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Ransomware Locks A Hotel's Guests In Their Rooms
Posted by News Fetcher on January 29 '17 at 09:12 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's room-service-not-available department:
An anonymous reader writes:
A luxury hotel paid "thousands" in Bitcoin ransom to cybercriminals who hacked into their electronic key system, "locking hundreds of guests in or out of their rooms until the money was paid." The "furious" hotel manager says it's the third time their electronic system has been attacked, though one local news site reports that "on the fourth attempt the hackers had no chance because the computers had been replaced and the latest security standards integrated, and some networks had been decoupled." The 111-year-old hotel is now planning to remove all their electronic locks, and return to old-fashioned door locks with real keys. But they're going public to warn other hotels -- some of which they say have also already been hit by ransomware. Unless this is all just a big publicity stunt to advertise their new door locks.

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Can A Robot Fool 'I Am Not A Robot' Captchas?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 29 '17 at 07:50 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's humans-vs-robots department:
Business Insider reports on a new video showing a robotic arm apparently defeating the "I am not a robot" captcha test. An anonymous reader quotes their report:

The Captcha the robot fools tracks the user's mouse movements to make sure they're a "real" human. So rather than trying to trick it with software -- a tactic that can often be detected -- it goes down the hardware route. Using a capacitive stylus, the robot physically moves the mouse on the trackpad, as if it were a real human wiggling their finger around. The computer doesn't stand a chance.

So all you need is your own robotic arm -- although even then, it's apparently not that simple. The "I am not a robot" captcha grew out of Google's attempts to fight click fraud, according to a 2014 article in Wired, but it does more than watch mouse movements. It also "examines cues every user unwittingly provides: IP addresses and cookies provide evidence that the user is the same friendly human Google remembers from elsewhere on the Web," as well as some undisclosed variables, to create what Google describes as "a bag of cues."

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Actor John Hurt Dies At Age 77
Posted by News Fetcher on January 29 '17 at 07:50 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's memorable-movies department:
Slashdot reader necro81 writes: A fantastic chameleon of the stage and screen has died. Sir John Hurt passed away at age 77. Slashdot readers should recognize him as the first person to have a xenomorph burst from his chest in the original Alien (a scene he later parodied in Spaceballs ). Others may recall he played the downtrodden protagonist Winston Smith in the film adaption of 1984 , then later played the tyrannical High Chancellor in V for Vendetta . Also: the titular character in The Elephant Man, Caligula in I, Claudius, Ollivander in the Harry Potter films and, more recently, Gilliam in Snowpiercer. But his career spanned decades and genres, and our world is a bit meeker and colorless without him.

Hurt also appeared as the War Doctor in five episodes of the new Doctor Who series, and provided the voice of Aragorn in Ralph Bakshi's 1978 adaptation of The Lord of the Rings.

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ISPs Finally Abandon The Copyright Alert System
Posted by News Fetcher on January 29 '17 at 05:00 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's six-strikes-and-you-get-a-lecture department:
"Major internet providers are ending a four-year-old system in which consumers received 'copyright alerts' when they viewed peer-to-peer pirated content," reports Variety.
An anonymous reader quotes Engadget's update on the Copyright Alert System.

It was supposed to spook pirates by having their internet providers send violation notices, with the threat of penalties like throttling. However, it hasn't exactly panned out. ISPs and media groups have dropped the alert system with an admission that it isn't up to the job. While the program was supposedly successful in "educating" the public on legal music and video options, the MPAA states that it just couldn't handle the "hard-core repeat infringer problem" -- there wasn't much to deter bootleggers. The organizations, which include the RIAA, haven't devised an alternative.

"Surprise: it's hard to stop copyright violators just by asking them," reads their article's tagline, which attributes the failure of the system to naive optimism. "It assumed that most pirates didn't even realize they were violating copyright, and just needed to be shown the error of their ways."

