By BeauHD from Slashdot's book-of-secrets department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: This past week, a New Zealand man was looking through the data Facebook had collected from him in an archive he had pulled down from the social networking site. While scanning the information Facebook had stored about his contacts, Dylan McKay discovered something distressing: Facebook also had about two years worth of phone call metadata from his Android phone, including names, phone numbers, and the length of each call made or received. This experience has been shared by a number of other Facebook users who spoke with Ars, as well as independently by us -- my own Facebook data archive, I found, contained call-log data for a certain Android device I used in 2015 and 2016, along with SMS and MMS message metadata. In response to an email inquiry about this data gathering by Ars, a Facebook spokesperson replied, "The most important part of apps and services that help you make connections is to make it easy to find the people you want to connect with. So, the first time you sign in on your phone to a messaging or social app, it's a widely used practice to begin by uploading your phone contacts." The spokesperson pointed out that contact uploading is optional and installation of the application explicitly requests permission to access contacts. And users can delete contact data from their profiles using a tool accessible via Web browser.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's this-scepter'd-isle department
The U.K.'s High Court will not send Lauri Love to face trial in the U.S. for hacking government computer systems. Instead they've issued a final refusal to overturn Love's successful appeal of his extradition, Ars Technica reports, "effectively ending the extradition effort permanently."
Love was originally arrested in the UK in October of 2013 after using an automated scanner to locate servers within a large range of IP addresses for SQL injection and ColdFusion vulnerabilities and then breaching vulnerable systems and installing Web shells to give him remote administrative-level access. He allegedly managed to compromise servers belonging to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, the U.S. Army, the Federal Reserve, NASA, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Love's attorneys fought the extradition on the grounds that Love -- who has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, severe depression, and antibiotic-resistant eczema -- would not get appropriate medical attention in a U.S. prison and would be at risk of suicide if he faced the potential 99-year prison term associated with the charges...
The U.S. had already essentially dropped efforts to extradite Love, but the ruling by the High Court now sets legal precedent that may bar future extraditions of British citizens on hacking charges. In a statement e-mailed to Ars, Naomi Colvin -- acting director of the Courage Foundation, an organization that has assisted Love in his extradition appeal -- said that as a result of the ruling, "there is now very little prospect of any British hacker ever finding themselves in the same position as Lauri Love or Gary McKinnon. Fifteen years of terrible public policy in which British hackers were left open to the vindictive instincts of US prosecutors have now been brought to an end."
Lauri Love told the site that with this ruling, "The era of the U.S. Department of Justice as world police is over."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's artificially-intelligent department
"Robot brains will challenge the fundamental assumptions of how we humans do things," argues Popular Mechanics, noting that age-old truism "that computers will always do literally, exactly what you tell them to."
A paper recently published to ArXiv highlights just a handful of incredible and slightly terrifying ways that algorithms think... An AI project which pit programs against each other in games of five-in-a-row Tic-Tac-Toe on an infinitely expansive board surfaced the extremely successful method of requesting moves involving extremely long memory addresses which would crash the opponent's computer and award a win by default...
These amusing stories also reflect the potential for evolutionary algorithms or neural networks to stumble upon solutions to problems that are outside-the-box in dangerous ways. They're a funnier version of the classic AI nightmare where computers tasked with creating peace on Earth decide the most efficient solution is to exterminate the human race. The solution, the paper suggests, is not fear but careful experimentation.
The paper (available as a free download) contains 27 anecdotes, which its authors describe as a "crowd-sourced product of researchers in the fields of artificial life and evolutionary computation. Popular Science adds that "the most amusing examples are clearly ones where algorithms abused bugs in their simulations -- essentially glitches in the Matrix that gave them superpowers."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's moving-back-to-MySpace department
Long-time Slashdot reader Lauren Weinstein argues that fixing Facebook may be impossible because "Facebook's entire ecosystem is predicated on encouraging the manipulation of its users by third parties who posses the skills and financial resources to leverage Facebook's model. These are not aberrations at Facebook -- they are exactly how Facebook was designed to operate." Meanwhile one fund manager is already predicting that sooner or later every social media platform "is going to become MySpace," adding that "Nobody young uses Facebook," and that the backlash over Cambridge Analytica "quickens the demise."
