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US launch cyber-attacks against Islamic State

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WASHINGTON – The US military is conducting cyber-attacks on the Islamic State (IS) group, a general has confirmed, as the Pentagon looks to accelerate the fight against the jihadists.

A US-led coalition of warplanes has been striking IS targets in Iraq and Syria since August 2014, and officials have long stated the importance of using cyber techniques such as overloading IS networks to limit the group’s communications and ability to reach potential new recruits.

“We have now begun to use our exquisite cyber capabilities in this fight,” Baghdad-based Major General Peter Gersten told Pentagon reporters.

He did not elaborate, except to say the effort is “highly coordinated” and has been “very effective”.

In February, Defence Secretary Ashton Carter and the US military’s top officer General Joe Dunford said the United States was determined to “accelerate” the anti-IS campaign, and indicated cyber warfare would play an increasingly important role in doing so.

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Earlier this month, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work said: “We are dropping cyberbombs” on the IS group.

The New York Times said the US Cyber Command had placed “implants” in IS networks that let experts monitor the group’s behaviour.

It said the US hoped to ultimately imitate or alter commanders’ messages so they unwittingly direct fighters to areas likely to be hit by drone or plane strikes.

Last week, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also admitted for the first time that the Australian Government had the ability to launch cyber-attacks, saying “an offensive cyber capability housed in the Australian Signals Directorate provides another option for Government to respond”.

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It came as Mr Turnbull confirmed the Bureau of Meteorology had been hacked.

AFP

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Over 70% of deep-sea fish of Atlantic Ocean have ingested plastic : Study

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Fragments of plastic are found throughout the world, from nearly every continent to nearly every body of water. But, researchers recently have found 73 percent of Northwest Atlantic deep-sea fish are also eating it — the highest reported frequency of plastic-eating fish in the world.

Plastic particles were found in some of the most remote parts of the Atlantic Ocean with almost three quarters of a sample of more than 230 deep-water fish collected by NUI Galway scientists having ingested plastic particles.

The contamination level among the fish species, located in the northwest Atlantic thousands of kilometres from land and 600m down in the ocean, is one of the highest reported frequencies of microplastic occurrence in fish worldwide, according to the study published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science.

The NUIG scientists, as part of the study, participated in a transatlantic crossing onboard the marine institute’s Celtic Explorer vessel.

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PhD candidate and lead author Alina Wieczorek said, “Deep-water fish migrate to the surface at night to feed on plankton [microscopic animals] and this is likely when they are exposed to the microplastics.”

During this research cruise they took dead deep-sea fish from midwater trawls such as the spotted lanternfish, rakery beaconlamp, stout saw-palate and scaly dragonfish.

Microplastics are small plastic fragments that commonly originate from the breakdown of larger plastic items entering the ocean. Other sources may be waste water effluents carrying plastic fibres from clothing and microbeads from personal care products. Due to their low density, most of these microplastics float at the sea surface.

The fish ranged in size from the smallest species the Glacier Lantern at 3.5cm to the largest species, the stout saw-palate at 59cm.

Agencies

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