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Apple Mac Computers Are Being Targeted By Ransomware, Spyware
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '17 at 03:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's sophisticated-attacks department:
If you are a Mac user, you should be aware of new variants of malware that have been created specifically to target Apple computers; one is ransomware and the other is spyware. "The two programs were uncovered by the security firms Fortinet and AlienVault, which found a portal on the Tor 'dark web' network that acted as a shopfront for both," reports BBC. "In a blog post, Fortinet said the site claimed that the creators behind it were professional software engineers with 'extensive experience' of creating working code." From the report: Those wishing to use either of the programs had been urged to get in touch and provide details of how they wanted the malware to be set up. The malware's creators had said that payments made by ransomware victims would be split between themselves and their customers. Researchers at Fortinet contacted the ransomware writers pretending they were interested in using the product and, soon afterwards, were sent a sample of the malware. Analysis revealed that it used much less sophisticated encryption than the many variants seen targeting Windows machines, said the firm. However, they added, any files scrambled with the ransomware would be completely lost because it did a very poor job of handling the decryption keys needed to restore data. The free Macspy spyware, offered via the same site, can log which keys are pressed, take screenshots and tap into a machine's microphone. In its analysis, AlienVault researcher Peter Ewane said the malicious code in the spyware tried hard to evade many of the standard ways security programs spot and stop such programs.

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Tesla Model X the First SUV Ever To Achieve 5-Star Crash Rating in Every Category
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '17 at 03:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's going-forward department:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has awarded the 2017 Tesla Model X five-star crash safety ratings in every category. From the company's blog: More than just resulting in a 5-star rating, the data from NHTSA's testing shows that Model X has the lowest probability of injury of any SUV it has ever tested. In fact, of all the cars NHTSA has ever tested, Model X's overall probability of injury was second only to Model S. Model X performs so much better in a crash than gas-powered SUVs because of its all-electric architecture and powertrain design. The rigid, fortified battery pack that powers Model X is mounted beneath the floor of the vehicle creating a center of gravity so low that Model X has the lowest rollover probability of any SUV on the road. No other SUV has ever come close to meeting and exceeding this rollover requirement.

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FCC Can't Cap the Cost of Cross-State Prison Phone Calls, Court Rules
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '17 at 02:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's across-state-lines department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: The Federal Communications Commission does not have the authority to cap the cost of prison and jail phone calls within states, an appeals court ruled in a decision today, dealing a massive blow to inmates and their advocates who have spent years litigating caps on the cost of such calls. Over several years, the FCC, under Democratic leadership, moved to cap the cost of calls for inmates. Activists argued that prisoners were effectively being extorted by private companies charging exorbitant rates -- a move that benefited private prisons and the states that got cuts of the revenue. Some of those states joined with companies in appealing the FCC's rules. The agency first moved to cap rates across state lines, and then, later, within states. Today, the court ruled that the FCC had overstepped when it attempted to regulate the price of calls within states. In the majority opinion, the court left little wiggle room for advocates of price-capping, with the possible exception of the cross-state caps, which are a minority of calls made by inmates. The opinion vacated not only the agency's proposed caps for in-state calls, but said the agency also lacked justification to require reports on video calling services. It also vacated a provision that would ban site commission payments.

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The New York Times Is Expanding Comments With the Help of Google's AI
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '17 at 02:01 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's AI-to-rescue department:
An anonymous reader shares a Recode report: The New York Times says it is going to expand the availability of online comments from 10 percent of articles to 80 percent by the end of the year, without adding more moderators to its staff. How are they going to do this? With a machine-learning algorithm, of course. The Times today is rolling out a new structure of comment moderation using software from Google called Perspective, developed by the company's incubator, Jigsaw. The Moderator tool will automatically approve some comments and help moderators wade through others more quickly.

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Hello's Sleep-tracking Kickstarter Hit, Which Raised Over $42M In Three Years, Collapses
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '17 at 12:42 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's collapse department:
Reader AmiMoJo writes: A sleep-tracking tech start-up founded by a Briton, which was one of Kickstarter's biggest success stories, has collapsed. Hello raised more than $2.4m (1.9m pound) for its Sense bedroom monitor via the crowdfunding site in 2014, and went on to attract a further $40.5m. Private backers included Singapore's sovereign wealth fund Temasek and Facebook Messenger chief David Marcus. Hello confirmed it would "soon be shutting down", via Medium's news site. The equipment produced a unique score for the previous night's sleep and aimed to wake the owner up at the best point in their sleep cycle.

