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Robert Mueller's Team Reportedly Interviewed Facebook Staff As Part of Russia Probe
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '18 at 08:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's election-interference department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Hill: Special counsel Robert Mueller's team has interviewed at least one Facebook employee tasked with helping the Trump campaign's digital operations during the 2016 campaign, Wired reported on Friday. The report, which cited a source familiar with the matter, does not say when the employee was questioned nor does it detail the focus of the interview. Mueller's team has been investigating for months any collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russia. During the election, Facebook deployed employees to embed with the Trump campaign to assist its digital operations. The company also worked with Hillary Clinton's campaign team but did not have employees embedded with them. The company has also been scrutinized by Congress for selling more than 3,000 ads to the Internet Research Agency, a Russian "troll farm" alleged to have carried out misinformation operations online during the campaign.

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OnePlus Is Again Sending User Data To a Chinese Company Without User Consent
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '18 at 06:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's here-we-go-again department:
In October 2017, a researcher caught OnePlus silently collecting all sorts of data from its users. Now, a new report says that there's still a OnePlus app that can grab data from the phone and send it to servers in China without a user's knowledge or express consent. BGR reports: The French security researcher hiding behind the name Elliot Alderson on Twitter detailed OnePlus's data collection practices back in October, and he has now discovered a strange file in the OnePlus clipboard app. A Badword.txt file contains various keywords, including "Chairman, Vice President, Deputy Director, Associate Professor, Deputy Heads, General, Private Message, shipping, Address, email," and others. The file is then duplicated in a zip file called pattern alongside six other .txt files. All these files are apparently used in "in an obfuscated package which seems to be an #Android library from teddymobile." Now, TeddyMobile is a Chinese company that works with plenty of smartphone makers from China. The company seems to be able to recognize words and numbers in text messages. And OnePlus is apparently sending your phone's IMEI number to a TeddyMobile server, too. It looks like the TeddyMobile package might be able to grab all sorts of data from a phone. Even bank numbers are apparently recognized. OnePlus has yet to issue a statement on the matter.

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Elon Musk's Boring Company Delivers $600 Flamethrower
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '18 at 06:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's promise-is-a-promise department:
Last December, Boring Company CEO Elon Musk promised to sell a Boring Company-branded flamethrower after selling 50,000 Boring Company hats. Well, sure enough, 50,000 hats were sold and Musk is delivering on his promise. The Verge reports: Mark this down as one of the promises Elon delivers on, apparently, because it looks like the Boring Company flamethrower is here. Redditors in a few SpaceX, Boring Company, and Musk-related subreddits noticed earlier this week that the URL "boringcompany.com/flamethrower" started redirecting to a page with a password box. And at least one user was able to guess the original password, too: "flame." (It's since been changed.) Behind that password was a shop page that looks just like the one for The Boring Company's hat. But instead of a $20 cap, they found a preorder prompt for a $600 flamethrower. "Prototype pictured above," the listing reads. "Final production flamethrower will be better."

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Crooks Created 28 Fake Ad Agencies To Disguise Massive Malvertising Campaign
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '18 at 06:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's under-the-radar department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bleeping Computer: A group of cyber-criminals created 28 fake ad agencies and bought over 1 billion ad views in 2017, which they used to deliver malicious ads that redirected unsuspecting users to tech support scams or sneaky pages peddling malware-laden software updates or software installers. The entire operation -- codenamed Zirconium -- appears to have started in February 2017, when the group started creating the fake ad agencies which later bought ad views from larger ad platforms. These fake ad agencies each had individual websites and even LinkedIn profiles for their fake CEOs. Their sole purpose was to interface with larger advertising platforms, appearing as legitimate businesses. Ad security company Confiant, the one who discovered this entire operation, says ads bought by this group reached 62% of ad-monetized websites on a weekly basis. All in all, Confiant believes that about 2.5 million users who've encountered Zirconium's malicious ads were redirected to a malicious site, with 95% of the victims being based in the U.S.

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Facial Recognition Integrates With IFTTT
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '18 at 04:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-of-its-kind department:
Trueface.ai, the stealthy facial recognition startup that's backed by 500 Startups and a slew of angel investors, is integrating with IFTTT to allow developers to start playing around with its technology. TechCrunch reports: Chief executive Shaun Moore tells me that the integration with IFTTT represents the first time that facial recognition technology will be made available to the masses without the need to understand complex code. The company initially started as both a hardware and software vendor, but back in 2017 Moore said that the company stripped out its hardware component and focused on its software. Focusing on digital identification and verification tools, Trueface.ai sells technology that it says can be used to verify a request to open a bank account or for digital document notarization. "We can do that remotely and verify proof of possession and identity," says Moore. The goal, says Moore, is to make facial recognition available to everybody. And IFTTT's integration is one step to make that happen, because it will familiarize product developers and makers with the toolkit, Moore says.

