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Stephen Hawking: We Might Have 1,000 Years Left on Earth
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '16 at 09:47 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's things-Hawking-says department:
Stephen Hawking says the only way humankind can escape mass extinction is to find another planet. And the clock is ticking. From a report on USA Today:During a speech at Britain's Oxford University Union, Hawking detailed the history of man's understanding of the universe and reiterated that the future of humankind lies in space. "We must also continue to go into space for the future of humanity," he said. "I don't think we will survive another 1000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet."

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Apple Explores Making iPhones in the US, Finds 'the Cost Will More Than Double': Nikkei
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '16 at 09:47 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's truth-hurts department:
Apple is exploring the idea of making iPhones in the United States. But the company has realized that it will cost more than double to make the shiny new gadgets at home, according to a report on Japan-based outlet Nikkei. From the report:Key Apple assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry, also known as Foxconn Technology Group, has been studying the possibility of moving iPhone production to the U.S., sources told the Nikkei Asian Review. "Apple asked both Foxconn and Pegatron, the two iPhone assemblers, in June to look into making iPhones in the U.S.," a source said. "Foxconn complied, while Pegatron declined to formulate such a plan due to cost concerns." Foxconn, based in the gritty, industrial Tucheng district in suburban Taipei, and its smaller Taiwanese rival churn out more than 200 million iPhones annually from their massive Chinese campuses. Another source said that while Foxconn had been working on the request from Apple Inc., its biggest customer that accounts for more than 50% of its sales, Chairman Terry Gou had been less enthusiastic due to an inevitable rise in production costs. "Making iPhones in the U.S. means the cost will more than double," the source said.

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Britain Has Passed the 'Most Extreme Surveillance Law Ever Passed in a Democracy'
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '16 at 09:47 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department:
Zack Whittaker, reporting for ZDNet: The UK has just passed a massive expansion in surveillance powers, which critics have called "terrifying" and "dangerous." The new law, dubbed the "snoopers' charter," was introduced by then-home secretary Theresa May in 2012, and took two attempts to get passed into law following breakdowns in the previous coalition government. Four years and a general election later -- May is now prime minister -- the bill was finalized and passed on Wednesday by both parliamentary houses. Civil liberties groups have long criticized the bill, with some arguing that the law will let the UK government "document everything we do online." It's no wonder, because it basically does. The law will force internet providers to record every internet customer's top-level web history in real-time for up to a year, which can be accessed by numerous government departments; force companies to decrypt data on demand -- though the government has never been that clear on exactly how it forces foreign firms to do that that; and even disclose any new security features in products before they launch. Not only that, the law also gives the intelligence agencies the power to hack into computers and devices of citizens (known as equipment interference), although some protected professions -- such as journalists and medical staff -- are layered with marginally better protections. In other words, it's the "most extreme surveillance law ever passed in a democracy," according to Jim Killock, director of the Open Rights Group.

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iPhones Secretly Send Call History To Apple, Security Firm Says
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '16 at 08:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's revelations department:
Russian digital forensics Elcomsoft says iPhones send near real-time logs to Apple servers even when iCloud backup is switched off. The firm adds that these logs are stored for up to four months. From a report on the Intercept:"You only need to have iCloud itself enabled" for the data to be sent, said Vladimir Katalov, CEO of Elcomsoft. The logs surreptitiously uploaded to Apple contain a list of all calls made and received on an iOS device, complete with phone numbers, dates and times, and duration. They also include missed and bypassed calls. Elcomsoft said Apple retains the data in a user's iCloud account for up to four months, providing a boon to law enforcement who may not be able to obtain the data either from the user's carrier, who may retain the data for only a short period, or from the user's device, if it's encrypted with an unbreakable passcode. "Absolutely this is an advantage [for law enforcement]," Robert Osgood, a former FBI supervisory agent who now directs a graduate program in computer forensics at George Mason University, said of Apple's call-history uploads. "Four months is a long time [to retain call logs]. It's generally 30 or 60 days for telecom providers, because they don't want to keep more [records] than they absolutely have to. So if Apple is holding data for four months, that could be a very interesting data repository and they may have data that the telecom provider might not."

