By EditorDavid from Slashdot's back-to-school department
"Hackers accessed the data of up to 100,000 people through a tool that helps students get financial aid," writes CNN. An anonymous reader quotes their report:
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified before the Senate Finance Committee Thursday that a breach had been discovered in the fall. In September, he said, his agency discovered that fraudsters could use someone's personal data to fill out a financial aid application, and the "Data Retrieval Tool" would populate the application with tax information. That information could be used to file false tax returns. The commissioner said fewer than 8,000 of these returns were processed, and refunds were issued totaling $30 million...
In October, the IRS told the Department of Education that the system could be abused by criminals, but because up to 15 million people use the system for convenience, they kept it available. However, in February, the agency witnessed a pattern of fraudulent activity, and it shut down the automated tool in March.
Now financial aid seekers will have to manually enter their parents' reported income from previous tax years -- at least until a new version of the tool comes online next October. In the meantime, the IRS is alerting 100,000 users who started an application but didn't finish it, warning them that their tax information may have been compromised.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's don't-be-evil department
"Linux and open-source software have had to contend with intellectual property legal challenges for years," writes ZDNet. "Now, Google has started a new effort to bring peace to potential Android IP sore points: PAX... a royalty-free, community-patent cross-license."
PAX is starting with nine members: Google, Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, HTC, Foxconn Technology Group, Coolpad, BQ, HMD Global, and Allview. These companies own more than 230,000 global patents. PAX's purpose is to create a "community-driven [patent] clearinghouse, developed together with our Android partners, [that] ensures that innovation and consumer choice -- not patent threats -- will continue to be key drivers of our Android ecosystem. PAX is free to join and open to anyone."
Slashdot reader Andy Updegroved writes:
The question is why? The announcement and the related website are extremely brief, and although everyone is invited to get a copy of the cross license, Google reserves the right to decide first whether your motives are pure and you can keep a secret. And so far, the only members of the "PAX Community" listed are existing Google business partners. Is Google aware of some new patent tempest brewing just over the horizon, about to burst into public view? And will any other company names and logos be added to the PAX Community Web page? We'll just have to stay tuned to find out.
Andy Updegrove tells ZDNet it does involve "formal cross-licenses between participants, and therefore enforceable rights, but not an infrastructure to do more (at least insofar as one can tell from the initial announcement)."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's do-you-want-to-play-a-game department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Rensenware" forces players to get a high score in a difficult PC shoot-em-up to decrypt their files. As Malware Hunter Team noted yesterday, users on systems infected with Rensenware are faced with the usual ransomware-style warning that "your precious data like documents, musics, pictures, and some kinda project files" have been "encrypted with highly strong encryption algorithm." The only way to break the encryption lock, according to the warning, is to "score 0.2 billion in LUNATIC level" on TH12 ~ Undefined Fantastic Object. That's easier said than done, as this gameplay video of the "bullet hell" style Japanese shooter shows. As you may have guessed from the specifics here, the Rensenware bug was created more in the spirit of fun than maliciousness. After Rensenware was publicized on Twitter, its creator, who goes by Tvple Eraser on Twitter and often posts in Korean, released an apology for releasing what he admitted was "a kind of highly-fatal malware." The apology is embedded in a Rensenware "forcer" tool that Tvple Eraser has released to manipulate the game's memory directly, getting around the malware's encryption without the need to play the game (assuming you have a copy installed, that is). While the original Rensenware source code has been taken down from the creator's Github page, a new "cut" version has taken its place, showing off the original joke without any actually malicious forced encryption.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's unforeseen-consequences department
sciencehabit quotes a report from Science Magazine: It happened thousands of years ago, and it may be happening again: Wolves in various parts of the world may have started on the path to becoming dogs. That's the conclusion of a new study, which finds that the animals are increasingly dining on livestock and human garbage instead of their wild prey, inching closer and closer to the human world in some places. But given today's industrialized societies, this closeness might also bring humans and wolves into more conflict, with disastrous consequences for both. To find out how gray wolves might be affected by eating more people food, Thomas Newsome, an evolutionary biologist at the Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, and his colleagues examined studies of what's happened to other large carnivores that live close to people. Newsome's 2014 study of a dingo population in Australia's Tanami Desert showed that the wild dogs' habit of dining almost exclusively on junk food at a waste management facility had made them fat and less aggressive. They were also more likely to mate with local dogs and had become "cheeky," says Newsome, daring to run between his legs as he set out traps for them. Most intriguingly, the dumpster dingoes' population formed a genetic cluster distinct from all other dingoes -- indicating that they were becoming genetically isolated, a key step in forming a new species. Is this happening to gray wolves? The conditions are ripe for it, says Newsome, noting that human foods already make up 32% of gray wolf diets around the world. The animals now mostly range across remote regions of Eurasia and North America, yet some are returning to developed areas. The paper has been published in the journal Bioscience.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hot-and-steamy department
