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After 15 Years, Maine's Laptops-in-Schools Initiative Fails To Raise Test Scores
Posted by News Fetcher on August 19 '17 at 09:11 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's staring-at-screens department:
For years Maine has been offering laptops to high school students -- but is it doing more harm than good? An anonymous reader writes:
One high school student says "We hardly ever use paper," while another student "says he couldn't imagine social studies class without his laptop and Internet connection. 'I don't think I could do it, honestly... I don't want to look at a newspaper. I don't even know where to get a newspaper!'" But then the reporter visits a political science teacher who "learned what a lot of teachers, researchers and policymakers in Maine have come to realize over the past 15 years: You can't just put a computer in a kid's hand and expect it to change learning."

"Research has shown that 'one-to-one' programs, meaning one student one computer, implemented the right way, increase student learning in subjects like writing, math and science. Those results have prompted other states, like Utah and Nevada, to look at implementing their own one-to-one programs in recent years. Yet, after a decade and a half, and at a cost of about $12 million annually (around one percent of the state's education budget), Maine has yet to see any measurable increases on statewide standardized test scores."

The article notes that Maine de-emphasized teacher training which could've produced better results. One education policy researcher "says this has created a new kind of divide in Maine. Students in larger schools, with more resources, have learned how to use their laptops in more creative ways. But in Maine's higher poverty and more rural schools, many students are still just using programs like PowerPoint and Microsoft Word."

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Ask Slashdot: What Would You Pay To See Open Sourced?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 19 '17 at 06:31 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's crowdfunding-code department:
jbrase writes:
It's in the interest of the open-source community to make open-source development as profitable as possible. One potential means of making money from open source is crowdfunding, [but] proprietary vendors aren't likely to be enthusastic about using their flagship product to try out a relatively untested business model. Crowdfunding the open source release of legacy technologies of historical significance could provide a low-risk way for vendors to experiment with making money by crowdfunding: The product has already turned them a profit.

With that, I'd like to ask Slashdot readers, what would you pay to see open sourced?

Slashdot reader jonwil left a comment suggesting old games ("where the game is no longer being developed/worked on and where the engine/tech is no longer being used for anything"). But the sky's the limit here, so leave your own best answers in the comments. What would you pay to see open sourced?

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FBI Warns US Private Sector To Cut Ties With Kaspersky
Posted by News Fetcher on August 19 '17 at 05:10 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's watching-in-Washington department:
An anonymous reader quotes CyberScoop:
The FBI has been briefing private sector companies on intelligence claiming to show that the Moscow-based cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab is an unacceptable threat to national security, current and former senior U.S. officials familiar with the matter tell CyberScoop... The FBI's goal is to have U.S. firms push Kaspersky out of their systems as soon as possible or refrain from using them in new products or other efforts, the current and former officials say.

The FBI's counterintelligence section has been giving briefings since beginning of the year on a priority basis, prioritizing companies in the energy sector and those that use industrial control (ICS) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. In light of successive cyberattacks against the electric grid in Ukraine, the FBI has focused on this sector due to the critical infrastructure designation assigned to it by the Department of Homeland Security... The U.S. government's actions come as Russia is engaged in its own push to stamp American tech giants like Microsoft out of that country's systems.
Meanwhile Bloomberg Businessweek claims to have seen emails which "show that Kaspersky Lab has maintained a much closer working relationship with Russia's main intelligence agency, the FSB, than it has publicly admitted" -- and that Kaspersky Lab "confirmed the emails are authentic."
Kaspersky Lab told ZDNet they have not confirmed the emails' authenticity. A representative for Kaspersky Lab says that the company does not have "inappropriate" ties with any government, adding that "the company does regularly work with governments and law enforcement agencies around the world with the sole purpose of fighting cybercrime."

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Google Warns Webmasters About Insecure HTTP Web Forms
Posted by News Fetcher on August 19 '17 at 03:51 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Chrome-come-calling department:
In April Chrome began marking HTTP pages as "not secure" in its address bar if the pages had password or credit card fields. They're about to take the next step. An anonymous reader quotes SearchEngineLand:
Last night, Google sent email notifications via Google Search Console to site owners that have forms on web pages over HTTP... Google said, "Beginning in October 2017, Chrome will show the 'Not secure' warning in two additional situations: when users enter data on an HTTP page, and on all HTTP pages visited in Incognito mode."
Google warned in April that "Our plan to label HTTP sites as non-secure is taking place in gradual steps, based on increasingly broad criteria. Since the change in Chrome 56, there has been a 23% reduction in the fraction of navigations to HTTP pages with password or credit card forms on desktop, and we're ready to take the next steps..."

