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Chinese Rocket Fails To Put Two Satellites Into Correct Orbits
Posted by News Fetcher on December 28 '16 at 11:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's mission-not-accomplished department:
schwit1 writes: Tracking data suggests that two Earth-observation satellites launched today by China's Long March 2D rocket were placed in the wrong orbits. Spaceflight Now reports: "The two SuperView 1, or Gaojing 1, satellites are flying in egg-shaped orbits ranging from 133 miles (214 kilometers) to 325 miles (524 kilometers) in altitude at an inclination of 97.6 degrees. The satellites would likely re-enter Earth's atmosphere within months in such a low orbit, and it was unclear late Wednesday whether the craft had enough propellant to raise their altitudes. The high-resolution Earth-observing platforms were supposed to go into a near-circular orbit around 300 miles (500 kilometers) above the planet to begin their eight-year missions collecting imagery for Siwei Star Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., a government-owned entity."

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Scientists Develop a Breathalyzer That Detects 17 Diseases With One Breath From a Patient
Posted by News Fetcher on December 28 '16 at 07:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's field-sobriety-test department:
randomErr quotes a report from Quartz: In the last 10 years, researchers have developed specific sniff tests for diagnosing tuberculosis, hypertension, cystic fibrosis, and even certain types of cancer. A group of global researchers led by Hossam Haick at the Israel Institute of Technology have taken the idea a step further. They've built a device -- a kind of breathalyzer -- that is compact and can diagnose up to 17 diseases from a single breath of a patient. The breathalyzer has an array of specially created gold nanoparticles, which are sized at billionths of a meter, and mixed with similar-sized tubes of carbon. These together create a network that is able to interact differently with each of the nearly 100 volatile compounds that each person breaths out (apart from gases like nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide). Haick's team collected 2,800 breaths from more than 1,400 patients who were each suffering from at least one of 17 diseases (in three classes: cancer, inflammation, and neurological disorders). Each sample of the disease was then passed through the special breathalyzer, which then produced a dataset of the types of chemicals it could detect and in roughly what quantities. The team then applied artificial intelligence to the dataset to search for patterns in the types of compounds detected and the concentrations they were detected at. As they report in the journal ACS Nano, the data from the breathalyzer could be used to accurately detect that a person is suffering from a unique disease nearly nine out of ten times.

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More Than One-Third of Schoolchildren Are Homeless In Shadow of Silicon Valley
Posted by News Fetcher on December 28 '16 at 06:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's underlying-issues department:
Alastair Gee writes via The Guardian about Palo Alto's problem with homeless children. Palo Alto is one of the most expensive cities in the United States, yet "slightly more than one-third of students (1,147 children) are defined as homeless here, mostly sharing homes with other families because their parents cannot afford one of their own, and also living in RVs and shelters." From the report: The circumstances of the crisis are striking. Little more than a strip of asphalt separates East Palo Alto from tony Palo Alto, with its startups, venture capitalists, Craftsman homes and Whole Foods. East Palo Alto has traditionally been a center for African American and Latino communities. Its suburban houses are clustered on flat land by the bay, sometimes with no sidewalks and few trees, but residents say the town boasts a strong sense of cohesion. Yet as in the rest of Silicon Valley, the technology economy is drawing new inhabitants and businesses -- the Facebook headquarters is within Ravenswood's catchment area -- and contributing to dislocation as well as the tax base. "Now you have Caucasians moving back into the community, you have Facebookers and Googlers and Yahooers," said Pastor Paul Bains, a local leader. "That's what's driven the cost back up. Before, houses were rarely over $500,000. And now, can you find one under $750,000? You probably could, but it's a rare find." Several homeless families whose children attend local schools told the Guardian that they had considered moving to cheaper real estate markets, such as the agricultural Central Valley, but there were no jobs there. One man shares a single room with three children, in a house where three other families each have a room. Another woman lives with her partner and five children in a converted garage. Even teachers are not immune to such difficulties. Ten of the staff who work on early education programs -- one-third of the total -- commute two or more hours each way a day because they cannot find housing they can afford.

