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Malware Attack on Vendor To Blame for Delta and Sears Data Breach Affecting 'Hundreds of Thousands' of Customers
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '18 at 11:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Delta Air Lines and Sears Holding on Thursday disclosed a data breach that may have exposed the payment card details of hundreds of thousands of online customers. From a report: The breach originated at a software vendor called [24]7, which provides Sears, Delta, and other businesses with online chat services. Less than 100,000 Sears customers were supposedly impacted, according to Sears. A Delta spokesperson said hundreds of thousands of travelers are potentially exposed. Gizmodo has learned the breach was the result of a malware attack, and that the unauthorized access involved payment card numbers, CVV numbers, and expiration dates, in addition to customers' names and addresses. In a statement, [24]7 said the breach occurred on September 27th of last year and was contained roughly two weeks later. In a statement, Sears said it was first notified about the breach in mid-March. Credit card companies have been notified, and law enforcement is likewise investigating the incident. "Customers using a Sears-branded credit card were not impacted," Sears said. "In addition, there is no evidence that our stores were compromised or that any internal Sears systems were accessed by those responsible."

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Computer Searches Telescope Data For Evidence of Distant Planets
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '18 at 09:42 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's interesting-usecase department:
As part of an effort to identify distant planets hospitable to life, NASA has established a crowdsourcing project in which volunteers search telescopic images for evidence of debris disks around stars, which are good indicators of exoplanets. From a report: Using the results of that project, researchers at MIT have now trained a machine-learning system to search for debris disks itself. The scale of the search demands automation: There are nearly 750 million possible light sources in the data accumulated through NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission alone. In tests, the machine-learning system agreed with human identifications of debris disks 97 percent of the time. The researchers also trained their system to rate debris disks according to their likelihood of containing detectable exoplanets. In a paper describing the new work in the journal Astronomy and Computing, the MIT researchers report that their system identified 367 previously unexamined celestial objects as particularly promising candidates for further study.

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Apple's Redesigned Mac Pro is Coming in 2019
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '18 at 09:42 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's more-delays department:
Apple's long-awaited update to the 2013 Mac Pro won't be released until sometime next year, the company told TechCrunch. From a report: We've known since a press roundtable in April 2017 that Apple was "completely rethinking" the Mac Pro, in the words of marketing chief Phil Schiller. Now, we have confirmation that the product is arriving next year after some speculation that it could make an appearance this year at a fall hardware event typically reserved for MacBook announcements. "We want to be transparent and communicate openly with our pro community so we want them to know that the Mac Pro is a 2019 product. It's not something for this year," Tom Boger, Apple's senior director of Mac hardware product marketing, told TechCrunch. "In addition to transparency for pro customers on an individual basis, there's also a larger fiscal reasoning behind it."

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Microsoft: We'll Help Customers Create Patents But We Get a License To Use Them
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '18 at 08:22 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's catch-22 department:
Microsoft outlined a new intellectual-property policy on Thursday for co-developed technology that embraces open source and seeks to assure customers it won't run off with their innovations. From a report: The shared innovation principles build on its Azure IP Advantage program for helping customers combat patent trolls. The new principles for co-developed innovation cover ownership of existing technology, customer ownership of new patents, support for open source, licensing new IP back to Microsoft, software portability, transparency, and learning. Microsoft president Brad Smith says the principles aim to assuage customers' fears that Microsoft may end up using co-developed technology to rival them. [...] In return, Microsoft gets to license back any of the patents in the new technology but promises to limit their use to improving its own platform technologies, such as Azure, Azure AI services, Office 365, Windows, Xbox, and HoloLens. It also reserves the right to use "code and tools developed by or on behalf of Microsoft that are intended to provide technical assistance to customers in their respective businesses."