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Montana To FCC: You Can't Stop Us From Protecting Net Neutrality
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '18 at 04:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's legal-battle-brewing department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Montana governor's office has a message for the Federal Communications Commission and Internet service providers: the state can't be stopped from protecting net neutrality, and ISPs that don't like it don't have to do business with state agencies. Governor Steve Bullock signed an executive order to protect net neutrality on Monday. But with questions raised about whether Bullock is exceeding his authority, the governor's legal office prepared a fact sheet that it's distributing to anyone curious about potential legal challenges to the executive order. ISPs are free to violate net neutrality if they only serve non-government customers -- they just can't do so and expect to receive state contracts. "Companies that don't like it don't have to do business with the State -- nothing stops ISPs from selling dumpy Internet plans in Montana if they insist," the fact sheet says. The FCC's repeal of net neutrality rules attempts to preempt states and localities from issuing their own similar rules. But Bullock's executive order doesn't directly require ISPs to follow net neutrality rules. Instead, ISPs that accept contracts to provide Internet service to any state agency must agree to abide by net neutrality principles throughout the state. Bullock's fact sheet is titled, "Why Isn't Montana's Executive Order Preempted?" and it offers numerous answers to that question. "Through the order, the State of Montana acts as a consumer -- not a regulator," the fact sheet says. "Because there's no mandate, and no new regulations, there's certainly no federal preemption. Companies that don't like Montana's proposed contract terms don't have to do business with the State."

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ICE Is About To Start Tracking License Plates Across the US
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '18 at 03:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's location-services department:
Presto Vivace shares a report from The Verge: The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has officially gained agency-wide access to a nationwide license plate recognition database, according to a contract finalized earlier this month. The system gives the agency access to billions of license plate records and new powers of real-time location tracking, raising significant concerns from civil libertarians. The source of the data is not named in the contract, but an ICE representative said the data came from Vigilant Solutions, the leading network for license plate recognition data. While it collects few photos itself, Vigilant Solutions has amassed a database of more than 2 billion license plate photos by ingesting data from partners like vehicle repossession agencies and other private groups. ICE agents would be able to query that database in two ways. A historical search would turn up every place a given license plate has been spotted in the last five years, a detailed record of the target's movements. That data could be used to find a given subject's residence or even identify associates if a given car is regularly spotted in a specific parking lot.

Presto Vivace adds, "This will not end well."

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$500 Million Worth of Cryptocurrency Stolen From Japanese Exchange
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '18 at 03:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's gone-in-the-blink-of-an-eye department:
Locke2005 shares a report from CNBC: Hackers stole several hundred million dollars' worth of a lesser-known cryptocurrency from a major Japanese exchange Friday. Coincheck said that around 523 million of the exchange's NEM coins were sent to another account around 3 a.m. local time (1 p.m. ET Thursday), according to a Google translate of a Japanese transcript of the Friday press conference from Logmi. The exchange has about 6 percent of yen-bitcoin trading, ranking fourth by market share on CryptoCompare. The stolen NEM coins were worth about 58 billion yen at the time of detection, or roughly $534.8 million, according to the exchange. Coincheck subsequently restricted withdrawals of all currencies, including yen, and trading of cryptocurrencies other than bitcoin. Locke2005 adds, "That, my friends, is the prime reason why speculating in cryptocurrency is a bad idea!"

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Walmart Teams Up With Kobo To Sell EBooks and Audiobooks
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '18 at 02:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's two-is-better-than-one department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Engadget: Later this year, you'll be able to buy ebooks and audiobooks straight from Walmart's website. The big box retailer has teamed up with Japanese e-commerce titan Rakuten to launch a business that can take on Amazon's Kindle offerings. Walmart will give its customers in the U.S. an easy way to access to Kobo's library -- Kobo is Rakuten's digital book division -- and its six million titles from tens of thousands of publishers. The company will also start selling Kobo eReaders, which will set you back at least $120, online and in stores sometime this year.
Walmart said Kobo's titles will be fully integrated into its website, so the ebook and audiobook versions of the title you're searching for will appear alongside the listing of its physical book. However, you won't be able to access the digital files through random apps. You'll have to use the co-branded apps for iOS, Android and desktop that Walmart and Kobo will release in the future, though you'll of course be able access ebooks through a Kobo e-reader.