But Slashdot reader silvergeek asks, "is there a safe, secure, and ethical alternative?" to which tepples suggests "the so-called IndieWeb stack using the h-entry microformat." He also suggests Diaspora, with an anonymous Diaspora user adding that "My family uses a server I put up to trade photos and posts... Ultimately more people need to start hosting family servers to help us get off the cloud craze... NethServer is a pretty decent CentOS based option."
Meanwhile Slashdot user Locke2005 shared a Washington Post profile of Mastodon, "a Twitter-like social network that has had a massive spike in sign-ups this week."
Mastodon's code is open-source, meaning anybody can inspect its design. It's distributed, meaning that it doesn't run in some data center controlled by corporate executives but instead is run by its own users who set up independent servers. And its development costs are paid for by online donations, rather than through the marketing of users' personal information... Rooted in the idea that it doesn't benefit consumers to depend on centralized commercial platforms sucking up users' personal information, these entrepreneurs believe they can restore a bit of the magic from the Internet's earlier days -- back when everything was open and interoperable, not siloed and commercialized.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's permission-slips department
Thousands of etcd servers "are spitting sensitive passwords and encrypted keys," reports Fossbytes:
Security researcher Giovanni Collazo was able to harvest 8781 passwords, 650 AWS access keys, 23 secret keys, and 8 private keys. First, he ran a query on the hacker search engine Shodan that returned around 2300 servers running etcd database. Then, he ran a simple script that gave him the login credentials stored on these servers which can be used to gain access to CMSs, MySQL, and PostgreSQL databases, etc.
etcd is a database used by computing clusters to store and exchange passwords and configuration settings between servers and applications over the network. With the default settings, its programming interface can return administrative login credentials without any authentication upfront... All of the data he harvested from around 1500 servers is around 750MB in size... Collazo advises that anyone maintaining etcd servers should enable authentication, set up a firewall, and take other security measures.
Another security research independently verified the results, and reported that one MySQL database had the root password "1234".Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's have-you-driven-a-fjord-lately? department
An anonymous reader quotes Electrek:
Tesla is always very busy in Norway, its biggest market per capita, but it has recently been difficult for the automaker to deliver its vehicles as its shipments keep being taken off the road for using transporters with "dangerous" trucks that do not conform to the rules. The California-based automaker generally ships its vehicles to Norway through the port of Drammen, but it is experiencing capacity issues so they are instead going through Gothenburg port and having to use more trucks to move the cars to its stores and service centers. According to several media reports in Norway, over half a dozen of those trucks have been stopped by the authorities for a variety of safety reasons during inspections and one of the trucks that wasn't stopped ended up in an accident. Two Model S vehicles were crushed on the trailer involved in the accident. Tesla says that it is having difficulties finding competent transporters that comply to Norway's road requirements. On top of the safety issues, Tesla is also using transporters operating Euro 3 class trucks, which are more polluting.
Elon Musk tweeted in response to the article that "I have just asked our team to slow down deliveries.
"It is clear that we are exceeding the local logistics capacity due to batch build and delivery. Customer happiness & safety matter more than a few extra cars this quarter."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's jailhouse-rock department
An anonymous reader shares an update on Artur Sargsyan, who owned the music-pirating site Sharebeast as well as Newjams and Albumjams. TorrentFreak reports:
Thursday a U.S. District Judge sentenced the 30-year-old to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and more than $642,000 in restitution and forfeiture...
The RIAA claimed that ShareBeast was the largest illegal file-sharing site operating in the United States... "Millions of users accessed songs from ShareBeast each month without one penny of compensation going to countless artists, songwriters, labels and others who created the music," RIAA Chairman & CEO Cary Sherman commented at the time...
If Sargsyan had responded to takedown notices more positively, it's possible that things may have progressed in a different direction. The RIAA sent the site more than 100 copyright-infringement emails over a three-year period but to no effect. This led the music industry group to get out its calculator and inform the Deparmtment of Justice that the total monetary loss to its member companies was "a conservative" $6.3 billion "gut-punch" to music creators who were paid nothing by the service...
