By EditorDavid from Slashdot's war-games department
"The Air Force is investigating the Navy for a cyber intrusion into its network, according to a memo obtained by Military Times."
Zorro (Slashdot reader #15,797) shares their report:
The bizarre turn of events stems from a decision by a Navy prosecutor to embed hidden tracking software into emails sent to defense attorneys, including one Air Force lawyer, involved in a high-profile war-crimes case of a Navy SEAL in San Diego. The tracking device was an attempt to find out who was leaking information to the editor of Navy Times, a sister publication. A similar tracking device was also sent to Carl Prine, the Navy Times editor, who has written numerous stories about the case.
Navy Capt. David Wilson, chief of staff for the Navy's Defense Service Offices, wrote in the May 19 memo that an Air Force attorney was among the defense lawyers who had received emails with the hidden tracking software, which he described as "malware"...
"In fact, I've learned that the Air Force is treating this malware as a cyber-intrusion on their network and have seized the Air Force Individual Military Counsel's computer and phone for review," he wrote.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's beware-of-Bitworld department
PC Magazine interviewed Neal Stephenson about his new upcoming book Fall; Or, Dodge in Hell, as well as "the digital afterlife, and why social media is a doomsday machine." [Possible spoilers ahead]:
The hybrid sci-fi/fantasy novel begins in the present day with Richard "Dodge" Forthrast, an eccentric multibillionaire who made his fortune in the video game industry. When a freak accident during a routine medical procedure leaves him brain-dead, his family is left to contend with his request to have his brain preserved until the technology exists to bring him back to life. The near-future world of Fall is full of familiar buzzwords and concepts. Augmented reality headsets, next-gen wireless networks, self-driving vehicles, facial recognition, quantum computing, blockchain and distributed cryptography all feature prominently. Stephenson also spends a lot of time examining how the internet and social media, which Dodge and other characters often refer to in Fall as the Miasma, is irrevocably changing society and altering the fabric of reality...
Q: How would you describe the current state of the internet? Just in a general sense of its role in our daily lives, and where that concept of the Miasma came from for you.
Neal Stephenson: I ended up having a pretty dark view of it, as you can kind of tell from the book. I saw someone recently describe social media in its current state as a doomsday machine, and I think that's not far off. We've turned over our perception of what's real to algorithmically driven systems that are designed not to have humans in the loop, because if humans are in the loop they're not scalable and if they're not scalable they can't make tons and tons of money.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's saved-by-the-bell department
Students from wealthy high schools are more than twice as likely to qualify for extra time to finish their SAT or ACT college entrance tests than students from poor schools -- and in some cases, they're getting 50% more time.
An anonymous reader quotes CBS News:
About 4.2 percent of students at wealthy high schools qualified for a 504 designation, a plan that enables the students to qualify for accommodations such as extra test-taking time, according to an analysis of federal data for 9,000 by public schools by The Wall Street Journal. By comparison, only 1.6 percent of students in poor high schools qualified for the same designation.... These plans, named after a federal statute prohibiting discrimination against students with disabilities, can cover a wide range of issues, ranging from anxiety to deafness and other impairments. But critics of 504 plans say some families may be abusing the system in order to secure much-needed extra time for their children on the high-stakes exams...
About one-sixth of ACT test-takers don't complete the exam within its normal time limit, the Journal noted. And a redesign of the SAT in 2014 signaled how many students struggle with finishing on time, as fewer than half of students completed the math section in a prototype of the new test. Naturally, gaining an extra 50 percent of the allotted time can alleviate some of the stress of time management. And the SATs and ACTs don't alert colleges about whether a student received extra time to complete the tests, eliminating a disincentive for students to request the accommodation.
It's apparently been going on for years, according to CBS. In 2000 a California state report found that students getting extra time for their tests "were predominately white, wealthy, and from private schools."
And now in Boston's "well-heeled" Newton suburb, about one-third of students qualified for extra time.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Windows-of-opportunity department
Robert Sweeney spent 10 years working as a software engineer at Microsoft and Netflix, before becoming founder and CEO of the software development agency Facet. This week he blogged about how he cheated on his 2004 interview for a job at Microsoft.
