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North Korean Hackers Infiltrate Chile's ATM Network After Skype Job Interview
Posted by News Fetcher on January 17 '19 at 09:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department:
A Skype call and a gullible employee was all it took for North Korean hackers to infiltrate the computer network of Redbanc, the company that interconnects the ATM infrastructure of all Chilean banks. From a report: Prime suspects behind the hack are a hacker group known as Lazarus Group (or Hidden Cobra), known to have associations to the Pyongyang regime, is one of the most active and dangerous hacking groups around, and known to have targeted banks, financial institutions, and cryptocurrency exchanges in the past years. Lazarus' most recent attack took place at the end of December last year but only came to the public's attention after Chilean Senator Felipe Harboe called out Redbanc on Twitter last week for not disclosing its security breach. The company, which has direct lines into the networks of all Chilean banks, formally admitted to the hack a day later in a message posted on its website, but that announcement didn't include any details about the intrusion. However, a day after Redbanc's admission, an investigation conducted by Chilean tech news site trendTIC revealed that the financial firm was the victim of a serious cyber-attack, and not something that could be easily dismissed. According to reporters, the source of the hack was identified as a LinkedIn ad for a developer position at another company to which one of the Redbanc employees applied.

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China Drove 40% of Mobile App Spending and Nearly Half of All Downloads in 2018
Posted by News Fetcher on January 17 '19 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
China may be slowing iPhone sales worldwide, but Chinese people are driving Apple's App Store business. From a report: China accounted for nearly 50 percent of all app downloads in 2018, pushing the global downloads count to reach a record 194 billion, according to research firm App Annie. China, which is the world's largest smartphone market, also accounted for nearly 40 percent of worldwide consumer spend in apps in 2018, App Annie said in its yearly "State of Mobile" report. (Note: Google Play Store is not available in China.) Global consumer spend in apps reached $101 billion last year, up 75 percent since 2016. And 74 percent of all money spent on apps last year came from games. The battle between Silicon Valley companies and Chinese tech giants generated more than half of total consumer spend in the top 300 parent companies in 2018, the report said. The top company for global consumer spend was China's Tencent, which owns stake in several startups, companies, and games -- including last year's sleeper hits PUBG and Fortnite.

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Google Maps Deterring Outback Tourists, Say Small Firms
Posted by News Fetcher on January 17 '19 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's bu-tracker department:
Tourism operators in Australia claim inaccuracies in Google Maps are deterring potential visitors, by making remote attractions appear further away than they actually are. From a report: The Queensland government in north-east Australia has complained to Google, which says it will look into the issue. Firms looking to promote their small towns as remote tourist destinations say Google Maps inflates travel times. Outback businesses say errors in the map app can add hours to a journey. "People aren't coming to places because they think it takes too long, or they're missing opportunities to refuel and they're getting sent off on another road that has no fuel [outlets]," Robyn Mackenzie, of the Eromanga Natural History Museum, told national broadcaster ABC. "People will get frightened of travelling in the outback, because they don't have any confidence in the mapping," the general manager of the small town museum added.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook Calls For Laws To Tackle 'Shadow Economy' of Data Firms
Posted by News Fetcher on January 17 '19 at 07:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Apple's chief executive has called for regulation to tackle the "shadow economy" of data brokers -- intermediaries who trade in the personal information of largely unsuspecting consumers -- as the company continues its push to be seen as supportive of privacy. Tim Cook, in an op-ed for Time Magazine published on Thursday, said: One of the biggest challenges in protecting privacy is that many of the violations are invisible. For example, you might have bought a product from an online retailer -- something most of us have done. But what the retailer doesn't tell you is that it then turned around and sold or transferred information about your purchase to a "data broker" -- a company that exists purely to collect your information, package it and sell it to yet another buyer. The trail disappears before you even know there is a trail. Right now, all of these secondary markets for your information exist in a shadow economy that's largely unchecked -- out of sight of consumers, regulators and lawmakers.

Let's be clear: you never signed up for that. We think every user should have the chance to say, "Wait a minute. That's my information that you're selling, and I didn't consent." Meaningful, comprehensive federal privacy legislation should not only aim to put consumers in control of their data, it should also shine a light on actors trafficking in your data behind the scenes. Some state laws are looking to accomplish just that, but right now there is no federal standard protecting Americans from these practices. That's why we believe the Federal Trade Commission should establish a data-broker clearinghouse, requiring all data brokers to register, enabling consumers to track the transactions that have bundled and sold their data from place to place, and giving users the power to delete their data on demand, freely, easily and online, once and for all.

