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Police Allegedly Threaten A UK Photographer With Seizure Of All His Computers
Posted by News Fetcher on March 11 '17 at 08:51 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's coercing-cooperation department:
Andy Smith is a Scotland-based news photographer (and a long-time reader of Slashdot). He writes

Recently the police wanted to seize some of my work photos to use as evidence in a prosecution... Rather than trying (and likely failing) to get a warrant to seize the photos, the prosecutor used a tactic that nobody had heard of before: He got a warrant to seize all of my cameras, computers, memory cards, etc, even though the photos were in a secure location, not at my home or in my possession. I was then given 24 hours to retrieve and hand over the photos, or the police would raid my home and take everything, effectively ending my career.
His blog post describes erasing every computer and memory card, though he believes the police only wanted the leverage that came from threatening to seize them. But the journalists' union advised him to surrender the photos, since otherwise his equipment could be held for over a year -- so he complied. "I regret my decision. Everyone on this side of the case has reassured me that it was the right thing to do, but it wasn't."

"As for the warrant, it remains active, with no time limit. I now conduct my work knowing that the police could raid my home at any time, without warning, and take everything."

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California Says Autonomous Cars Don't Need Human Drivers
Posted by News Fetcher on March 11 '17 at 06:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's loosen-rules department:
Currently, California law requires that all self-driving cars used for testing purposes be done with a human behind the wheel, so that they can take control if necessary. While California has been fairly strict on how self-driving cars are to be used in the state, they appear to be relaxing several of the rules. "The state's Department of Motor Vehicles released proposed regulations Friday for autonomous vehicles, dropping an earlier requirement that a human driver had to be present while testing on public roads," reports Bloomberg. "The DMV also backed down on a previous rule that vehicles needed a steering wheel and pedals for the operator to take back control." From the report: "When we think of driverless vehicles they can either have conventional controls, which are steering wheels, pedals, things like that, or they cannot," said California DMV Chief Counsel Brian Soublet during a conference call with reporters. If companies test vehicles without conventional controls, they have to show the California DMV that they have approval from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, he added. NHTSA said in early 2016 that self-driving software systems, not just humans, can be considered drivers. "If California was going to keep that level of development activity in the state, what they did was necessary and timely," said Eric Noble, president of The CarLab, an automotive consulting firm. "They kind of had to do it because at some point manufacturers can't move autonomous vehicles forward without getting controls out of cars." The proposed regulations have a 45-day public comment period that ends April 24. That will be followed by a public hearing. During Friday's conference call, the California DMV said the rules should be completed by the end of the year.

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Malware Found Preinstalled On 38 Android Phones Used By 2 Companies
Posted by News Fetcher on March 11 '17 at 02:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's take-a-hint department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: An assortment of malware was found on 38 Android devices belonging to two unidentified companies. This is according to a blog post published Friday by Check Point Software Technologies, maker of a mobile threat prevention app. The malicious apps weren't part of the official ROM firmware supplied by the phone manufacturers but were added later somewhere along the supply chain. In six of the cases, the malware was installed to the ROM using system privileges, a technique that requires the firmware to be completely reinstalled for the phone to be disinfected. Most of the malicious apps were info stealers and programs that displayed ads on the phones. One malicious ad-display app, dubbed "Loki," gains powerful system privileges on the devices it infects. Another app was a mobile ransomware title known as "Slocker," which uses Tor to conceal the identity of its operators. Check Point didn't disclose the names of the companies that owned the infected phones. Padon said it's not clear if the two companies were specifically targeted or if the infections were part of a broader, more opportunistic campaign. The presence of ransomware and other easy-to-detect malware seems to suggest the latter. Check Point also doesn't know where the infected phones were obtained. One of the affected parties was a "large telecommunications company" and the other was a "multinational technology company."