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Despite Having Unprecedented Access To Technology, Generation Z Is Already Bored
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '18 at 08:22 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Taylor Lorenz, writing for The Daily Beast: There is a notion among older people that teens, with their smartphones and unlimited internet access, never experience boredom. CNN and other media outlets have repeatedly declared that smartphones have killed boredom as we know it. But today's teens are still bored, often incredibly so. They're just more likely to experience a new type of boredom: phone bored. As members of what has been dubbed "Generation Z," a cohort that spans those born roughly between the years 1998 and 2010, today's teens and tweens have had unparalleled access to technology. Many have had smartphones since elementary, if not middle school. They've grown up with high-speed internet, laptops, and social media. It's tempting to think that these devices, with their endless ability to stimulate, offer salvation from the type of mind-numbing boredom that is so core to the teen experience. But humans adapt to the conditions that surround them, and technical advances are no different. What seemed novel to one generation feels passe to the next. To many teens, smartphones and the internet have already lost their appeal.

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Scientists Harvest First Vegetables in Antarctic Greenhouse
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '18 at 07:02 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's moving-forward department:
Scientists in Antarctica have harvested their first crop of vegetables grown without earth, daylight or pesticides as part of a project designed to help astronauts cultivate fresh food on other planets. From a report: Researchers at Germany's Neumayer Station III say they've picked 3.6 kilograms (8 pounds) of salad greens, 18 cucumbers and 70 radishes grown inside a high-tech greenhouse as temperatures outside dropped below -20 degrees Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit). The German Aerospace Center DLR, which coordinates the project, said Thursday that by May scientists hope to harvest 4-5 kilograms of fruit and vegetables a week.

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AI Experts Boycott South Korean University Over 'Killer Robots'
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '18 at 07:02 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's better-late-than-never department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Leading AI experts have boycotted a South Korean university over a partnership with weapons manufacturer Hanwha Systems. More than 50 AI researchers from 30 countries signed a letter expressing concern about its plans to develop artificial intelligence for weapons. In response, the university said it would not be developing "autonomous lethal weapons." The boycott comes ahead of a UN meeting to discuss killer robots. Shin Sung-chul, president of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (Kaist), said: "I reaffirm once again that Kaist will not conduct any research activities counter to human dignity including autonomous weapons lacking meaningful human control. Kaist is significantly aware of ethical concerns in the application of all technologies including artificial intelligence."

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Slashdot Asks: Should Android OEMs Adopt the iPhone's Notch?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '18 at 05:40 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's take-it-or-leave-it department:
Earlier this year, Bloomberg reported that Google was currently working on a "dramatic redesign" of its Android OS -- one that embraces the "notch" made popular by the iPhone X. A couple weeks after that report was published, Mobile World Congress was happening, and the biggest trend among Android OEMs was the introduction of a notch in their smartphones. The Verge's Vlad Savov argues that Android smartphone manufacturers are straight up copying the iPhone's design with "more speed and cynicism" than ever before.

Should Android original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) adopt the iPhone's display notch? A display notch can offer a greater screen-to-body ratio, for example, but lower overall aesthetic value. It can also create a headache for developers who need to update their apps to account for the notch that eats into the actual display area. What are your thoughts on display notches? Should Android OEMs adopt the iPhone X's display notch in their devices?
If you're not a fan of notches for aesthetic reasons, you may like the solution that OnePlus has come up with. The company will soon be launching their notch-equipped OnePlus 6 smartphone, but will allow OnePlus 6 owners to "hide" the device's notch via software. Users will have the option to black out the background of the notifications and status bar if they so desire.