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Some Google Pixel Devices Are Shutting Down At 30% Battery
Posted by News Fetcher on December 28 '16 at 04:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's powering-down department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Android Authority: It seems that some Pixel devices are affected by the same infamous shutdown bug that plagued the Nexus 6P where the device would prematurely turn off at 25 to 35 percent. The Huawei Nexus 6P has finally received the Nougat update. But ever since, Google's last ever Nexus device has been on the news, and for all the wrong reasons. Among the problems was a shutdown bug: the phone would shut down when the battery is at 30 percent or so. Well, it looks like the issue isn't unique to those Nexus 6P users. A few Reddit users are reporting that their Pixel devices are also suffering from the same shutdown bug. Some Pixel phones would prematurely shut down at or around 30 percent and would not turn back on until a charger is connected. A user by the name of vrski_15, who started the thread explains: "Twice in last 5 days, has the phone shutdown abruptly while I am in middle of something. In both instances, battery was between 25-35%, and the phone under normal conditions should have lasted for at least next 3-4 hours." With the Nexus 6P, Huawei first ruled that this was not a hardware problem but a software-related one. However, users found that the problem persisted even after downgrading to Android Marshmallow. This led Huawei to investigate further with Google, and although the company hasn't revealed the cause yet, it is probably related to the problem that these Pixel users have been experiencing.

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Czech Republic Sets Up Counter-Terrorism Unit To Counter Fake News Threat
Posted by News Fetcher on December 28 '16 at 04:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's strategic-task-force department:
According to CNN, the Czech Republic is setting up a new counter-terrorism unit to combat the rise of fake news or "foreign disinformation campaigns." The counter-terrorism unit is called "The Center Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats," and is due to start operating on Sunday, according to an interior ministry statement. CNN reports: The new center is intended to monitor internal security threats, including attacks on soft targets and extremism, as well as "disinformation campaigns related to internal security." Its establishment follows the publication in September of a Czech intelligence service report that identified Russian disinformation and cyber-espionage activities as a potential threat to the Czech Republic, European Union and NATO. The Czech Republic is due to hold a general election next year. According to the Czech Security Information Service (BIS) annual report, Russia in 2015 used "influence and information operations" to try to manipulate public opinion in the Czech Republic in relation to Syria and Ukraine. Russia is involved in conflicts in both these countries. Russia's hybrid warfare operations included "weakening the strength of Czech media" through "covert infiltration of Czech media and the Internet, massive production of Russian propaganda and disinformation controlled by the state," the report said. Other Russian operations included founding puppet organizations, the "covert and open support of populist or extremist subjects," and "disrupting the coherence and readiness of NATO and the EU," the report claimed. "The above-mentioned activities pose a threat to the Czech Republic, EU and NATO not only in relation to the Ukrainian and Syrian conflicts. "The infrastructure created for achieving these goals will not disappear with the end of the two conflicts. It can be used to destabilize or manipulate Czech society or political environment at any time, if Russia wishes to do so." According to the Czech interior ministry, its new unit won't be interrogating anyone, censoring online content or bringing legal proceedings, nor will it "have a button for 'switching off the internet.'" But it will monitor threats, inform the public about "serious cases of disinformation" and promote internal security expertise.

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Nevada Website Bug Leaks Thousands of Medical Marijuana Dispensary Applications
Posted by News Fetcher on December 28 '16 at 03:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's sure-to-cause-a-headache department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: Nevada's state government website has leaked the personal data on over 11,700 applicants for dispensing medical marijuana in the state. Each application, eight pages in length, includes the person's full name, home address, citizenship, and even their weight and height, race, and eye and hair color. The applications also include the applicant's citizenship, their driving license number (where applicable), and social security number. Security researcher Justin Shafer found the bug in the state's website portal, allowing anyone with the right web address to access and enumerate the thousands of applications. Though the medical marijuana portal can be found with a crafted Google search query, we're not publishing the web address out of caution until the bug is fixed. A spokesperson for the Nevada Dept. Health and Human Services, which runs the medical marijuana application program, told ZDNet that the website has been pulled offline to limit the vulnerability. The spokesperson added that the leaked data was a "portion" of one of several databases.

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Ask Slashdot: Is Computing As Cool and Fun As It Once Was?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 28 '16 at 03:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's good-old-days department:
dryriver writes: I got together with old computer nerd friends the other day. All of us have been at it since the 8-bit/1980s days of Amstrad, Atari, Commodore 64-type home computers. Everybody at the meeting agreed on one thing -- computing is just not as cool and as much fun as it once was. One person lamented that computer games nowadays are tied to internet DRM like Steam, that some crucial DCC software is available to rent only now (e.g. Photoshop) and that many "basic freedoms" of the old-school computer nerd are increasingly disappearing. Another said that Windows 10's spyware aspects made him give up on his beloved PC platform and that he will use Linux and Android devices only from now on, using consoles to game on instead of a PC because of this. A third complained about zero privacy online, internet advertising, viruses, ransomware, hacking, crapware. I lamented that the hardware industry still hasn't given us anything resembling photorealistic realtime 3D graphics, and that the current VR trend arrived a full decade later than it should have. A point of general agreement was that big tech companies in particular don't treat computer users with enough respect anymore. What do Slashdotters think? Is computing still as cool and fun as it once was, or has something "become irreversibly lost" as computing evolved into a multi-billion dollar global business?

