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'This Person Does Not Exist' Website Uses AI To Create Realistic Yet Horrifying Faces
Posted by News Fetcher on February 14 '19 at 12:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department:
A website that uses AI -- Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) -- to generate photos of people who do not exist is circulating on social media and forums this week. A news writeup adds: Every time the site is refreshed, a shockingly realistic -- but totally fake --picture of a person's face appears. Uber software engineer Phillip Wang created the page to demonstrate what GANs are capable of, and then posted it to the public Facebook group "Artificial Intelligence & Deep Learning" on Tuesday. The underlying code that made this possible, titled StyleGAN, was written by Nvidia and featured in a paper that has yet to be peer-reviewed. This exact type of neural network has the potential to revolutionize video game and 3D-modeling technology, but, as with almost any kind of technology, it could also be used for more sinister purposes.

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Developers Accuse Sony of 'Playing Favorites' With PS4's Cross-Platform Support
Posted by News Fetcher on February 14 '19 at 11:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
After years of fighting the idea, Sony announced last September it is finally bringing "cross-platform gameplay, progression, and commerce" to the PlayStation Network, with Fortnite as the first example. Months later, the company's efforts have yet to gain wide traction and now we may have identified the bottleneck: Sony. Several major third-party developers have accused the company of standing in the way of letting the PS4 versions of their games play nicely with other platforms. ArsTechnica reports: "We just launched Wargroove with crossplay between PC, Switch, and Xbox," Chucklefish CEO Finn "Tiy" Brice wrote on the ResetEra forums. "We made many requests for crossplay (both through our [Sony] account manager and directly with higher-ups) all the way up until release month. We were told in no uncertain terms that it was not going to happen." Brice's comments came days after new Hi-Rez Studios CEO Stew Chisam tweeted at Sony that the studio was "ready to go when you are" for cross-play on Smite, Paladins, and Realm Royale. "It's time to stop playing favorites and tear down the crossplay/progression wall for everyone," he said.

In a follow-up tweet, Chisam explained that Xbox/Switch cross-play has led to a direct improvement in the Paladins online user experience, including reduced wait times, more balanced matchmaking, and fewer "bad" matches overall. Brice's comments in particular come in direct response (and contradiction) to a recent Game Informer interview in which Sony Interactive Entertainment chairman Shawn Layden said that cross-play was open to pretty much any PS4 developer that wants it.

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JPMorgan Chase Announces JPM Coin, Becomes First Big US Bank With Own Cryptocurrency
Posted by News Fetcher on February 14 '19 at 11:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon called bitcoin a fraud in September 2017 and said, "You can't have a business where people can invent a currency out of thin air and think that people who are buying it are really smart." By January 2018 he had walked the remarks back but said he still was "not interested that much in the subject at all." In February 2018, J.P. Morgan called cryptocurrencies "risk factors" to its business, something it never previously said. And now J.P. Morgan has become the first U.S. bank to offer its own cryptocurrency. From a report: But don't expect it to become an investment vehicle -- at least for now. The cryptocurrency, called "JPM Coin," is intended for the bank's wholesale payments business that moves $6 trillion around the world daily. As long-time former banker and now cryptocurrency industry figure Alan Silbert said of Dimon in a January 2018 tweet, "Backpedaling is the first step in the program towards walking the path."

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Amazon Pulls Out of Planned New York City Campus
Posted by News Fetcher on February 14 '19 at 09:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department:
As expected, Amazon said on Thursday that it was canceling plans to build a corporate campus in New York City [The link may be paywalled; alternative source]. From a report: The company had planned to build a sprawling complex in Long Island City, Queens, in exchange for nearly $3 billion in state and city incentives. But the deal had run into fierce opposition from local lawmakers who criticized providing subsidies to one of the world's richest companies. Amazon said the deal would have created more than 25,000 jobs.