"Any type of data that users type into websites should not be accessible to others on the network, so starting in version 62 Chrome will show the 'Not secure' warning when users type data into HTTP sites."

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Microsoft Avoids Washington State Taxes, Gives Nevada Schoolkid A Surface Laptop
Posted by News Fetcher on August 19 '17 at 02:31 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Redmond-vs-Reno department:
theodp writes: The Official Microsoft Blog hopes a letter from a Nevada middle schooler advising Microsoft President Brad Smith to "keep up the good work running that company" will "inspire you like it did us." Penned as part of a math teacher's assignment to write letters to the businesses that they like, Microsoft says the letter prompted Smith to visit the Nevada school to meet 7th-grader Sky Yi in person as part of the company's effort to draw attention to the importance of math and encourage students and teachers who are passionate about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. In an accompanying video of the surprise meeting, Smith presents Yi with a new Surface Laptop that comes with Windows 10 S, a version of the OS that has been streamlined with schools in mind. "Not bad for a little letter," the Microsoft exec says. Speaking of Microsoft, Nevada, and education, Bing Maps coincidentally shows the school Smith visited is just a 43-minute drive from the software giant's Reno-based Americas Operations Center. According to the Seattle Times, routing sales through the Reno software-licensing office helps Microsoft minimize its tax bills (NV doesn't tax business income) to the detriment, some say, of Washington State public schools.
Microsoft's state and local taxes will drop to just $30 million for the last year (from an average of $214 milion over the previous 14 years) according to the Seattle Times. "A Microsoft spokesman said the decline in 2017 was caused by the company's deferring taxes on some income to future years and the winding down of the company's smartphone business."

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Paul Allen Finds Long-Lost World War II Cruiser, the USS Indianapolis
Posted by News Fetcher on August 19 '17 at 01:11 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's not-for-self-but-for-country department:
An anonymous reader quotes the US Naval Institute News:
Seventy-two years after two torpedoes fired from a Japanese submarine sunk cruiser USS Indianapolis (CA-35), the ship's wreckage was found resting on the seafloor on Saturday -- more than 18,000 feet below the Pacific Ocean's surface. Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist, led a search team, assisted by historians from the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, D.C., to accomplish what past searches had failed to do -- find Indianapolis, considered the last great naval tragedy of World War II.

"To be able to honor the brave men of the USS Indianapolis and their families through the discovery of a ship that played such a significant role in ending World War II is truly humbling," said Allen in a statement provided to US Naval Institute News on Saturday... "I hope everyone connected to this historic ship will feel some measure of closure at this discovery so long in coming"... Allen's 13-person expedition team, on the R/V Petrel is in the process of surveying the full site and will conduct a live tour of the wreckage in the next few weeks. They are complying with U.S. law and respecting the sunken ship as a war grave, taking care not to disturb the site. Paul Allen has shared some photos from the discovery on Twitter.

The ship had delivered components for the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima just four days before it was sunk. Only 317 of its 1,197-man crew survived, making it the worst disaster in the history of the U.S. Navy.

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Should Plex Stop Allowing Users To Opt Out of Data Collection?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 19 '17 at 11:51 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's taking-up-a-collection department:
Slashdot reader bigdogpete writes: Many users of Plex got an email that said they were changing their privacy policy which goes into effect on 20 September 2017. While most of the things are pretty standard, users found it odd that they were now not going to allow users to opt-out of data collection. Here is the part from their website explaining the upcoming changes. "In order to understand the usage across the Plex ecosystem and how we need to improve, Plex will continue to collect usage statistics, such as device type, duration, bit rate, media format, resolution, and media type (music, photos, videos, etc.). We will no longer allow the option to opt out of this statistics collection, but we do not sell or share your personally identifiable statistics. Again, we will not collect any information that identifies libraries, files, file names, and/or the specific content stored on your privately hosted Plex Media Servers. The only exception to this is when, and only to the extent, you use Plex with third-party services such as Sonos, Alexa, webhooks, and Last.fm." What do you all think?

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EFF Honors Chelsea Manning, an IFEX Leader, And TechDirt's Editor
Posted by News Fetcher on August 19 '17 at 11:51 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's digital-rights-awards department:
An anonymous reader quotes the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
Whistleblower and activist Chelsea Manning, Techdirt editor and open internet advocate Mike Masnick, and IFEX executive director and global freedom of expression defender Annie Game are the distinguished winners of the 2017 Pioneer Awards, which recognize leaders who are extending freedom and innovation on the electronic frontier. This year's honorees -- a whistleblower, an editor, and an international freedom of expression activist -- all have worked tirelessly to protect the public's right to know.

