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Cisco Removes Backdoor Account, Fourth Incident in the Last Four Months
Posted by News Fetcher on June 08 '18 at 11:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's get-your-things-together department:
For the fourth time this year, Cisco has removed hardcoded credentials that were left inside one of its products, which an attacker could have exploited to gain access to devices and inherently to customer networks. From a report: This time around, the hardcoded password was found in Cisco's Wide Area Application Services (WAAS), which is a software package that runs on Cisco hardware that can optimize WAN traffic management. This backdoor mechanism (CVE-2018-0329) was in the form of a hardcoded, read-only SNMP community string in the configuration file of the SNMP daemon. SNMP stands for Simple Network Management Protocol, an Internet protocol for collecting data about and from remote devices. The community string was there so SNMP servers knowing the string's value could connect to the remote Cisco device and gather statistics and system information about it.

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Copyright Law Could Put End To Net Memes
Posted by News Fetcher on June 08 '18 at 10:22 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Memes, remixes and other user-generated content could disappear online if the EU's proposed rules on copyright become law, warn experts. Digital rights groups are campaigning against the Copyright Directive, which the European Parliament will vote on later this month. The legislation aims to protect rights-holders in the internet age. But critics say it misunderstands the way people engage with web content and risks excessive censorship. The Copyright Directive is an attempt to reshape copyright for the internet, in particular rebalancing the relationship between copyright holders and online platforms. Article 13 states that platform providers should "take measures to ensure the functioning of agreements concluded with rights-holders for the use of their works." Critics say this will, in effect, require all internet platforms to filter all content put online by users, which many believe would be an excessive restriction on free speech. There is also concern that the proposals will rely on algorithms that will be programmed to "play safe" and delete anything that creates a risk for the platform.

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'We've an Unexpected Manufacturing Advantage For the First Time Ever': Intel's Manufacturing Glitch Opens Door For AMD
Posted by News Fetcher on June 08 '18 at 10:22 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's fighting-back department:
Over at The Information (paywalled), reporter Aaron Tilley has a splendid interview of Forrest Norrod, a senior executive who joined AMD four years ago. Mr. Norrod describes the challenge AMD has faced over the years and how, for the first time ever, it sees a real shot at making a significant dent in the desktop market. From the report: Advanced Micro Devices' battle with chip giant Intel has often seemed like a gnat fighting an elephant, with AMD struggling in recent years to gain even a tenth of the market for the chips that power PCs and data center servers. Forrest Norrod, a senior executive who joined AMD four years ago, says the company suffered from "little brother syndrome" where it tried and failed to compete with Intel on lots of different chips. Now, though, AMD may have a shot at coming out with a faster, more powerful chip than Intel for the first time. Intel in April said it was delaying the release of a more advanced chip manufacturing process until sometime in 2019. AMD has its own new, advanced chip, which it will now be able to release earlier than Intel, potentially giving it an edge in the market for high-performance chips for PCs and data center computers. It's a market opportunity worth around $50 billion. That's what Intel makes from selling chips for PCs and data center servers, and it dominates both markets. The data center market is particularly important because of the growth of new technologies like artificial intelligence-related applications, much of which is handled in the cloud. Companies that buy chips for data centers or PCs could gravitate to AMD chips as a result of Intel's delay. "I think we have a year lead now," said Mr. Norrod, who oversees AMD's data center business. AMD now has "an unexpected [manufacturing] advantage for the first time ever," he added.

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Blockchain's Once-Feared 51% Attack Is Now Becoming Regular
Posted by News Fetcher on June 08 '18 at 09:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's ruining-things-for-everyone department:
Monacoin, bitcoin gold, zencash, verge and now, litecoin cash. At least five cryptocurrencies have recently been hit with an attack that used to be more theoretical than actual, all in the last month. From a report: In each case, attackers have been able to amass enough computing power to compromise these smaller networks, rearrange their transactions and abscond with millions of dollars in an effort that's perhaps the crypto equivalent of a bank heist. More surprising, though, may be that so-called 51% attacks are a well-known and dangerous cryptocurrency attack vector. While there have been some instances of such attacks working successfully in the past, they haven't exactly been all that common. They've been so rare, some technologists have gone as far as to argue miners on certain larger blockchains would never fall victim to one. The age-old (in crypto time) argument? It's too costly and they wouldn't get all that much money out of it. But that doesn't seem to be the case anymore. NYU computer science researcher Joseph Bonneau released research last year featuring estimates of how much money it would cost to execute these attacks on top blockchains by simply renting power, rather than buying all the equipment. One conclusion he drew? These attacks were likely to increase. And, it turns out he was right. "Generally, the community thought this was a distant threat. I thought it was much less distant and have been trying to warn of the risk," he told CoinDesk, adding: "Even I didn't think it would start happening this soon."