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1.1.1.1: Cloudflare's New DNS Attracting 'Gigabits Per Second' of Rubbish
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '18 at 03:00 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's dirty-hacks department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: Cloudflare's new speed and privacy enhancing domain name system (DNS) servers, launched on Sunday, are also part of an experiment being conducted in partnership with the Asia Pacific Network Information Center (APNIC). The experiment aims to understand how DNS can be improved in terms of performance, security, and privacy. "We are now critically reliant on the integrity of the DNS, yet the details of the way it operates still remains largely opaque," wrote APNIC's chief scientist Geoff Huston in a blog post. "We are aware that the DNS has been used to generate malicious denial of service attacks, and we are keen to understand if there are simple and widely deployable measures that can be taken to mitigate such attacks. The DNS relies on caching to operate efficiently and quickly, but we are still unsure as to how well caching actually performs. We are also unclear how much of the DNS is related to end user or application requirements for name resolution, and how much is related to the DNS chattering to itself."

The Cloudflare-APNIC experiment uses two IPv4 address ranges, 1.1.1/24 and 1.0.0/24, which have been reserved for research use. Cloudflare's new DNS uses two addresses within those ranges, 1.1.1.1 and 1.0.0.1. These address ranges were originally configured as "dark traffic addresses", and some years ago APNIC partnered with Google to analyze the unsolicited traffic directed at them. There was a lot of it. "Our initial work with it certainly showed it to be an unusually strong attractor for bad traffic. At the time we stopped doing it with Google, it was over 50 gigabits per second. Quite frankly, few folk can handle that much noise," Huston told ZDNet on Wednesday. By putting Cloudflare's DNS on these research addresses, APNIC gets to see the noise as well as the DNS traffic -- or at least "a certain factored amount" of it -- for research purposes.

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YouTube Will Increase Security At All Offices Worldwide Following Shooting
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '18 at 12:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cause-and-effect department:
Following the shooting at YouTube's headquarters in San Bruno, California, yesterday, the company has announced plans to increase security at all of its offices worldwide. YouTube says this is intended to "make them more secure not only in the near term, but long-term." The Verge reports: The move reflects a growing concern in Silicon Valley that the effects of increasingly toxic and partisan online behavior may translate into violent offline actions. YouTube's statement was released through Google's Twitter account for communications; it's not clear whether Google itself will be implementing stronger security measures beyond YouTube. The shooter, 39-year-old Nasim Aghdam of San Diego, died yesterday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after shooting and injuring three employees. From police reports, testimony from Aghdam's family members, and extensive traces of the woman's online behavior on YouTube and other platforms, we now know that Aghdam was disgruntled over the demonetizing of her videos and harm to her financial well-being.

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One of Estonia's First 'e-Residents' Explains What It Means To Have Digital Citizenship
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '18 at 08:20 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's show-and-tell department:
An anonymous reader shares a report from Quartz, written by Estonian e-Resident April Rinne: In 2014, Estonia, a country previously known as much for its national singing revolution as anything else, became the first country in the world to launch an e-Residency program. Once admitted, e-Residents can conduct business worldwide as if they were from Estonia, which is a member of the EU. They are given government-issued digital IDs, can open Estonian bank and securities accounts, form and register Estonian companies, and have a front-row seat as nascent concepts of digital and virtual citizenship evolve. There is no requirement to have a physical presence in Estonia. [...] Three years in, what I find most incredible about e-Residency is that it actually works.

< article continued at Slashdot's show-and-tell department >

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Microsoft Touts Breakthrough In Making Chatbots More Conversational
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '18 at 04:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's big-step-forward department:
In a blog post today, Microsoft said that it has created what it believes is the "first technological breakthrough" toward making conversations with chatbots more like speaking to another person. Windows Central reports: Microsoft says that it has figured out how to make chatbots talk and listen at the same time, allowing them to operate in "full duplex," to use telecommunications jargon. The company says this allows chatbots or assistants to have a flowing conversation with humans, much more akin to how people talk to one another. That stands in contrast to how digital assistants and bots currently work, where only one side can talk at any given time. The technology is already up and running in Xiaolce, Microsoft's AI chatbot currently operating in China. Using "full duplex voice sense," as Microsoft calls it, Xiaolce can more quickly predict what the person it is speaking to will say. "That helps her make decisions about both how and when to respond to someone who is chatting with her, a skill set that is very natural to people but not yet common in chatbots," Microsoft says. Another bonus of the breakthrough is that people interacting with chatbots don't have to use a "wake word" every time they speak during a conversation.