"His reproduction of copyrighted musical works were made available only to generate undeserved profits for himself," said U.S. Attorney Byung J. "BJay" Pak. "The incredible work done by our law enforcement partners and prosecutors in light of the complexity of Sargsyan's operation demonstrates that we will employ all of our resources to stop this kind of theft."
David J. LaValley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, said "His sentence sends a message that no matter how complex the operation, the FBI, its federal partners and law enforcement partners around the globe will go to every length to protect the property of hard working artists and the companies that produce their art."
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's chipping-a-tooth department
Researchers at Tufts University are testing tooth-mounted RFID chips which sense and transmit data on what goes in your mouth. ABC News reports:
The sensors looks like custom microchips stuck to the tooth. They are flexible, tiny squares -- ranging from 4 mm by 4 mm to an even smaller size of about 2 mm by 2 mm -- that are applied directly to human teeth. Each one has three active layers made of titanium and gold, with a middle layer of either silk fibers or water-based gels. In small-scale studies, four human volunteers wore sensors, which had silk as the middle "detector" layer, on their teeth and swished liquids around in their mouths to see if the sensors would function. The researchers were testing for sugar and for alcohol.
The tiny squares successfully sent wireless signals to tablets and cell phone devices. In one of their first experiments, the chip could tell the difference between solutions of purified water, artificial saliva, 50 percent alcohol and wood alcohol. It would then wirelessly signal to a nearby receiver via radiofrequency, similar to how EZ Passes work. They demonstrated that different concentrations of glucose, a type of sugar, could be distinguished, even in liquids that had sugar concentrations like those found in fruit drinks.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's bomber-busted department
Wednesday police in Austin, Texas finally located the "serial bomber" believed to be responsible for six package bombs which killed two people over the last three weeks. "The operation was aided by different uses of technology, including surveillance cameras and cell phone triangulation." An anonymous reader shares this article:
The suspect, who has been identified as 24-year-old Mark Anthony Conditt, was killed near the motel he was traced to thanks to surveillance footage from a Federal Express drop-off store, The Austin American-Stateman reported. The authorities were able to gather information after police noticed the subject shipped an explosive device from a Sunset Valley FedEx store, a suburb approximately 25 minutes away from Austin. The evidence included the security footage from the store, as well as store receipts obtained showing suspicious transactions. The authorities were also able to look at the individual's Google search history, the Statesman noted, which gave them further insight into his dealings...
The authorities were also able to use cell phone triangulation technology, which provides a cell phone's location data via information collected from nearby cell towers... The phone's GPS capabilities can track the phone within 5 to 10 feet and can also provide "historical" or "prospective" location information. It can also "ping" the phone, forcing it to reveal its exact location... As cell phone companies store this type of data, law enforcement authorities must request it via the appropriate court processes.
"Authorities in Austin were able to use this technology to trace the suspect to a hotel in Williamson County."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's calling-Collabora department
Slashdot reader mfilion writes: Over the past couple of years, Linux's low-level graphics infrastructure has undergone a quiet revolution. Since experimental core support for the atomic modesetting framework landed a couple of years ago, the DRM subsystem in the kernel has seen roughly 300,000 lines of code changed and 300,000 new lines added, when the new AMD driver (~2.5m lines) is excluded. Lately Weston has undergone the same revolution, albeit on a much smaller scale. Here, Daniel Stone, Graphics Lead at Collabora, puts the spotlight on the latest enhancements to Linux's low-level graphics infrastructure, including Atomic modesetting, Weston 4.0, and buffer modifiers.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's just-in-time department
An anonymous reader quotes Application Development Trends:
Oracle announced the general availability of Java SE 10 (JDK 10) this week. This release, which comes barely six months after the release of Java SE 9, is the first in the new rapid release cadence Oracle announced late last year. The new release schedule, which the company is calling an "innovation cycle," calls for a feature release every six months, update releases every quarter, and a long-term support (LTS) release every three years. Java 10 is a feature release that obsoletes Java 9. The next LTS release will be Java 11, expected in September. The next LTS version after that will be Java 17, scheduled for release in September 2021...
