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A Bug in FaceTime Allows One To Access Someone's iPhone Camera And Microphone Before They Answered the Call; Apple Temporarily Disables Group FaceTime Feature
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '19 at 09:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's happy-data-privacy-day-to-you,-too department:
Social media sites lit up today with anxious Apple users after a strange glitch in iPhone's FaceTime app became apparent. The issue: It turns out that an iPhone user can call another iPhone user and listen in on -- and access live video feed of -- that person's conversations through the device's microphone and camera -- even if the recipient does not answer the call. In a statement, Apple said it was aware of the bug and was working to release a fix later this week. In the meanwhile, the company has disabled Group calling functionality on FaceTime app. From a report: The issue was so serious that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and even Andrew Cuomo, governor of the state of New York, weighed in and urged their followers to disable FaceTime. [...] That's bad news for a company that's been vocal about privacy and customer data protection lately. The timing couldn't be worse, given that Apple is set to host its earnings call for the October-December quarter of 2018 in just a matter of hours.

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Microsoft Project Manager Says Mozilla Should Get Down From Its 'Philosophical Ivory Tower,' Cease Firefox Development
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '19 at 08:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's how-to-cause-a-stir-on-social-media department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: A Microsoft program manager has caused a stir on Twitter over the weekend by suggesting that Firefox-maker Mozilla should give up on its own rendering engine and move on with Chromium. "Thought: It's time for @mozilla to get down from their philosophical ivory tower. The web is dominated by Chromium, if they really 'cared' about the web, they would be contributing instead of building a parallel universe that's used by less than five percent?" wrote Kenneth Auchenberg, who builds web developer tools for Microsoft's Visual Studio Code.

Auchenberg's post referred to Mozilla's response to Microsoft's announcement in December that it would scrap Edge's EdgeHTML rendering engine for Chromium's. The move will leave Firefox's Gecko engine as the only alternative to Chromium, which is used by Opera and dozens of other browsers. Few people agreed with Auchenberg, including engineers from both Mozilla and Chromium. Long-serving Mozillian Asa Dotzler was not impressed. "Just because your employer gave up on its own people and technology doesn't mean that others should follow," Dotzler replied to Auchenberg. Auchenberg clarified that he didn't want to see Mozilla vanish, but said it should reorganize into a research institution "instead of trying to to justify themselves with the 'protectors of the web' narrative."

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The Robot Revolution Will Be Worse For Men
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '19 at 07:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's things-to-look-forward-to department:
Recode's Rani Molla shares the findings of a new study from the Brookings Institution, which finds that automation will impact men at a higher rate than women. Here's an excerpt from the report: Young people -- especially those in rural areas or who are underrepresented minorities -- will have a greater likelihood of having their jobs replaced by automation. Meanwhile, older, more educated white people living in big cities are more likely to maintain their coveted positions, either because their jobs are irreplaceable or because they're needed in new jobs alongside our robot overlords. The Brookings study also warns that automation will exacerbate existing social inequalities along certain geographic and demographic lines, because it will likely eliminate many lower- and middle-skill jobs considered stepping stones to more advanced careers. These jobs losses will be in concentrated in rural areas, particularly the swath of America between the coasts.

However, at least in the case of gender, it's the men, for once, who will be getting the short end of the stick. Jobs traditionally held by men have a higher "average automation potential" than those held by women, meaning that a greater share of those tasks could be automated with current technology, according to Brookings. That's because the occupations men are more likely to hold tend to be more manual and more easily replaced by machines and artificial intelligence. Of course, the real point here is that people of all stripes face employment disruption as new technologies are able to do many of our tasks faster, more efficiently, and more precisely than mere mortals. The implications of this unemployment upheaval are far-reaching and raise many questions: How will people transition to the jobs of the future? What will those jobs be? Is it possible to mitigate the polarizing effects automation will have on our already-stratified society of haves and have-nots?

