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Netflix CEO Says Net Neutrality Is 'Not Our Primary Battle'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 31 '17 at 12:48 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's growing-up department:
Speaking with Recode's Peter Kafka at the Code Conference today, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings explained his position on the current net neutrality debate that's happening at the FCC. Or, more to the point, he addressed the fact that he's been awfully quiet about it compared to how loudly he defended net neutrality in previous fights. From a report: "It's not narrowly important to us because we're big enough to get the deals we want," Hastings said. It was a candid admission: no matter what the FCC decides to do with Title II, Netflix isn't worried about its ability to survive. Hastings says that Netflix is "weighing in against" changing the current rules, but that "it's not our primary battle at this point" and "we don't have a special vulnerability to it." He does believe that smaller players are going to be harmed if net neutrality goes away, saying that "where net neutrality is really important is the Netflix of 10 years ago."

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Elon Musk Joins CEOs Calling For US To Stay in Paris Climate Deal
Posted by News Fetcher on May 31 '17 at 12:48 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's ultimatum department:
Billionaire Elon Musk said on Wednesday he would leave President Trump's Business Advisory Council if the White House withdraws from an international agreement aimed at curbing climate change. From a report: The appeals from chief executives such as Tesla's Musk, Tim Cook of Apple and Dow Chemical's Andrew Liveris come as Trump's advisers also present him with closing arguments on the potential risks and rewards of remaining a party to the global pact. Trump also got an earful from foreign leaders and Pope Francis urging him to stay in the agreement during his first international trip as president. Cook placed a call to the White House on Tuesday to urge the president to keep the U.S. in the agreement, according to a person familiar with the move. Liveris was the driving force behind a letter from 30 major company executives backing the deal. And Musk tweeted Wednesday that he has "done all I can to advise directly to" Trump. If the U.S. leaves Paris, Musk said he would drop participation in White House advisory councils. [...] Twenty-five companies, including Intel, Microsoft and PG&E, have signed on to a letter set to run as a full-page advertisement in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on Thursday arguing in favor of climate pact.

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Bill Simmons Says ESPN Blew It By Not Embracing Tech
Posted by News Fetcher on May 31 '17 at 12:48 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's trouble-in-paradise department:
An anonymous reader shares an article: ESPN's problem isn't competition over content: They didn't position themselves for a future where cord cutting was a reality, according to former ESPN personality Bill Simmons. "They didn't see a lot of this coming," said Simmons. "They didn't see cord cutting coming. They weren't ready for it. A lot of decisions were made based on subs staying at a certain level. They had to realize they were a technology company. The ones winning are now Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Hulu. ESPN should have been in that mix, but they're in Bristol. They should have had a place in Silicon Valley. That was their biggest mistake." ESPN is far from over, Simmons points out. Though it may make less money in the future, it has such strong cable deals, he said. "Everybody in here was paying $7 for ESPN whether they watched or not," he said. Simmons left ESPN in May 2015 after a public breakup, and signed a deal for an HBO series called "Any Given Wednesday" shortly after. The HBO show was cancelled in November 2016. Simmons also launched a new website called The Ringer in 2016. Also read Bloomberg's profile of executives at the company: ESPN Has Seen the Future of TV and They're Not Really Into It.

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Ethiopia Turns Off Internet Nationwide as Students Sit Exams
Posted by News Fetcher on May 31 '17 at 11:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's that's-one-way-to-do-it department:
Ethiopia shut down the internet yesterday ahead of a scheduled national examination that is underway in the country today. Social media users noted that the internet service was interrupted from around 7 pm on Tuesday -- reportedly to prevent exam leaks. About 1.2 million students are taking the grade 10 national exams, with another 288,000 preparing for the grade 12 university entrance exams that will take place next week. From a report: Outbound traffic from Ethiopia was shutdown around 4pm UK time on Tuesday, according to Google's transparency report, which registered Ethiopian visits to the company's sites plummeting over the evening. By Wednesday afternoon, access still had not been restored. Last year, activists leaked the papers for the country's 12th grade national exams, calling for the postponement of the papers due to a school shutdown in the regional state of Oromia. Now, the government appears to have taken the move to shut down internet access as a preventative measure.