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US CEOs Are More Worried About Cybersecurity Than a Possible Recession
Posted by News Fetcher on January 17 '19 at 07:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
With markets uncertain, many onlookers might think a recession is on the way, whether that's most CFOs in the world or voters in the United States. But domestic CEOs don't find heavy economic headwinds their biggest external business worry, according to a new survey by the Conference Board. Instead, it's cybersecurity followed by new competitors. Risk of a recession is third. From a report: After high-profile data breaches experienced over the last two years by such companies as Marriott, Equifax, and Uber, that might seem understandable. But U.S. CEOs stand in stark contrast to those of the rest of the world. Cybersecurity was the sixth most pressing issue for chief executives in Europe. It was seventh in Latin America, eighth in Japan, and 10th in China. Regarding concerns over a potential recession, Europe put that in second place, while Japan, China, and Latin America all rated it number one.

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LG Will Launch a Phone With a Second Screen Attachment
Posted by News Fetcher on January 17 '19 at 05:50 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's plug-n-play department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET: LG's next smartphone may have you seeing double. And no, it's not because of a foldable display. The company will launch a smartphone, whose name hasn't been finalized, that will have an option for a second-screen attachment, according to a person familiar with the situation. The attachment, which the person describes as a sort of case with a screen, could potentially double the total screen size of the device. It's one of multiple phones launching at the Mobile World Congress trade show next month, the person said. While the company is mulling the G8 name, it's unclear whether the multiple-screen phone will carry the name of its flagship line. There was some confusion over LG launching a foldable smartphone thanks to a report by Korean-language outlet Naver. But this phone won't fold.

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Elon Musk Wants To Put An AI Hardware Chip In Your Skull
Posted by News Fetcher on January 17 '19 at 03:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's future-of-mankind department:
"iTMunch reports that Elon Musk apparently believes that the human race can only be "saved" by implanting chips into our skulls that make us half human, half artificial intelligence," writes Slashdot reader dryriver. From the report: Elon Musk's main goal, he explains, is to wire a chip into your skull. This chip would give you the digital intelligence needed to progress beyond the limits of our biological intelligence. This would mean a full incorporation of artificial intelligence into our bodies and minds. He argues that without taking this drastic measure, humanity is doomed. There are a lot of ethical questions raised on the topic of what humanity according to Elon Musk exactly is, but he seems undeterred. "My faith in humanity has been a little shaken this year," Musk continues, "but I'm still pro-humanity." The seamless conjunction of humans and computers gives us humans a shot at becoming completely "symbiotic" with artificial intelligence, according to Elon Musk. He argues that humans as a species are all already practically attached to our phones. In a way, this makes us almost cyborg-like. The only difference is that we haven't managed to expand our intelligence to that level. This means that we are not as smart as we could be. The data link that currently exists between the information that we get from our phones or computers is not as fast as it could be. "It will enable anyone who wants to have superhuman cognition," Musk said. "Anyone who wants." As for how much smarter humans will become with these AI chips, Musk writes: "How much smarter are you with a phone or computer or without? You're vastly smarter, actually," Musk said. "You can answer any question pretty much instantly. You can remember flawlessly. Your phone can remember videos (and) pictures perfectly. Your phone is already an extension of you. You're already a cyborg. Most people don't realize you're already a cyborg. It's just that the data rate [...] it's slow, very slow. It's like a tiny straw of information flow between your biological self and your digital self. We need to make that tiny straw like a giant river, a huge, high-bandwidth interface."