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Twitter Might Punish Users Who Tweet 'Learn To Code' At Laid-Off Journalists
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '19 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's vague-abusive-behavior-policies department:
According to a report from Reason magazine, Twitter users who comment the "learn to code" advice at journalists who just lost their jobs might be treated as "abusive behavior," which is a violation of the social media site's terms of service. The rumor comes from Jon Levine, Media Editor at The Wrap. From the report: The Wrap's Jon Levine said representatives for the social media company had backed away from the position they related to him earlier, which was that the phrase "learn to code" itself constituted abusive behavior. The new position seems to be that "learn to code" is not de facto harassment, but could be considered harassment if tweeted aggressively as part of campaign to intimidate a specific user, in accordance with Twitter's somewhat vague abusive behavior policy. In an email to Reason, a Twitter spokesperson said: "Twitter is responding to a targeted harassment campaign against specific individuals -- a policy that's long been against the Twitter Rules." Last week, journalists from BuzzFeed, HuffPost, Yahoo, AOL, and others, were let go. BuzzFeed founder and CEO, Jonah Peretti, said the company "would reduce headcount by 15%, or about 250 jobs, to around 1,100 employees globally," reports The Guardian. "At the same time, Verizon said it would trim 7% of headcount, about 800 people, from its media unit, which includes HuffPost, Yahoo and AOL. The job losses followed sales or cuts at Mic, Refinery29 and elsewhere."

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Snapchat Is Considering Permanent Snaps
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '19 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fundamental-changes department:
Snapchat is considering changes to its Snapchat app, know for disappearing photos and videos, that could make users' public posts longer lasting or permanent. The company is also weighing an option to reveal the identities of Snapchat users who make public posts. Reuters reports: Together the changes would mark a big step in Snap's effort to lure and keep users by making content shared publicly via the "Our Story" section, more available outside Snapchat. They could also create a new revenue source for money-losing Snap, which has seen its user base shrink and executives flee the company. But such changes to Snapchat, which launched in 2011 and became an instant hit among teenagers and millennials, could trigger backlash from users who cherish their privacy, especially as rival Facebook has been plagued by scandals over how it handles user data. Snap is carefully weighing the privacy, technical and legal considerations of revealing user identities on public posts, said the person familiar with Snap's plans.

Only Snapchat photo and video content shared to "Our Story," which shares the snaps publicly to a wider audience and not just a user's friends, would be affected and users would still have the option of deleting those stories, said the person. Snap has already extended the shelf life of public stories, but making them last even longer or revealing more about the users who create them would be a further departure from Snapchat's hallmark features.

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US Accuses Huawei of Stealing Trade Secrets, Defrauding Banks
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '19 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's crime-alert department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: U.S. prosecutors filed criminal charges against Huawei, China's largest smartphone maker, alleging it stole trade secrets from an American rival and committed bank fraud by violating sanctions against doing business with Iran. Huawei has been the target of a broad U.S. crackdown, including allegations it sold telecommunications equipment that could be used by the China's Communist Party for spying. The charges filed Monday also mark an escalation of tensions between the world's two largest economies, which are mired in a trade war that has roiled markets. In a 13-count indictment in Brooklyn, New York, the government alleged Huawei, two affiliated companies and its chief financial officer of fraud and conspiracy in connection with deals in Iran. A 10-count indictment in Washington state accused the company of stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile and offering bonuses to employees who succeeded in getting technology from rivals.

< article continued at Slashdot's crime-alert department >

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The Natural Materials That Could Replace Environmentally Harmful Plastics
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '19 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department:
"The BBC has an article detailing new efforts to replace plastics used in products and construction with newer, less environmentally harmful alternative materials," writes Slashdot reader dryriver. The new products mentioned in the report include: Stone Wool: To transform one of the world's most abundant resources into something with utility and sustainability takes a special kind of alchemy. Stone wool comes from natural igneous rock -- the kind that forms after lava cools -- and a steelmaking byproduct called slag; these substances are melted together and spun into fibers, a little like candyfloss. Mycotecture: Mushrooms aren't just a flavor-packed addition to ravioli or ragu (or a sparkplug to the occasional psychedelic adventure); soon, tree-hugging fungi and forest-floor toadstools may replace materials like polystyrene, protective packaging, insulation, acoustic insulation, furniture, aquatic materials and even leather goods. Urine Bricks: Cement, concrete's primary ingredient, accounts for about 5% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions. Researchers and engineers are working to develop less energy-intensive alternatives, including bricks made with leftover brewery grains, concrete modeled after ancient Roman breakwaters (Romans made concrete by mixing lime and volcanic rock to form mortar, a highly stable material), and bricks made of, well, urine. As part of his thesis project, Edinburgh College of Art student Peter Trimble was working on an exhibit that was supposed to feature a module on sustainability. Almost by accident, he created "Biostone": a mixture of sand (incidentally, one of Earth's most abundant resources), nutrients, and urea -- a chemical found in human urine. A greener particleboard: Despite what it sounds like, particleboard -- those rigid panels made of compressed and veneered wood chips and resin used in furniture and kitchen cabinetry throughout the world -- hasn't actually a place in the green-building pantheon. That's because the glue that binds particleboard's wood fibers traditionally contain formaldehyde, a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical and known respiratory irritant and carcinogen. That means your faux-wood Ikea shelf is quietly "off-gassing" toxins into the air. One company, NU Green, created a material made from 100% pre-consumer recycled or recovered wood fibre called "Uniboard." Uniboard saves trees and avoids landfill, while also generating far fewer greenhouse gases than traditional particleboard, and contains no toxins. That's because Uniboard has pioneered the use of renewable fibers like corn stalks and hops, as well as no added formaldehyde (NAF) resin instead of glue.