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The Internet, Divided Between the US and China, Has Become a Battleground
Posted by News Fetcher on February 14 '19 at 09:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
The global internet is splitting in two. From a report: One side, championed in China, is a digital landscape where mobile payments have replaced cash. Smartphones are the devices that matter, and users can shop, chat, bank and surf the web with one app. The downsides: The government reigns absolute, and it is watching -- you may have to communicate with friends in code. And don't expect to access Google or Facebook.

On the other side, in much of the world, the internet is open to all. Users can say what they want, mostly, and web developers can roll out pretty much anything. People accustomed to China's version complain this other internet can seem clunky. You must toggle among apps to chat, shop, bank and surf the web. Some websites still don't seem to be designed with smartphones in mind. The two zones are beginning to clash with the advent of the superfast new generation of mobile technology called 5G.

China aims to be the biggest provider of gear underlying the networks, and along with that it is pushing client countries to adopt its approach to the web -- essentially urging some to use versions of the "Great Firewall" that Beijing uses to control its internet and contain the West's influence. Battles are popping up around the world as Chinese tech giants try to use their market power at home to expand abroad, something they've largely failed to do so far. Some Silicon Valley executives worry the divergence risks giving Chinese companies an advantage in new technologies such as artificial intelligence, partly because they face fewer restrictions over privacy and data protection. Further reading: Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt Predicts the Internet Will Split in Two By 2028 -- and One Part Will Be Led By China.

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Software Pirates Use Apple Tech To Put Hacked Apps on iPhones
Posted by News Fetcher on February 14 '19 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's opening-pandora-box department:
Pirates used Apple's enterprise developer certificates to put out hacked versions of some major apps, a report said Thursday. From the report: Illicit software distributors such as TutuApp, Panda Helper, AppValley and TweakBox have found ways to use digital certificates to get access to a program Apple introduced to let corporations distribute business apps to their employees without going through Apple's tightly controlled App Store. Using so-called enterprise developer certificates, these pirate operations are providing modified versions of popular apps to consumers, enabling them to stream music without ads and to circumvent fees and rules in games, depriving Apple and legitimate app makers of revenue. By doing so, the pirate app distributors are violating the rules of Apple's developer programs, which only allow apps to be distributed to the general public through the App Store. Downloading modified versions violates the terms of service of almost all major apps.

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Africa's Black Panthers Emerge From a Century in the Shadows
Posted by News Fetcher on February 14 '19 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's extremely-rare-sightings department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: It's a scientific coup to warm the heart of any superhero fan: the first documented sightings of a black panther in Africa in about 100 years [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source], not far from where Marvel places the fictional setting of its Oscar-nominated "Black Panther." A team from the Institute for Conservation Research of the San Diego Zoo Global and the Loisaba Conservancy in Kenya confirmed the existence of black leopards -- as the animals are also known -- in Laikipia County, an area north of Nairobi, Kenya's capital. "It is certain black panthers have been there all along, but good footage that could confirm it has always been absent until now," Nicholas Pilfold, a biologist at the San Diego institute, said in an Instagram post. "Black panthers are uncommon, only about 11 percent of leopards globally are black," he added. "But black panthers in Africa are extremely rare."

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Open Source Project Aims To Make Ubuntu Usable on Arm-Powered Windows Laptops
Posted by News Fetcher on February 14 '19 at 07:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department:
A group of programmers and device hackers are working to bring proper support for Ubuntu to Arm-powered Windows laptops, starting with first-generation Snapdragon 835 systems, like the HP Envy x2 and Asus NovaGo. From a report: The aarch64-laptops project provides prebuilt images for the aforementioned notebook PCs, as well as the Lenovo Miix 630. Although Ubuntu and other Linux distributions support aarch64 (ARMv8) by default, various obstacles including the design and configuration of Qualcomm Snapdragon processors make these default images not practically usable. The aarch64-laptops project developers are aiming to address these difficulties, though work is still ongoing. Presently, the TouchPad does not work properly on the Asus, with all three lacking proper support for on-board storage and Wi-Fi, which rely on UFS support. According to their documentation, this is being worked on upstream.