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US Army Unveils 3D-Printed Grenade Launcher Called RAMBO
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '17 at 11:30 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's reporting-for-duty department:
New submitter drunkdrone quotes a report from International Business Times: The U.S. Military has a new firearm in its itinerary: Meet RAMBO, the 3D printed grenade launcher that could revolutionize the way soldiers are equipped for battle. RAMBO, or the Rapid Additively Manufactured Ballistics Ordnance to give it its proper name, is based on the U.S. Army's M203 underslung grenade launcher for firearms including the M16 and M4A1 carbine. But RAMBO is unique in that all of its parts save for the springs and fasteners have been produced by 3D printing -- and that includes the grenades themselves. The breech-loaded grenade launcher consists of 50 individual parts, the majority of which were developed through the additive manufacturing process. Additive manufacturing is a form of 3D printing whereby layers of material, commonly photopolymer resin, are printed on top of each other to create a 3D object. During testing, RAMBO successfully fired 15 shots without showing any sign of deterioration. The ammunition itself was also 3D printed, based on the M781 40mm training round. U.S. Army researchers selected this particular round because it doesn't require any explosive propellants, the use of which are have not been proved safe with 3D printed objects.

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Samsung Pay Could Come To More Non-Premium Smartphones
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '17 at 11:30 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
Gordon Gottsegen, writing for CNET: Samsung Pay could end up on even more devices, starting with the Galaxy J series phones in India, Mashable reports. Samsung Pay lets you save credit cards, gift cards, and other payment methods onto your smartphone and then use it when paying. Your phone mimics your cards right down to the magnetic signal, so it works in most places that accept credit cards thanks to Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) and Near Field Communication (NFC). Just tap your device against the payment terminal and you're generally good to go. But only if you've owned a premium smartphone. Samsung Pay generally only features in pricier phones like the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy s7 Edge, though it has also come to the Galaxy A line and Samsung Gear S watches. Now, according to Mashable's sources, Samsung has quietly been adding the technology to cheaper phones too, and plans to experiment with the idea in India -- where Samsung Pay recently launched -- in the next few months. Makes perfect sense. In places such as India, the vast majority of card terminals (PoS) don't support NFC, and it is very difficult to convince a merchant to upgrade their terminals. There are two reasons for this: first, not a lot of payments services require NFC. For all they care, their existing PoS devices support credit cards and debit cards. Second is, payment terminals with NFC are expensive. Also, smart of Samsung to trickle this feature into its lower-end smartphones.

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New Bill Would Allow Employers To Demand Genetic Testing From Workers
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '17 at 08:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's turn-your-head-and-cough department:
capedgirardeau quotes a report from Business Insider: A little-noticed bill moving through the U.S. Congress would allow companies to require employees to undergo genetic testing or risk paying a penalty of thousands of dollars, and would let employers see that genetic and other health information. Giving employers such power is now prohibited by U.S. law, including the 2008 genetic privacy and nondiscrimination law known as GINA. The new bill gets around that landmark law by stating explicitly that GINA and other protections do not apply when genetic tests are part of a "workplace wellness" program. The bill, HR 1313, was approved by a House committee on Wednesday, with all 22 Republicans supporting it and all 17 Democrats opposed. The 2008 genetic law prohibits a group health plan -- the kind employers have -- from asking, let alone requiring, someone to undergo a genetic test. It also prohibits that specifically for "underwriting purposes," which is where wellness programs come in. "Underwriting purposes" includes basing insurance deductibles, rebates, rewards, or other financial incentives on completing a health risk assessment or health screenings. In addition, any genetic information can be provided to the employer only in a de-identified, aggregated form, rather than in a way that reveals which individual has which genetic profile. There is a big exception, however: As long as employers make providing genetic information "voluntary," they can ask employees for it. Under the House bill, none of the protections for health and genetic information provided by GINA or the disabilities law would apply to workplace wellness programs as long as they complied with the ACA's very limited requirements for the programs. As a result, employers could demand that employees undergo genetic testing and health screenings.

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Scientists Create 'Designer Yeast' In Major Step Toward Synthetic Life
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '17 at 06:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's one-step-forward-two-steps-back department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Washington Post: In a significant advance toward creating the first "designer" complex cell, scientists say they are one-third of the way to synthesizing the complete genome of baker's yeast. In seven studies published Thursday in the journal Science, the researchers describe how they built six of the 16 chromosomes required for the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, altering the genetic material to edit out some genes and write in new characteristics. The chromosomes generated this time represent the largest amount of genetic material ever synthesized, and the new Sc2.0 cells are substantially different from their natural, or "wild type," relatives. Among the most significant of these new features is a program the scientists called "SCRaMbLE," or "Synthetic Chromosome Recombination and Modification by LoxP-mediated Evolution" (scientists are congenitally disposed toward convoluted acronyms). The program allows scientists to rearrange elements within the genome to generate new and potentially useful permutations. Whereas many of Boeke's peers labor for years in the lab trying to genetically modify organisms, the SCRaMbLE system "lets the yeast do the work and lets the yeast teach us new biology," Jef Boeke, director of New York University Langone's Institute for Systems Genetics and an organizer of the project, said. It's like a version of the lottery in which you can continuously and instantaneously roll new numbers until you get a result you want. Other innovations in the Sc2.0 genome include the removal of duplicate bits of genetic code and the addition of short genetic sequences that distinguish synthetic chromosomes from their natural counterparts. Unlike other synthetic organisms, the engineered yeast is a eukaryote -- a complex cell with diverse internal structures, just like the cells in the human body. It has more genetic material than the bacteria synthesized by the Venter Institute and Harvard projects.