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Apple Plans Netflix-Like Gaming Subscription Services, Report Says
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '19 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's games-on-demand department:
According to a new report from Cheddar, Apple is planning a Netflix-like subscription service for games. "The service would function like Netflix for games, allowing users who pay a subscription fee to access a bundled list of titles," reports Cheddar. "Apple began privately discussing a subscription service with game developers in the second half of 2018, said the people, all of whom requested anonymity to discuss unannounced plans." From the report: It's unclear how much the subscription will cost or what kind of games Apple will offer. The service is still in the early stages of development, and Apple could ultimately decide to abandon it. The company has also discussed partnering with developers as a publisher, according to two people familiar with the talks, which could signal Apple's ambition to assume distribution, marketing, and other related costs for select games. While it's unclear what kinds of games would be included, a subscription service for App Store games could provide a boost to Apple's recurring revenue at a time when iPhone sales are slowing and gaming and esports are booming. Mobile gaming is expected to become a $100 billion industry by 2021, according to the gaming and esports intelligence firm Newzoo.

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Online Piracy Can Be Good For Business, Researchers Find
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '19 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's contrary-to-popular-belief department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Piracy isn't always the vile market bogeyman it's portrayed to be by the entertainment industry, a new joint study by Indiana University has found. Indiana University Researchers like Antino Kim say that online piracy can sometimes have a positive impact on markets, and being overly-aggressive in the policing and punishing of pirates may sometimes be counterproductive. As an example, Kim's study ("The 'Invisible Hand' of Piracy: An Economic Analysis of the Information-Goods Supply Chain") points to the hit HBO show Game Of Thrones, which routinely breaks piracy records thanks to heavy file sharing on BitTorrent. The researchers found that piracy often acts as a form of invisible competition, keeping both the manufacturer (HBO) and the cable operator (say, Comcast) from raising prices quite as high as they might otherwise. Raise prices too high, for example, and users will just flee to piracy, creating even higher losses. The researchers are clear to note their findings have their limits, and that they're not openly advocating for companies to fully embrace piracy. They do, however, argue that if you understand the benefits of piracy as a form of invisible competition, you'll find that overly-aggressive anti-piracy efforts can actually harm the market. "Our results do not imply that the legal channel should, all of a sudden, start actively encouraging piracy," researchers said. "The implication is simply that, situated in a real-world context, our manufacturer and retailer should recognize that a certain level of piracy or its threat might actually be beneficial and should, therefore, exercise some moderation in their anti-piracy efforts."

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Huawei Is Blocked in US, But Its Chips Power Cameras Everywhere
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '19 at 01:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Pelco, a California-based security camera maker, set lofty sales targets last year for a model with sharper video resolution and other cutting-edge features. That was until Congress derailed its plans. In August, updated legislation barred the U.S. military and government from buying tech gear from firms deemed too close to authorities in China. When the bill surfaced, Pelco scrapped any thought of providing its new GPC Professional 4K camera to the U.S. government and lowered its sales goals. The reason: The device uses parts from HiSilicon, the chip division of Huawei.

[...] Most of the focus is on Huawei telecom gear that helps run communications networks all over the world. But chips from the HiSilicon unit are also sparking concern because they power about 60 percent of surveillance cameras. That means Chinese chips process video from cameras that sit in places as varied as pizzerias, offices and banks across the U.S.

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Google Glass is Still Around
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '19 at 01:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's it's-not-done-yet department:
Google may have discontinued the sale of Google Glass years ago, but die hard fans have not given up. From a report: Glassholes still exist, just not as boogeymen haunting the tech section of your newspaper. There's a small group of fans still talking and updating and buying and selling on Reddit. Somebody who picked up a pair for $150 and wants help using the device to display sheet music; somebody with questions about installing an older operating system onto Glass Enterprise; another person looking for foldable frames; somebody else trying to fix a broken device; people looking to buy, as well as a number of people asking if it's even worth it to spend any money on the now-defunct tech. (Spoiler: survey says it's not.) There is also, weirdly, somebody asking if Google nixed Google Glass "because 'someone' was made aware of the book 'The Circle' by Dave Eggers?"