It was his first job interview ever, when he was still a college senior majoring in computer science, and a Microsoft recruiter had invited him to an interview at an on-campus career fair:
I immediately called my good friend Eli who had just started a new job at Microsoft. I asked him what the on campus interviews were like and how I should prepare for them. He explained that they would ask a random programming question that I would need to solve on a sheet of paper. If you did well, then they would fly you out for a full day of interviews at the Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington. He had been asked to write a function that, when given an array of length n + 1 containing integers 1 through n, find the duplicate integer in an array. I wasn't sure how to prepare for answering a "random programming question", so I decided to just use the question Eli had been asked as practice and hope for the best...
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's watching-Wasm department
"Online marketplace eBay has revealed how it boosted performance of a demanding web app by 50x using WebAssembly," reports TechRepublic:
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's we-choose-to-go-to-the-moon department
"NASA has chosen its first commercial partner for a proposed space station, known as the Lunar Gateway, to be built near the Moon," reports Ars Technica:
On Thursday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Maxar Technologies would build the first component of the Gateway -- the power and propulsion element. Like the name suggests, it will provide electricity to the Gateway and help move it around. "This time when we go to the Moon, we're actually going to stay," Bridenstine said in making the announcement... Under NASA's current plans to land humans on the Moon by 2024, this is where astronauts will launch to from Earth before climbing aboard pre-positioned landers to take them down to the lunar surface....
The contract announced Thursday is worth a maximum of $375 million. Intriguingly, Maxar said Blue Origin and Draper will join the team in designing, building, and operating the spacecraft. Such a partnership raises the possibility that the power and propulsion element, which will weigh about 5 tons fully fueled, could be launched on Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket. During a teleconference with media, Maxar's Mike Gold said the company would choose a commercial rocket for the power and propulsion element launch in the next 12 to 18 months...
The station will use solar electric propulsion to maintain its orbit and have the ability to maneuver into other orbits around the Moon. Before humans visit the Gateway in 2024, the space agency plans to add a small "habitat" module.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's lost-technology department
pgmrdlm shares a report from The Guardian: An "astonishing and unparalleled" 2,300-year-old shield made of tree bark has been discovered in Leicestershire, the only example of its kind ever found in Europe. The shield was discovered in 2015 by archaeologists from the University of Leicester Archaeological Service in a site close to the River Soar. Organic objects from the period very rarely survive, but the shield was preserved in waterlogged soil and may have been deposited in a water-filled pit, according to Matt Beamish, the lead archaeologist for the service. Bark shields of the period were entirely unknown in the northern hemisphere, he told the Guardian, and the assumption was that the material may have been too flimsy for use in war. However experiments to remake the weapon in alder and willow showed the 3mm-thick shield would have been tough enough for battle but incredibly light. It was likely that, contrary to assumptions, similar weapons were widespread, Beamish said. The shield is made from green bark that has been stiffened with internal wooden laths, described by Beamish as "like a whalebone corset of split hardwood," and surrounded by a rim of hazel, with a twisted willow boss. The malleable green wood would then tighten as it dried, giving the shield its strength and forming the rounded rectangles into a slightly "waisted" shape, like a subtle figure of eight. The University of York and University of Leicester have both released statements on the discovery.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's faster-is-better department
China has unveiled a new floating bullet train capable of hitting speeds of about 372 mph (600 km/h). CNN reports: On Thursday, the body prototype for the country's latest high-speed magnetic-levitation (maglev) train project rolled off the assembly line in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao. Developed by the state-owned China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) -- the world's largest supplier of rail transit equipment -- the sleek-looking train is scheduled to go into commercial production in 2021 following extensive tests. Maglev trains use magnetic repulsion both to levitate the train up from the ground, which reduces friction, and to propel it forward. The project was co-created by Shanghai Maglev Transportation Development Co. Ltd., a German Consortium consisting of Siemens AG, Thyssen Transrapid GMBH and Transrapid International GMBH. "Take Beijing to Shanghai as an example -- counting preparation time for the journey, it takes about 4.5 hours by plane, about 5.5 hours by high-speed rail, and [would only take] about 3.5 hours with [the new] high-speed maglev," said CRRC deputy chief engineer Ding Sansan, head of the train's research and development team, in a statement. For comparison, current trains on the Beijing-Shanghai line have a maximum operating speed of about 217 mph (350 km/h).Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's making-matters-worse department
The Baltimore city government is recovering from a devastating ransomware attack that has locked up its systems, but officials in the city faced a new problem today. As first reported by The Baltimore Sun, Google blocked city departments from using Gmail accounts created as a workaround. The Verge reports: On May 7th, a ransomware attack froze government systems, including email, and demanded the city hand over bitcoin to reverse the hack. Weeks later, the city is still recovering from the attack, which has also shut down systems for paying water bills and some other services. While officials deal with the problem, which could still take months to fix, some have reportedly signed up for free Gmail accounts to keep operating.