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Google Hires Key Apple Chip Architect To Build Custom Chips For Pixel Phones
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '17 at 12:42 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's musical-chair department:
A recent hire at Google indicates big changes are coming for future versions of the Google's Pixel phone. Manu Gulati, an Apple micro-architect who worked on the company's chip development for nearly eight years, has just joined Google. From a report: Gulati started working at Apple in 2009, and was instrumental to the company's efforts to build custom chips for the iPad, the iPhone and Apple TV. Apple began using its own chips in 2010, starting with the introduction of the iPad in 2010, which was powered by the company's A4 chip. To this day, the company uses custom-designed microchips for each of their devices, which make it possible to optimize processors both for performance and energy consumption. In the industry, these integrated chips for mobile devices are also known as SoCs, or "systems on a chip." In contrast, Google relied on a chip designed and manufactured by Qualcomm when it introduced its first Pixel phones last fall. The same chip is being used by a number of other Android phone manufacturers, including HTC, LG, Lenovo and Asus -- all of which goes to say that these phones all offer very similar performance specs. Qualcomm has become the de facto-manufacturer for higher-end Android phone chips, making it harder for the companies to differentiate their devices from one another.

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Firefox 54 Arrives With Multi-Process Support For All Users
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '17 at 11:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's browser-news department:
An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla today launched Firefox 54 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. The new version includes the next major phase of multi-process support, which streamlines memory use, improving responsiveness and speed. The Electrolysis project, which is the largest change to Firefox code ever, is live. Firefox now uses up to four processes to run webpage content across all open tabs. This means that complex webpages in one tab have a much lower impact on responsiveness and speed in other tabs, and Firefox finally makes better use of your computer's hardware.

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Microsoft Warns of 'Destructive Cyberattacks', Issues New Windows XP Patches
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '17 at 11:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
Ed Bott, reporting for ZDNet: Citing an "elevated risk for destructive cyberattacks," Microsoft today released an assortment of security updates designed to block attacks similar to those responsible for the devastating WannaCry/WannaCrypt ransomware outbreak last month. Today's critical security updates are in addition to the normal Patch Tuesday releases, Microsoft said. They'll be delivered automatically through Windows Update to devices running supported versions, including Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and post-2008 Windows Server releases. But in an unprecedented move, Microsoft announced that it was also making the patches available simultaneously for manual download and installation on unsupported versions, including Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. The new updates can be found in the Microsoft Download Center or, alternatively, in the Update Catalog.

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Uber CEO To Take Leave, Diminished Role After Workplace Scandals
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '17 at 10:02 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's fixing-things department:
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick will take a leave of absence from the world's most valuable privately held company, he announced in an email to employees Tuesday. From a report: Uber Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick told staff he plans to take a leave of absence, without disclosing a return date. The company will strip him of some duties and appoint an independent chair to limit his influence after a slew of scandals, according to an advance copy of a report prepared for the board. At a staff meeting Tuesday, the company will convey the results of a probe conducted by Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general who Uber hired to look into allegations of harassment, discrimination and an aggressive culture. The 47 recommendations include creating a board oversight committee, rewriting Uber's cultural values, reducing alcohol use at work events, and prohibiting intimate relationships between employees and their bosses. Uber's board met Sunday to review a detailed version of the report and voted unanimously to approve the recommendations. Afterward, the San Francisco-based company ousted Emil Michael, Uber's head of business.

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Intel Announces X299, Skylake-X, and Kaby Lake-X Release Schedule
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '17 at 10:02 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's mark-the-date department:
Ian Cutress, writing for AnandTech: At Computex a couple of weeks ago, Intel announced its new Basin Falls platform, consisting of the X299 chipset with motherboards based on it, a pair of Kaby Lake-X processors, and a set of Skylake-X processors going all the way up to eighteen cores, denoting the first use of Intel's enterprise level high core-count silicon in a consumer product. As part of Intel's E3 press release, as well as their presentations at the show, the new Core i9 processors were discussed, along with Intel's continued commitment towards eSports. Intel gave the dates for the new platform as the following: 4, 6, 8 and 10-core parts available for pre-order from June 19th; 4, 6, 8 and 10-core parts shipping to consumers from June 26th; 12-core parts expected to ship in August; and 14, 16 and 18 core parts expected to ship in October.