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Top Defense Contractor Left Sensitive Pentagon Files on Amazon Server With No Password
Posted by News Fetcher on May 31 '17 at 11:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's what's-happening department:
Sensitive files linked to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency -- which works with the nation's intelligence agencies to analyze aerial data -- were apparently left on a public Amazon server by an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the nation's top defense contractors, reports Gizmodo. From the article: A cache of more than 60,000 files was discovered last week on a publicly accessible Amazon server, including passwords to a US government system containing sensitive information, and the security credentials of a lead senior engineer at Booz Allen Hamilton. What's more, the roughly 28GB of data contained at least a half dozen unencrypted passwords belonging to government contractors with Top Secret Facility Clearance. The exposed credentials could potentially grant their holders further access to repositories housing similarly sensitive government data. Countless references are made in the leaked files to the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), which in March awarded Booz Allen an $86 million defense contract. Often referred to as the Pentagon's "mapmakers," the combat support agency works alongside the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the Defense Intelligence Agency to collect and analyze geospatial data gathered by spy satellites and aerial drones. The NGA on Tuesday confirmed the leak to Gizmodo while stressing that no classified information had been disclosed.

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Mary Meeker's 2017 Internet Trends Report
Posted by News Fetcher on May 31 '17 at 10:02 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's internet-trends department:
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Mary Meeker delivered her annual rapid-fire internet trends report at Code Conference. Here's the summary: 1. Global smartphone growth is slowing: Smartphone shipments grew 3 percent year over year last year, versus 10 percent the year before. 2. Voice is beginning to replace typing in online queries. Twenty percent of mobile queries were made via voice in 2016, while accuracy is now about 95 percent. 3. In 10 years, Netflix went from 0 to more than 30 percent of home entertainment revenue in the U.S. This is happening while TV viewership continues to decline. 4. Entrepreneurs are often fans of gaming, Meeker said, quoting Elon Musk, Reid Hoffman and Mark Zuckerberg. Global interactive gaming is becoming mainstream, with 2.6 billion gamers in 2017 versus 100 million in 1995. 5. China remains a fascinating market, with huge growth in mobile services and payments and services like on-demand bike sharing. 6. While internet growth is slowing globally, that's not the case in India, the fastest growing large economy. The number of internet users in India grew more than 28 percent in 2016. 7. In the U.S. in 2016, 60 percent of the most highly valued tech companies were founded by first- or second-generation Americans and are responsible for 1.5 million employees. Those companies include tech titans Apple, Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook. 8. Healthcare: Wearables are gaining adoption with about 25 percent of Americans owning one, up 12 percent from 2016.

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Hollywood Is Fighting Billionaire Sean Parker's Plan To Let You Rent Movies Still in Theaters For $50
Posted by News Fetcher on May 31 '17 at 10:02 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's roadblocks department:
Billionaire Sean Parker's plans to bring movies to your home as soon as they release in theatres has hit new roadblocks. After receiving praises for "Screening Room" from directors and producers Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, J.J. Abrams, and Peter Jackson, as well as Hollywood studios, the buzz for the startup has started to wane. From a report: Though Parker and cofounder Prem Akkaraju have promoted the company in the last two years at CinemaCon, it's gotten little traction due to a naivete of the industry, competitors, and studios' and theater chains' decade-long discussion about how to move forward on Premium VOD (PVOD) (alternative source), Business Insider has learned. "Everything you've heard in the press about studios and theaters wanting to explore a PVOD window, nothing about that revolves around Screening Room," a source close to the talks told Business Insider. Screening Room's main pitch to studios and exhibitors has been that it can bring added revenue to all sides of the equation. Out of the proposed $50 rental fee, 20% would go to the movie's distributor, and a participating theater chain would get up to $20 of the fee, plus each customer receives two tickets to see that rented title at their local theater. Screening Room would take 10% of each fee. Sources told Business Insider that all of the bells and whistles Screening Room is selling don't matter until the studios and theaters can agree on a Premium VOD (or PVOD) window. Industry players don't want movies to be available on PVOD simultaneously with theatrical release dates because the first two weeks of a theatrical run are still when studios and exhibitors get a majority of a movie's income. Also read: Sean Parker Is Going To Great Lengths To Ensure 'Screening Room' Is Piracy Free, Patents Reveal.

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British Airways Says IT Collapse Came After Servers Damaged By Power Problem
Posted by News Fetcher on May 31 '17 at 08:34 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's no-backup department:
A huge IT failure that stranded 75,000 British Airways passengers followed damage to servers that were overwhelmed when the power returned after an outage, the airline said on Wednesday. From a report: BA is seeking to limit the damage to its reputation and has apologised to customers after hundreds of flights were canceled over a long holiday weekend. The airline provided a few more details of the incident in its latest statement on Wednesday. While there was a power failure at a data center near London's Heathrow airport, the damage was caused by an overwhelming surge once the electricity was restored, it said. "There was a total loss of power at the data center. The power then returned in an uncontrolled way causing physical damage to the IT servers," BA said in a statement. "It was not an IT issue, it was a power issue."