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Man With 3-D-Printed Gun Had Hit List of Lawmakers, US Says
Posted by News Fetcher on February 14 '19 at 07:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's breaking-news department:
A Dallas man was sentenced to eight years in prison on Wednesday after the authorities caught him with a partially 3-D-printed rifle and what federal prosecutors described as a hit list of lawmakers in his backpack. From a report: The man, Eric Gerard McGinnis, had been under a court order that prohibited him from possessing a firearm when he was discovered to have had the partially printed AR-15-style rifle in July 2017, according to a statement from the United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Texas. Mr. McGinnis, 43, was charged with possession of an unregistered firearm and possession of ammunition by a prohibited person, prosecutors said. A jury later convicted him on both counts.

Prosecutors said in their statement that police officers had arrested Mr. McGinnis after hearing three shots he had apparently fired in a wooded area just outside of Dallas. They also discovered a list in his backpack labeled "9/11/2001 list of American Terrorists." The list included the office and home addresses of "several federal lawmakers, both Democrat and Republican," the statement said. Prosecutors did not reveal the names on Mr. McGinnis's list, but at the sentencing hearing on Wednesday they disclosed that a forensic analysis of his electronic devices suggested that Mr. McGinnis "had a strong interest" in James T. Hodgkinson, the man who the authorities say shot and wounded Representative Steve Scalise and several others at a congressional baseball practice in June 2017.

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Smart Cat Shelter Uses AI To Let Strays Inside, Keep Dogs Out
Posted by News Fetcher on February 14 '19 at 05:51 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's animal-friendly department:
"China's top search engine company Baidu made a smart cat shelter in Beijing that uses AI to verify when a cat is approaching and open its door," writes Slashdot reader AmiMoJo. "The cat shelter is heated and also offers cats food and water." Mashable reports: It can accurately identify 174 different cat breeds, as to let them enter and exit as they please. A door will slide open if the camera spots a cat, but it won't work on dogs. Multiple cats can fit inside the space. Another neat camera feature is that it can be also used to detect if the cat is sick -- it can identify four common cat diseases, such as inflammation, skin problems, and physical trauma. Once a cat is identified as needing care, associated volunteers can be informed to come and collect it. "Homeless cats often struggle to survive the winter in Beijing, and even though volunteers feed them their water bowls freeze over in the cold," adds AmiMoJo. "Due to many people living in apartments that don't allow pets, they can't simply bring the cats home." Baidu has a blog post detailing the shelter and its use of artificial intelligence.

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Airbus Is Giving Up On the A380
Posted by News Fetcher on February 14 '19 at 04:31 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's end-of-an-era department:
"It's the end of the line for the biggest passenger jet ever built: the A380 is going to cease production," writes Slashdot reader Required Snark, citing a report from CNN. From the report: The European plane maker said Thursday that it will stop delivering A380s in 2021 after its key customer, Dubai-based airline Emirates, slashed its orders for the huge jetliner. "We have no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production, despite all our sales efforts with other airlines in recent years," Airbus CEO Tom Enders said in a company statement. The company has delivered 234 of the superjumbos to date, less than a quarter of the 1,200 it predicted it would sell when it first introduced the double-decker aircraft. Its plans were undermined by airlines shifting their interest to lighter, more fuel efficient passenger jets that have reduced the need to ferry passengers between the big hubs. "Passengers all over the world love to fly on this great aircraft. Hence today's announcement is painful for us and the A380 communities worldwide," Enders said. "But keep in mind that A380s will still roam the skies for many years to come and Airbus will of course continue to fully support the A380 operators."

