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UK's NHS Could Have Avoided WannaCry Hack With 'Basic IT Security', Says Report
Posted by News Fetcher on October 27 '17 at 07:03 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's calling-out department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: The NHS could have avoided the crippling effects of the "relatively unsophisticated" WannaCry ransomware outbreak in May with "basic IT security," according to an independent investigation into the cyber-attack. The National Audit Office (NAO) said that 19,500 medical appointments were cancelled, computers at 600 GP surgeries were locked and five hospitals had to divert ambulances elsewhere. "The WannaCry cyber-attack had potentially serious implications for the NHS and its ability to provide care to patients," said Amyas Morse, the head of the NAO. "It was a relatively unsophisticated attack and could have been prevented by the NHS following basic IT security best practice. There are more sophisticated cyber-threats out there than WannaCry so the Department and the NHS need to get their act together to ensure the NHS is better protected against future attacks."

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Amazon Tops 540K Employees After Swallowing Whole Foods in $13.7B Deal
Posted by News Fetcher on October 27 '17 at 07:03 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's sky-is-the-limit department:
A reader shares a report: Amazon added a whopping 159,500 employees in the last quarter, pushing its total employment to 541,900 people worldwide, according to new numbers from the tech giant released today. Amazon's headcount grew 77 percent over this time last year, and a big reason for that is the completion of Amazon's blockbuster deal to buy Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion and the acquisition of e-commerce company Souq. The Whole Foods deal includes 87,000 people who worked at the grocery chain, making up a big chunk of the employment growth this quarter. Even factoring out the acquisitions of Whole Foods and Souq, Amazon's headcount climbed 47 percent over this time last year. "Certainly hiring continues to remain strong, especially in the tech areas and sales force, particularly in AWS," Amazon's CFO Brian Olsavsky said on a call with reporters.

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Google Addresses Pixel 2 XL Display Issues, Pixel 2 Clicking Sounds With Software Updates
Posted by News Fetcher on October 27 '17 at 05:40 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's over-the-air department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from PhoneDog: Google explains that it's been investigating reports about the Pixel 2 XL's display and that this has given it "confidence that [its] displays are as great as [it] hoped they would be". Still, Google will be taking steps to respond to consumer complaints about the screen. Google plans to issue a software update that'll add a "saturated" color mode that will make the colors more saturated and vibrant, but less accurate. This way, consumers that feel the Pixel 2 XL's screen is too muted can punch up the color saturation themselves.

When it comes to burn-in, Google says that its investigations of the Pixel 2 XL's display found that its "decay characteristics are comparable to OLED panels used in other premium smartphones." Google does plan to take further steps to fight burn-in, though, and it's testing an update that'll add a new fade-out of the navigation bar buttons after a short period of inactivity. Google is also working with more apps to use a light navigation bar to match the app's color scheme. Additionally, the update will reduce the maximum brightness of the Pixel 2 XL's screen by 50 nits, which Google says will be "virtually imperceptible". This will reduce load on the display with very little change on its observed brightness. This update will roll out to the Pixel 2 XL "in the next few weeks." Google also touched on the reports that some Pixel 2 phones are emitting some clicking sounds. The company plans to release an update in the coming weeks to address the issue, but until then, it says that Pixel 2 owners can turn off NFC by going into Settings > Connected Devices > NFC.

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First Extrasolar Object Observed Racing Through Our Solar System
Posted by News Fetcher on October 27 '17 at 02:54 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-of-its-kind department:
Enigma2175 writes: For the first time, scientists have observed an object they believe came from outside our solar system. The object is in a hyperbolic orbit that will send it back into interstellar space. From Space.com: "The object, known as A/2017 U1, was detected last week by researchers using the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii. 'It's long been theorized that such objects exist -- asteroids or comets moving around between the stars and occasionally passing through our solar system -- but this is the first such detection,' Chodas added. 'So far, everything indicates this is likely an interstellar object, but more data would help to confirm it.' It's unclear what exactly this thing is. When A/2017 U1 was first spotted, it was thought to be a comet (and was therefore given the moniker C/2017 U1). But further observations have revealed no evidence of a coma -- the fuzzy cloud of gas and dust surrounding a comet's core -- so the object's name was amended to its current asteroidal designation."

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Microsoft Is Working On a Foldable Device With a Focus On Pen and Digital Ink
Posted by News Fetcher on October 27 '17 at 12:14 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's pen-and-paper department:
Microsoft is reportedly working on a foldable device with an emphasis on pen and digital-ink functionality that runs Windows 10, and it could be here as soon as next year. The company is looking to create a new category-defining mobile device that's aimed at an entirely new demographic, and that puts pen and digital inking at the forefront of the experience. Windows Central reports: At Windows Central, we've been covering two ongoing internal projects within Microsoft: CShell and Windows Core OS. Both of these projects play an important part in Microsoft's next rumored mobile device, which appears to be commonly referred to as "Andromeda" on the web. According to our sources, the Andromeda device is prototype hardware; a foldable tablet that runs Windows 10 built with Windows Core OS, along with CShell to take advantage of its foldable display. I imagine CShell plays an important roll in the foldable aspect of this device. Considering it's foldable, being a tablet doesn't mean much, and I'm told it's designed to be pocketable when folded, kind of like a phone. I make the comparison to a phone because I'm also hearing that it also has telephony capabilities, meaning you could replace your actual smartphone with it and still be able to take calls and texts. My sources make it clear, however, that this is not supposed to be a smartphone replacement but rather a device similar to the canceled "Microsoft Courier." In short, Andromeda is a digital pocket notebook.