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Google's Free Wifi is Becoming a Way of Life in India
Posted by News Fetcher on June 08 '18 at 09:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's connecting-people department:
Sushma U N, writing for Quartz: American internet search giant Google has completed the rollout of one of the world's biggest public wifi projects in India. On June 07, Google said it now offers free high-speed public wifi at 400 railway stations in Asia's third-largest economy, in partnership with the government-owned Indian Railways and RailTel, which operates a fibre network along the country's massive network of train tracks. The company had announced the initiative back in 2015 during prime minister Narendra Modi's visit to its headquarters in Mountain View, California. The Mumbai Central station in India's financial capital was the first to get the facility in January 2016. Now, over 8 million people use the service, Google said in a blog post. "On average, people consume 350MB of data per session, roughly the size of a half-hour television episode, and over half of the people using Google Station engage in multiple online sessions a day," the company said.

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Oath is Killing Off Yahoo Messenger on July 17
Posted by News Fetcher on June 08 '18 at 07:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
Yahoo Messenger is to be discontinued in just over a month. Yahoo owner Oath has announced that it is killing off its famous Messenger service on July 17. From a report: After this date, chatting will no longer be available, and users have just six months to download their chat histories. At the moment, there is no direct replacement for Yahoo Messenger, but users are being advised that they can request an invite for the beta version of the invite-only group messaging app Yahoo Squirrel. In an FAQ about the announcement, Yahoo addresses why the decision to shutter the service was taken. "We know we have many loyal fans who have used Yahoo Messenger since its beginning as one of the first chat apps of its kind. As the communications landscape continues to change over, we're focusing on building and introducing new, exciting communications tools that better fit consumer needs."

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Netherlands Will Welcome Its First Community of 3D-Printed Homes
Posted by News Fetcher on June 08 '18 at 07:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
An anonymous reader writes: The Netherlands' first functional 3D-printed home will be ready to welcome occupants as early as next year. According to The Guardian's Daniel Boffey, the one-story, two-bedroom house is the first and smallest of five 3D-printed concrete homes set for construction in the Dutch city of Eindhoven. The five-year initiative, known as Project Milestone, aims to combat the country's shortage of skilled bricklayers and revitalize the architectural industry. Project Milestone emerged as a collaboration between the Eindhoven University of Technology, a global leader in 3D printing, and Dutch construction company Van Wijnen. Real estate manager Vesteda, materials company Saint Gobain-Weber Beamix and engineering firm Witteveen+Bos also contributed to the project.

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How E-commerce With Drone Delivery is Taking Flight in China
Posted by News Fetcher on June 08 '18 at 06:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's breaking-the-barriers department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Late on a Monday morning the village of Zhangwei is quiet. Chickens scratch and cluck at the side of the road. Workers use wooden spades to spread grain on the highway to dry, using half its width so that traffic can still pass on the other side. Yet at the community centre at the village's heart, two objects hint at a feat of ultra-modern logistics about to unfold: a circle of green astroturf laid down in the central courtyard, and a billboard on the front of the building bearing the logo of JD.com, China's second-largest online retailer. A low whirr breaks the stillness as a spiky dot appears on the horizon. The drone arrives overhead with a roar, hovers for a moment, then lowers itself towards the green circle like a mantis, three sets of propellers churning the air into whorls of straw and dust. Slung beneath it is a red cardboard box branded with JD's cheery dog mascot. Just a few feet above the ground, the drone drops the box then zips back up into the sky and disappears. The spectacle is over in 20 seconds. It is a link in a new kind of logistics chain, the world's first operational drone-delivery programme. While Amazon, an American company, has put out numerous promotional videos on its drone-delivery plans, it will not start commercial operations until at least 2020. Meanwhile, JD.com has spent the past year building a real drone-delivery network covering 100 villages in rural China with 40 drones. Zhangwei currently receives a couple of drops each day, each box containing several packages ordered through JD's shopping app. Thanks to JD's drones, which operate autonomously with no human guidance but are monitored remotely, villagers in Zhangwei can expect delivery on the same day that they place an order, like urban shoppers in Beijing, New York or London.