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Personal Information of 14.8 Million 500px Users Exposed In Security Breach
Posted by News Fetcher on February 14 '19 at 03:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's another-day-another-leak department:
Photo-sharing service 500px has announced that it was the victim of a hack back in July 2018 and that personal data was exposed for all the roughly 14.8 million accounts that existed at the time. PetaPixel reports: In an email sent out to users and an announcement posted to its website, 500px states that it was only on February 8th, 2019, that its team learned of an unauthorized intrusion to its system that occurred on or around July 5th, 2018. The personal data that may have been stolen by the intruder includes first and last names, usernames, email addresses, password hashes (i.e. not plaintext passwords), location (i.e. city, state, country), birth date, and gender. The company has reset all 500px account passwords, so to get back into your account you'll need to pick a new one using the recovery email system. "At this time, there is no indication of unauthorized access to your account, and no evidence that other data associated with your user profile was affected, such as credit card information (which is not stored on our servers), if used to make any purchases, or any other sensitive personal information," 500px says. "We recommend you change your password on any other website or app on which you use a password that is the same as or similar to your password for your 500px account," 500px says.

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Your GPS Devices May Stop Working On April 6 If You Don't Or Can't Update Firmware
Posted by News Fetcher on February 13 '19 at 11:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's properly-screwed department:
Zorro shares a report from The Register: Older satnavs and such devices won't be able to use America's Global Positioning System properly after April 6 unless they've been suitably updated or designed to handle a looming epoch rollover. GPS signals from satellites include a timestamp, needed in part to calculate one's location, that stores the week number using ten binary bits. That means the week number can have 210 or 1,024 integer values, counting from zero to 1,023 in this case. Every 1,024 weeks, or roughly every 20 years, the counter rolls over from 1,023 to zero. The first Saturday in April will mark the end of the 1,024th week, after which the counter will spill over from 1,023 to zero. The last time the week number overflowed like this was in 1999, nearly two decades on from the first epoch in January 1980. You can see where this is going. If devices in use today are not designed or patched to handle this latest rollover, they will revert to an earlier year after that 1,024th week in April, causing attempts to calculate position to potentially fail. System and navigation data could even be corrupted, we're warned. U.S. Homeland Security explained the issue in a write-up this week. GPS.gov also notes that the new CNAV and MNAV message formats will use a 13-bit week number, so this issue shouldn't happen again anytime soon. The site recommend users consult the manufacturer of their equipment to make sure they have the proper updates in place.

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Electric Car Batteries Might Be Worth Recycling, But Bus Batteries Aren't Yet
Posted by News Fetcher on February 13 '19 at 08:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's reuse-and-recycle department:
Iwastheone shares a report from Ars Technica: Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University published a paper in Nature Sustainability this week that looks at the emissions and economic costs associated with recycling automotive batteries. They specifically addressed batteries with three types of cathode chemistry: nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC), nickel cobalt aluminum oxide (NCA), and iron phosphate (LFP). The first two cathode chemistries are common in passenger vehicles, and LFP is common in buses (bus maker BYD uses LFP batteries, for example). Since the packaging of batteries is important to the recycling method, cylindrical batteries (the types of cells that Tesla makes) are compared to pouch cell batteries in the analysis. The researchers also compared recycling methods. These include pyrometallurgical recycling (exposing the valuable parts of the battery to high temperatures and then recovering those metals as alloys), hydrometallurgical recycling (leaching valuable metals from batteries and separating the desired metals from the resulting solution), and "direct cathode recycling," where the battery's cathode is retained as-is, but new lithium is added in such a way that the battery regains its original performance.