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Self-Driving Cars Will Boost the Job Market, Says Marc Andreessen
Posted by News Fetcher on May 31 '17 at 08:34 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's different-perspective department:
A future with self-driving cars has induced a lot of anxiety about a resulting loss of jobs, but in fact, they'll create tons more jobs, Silicon Valley investor Marc Andreessen (Wikipedia) said at Recode's annual conference on Tuesday evening. "The jobs crisis we have in the U.S. is that we don't have enough workers," he said. From a report: "It's a fallacy," Andreessen said (specifically citing the lump of labor fallacy and the luddite fallacy). "It's a recurring panic. This happens every 25 or 50 years, people get all amped up about 'machines are going to take all the jobs' and it never happens." Andreessen used the example of the rise of the automobile industry a century ago, which many thought would cost the livelihood of everyone whose jobs were to take care of horses. But "the car then created not only a lot of jobs creating cars" but everything else that happened because of the car: Paved streets, restaurants, motels, movie theaters, apartment complexes, office complexes, the entire buildout of suburban America, etc. "The jobs that were created by the automobile on the second, third, and fourth order effects were 100X, 1000X the number of jobs that blacksmiths had," he said.

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Andy Rubin Says Essential's Ambient OS Will Be Open Source, Hints at Better Update Cycle
Posted by News Fetcher on May 31 '17 at 07:12 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's going-forward department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Playground CEO Andy Rubin, whose new company Essential unveiled a new premium Android smartphone and Amazon Echo competitor yesterday, says his company's Ambient OS smart home platform will be open source. That means that Rubin, who rose to fame in the tech industry for co-founding Android, essentially wants to apply the same open source philosophy that made Android the most dominant mobile operating system to the smart home. [...] Rubin did agree that Android's upgrade rate was much lower, but said that his new venture's Ambient OS had "a solution for that." He stopped short of describing what that solution was, however, noting only that it was "more of a managed service on the back-end."

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Trump Is Pulling US Out of Paris Climate Deal: Sources
Posted by News Fetcher on May 31 '17 at 07:12 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's shocker department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: President Trump has made his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the decision. Details on how the withdrawal will be executed are being worked out by a small team including EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. They're deciding on whether to initiate a full, formal withdrawal -- which could take 3 years -- or exit the underlying United Nations climate change treaty, which would be faster but more extreme. Pulling out of Paris is the biggest thing Trump could do to unravel Obama's climate legacy. It sends a combative signal to the rest of the world that America doesn't prioritize climate change and threatens to unravel the ambition of the entire deal. News agency Reuters has corroborated the report with its own source. Further reading on Politico (which has also corroborated the news) and BBC.

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DNA From Ancient Egyptian Mummies Reveals Their Ancestry
Posted by News Fetcher on May 31 '17 at 05:51 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's blast-from-the-past department:
HanzoSpam quotes a report from Washington Post: Ancient Egyptians were an archaeologist's dream. They left behind intricate coffins, massive pyramids and gorgeous hieroglyphs, the pictorial writing code cracked in 1799. But there was one persistent hole in ancient Egyptian identity: their chromosomes. A study led by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and the University of Tubingen in Germany managed to plug some of those genetic gaps. Researchers wrung genetic material from 151 Egyptian mummies, radiocarbon dated between Egypt's New Kingdom (the oldest at 1388 B.C.) to the Roman Period (the youngest at 426 A.D.), as reported Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. Johannes Krause, a University of Tubingen paleogeneticist and an author of the study, said the major finding was that "for 1,300 years, we see complete genetic continuity." Despite repeated conquests of Egypt, by Alexander the Great, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Assyrians -- the list goes on -- ancient Egyptians showed little genetic change. "The other big surprise," Krause said, "was we didn't find much sub-Saharan African ancestry."