Reading through the forum, it seems wrong to regard the dwindling frequenters of /r/googleglass as Glassholes. On the contrary, they seem to bust out their devices at incredibly appropriate moments. "I pretty much only use Glass for taking pictures/video while running/hiking or anywhere I don't have access to a phone or don't want to carry one," writes one Redditor. "It's a great way to capture highlights of a marathon, for instance, without having to stop and pull out a phone." "Text notifications. Phone calls whilst driving, pix and video while on the go," writes another.

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The Mystery Tracks Being 'Forced' on Spotify Users
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '19 at 12:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
It's been nearly two years since news blog MusicBusinessWorld kicked off a global conversation over 'fake artists' on Spotify. That debate is about to roar back into life. From a report: Multiple Spotify users have been complaining that their official listening history on Spotify appears to have been infiltrated by acts that they don't simply recognize. The trend was spotted by the BBC, which reported on Friday that plays of 'mystery' tracks from artists such as Bergenulo Five, Bratte Night, DJ Bruej and Doublin Night were being credited within individual Spotify user accounts -- despite these same users knowing nothing about this music.

"Apart from being musically unremarkable, they generally have a few things in common: short songs with few or no lyrics, illustrated with generic cover art, and short, non-descriptive song titles," said the Beeb of these acts -- some of whom had managed to rack up tens of thousands of plays. Albums from these artists contained more than 40 songs apiece, with each track just a minute or two in duration. After the BBC alerted Spotify to the trend, all of these artists disappeared from its platform entirely.

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Authorities Shut Down xDedic Marketplace For Buying Hacked Servers
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '19 at 12:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's end-of-road? department:
The FBI, together with authorities from several European countries, have seized the domains and servers of xDedic, a notorious online marketplace where cyber-criminals would sell and buy access to hacked servers. From a report: The site has been around since 2014, but it became widely known after a Kaspersky report published in June 2016. According to the report, the site was operating as a registration-based online marketplace where several criminal groups would either put up for sale or buy hacked servers, usually in the form of compromised RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) accounts. At the time, Kaspersky said the site listed nearly 70,000 hacked servers, for prices as little as $8 per server. [...] In Europol and FBI press releases published today, authorities announced that they've seized both the domains and the servers hosting the marketplace, effectively shutting down the site and gaining access to its list of customers.

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Amid Chaos Venezuelans Struggle To Find The Truth, Online
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '19 at 11:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department:
In Venezuela, where media is controlled by the government, figuring out what is truth, rumor or propaganda has always been difficult. NPR reports: In recent days it's gotten even more confusing. President Nicolas Maduro has refused to cede power to the opposition party. There have been widespread protests and looting -- and the rumor mill has been churning on social media. But many Venezuelans have found a way to use social media in their favor.

Javier Rojo owns a pharmacy in the capital city of Caracas. As the chaos started, he gave his workers the day off, went home and turned on the TV -- only to find nothing was being reported. "Independent media has been gradually attacked or shut down over time," says professor Gregory Weeks, who teaches Latin American politics at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. "So that in general social media becomes the means by which you learn what's going on, on an ongoing basis."

Back at his house, Rojo says he started getting messages on WhatsApp like this one from from one of his employees: "Tanks are rolling into the park. They are launching tear gas." But then, Rojo started receiving WhatsApp messages with rumors from people he doesn't even know. One man, who says his aunt's husband is a military officer, swore that Maduro has resigned. Professor Raisa Urribarri researches technology and politics at Universidad de Los Andes in Venezuela. She says it's hard to trace the origins of some messages in Venezuelan social media. They can be from panicked citizens, the opposition or the government.

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Apple Spent $60B on 9,000 American Suppliers in 2018, Supporting 450,000 Jobs
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '19 at 11:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Well timed with a report from The New York Times today that explained why Apple is unlikely to manufacture more of its products in the United States, Apple has published a press release highlighting how several components it uses are manufactured by U.S. suppliers such as Finisar, Corning, and Broadcom. Apple says it spent $60 billion with 9,000 American component suppliers and companies in 2018, an increase of more than 10 percent from the year before. Apple says this spending supports more than 450,000 jobs in the United States.

