By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department
Abine, the company behind the Blur password manager and the DeleteMe online privacy protection service, revealed on Monday a data breach impacting nearly 2.4 million Blur users, ZDNet reports. From the report: The breach came to light last year, on December 13, when a security researcher contacted the company about a server that exposed a file containing sensitive information about Blur users, an Abine spokesperson told ZDNet via email. The company said it followed this initial report with an internal security audit to determine the size of the breach. The audit concluded last week, and the company made the data leak public on Monday in a post on its blog. The data that was available on the web included each user's email addresses, some users' first and last names, some users' password hints but only from our old MaskMe product, and each user's encrypted Blur password.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department
A Chinese space probe successfully touched down on the far side of the moon on Thursday, China's space agency said, hailing the event as a historic first and a major achievement for the country's space program. From a report: The Chang'e-4 lunar probe, launched in December, made the "soft landing" at 0226 GMT and transmitted the first-ever "close range" image of the far side of the moon, the China National Space Administration said. The moon is tidally locked to Earth, rotating at the same rate as it orbits our planet, so most of the far side -- or "dark side" -- is never visible to us. Previous spacecraft have seen the far side, but none has landed on it. The landing "lifted the mysterious veil" of the far side of the moon and "opened a new chapter in human lunar exploration", the agency said in a statement on its website, which included a wide-angle color picture of a crater from the moon's surface.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's better-than-ever department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Speaking with Bloomberg last week, Sony's sensor division boss Satoshi Yoshihara said Sony plans to ramp up production of chips to power front and rear 3D cameras in late summer, responding to demand from multiple smartphone manufacturers. Though Yoshihara is geeked about the potential for augmented reality applications, the most intriguing aspect of this new tech would appear to be a better form of face identification than we currently have. The Face ID approach that Apple first brought into use on the iPhone X -- and others like Xiaomi, Huawei, and Vivo have since emulated -- works by projecting out a grid of invisible dots and detecting the user's face by the deformations of that grid in 3D space. Sony's 3D sensor, on the hand, is said to deploy laser pulses, which, much like a bat's echolocation, creates a depth map of its surroundings by measuring how long a pulse takes to bounce back. Sony's sensor chief argues this produces more detailed models of users' faces, plus it apparently works from as far away as five meters (16 feet).Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's two-in-one department
Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a new neurostimulator that can listen to and stimulate electric current in the brain at the same time, potentially delivering fine-tuned treatments for patients with diseases like epilepsy and Parkinson's. Science Daily reports: The device, named the WAND, works like a "pacemaker for the brain," monitoring the brain's electrical activity and delivering electrical stimulation if it detects something amiss. These devices can be extremely effective at preventing debilitating tremors or seizures in patients with a variety of neurological conditions. But the electrical signatures that precede a seizure or tremor can be extremely subtle, and the frequency and strength of electrical stimulation required to prevent them is equally touchy. It can take years of small adjustments by doctors before the devices provide optimal treatment.
WAND, which stands for wireless artifact-free neuromodulation device, is both wireless and autonomous, meaning that once it learns to recognize the signs of tremor or seizure, it can adjust the stimulation parameters on its own to prevent the unwanted movements. And because it is closed-loop -- meaning it can stimulate and record simultaneously -- it can adjust these parameters in real-time. WAND can record electrical activity over 128 channels, or from 128 points in the brain, compared to eight channels in other closed-loop systems. To demonstrate the device, the team used WAND to recognize and delay specific arm movements in rhesus macaques. The device is described in a study that appeared in Nature Biomedical Engineering.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's another-one-bites-the-dust department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Authorities in Iran are preparing to block access to Instagram, extending their crackdown on social media to the only major platform still freely available. The National Cyberspace Council approved steps toward blocking the service, Javad Javidnia, deputy for cyberspace affairs at the public prosecutor's office, was cited as saying by the semi-official Donya-e Eqtesad newspaper. Instagram would join Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Telegram in being banned in the Islamic Republic, ostensibly for reasons of national security.
Despite the restrictions, Iranians including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif continue to use the services, which are widely accessible via proxy servers. Rouhani's verified Twitter account has over 800,000 followers. Javidnia said efforts to filter Instagram hadn't worked. While judicial and political officials involved were yet to reach a consensus on barring the site, the prosecutor can take a unilateral decision to do so, he said.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's slice-and-dice department
Tesla is cutting its car prices in the United States by $2,000 to combat a cut in a federal tax credit for its buyers. "Tesla triggered the tax credit phase-out in July when it became the first car maker in the United States to sell more than 200,000 plug-in vehicles," reports CNN. "The government designed the credit to be phased out for each automaker once it reaches that milestone." From the report: Before that benchmark, Tesla buyers were entitled to a tax credit of $7,500 for purchasing a plug-in electric car. But as of January 1, Tesla buyers will only get half that credit, or $3,750, for the next six months. The credit falls to $1,875 in July, and then disappears in 2020. The tax credit phase-out comes just as Tesla was preparing to sell a $35,000 version of its Model 3 sedan, the first time it will be taking aim at the price-conscious mass market. CEO Elon Musk said in an interview on "60 Minutes" that he expects the lower-priced version of the Model 3 to be available in five to six months.