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AI Could Get Smarter By Copying the Neural Structure of a Rat Brain
Posted by News Fetcher on May 31 '17 at 03:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's better-than-ever department:
the_newsbeagle writes: Many of today's fanciest artificial intelligence systems are some type of artificial neural network, but they bear only the roughest resemblance to a biological brain's real networks of neurons. That could change thanks to a $100M program from IARPA. The intelligence agency is funding neuroscience teams to map 1 cubic millimeter of rodent brain, looking at activity in the visual cortex while the rodent is engaged in a complex visual recognition task. By discovering how the neural circuits in that brain cube get activated to process information, IARPA hopes to find inspiration for better artificial neural networks. And an AI that performs better on visual recognition tasks could certainly be useful to intelligence agencies.

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Sony Ships Its Last Ever PlayStation 3 In Japan
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 11:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's end-of-the-line department:
After 11 years, Sony has stopped shipping the PlayStation 3 to retailers in Japan. The country stopped production on the 500GB model in December last year, but now a recent update on PlayStation Japan's website suggests that the other lingering units have all been shipped as well. It's only a matter of time before the console stops being produced altogether in other parts of the world. Engadget reports:
Selling over 70 million units in just seven years, the PlayStation 3 was certainly a console to be reckoned with. Yet, for all its achievements, the long-surviving gaming machine initially made a name for itself for all the wrong reasons. With Sony riding high on the PlayStation 2's market-leading sales numbers, its successor launched at the eye-watering price of $499 -- and consumers weren't too happy about it. Luckily for Sony, publishers stuck with the pricey console, and exclusive games like Uncharted, Heavy Rain, The Last Of Us and Metal Gear Solid 4 helped to right the course of Sony's initially water-riddled ship. With the sun-setting on the aging console in the East, the news doesn't bode well for the future of the PlayStation 3 across the rest of the world. Sony has previously announced that PS Now will soon move exclusively to PS4 and PC. While few players will be mourning the loss of the pricey service, there are many PS3 owners still benefitting from free games on PlayStation Plus and downloading new content from the PS Store. As Sony slowly begins to start winding the console down, it's unlikely that gamers will be able to continue to use these services for much longer on the aging gaming system.

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Experts Call For Preserving Copper, Pneumatic Systems As Hedge For Cyber Risk
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 08:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's old-vs-new department:
chicksdaddy quotes a report from The Security Ledger: The United States should invest resources in preserving aging, analog infrastructure including telecommunications networks that use copper wire and pneumatic pumps used to pump water as a hedge against the growing threat of global disruption resulting from a cyber attack on critical infrastructure, two researchers at MITRE argue. The researchers, Emily Frye and Quentin Hodgson with The MITRE Corporation, note that critical infrastructure is increasingly run from converged IP (Internet Protocol) based networks that are vulnerable to cyber attack. That includes so-called "lifelines" -- essential functions like water, electricity, communications, transportation and emergency services. That marks a critical departure from the past when such systems were isolated from the internet and other general purpose networks. "Each lifeline rides on, and is threaded together by, digital systems. And humans have yet to design a digital system that cannot be compromised," they write. With such civilization-sustaining functions now susceptible to attack, the onus is on society to maintain a means of operating them that does not rely on digital controls, Fry and Hodgson write. In many cases, that means preserving an older generation of analog infrastructure and management systems that could be manually operated, The Security Ledger reports. From their article: "In the case of communications, for instance, what is required is the preservation of a base core of copper-enabled connectivity, and the perpetuation of skills and equipment parts to make analog telephones work. Today, we see a move to decommission the copper-wire infrastructure. From a pure business standpoint, decommissioning copper is the right thing to do; but from a public-safety and homeland security perspective, we should reconsider. Decommissioning copper increases homeland security risk, because failover planning calls simply for relying on another server, router, or data center that is also subject to compromise."

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Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google Lobby Against Texas 'Bathroom' Bill
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's tech-critics department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Executives from some of the globe's leading technology firms are demanding that Texas not adopt "discriminatory" bathroom legislation. On the table in Texas is a law similar to one enacted -- and later partially repealed -- in North Carolina. The tech companies have aligned themselves with critics of the bill who believe the legislation is unfair to the transgender community. "As large employers in the state, we are gravely concerned that any such legislation would deeply tarnish Texas' reputation as open and friendly to businesses and families," the companies wrote Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. "Our ability to attract, recruit and retain top talent, encourage new business relocations, expansions and investment, and maintain our economic competitiveness would all be negatively affected." Pending Texas Senate legislation would prohibit transgender people in Texas from using restrooms matching their gender identities. The House on Sunday passed its own bill that would apply the bathroom limitations solely at schools. The tech companies, however, aren't threatening to pull out of Texas, like some did over the same issue in North Carolina. The letter sent to Gov. Abbott was signed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Amazon chief Jeff Wilke, IBM head Ginni Rometty, Microsoft President Brad Smith, and Google's Sundar Pichai. There were 14 companies -- including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, Silicon Labs, Celanese Corp., GSD&M, Salesforce, and Gearbox Software -- signing on to the letter. "Discrimination is wrong and it has no place in Texas or anywhere in our country," the companies wrote.