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Reddit Conducts Wide-Ranging Purge of Offensive Subreddits
Posted by News Fetcher on October 26 '17 at 08:14 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's gone-with-the-wind department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: On Wednesday, [Reddit] announced a new policy clarifying its rules against content that incites violence. "We will take action against any content that encourages, glorifies, incites, or calls for violence or physical harm against an individual or a group of people," Reddit administrator landoflobsters wrote. Promoting harm to animals is also against the rules. Within minutes, moderators started to ban a long list of controversial subreddits, including /r/Nazi, /r/DylannRoofInnocent, /r/SexWithDogs, /r/WhitesAreCriminals, and /r/PicsOfDeadKids. The bounds of propriety remain fairly wide at Reddit, however. Commenters pointed out that /r/WatchPeopleDie -- which is exactly what it sounds like -- is still around. Landoflobsters said that site administrators have "no plans to remove it for now." The self-explanatory -- and horrifying -- /r/CuteFemaleCorpses is also still active. Evidently, merely depicting violence is fine as long as people in a subreddit don't glorify violence. In practice, of course, the line between these things is pretty thin. A subreddit devoted to merely discussing violent acts is naturally going to attract people who like to promote violent acts -- especially after bans of related subreddits where those people previously hung out. Reddit's new policy seems like the basis for an endless game of Whac-A-Mole as the Internet's creeps search for new places to exchange disturbing content.

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Critical Flaws In Maritime Communications System Could Endanger Entire Ships
Posted by News Fetcher on October 26 '17 at 06:53 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's critical-vulnerabilities department:
Orome1 shares a report from Help Net Security: IOActive security consultant Mario Ballano has discovered two critical cybersecurity vulnerabilities affecting Stratos Global's AmosConnect communication shipboard platform. The platform works in conjunction with the ships' satellite equipment, and integrates vessel and shore-based office applications, as well as provides services like Internet access for the crew, email, IM, position reporting, etc. The first vulnerability is a blind SQL injection in a login form. Attackers that successfully exploit it can retrieve credentials to log into the service and access sensitive information stored in it. The second one is a built-in backdoor account with full system privileges. "Among other things, this vulnerability allows attackers to execute commands with SYSTEM privileges on the remote system by abusing AmosConnect Task Manager," Bellano shared. The found flaws can be exploited only by an attacker that has access to the ship's IT systems network, he noted, but on some ships the various networks might not be segmented, or AmosConnect might be exposed to one or more of them. The vulnerabilities were found in AmosConnect 8.4.0, and Stratos Global was notified a year ago. But Inmarsat won't fix them, and has discontinued the 8.0 version of the platform in June 2017.

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Scientists Find a Better Way To Wash Pesticides Off Your Apples
Posted by News Fetcher on October 26 '17 at 05:36 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's household-hacker department:
According to a new study, the best way to reduce pesticides from your supermarket apple is to use a baking soda solution. The discovery was made by a team of scientists from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. They compared the effectiveness of plain tap water, a commercial bleach solution and a baking soda/water mix in removing pesticides from apples. CNET reports: The scientists started with organic Gala apples and applied the fungicide thiabendazole and the insecticide phosmet before testing the different washing liquids. "The baking soda solution was the most effective at reducing pesticide," a release on the study notes. "After 12 and 15 minutes, 80 percent of the thiabendazole was removed, and 96 percent of the phosmet was removed, respectively." The researchers say the industry-standard approach of washing fruit in a bleach solution for two minutes after harvest is not an effective way to completely remove pesticides. They also found the fungicide thiabendazole penetrated into the apple peel much more than the insecticide. Apple lovers would need to remove the peel to also get rid of the pesticide that wasn't washed off with the baking soda solution. The researchers published the findings this week in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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US Voting Server At Heart of Russian Hack Probe Mysteriously Wiped
Posted by News Fetcher on October 26 '17 at 05:36 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's nothing-to-see-here-move-along department:
A computer at the center of a lawsuit digging into Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election has been wiped. "The server in question is based in Georgia -- a state that narrowly backed Donald Trump, giving him 16 electoral votes -- and stored the results of the state's vote-management system," reports The Register. "The deletion of its filesystem data makes analysis of whether the system was compromised impossible to ascertain." From the report: There is good reason to believe that the computer may have been tampered with: it is 15 years old, and could be harboring all sorts of exploitable software and hardware vulnerabilities. No hard copies of the votes are kept, making the electronic copy the only official record. While investigating the Kennesaw State University's Center for Election Systems, which oversees Georgia's voting system, last year, security researcher Logan Lamb found its system was misconfigured, exposing the state's entire voter registration records, multiple PDFs with instructions and passwords for election workers, and the software systems used to tally votes cast. Despite Lamb letting the election center knows of his findings, the security holes were left unpatched for seven months. He later went public after the U.S. security services announced there had been a determined effort by the Russian government to sway the presidential elections, including looking at compromising electronic voting machines.