Tesla also reported strong production and sales for the just completed fourth quarter. Total sales were up 8% and Model 3 sales were up even more, about 13%, to 63,150 vehicles. That works out to an average of about 4,900 Model 3s per week in the quarter, putting it in range of its goal of 5,000 Model 3's a week.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's engineer-friendly department
A federal district court has ruled that the state of Oregon illegally infringed on a man's First Amendment rights for fining him $500 because he wrote "I am an engineer" in a 2014 email to the state's Engineering Board. The court ruled that the provision in the law he broke is unconstitutional, which opens the door for people in the state to legally call themselves "engineers." Motherboard reports: This dystopian saga dates back to 2013, when Mats Jarlstrom's wife, while driving, was caught by a red light camera near their home in Beaverton, Oregon. Rather than pay the red light camera fine, Jarlstrom, an electrical engineer, spent months researching the specifics of yellow light timing and red light cameras, and learned that his wife had likely been ticketed for running a yellow light. Jarlstrom began sharing his findings on his personal website, at conferences, and even got featured on 60 Minutes. He also wrote several emails to the Oregon Board of Engineers explaining what he had found. In the email, he noted that he was an "engineer."
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By msmash from Slashdot's bolstering-security department
With the arrival of USB-C a few years back, plugging into laptops, tablets and smartphones became even easier than before. But there are potential security risks. The USB Type-C Authentication Program launched today aims to address such issues. From a report: The new protocol from the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) can be used to validate the authenticity of a cable, charger or hardware at the moment of connection, and stop attacks in their tracks. The USB-IF has chosen DigiCert to operate registrations and certificate authority services for the new specification, which makes use of 128-bit cryptographic-based authentication for certificate format, digital signing, hash and random number generation.
"USB Type-C Authentication gives OEMs the opportunity to use certificates that enable host systems to confirm the authenticity of a USB device or USB charger, including such product aspects as the descriptors, capabilities and certification status," said DigiCert in a press release. "This protects against potential damage from non-compliant USB chargers and the risks from maliciously embedded hardware or software in devices attempting to exploit a USB connection."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's breaking-news department
An anonymous reader shares a report: On Monday, New Year's Eve, a hacker group announced it had breached a law firm handling cases related to the September 11 attacks, and threatened to publicly release a large cache of related internal files unless their ransom demands were met. The news is the latest public extortion attempt from the group known as The Dark Overlord, which has previously targeted a production studio working for Netflix, as well as a host of medical centres and private businesses across the United States. The announcement also signals a slight evolution in The Dark Overlord's strategy, which has expanded on leveraging the media to exert pressure on victims, to now distributing its threats and stolen data in a wider fashion.
In its announcement published on Pastebin, The Dark Overlord points to several different insurers and legal firms, claiming specifically that it hacked Hiscox Syndicates Ltd, Lloyds of London, and Silverstein Properties. "Hiscox Syndicates Ltd and Lloyds of London are some of the biggest insurers on the planet insuring everything from the smallest policies to some of the largest policies on the planet, and who even insured structures such as the World Trade Centers," the announcement reads.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
A fifth of Earth's geologic history might have vanished because planet-wide glaciers buried the evidence. From a report: The Grand Canyon is a gigantic geological library, with rocky layers that tell much of the story of Earth's history. Curiously though, a sizeable layer representing anywhere from 250 million years to 1.2 billion years is missing. Known as the Great Unconformity, this massive temporal gap can be found not just in this famous crevasse, but in places all over the world. In one layer, you have the Cambrian period, which started roughly 540 million years ago and left behind sedimentary rocks packed with the fossils of complex, multicellular life. Directly below, you have fossil-free crystalline basement rock, which formed about a billion or more years ago.
So where did all the rock that belongs in between these time periods go? Using multiple lines of evidence, an international team of geoscientists reckons that the thief was Snowball Earth, a hypothesized time when much, if not all, of the planet was covered in ice. According to the team, at intervals within those billion or so years, up to a third of Earth's crust was sawn off by Snowball Earth's roaming glaciers and their erosive capabilities. The resulting sediment was dumped into the slush-covered oceans, where it was then sucked into the mantle by subducting tectonic plates.
Effectively, in many locations, Earth buried the evidence of about a fifth of its geological history, the team argued this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The notion is elegant but provocative, and the authors themselves predict that some geoscientists will express skepticism. "I think, though, we have extraordinary evidence to support that extraordinary claim," says study leader C. Brenhin Keller, a postdoctoral fellow at the Berkeley Geochronology Center.Read Replies (0)