By msmash from Slashdot's extreme-lengths department
An anonymous reader shares a report: The U.S. military blocked Internet access to an infamous Russian entity seeking to sow discord among Americans during the 2018 midterms, several U.S. officials said, a warning that the group's operations against the United States are not cost-free. The strike on the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg, a company underwritten by an oligarch close to President VladiÂmir Putin, was part of the first offensive cyber campaign against Russia designed to thwart attempts to interfere with a U.S. election, the officials said. "They basically took the IRA offline," according to one individual familiar with the matter who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified information. "They shut 'em down." The operation marked the first muscle-flexing by U.S. Cyber Command, with intelligence from the National Security Agency, under new authorities it was granted by President Trump and Congress last year to bolster offensive capabilities.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Rotten Tomatoes is finally addressing its troll problem. The review aggregation website has unveiled a new initiative to "modernize its audience rating system through a series of product enhancements," -- the first of which includes banning user reviews and comments prior to a movie's theatrical release. Getting rid of pre-release user reviews means internet trolls will not be able to flood film pages with negative scores before a movie comes out. As we saw earlier this week, Captain Marvel was at the receiving end of what appeared to be a targeted campaign to lower the upcoming movie's audience rating. Rotten Tomatoes is not banning user reviews entirely. It says it will offer this functionality to users once the movie has hit the theaters.
Further reading on Rotten Tomatoes: Movie Studios Are Blaming Rotten Tomatoes For Killing Movies No One Wants To See
Hollywood Producer Blames Rotten Tomatoes For Convincing People Not To See His Movie
Rotten Tomatoes Scores Don't Correlate To Box Office Success or Woes, Research Shows
DC Fans Angry Over Rotten Tomatoes 'Justice League' Ratings
Why Don't We Care About The Rotten Tomatoes Scores Of TV Shows?
Real Moviegoers Don't Care About Rotten Tomatoes.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Ivan Ivanitskiy: People are resorting to blockchain for all kinds of reasons these days. Ever since I started doing smart contract security audits in mid-2017, I've seen it all. A special category of cases is 'blockchain use' that seems logical and beneficial, but actually contains a problem that then spreads from one startup to another. I am going to give some examples of such problems and ineffective solutions so that you (developer/customer/investor) know what to do when somebody offers you to use blockchain this way.
1. Supply chain management
Let's say you ordered some goods, and a carrier guarantees to maintain certain transportation conditions, such as keeping your goods cold. A proposed solution is to install a sensor in a truck that will monitor fridge temperature and regularly transmit the data to the blockchain. This way, you can make sure that the promised conditions are met along the entire route.
The problem here is not blockchain, but rather sensor, related. Being part of the physical world, the sensor is easy to fool. For example, a malicious carrier might only cool down a small fridge inside the truck in which they put the sensor, while leaving the goods in the non-refrigerated section of the truck to save costs.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
If atmospheric CO2 levels exceed 1,200 parts per million (ppm), it could push the Earth's climate over a "tipping point", finds a new study. This would see clouds that shade large part of the oceans start to break up. From a report: According to the new paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience, this could trigger a massive 8C rise in global average temperatures -- in addition to the warming from increased CO2. The only similar example of rapid warming at this magnitude in the Earth's recent history is the Paleo-Eocene Thermal Maximum 55m years ago, when global temperatures increased by 5-8C and drove widespread extinction of species on both the oceans and land.
However, scientists not involved in the research caution that the results are still speculative and that other complicating factors could influence if or when a tipping point is reached. The threshold identified by the researchers -- a 1,200ppm concentration of atmospheric CO2 -- is three times current CO2 concentrations. If fossil fuel use continues to rapidly expand over the remainder of the century, it is possible levels could get that high. The Representative Concentration Pathways 8.5 scenario (RCP8.5), a very high emissions scenario examined by climate scientists, has the Earth's atmosphere reaching around 1,100ppm by the year 2100. But this would require the world to massively expand coal use and eschew any climate mitigation over the rest of this century. Further reading: A state-of-the-art supercomputer simulation indicates that a feedback loop between global warming and cloud loss can push Earth's climate past a disastrous tipping point in as little as a century.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's big-brother-will-see-you-now department
You can tell a lot of things from the way someone walks. Chinese artificial intelligence start-up Watrix says its softwares can identify a person from 50 meters away -- even if they have covered their face or have their back to a camera -- making it more than a match for Sherlock Holmes. From a report: Known as gait recognition, the technology works by analyzing thousands of metrics about a person's walk, from body contour to the angle of arm movement to whether a person has a toe-in or toe-out gait, to then build a database. "With facial recognition people need to look into a camera -- cooperation is not needed for them to be recognized [by our technology]," said Huang Yongzhen, co-founder and chief executive of Watrix, in an interview in Beijing. Features like this have given Watrix an edge in catching runaway criminals, who tend to avoid surveillance, said Huang. Police on the streets of Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing, have already run trials of gait recognition technology, said Huang, and the company officially launched its 2.0 version last week, which supports analysis of real-time camera feeds at a mega-city level.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's long-time-coming department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica, written by Peter Bright: Ever since the first Xbox was released, an obvious question has been hanging in the air: Microsoft already owns one of the premier gaming platforms, the PC, and both the original Xbox and the current Xbox One are more or less PCs anyway, so when is Microsoft going to bring the two together and let us play Xbox games on Windows? With the new Windows 10 builds, it looks like the company is taking some big steps in that direction. Microsoft has put big chunks of the Xbox infrastructure into Windows 10. This starts right from the moment you download the game: it's coming from the Xbox distribution servers, not the usual ones for Store apps. The game package itself uses a format called .xvc, which is used for Xbox One games, and there are PowerShell commands to work with these .xvc files and install .xvc games. Microsoft Gaming Services includes portions of this Xbox infrastructure; it includes a couple of drivers ("Microsoft Gaming Filesystem Driver" and "Microsoft Gaming Install Filter Driver"), along with a number of libraries that provide Xbox APIs.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's no-joking-matter department