< article continued at Slashdot's reuse-and-recycle department >

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Netflix Has Saved Every Choice You've Ever Made In 'Black Mirror: Bandersnatch'
Posted by News Fetcher on February 13 '19 at 07:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's data-harvesting-operations department:
According to a technology policy researcher, Netflix records all the choices you make in Black Mirror's Bandersnatch episode. "Michael Veale, a technology policy researcher at University College London, wanted to know what data Netflix was collecting from Bandersnatch," reports Motherboard. "People had been speculating a lot on Twitter about Netflix's motivations," Veale told Motherboard in an email. "I thought it would be a fun test to show people how you can use data protection law to ask real questions you have." From the report: The law Veale used is Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The GDPR granted EU citizens a right to access -- anyone can request a wealth of information from a company collecting data. Users can formally request a company such as Netflix tell them the reason its collecting data, the categories they're sorting data into, third parties it's sharing the data with, and other information. Veale used this right of access to ask Netflix questions about Bandersnatch and revealed the answers in a Twitter thread. He found that Netflix is tracking the decisions its users make (which makes sense considering how the film works), and that it is keeping those decisions long after a user has finished the film. It is also stores aggregated forms of the users choice to "help [Netflix] determine how to improve this model of storytelling in the context of a show or movie," the company said in its email response to him. The .csv and PDF files displayed Veale's journey through Bandersnatch, every choice displayed in a long line for him to see.

< article continued at Slashdot's data-harvesting-operations department >

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Google Will Spend $13 Billion On US Real Estate In 2019
Posted by News Fetcher on February 13 '19 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's high-roller department:
In a blog post today, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company is building new data centers and offices and expanding several key locations across the U.S., spending $13 billion this year. CNBC reports: Pichai outlined the plans, which include opening new data centers in Nevada, Ohio, Texas and Nebraska, the first time the company will have infrastructure locations in those states. The company is also doubling its workforce in Virginia, providing greater access to Washington, D.C., with a new office and more data center space, and expanding its New York campus at Hudson Square.

Google is showing its willingness to further open its wallet, after a year in which capital spending more than doubled to $25.46 billion. The company didn't say home much each location will cost or provide information on tax incentives from local communities. Pichai said the plans will likely create tens of thousands of construction jobs across Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Texas and Virginia, as well as Oklahoma and South Carolina, where the company is expanding existing data centers. Google didn't say how many new jobs the data centers and business offices would create. Pichai also said that the company is adding new office buildings in Texas and Massachusetts, building out more space in Illinois, Wisconsin, Washington state and Georgia, and redeveloping California locations near Los Angeles and in the Bay Area, including the Westside Pavillion and Spruce Goose Hangar.

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Game of Thrones Hacker Worked With US Defector To Hack Air Force Employees of Iran
Posted by News Fetcher on February 13 '19 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fraternizing-with-the-enemy department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: The U.S. Department of Justice unsealed today espionage-related charges against a former U.S. Air Force service member who defected to Iran and helped the country's hackers target her former Air Force colleagues. Besides charges and an arrest warrant issued in the name of the former USAF service member, the DOJ also indicted four Iranian hackers who supposedly carried out the cyber-attacks acting on information provided by Witt. The most notable of the four Iranian hackers is Behzad Mesri, who U.S. authorities also charged in November 2017 with hacking HBO, stealing scripts for unaired episodes of season 6 of the hit series Game Of Thrones TV show, and later attempting to extort HBO execs for $6 million.

But at the heart of today's indictment stands Monica Elfriede Witt, 39, a former US Air Force counter-intelligence special agent specialized in Middle East operations, who served for the Air Force between 1997 and 2008, and later worked as a DOD contractor until 2010 --including for Booz Allen Hamilton, the same defense company where Edward Snowden worked. [...] The DOJ claims Witt has been working ever since with IRGC hacking units to craft and fine-tune cyber-operations against her former Air Force colleagues, some of whom she knew personally. [...] All the five suspects named in the indictment are still at large, believed to be located in Iran. The DOJ says Witt now goes by the names of Fatemah Zahra or Narges Witt.