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Collection 1 Data Breach Exposes More Than 772 Million Email Addresses
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '19 at 11:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's another-day-another-breach department:
A collection of almost 773 million unique email addresses and just under 22 million unique passwords were exposed on cloud service MEGA. Security researcher Troy Hunt said the collection of data, dubbed Collection #1, totaled over 12,000 separate files and more than 87GB of data. ZDNet reports: "What I can say is that my own personal data is in there and it's accurate; right email address and a password I used many years ago," Hunt wrote. "In short, if you're in this breach, one or more passwords you've previously used are floating around for others to see." Some passwords, including his own, have been "dehashed", that is converted back to plain text. Hunt said he gained the information after multiple people reached out to him with concerns over the data on MEGA, with the Collection #1 dump also being discussed on a hacking forum. "The post on the forum referenced 'a collection of 2000+ dehashed databases and Combos stored by topic' and provided a directory listing of 2,890 of the files," Hunt wrote.
The collection has since been removed. You can visit Hunt's Have I Been Pwned service to see if you are affected by this breach.

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Fasting Can Improve Overall Health By Causing Circadian Clocks In the Liver and Skeletal Muscle To Rewire Their Metabolism, Study Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '19 at 08:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's money-saving-diets department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ScienceDaily: In a University of California, Irvine-led study, researchers found evidence that fasting affects circadian clocks in the liver and skeletal muscle, causing them to rewire their metabolism, which can ultimately lead to improved health and protection against aging-associated diseases. The study was published recently in Cell Reports. The research was conducted using mice, which were subjected to 24-hour periods of fasting. While fasting, researchers noted the mice exhibited a reduction in oxygen consumption (VO2), respiratory exchange ratio (RER), and energy expenditure, all of which were completely abolished by refeeding, which parallels results observed in humans.

"The reorganization of gene regulation by fasting could prime the genome to a more permissive state to anticipate upcoming food intake and thereby drive a new rhythmic cycle of gene expression. In other words, fasting is able to essentially reprogram a variety of cellular responses. Therefore, optimal fasting in a timed manner would be strategic to positively affect cellular functions and ultimately benefiting health and protecting against aging-associated diseases." This study opens new avenues of investigation that could ultimately lead to the development of nutritional strategies to improve health in humans.

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Key West Moves To Ban Sunscreens That Could Damage Reefs
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '19 at 07:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's environmental-protection department:
Yesterday, the Key West City Commission unanimously voted to ban the sale of sunscreens that contain two ingredients -- oxybenzone and octinoxate -- that a growing body of scientific evidence says harm coral reefs. The measure must now be reviewed again by the commission before it becomes law. The second vote is scheduled for February 5th. Miami Herald reports: Environmental researchers have published studies showing how these two ingredients, which accumulate in the water from bathers or from wastewater discharges, can damage coral reefs through bleaching and harming the corals' DNA. In some instances, the corals can die. A Feburary 2016 study in the Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology examining the impact of oxybenzone in corals in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands concluded that the sunscreen ingredient "poses a hazard to coral reef conservation and threatens the resiliency of coral reefs to climate change.''

Last year, Hawaii banned the sale or distribution of any sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, a measure that will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021. It was the first state in the nation to implement such a ban. In Florida, the website for the South Florida Reef Ambassador Initiative, which falls under the state's Department of Environmental Protection, tells divers to "Avoid sunscreens with Oxybenzone and Avobenzone. The benzones are compounds that are lethal to coral reproduction in very small amounts." Experts who have studied the issue say sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which are minerals, also block ultraviolet rays. They create a barrier on the skin that deflect the sun's rays .

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Researchers Report Breakthrough In Ice-Repelling Materials
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '19 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's ice-repelling department:
"Researchers from the University of Houston have reported a new theory in physics called stress localization, which they used to tune and predict the properties of new materials," reports Phys.Org. "Based on those predictions, the researchers reported in Materials Horizons that they have created a durable silicone polymer coating capable of repelling ice from any surface." The new research has huge implications for aircraft, power transmission lines, and more. From the report: Hadi Ghasemi, Bill D. Cook Assistant Professor of mechanical engineering at UH and corresponding author for the work, said the findings suggest a way to take trial and error out of the search for new materials, in keeping with the movement of materials science toward a physics-driven approach. "You put in the properties you want, and the principle will tell you what material you need to synthesize," he said, noting that the concept can also be used to predict materials with superb antibacterial or other desirable properties.

The new material uses elastic energy localization where ice meets the material, triggering cracks at the interface that slough off the ice. Ghasemi said it requires minimal force to cause the cracks; the flow of air over the surface of an airplane acts as a trigger, for example. The material, which is applied as a spray, can be used on any surface, and Ghasemi said testing showed it is not only mechanically durable and unaffected by ultraviolet rays -- important for aircraft which face constant sun exposure -- but also does not change the aircraft's aerodynamic performance. Testing indicates it will last for more than 10 years, with no need to reapply, he said.