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Facebook Is Changing the Way It Stores Call, Text History
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '18 at 04:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cause-and-effect department:
Facebook issued a blog post today detailing the changes it has made to how it manages users' data. Among the new changes is a tweak to how Facebook collects and stores call and text history. Engadget reports: For those using Messenger or Facebook Lite on Android, an opt-in feature compiles users' call and text history, which the company says is used to help it surface the contacts you talk to most frequently. In its blog post today, Facebook said that it has reviewed the feature and can confirm that it doesn't actually collect the content of any messages. Additionally, going forward, it will delete logs older than a year and only the data required for the feature's functionality will be collected, meaning no extra data, such as call times, will be stored. The collection of such data became an issue last month, when software developer Dylan McKay discovered the logs after downloading a copy of his account data. Facebook initially said that it was an opt-in feature. It also said that the call and text history data were never sold. You can see how to turn off this feature here for Messenger and here for Facebook Lite.

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Google Now Purchases More Renewable Energy Than It Consumes As a Company
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '18 at 03:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's there's-more-where-that-came-from department:
In a blog post today, Google announced that it now purchases more renewable energy than it consumers as a company. "Google began these efforts in 2017, with the goal of purchasing as much renewable energy as it uses across its 13 data centers and all of its office complexes," reports The Verge. From the report: To be clear, Google is not powering all of its energy consumption with renewable energy. It's matching what it consumes with equal amounts of purchased renewable energy. For every kilowatt-hour of electricity consumed, it buys a kilowatt-hour from a wind or solar farm built specifically for Google. The company says that its total purchase of energy from sources like wind and solar now exceeds the amount of electricity used by its operations. Google says it currently has contracts to purchase three gigawatts of output from renewable energy projects, and while it says "it's not yet possible to 'power' a company of our scale by 100 percent renewable energy," these purchases do have a positive impact. Google says it's helping spur development of clean energy projects, encouraging other companies to follow suit.

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Virgin Hyperloop One Shows Off New Futuristic Travel Pod
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '18 at 03:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's shiny-and-new department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET: It's an interesting time for Virgin Hyperloop One, which saw one of its board members arrested on fraud and embezzlement charges in Russia last week and three other high-profile directors departing the board, according to Bloomberg. But that hasn't stopped the futuristic-transport startup from showing off its latest pod prototype, first for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and now for the rest of us via the video above. The charges faced by Russian billionaire and board member Ziyavudin Magomedov are reportedly unrelated to Virgin Hyperloop One, and he is appealing the arrest. The video from Virgin above appears to show a full-size pod prototype on an enclosed test track at the company's test facility in Nevada. How fast it's going is hard to say. So far we've seen the company achieve speeds of 240 miles per hour in tests, or roughly a third of the speed it hopes to eventually achieve.

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Ask Slashdot: What Does Your Data Mean To Google?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '18 at 01:47 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's privacy-matters department:
shanen writes: Due to the recent kerfuffles, I decided to try again to see what Google had on me. This time I succeeded and failed, in contrast to the previous pure failures. Yes, I did find Google's takeout website and downloaded all of "my data," but no, it means nothing to me. Here are a few sub-questions I couldn't answer: 1. Much more data than I ever created, so where did the rest come from? 2. How does the data relate to the characteristic vector that Google uses to characterize me? 3. What tools do Googlers use to make sense of the data? Lots more questions, but those are the ones that are most bugging me right now. Question 2. is probably heaviest among them, since I've read that the vector has 700 dimensions... So do you have any answers? Or better questions? Or your own takeout experiences to share?
Oh yeah, one more thing. Based on my own troubled experience with the download process, it is clear that Google doesn't really want us to download the so-called "our own" data. My Question 4. is now: "What is Google hiding about me from me?"