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Tesla 'Easter Egg' Makes the World's Fastest Car Even Faster
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '16 at 08:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's affinity-for-speed department:
The world's fastest-accelerating car is about to get even faster. Tesla's high-end Model S will soon be able to go from zero to 60 miles per hour in just 2.4 seconds, following a software enhancement next month that shaves off a 10th of a second. That's a new threshold that distinguishes it from any other production car on the road. From a report on Bloomberg: Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk teased the update in a tweet on Wednesday -- but there's a twist. When the changes are delivered wirelessly next month to all P100D Model S vehicles, the owners will have to figure out how to enable it. It's what's known in the tech industry as an "Easter Egg" -- a hidden feature that requires a specific series of gestures to unlock. These speeds are crazy fast. For perspective, the Model S already outpaces sold-out supercars with tiny production runs, such as Ferrari's $1.4 million LaFerrari, Porsche's $845,000 918 Spyder, and Bugatti's $2.3 million Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse. Tesla's seven-seat Model X SUV will also shed a 10th of a second, putting it on a par with a $1.15 million McLaren P1.

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Google Security Engineer Urges Hackers To Focus Less on Anti-Virus and Intrusion Products
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '16 at 06:34 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's controversial-things department:
Google senior security engineer Darren Bilby has asked fellow hackers to expend less effort on tools like antivirus and intrusion detection and instead focus on more meaningful defenses such as whitelisting applications. From a report on The Register:The incident responder from Google's Sydney office, who is charged with researching very advanced attacks including the 2009 Operation Aurora campaign, decried many existing tools as ineffective "magic" that engineers are forced to install for the sake of compliance but at the expense of real security. "Please no more magic," he told the Kiwicon hacking conference in Wellington, New Zealand today. "We need to stop investing in those things we have shown do not work. And sure you are going to have to spend some time on things like intrusion detection systems because that's what the industry has decided is the plan, but allocate some time to working on things that actually genuinely help. [...] Antivirus does some useful things, but in reality it is more like a canary in the coal mine. It is worse than that. It's like we are standing around the dead canary saying 'Thank god it inhaled all the poisonous gas'," he said.

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Thanks To the Princess, Han Wasn't Always Solo
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '16 at 06:34 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's love-affair department:
rmdingler writes: It seems the chemistry was strong with these two. It is interesting to note how long it took this to emerge, as by today's standards, it doesn't rise to nearly the same level of scuttlebutt. Almost 40 years later, Carrie Fisher told People magazine that she and Harrison Ford had an affair on the set of the 1977 film 'Star Wars.' "It was Han and Leia during the week, and Carrie and Harrison during the weekend," she said. "After stumbling on often angst-ridden journals she kept while filming on location in London, she felt the time had come to open up about the formative experience," reports People magazine. "'It's been 40 years,' explains Fisher, who went on to write The Princess Diarist, excerpted exclusively in this week's issue."

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SpaceX Files FCC Application For Internet Access Network With 4,425 Satellites
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '16 at 04:51 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's global-internet department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from GeekWire: SpaceX has laid out further details about a 4,425-satellite communications network that's expected to provide global broadband internet access, with its Seattle-area office playing a key role in its development. The plan is explained in an application and supporting documents filed on Tuesday with the Federal Communications Commission. In the technical information that accompanied its application, SpaceX said it would start commercial broadband service with 800 satellites. That service would cover areas of the globe from 15 degrees north to 60 degrees north, and from 15 degrees south to 60 degrees south. That leaves out some portions of Alaska, which would require a temporary waiver from the FCC. Eventually, the network would grow to 4,425 satellites, transmitting in the Ku and Ka frequency bands. "Once fully deployed, the SpaceX system will pass over virtually all parts of the Earth's surface and therefore, in principle, have the ability to provide ubiquitous global service," SpaceX said. The satellites would orbit the planet at altitudes ranging from 714 to 823 miles (1,150 to 1,325 kilometers) -- well above the International Space Station, but well below geostationary satellites. SpaceX said it would follow federal guidelines to mitigate orbital debris. Each satellite would weigh 850 pounds (386 kilograms) and measure 13 by 6 by 4 feet (4 by 1.8 by 1.2 meters), plus solar arrays, SpaceX said. Operating lifetime was estimated at five to seven years per satellite.