The award ceremony will be held the evening of September 14 at Delancey Street's Town Hall Room in San Francisco. The keynote speaker is Emmy-nominated comedy writer Ashley Nicole Black, a correspondent on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee who uses her unique comedic style to take on government surveillance, encryption, and freedom of information.

The EFF describes Chelsea Manning as "a network security expert, whistleblower, and former U.S. Army intelligence analyst whose disclosure of classified Iraq war documents exposed human rights abuses and corruption the government kept hidden from the public." Their annoncement also notes that Annie Game has led the IFEX network of 115+ journalism and civil liberties groups around the world for over 10 years, and that Mike Masnick coined the term "The Streisand Effect" -- and is currently being sued by that man who claims he invented email.

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Oracle Now Wants To Give Java EE to an Open Source Foundation
Posted by News Fetcher on August 19 '17 at 10:31 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's runtime department:
An anonymous reader quotes InfoWorld:
Oracle wants to end its leadership in the development of enterprise Java and is looking for an open source foundation to take on the role. The company said Thursday that the upcoming Java EE (Enterprise Edition) 8 presents an opportunity to rethink how the platform is developed. Although development is done via open source with community participation, the current Oracle-led process is not seen as agile, flexible, or open enough. "We believe that moving Java EE technologies to an open source foundation may be the right next step, to adopt more agile processes, implement more flexible licensing and change the governance process," Oracle said in a statement...

Despite its desire to retreat from Java EE leadership, Oracle said it plans to continue participating in the evolution of Java EE technologies. "But we believe a more open process, that is not dependent on a single vendor as platform lead, will encourage greater participation and innovation, and will be in best interests of the community"... Oracle's goals for offloading Java EE would have Oracle not lead the project as it still effectively does with Java SE.

Red Hat's senior principal product manager called this "a very positive move," while Eclipse's executive director said that moving Java EE to a vendor-neutral open source foundation "would be great for both the platform and the community," adding "If asked to so, the Eclipse Foundation would be pleased to serve as the host organization."

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Hacker Helps Family Recover Minivan After Losing One-Of-A-Kind Car Key
Posted by News Fetcher on August 19 '17 at 09:11 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's picking-your-own-locks department:
An anonymous reader writes: A hacker and a mechanic have helped a family regain access to their hybrid car after they've lost their one-of-a-kind car key while on vacation. The car in question is a Toyota Estima minivan, which a Canadian family bought reused and imported from Japan. When they did so, they received only one key, which the father says he lost when he bent down to tie his son's shoelaces. Because it was a hybrid and the on-board computer was synced to the battery recharge cycles, the car owner couldn't simply replace the car key without risking the car battery to overcharge and catch fire. After offering a reward, going viral on Facebook, in Canadian media, and attempting to find the lost keys using crows, the family finally accepted the help of a local hacker who stripped the car apart and reprogrammed the car immobilizer with new car keys. The whole ordeal cost the family two months of their lives and around $3,500.

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Marcus Hutchins' Code Used In Malware May Have Come From GitHub
Posted by News Fetcher on August 19 '17 at 07:50 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's grabbing-from-GitHub department:
troublemaker_23 quotes ITWire: A security researcher says code has been discovered that was written by British hacker Marcus Hutchins that was apparently 'borrowed' by the creator of the banking trojan Kronos. The researcher, known as Hasherezade, posted a tweet identifying the code that had been taken from Hutchins' repository on GitHub.

Hasherezade also found a 2015 tweet where a then-20-year-old Hutchins first announces he's discovered the hooking engine he wrote for his own blog -- being used in a malware sample. ("This is why we can't have nice things," Hutchins jokes.) Hasherezade analyzed Kronos's code and concluded "the author has a prior knowledge in implementing malware solutions... The level of precision lead us to the hypothesis, that Kronos is the work of a mature developer, rather than an experimenting youngster."
Monday on Twitter Hutchins posted that "I'm still on trial, still not allowed to go home, still on house arrest; but now I am allowed online. Will get my computers back soon."

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US State Department Suffers Worldwide Email Outage
Posted by News Fetcher on August 19 '17 at 07:50 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's speaking-of-government-shutdowns department:
An anonymous reader quotes USA Today:
The U.S. State Department's email system underwent a worldwide outage Friday, affecting all its unclassified communications within and outside of the department.
The system was fully restored by Friday afternoon [after 12 hours], said a State Department official briefed on the incident who was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.