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Verizon Closes $4.5B Acquisition of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer Resigns
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '17 at 08:42 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's end-of-an-era department:
An anonymous reader shares a TechCrunch article: After Yahoo shareholder approval last week, Verizon today announced that it has finally closed its acquisition of Yahoo, which it plans to combine with its AOL assets into a subsidiary called Oath, covering some 50 media brands and 1 billion people globally. It will be led by Tim Armstrong, who was the CEO of AOL before this. As expected, Marissa Mayer, who had been the CEO of Yahoo, has resigned. "Given the inherent changes to Marissa Mayer's role with Yahoo resulting from the closing of the transaction, Mayer has chosen to resign from Yahoo. Verizon wishes Mayer well in her future endeavors," Verizon said in a statement. You can find Marissa in her own words here on Tumblr. It's a long list of the achievements made with her at the helm these last five years, and -- alas -- you will only read of the struggles that Yahoo went through between the lines. The deal, nevertheless, brings to a close the independent life of one of the oldest and most iconic internet brands, arguably the one that led and set the pace for search -- the cornerstone of doing business on the spaghetti-like internet -- at least until Google came along and surpassed Yahoo many times over, and led the company into a number of disastrous and costly attempts to redefine itself, ultimately culminating in the sale we have here today.

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Cook Says Apple Is Focusing on Making an Autonomous Car System
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '17 at 08:42 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's It's-coming department:
An anonymous reader shares a Bloomberg report: After years toiling away in secret on its car project, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has for the first time laid out exactly what the company is up to in the automotive market: It's concentrating on self-driving technology. "We're focusing on autonomous systems," Cook said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. "It's a core technology that we view as very important. We sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects," Cook said in his most detailed comments to date on Apple's plans in the car space. "It's probably one of the most difficult A.I. projects actually to work on." [...] "There is a major disruption looming there," Cook said on Bloomberg Television, citing self-driving technology, electric vehicles and ride-hailing. "You've got kind of three vectors of change happening generally in the same time frame." Cook was also bullish about the prospects for electric vehicles, a market which last week helped Tesla become the world's fourth-biggest carmaker by market capitalization, even as it ranks well outside the top 10 by unit sales."It's a marvelous experience not to stop at the filling station or the gas station," Cook said.

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Chess.com Has Stopped Working On 32bit iPads After the Site Hit 2^31 Game Sessions
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '17 at 07:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's call-IT department:
Apple's decision to go all in on 64bit-capable devices, OS and apps has caused some trouble for Chess.com, a popular online website where people go to play chess. Users with a 32bit iPad are unable to play games on the website, according to numerous complaints posted over the weekend and on Monday. Erik, the CEO of Chess.com said in a statement, "Thanks for noticing. Obviously this is embarrassing and I'm sorry about it. As a non-developer I can't really explain how or why this happened, but I can say that we do our best and are sorry when that falls short." Hours later, he had an explanation: The reason that some iOS devices are unable to connect to live chess games is because of a limit in 32bit devices which cannot handle gameIDs above 2,147,483,647. So, literally, once we hit more than 2 billion games, older iOS devices fail to interpret that number! This was obviously an unforeseen bug that was nearly impossible to anticipate and we apologize for the frustration. We are currently working on a fix and should have it resolved within 48 hours.

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Russian Cyber Hacks On US Electoral System Far Wider Than Previously Known
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '17 at 07:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's more-revelations department:
An anonymous reader shares a Bloomberg article: Russia's cyberattack on the U.S. electoral system before Donald Trump's election was far more widespread than has been publicly revealed, including incursions into voter databases and software systems in almost twice as many states as previously reported. In Illinois, investigators found evidence that cyber intruders tried to delete or alter voter data. The hackers accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day, and in at least one state accessed a campaign finance database. Details of the wave of attacks, in the summer and fall of 2016, were provided by three people with direct knowledge of the U.S. investigation into the matter. In all, the Russian hackers hit systems in a total of 39 states, one of them said. The scope and sophistication so concerned Obama administration officials that they took an unprecedented step -- complaining directly to Moscow over a modern-day "red phone." In October, two of the people said, the White House contacted the Kremlin on the back channel to offer detailed documents of what it said was Russia's role in election meddling and to warn that the attacks risked setting off a broader conflict.