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Pluto's 'Icy Heart' May Have Tilted the Dwarf Planet Over
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '16 at 01:26 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's teeter-totter department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Pluto's most iconic feature -- its "icy heart" -- may have been responsible for tipping the dwarf planet over. Scientists believe the 600-mile-wide region of frozen plains known as Sputnik Planitia gained enough mass over the years, causing Pluto to tilt to its current orientation. And that could mean there's a subsurface ocean lurking underneath the dwarf planet. The cracks and faults on Pluto's surface tell the story of its rollover, according to two new studies published today in Nature. Researchers used computer models to simulate Pluto's reorientation, which would have put a lot of stress on the crust and created these cracks. Those models match up pretty well with the patterns of canyons and mountains that NASA's New Horizons spacecraft saw when it flew by Pluto last year. As for how the flip occurred, the two Nature studies offer complementary arguments. Isamu Matsuyama's study says that the low-lying Sputnik Planitia filled up with a bunch of nitrogen ice, gaining mass that pushed Pluto over. But the second study says the nitrogen ice wasn't enough to completely change Pluto's orientation. Even more weight was needed, and a dense ocean lurking just underneath Sputnik Planitia would have been enough to do the trick. Nimmo's study is just further evidence that liquid may be teaming underneath Pluto, making this dwarf planet one of a growing group of objects in our Solar System that harbor oceans. Sputnik Planitia is located in a very special place on Pluto, right next to something called a tidal axis -- the imaginary line that connects Pluto and its largest moon Charon. This axis dictates how Pluto moves if its mass changes. If you were to add extra weight to a certain point on Pluto, the entire dwarf planet would reorient itself so that the weighted point would end up next to this axis.

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A $5 Tool Called PoisonTap Can Hack Your Locked Computer In One Minute
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '16 at 08:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's plug-and-play department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: A new tool makes it almost trivial for criminals to log onto websites as if they were you, and get access to your network router, allowing them to launch other types of attacks. Hackers and security researchers have long found ways to hack into computers left alone. But the new $5 tool called PoisonTap, created by the well-known hacker and developer Samy Kamkar, can even break into password-protected computers, as long as there's a browser open in the background. Kamkar explained how it works in a blog post published on Wednesday. And all a hacker has to do is plug it in and wait. PoisonTap is built on a Raspberry Pi Zero microcomputer. Once it's plugged into a USB port, it emulates a network device and attacks all outbound connections by pretending to be the whole internet, tricking the computer to send all traffic to it. Once the device is positioned in the middle like this, it can steal the victim's cookies, as long as they come from websites that don't use HTTPS web encryption, according to Kamkar. Security experts that reviewed Kamkar's research for Motherboard agreed that this is a novel attack, and a good way to expose the excessive trust that Mac and Windows computers have in network devices. That's the key of PoisonTap's attacks -- once what looks like a network device is plugged into a laptop, the computer automatically talks to it and exchanges data with it.

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Royal Navy Giving Up Anti-Ship Missiles, Will Rely On Cannons For Naval Combat
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '16 at 07:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's budget-cuts department:
cold fjord writes: It will soon be a bit more difficult for Britain's Royal Navy to rule the waves as it gives up anti-ship missiles as a result of budget cuts. That will force the Royal Navy to go "old school" and rely upon naval gunfire for ship-to-ship combat. Cannon fire as the primary means of ship-to-ship combat has been largely obsolete since the 1950s following the invention of guided missiles in World War 2. Prior to that, cannon fire had been the primary means of naval combat for hundreds of years. Although the Royal Navy ranged up to 16" guns on battleships, the largest gun currently in active service is a 4.5" gun. That will leave the Royal Navy unable to engage targets beyond approximately 17 miles / 27 km, whereas Harpoon missiles provide an 80 mile / 130 m range. The loss of anti-ship missile capability will begin in 2018 and may last for 10 years for warships, and 2 years for helicopters. The Sun quotes a naval insider who said: "It's like Nelson saying, 'don't worry, I don't need canons, we've got muskets.'" The loss of missile capability heaps more misfortune upon a naval force that recently has seen its available frontline combat force drop to an unprecedented 24 warships.