It was not clear what caused the early morning outage, but spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters it was not "any external action or interference."

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Wisconsin Lawmakers Vote To Pay Foxconn $3 Billion To Get New Factory
Posted by News Fetcher on August 19 '17 at 05:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's shiny-and-new department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Wisconsin Assembly voted 59-30 on Thursday to approve a bill to give incentives worth $3 billion to Taiwan-based Foxconn so that the company would open its first U.S. plant in the state. Foxconn, best known for supplying parts of Apple's iPhones, will open the $10 billion liquid-crystal display plant in 2020, according to Reuters. The bill still has to be approved by a joint finance committee and the state Senate. Both houses of Wisconsin's legislature are controlled by Republicans, and the deal is supported by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a Republican who negotiated the deal. The vote was largely, but not entirely, along party lines. Three Democrats joined 56 Republicans in supporting the deal. Two Republicans and 28 Democrats voted against it. Opponents said the deal wasn't a good use of taxpayer funds. The $3 billion incentives package includes about $2.85 billion in cash payments from taxpayers and tax breaks valued at about $150 million. The state is also waiving certain environmental rules.

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Atlas 5 Rocket Launches $400 Million NASA Satellite Into Space
Posted by News Fetcher on August 19 '17 at 02:30 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's mission-accomplished department:
A new communications hub has been successfully deployed in space today thanks to the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket. "TDRS is a critical national asset have because of its importance to the space station and all of our science missions, primarily the Hubble Space Telescope and Earth science missions that use TDRS," said Tim Dunn, NASA's TDRS-M launch director. Spaceflight Now reports: With its main engine running at full throttle, the Atlas 5 booster lifted off at 8:29 a.m. EDT (1229 GMT) from Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral. The 191-foot-tall rocket, generating 860,000 pounds of thrust, aimed eastward and accelerated out of the atmosphere with NASA's TDRS-M spacecraft. Within just five minutes, the rocket had shed 92 percent of its liftoff weight and transitioned to the high-energy Centaur upper stage. An elliptical parking orbit was achieved within 18 minutes of takeoff, beginning a 90-minute quiescent coast higher through space to reach the optimum conditions for the second burn by Centaur. That minute-long boost over the Indian Ocean propelled the 7,610-pound payload into a customized high-perigee geosynchronous transfer orbit. The spacecraft was deployed by the launcher at T+plus 1 hour, 53 minutes to cheers and handshakes all around. The $408 million TDRS-M was built and launched with the sole purpose to extend the useful life of NASA's constant communications infrastructure, supporting the astronauts around-the-clock aboard the International Space Station, supplying contact with the Hubble Space Telescope and transmitting the data from almost 40 science spacecraft studying Earth's environment and space.

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Google and ProPublica Team Up To Build a National Hate Crime Database
Posted by News Fetcher on August 18 '17 at 11:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's powers-combined department:
In partnership with ProPublica, Google News Lab is launching a new tool to track hate crimes across America. The "Documenting Hate News Index" is being powered by machine learning to track reported hate crimes across all 50 states, collecting data from February 2017 onward. TechCrunch reports: Data visualization studio Pitch Interactive helped craft the index, which collects Google News results and filters them through Google's natural language analysis to extract geographic and contextual information. Because they are not catalogued in any kind of formal national database, a fact that inspired the creation of the index to begin with, Google calls the project a "starting point" for the documentation and study of hate crimes. While the FBI is legally required to document hate crimes at the federal level, state and local authorities often fail to report their own incidents, making the data incomplete at best. The initiative is a data-rich new arm of the Documenting Hate project which collects and verifies hate incidents reported by both individual contributors and by news organizations. The Hate News Index will keep an eye out for false positives (casual uses of the word "hate" for example), striking a responsible balance between machine learning and human curation on a very sensitive subject. Hate events will be mapped onto a calendar in the user interface, though users can also use a keyword search or browse through algorithmic suggestions. For anyone who'd like to take the data in a new direction, Google will open sourced its data set, making it available through GitHub.

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How Hackers Can Use Pop Songs To 'Watch' You
Posted by News Fetcher on August 18 '17 at 07:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's always-listening department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fast Company: Forget your classic listening device: Researchers at the University of Washington have demonstrated that phones, smart TVs, Amazon Echo-like assistants, and other devices equipped with speakers and microphones could be used by hackers as clandestine sonar "bugs" capable of tracking your location in a room. Their system, called CovertBand, emits high-pitched sonar signals hidden within popular songs -- their examples include songs by Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake -- then records them with the machine's microphone to detect people's activities. Jumping, walking, and "supine pelvic tilts" all produce distinguishable patterns, they say in a paper. (Of course, someone who hacked the microphone on a smart TV or computer could likely listen to its users, as well.)