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3D-Printed House Constructed On-Site In One Day
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '17 at 05:22 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's don't-blink department:
Heffenfeffer writes: Russian company Apis Cor has manufactured a 3D printed concrete house on-site in 24 hours in Stupino Town, Russia. Using a tower crane-shaped concrete extruder that can rotate 360 degrees, the 38 square meter (408.88 square foot) rotor-shaped home walls were constructed in one day. Voids left in the manufacturing process were filled by hand, installing windows, doors, and adding polyurethane and fiber insulation to the hollow concrete walls. The roof was also constructed by hand using polymer membranes, welded together using hot air and special equipment. Total construction costs were $10,134 (USD), approximately $266.66 per square meter ($24.78 per square foot). They also constructed a temporary protective heated tent to surround the house as they constructed the house during winter. Though the printer can be used at temperatures down to -35C, concrete has to be at least +5C to cure. Further reading: Designboom Magazine

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Intel Security Releases Detection Tool For EFI Rootkits After CIA Leak
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '17 at 05:22 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's better-safe-than-sorry department:
After WikiLeaks revealed data exposing information about the CIA's arsenal of hacking tools, Intel Security has released a tool that allows users to check if their computer's low-level system firmware has been modified and contains unauthorized code. PCWorld reports: The release comes after CIA documents leaked Tuesday revealed that the agency has developed EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) rootkits for Apple's Macbooks. The documents from CIA's Embedded Development Branch (EDB) mention an OS X "implant" called DerStarke that includes a kernel code injection module dubbed Bokor and an EFI persistence module called DarkMatter. In addition to DarkMatter, there is a second project in the CIA EDB documents called QuarkMatter that is also described as a "Mac OS X EFI implant which uses an EFI driver stored on the EFI system partition to provide persistence to an arbitrary kernel implant." The Advanced Threat Research team at Intel Security has created a new module for its existing CHIPSEC open-source framework to detect rogue EFI binaries. CHIPSEC consists of a set of command-line tools that use low-level interfaces to analyze a system's hardware, firmware, and platform components. It can be run from Windows, Linux, macOS, and even from an EFI shell. The new CHIPSEC module allows the user to take a clean EFI image from the computer manufacturer, extract its contents and build a whitelist of the binary files inside. It can then compare that list against the system's current EFI or against an EFI image previously extracted from a system.

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MAC Address Randomization Flaws Leave Android and iOS Phones Open To Tracking
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '17 at 04:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's worthless-privacy-protection department:
New submitter cryptizard writes: Modern Android and iOS versions include a technology called MAC address randomization to prevent passive tracking of users as they move from location to location. Unfortunately, researchers have revealed that this technology is implemented sporadically by device manufacturers and is often deployed with significant flaws that allow it to be easily defeated. A research paper [published by U.S. Naval Academy researchers] highlights a number of flaws in both Android and iOS that allow an adversary to track users even when their phones are using randomized MAC addresses. Most significantly, they demonstrate that a flaw in the way wireless chipsets handle low-level control messages can be exploited to track 100% of devices, regardless of manufacturer or operating system.