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Bill Gates Thinks AI Taking Everyone's Jobs Could be a Good Thing
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '18 at 02:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's bigger-picture department:
Bill Gates, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, thinks that artificial intelligence will take over a lot of jobs and ultimately will be a good thing. From a report:
In an interview, Gates said that robots taking over our jobs will make us more efficient, and lead to more free time. "Well, certainly we can look forward to the idea that vacations will be longer at some point," Gates told Fox Business. "If we can actually produce twice as much as we make today with less labor, the purpose of humanity is not just to sit behind a counter and sell things, you know?"

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Facebook Should Be 'Regulated Like Cigarette Industry', Salesforce CEO Says
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '18 at 12:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's strong-voices department:
Facebook should be regulated like a cigarette company, because of the addictive and harmful properties of social media, according to Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff. From a report: Social networks would be regulated "exactly the same way that you regulated the cigarette industry," Benioff told CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos. "Here's a product -- cigarettes -- they're addictive, they're not good for you, maybe there's all kinds of different forces trying to get you to do certain things. There's a lot of parallels. I think that, for sure, technology has addictive qualities that we have to address, and that product designers are working to make those products more addictive, and we need to rein that back as much as possible," he added. Benioff, who founded B2B cloud computing company Salesforce in 1999, and is now worth more than $4bn, suggested that regulation of some form was inevitable for the technology industry. "We're the same as any other industry," he said. "Financial services, consumer product goods, food -- in technology, the government's going to have to be involved. There is some regulation but there probably will have to be more."

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Now Even YouTube Serves Ads With CPU-draining Cryptocurrency Miners
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '18 at 12:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
YouTube was recently caught displaying ads that covertly leach off visitors' CPUs and electricity to generate digital currency on behalf of anonymous attackers, it was widely reported. From a report: Word of the abusive ads started no later than Tuesday, as people took to social media sites to complain their antivirus programs were detecting cryptocurrency mining code when they visited YouTube. The warnings came even when people changed the browser they were using, and the warnings seemed to be limited to times when users were on YouTube. On Friday, researchers with antivirus provider Trend Micro said the ads helped drive a more than three-fold spike in Web miner detections. They said the attackers behind the ads were abusing Google's DoubleClick ad platform to display them to YouTube visitors in select countries, including Japan, France, Taiwan, Italy, and Spain. The ads contain JavaScript that mines the digital coin known as Monero.

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Netflix Executives Say 'Bright' Success Proves Film Critics Are 'Disconnected From Mass Appeal'
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '18 at 11:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's strong-voices department:
Last month, movie critics slammed David Ayer and Will Smith's Netflix tentpole "Bright" movie. At present, it has less than 30 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But Netflix executives aren't worried. From a report on IndieWire: The abysmal reviews couldn't stop "Bright" from becoming a humongous hit on Netflix and earning a sequel. [...] According to both Netlfix bosses, "Bright's" success is proof that film critics don't matter as much when they're trying to tap into a global audience. "Critics are an important part of the artistic process, but [they are] pretty disconnected from the commercial prospects of a film," chief content officer Sarandos said. "[Film critics] speak to specific audiences who care about quality, or how objectively good or bad a movie is -- not the masses who are critical for determining whether a film makes money." CEO Hastings, chimed in to add "The critics are pretty disconnected from the mass appeal." Do ratings on movie websites matter? It's not a new topic of discussion. Last year, legendary director, producer and screenwriter Martin Scorsese said he believes real movie goers don't care about Rotten Tomatoes. But some people, including especially in the same room as Scorsese, disagree. Brett Ratner, the Rush Hour director/producer who threw the financial weight of his RatPac Entertainment behind Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice blamed Rotten Tomatoes for convincing people to not watch his movie. Along the same lines, DC fans were angry over Rotten Tomatoes's Justice League ratings .

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Ask Slashdot: What Kind of Societies Will the First Mars Colonies Be?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '18 at 11:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's think-about-it department:
New submitter nyri writes: I'm making a two-part study in what kind of societies humans will build on Mars when we start to colonize the red planet. In first part, I'm trying to approach the question sociologically as rigorously as possible. Sociology being what it is, this also includes informed speculation. So, what does Slashdot think: What sort of colonies will humans build on the red planet? How large will they be? How will they make decisions and select their leaders? What kind of judicial systems will they use? What happens if a colony's population grows larger than they are able to sustain? Will they be religious and if so, how? How will their internal and external economy work? And so on... A second part of the study is of psychometric nature to explore the kind of personalities be present in first colonies. I also encourage you to take the survey.