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Hyundai To Build a 300-Mile-Per-Charge Electric Car
Posted by News Fetcher on August 18 '17 at 06:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's strategic-shift department:
On Thursday, Hyundai Motor said it will launch a long-range electric vehicle with a driving range of 500 km (311 miles) per charge after 2021. The company is reportedly planning 31 eco-friendly models by 2020, up from a previously flagged 28. Reuters reports: The South Korean automaker is planning to launch an electric sedan under its high-end Genesis brand in 2021 with a range of 500 km (310 miles) per charge. It will also introduce an electric version of its Kona small sport utility vehicle (SUV) with a range of 390 km in the first half of next year. The automaker and affiliate Kia Motors Corp, which together rank fifth in global vehicle sales, also said they were adding three plug-in vehicles to their plans for eco-friendly cars, bringing the total to 31 models by 2020. Underscoring Hyundai's electric shift, those plans include eight battery-powered and two fuel-cell vehicles -- a contrast to its 2014 announcement for 22 models, of which only two were slated to be battery-powered. Hyundai also confirmed a Reuters report that it is developing its first dedicated electric vehicle platform, which will allow the company to produce multiple models with longer driving ranges.

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Memories of Fear Could Be Permanently Erased, Study Shows
Posted by News Fetcher on August 18 '17 at 05:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's eternal-sunshine-of-the-spotless-mind department:
A new study unpicks why certain sounds can stir alarming memories, and reveals a new approach to wiping such memories from the brain. The Guardian reports: Published in the journal Neuron by Cho and his colleague Woong Bin Kim, the research reveals how the team used genetically modified mice to examine the pathways between the area of the brain involved in processing a particular sound and the area involved in emotional memories, known as the amygdala. In the first part of the experiment the team played both a high pitched and low-pitched tone to mice. But, when the high-pitched sound was played, the researchers also gave the mice a small electric shock to their feet. When the high-pitched tone was subsequently played on its own, the mice froze in fear; no such response was seen when the alternative, low-pitched, tone was played. The team then looked to see if there were differences between the high-pitch and low-pitch tone pathways in the brains of the mice, revealing that, among the mice exposed electric shocks, the connections within the "high-pitched" pathway had become stronger, while the other pathway remained unchanged. The team found that when mice were subsequently repeatedly exposed to high-pitched sounds without the shocks they lost their fear -- a process known as fear extinction.

< article continued at Slashdot's eternal-sunshine-of-the-spotless-mind department >

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Android O Is Officially Launching August 21
Posted by News Fetcher on August 18 '17 at 05:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's coming-soon department:
Android O is set to arrive on August 21, with a livestreamed unveiling event timed for 2:40 PM ET in NYC -- which is roughly when the maximum solar eclipse is set to occur for New York. TechCrunch reports: Android O will get a full reveal at that time, which seems like kind of a weird time to do it since a lot of people will be watching the NASA eclipse livestream that Google is also promoting, or staring at the sky (with the caveat, hopefully, that they have procured proper glasses for safe viewing). Google says that Android O will have some "super (sweet) new powers," most of which we know all about thanks to pre-release builds and the Android O teaser Google provided at its annual I/O developer event this past May. WE know, for instance, that the notification panel has been changed significantly, and there's new optimization software to improve battery life on all devices. While Android O's name has yet to be confirmed, the official consumer name is speculated to be "Oreo." Prolific leaker Evan Blass posted a picture of an Oreo to Twitter on Friday following the announcement of the reveal date and event.

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US Military To Create Separate Unified Cyber Warfare Command
Posted by News Fetcher on August 18 '17 at 05:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's separate-command department:
wiredmikey quotes a report from SecurityWeek: President Donald Trump has ordered the U.S. military to elevate its cyber warfare operations to a separate command, signaling a new strategic emphasis on electronic and online offensive and defensive operations. "I have directed that United States Cyber Command be elevated to the status of a Unified Combatant Command focused on cyberspace operations," Trump said in a statement Friday. The move would expand the number of the Defense Department's unified combatant commands to 10, putting cyber warfare on an equal footing with the Strategic Command, the Special Operations Command, and regional commands. Until now cyber warfare operations have been run under the umbrella of the National Security Agency, the country's main electronic spying agency, with Admiral Michael Rogers heading both.

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