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Message For AMD: Open PSP Will Improve Security, Hinder Intel
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '17 at 04:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's question-and-answer department:
futuristicrabbit writes: AMD has faced calls from Edward Snowden, Libreboot and the Reddit community to release the source code to the AMD Secure Processor (PSP), a network-capable co-processor which some believe has the capacity to act as a backdoor. Opening the PSP would not only have security benefits, but would provide AMD with a competitive advantage against rival chipmaker Intel. Lisa Su, the CEO of AMD, is reportedly seriously considering the change, and the community is working hard to make sure she makes the right decision. In an AMD AMA post via Reddit, user 1n5aN1aC provided several arguments for why the company should release the PSP source code to the Coreboot / Libreboot project (or publicly). The arguments center around security, economic incentives, advertising, brand perception, and mindshare. AMD replied: "Thanks for the inquiry. Currently we do not have plans to release source code but you make a good argument for reasons to do so. We will evaluate and find a way to work with security vendors and the community to everyone's benefit." The product manager for AMD, AMD_james, continued in response to a follow-up comment that claims AMD is "not considering it all but only want to appease the potential buyers." AMD_james replied: "Thanks for the feedback. Please believe me that this has CEO level attention and AMD is investigating the steps and resources necessary to support this. It is not the work of a minute, so please bear with us as we define what we can do." What are your arguments for (or against) the idea of AMD releasing the source code to the AMD Secure Processor?

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Blogger Wins Libel Damages Over Columnist's Tweets
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '17 at 02:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's think-before-you-speak department:
eionmac shares a report that details a legal battle in which a food blogger won thousands of dollars in libel damages "after a row over two tweets." BBC reports: Food blogger Jack Monroe has won 24,000 British pounds damages, plus legal costs, in a libel action against columnist Katie Hopkins after a row over two tweets. Ms Monroe sued the writer over two war memorial tweets she said caused "serious harm" to her reputation. Ms Hopkins posted tweets in May 2015 asking her if she had "scrawled on any memorials recently."
Ms Monroe said that meant she had either vandalized a war memorial or "condoned or approved" of it.
Mr Justice Warby also ordered Ms Hopkins -- a columnist for the Mail Online -- to pay an initial 107,000 British pounds towards the campaigner's legal costs within 28 days. He ruled that the tweets had caused "Ms Monroe real and substantial distress" and she was entitled to "fair and reasonable compensation."

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The SEC Just Handed Bitcoin a Huge Setback
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '17 at 02:41 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's setback department:
The SEC has decided to deny an application for the first exchange-traded product that tracks the price of bitcoin, according to an order posted on the regulator's website. From a report: In an order today, the commission found that the proposed fund was too susceptible to fraud, due to the unregulated nature of Bitcoin. The result is a major setback for the fund, and a frustrating false start for the crypto-currency at large. The ETF is essentially a common stock fund pegged to the price of Bitcoin, allowing investors to purchase Bitcoin without the work of establishing a personal wallet. (In concrete terms, the ETFs investors will be buying shares whose price will always be the same as the price of a single bitcoin, similar to an equivalent investment in gold or cattle.) Without a wallet, investors still won't be able to spend Bitcoin, but they can buy and sell it at market price, adding more liquidity to the Bitcoin system overall.

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Oculus CTO John Carmack Is Suing ZeniMax For $22.5 Million
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '17 at 02:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's sour-grapes department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: The feud between Oculus and ZeniMax Media is opening up once again, this time with the CTO of Oculus, John Carmack, suing his former employer for earnings that he claims are still owed to him. The suit is largely unrelated to the $6 billion trade secrets suit which ended last month with a $500 million judgment against Oculus. Instead, Carmack is suing ZeniMax Media for $22.5 million that he says has not been paid to him for the 2009 sale of his game studio, id Software, known for such pioneering video game classics as Doom and Quake. The lawsuit reveals that ZeniMax Media paid $150 million for the game studio. The document details that Carmack was set to earn $45 million from the id acquisition. In 2011, Carmack converted half of that note into a half-million shares of ZeniMax common stock, but has yet to receive the other half of his earnings in cash or common stock from the company, despite formal requests being made. The lawsuit was reported first by Dallas News.

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Microsoft Admits Mistake, Pulls Problematic Windows 10 Driver
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '17 at 01:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's fixing-things department:
Wayne Williams, writing for BetaNews: Microsoft pushed out a mysterious driver to Windows users on Wednesday that caused big problems for some. The driver, listed as "Microsoft -- WPD -- 2/22/2016 12:00:00 AM -- 5.2.5326.4762," wasn't accompanied by any details, although we knew from the name that it related to Windows Portable Devices and affected users who had phones and tablets connected to the OS. Microsoft today admitted the problem with the driver, saying on the Answers Forum: "An incorrect device driver was released for Windows 10, on March 8, 2017, that affected a small group of users with connected phones or portable devices. After installation, these devices are not detected properly by Windows 10, but are affected in no other way. We removed the driver from Windows Update the same day, but if the driver had already installed, you may still be having this issue." As Williams adds, even though it was an optional update for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users, it was pushed to those on Windows 10.