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Facebook's Privacy Fixes Have Broken Tinder
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '18 at 01:47 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's stuck-in-purgatory department:
Since the recent Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal, Facebook has been rolling out more security and data privacy updates. "Today, however, the company announced sweeping changes to many of its most prominent APIs, restricting develop access in a number of crucial ways," reports The Verge. "Soon after, Tinder users started noting on Twitter that they had been kicked off the dating app and couldn't log back on, as those who used Facebook Login were caught in an infinite loop that appears to be related to an unknown bug." From the report: The app has been bringing up an error message to booted users, titled Facebook Permissions, stating that users need to provide more Facebook permissions in order to create or use a Tinder account. If users tap "Ask me," which is the only given option, the app requests they log into Facebook once more and the loop starts again. Roderick Hsiao, a senior software engineer at Tinder, tweeted that users could still access the service through its web browser while engineers worked on fixing the mobile client.

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CenturyLink Fights Billing-Fraud Lawsuit By Claiming That It Has No Customers
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '18 at 12:22 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's not-expected department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: CenturyLink is trying to force customers into arbitration in order to avoid a class-action lawsuit from subscribers who say they've been charged for services they didn't order. To do so, CenturyLink has come up with a surprising argument -- the company says it doesn't have any customers. While the customers sued CenturyLink itself, the company says the customers weren't actually customers of CenturyLink. Instead, CenturyLink says they were customers of 10 subsidiaries spread through the country. CenturyLink basically doesn't exist as a service provider -- according to a brief CenturyLink filed Monday.

"That sole defendant, CenturyLink, Inc., is a parent holding company that has no customers, provides no services, and engaged in none of the acts or transactions about which Plaintiffs complain," CenturyLink wrote. "There is no valid basis for Defendant to be a party in this Proceeding: Plaintiffs contracted with the Operating Companies to purchase, use, and pay for the services at issue, not with CenturyLink, Inc." CenturyLink says those operating companies should be able to intervene in the case and "enforce class-action waivers," which would force the customers to pursue their claims via arbitration instead of in a class-action lawsuit. By suing CenturyLink instead of the subsidiaries, "it may be that Plaintiffs are hoping to avoid the arbitration and class-action waiver provisions," CenturyLink wrote.

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McAfee Finds That Gamers Are Strong Candidates for Cybersecurity Jobs
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '18 at 12:22 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
To beat cybercriminals, McAfee suggests in a new report that gamers may be the key candidates for cybersecurity jobs. From a report: The Santa Clara, California-based cybersecurity company said it did a survey of 300 senior security managers and 650 security professionals at major corporations. And 78 percent of respondents said that the current generation entering the work force -- those that grew up playing video games -- are stronger candidates for cybersecurity roles. The report suggests that gamers, those engaged and immersed in online competitions, may be the logical next step to plugging the skills gap. 92 percent of respondents believe that gaming affords players experience and skills critical to cybersecurity threat hunting: logic, perseverance, an understanding of how to approach adversaries and a fresh outlook compared to traditional cybersecurity hires. Three-quarters of senior managers say they would consider hiring a gamer even if that person had no specific cybersecurity training or experience. 72 percent of respondents say hiring experienced video gamers into the IT department seems like a good way to plug the cybersecurity skills gap.

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Cambridge Analytica May Have Had Facebook Data From 87 Million People
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '18 at 11:02 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's breaking-news department:
Cambridge Analytica may have had data from more unwitting Facebook usersthan originally thought. From a report: Facebook now says that the data firm, which collected data about users without their permission, may have collected data on as many as 87 million people. Original reports from the New York Times pegged that number at closer to 50 million people. "In total, we believe the Facebook information of up to 87 million people -- mostly in the U.S." may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica by apps that they or their friends used," Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer wrote in a blog post Wednesday.

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