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Windows Media Player Set To Lose a Feature on Windows 7
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '19 at 09:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's for-what-it-is-worth department:
With Windows 7 reaching its end of life in less than a year, developers are likely to begin retiring features for the operating system. Kicking off the process of retiring features is Microsoft, which is retiring a feature in Windows Media Player, according to updated support documentation on its website. From a report: New metadata for music, TV shows and movies, will not be added to Windows Media Player. This means that additional information such as cover art, directors, actors, and more, will not display on Windows Media Player. This change also affects Windows Media Center on Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1.

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Location Finds Bluetooth, Ultra-Wideband
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '19 at 09:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department:
An update of the Bluetooth specification released today enables location services accurate to within 10 centimeters thanks to a new direction-finding capability. From a report: It arrives as a separate draft standard is nearly ready for an even faster and more accurate capability using ultra-wideband (UWB) radio, geared for use in smartphones. Bluetooth 5.1 describes ways to determine location using multiple antennas at either the transmitter or receiver. It uses measures of signal phase and amplitude to measure location, though profiles for application developers are still being finished.

In mid-March, the IEEE 802.15.4z standard for UWB should be in a stable draft form, opening the door for silicon designs. It enables location measures within a single centimeter and resolves in a nanosecond, a rate faster than Bluetooth. Smartphone giants Apple and Samsung have been active in the .4z meetings also attended by Huawei, leading some to suggest that the capability could be integrated in handsets within two years. NXP has also been active since the group started a year ago, giving rise to speculation that UWB could come into phones though an integrated NFC chip.

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NASA Making Renewed Efforts To Contact Mars Rover Opportunity
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '19 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department:
NASA is making a new, and perhaps final, attempt to restore contact with the Mars rover Opportunity, which has not communicated with the Earth for more than six months. From a report: The Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced Jan. 25 that it was transmitting a new set of commands to address what it acknowledged are "low-likelihood" events that could have kept the rover from contacting Earth. These new efforts are in addition to the months-long "sweep and beep" campaign of transmitting other commands and listening for a reply from the rover.

The new commands address scenarios where the rover's primary X-band radio has failed or both the primary and backup X-band radios have failed, as well as cases where Opportunity's internal clock has an offset affecting its timing. The commands direct the rover to switch to the backup X-band radio or use its UHF transmitter to contact Earth, as well as resetting its clock. Those scenarios could explain why the rover has failed to contact Earth, but project officials acknowledge that those scenarios are unlikely. "A series of unlikely events would need to have transpired for any one of these faults to occur," JPL noted in the statement about the new campaign.

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A Tiny Screw Shows Why iPhones Won't Be 'Assembled in USA'
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '19 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Despite a trade war between the United States and China and past admonishments from President Trump "to start building their damn computers and things in this country," Apple is unlikely to bring its manufacturing closer to home. A tiny screw illustrates why. [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source.]

In 2012, Apple's chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, went on prime-time television to announce that Apple would make a Mac computer in the United States. It would be the first Apple product in years to be manufactured by American workers, and the top-of-the-line Mac Pro would come with an unusual inscription: "Assembled in USA." But when Apple began making the $3,000 computer in Austin, Tex., it struggled to find enough screws, according to three people who worked on the project and spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality agreements.

In China, Apple relied on factories that can produce vast quantities of custom screws on short notice. In Texas, where they say everything is bigger, it turned out the screw suppliers were not. Tests of new versions of the computer were hamstrung because a 20-employee machine shop that Apple's manufacturing contractor was relying on could produce at most 1,000 screws a day. The screw shortage was one of several problems that postponed sales of the computer for months, the people who worked on the project said. By the time the computer was ready for mass production, Apple had ordered screws from China.

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Japanese Government Plans To Hack Into Citizens' IoT Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '19 at 07:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
An anonymous reader writes: The Japanese government approved a law amendment on Friday that will allow government workers to hack into people's Internet of Things devices as part of an unprecedented survey of insecure IoT devices. The survey will be carried out by employees of the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) under the supervision of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

NICT employees will be allowed to use default passwords and password dictionaries to attempt to log into Japanese consumers' IoT devices. The plan is to compile a list of insecure devices that use default and easy-to-guess passwords and pass it on to authorities and the relevant internet service providers, so they can take measures to alert consumers and secure the devices. The survey is scheduled to kick off next month, when authorities plan to test the password security of over 200 million IoT devices, beginning with routers and web cameras. Devices in people's homes and on enterprise networks will be tested alike

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