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Someone Built a Tool To Get Congress' Browser History
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '17 at 05:51 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's retaliatory-actions department:
A software engineer in North Carolina has created a new plugin that lets website administrators monitor when someone accesses their site from an IP address associated with the federal government. It was created in part to protest a measure signed by President Trump in April that allows internet service providers to sell sensitive information about your online habits without needing your consent. Motherboard reports: A new tool created by Matt Feld, the founder of several nonprofits including Speak Together, could help the public get a sense of what elected officials are up to online. Feld, a software engineer working in North Carolina, created Speak Together to share "technical projects that could be used to reduce the opaqueness between government and people," he told Motherboard over the phone. "It was born out of just me trying to get involved and finding the process to be confusing." The tool lets website administrators track whether members of Congress, the Senate, White House staff, or Federal Communications Commission (FCC) staff are looking at their site. If you use Feld's plug-in, you'll be able to see whether someone inside government is reading your blog. You won't be able to tell if President Trump viewed a web page, but you will be able to see that it was someone using an IP address associated with the White House. The tool works similarly to existing projects like CongressEdits, an automated Twitter account that tweets whenever a Wikipedia page is edited from IP addresses associated with Congress.

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Hackers Can Spoof Phone Numbers, Track Users Via 4G VoLTE Mobile Technology
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '17 at 03:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's long-list-of-issues department:
An anonymous reader writes: "A team of researchers from French company P1 Security has detailed a long list of issues with the 4G VoLTE telephony, a protocol that has become quite popular all over the world in recent years and is currently in use in the US, Asia, and most European countries," reports Bleeping Computer. Researchers say they identified several flaws in the VoLTE protocol (a mixture of LTE and VoIP) that allow an attacker to spoof anyone's phone number and place phone calls under new identities, and extract IMSI and geo-location data from pre-call message exchanges. These issues can be exploited by both altering some VoLTE packets and actively interacting with targets, but also by passively listening to VoLTE traffic on an Android device. Some of these flaws don't even need a full call/connection to be established between the victim and the target for the data harvesting operation to take place. Additionally, another flaw allows users to make calls and use mobile data without being billed. The team's research paper, entitled "Subscribers remote geolocation and tracking using 4G VoLTE enabled Android phone" was presented last week at SSTIC (Symposium sur la Securite des Technologies de l'Information et des Communications), a security conference held each year in Rennes, France.

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Man Sentenced to Death For Blasphemous Facebook Comments In Pakistan
Posted by News Fetcher on June 12 '17 at 11:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's there's-a-first-for-everything department:
In what is believed to be "the first time the death penalty had been awarded in a case related to social media," a 30-year-old man in Pakistan has been sentenced to death for blasphemy in comments made on Facebook. Gizmodo reports: The prosecutor told The Times of India that Taimoor Raza was arrested "after playing blasphemous and hate speech material on his phone on a bus stop in Bahawalpur, where a counter-terrorism officer arrested him and confiscated his phone." It was the material on Raza's phone that led to his arrest. The Guardian reports that the accused's brother said Raza "indulged in a sectarian debate on Facebook with a person, who we later come to know, was a [counter-terrorism department] official with the name of Muhammad Usman." Raza's defense attorney told The Guardian the initial charges were limited to "insulting remarks on sectarian grounds," which carries a maximum two-year jail sentence, but that "derogatory acts against prophet Muhammad," which carry a death sentence, were added later. According to The Times of India, Raza will be able to appeal the ruling to the Pakistani High Court and the Supreme Court. Facebook said in a statement: "We are deeply saddened and concerned by the death sentence served in Pakistan for a Facebook post. Facebook uses powerful systems to keep people's information secure and tools to keep their accounts safe, and we do not provide any government with direct access to people's data. We will continue to protect our community from unnecessary or overreaching government intervention."