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Should Apple Let Competitors Use FaceTime?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 08 '18 at 06:21 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's more-the-merrier department:
In 2010, Steve Jobs first introduced FaceTime and promised it would become an open industry standard that could be used by Apple's competitors -- not just Apple. Well, eight years later and that still hasn't happened. CNET's Sean Hollister provides a theory as to why that is: There's also an ongoing lawsuit to consider -- as Ars Technica documented in 2013, Apple was forced to majorly change how FaceTime works to avoid infringing on the patents of a company called VirnetX. Instead of letting phones communicate directly with each other, Apple added "relay servers" to help the phones connect. Presumably, someone would have to pay for those servers, and/or figure out a way for them to talk to Google or Microsoft or other third-party servers if FaceTime were going to be truly open. But that doesn't make a broken promise less frustrating. Particularly now that Apple could potentially fix annoying business video calls as well. A Skype-killing video chat service that worked on Mac, iOS *and* Windows, Android and the open web? That's something I bet companies would be happy to pay for, too.

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Suicide Rates Are Up 30 Percent Since 1999, CDC Says
Posted by News Fetcher on June 08 '18 at 02:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's upsetting-trends department:
New submitter Austerity Empowers writes: Amidst all the name calling and straw man arguments about the overall health of America, sometimes it helps to look at data from people who sacrificed everything based on their perception of reality. Whatever politics you subscribe to, the feeling of hopelessness is evidently real, and frightening. NBC News: "Suicide rates are up by 30 percent across the nation since 1999, federal health officials reported Thursday. And only about half the people who died by suicide had a known mental health condition, even though depression had been thought to be the major cause of suicide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. While many cases of mental illness may have been diagnosed, the CDC also noted that relationship stress, financial troubles and substance abuse were contributing to the trends."

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Justice Department Seizes Reporter's Phone, Email Records In Leak Probe
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 11:40 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's what's-yours-is-mine department:
According to The New York Times, the Department of Justice seized a New York Times reporter's phone and email records this year in an effort to probe the leaking of classified information, the first known instance of the DOJ going after a journalist's data under President Trump. The Hill reports: The Times reported Thursday that the DOJ seized years' worth of records from journalist Ali Watkins's time as a reporter at BuzzFeed News and Politico before she joined The Times in 2017 as a federal law enforcement reporter, according to the report Thursday. Watkins was alerted by a prosecutor in February that the DOJ had years of records and subscriber information from telecommunications companies such as Google and Verizon for two email accounts and a phone number belonging to her. Investigators did not receive the content of the records, according to The Times. The newspaper reported that it learned of the letter on Thursday.

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Sucking CO2 From Air Is Cheaper Than Scientists Thought
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 07:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cheaper-by-the-dozen department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from MIT Technology Review: While avoiding the worst dangers of climate change will likely require sucking carbon dioxide out of the sky, prominent scientists have long dismissed such technologies as far too expensive. But a detailed new analysis published today in the journal Joule finds that direct air capture may be practical after all. The study concludes it would cost between $94 and $232 per ton of captured carbon dioxide, if existing technologies were implemented on a commercial scale. One earlier estimate, published in Proceedings of the National Academies, put that figure at more than $1,000 (though the calculations were made on what's known as an avoided-cost basis, which would add about 10 percent to the new study's figures). Crucially, the lowest-cost design, optimized to produce and sell alternative fuels made from the captured carbon dioxide, could already be profitable with existing public policies in certain markets. The higher cost estimates are for plants that would deliver compressed carbon dioxide for permanent underground storage. David Keith, a Harvard physics professor and lead author of the paper, is also the founder of Carbon Engineering, "a Calgary-based startup that has spent the last nine years designing, refining, and testing a direct air capture pilot plant in Squamish, B.C.," reports MIT. "Carbon Engineering plans to combine the carbon captured at its plants with hydrogen to produce carbon-neutral synthetic fuels, a process the pilot facility has already been performing." The company has secured $30 million, but is seeking additional funds to build a larger facility that will begin selling fuels. CNBC notes that Carbon Engineering is owned by several private investors, including Bill Gates.