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Genes that Your Parents Don't Pass To You Still Shape Who You Are, Study Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '18 at 10:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
From a research paper published on ScienceMag journal on Friday: Children resemble their parents in health, wealth, and well-being. Is parent-child similarity in traits and behaviors due to nature (the genes that children inherit from their parents) or nurture (the environment that parents provide for their children)? Answering this enduring question can directly inform our efforts to reduce social inequality and disease burden. Kong et al. used genetic data from trios of parents and offspring to address this question in an intriguing way. By measuring parents' and children's genes, they provide evidence that inherited family environments influence children's educational success, a phenomenon termed genetic nurture. Specifically, Kong et al. show that the part of the parental genotype that children do not inherit can nonetheless predict children's educational attainment. This genetic nurture effect is an indirect link between parental genotypes and children's characteristics, not caused by the children's own biology but rather by the family environment that covaries with parental genes.

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Breaking Up Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook Could Save Capitalism, NYU Professor Says
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '18 at 10:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's the-big-four department:
An anonymous reader shares a VentureBeat report: If you want to get an idea of how quickly sentiment has shifted against U.S. tech giants, just listen to NYU professor Scott Galloway. [...] "After spending the majority of the last two years of my life really trying to understand them and the relationship of the ecosystem, I've become 100 percent convinced that it's time to break these companies up." It's an audacious claim from anyone, even more startling coming from someone who has been such a close and bullish observer of these tech giants. Yet for Galloway, it is clear that the four companies have simply become too big, and too powerful. "The premise of my book is that Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google are our new gods, our new source of love, our consumptive gods," he said. "And as a result of their ability to tap into these very basic instincts, they've aggregated more market cap than the majority of nation's GDP ... I think these entities are more powerful than any entity, with maybe the exception of China and the U.S." [...] Galloway said he wasn't making his argument based on many of the current emotional outcries against the companies, though these are important to note. And he proceeded to list what he considers to be these giants' numerous sins. "There are reasons to be angry at them," he said. "They basically power fake news ... So the notion that our platforms have been weaponized by the intelligence unit of a foreign adversary was initially responded to by Facebook as crazy, that we were crazy for thinking that. Then we found out it was millions of people, and now we're finding out it was hundreds of millions of people who were exposed."

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Are the BSDs Dying? Some Security Researchers Think So
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '18 at 08:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
itwbennett writes: The BSDs have lost the battle for mindshare to Linux, and that may well bode ill for the future sustainability of the BSDs as viable, secure operating systems, writes CSO's JM Porup. The reason why is a familiar refrain: more eyeballs mean more secure code. Porup cites the work of Ilja von Sprundel, director of penetration testing at IOActive, who, noting the "small number of reported BSD kernel vulnerabilities compared to Linux," dug into BSD source code. His search 'easily' turned up about 115 kernel bugs. Porup looks at the relative security of OpenBSD, FreeBSD and NetBSD, the effect on Mac OS, and why, despite FreeBSD's relative popularity, OpenBSD may be the most likely to survive.

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Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Will Default To The X.Org Stack, Not Wayland
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '18 at 08:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tough-calls department:
An anonymous reader writes: Five years after their original goal to ship Ubuntu with Wayland, Ubuntu 17.10 transitioned to using the Wayland display system by default as part of their transition to GNOME Shell as the default desktop. But with the upcoming Ubuntu 18.04 LTS release, Canonical has decided to transition back to the X.Org Server. Their reasoning for moving to an X.Org Server by default is better support for screen sharing, remote desktop, and better recovery from crashes. But for those interested the Wayland session will still be available as a log-in option.

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Washington Bill Makes It Illegal To Sell Gadgets Without Replaceable Batteries
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '18 at 07:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's right-to-repair department:
Jason Koebler writes: A bill that would make it easier to fix your electronics is rapidly hurtling through the Washington state legislature. The bill's ascent is fueled by Apple's iPhone-throttling controversy, which has placed a renewed focus on the fact that our electronics have become increasingly difficult to repair. Starting in 2019, the bill would ban the sale of electronics that are designed "in such a way as to prevent reasonable diagnostic or repair functions by an independent repair provider. Preventing reasonable diagnostic or repair functions includes permanently affixing a battery in a manner that makes it difficult or impossible to remove."

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Intel Plans To Release Chips That Have Built-in Meltdown and Spectre Protections Later This Year
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '18 at 07:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's next-up department:
Intel plans to release chips that have built-in protections against the Spectre and Meltdown attacks later this year, company CEO Brian Krzanich said during company's quarterly earnings call this week. From a report: The company has "assigned some of our very best minds" to work on addressing the vulnerability that's exploited by those attacks, Krzanich said on a conference call following Intel's quarterly earnings announcement. That will result in "silicon-based" changes to the company's future chips, he said. "We've been working around clock" to address the vulnerability and attacks, Krzanich said. But, he added, "we're acutely aware we have more to do."

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