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CNET Editor Rails Against Non-Consensual Windows Updates
Posted by News Fetcher on January 29 '17 at 12:50 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's please-do-not-turn-off-your-computer department:
schwit1 shares this angry commentary from a CNET senior editor:

Maybe you're delivering a presentation to a huge audience. Maybe you're taking an online test. Maybe you just need to get some work done on a tight deadline.

Windows doesn't care.

Windows will take control of your computer, force-feed it updates, and flip the reset switch automatically — and there's not a damn thing you can do about it, once it gets started. If you haven't saved your work, it's gone. Your browser tabs are toast. And don't expect to use your computer again soon; depending on the speed of your drive and the size of the update, it could be anywhere from 10 minutes to well over an hour before your PC is ready for work. As far as I'm concerned, it's the single worst thing about Windows. It's only gotten worse in Windows 10. And when I poked around Microsoft, the overarching message I received was that Microsoft has no interest in fixing it.
The editor recalls rebooting his Windows laptop while listening to a speech by Steve Jobs in 2010. (The reboot locked his computer for 20 minutes while updates were installed, "the first of three occasions that a forced Windows update would totally destroy my workflow at a critical moment.") He shares stories from other frustrated Windows users, urges readers to send him more anecdotes, and argues that Microsoft has even begun "actively getting rid of ways to keep users from disabling automatic updates."

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Trump's Executive Order Eliminates Privacy Act Protections For Foreigners
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '17 at 10:10 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's huddled-masses-yearning-to-breathe-free department:
Long-time Slashdot reader Kernel Kurtz writes
: January 28 is supposed to be Data Privacy Day, so it seems fitting in an alternative sort of way that U.S. President Trump just signed an executive order that eliminates Privacy Act protections for foreigners. As a non-American, I find it curious that the person who says he wants to bring jobs to America is simply confirming the post-Snowden belief that America is not a safe place to do business.
The Privacy Act has been in place since 1974. But now section 14 of Trump's "Enhancing Public Safety" executive order directs federal agencies to "ensure that their privacy policies exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information" to the extent consistent with applicable law.

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Ask Slashdot: Should You Tell Future Employers Your Salary History?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '17 at 07:32 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's how-little-will-you-work-for? department:
An anonymous reader writes:

During the interview process for a technology job, I was asked to fill out an application which included questions about my compensation history. When I asked why, I was told that it was part of the background check and wouldn't be used to determine the size of the offer... What is the risk for the employer of not knowing that info? Is this standard procedure or part of a trend at technology companies?
The original submission asks if this is ever a legitimate question -- or more to the point, "Is it anything more than an attempt to gain negotiating leverage?" So leave your best answers in the comments. When you're interviewing for a new IT job, should you tell future employers your salary history?

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Server Runs Continuously For 24 Years
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '17 at 04:52 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's zero-downtime department:
In 1993 a Stratus server was booted up by an IT application architect -- and it's still running.
An anonymous reader writes:
"It never shut down on its own because of a fault it couldn't handle," says Phil Hogan, who's maintained the server for 24 years. That's what happens when you include redundant components. "Over the years, disk drives, power supplies and some other components have been replaced but Hogan estimates that close to 80% of the system is original," according to Computerworld.
There's no service contract -- he maintains the server with third-party vendors rather than going back to the manufacturer, who says they "probably" still have the parts in stock. And while he believes the server's proprietary operating system hasn't been updated in 15 years, Hogan says "It's been extremely stable."
The server will finally be retired in April, and while the manufacturer says there's some more Stratus servers that have been running for at least 20 years -- this one seems to be the oldest.

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Who's Responsible For Accidents Caused By Open Source Self-Driving Car Software?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '17 at 04:52 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's who-do-you-sue department:
Here's the problem. "You could download Comma.ai's new open-source Python code from Github, grab the necessary hardware, and follow the company's instructions to add semi-autonomous capabilities to specific Acura and Honda model cars (with more vehicles to follow)," writes IEEE Spectrum. But then who's legally responsible if there's an accident?