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Can An 'OS For Electricity' Double the Efficiency of the Grid?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 06:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's waste-not-want-not department:
New submitter mesterha shares an "interesting article [from Vox] on how to optimize our use of electricity": Waste on the grid is the result of poor power quality, which can be ameliorated through digital control. Real-time measurement makes that possible. 3DFS technology, which the company conceives of as an "operating system for electricity," can not only track what's happening on the electricity sine wave from nanosecond to nanosecond, it can correct the sine wave from microsecond to microsecond, perfectly adapting it to the load it serves, eliminating waste." "They claim energy reduction of around 15% but anticipate their AI tuning can get eventually get 30%," writes Slashdot reader mesterha. "Seems too good to be true, but it has the support of publications like Popular Mechanics." [3DFS won one of Popular Mechanics' "breakthrough awards" in 2017.]

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Severe Firmware Vulnerabilities Found In Popular Supermicro Server Products
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 06:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's anti-ageist-vulnerabilities department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bleeping Computer: Security researchers have uncovered vulnerabilities affecting the firmware of the very popular Supermicro enterprise-line server products. These vulnerabilities affect both older and newer models of Supermicro products, but the vendor is working on addressing the issues. These vulnerabilities do not put the safety of Supermicro products at direct risk, as they can only be exploited via malicious software/code (aka malware) already running on a system. Nevertheless, exploiting these vulnerabilities allows the malware to obtain an almost permanent foothold on infected systems by gaining the ability to survive server OS reinstalls by hiding in the hardware's firmware. Technical details are available in an Eclypsium blog post, while a list of affected servers is available here.

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French School Students To Be Banned From Using Mobile Phones
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 05:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's time-to-detox department:
The lower house of parliament in France has passed what it called a "detox" law for a younger generation increasingly addicted to screens. As a result, French school students will be banned from using mobile phones anywhere on school grounds starting in September. The Guardian reports: The new law bans phone-use by children in school playgrounds, at breaktimes and anywhere on school premises. Legislation passed in 2010 already states children should not use phones in class. During a parliamentary debate, lawmakers from Macron's La Republique En Marche party said banning phones in schools meant all children now had a legal "right to disconnect" from digital pressures during their school day. Some in Macron's party had initially sought to go even further, arguing that adults should set an example and the the ban should be extended to all staff in schools, making teachers surrender their phones on arrival each morning. But Macron's education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, brushed this aside, saying it wasn't necessary to extend the ban to teachers and staff.

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'Pirates' Tend To Be the Biggest Buyers of Legal Content, Study Shows
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 05:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's surprise-surprise department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: According to a paywalled survey of 1,000 UK residents by anti-piracy outfit MUSO first spotted by Torrent Freak, 60 percent of those surveyed admitted that they had illegally streamed or downloaded music, film, or TV shows sometime in the past. But the study also showed that 83 percent of those questioned try to find the content they are looking for through above board services before trying anything else. And while the study found that 86 percent of survey takers subscribe to a streaming subscription service like Netflix, that total jumped to 91 percent among those that admit to piracy. The survey found that the top reason that users pirate is the content they were looking for wasn't legally available (34 percent) was too cumbersome or difficult to access (34 percent), or wasn't affordable (35 percent). "The entertainment industry tends to envisage piracy audiences as a criminal element, and writes them off as money lost -- but they are wrong to do so," MUSO executive Paul Briley said of the study's findings. "The reality is that the majority of people who have gone through the effort of finding and accessing such unlicensed content are, first and foremost, fans -- fans who are more often than not trying to get content legally if they can," Briley added.