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Fortnite Bugs Gave Hackers Access To Millions of Player Accounts, Researchers Say
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '19 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's click-of-a-mouse department:
Researchers at cybersecurity firm Check Point say three vulnerabilities chained together could have allowed hackers to take control of any of Fortnite's 200 million players. "The flaws, if exploited, would have stolen the account access token set on the gamer's device once they entered their password," reports TechCrunch. "Once stolen, that token could be used to impersonate the gamer and log in as if they were the account holder, without needing their password." From the report: The researchers say that the flaw lies in how Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, handles login requests. Researchers said they could send any user a crafted link that appears to come from Epic Games' own domain and steal an access token needed to break into an account.

Here's how it works: The user clicks on a link, which points to an epicgames.com subdomain, which the hacker embeds a link to malicious code on their own server by exploiting a cross-site weakness in the subdomain. Once the malicious script loads, unbeknownst to the Fortnite player, it steals their account token and sends it back to the hacker. "If the victim user is not logged into the game, he or she would have to log in first," a researcher said. "Once that person is logged in, the account can be stolen." Epic Games has since fixed the vulnerability.

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Marco Rubio Introduces Privacy Bill To Create Federal Regulations On Data Collection
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '19 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's consumer-privacy department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune: Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced a bill Wednesday aimed at creating federal standards of privacy protection for major internet companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google. The bill, titled the American Data Dissemination Act, requires the Federal Trade Commission to make suggestions for regulation based on the Privacy Act of 1974. Congress would then have to pass legislation within two years, or the FTC will gain the power to write the rules itself (under current laws, the FTC can only enforce existing rules). While Rubio's bill is intended to reign in the data collection and dissemination of companies like Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Google, and Netflix, it also requires any final legislation to protect small businesses from being stifled by new rules. The caveat comes when one considers states' rights to create their own privacy laws. Under Rubio's legislation, any national regulations would preempt state laws -- even if the state's are more strict. "While we may have disagreements on the best path forward, no one believes a privacy law that only bolsters the largest companies with the resources to comply and stifles our start-up marketplace is the right approach," Rubio wrote in an op-ed for The Hill, announcing his bill.

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Federal Prosecutors Are Investigating Huawei For Allegedly Stealing Trade Secrets, Says Report
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '19 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's latest-developments department:
According to The Wall Street Journal, federal prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation to see if Huawei allegedly stole trade secrets from U.S. companies. The probe is reportedly built out of civil lawsuits against the telecommunications firm. The Hill reports: People familiar with the probe told the Journal that it is at an advanced stage and that an indictment could soon be coming. Huawei has long faced scrutiny from both lawmakers and national security officials, who have labeled the firm as a national security threat over its ties to the Chinese government. The company has denied that characterization, and China this week called for other countries to end âoethe groundless fabrications and unreasonable restrictionsâ on Huawei and other firms.

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New Satellite Network Will Make It Impossible For a Commercial Airplane To Vanish
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '19 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's lost-and-found department:
pgmrdlm quotes a report from CBS News: For the first time, a new network of satellites will soon be able to track all commercial airplanes in real time, anywhere on the planet. Currently, planes are largely tracked by radar on the ground, which doesn't work over much of the world's oceans. The final 10 satellites were launched Friday to wrap up the $3 billion effort to replace 66 aging communication satellites, reports CBS News' Kris Van Cleave, who got an early look at the new technology. On any given day, 43,000 planes are in the sky in America alone. When these planes take off, they are tracked by radar and are equipped with a GPS transponder. All commercial flights operating in the U.S. and Europe have to have them by 2020. It's that transponder that talks to these new satellites, making it possible to know exactly where more than 10,000 flights currently flying are.

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Google Play Starts Manually Whitelisting SMS, Phone Apps
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '19 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's protecting-user-privacy department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Google is implementing major new Play Store rules for how Android's "SMS" and "Call Log" permissions are used. New Play Store rules will only allow certain types of apps to request phone call logs and SMS permissions, and any apps that don't fit into Google's predetermined use cases will be removed from the Play Store. The policy was first announced in October, and the policy kicks in and the ban hammer starts falling on non-compliant apps this week.