Long-time Slashdot reader Registered Coward v2 writes:
While many legal experts agree OSS is "buyer beware" and that Comma.ai and its CEO Georg Hotz would not be liable, it's a gray area in the law. The software is release under the MIT OSS license and the Read Me contains the disclaimer "This is alpha-quality software for research purposes only... You are responsible for complying with local laws and regulatons." The U.S. Supreme Court, in a series of court cases in the 1990s, ruled open source code as free speech protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The question is does that release the author(s) from liability. The EU has no EU wide rules on liability in such cases. One open question is even if the person who used the software could not sue, a third party injured by it might be able to since they are not a party to the license agreement.

An EFF attorney told HotHardware "Prosecutors and plaintiffs often urge courts to disregard traditional First Amendment protections in the case of software." But not everyone agrees. "Most legal experts that spoke with IEEE Spectrum -- and Hotz himself -- believe that if you use the company's code and something goes wrong, then it isn't liable for damages. You are."

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Who Hacked The Washington D.C. Police Surveillance Cameras?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '17 at 03:32 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's see-you-later department:
An anonymous reader quotes GIzmodo:
City officials and the Secret Service have confirmed that just days before the presidential inauguration, police surveillance cameras in Washington, DC were targeted by hackers. Reportedly, 70% of the CCTV storage devices were infected with ransomware. According to the Washington Post, "City officials said ransomware left police cameras unable to record between January 12 and January 15. The cyberattack affected 123 of 187 network video recorders in a closed-circuit TV system for public spaces across the city, the officials said late Friday."

A spokesperson for the Secret Service says despite the compromised cameras, the safety of the public or protectees was never jeopardized, and the city's CTO says they resolved the problem without paying the ransom by simply removing all software from the devices and rebooting them.

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Police Department Loses Years Worth of Evidence In Ransomware Incident
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '17 at 02:13 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's crimes-against-crimefighters department:
"Police in Cockrell Hill, Texas admitted Wednesday in a press release that they lost years worth of evidence after the department's server was infected with ransomware," reports BleepingComputer. "Lost evidence includes all body camera video, some in-car video, some in-house surveillance video, some photographs, and all Microsoft Office documents." An anonymous reader writes:
Most of the data was from solved cases, but some of the evidence was from active investigations. The infection appears to be from the Locky ransomware family, one of the most active today, and took root last December, after an employee opened a document he received via via a spam email. The police department backup system apparently kicked in right after the infection took root, and created copies of the already encrypted data. The department did not pay the $4,000 ransom demand and decided to wipe all its systems.

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Scientist Investigate A Brand New Form of Matter: Time Crystals
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '17 at 12:52 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's calling-Doctor-Who department:
The discovery of "non-equilibrium matter" could re-write the rules of physics. Long-time Slashdot reader jasonbrown quotes ScienceAlert: For months now, there's been speculation that researchers might have finally created time crystals — strange crystals that have an atomic structure that repeats not just in space, but in time, putting them in perpetual motion without energy. Now it's official — researchers have just reported in detail how to make and measure these bizarre crystals. And two independent teams of scientists claim they've actually created time crystals in the lab based off this blueprint, confirming the existence of an entirely new form of matter.

Both teams -- one at
Harvard and the other at the University of Maryland -- have submitted their findings to peer-reviewed publications, according to the article, and "the fact that two separate teams have used the same blueprint to make time crystals out of vastly different systems is promising."

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Medical Startup To Begin Testing At-Home Brain Zapping Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '17 at 12:52 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's stimulating-ideas department:
"A doctor's prescription for clinical depression could one day sound like this: In the comfort of your own home, slip on a brain-zapping headband a few times per week," reports IEEE Spectrum. Slashdot reader the_newsbeagle writes:
This isn't old-school brain zapping: It's not electroshock therapy... While "transcranial direct current stimulation" is being investigated as a treatment for all sorts of neuropsychiatric disorders, many researchers and doctors think depression may be the killer app. A South Korean company called Ybrain thinks its consumer-friendly headband for depression will be the product that makes this treatment mainstream...