According to a new report from The Verge, Facebook moderators in Phoenix, Arizona reportedly make just $28,800 a year and use sex and drugs to deal with the stress. "The report published on Monday detailed the experiences of current and former employees who worked at professional services company Cognizant, a company they say Facebook outsources its moderating efforts to," Gizmodo summarizes. "According to the report, employees experienced severe mental health distress, which they coped with by having sex at the office and smoking weed. Some even began believing the conspiracy theories they were tasked with reviewing. One quality assurance manager said he began bringing a gun to work in response to threats from fired workers." From the report: "There was nothing that they were doing for us," one former moderator told The Verge, "other than expecting us to be able to identify when we're broken. Most of the people there that are deteriorating -- they don't even see it. And that's what kills me." "Randy," a quality assurance worker at Cognizant charged with reviewing posts flagged by moderators, said that several times over his year at the company he was approached and intimidated by moderators to change his decisions. "They would confront me in the parking lot and tell me they were going to beat the shit out of me," Randy told The Verge. He also said that fired Cognizant employees made what he believed to be genuine threats of harm to their former colleagues. Randy started to bring a concealed gun to the office to protect himself.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's torture-music department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CBC.ca: You may not give a second thought to the tunes spinning on a constant loop at your favorite cafe or coffee shop, but one writer and podcaster who had to listen to repetitive music for years while working in bars and restaurants argues it's a serious workers' rights issue. "[It's] the same system that's used to [...] flood people out of, you know, the Branch Davidian in Waco or was used on terror suspects in Guantanamo -- they use the repetition of music," Adam Johnson told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti. "I'm not suggesting that working at Applebee's is the same as being at Guantanamo, but the principle's the same."
Earlier this year, irritated Starbucks employees took to Reddit to rage about how they had to listen to the same songs from the Broadway hit musical Hamilton on repeat while on the job. One user wrote that if they heard a Hamilton song one more time, "I'm getting a ladder and ripping out all of our speakers from the ceiling." As a solution, he suggested health inspectors could enforce better working conditions, or a tip line could be created for people to report poor working conditions, like repetitive music. Another solution? Communication, says neuroscientist Jessica Grahn. She studies music, which science has shown to be one of the strongest influencers of mood, she said. It can calm dementia patients struggling with depression or anger, or increase our endurance when we're working out. However, there are downsides to the power of music. Unlike how we can close our eyes to things we don't want to see, we can't close our ears to sound. Having control over one's environment can make a big difference, said Grahn, which is why she recommends employers and employees talk about why certain music is being played, or what they can do to switch things up.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's trying-to-calm-everyone-down department
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is defending the company's $479 million contract with the Pentagon to supply augmented reality headsets to the U.S. military. "We made a principled decision that we're not going to withhold technology from institutions that we have elected in democracies to protect the freedoms we enjoy," he told CNN Business at Mobile World Congress. "We were very transparent about that decision and we'll continue to have that dialogue [with employees]," he added during the exclusive interview. From the report: Microsoft was awarded the contract to supply "Integrated Visual Augmentation System" prototypes to the U.S. military in November. The company could eventually deliver over 100,000 headsets under the contract. Microsoft's HoloLens augmented reality technology allows users to see the world around them, but with virtual graphics overlaid. The Israeli military, which has taken delivery of some HoloLens headsets, says the technology can be used to help commanders visualize the battlefield and field medics to consult doctors. According to procurement documents, the U.S. military is seeking a single platform that provides its forces with "increased lethality, mobility and situational awareness" in combat. Microsoft employees have recently circulated a letter addressed to Nadella and Brad Smith, the company's president and chief legal officer, arguing that the company should not supply its HoloLens technology to the U.S. military. "It's not about taking arbitrary action by a single company, it's not about 50 people or 100 people or even 100,000 people in a company," he said. "It's really about being a responsible corporate citizen in a democracy."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fake-it-till-you-break-it department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: A team of academics from the Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany say they've managed to break the digital signing system and create fake signatures on 21 of 22 desktop PDF viewer apps and five out of seven online PDF digital signing services. This includes apps such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, Foxit Reader, and LibreOffice, and online services like DocuSign and Evotrust --just to name the most recognizable names. The five-person research team has been working since early October 2018 together with experts from Germany's Computer Emergency Response Team (BSI-CERT) to notify impacted services. The team went public with their findings over the weekend after all affected app makers and commercial companies finished patching their products. In research published today, the Ruhr-University Bochum team described three vulnerabilities that they found in the digital signing process used by several desktop and web-based PDF signing services. Summarized, they are:
1. Universal Signature Forgery (USF) -- vulnerability lets attackers trick the signature verification process into showing users a fake panel/message that the signature is valid.