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Alphabet's Waymo Asks Judge To Block Uber From Using Self-Driving Car Secrets
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '17 at 01:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's do-the-justice department:
Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving spinoff from Google, is formally asking a judge to block Uber from operating its autonomous vehicles, according to new documents filed in Waymo's lawsuit against Uber. From a report on The Verge: The lawsuit, which was filed last month, alleges that Uber stole key elements of its self-driving car technology from Google. Uber has called the accusations "baseless." Today in federal court, Waymo filed the sworn testimony of Gary Brown, a forensic security engineer with Google since 2013. Citing logs from Google's secure network, Brown claims that Anthony Levandowski, a former Google engineer who now runs Uber's self-driving car program, downloaded 14,000 files from a Google repository that contain design files, schematics, and other confidential information pertaining to its self-driving car project. Levandowski used his personal laptop to download the files, a fact that Brown says made it easy to track.

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Pennsylvania Sues IBM Over Jobless Claims System Upgrade
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '17 at 01:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's unfulfilled-promises department:
Pennsylvania has sued IBM for $170 million, claiming the company failed to deliver a promised upgrade to its outdated system of processing unemployment claims. From a report: IBM did not immediately respond to a request for comment but a company representative told the Associated Press the suit had no merit and the company would fight it. The suit stems from a 2006 fixed-price contract awarded to IBM for $109.9 million with a completion date of February 2010, the state said in a press release. As delays and costs mounted, the state let the contract lapse in 2013 when an independent assessment determined the project had a high risk of failure.

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Africa Gets Its Own Web Address
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '17 at 01:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's their-moment department:
Africa now has the unique web address .africa, equivalent to the more familiar .com, following its official launch by the African Union. From a report on BBC: AU commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma hailed its creation as the moment when Africa "got [its] own digital identity." The AU says the .africa domain name will "bring the continent together as an internet community." Addresses can now reflect a company's interest in the whole of Africa. For example, a mobile phone company could create mobile.africa to show its Africa-wide presence, or a travel company could set up travel.africa.

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How Many Snapchat Clones Does It Take For Facebook To Lose Its Self-Respect?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '17 at 01:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's blatant-rip-offs department:
Alex Hern, writing for The Guardian: Over the past year, Facebook has shown an almost monomaniacal dedication to taking on Snapchat by importing its defining features wholesale into the company's own apps. Facebook Live has "masks" now (think Snapchat's Lenses). Instagram has geostickers (like Snapchat's location-aware stickers.) WhatsApp has "Status" (think Snapchat Stories). Instagram has "Stories" (think ... Snapchat stories). The latest fruit of Facebook's labours is Messenger Day -- "a way for you to share these photos and videos -- as they happen -- by adding to your Messenger Day, where many of your friends can view and reply to them". It's Snapchat Stories. Again. [...] Facebook has seen potential threats on the horizon before, but its chequebook has always been enough to ward off real danger: that's why it bought Instagram, that's why it bought WhatsApp, and that's why it tried to buy Snapchat. But it couldn't get the company's fiercely independent co-founder, Evan Spiegel, to sell. And now it's in uncharted waters, with a competitor stealing advertising revenue, desirable millennial users, and industry credibility, and with no obvious way to reverse that trend. Facebook's time at the top probably isn't up. But its self-respect deficit is going to take years to pay off.

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U.S. Jobs, Pay Show Solid Gains in Trump's First Full Month
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '17 at 01:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's moving-forward department:
Two anonymous reader share a Bloomberg report: U.S. employers added jobs at an above-average pace for a second month on outsized gains in construction and manufacturing while wage growth picked up, as the labor market continued its steady improvement in the new year. The 235,000 increase followed a 238,000 rise in January that was more than previously estimated, the best back-to-back rise since July, a Labor Department report showed Friday in Washington. The unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent, and wages grew 2.8 percent from February 2016. While unseasonably warm weather may have boosted the payrolls count, the data represent President Donald Trump's first full month in office and coincide with a surge in economic optimism following his election victory.

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