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The Australian government has established a permanent operation to target hackers following attacks on its largest health insurer and a telecommunications provider.
About 100 people from Australia’s federal police and signals intelligence agency will use their offensive cyber-capabilities to probe and disrupt criminal syndicates, Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil said. The taskforce has already prevented significant harm after investigating earlier attacks and will now be established on a permanent basis, she told reporters Saturday.
“We’re going to hack the hackers,” O’Neil said. “This joint standing operation is not simply responding to crime, they will be hunting these gangs wherever they are around the world.”
Australia has faced a deluge of cyber attacks since at least late-September when Singapore Telecommunications Ltd.’s Australian unit disclosed a vast leak of data on past and present mobile-phone customers. More recently, sensitive health records held by insurer Medibank Private Ltd. were posted on the dark web by Russian hackers seeking a ransom.
Australia intends to increase penalties for companies that face data breaches to at least A$50 million ($34 million) to better protect customer information. The attacks against Singtel’s Optus unit and Medibank are quite similar to others that occurred outside Australia in 2020 and 2021, O’Neil said.
“What we’re seeing in Australia is that we’re waking up from a slumber that we’ve been in,” she said. “The criminal gangs at the heart of this matter are not just targeting Australians, it’s a global problem.”
A Paris-based startup has created a genetically engineered houseplant that can literally clean the air within your home. The plant builds off the natural purifying properties that houseplants already offer. So, while it adds some color to whatever room you put it in, it’s also actively keeping the air cleaner than 30 air purifiers.
The company, called Neoplants, modified both a pothos plant as well as its root microbiome to pump the plant’s natural air-cleaning properties up quite a bit. Called Neo P1, the genetically engineered houseplant recently hit the market, and you can purchase it right now.
Plants can offer quite a bit to your home. Not only can they boost your mood and help reduce anxiety, according to researchers, but they can also clean the air thanks to their natural air-purifying properties. With this genetically engineered houseplant, though, you’re getting more than that basic level of purifying. In fact, Neoplants say that the Neo P1 is 30 times more effective than the top NASA plants.
But how exactly does this genetically engineered houseplant work better than an air purifier? Well, for starters, plants are better equipped to handle volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are highly reactive chemicals found in cleaning supplies, building materials, paints, and the list goes on. VOCs are notoriously terrible for human health and can cause irritation in the human body.
While air purifiers can help, they don’t typically tend to completely neutralize these harmful compounds, which means they aren’t ever truly removed from the air. See the problem? But plants like this genetically engineered houseplant are better equipped to neutralize VOCs, which is why having houseplants in your home can help improve the quality of the air within it.
Neoplants started with the pothos because it’s one of the most popular plants in North America. But, the job wasn’t easy, as the company had to completely map the pothos’ genome itself, something that a molecular biologist and the chief technical officer at the company equated to building a plane while flying. (via Inverse) As a result, the genetically engineered houseplant is better equipped to eliminate VOCs.
Additionally, Neoplants say that the air-purifying effectiveness of the houseplant is the only thing the company touched. It doesn’t grow faster, and it isn’t anymore resistant to pesticides than normal pothos plants. The genetically engineered houseplant will retail for $179, making it more expensive than most typical houseplants.
But, considering it also acts as one of the best air purifiers out there, the price is pretty justifiable.