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Steve Bannon Suggests Having Too Many Asian Tech CEOs Undermines 'Civic Society'
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '16 at 07:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's civil-society department:
In an interview last year with Donald Trump -- that The Washington Post resurfaced yesterday -- Breitbart News Network's executive chairman, Steve Bannon, suggested that there are too many asian CEOs in Silicon Valley. "He alluded to the idea that foreign students should return to their respective countries after attending school in the U.S., instead of sticking around and working at or starting tech companies," writes Ashley Carman via The Verge: Trump voiced concern over these students attending Ivy League schools and then going home: "We have to be careful of that, Steve. You know, we have to keep our talented people in this country," Trump said. When asked if he agreed, Bannon responded: "When two-thirds or three-quarters of the CEOs in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia, I think [...]" he didn't finish his sentence. "A country is more than an economy. We're a civic society." While Bannon didn't explicitly say anything against immigrants, he seemed to hint at the idea of a white nationalist identity with the phrase "civic society." The Huffington Post makes note of a May 2015 study in its report, which "found that 27 percent of professionals working in Silicon Valley companies were Asian or Asian-American. They represented less than 19 percent of managers and under 14 percent of executives, according to the report."

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Google Launches Earth VR For Free On HTC Vive
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '16 at 06:03 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-perspective department:
An anonymous reader writes: Google today revealed Earth VR, a virtual-reality version of the company's famous Google Earth program that's built for the HTC Vive. The application packs the rich Google Earth dataset -- which includes high resolution satellite imagery, elevation data, and detailed 3D modeled cities and landscapes -- into a single model of the planet which users can view all the way from space down to the ground, walking among cities like a giant. The company tells Road to VR that "Earth VR is a product, not a demo," and that it's designed to benefit from improvements in the Earth dataset over time automatically, and it will see regular updates post launch. You can download Google Earth VR for the HTC Vive via Steam.

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FCC Abides By GOP Request To Stop What It's Doing, Deletes Everything From Meeting Agenda
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '16 at 06:03 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's well-that-was-quick department:
One day after republicans from the house and senate sent letters to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, urging him to avoid passing regulations before Donald Trump's inauguration as president, Wheeler appears to have complied with the request. The FCC today "announced the deletion of all items that were originally scheduled to be presented and voted on at tomorrow's meeting." Ars Technica reports: Before the change, the agenda included votes on price caps for "special access" business data services; Universal Service funding to expand mobile broadband networks; wireless roaming obligations; and requirements for audio description of TV programming for blind and visually impaired people. The only item not deleted from tomorrow's meeting is part of the "consent agenda," which means it is routine and wasn't going to be presented individually. Of the major items, the business data services proposal had received the most attention. These are dedicated wireline circuits provided by traditional phone companies like AT&T and Verizon; the services supply bandwidth for cellular data networks, indirectly affecting the price consumers pay for wireless service. The business data services are also used by banks and retailers to connect ATM machines and credit card readers, by government and corporate users to connect branch offices and data centers, and to support public safety operations and health care facilities. The now-deleted agenda item would have phased in price cap decreases of 11 percent over three years to account for "over a decade of efficiency gains" since the last price cap adjustment.

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Police Raid Pirate Site, Seize 60 Servers Following MPAA Complaint
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '16 at 04:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's another-day-another-raid department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: When it comes to shutting down pirate sites, few groups have a longer history than the Motion Picture Association of America. The Hollywood organization has dozens of pirate scalps under its belt and today is able to claim another. Serving more than a million users every day, FS.to was one of Ukraine's largest pirate sites. Ranked the country's 21st most popular site overall, the movie-focused platform attracted the attention of the MPAA and local rights holders alike. That has resulted in one of the biggest raids ever seen in the country. According to the cyber crime division of Ukraine's national police, an operation shut down the platform Monday following a complaint from Hollywood. The authorities say that 19 people suspected of running the site via a network of local and offshore companies were arrested. The operation to shut the site appears to have been significant. Raids took place at the offices and homes of the suspects, plus datacenters where equipment running the site was installed. Thus far around 60 servers have been seized from a range of local ISPs but the operation is still ongoing so the tally could increase. Local sources indicate that the authorities have linked local Internet company Ferazko Holding Inc. with FS since it owns several of the site's domains including FS.to, BRB.to and FS.ua.

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Facebook Users Interacted Most With Articles From Fox News, CNN and Breitbart In Month Leading Up To Nov 10
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '16 at 04:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's anti-establishment department:
Quartz's charts and visualization service The Atlas, has released an insightful chart that shows the "total reader interactions with articles on Facebook" between October 11, 2016 and November 10, 2016. What's surprising is that Breitbart beat a list of establishment media outlets in total Facebook interactions. By far the source with the most interacted articles was Fox News, as it had more than 44 million people interact with its articles. CNN and Breitbart were neck-and-neck with more than 18 million interactions.