The six-month feature release cadence is meant to reduce the latency between major releases, explained is Sharat Chander, director of Oracle's Java SE Product Management group, said in a blog post. "This release model takes inspiration from the release models used by other platforms and by various operating-system distributions addressing the modern application development landscape," Chander wrote. "The pace of innovation is happening at an ever-increasing rate and this new release model will allow developers to leverage new features in production as soon as possible. Modern application development expects simple open licensing and a predictable time-based cadence, and the new release model delivers on both."
This release finally adds var to the Java language (though its use is limited to local variables with initializers or declared in a for-loop). It's being added "to improve the developer experience by reducing the ceremony associated with writing Java code, while maintaining Java's commitment to static type safety, by allowing developers to elide the often-unnecessary manifest declaration of local variable type."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's apathy-doesn't-scale department
"As the web celebrated its 29th birthday last week, Berners-Lee expressed disappointment with how his invention has turned out," reports MarketWatch. "He criticized Facebook and other tech heavyweights last week, saying they have 'made it possible to weaponize the web at scale.'
"But on Monday, the British computer scientist essentially told Zuck to buck up. 'I would say to him: You can fix it,' Berners-Lee tweeted. 'It won't be easy, but if companies work with governments, activists, academics and web users, we can make sure platforms serve humanity.'"
Tim Berners-Lee writes:
This is a serious moment for the web's future. But I want us to remain hopeful. The problems we see today are bugs in the system. Bugs can cause damage, but bugs are created by people, and can be fixed by people.... My message to all web users today is this: I may have invented the web, but you make it what it is. And it's up to all of us to build a web that reflects our hopes & fulfils our dreams more than it magnifies our fears & deepens our divisions... Get involved. Care about your data. It belongs to you.
If we each take a little of the time we spend using the web to fight for the web, I think we'll be ok. Tell companies and your government representatives that your data and the web matter.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's going-viral department
Slashdot reader Bruce66423 shares what researchers learned by studying the effect of drugs on bacteria in the gut:
The research reveals that it's not just antibiotics that have the effect of causing resistance to antibiotics. "Of the drugs in the study, 156 were antibacterials (144 antibiotics and 12 antiseptics). But a further 835, such as painkillers and blood-pressure pills, were not intended to harm bacteria. Yet almost a quarter (203) did....
"However, Dr Maier's study also brings some good news for the fight against antimicrobial resistance. Some strains she looked at which were resistant to antibiotics nevertheless succumbed to one or more of the non-antibiotic drugs thrown at them. This could be a starting point for the development of new antimicrobial agents which would eliminate bacteria that have proved intractable to other means."
Every drug the researchers tested has already been approved for human use -- which means they could all eventually be used as a second wave of antibiotics.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's you're-not-dead,-Jim department
"William Shatner is alive and well -- in fact, he turned 87 on Thursday, so the actor was not pleased when he saw an ad on Facebook sharing a story about his alleged death," writes the Hollywood Reporter. An anonymous reader quotes People:
"@WilliamShatner I thought you might want to know you're dead," a Twitter user wrote, along with a screenshot of the ad. Less than a half hour later, Shatner posted his own message calling out the social media company for spreading the phony news... "Thought you were doing something about this?" he wrote. Several hours after Shatner's tweet, Facebook's director of product management Rob Leathern messaged the actor to let him know that the ad had been removed. "Thank you," Shatner replied. "I'm not planning on dying so please continue to block those kinds of ads..." Fortunately, Shatner's in good company when it comes to celebrity death hoaxes... News of Sylvester Stallone's fake death originally began circulating on Facebook in 2016.
In late 2016 Mark Zuckerberg posted that "We take misinformation seriously..." while adding that "we know people want accurate information. We've been working on this problem for a long time and we take this responsibility seriously." Ironically, that announcement appeared next to a similar fake ad announcing that Hugh Hefner was dead, though at the time Hefner was very much alive.
"We've made significant progress," Zuckerberg's post continued, "but there is more work to be done."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's going-public department
Yesterday Dropbox finally launched its stock on NASDAQ. Reuters reports:
Dropbox Inc's shares closed at $28.42, up more than 35 percent in their first day of trading on Friday, as investors rushed to buy into the biggest technology initial public offering in more than a year even as the wider sector languished... At the stock's opening price, Dropbox had a market valuation of $12.67 billion, well above the $10 billion valuation it had in its last private funding round... It has yet to turn a profit, which is common for startups that invest heavily in growth. As a public company Dropbox will be under pressure to quickly trim its losses. The 11-year old company reported revenue of $1.11 billion in 2017, up from $844.8 million a year earlier. Its net loss nearly halved from $210.2 million in 2016.