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Internal Microsoft Poll Shows Employees Are Less Satisfied With Pay
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 03:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's mo-money-mo-problems department:
According to an annual companywide survey, obtained by CNBC, Microsoft employees said they're less fairly paid in 2018 than they were in any of the past three years. When asked if "total compensation (base pay, bonus, equity) is competitive compared to similar jobs at other companies," only 61 percent said it was, down from 65 percent in 2017 and 67 percent each of the two prior years. From the report: Additionally, just 62 percent of the employees agreed that "people are rewarded according to their job performance," down from 63 percent last year and 64 percent in 2016. Those two questions received some of the lowest scores on the survey. The company said that 86 percent of Microsoft's employees participated. The results, shared by Chief People Officer Kathleen Hogan in April, are a further indication of the challenge that Microsoft and other tech companies face in hiring and retaining top talent. Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, Washington, is just a few miles from Amazon's home and isn't far from the Seattle offices of Google, Facebook and a growing number of start-ups. Chief People Officer Kathleen Hogan said the company takes the issue "seriously," and that it will work to ensure a more balanced pay structure.

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Ticketfly Says 27 Million Accounts Compromised During 'Malicious' Attack
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 03:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's malicious-attack department:
Earlier this month, we reported of a "cyber incident" that compromised the systems of Ticketfly, a large ticket distribution service. We have now learned that roughly 27 million user accounts were compromised during the attack. The information includes names, addresses, email addresses and phone numbers; thankfully, no credit/debit card info and passwords were stolen. Billboard reports: Ticketfly's website is fully back online a week after being targeted by what it describes as a "malicious cyber attack," though its mobile app for iOS remains offline "as we continue to prioritize bringing up the most critical parts of the platform first." Following the hack, the company rolled out a network of temporary venue and promoter websites so that events, including Riot Fest and Celebrate Brooklyn, could continue selling tickets. The "vast majority" of the temporary sites are now live, the firm said. All passwords for both ticket buyers and venue/promoter clients were reset following the hack, though they found no evidence that they were accessed. "It is possible, however, that hashed values of password credentials could have been accessed," the site warned. "Hashing is a way of scrambling a piece of data, making it generally incomprehensible."

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There Are More Jobs Than People Out of Work, Something the American Economy Has Never Experienced Before
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 02:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
The jobs market has reached what should be some kind of inflection point: there are now more openings than there are workers. From a report: April marked the second month in a row this historic event has occurred, and the gap is growing. According to the monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey released this week, there were just shy of 6.7 million open positions in April, the most recent month for which data are available. That represented an increase of 65,000 from March and is a record. The number of vacancies is pulling well ahead of the number the Bureau of Labor Statistics counts as unemployed. This year is the first time the level of the unemployed exceeded the jobs available since the BLS started tracking JOLTS numbers in 2000. As of April, the total workers looking and eligible for jobs fell to 6.35 million, a decrease from 6.58 million the previous month. The number fell further in May to 6.06 million, though there is no comparable JOLTS data for that month. Under normal circumstances, the mismatch would be creating a demand for higher wages. However, average hourly earnings rose just 2.7 percent annualized in May, up one-tenth of a point from April. Further reading: Why Nebraska has an amazing jobs market but nobody is moving there.

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The Gig Economy is Actually Smaller Than It Used To Be, Labor Department Says
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 02:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
The so-called gig economy is actually slightly smaller than it used to be, according to a new Labor Department report released Thursday that chronicles the jobs market in the age of Uber. From a report: In May 2017, the Labor Department counted 5.9 million people, or 3.8% of workers, in what it calls contingent jobs, which are those that the workers don't expect to last or that workers call temporary. In 2005, the last time the government looked into the issue, there were 4.1% of workers who classified themselves this way. "Taken at face value, the results indicate that the role of non-traditional work arrangements in the U.S. economy has remained largely unchanged during the past 20 years, even as excitement and media coverage of the growth of the 'gig economy' has increased," said Brian Schaitkin, senior economist for The Conference Board.

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