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Office Depot Allegedly Diagnosing Computers With Nonexistent Viruses To Meet Sales Goals
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '16 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's wolf-of-wall-street department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Consumerist: A new report claims that some Office Depot employees are falsely claiming computers are infected with viruses in order to meet sales goals. According to KIRO-TV in Seattle, employees of the office supply retailer allege that pressure to sell protection plans and other services has led store staffers to misdiagnose computers with viruses. To investigate the claims, the station took six computers to various Office Depot stores in Washington and Oregon for PC Health Checks. There technicians determined that four out of the six computers showed symptoms of malware. To fix the issues, the employees attempted to sell services costing up to $200. The only problem? The computers were out of the box new. A second test by a unaffiliated computer security firm found no symptoms of malware and no needs for repair. The employee tells KIRO that workers selling the services are just following corporate mandates. To make matters worse, he says, the company posts sales goals and current employee sales in the break room for all to see. This, he claims, creates more aggressive associates to push harder when selling the protection plans for nonexistent programs.

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Microsoft Offers Concessions To EU Regulators Eyeing Its $26.2 Billion LinkedIn Bid
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '16 at 03:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's smoothing-things department:
Microsoft has offered concessions to EC competition regulators in the hopes of smoothing the way for its planned acquisition of LinkedIn. From an article on TechCrunch, submitted by an anonymous reader: An EC spokesperson confirmed it has received "a commitments proposal" from Microsoft but declined to comment further. Commitments, in EC antitrust nomenclature, refers to remedies a company can offer if the Commission has concerns a merger/acquisition may significantly affect competition. These can include proposing certain modifications to the project to guarantee continued competition on the market.The news comes two weeks after Salesforce (which itself tried to purchase LinkedIn) urged EU to take a closer look at Microsoft's takeover of LinkedIn.

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Schneier: We Need a New Agency For IoT Security
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '16 at 03:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's need-of-the-hour department:
Reader Trailrunner7 writes: The recent DDoS attacks by the Mirai botnet against various targets, including DNS provider Dyn, have drawn the attention of congressional leaders, who say there may be a need for regulation of IoT device security in order to address the problem of vulnerable embedded devices. In a joint hearing on Wednesday, the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology and the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade delved into the issue of IoT security and several lawmakers said that they were reluctant to get the government involved in regulating this problem, but it may be inevitable. The problem, of course, is that many of the embedded devices that make up the IoT aren't manufactured in the United States, so regulation would have no effect on their security. Another piece of the puzzle is the fact that there's no one federal agency or independent organization that oversees security standards for IoT devices. There are embedded computers in cars, appliances, medical devices, and hundreds of other kinds of devices. That cuts across many different industries and regulatory fields, a problem that the federal government is not set up to handle. "I actually think we need a new agency. We can't have different rules if a computer makes calls, or a computer has wheels, or is in your body," said cryptographer Bruce Schneier, another witness during the hearing. "The government is getting involved here regardless, because the stakes are too high. The choice isn't between government involvement and no government involvement. It's between good government involvement and stupid government involvement. I'm not a regulatory fan but this is a world of dangerous things."

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China Tells Trump Climate Change Isn't a Hoax it Invented
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '16 at 03:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's funny-because-it's-true department:
China couldn't have invented global warming as a hoax to harm U.S. competitiveness because it was Donald Trump's Republican predecessors who started climate negotiations in the 1980s, China's Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said, according to a Bloomberg report. From the article:U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush supported the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in initiating global warming talks even before China knew that negotiations to cut pollution were starting, Liu told reporters at United Nations talks on Wednesday in Marrakech, Morocco. Ministers and government officials from almost 200 countries gathered in Marrakech this week are awaiting a decision by President-elect Trump on whether he'll pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change. The tycoon tweeted in 2012 that the concept of global warming "was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive." China's envoy rejected that view. "If you look at the history of climate change negotiations, actually it was initiated by the IPCC with the support of the Republicans during the Reagan and senior Bush administration during the late 1980s," Liu told reporters during an hour-long briefing.

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