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Destructive KillDisk Malware Turns Into Ransomware
Posted by News Fetcher on December 28 '16 at 02:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's water-into-wine department:
wiredmikey writes from a report via SecurityWeek: A recently discovered variant of the KillDisk malware encrypts files and holds them for ransom instead of deleting them. Since KillDisk has been used in attacks aimed at industrial control systems (ICS), experts are concerned that threat actors may be bringing ransomware into the industrial domain. CyberX VP of research David Atch told SecurityWeek that the KillDisk variant they have analyzed is a well-written piece of ransomware, and victims are instructed to pay 222 bitcoins ($210,000) to recover their files, which experts believe suggests that the attackers are targeting "organizations with deep pockets." From the report: "The ransomware is designed to encrypt various types of files, including documents, databases, source code, disk images, emails and media files. Both local partitions and network folders are targeted. The contact email address provided to affected users is associated with Lelantos, a privacy-focused email provider only accessible through the Tor network. The Bitcoin address to which victims are told to send the ransom has so far not made any transactions. Atch pointed out that the same RSA public key is used for all samples, which means that a user who receives a decryptor will likely be able to decrypt files for all victims. According to CyberX, the malware requires elevated privileges and registers itself as a service. The threat terminates various processes, but it avoids critical system processes and ones associated with anti-malware applications, likely to avoid disrupting the system and triggering detection by security products."

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North Korea's Android Tablet Takes a Screenshot Every Time You Open an App
Posted by News Fetcher on December 28 '16 at 02:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's closed-system department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: When you think of North Korea, the first thing that springs to mind is probably not a well-featured tablet PC. But that's just what researchers at the Chaos Communication Congress hacking festival revealed on Tuesday. Called Woolim, this tablet is designed to limit the distribution of contraband media, track its users, and generally act as a propaganda platform for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). Woolim is a small, white Android device that looks like a fairly standard tablet. The hardware itself is made by Chinese manufacturer Hoozo, but the North Korean government has removed some components such as those for wi-fi and bluetooth, and put its own bespoke software on top. After the researchers presented work covering RedStar OS, North Korea's Linux-based operating system, a South Korean NGO offered the tablet to the group. Woolim is just one of several tablets designed for North Korea, but Woolim appears to be the most recent, likely dating from 2015. The tablet has PDFs on how to use it; various propaganda texts for users to read as well as the capability to play local TV and connect to the country's own internet, and it also comes with a slew of educational apps, such as French, Russian, and Chinese dictionaries. There's even an app for kids which teaches them how to type with a keyboard, and video games such as Angry Birds that have been lightly customized. The tablet only allows specific files to be used or played: users cannot just load whatever they want onto the device. Woolim also constantly keeps tabs on what its users are up to. Whenever a user opens an app, the tablet takes a screenshot. These screenshots are then available for viewing in another app, but they can't be deleted.

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Windows 10 Getting a Game Mode That Would Improve Game Performance - Report
Posted by News Fetcher on December 28 '16 at 12:52 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's enhanced-gaming department:
Microsoft may have plans to improve gaming experience on Windows 10. The speculation comes after long time watcher @h0x0d found a new "gamemode.dll" in the latest Windows 10 developer build, reports GameSpot. The feature appears to allow Windows 10 to adjust CPU and GPU resources when running a game to allocate more power for the game that's running instead of toward any background apps. From the article: The feature will reportedly launch as part of the Creators update and will be enabled for Windows Insider users soon. What's unclear is exactly which games this is compatible with. It's possible it could be limited to only to those downloaded from the Windows Store, or it might be much more far-reaching. We should know more once Windows Insiders testers get their hands on the feature.