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Conch Shells Inspire Next Generation Helmets, Body Armor
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's next-gen department:
New submitter omaha393 writes: Researchers at MIT used a 3D printing approach to develop a biomimetic composite capable of withstanding 70-85% more resistance than typical helmet designs. The material was manufactured using a composite of hard and soft printable polymers called VeroMagenta and TangoBlackPlus. The polymers were printed to overlay in a specific pattern that mimics conch shell molecular hierarchy, thus preventing cracks from spreading and offering a substantially more crack-resistant material. The researchers propose the material can be custom tailored and readily printed for future helmets and body armor manufacturing. The study has been published in Advanced Materials.

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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Choose a News Source?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's so-many-options department:
Obfiscator writes: Journalism has long had potential to change the world. The latest elections in the United States demonstrated new dimensions of this, with the rise of "fake news" and "echo chambers," as well as a president who has few reservations in expressing his thoughts of the media. The Christian Science Monitor has been a favorite news site of mine for years, due to their objective and balanced reporting, as well as their tendency to avoid "breaking news" and provide detailed analysis a few days later. Very few stories are going to impact my world to the point where waiting a couple days to read about them will make a difference. Despite the name, the vast majority of articles have no religious context (they address this in their FAQ). CSM has recently switched to be completely behind a paywall, as well. In their words, "We hope the Monitor Daily addresses both those trends. It is pushed to where our readers are and offers this pact: We will deliver our distinctive view of the world and you support financially our ability to produce that news." Is this the next trend: moving away from advertising revenues? Will this create more balanced journalism, as there is no need to attract clicks? Or will it deepen "echo chambers?" How do Slashdotters choose their news sites?

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Google Chrome Bug Lets Sites Record Audio and Video Without a Visual Indicator
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's visual-learning department:
New submitter aafrn writes: "Ran Bar-Zik, a web developer at AOL, has discovered and reported a bug in Google Chrome that allows websites to record audio and video without showing a visual indicator," reports BleepingComputer. "The bug is not as bad as it sounds, as the malicious website still needs to get the user's permission to access audio and video components, but there are various ways in which this issue could be weaponized to record audio or video without the user's knowledge. The bug's central element is a 'red circle and dot' icon that Chrome usually shows when recording audio or video streams." Bar-Zik discovered that if the JavaScript code that does the actual audio and video recording is launched inside a small popup, the icon is not shown anymore. This opens the door for various types of scenarios, where an attacker that has tricked a user into granting him permission to record audio and video records user data but when the user doesn't expect this (no visual indicator). For example, an attacker could disguise audio/video recording code inside popup ads. If the user doesn't close the popup, the popup continues to stream audio and video from the victim's house. Google declined to consider this a security bug.

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Windows XP Computers Were Mostly Immune To WannaCry
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's contrary-to-popular-belief department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Windows XP isn't as vulnerable to the WannaCry ransomware as many assumed, according to a new report from Kryptos research. The company's researchers found that XP computers hit with the most common WannaCry attack tended to simply crash without successfully installing or spreading the ransomware. If true, the result would undercut much of the early reporting on Windows XP's role in spreading the globe-spanning ransomware. The core of WannaCry is a vulnerability in a Windows file-sharing system called SMB, which allowed WannaCry to spread quickly across vulnerable systems with no user interaction. But when Kryptos researchers targeted an XP computer with the malware in a lab setting, they found that the computers either failed to install or exhibited a "blue screen of death," requiring a hard reset. It's still possible to manually install WannaCry on XP machines, but the program's particular method of breaking through security simply isn't effective against the older operating system. The worst-case scenario, and likely scenario," the Kryptos report reads, "is that WannaCry caused many unexplained blue-screen-of-death crashes." While they cut against much of the early analysis of WannaCry, Kryptos' findings are consistent with early research from Kaspersky Lab, which found that Windows XP accounted for an "insignificant" percentage of the total infections. Kaspersky found the bulk of infections on machines running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008.

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