2. Incremental Saving Attack (ISA) -- vulnerability lets attackers add extra content to an already signed PDF document via the "incremental saving (incremental update)" mechanism, but without breaking the already-existing signature.
3. Signature Wrapping (SWA) -- vulnerability is similar to ISA, but the malicious code also contains extra logic to fool the signature validation process into "wrapping" around the attacker's extra content, effectively digitally signing the incremental update. Additional details about the three vulnerabilities are available in this PDF research paper [1, 2], this blog post, and this dedicated website.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's reorganization-plans department
bbsguru writes: Windstream Holdings Inc. of Arkansas filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday, less than two weeks after a federal court judge found that the 2015 spinoff of its fiber and copper assets into a separate company ran afoul of bond covenants, exposing the company to a $310 million judgment. Windstream, a spinoff of the old Alltel Corp. of Arkansas, reported $5.8 billion in revenue in 2017. It employs about 13,000 companywide. CEO Tony Thomas said in a press release that the reorganization is "a necessary step to address the financial impact" of the judge's decision and "the impact it would have on consumers and businesses across the states in which we operate." "Taking this proactive step will ensure that Windstream has access to the capital and resources we need to continue building on Windstream's strong operational momentum while we engage in constructive discussions with our creditors regarding the terms of a consensual plan of reorganization," Thomas said. "We acted decisively to secure the long-term financial stability of Windstream, and we are confident that, upon completion of the reorganization process, we will be even better positioned to invest in our business, expand our speed and capabilities for our customers and compete for the long term." A court approval of a reorganization plan will allow the company to continue paying its employees and maintain relationships with vendors, business partners and customers, Thomas said.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's future department
Last week, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carried an Israeli-made spacecraft named Beresheet beyond the grasp of Earth's gravity and sent it on its way to the surface of the moon. On board Beresheet is a specially designed disc encoded with a 30-million-page archive of human civilization built to last billions of years into the future. From a report: The backup for humanity has been dubbed "The Lunar Library" by its creator, the Arch Mission Foundation (AMF). "The idea is to place enough backups in enough places around the solar system, on an ongoing basis, that our precious knowledge and biological heritage can never be lost," the nonprofit's co-founder Nova Spivack told CNET via email.
The disc aboard Beresheet is about the size and thickness of a DVD, but consists of 25 stacked thin nickel films that AMF insists can resist radiation, extreme temperatures and other harsh conditions found in space for billions of years. There is, of course, no way to test how long it will last, but if it survives as long as hoped, the disc may even be around longer than the moon itself. The top four layers are actually filled with 60,000 pages of tiny analog images that can be viewed with optical microscope technology that's been around for centuries. The images include a sort of users' guide explaining human language, the contents of the disc and how to access the deeper layers containing compressed digital data.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's growing-concerns department
Leading US paleontologists are calling for a worldwide halt to the sale of vertebrate dinosaur fossils. The booming market for specimens, driven by their popularity with wealthy private collectors, including Hollywood stars, is pushing up prices and putting them out of reach of museums and scientists, they say. From a report: While the art market is organized around brand-name artists, dinosaur sales are all about celebrity species, with a tyrannosaurus rex skeleton fetching up to $10m, although the velociraptor is the most prized. The price tag for a triceratops's skull is $170,000 to $400,000, and a diplodocus is $570,000 to $1.1m. Last year a complete egg of an aepyornis maximus, otherwise known as an elephant bird, sold for $130,000 -- roughly five times what it would have gone for a decade earlier.
Last year the US Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology (SVP) called on the Parisian auction house Aguttes to cancel a sale inside the Eiffel tower that contained just one lot: a 29-foot-long dinosaur of a yet-to-be identified species. The winning bidder paid $2.3m for the piece. Executive members of the society drew attention to the claim that the winning bidder could name the species, calling that assertion "misleading because the naming of new species is governed by the rules of the International Code of Nomenclature." "The sale of all fossils is inappropriate," says Catherine Badgley, former president of the SVP, which represents more than 2,200 international palaeontologists. "Many, particularly vertebrate fossils, are rarely common, and it's certainly not the case for dinosaurs. The commodification is in principle inappropriate because it motivates unscrupulous people."Read Replies (0)