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Tesla Autopilot 'Predicts' Accident Before It Happens
Posted by News Fetcher on December 28 '16 at 12:52 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
A dash cam footage suggests a Tesla on Autopilot may have predicted a nearby freeway crash before it actually happened. A video showed that a Tesla car driving on a highway in the Netherlands started to beep a few seconds ahead of two cars colliding with each other in front of it. A Tesla representative confirmed to media that the beeping heard in the video is indeed the sound of Autopilot's Forward Collision Warning. Elon Musk tweeted a news article about the incident, adding more credibility to the matter. From a report on Engadget:Tesla's Autopilot 8.0 has a particularly clever feature: it uses radar to track road activity two cars ahead, helping it avoid danger that you wouldn't normally see. And it now appears that this tech just averted a disaster. Dutch Model X owner Frank van Hoesel has dashcam footage showing his electric crossover reacting to a bad highway crash before it even starts. As you can hear in the video, the Model X's Forward Collision Warning system starts braking when it detects the SUV two vehicles ahead coming to an abrupt stop, even though the driver of the car directly behind it is unaware. The result? Van Hoesel's EV remained untouched when it could easily have contributed to a pile-up.

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China's Alibaba Poised To Invest $7.2 Billion in Entertainment and Media
Posted by News Fetcher on December 28 '16 at 12:52 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's emerging-powers department:
Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment, part of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, is planning to invest $7.2 billion in entertainment and media over the next three years. From a report on Vulture, submitted by an anonymous reader: The plan is being spearheaded by Yu Yongfu, who joined the Alibaba parent group in 2014, and in a meteoric rise has come to head the digital group. He also recently took over as chairman and CEO of Alibaba's listed film making subsidiary Alibaba Pictures group. A former financier with Legend Capital and seasoned technology executive, Yu said in the email that he "did not come to play." He pledged to invest in content.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook Calls AirPods 'a Runaway Success'
Posted by News Fetcher on December 28 '16 at 11:22 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's runway-success department:
It turns out the $159 AirPods Bluetooth earphones are selling well, or so CEO Tim Cook would have us believed. Cook dropped by the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday while on vacation, and talked about the AirPods sales. From a report on CNBC: In comments to CNBC, Cook declined to talk specifically on Apple's outlook, but he said it has been a "great holiday." He added that the company's new wireless earbuds, AirPods, are "a runaway success." When asked if more would come into stock, he said Apple's "making them just as fast as we can." AirPods debuted at September's splashy event, but saw shipping delays through most of the fall and finally hit shelves just days before the crucial Christmas shopping rush. The limited shipments were sold quickly -- ship dates are now six weeks out on Apple's website.

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Bigger Than Mirai: Leet Botnet Delivers 650 Gbps DDoS Attack
Posted by News Fetcher on December 28 '16 at 10:02 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
Reader Mark Wilson writes: Earlier in the year, a huge DDoS attack was launched on Krebs on Security. Analysis showed that the attack pelted servers with 620 Gbps, and there were fears that the release of the Mirai source code used to launch the assault would lead to a rise in large-scale DDoS attacks. Welcome Leet Botnet. In the run-up to Christmas, security firm Imperva managed to fend off a 650 Gbps DDoS attack. But this was nothing to do with Mirai; it is a completely new form of malware, but is described as "just as powerful as the most dangerous one to date". The concern for 2017 is that "it's about to get a lot worse". Clearly proud of the work put into the malware, the creator or creators saw fit to sign it. Analysis of the attack showed that the TCP Options header of the SYN packets used spelled out l33t, hence the Leet Botnet name.

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Frequent Flyer Points Put at Risk By Website Flaws
Posted by News Fetcher on December 28 '16 at 10:02 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
Airline booking systems lack basic security checks that would stop attackers changing flight details or stealing rewards, warn experts. From a report on BBC: The problems emerge because the six-digit codes booking systems use to identify travellers are easy to guess. Two researchers demonstrated the weaknesses by changing a flight booking and seat assignment for a reporter. The security investigators presented their findings at the Chaos Communications Congress in Germany. In a blog detailing their work Karsten Nohl and Nemanja Nikodijevic of Security Research Labs (SRL) said the computer systems behind the airlines' travel bookings system dated from the 1970s and 1980s. Though these have been updated with web services they lack security systems that would prevent abuse, they said. In particular, they added, the systems have no way to check, or authenticate, who is querying the system for flight details.