Gmail distinguishes between individual users and users in businesses and other organizations, requiring the latter to pay for the service. According to the Sun, which cited the mayor's office, Google's systems deemed the city officials to be part of an organization, and shut down the temporary accounts. Emails to the city health department, city council aides, and the mayor's office bounced on Thursday, according to the report from the Sun. UPDATE: Google has since fixed the problem. "We have restored access to the Gmail accounts for the Baltimore city officials," the spokesperson said. "Our automated security systems disabled the accounts due to the bulk creation of multiple consumer Gmail accounts from the same network."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's compromising-with-the-enemy department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Forty-seven Democratic members of Congress are calling for a net neutrality compromise with Republicans, who have refused to support a full restoration of the net neutrality rules repealed by the Ajit Pai-led Federal Communications Commission. The Democratic-majority U.S. House of Representatives voted in April to pass the Save the Internet Act, which would restore the Obama-era FCC's net neutrality rules. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared the bill "dead on arrival" in the Republican-majority Senate.
Republican lawmakers say they'll only accept a net neutrality law that isn't as strict -- even though large majorities of both Democratic and Republican voters support the FCC's old net neutrality rules. On Wednesday, dozens of Democrats asked their party leadership to compromise with the GOP leadership. "We, the undersigned, voted for [the Save the Internet Act] because it represented an opportunity to resolve questions that courts have struggled with for decades," the Democrats wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). "At the same time, we recognize that this legislation is unlikely to become law, or pass through the Senate, in its current form. If that proves true, consumers will be left without enforceable net neutrality protections while partisan conflict continues. We believe this result is unacceptable and unnecessary." The letter to Pelosi was led by Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and Scott Peters (D-Calif.) and signed by another 45 Democratic members of the House. It goes on to suggest that the House create "a bipartisan working group" that would write a net neutrality law that's acceptable to Republican lawmakers.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's blast-from-the-past department
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly met with Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss to discuss the company's plans to launch its own cryptocurrency. "The Financial Times reported Thursday that Zuckerberg met with the Winklevoss twins and executives with Coinbase, a popular online cryptocurrency exchange, as the company considers partnering with the company and others such as Gemini, the exchange founded by the Winklevoss brothers," reports The Hill. From the report: Zuckerberg's past legal conflict with the twins was one of the defining plot points of "The Social Network," the Academy Award-winning movie based on Zuckerberg's rise to power as Facebook's founder. The two brothers claimed in legal proceedings to have come up with the original idea for Facebook while students at Harvard with Zuckerberg.
At Facebook's developer conference in April, Zuckerberg indicated that he was interested in Facebook becoming a tool for sending money quickly, a feature that would be a core part of the company's entrance into the cryptocurrency realm. "When I think about all the different ways that people interact privately, I think payments is one of the areas where we have an opportunity to make it a lot easier," he said at the conference, according to CNBC. "I believe it should be as easy to send money to someone as it is to send a photo," he reportedly added last month.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's serious-blunders department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Krebs on Security: The Web site for Fortune 500 real estate title insurance giant First American Financial Corp. leaked hundreds of millions of documents related to mortgage deals going back to 2003, until notified this week by KrebsOnSecurity. The digitized records -- including bank account numbers and statements, mortgage and tax records, Social Security numbers, wire transaction receipts, and drivers license images -- were available without authentication to anyone with a Web browser.
