequate response to the ever-increasing number and sophistication of malevolent cyber actors,” Richard Glick, the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), said.
Protections could include requirements for encryption, multifactor authentication, backup systems, personnel training and segmenting networks so access to the most sensitive elements can be restricted.
FERC’s authority to impose cyber standards on the electric grid came from a 2005 law but it does not extend to pipelines.
Colonial Pipeline, the largest U.S. oil products pipeline and source of nearly half the supply on the East Coast, has been shut since Friday after a ransomware attack the FBI attributed to DarkSide, a group cyber experts believe is based in Russia or Eastern Europe.
The outage has led to higher gasoline prices in the U.S. South and worries about wider shortages and potential price gouging ahead of the Memorial Day holiday.
Colonial did not immediately respond to a query about whether cybersecurity standards should be mandatory.
The American Petroleum Institute lobbying group said it was talking with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Energy Department and others to understand the threat and mitigate risk.
Cyber oversight of pipelines falls to the TSA, an office of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which has provided voluntary security guidelines to pipeline companies.
The General Accountability Office, the congressional watchdog, said in a 2019 report that the TSA only had six full-time employees in its pipeline security branch through 2018, which limited the office’s reviews of cybersecurity practices.
The TSA said it has since expanded staff to 34 positions on pipeline and cybersecurity. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether it supports mandatory protections.
When asked by reporters whether the Biden administration would put in place rules, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said it was discussing administrative and legislative options to “raise the cyber hygiene across the country.”
President Joe Biden is hoping Congress will pass a $2.3 billion infrastructure package, and pipeline requirements could be put into that legislation. But experts said there was no quick fix.
“The hard part is who do you tell what to do and what do you tell them to do,” Christi Tezak, an analyst at ClearView Energy Partners, said.
U.S. Representatives Fred Upton, a Republican, and Bobby Rush, a Democrat, said on Wednesday they have reintroduced legislation requiring the Department of Energy to ensure the security of natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines. Such legislation could get folded into a wider bill.
The power grid is regulated by FERC, and mostly organized into nonprofit regional organizations. That made it relatively easy for legislators to put forward the 2005 law that allows FERC to approve mandatory cyber measures.
A range of public and private companies own pipelines. They mostly operate independently and lack a robust federal regulator.
Their oversight falls under different laws depending on what they carry. Products include crude oil, fuels, water, hazardous liquids and – potentially – carbon dioxide for burial underground to control climate change. This diversity could make it harder for legislators to impose a unified requirement.
Tristan Abbey, a former aide to Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski who worked at the White House national security council under former President Donald Trump, said Congress is both the best and worst way to tackle the problem.
“Legislation may be necessary when jurisdiction is ambiguous and agencies lack resources,” said Abbey, now president of Comarus Analytics LLC.
But a bill should not be seen as a magic wand, he said.
“Standards may be part of the answer, but federal regulations need to mesh with state requirements without stifling innovation.”
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Marguerita Choy)
U.S. senator asks firms about sales of hard disk drives to Huawei
A senior Republican U.S. senator on Tuesday asked the chief executives of Toshiba America Electronic Components, Seagate Technology, and Western Digital Corp if the companies are improperly supplying Huawei with foreign-produced hard disk drives.
Senator Roger Wicker, the ranking member of the Commerce Committee, said a 2020 U.S. Commerce Department regulation sought to “tighten Huawei’s ability to procure items that are the direct product of specified U.S. technology or software, such as hard disk drives.”
He said he was engaged “in a fact-finding process… about whether leading global suppliers of hard disk drives are complying” with the regulation.
(Reporting by David Shepardson, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)
Colonial Pipeline hackers stole data on Thursday
The hackers who caused Colonial Pipeline to shut down on Friday began their cyberattack against the top U.S. fuel pipeline operator a day earlier and stole a large amount of data, Bloomberg News reported citing people familiar with the matter.
The attackers are part of a cybercrime group called DarkSide and took nearly 100 gigabytes of data out of Colonial’s network in just two hours on Thursday, Bloomberg reported late Saturday, citing two people involved in the company’s investigation.
Colonial did not immediately reply to an email from Reuters seeking comment outside usual U.S. business hours.
Colonial Pipeline shut its entire network, the source of nearly half of the U.S. East Coast’s fuel supply, after a cyber attack that involved ransomware.
(Reporting by Aakriti Bhalla in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar)
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