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Android Ransomware Infects LG Smart TV, Company 'Refuses' To Help
Posted by News Fetcher on December 28 '16 at 10:02 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's malware-on-tv department:
Security firms have been warning us for more than a year about the possibility of Android malware jumping from phones and tablets to other Android-powered devices, such smart TVs. The latest incident involving ransomware on a smart TV involves software engineer Darren Cauthon, who revealed that the LG smart TV of one of his family members was infected with ransomware right on Christmas day. What's worse? He claims LG wouldn't help him with perform factory reset of the device. From a report: Based on a screenshot Cauthon posted online, the smart TV appears to be infected with a version of the Cyber. Police ransomware, also known as FLocker, Frantic Locker, or Dogspectus. The infected TV is one of the last generations of LG smart TVs that ran Google TV, a smart TV platform developed by Google together with Intel, Sony, and Logitech. Google TV launched in 2010, but Google discontinued the project in June 2014. In the meantime, LG has moved on from Google TV, and the company's TVs now run WebOS. Cauthon says he tried to reset the TV to factory settings, but the reset procedure available online didn't work. When the software engineer contacted LG, the company told him to visit one of their service centers, where one of its employees could reset his TV.

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Toshiba Shares Plummet After Warning of 'Billions' in Losses
Posted by News Fetcher on December 28 '16 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's sinking-division department:
Toshiba's troubles keep piling up. From a report on CNN Money: The Japanese firm's shares plunged 20% on Wednesday, after the company warned it is expecting billions of dollars in losses from its takeover of a U.S. nuclear construction business last year. "We're still figuring out the exact numbers, but it could reach up to several hundred billion yen," CEO Satoshi Tsunakawa told reporters Tuesday. Toshiba's U.S. nuclear-power subsidiary Westinghouse acquired CB&I Stone & Webster late last year, when Toshiba was still struggling to recover from a $1.2 billion accounting scandal. Toshiba's shares dived in the months following that scandal, which led to a major management reshuffle after the Japanese conglomerate admitted it had doctored financial results for years. The company reported a loss of 460 billion yen ($3.9 billion) for 2015.

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Chinese Traders Charged With Insider Trading on Hacked Information
Posted by News Fetcher on December 28 '16 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's insider-trading department:
Chinese traders hacked into the computer systems of U.S. law firms that handle mergers, then used the data for insider trading that generated more than $4 million in illegal profits, federal prosecutors and regulators charged Tuesday. From a report on USA Today: The suspects in the alleged criminal marriage of cyber-hacking and securities fraud targeted at least seven law firms and other entities that handle the sensitive and often lucrative legal work of advising companies pursuing mergers and acquisitions, according to a 13-count superseding indictment unsealed in New York. Operating from April 2014 through late 2015, the alleged scheme ultimately gained access to secret information from two law firms about pending corporate deals, prosecutors charged. The suspects allegedly prized, targeted and gained access to the emails of attorneys directly involved in the deals. Prosecutors charged they exchanged a list of partners who performed such work at one of the firms before hacking into that firm's computer system.

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Qualcomm Fined $865 Million By South Korean Antitrust Regulator
Posted by News Fetcher on December 28 '16 at 07:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's 'unfair-business' department:
South Korea's antitrust regulator has fined Qualcomm $854 million for what it called unfair business practices in patent licensing and modem chip sales, a decision the U.S. chipmaker said it will challenge in court. From a report on ZDNet: Qualcomm's business model includes collecting royalty payments from clients, which are calculated on the price of the handset using the chip, rather than the price of the chipset itself, and royalties from its patents. The KFTC has said it will issue a corrective order specifying the precise business practices with which it took issue, although Qualcomm has pointed out that this usually takes between four and six months. "Qualcomm strongly believes that the KFTC findings are inconsistent with the facts, disregard the economic realities of the marketplace, and misapply fundamental tenets of competition law," Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel for Qualcomm, said in response to the fine.

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Lenovo Switches To Windows 10 Signature Edition Image For Its Future ThinkPad Laptops
Posted by News Fetcher on December 28 '16 at 07:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's Clean-Windows-experience department:
An anonymous reader writes: Ahead of tradeshow CES 2017, Lenovo today announced major changes coming to its ThinkPad lineup of laptops and PCs. First, Lenovo has decided to ship 2017 ThinkPad models with Microsoft's Signature Edition Windows 10 right out of the box. So, users don't have to worry about bloatware anymore. Signature Edition PCs are clean, fast and protected. The second big announcement is that Lenovo is now offering optional Intel Optane 3D drives on select ThinkPad models. Due to the small capacity, initial Optane M.2 drives will be used for caching in the ThinkPad T470p, L470, L570, T470, and T570. Third, Lenovo is moving to the Microsoft Precision TouchPad drivers for consistent touchpad experience across ThinkPad devices. The Windows Precision Touchpad drivers provide high precision pointer input and gesture functionality.

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