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Wisconsin Speech Bill Might Allow Students To Challenge Science Professors
Posted by News Fetcher on June 12 '17 at 08:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's blind-eye department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: There have been some well-publicized incidents in which student groups or other protesters have interfered with scheduled appearances by right-wing speakers at U.S. universities. In response, a number of states have considered "campus free speech" bills based on model legislation produced by the Goldwater Institute, a conservative think tank. Different bills introduce specific penalties for students who shout down the speech of others and prevent college administrators from disinviting speakers, to give two examples. One such bill is being debated in Wisconsin. Faculty and university officials in the state are concerned about what else might be prevented by the bill's overly vague language, according to the local Cap Times. As often happens with bills relevant to science education, the debate has also elicited some rather bizarre comments from the bill's sponsors. The trouble comes from this section of the bill: "That each institution shall strive to remain neutral, as an institution, on the public policy controversies of the day, and may not take action, as an institution, on the public policy controversies of the day in such a way as to require students or faculty to publicly express a given view of social policy." While the bills' scope is focused on public events involving invited speakers, there are a couple key questions here. University officials want to know how far this requirement "to remain neutral" extends. For example, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has spoken out against proposed bans on stem cell research on campus. Would the university run afoul of this law if it did so again?

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Why Ethereum Is Outpacing Bitcoin
Posted by News Fetcher on June 12 '17 at 07:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's eli5 department:
Even as Bitcoin hits its all-time high, it has waned people's interest in other cryptocurrency, especially Ethereum. But what makes Ethereum popular among some? From an article on VentureBeat: Despite its recent appreciation in value, as a technology, Bitcoin has stagnated over the last three years. Two rival factions have emerged with violently opposing views on what should be done to allow the Bitcoin network to handle more transactions than it can right now. While Bitcoin has been paralysed by indecision, Ethereum has raced ahead with technology that not only does everything Bitcoin can do faster, in higher volume, and at lower cost -- it does a lot more besides. [...] Bitcoin is really only useful as a store of value. Even then, its usefulness for actually transacting value is limited. In a world where people are used to online payments being confirmed instantly, Bitcoin transactions can take anywhere from tens of minutes to several hours, depending on how busy the network is. It's also expensive -- especially if you're only sending small amounts. The average transaction currently costs about $1.50. Ethereum, on the other hand, was never intended as a Bitcoin competitor. Ethereum is actually a platform for new kinds of decentralized (often financial) applications (dApps) that run on a peer-to-peer network of computers. These dApps are designed to disintermediate the kinds of relationships and transactions for which we have traditionally required things like banks, public registries, and the legal system. For technologists, this is exciting stuff, and a vibrant community of software developers has enthusiastically embraced it. Hundreds of projects, startups, and companies at every scale -- including the likes of Intel, Microsoft, and Samsung -- are building software using Ethereum.

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Report Reveals In-App Purchase Scams In the App Store
Posted by News Fetcher on June 12 '17 at 05:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's keep-an-eye-out department:
In a Medium article titled How to Make $80,000 Per Month On the Apple App Store, Johnny Lin uncovers a scamming trend in which apps advertising fake services are making thousands of dollars a month from in-app purchases. The practice works by manipulating search ads to promote dubious apps in the App Store and then preys on unsuspecting users via the in-app purchase mechanism. MacRumors reports: "I scrolled down the list in the Productivity category and saw apps from well-known companies like Dropbox, Evernote, and Microsoft," said Lin. "That was to be expected. But what's this? The #10 Top Grossing Productivity app (as of June 7th, 2017) was an app called 'Mobile protection :Clean & Security VPN.' Given the terrible title of this app (inconsistent capitalization, misplaced colon, and grammatically nonsensical 'Clean & Security VPN?'), I was sure this was a bug in the rankings algorithm. So I check Sensor Tower for an estimate of the app's revenue, which showed ... $80,000 per month?? That couldn't possibly be right. Now I was really curious." To learn how this could be, Lin installed and ran the app, and was soon prompted to start a "free trial" for an "anti-virus scanner" (iOS does not need anti-virus software thanks to Apple's sandboxing rules for individual apps). Tapping on the trial offer then threw up a Touch ID authentication prompt containing the text "You will pay $99.99 for a 7-day subscription starting Jun 9, 2017." Lin was one touch away from paying $400 a month for a non-existent service offered by a scammer. Lin dug deeper and found several other similar apps making money off the same scam, suggesting a wider disturbing trend, with scam apps regularly showing up in the App Store's top grossing lists.

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