Santa Ana, Calif.-based First American is a leading provider of title insurance and settlement services to the real estate and mortgage industries. It employs some 18,000 people and brought in more than $5.7 billion in 2018. Earlier this week, KrebsOnSecurity was contacted by a real estate developer in Washington state who said he'd had little luck getting a response from the company about what he found, which was that a portion of its Web site (firstam.com) was leaking tens if not hundreds of millions of records. He said anyone who knew the URL for a valid document at the Web site could view other documents just by modifying a single digit in the link. And this would potentially include anyone who's ever been sent a document link via email by First American. KrebsOnSecurity confirmed the real estate developer's findings, which indicate that First American's Web site exposed approximately 885 million files, the earliest dating back more than 16 years. No authentication was required to read the documents. "As of the morning of May 24, firstam.com was returning documents up to the present day (885,000,000+), including many PDFs and post-dated forms for upcoming real estate closings," Krebs adds. "By 2 p.m. ET Friday, the company had disabled the site that served the records. It's not yet clear how long the site remained in its promiscuous state."
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By msmash from Slashdot's data-breach department
Hackers breached a company that provides license plate reader technology for the US government, including at the border with Mexico. From a report: The hackers posted what appears to be the internal data of the company, called Perceptics, on a dark web website on Thursday. A company employee confirmed to Motherboard that Perceptics was hacked. "We are aware of the breach and have notified our customers. We can't comment any further because it is an ongoing legal investigation," Casey Self, director of marketing for Perceptics said in an online message. The Register first reported the news on Thursday. The data appears to include a variety of databases, company documents, and financial information, according to the file directory giving an overview of the stolen material. Boris Bullet-Dodger, the hacker who listed the data online, contacted Motherboard with a link to the stolen data on Thursday. Perceptics, once a subsidiary of major government contractor Northrop Grumman, mainly distributes license plate readers, under-vehicle cameras, and driver cameras to the U.S., Canada, Mexico to place at border crossings.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's complicated-scenarios department
An algorithm, it seems, could determine, in some cases, who gets shown lifesaving information, and who doesn't. From a report: The researchers behind the New Media & Society paper set out to understand this odd quirk of Google's algorithm, and to find out why the company seemed to be serving some markets better than others. They developed a list of 28 keywords and phrases related to suicide, Sebastian Scherr at the University of Leuven says, and worked with nine researchers from different countries who accurately translated those terms into their own languages. For 21 days, they conducted millions of automated searches for these phrases, and kept track of whether hotline information showed up or not. They thought these results might simply, logically, show up in countries with higher suicide rates, but the opposite was true.
Users in South Korea, which has one of the world's highest suicide rates, were only served the advice box about 20% of the time. They tested different browser histories (some completely clean, some full of suicide-related topics), with computers old and new, and tested searches in 11 different countries. It didn't seem to matter: the advice box was simply much more likely to be shown to people using Google in the English language, particularly in English-speaking countries (though not in Canada, which Scherr speculates was probably down to geographical rollout). "If you're in an English-speaking country, you have over a 90% chance of seeing these results -- but Google operates differently depending on which language you use," he said. Scherr speculates that using keywords may simply have been the easiest way to implement the project, but adds that it wouldn't take much to offer it more effectively in other countries, too.
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By msmash from Slashdot's promising-prospects department
Microsoft today shared more details about its Project xCloud game streaming service, revealing that developers won't have to make any modifications to their games for their titles to be supported by xCloud. From a report: That means that technically, Project xCloud supports the over 3,500 games that are playable on the Xbox One, even including the Backward Compatibility list. That means that Xbox and Xbox 360 games will work as well. Moreover, Microsoft said that there are over 1,900 games in development for the Xbox One, so that brings the total to well over 5,000 games. And when a game is updated on the Xbox Store, it's automatically updated for xCloud. Of course, the key words to pay attention to in the blog post are "technical capability." Just because a game is technically able to stream doesn't mean that it will. Presumably, this will be left up to the developer.Read Replies (0)