Artem Tashkinov quotes a report from Washington Post: There are a lot of good reasons to be captivated by the exoplanet GJ 1132b. Located in the constellation Vela, it's a mere 39 light-years from Earth -- just a hop, skip and a jump in galactic terms. It's similar to Earth in terms of size and mass, and it dances in a close-in orbit around its star, a dimly burning red dwarf. And, astronomers recently discovered, it has an atmosphere. The finding, published in the Astronomical Journal, is the first detection of an atmosphere around a terrestrial "Earth-like" planet orbiting a red dwarf star -- and it suggests there could be millions more. Although the researchers call the planet "Earth-like," the term is only applicable in its broadest sense. GJ 1132b is so close to its sun that it more likely resembles Venus than Earth. Astronomers estimate its average temperature to be about 700 degrees Fahrenheit, and that's without taking into account the potential greenhouse effect of its atmosphere. It is also probably tidally locked, meaning that gravity keeps one side of the planet constantly facing the star, while the other is cast in permanent shadow. GJ 1132b would not make a cozy home for life -- at least, not life as we know it.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's equality-for-all department
The U.S. Department of Labor is accusing Google of discriminating against its female employees and violating federal employment laws with its salaries for women. "We found systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce," Janette Wipper, a Department of Labor regional director, testified in court in San Francisco on Friday. The Guardian reports: Google strongly denied the accusations of inequities, claiming it did not have a gender pay gap. The allegations emerged at a hearing in federal court as part of a lawsuit the DoL filed against Google in January, seeking to compel the company to provide salary data and documents to the government. Google is a federal contractor, which means it is required to allow the DoL to inspect and copy records and information about its its compliance with equal opportunity laws. Last year, the department's office of federal contract compliance programs requested job and salary history for Google employees, along with names and contact information, as part of the compliance review. Google, however, repeatedly refused to hand over the data, which was a violation of its contractual obligations with the federal government, according to the DoL's lawsuit. Labor officials detailed the government's discrimination claims against Google at the Friday hearing while making the case for why the company should be forced to comply with the DoL's requests for documents. Wipper said the department found pay disparities in a 2015 snapshot of salaries and said officials needed earlier compensation data to evaluate the root of the problem and needed to be able to confidentially interview employees.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's one-size-fits-all department
Adidas has revealed that it will be mass-producing its first 3D-printed shoe, dubbed the Futurecraft 4D. "The mid-sole of the shoe is created using a process known as Continuous Liquid Interface Production, in which the design is essentially pulled out of a vat of liquid polymer resin, and fixed into its desired shape using ultraviolet light," reports The Verge. Adidas is collaborating with Silicon Valley startup Carbon, which created the "Continuous Liquid Interface Production" method that will ultimately make mass-production 3D printing a reality. The Verge reports: [T]his is still new technology, and Adidas isn't leaping two-footed into the 3D-printed future just yet. Only 5,000 pairs of Futurecraft shoes will go on sale later this year, although the company says it aims to produce 100,000 pairs in total by the end of 2018. "This is a milestone not only for us as a company but also for the industry," Adidas' Gerd Manz told Reuters. "We've cracked some of the boundaries." The cost of a pair of Futurecraft 4Ds is not yet known, but Adidas says it will be in the "premium" price range.Read Replies (0)
Walt Mossberg Is Retiring
Posted by News Fetcher on April 07 '17 at 04:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's well-accomplished-careers department
Walt Mossberg, a well-respected and long-time tech journalist, announced via The Verge that he will be retiring in June of this year. In his announcement post, he starts by reflecting on where it all began: It was a June day when I began my career as a national journalist. I stepped into the Detroit Bureau of The Wall Street Journal and started on what would be a long, varied, rewarding career. I was 23 years old, and the year was 1970. That's not a typo. So it seems fitting to me that I'll be retiring this coming June, almost exactly 47 years later. I'll be hanging it up shortly after the 2017 edition of the Code Conference, a wonderful event I co-founded in 2003 and which I could never have imagined back then in Detroit. I didn't make this decision lightly or hastily or under pressure. It emerged from months of thought and months of talks with my wise wife, my family, and close friends. It wasn't prompted by my employer or by some dire health diagnosis. It just seems like the right time to step away. I'm ready for something new.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's tough-stance department
Microsoft is officially banning emulators from Windows Store. The company has updated the Windows Store policy to announce the changes. The new rules bar any applications that emulate pre-existing game systems, resulting in the removal of a popular program that supported games from Nintendo and Sega and other consoles. From a report on ArsTechnica: An affected developer was notified of the change on Tuesday when its product, Universal Emulator, was delisted from the Windows Store. While no proof of a letter or notice from Microsoft was published, the developers at NESBox linked to relevant changes in the Windows Store application rules, dated March 29, which now include this line: "Apps that emulate a game system are not allowed on any device family." This list of general Windows Store rules, written for developers, received a massive update to its "Gaming and Xbox" requirements; these used to contain only one sentence, and it referred hopeful Windows Store game developers to the ID@Xbox program. That existing program requires pre-approval by Microsoft, but developers will soon be able to publish their games directly to both Xbox and Windows 10 marketplaces by paying a one-time fee of $100 or less as part of the Xbox Live Creators Program.Read Replies (0)