Ybrain plans to test the device on thousands of depression patients in 70 hospitals in Korea, according to the article, then "use data from all those patients to build a case for approval in Europe...and then in the U.S." The company's founder and CEO believes that after the FDA approves the first brain-zapping device, "it will be seen as a mainstream treatment."

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Kickstarter Suspends Crowdfunding Campaign For Electronics 3D Printer
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '17 at 11:32 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's wisdom-of-the-crowd department:
Kickstarter has suspended a crowdfunding campaign that promised its backers "a high-end multi-material 3D liquid jet printer" that could print circuit boards. Slashdot reader PrintBetter writes: With just three days to go, backers were pulling out of Next Dynamics' NexD1 Kickstarter amidst fears the creator exaggerated progress on their prototype and tried to pass off prints purchased from Shapeways as their own... [T]he Berlin company's campaign was a darling of Kickstarter, carrying their "Projects We Love" endorsement and receiving praise from publications like TechCrunch, 3DPrint.com and Make magazine for its purported ability to mix up to six plastic and conductive resins in a single print. But as pledges grew to over half a million euros, backers started to sense things didn't add up. Kevin Holmes commented "Wow, I'm stunned -- I cancelled my pledge already ... Did they really buy parts from Shapeways and pass them off as their own?" while Anthony Webb remarked "I've backed over 100 projects on Kickstarter ... but this one takes the cake for a complete scam." The company was a no-show at events it scheduled this week, including a demonstration Monday and a live stream Tuesday.

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Solar Energy Now Employs More Americans Than Oil, Coal and Gas Combined
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '17 at 10:12 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's energy-employment department:
Solar energy now accounts for 43% of the workers in the U.S. power-generating industry, surpassing the 22% from all workers in the coal, oil, and gas industries combined, according to new figures from the Department of Energy. Slashdot reader Lucas123 writes:

In 2016, the solar workforce in the U.S. increased by 25% to 374,000 employees, compared to 187,117 electrical generation jobs in the coal, gas and oil industries... [N]et power generation from coal sources declined by 53% between 2006 and September 2016; electricity generation from natural gas increased by 33%; and solar grew by over 5,000% -- from 508,000 megawatt hours (MWh) to just over 28 million MWh.

Solar industry created jobs at a rate 20 times faster than the national average, according to the Energy Department, while 102,000 more workers also joined the wind turbine industry last year, a 32% increase. In fact, 93% of the new power in America is now coming from solar, natural gas, and wind -- but it's building out new solar-generating capacity that's causing much of the workforce increases, according to the Energy Department. "The majority of U.S. electrical generation continues to come from fossil fuels," their report points out, adding that the latest projections show that will still be true in the year 2040.

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Avaya Explains Why They've Declared Bankruptcy
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '17 at 08:50 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's choosing-chapter-11 department:
Friday Avaya's Corporate Treasurer explained why they're filing for a chapter 11 "restructuring." After examining their debt, "we decided it was a critical next step in our transformation from a hardware company to a software and services company and the best path forward for our customers, partners and employees."

skidv writes:

ZDNet breaks down the deal... "Avaya noted that its foreign affiliates aren't included in the filing and will operate as normal. Avaya said the $725 million in debtor-in-possession financing, via Citibank, is enough to minimize disruption and continue business operations." Not surprising, Avaya has canceled the planned IPO.

PC World reports that Avaya "emerged from Lucent Technologies in 2000 with a focus on phone switches, enterprise networking gear, and call-center systems. But with the shift toward mobile phones and cloud-based tools for communication, and a tight market for enterprise network equipment, the company has been changing its focus... Like much of the networking and collaboration industry, Avaya is looking toward software-defined networking, IoT, and cloud-based platforms that work on many different devices and the web."