Google says the decision to police these permissions was made to protect user privacy. SMS and phone permissions can give an app access to a user's contacts and everyone they've ever called, in addition to allowing the app to contact premium phone numbers that can charge money directly to the user's cellular bill. Despite the power of these permissions, a surprising number of apps ask for SMS or phone access because they have other, more benign use cases. So to clean up the Play Store, Google's current plan seems to be to (1) build more limited, replacement APIs for these benign use cases that don't offer access to so much user data and (2) kick everyone off the Play Store who is still using the wide-ranging SMS and phone permissions for these more limited use cases. Google provides a help page that helps explain the new rules and offer workarounds for some use cases.

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YouTube Cracks Down on 'Harmful and Dangerous' Challenges and Pranks
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '19 at 01:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's some-discipline department:
YouTube has set stricter guidelines for "harmful and dangerous" prank and challenge videos. From a report: "We've always had policies to make sure what's funny doesn't cross the line into also being harmful or dangerous," reads the YouTube guidelines. "Our Community Guidelines prohibit content that encourages dangerous activities that are likely to result in serious harm, and today clarifying what this means for dangerous challenges and pranks." YouTube's guidelines now further detail which of these popular videos push the line, including challenges such as the Tide Pod challenge and the Fire challenge -- anything "that can cause death and/or have caused death in some instances."

As for pranks, videos that make the victims believe they're in serious danger or cause severe emotional distress to children (further clarified with examples like faking the death of a parent) are no longer acceptable on the platform. Creators who host these types of videos on their channels will receive a grace period of two months to clean up their channel.

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Federal Prosecutors Pursuing Criminal Case Against Huawei for Alleged Theft of Trade Secrets: Report
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '19 at 01:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's water-gets-hotter department:
Federal prosecutors are pursuing a criminal investigation of China's Huawei for allegedly stealing trade secrets from U.S. business partners, including the technology behind a robotic device that T-Mobile used to test smartphones, WSJ reported Wednesday. From a report: The investigation grew in part out of civil lawsuits against Huawei, including one in which a Seattle jury found Huawei liable for misappropriating robotic technology from T-Mobile's Bellevue, Wash., lab, the people familiar with the matter said. The probe is at an advanced stage and could lead to an indictment soon, they said. The link to the source article may be paywalled; here's an alternative source.

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Happy 18th Birthday, Wikipedia
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '19 at 12:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's thank-you-for-everything department:
This week, Wikipedia celebrates its 18th birthday. If the massive crowdsourced encyclopedia project were human, then in most countries, it would just now be considered a legal adult. But in truth, the free online encyclopedia has long played the role of the Internet's good grown-up.

From a story: Wikipedia has grown enormously since its inception: It now boasts 5.7 million articles in English and pulled in 92 billion page views last year. The site has also undergone a major reputation change. If you ask Siri, Alexa or Google Home a general-knowledge question, it will likely pull the response from Wikipedia. The online encyclopedia has been cited in more than 400 judicial opinions, according to a 2010 paper in the Yale Journal of Law & Technology.

Many professors are ditching the traditional writing assignment and instead asking students to expand or create a Wikipedia article on the topic. And YouTube Chief Executive Susan Wojcicki announced a plan last March to pair misleading conspiracy videos with links to corresponding articles from Wikipedia. Facebook has also released a feature using Wikipedia's content to provide users more information about the publication source for articles in their feed.

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Microsoft is Separating Cortana From Search in Windows 10
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '19 at 12:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's for-what-it-is-worth department:
Microsoft is making some big changes to Cortana in Windows 10. The company intends to decouple search and Cortana in the Windows 10 taskbar, allowing voice queries to be handled separately to typing in a search box to find documents and files. From a report: This change will be implemented in the next major Windows 10 update, currently scheduled for April. Windows 10 will direct you towards an built-in search experience for text queries, while Cortana will exist for voice queries instead of them both bundled together. "This will enable each experience to innovate independently to best serve their target audiences and use cases," explains Dona Sarkar, Microsoft's Windows Insider chief. "This change is one of several we've made throughout this release to improve your experience in this space, including updating the search landing page design, enhancing your search results, and integrating Microsoft To-Do with Cortana."

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