CNBC reports that Y Combinator almost passed on a chance to invest in Dropbox -- which became its first IPO ever -- "because it had misgivings about bringing on a solo entrepreneur."
After Drew Houston, the creator of Dropbox, scrambled to find a co-founder in time for his in-person interview, the company was admitted into YC in 2007. Four years later, venture capitalists poured money into Dropbox at a $4 billion valuation. YC has since become a power player in Silicon Valley, helping spawn numerous companies valued at over $1 billion today including Stripe, Airbnb, Instacart and Coinbase. It also backed Twitch, which Amazon acquired in 2014 for about $970 million, and the self-driving tech start-up Cruise, which GM bought in 2016 for over $1 billion. But in its 13-year history, YC had yet to see any of its companies go public until Dropbox's stock market debut on Friday...
Houston is now worth over $3 billion and co-founder Arash Ferdowsi owns shares valued at more than $1 billion.
Dropbox's Twitter feed posted a video from their NASDAQ debut, adding "We're so thankful for the 500 million registered users who helped us get here."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's world-tb-day department
Tuberculosis (TB) is one of most common causes of death globally. In 2016 alone, more than 10.4 million people fell sick to TB and 1.7 million TB-related deaths were reported. The WHO says India, in particular, and developing markets, in general, lead the count for the occurrence of TB in the world even as the local authorities provide free and effective medications to anyone who is ill. From a report: "One of the biggest barriers to recovery from TB is medication adherence," explains Microsoft Researcher Bill Thies, who is also the Chairman and Co-founder of Everwell Health Solutions, a Bangalore-based healthcare start-up. "Patients have to take daily drugs for a full six months, or else they do not fully recover, and are at risk of developing drug resistance. While medication adherence might sound like a simple problem, it turns out to be an enormously complex and heavily studied multi-disciplinary problem. If patients start feeling better after a few weeks, how can we convince them to take toxic drugs for another five months -- especially if patients have little or no understanding of germs and antibiotic resistance?" The popular recommended practice to ensure medication adherence is Directly Observed Treatment or DOTS, which involves the patients going to a healthcare centre where they ingest the medication in front of a health worker. As it was implemented at the start of their work, patients needed to visit the centre three times per week for the first two months and once a week for the remaining four months. The system involves an unnecessary burden on the patients, who are typically from low-income groups -- every visit means travel expense and loss of work. There are ways to ensure that a patient has taken medication on time -- we have things like smart pills, and you can send texts to people to remind them about the pills -- but in places like India, these solutions are beyond the reach of people. So in 2013, Thies and his colleagues, along with Microsoft Research Program Manager and TEM collaborator, started a project called 99DOTS to explore if any low-cost tech solution could be employed. They did find one, and it involves making a "missed call" to people. Here's the fascinating story of what happened next.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's drastic-times-call-for-drastic-measures department
dryriver writes from a report via the BBC: In World War 2, Britain was losing the Battle of the Atlantic, with German U-boats sinking ship after ship. Enter Project Habakkuk, the incredible plan to build an aircraft carrier from ice. The British government wanted a better way of battling German U-boats and needed an aircraft carrier invulnerable to torpedoes and bombs. Inventor Geoffrey Pyke came up with the idea of using solid blocks of ice, strengthened with sawdust, creating the material Pykrete, to build a ship big enough for bombers to land on. Winston Churchill became interested in the plan after Pyke pitched it to him. The proposed ship was to be 610 meters (2,013 feet) long and weigh 1.8 Million tons, considerably larger and heavier than today's biggest ships. It would have hull armor 12 meters (40 feet) thick. Work on building a proof-of-concept prototype started at Patricia Lake, Canada. But when it became clear that the finished aircraft carrier would take until 1945 to build, and cost 10 million pounds, the British government cancelled the project in 1943, and the prototype in Canada was scuppered.Read Replies (0)