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Canadian Police Identify Suspect From Remotely-Accessed Stolen Laptop
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '17 at 08:50 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's found-you-on-Facebook department:
An anonymous reader writes:
Last week a security consultant remotely logged into his stolen laptop, and gathered clues from a Facebook profile. Though it didn't provide the suspect's real name, the consultant shared the profile online, and says he's now receiving tips from other crime victims who are scouring through the profile's friends list. And according to a local newspaper, the Canadian police say they've now identified a suspect, although "there is a lot of work that needs to be done before we can lay charges." But despite this apparent victory, one officer is also warning the public against sharing a suspect's identity on social media, according to the paper, "after the social media post may have wrongly identified a suspect."

"When you get to public shaming, I urge caution..." the police officer tells the newspaper. "As a person that gets stuff stolen, I understand the want to publicly shame someone... Give us all the info, and we will follow up once we have the evidence."

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iPhone 7 Ousts Samsung Galaxy Note 4 As 'Device of Choice' For UK Defense Officials
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '17 at 06:03 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's apples-to-oranges department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Stack: Apple is to offer its iPhone 7 as the "device of choice" for the UK military's secure communications. British telecom giant BT is said to be hardening the Apple device in order for it to be able to handle the Ministry of Defense's military communications, including state secrets and highly-sensitive data. While BT has not provided further details on the development, due to security reasons, the telco is reportedly in the process of upgrading the iPhone 7 to support various modes of operation and to add secure apps or "storage containers," as well as military-grade encryption features among other enhancements. The iPhone 7 will now replace Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 smartphone, which was originally selected for the project, as security in the Samsung model was found to be inadequate.

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Remote Attackers Can Force Samsung Galaxy Devices Into Never-Ending Reboot Loop
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '17 at 03:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's held-for-ransom department:
Orome1 quotes a report from Help Net Security: A single SMS can force Samsung Galaxy devices into a crash and reboot loop, and leave the owner with no other option than to reset it to factory settings and lose all data stored on it. This is because there are certain bugs in older Samsung Galaxy phones and tablets that can be triggered via SMS, and used by attackers to force maliciously crafted configuration messages onto the users' device. The bugs allow these types of messages to be executed without user interaction. As the ContextIS researchers who discovered the vulnerabilities explained, this avenue of attack can be abused by crooks to hold users' devices for ransom. "First a ransom note is sent, if ignored then the malicious configuration message can be sent," they noted. If the victim pays up, a configuration message can later be sent to stop the rebooting. The vulnerabilities in question, CVE-2016-7988 and CVE-2016-7989, can be triggered through SMS on the S4, S4 Mini, S5 and Note 4, but not on newer Samsung devices. "It's worth noting that although newer phones such as the S6 and S7 aren't affected over the air, [a similar result] could be accomplished by a malicious app abusing CVE-2016-7988," they added. These specific issues are related to modifications Samsung made to to the Android telephony framework and are found in a Samsung-specific application for handling carrier messages. They've since been patched (November 2016).

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Today Marks 50th Anniversary of Fatal Apollo 1 Disaster
Posted by News Fetcher on January 27 '17 at 11:20 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's rest-in-peace department:
schwit1 writes: NASASpaceFlight.com reports: "Fifty years ago Friday, the first -- but sadly not the last -- fatal spaceflight accident struck NASA when a fire claimed the lives of Virgil 'Gus' Grissom, Roger Chaffee, and Ed White during a training exercise at Launch Complex 34. The accident, a major setback for the struggling Apollo program, ushered in the first understanding of the 'bad day' effects of schedule pressure for spaceflight and brought with it words and reminders that still echo today." The article provides a very detailed and accurate look at the history and causes of the accident, as well as its consequences, which even today influence American space engineering. Are there any Slashdotters who were old enough to remember the incident? If so, we'd love to hear your take on the disaster. Where were you when the news broke and how did it affect you and the country at that time...?

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