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How India's Single Time Zone Is Hurting Its People
Posted by News Fetcher on February 13 '19 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cause-and-effect department:
"The BBC reports on the detrimental effects of all of India being in one time zone since British Colonial rule," writes Slashdot reader dryriver. From the report: India stretches 3,000km (1,864 miles) from east to west, spanning roughly 30 degrees longitude. This corresponds with a two-hour difference in mean solar times -- the passage of time based on the position of the sun in the sky. The U.S. equivalent would be New York and Utah sharing one time zone. Except that in this case, it also affects more than a billion people -- hundreds of millions of whom live in poverty. The school day starts at more or less the same time everywhere in India but children go to bed later and have reduced sleep in areas where the sun sets later. An hour's delay in sunset time reduces children's sleep by 30 minutes. Using data from the India Time Survey and the national Demographic and Health Survey, [Cornell University Economist] Maulik Jagnani found that school-going children exposed to later sunsets get fewer years of education, and are less likely to complete primary and middle school. He found evidence that suggested that sunset-induced sleep deprivation is more pronounced among the poor, especially in periods when households face severe financial constraints. "This might be because sleep environments among poor households are associated with noise, heat, mosquitoes, overcrowding, and overall uncomfortable physical conditions. The poor may lack the financial resources to invest in sleep-inducing goods like window shades, separate rooms, indoor beds and adjust their sleep schedules," he told me.

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Shlayer Malware Disables macOS Gatekeeper To Run Unsigned Payloads
Posted by News Fetcher on February 13 '19 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's behind-the-scenes department:
A new variant of the multi-stage Shlayer malware known to target macOS users has been observed in the wild, now being capable to escalate privileges using a two-year-old technique and to disable the Gatekeeper protection mechanism to run unsigned second stage payloads. Bleeping Computer reports: This new Shlayer variant unearthed by Carbon Black's Threat Analysis Unit (TAU) targets all macOS releases up to the latest 10.14.3 Mojave, and will arrive on the targets' machines as a DMG, PKG, ISO, or ZIP files, some of them also signed with a valid Apple developer ID to make them look legitimate. Shlayer samples found by TAU also use malicious shell scripts to download additional payloads just like older installments did, and, in the case of samples distributed as DMG images, will surreptitiously launch a .command script in the background after the user launches the fake Flash installer. The malicious script included in the DMG is encoded using base64 and will decrypt a second AES encrypted script which will be executed automatically after being decrypted.

One it successfully downloads the second stage malware payload, Shlayer will "to escalate privileges with sudo using a technique invoking /usr/libexec/security_authtrampoline," presented by Patrick Wardle in his Death by 1000 Installers talk at DEFCON 2017. The next step is to download extra payloads which all contain adware according to TAU and it makes sure they'll be able to run on the compromised Mac by disabling the Gatekeeper protection mechanism. After this is accomplished, all extra payloads downloaded and launched by Shlayer will be seen as whitelisted software because the OS will no longer check if they are signed with an Apple developer ID. Also, just in case the malware is not able to disable Gatekeeper on the infected Mac, some of the second stage payloads are also signed with valid developer IDs.

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The Stolen Equifax Data Has Never Been Found, Experts Suspect a Spy Scheme
Posted by News Fetcher on February 13 '19 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's to-be-continued department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: On September 7, 2017, the world heard an alarming announcement from credit ratings giant Equifax: In a brazen cyber-attack, somebody had stolen sensitive personal information from more than 140 million people, nearly half the population of the U.S. It was the consumer data security scandal of the decade. The information included social security numbers, driver's license numbers, information from credit disputes and other personal details. CEO Richard Smith stepped down under fire. Lawmakers changed credit freeze laws and instilled new regulatory oversight of credit ratings agencies. Then, something unusual happened. The data disappeared. Completely.

CNBC talked to eight experts, including data "hunters" who scour the dark web for stolen information, senior cybersecurity managers, top executives at financial institutions, senior intelligence officials who played a part in the investigation and consultants who helped support it. All of them agreed that a breach happened, and personal information from 143 million people was stolen. But none of them knows where the data is now. It's never appeared on any hundreds of underground websites selling stolen information. Security experts haven't seen the data used for in any of the ways they'd expect in a theft like this -- not for impersonating victims, not for accessing other websites, nothing. Most experts familiar with the case now believe that the thieves were working for a foreign government, and are using the information not for financial gain, but to try and identify and recruit spies.

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