< article continued at Slashdot's nothing-to-see-here-move-along department >

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Monsanto Attacks Scientists After Studies Show Trouble For Weedkiller Dicamba
Posted by News Fetcher on October 26 '17 at 04:13 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's asking-for-trouble department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: Dicamba, an old weedkiller that is being used in new ways, has thrust Kevin Bradley, a professor of weed science at the University of Missouri, and a half-dozen other university weed scientists into the unfamiliar role of whistleblower, confronting what they believe are misleading and scientifically unfounded claims by one of the country's biggest seed and pesticide companies: Monsanto. The tensions between Monsanto and the nation's weed scientists actually began several years ago, when Monsanto first moved to make dicamba the centerpiece of a new weedkilling strategy. The company tweaked the genes in soybeans and cotton and created genetically modified varieties of those crops that can tolerate doses of dicamba. (Normally, dicamba kills those crops.) This allowed farmers to spray the weedkiller directly on their soybean or cotton plants, killing the weeds while their crops survived. It's an approach that Monsanto pioneered with crops that were genetically modified to tolerate glyphosate, or Roundup. After two decades of heavy exposure to glyphosate, however, devastating weeds like Palmer amaranth, or pigweed, developed resistance to it. So farmers are looking for new weedkilling tools. Dicamba, however, has a well-known defect. It's volatile; it tends to evaporate from the soil or vegetation where it has been sprayed, creating a cloud of plant-killing vapor that can spread in unpredictable directions. It happens more in hot weather, and Monsanto's new strategy inevitably would mean spraying dicamba in the heat of summer. Monsanto and two other chemical companies, BASF and DuPont, announced that they had solved this problem with new "low-volatility" formulations of dicamba that don't evaporate as easily. Yet the companies -- especially Monsanto -- made it difficult for university scientists to verify those claims with independent tests before the products were released commercially.

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Walmart Tests Shelf-Scanning Robots In Over 50 Stores
Posted by News Fetcher on October 26 '17 at 04:13 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's automated-living department:
Walmart is expanding a shelf-scanning robot trial to 50 additional stores, including some in its home state of Arkansas. "Machines from Bossa Nova Robotics will roam the aisles to check for stock levels, pricing and misplaced items, saving human staffers the hassle of checking everything themselves," reports Engadget. The robots will be fully autonomous, though technicians will be available in case things go awry. They employ 3D imaging to dodge obstacles and make notes to return later if their path is completely blocked. From the report: Walmart stresses that the robots are there to supplement humans, not replace them -- to eliminate drudgery and the expenses that go with it. This helps workers get to the task of filling empty shelves, and that's a job that the company doesn't see ending any time soon given the difficulty robots still have when grabbing objects. "Store associates will always be better at that," Walmart's Martin Hitch told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. And the chief of Bossa Nova rival Simbe Robotics, Brad Bogolea, added that shelf checks can cost a major retailer hundreds of millions of dollars per year. However expensive the robots may be, they could pay for themselves very quickly. Whether or not the robots see wider use will, unsurprisingly, hinge on the success of this wider trial. Walmart posted a video about the shelf-scanning robots on its YouTube page.

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Tesla Hit With Labor Complaint On Behalf of Fired Factory Workers
Posted by News Fetcher on October 26 '17 at 02:54 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's di department:
On behalf of the hundreds of Tesla workers that were fired last week from the company's assembly plant, the United Auto Workers filed a complaint today to the National Relations Board. The UAW posted a copy of the complaint on its website, which alleges that pro-union workers were unfairly targeted. The Verge reports: The UAW says the complaint was made on Wednesday to the Oakland offices of the National Relations Board. The union claims the recent culling of several hundred Tesla employees included many who were involved in a pro-union movement at the Fremont assembly plant, and included those who wore pro-union shirts and stickers. The Fremont factory site has roots in the UAW. It was once a former joint manufacturing facility owned by GM and Toyota, until it closed in 2010. Despite ongoing efforts, under Tesla's ownership, the factory is not unionized. A pro-union rally was held Tuesday in front of the plant, which was documented in a Facebook post by the pro-union group A Fair Future at Tesla.

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Twitter Says It Overstated Monthly-User Figures For 3 Years
Posted by News Fetcher on October 26 '17 at 02:54 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's earnings-trolls department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source): Twitter said on Thursday that it had overstated its monthly-user figures since 2014 after mistakenly including data from third-party applications in its counting. The revelation came as the company reported that its net loss had narrowed in the third quarter and that its number of daily active users had risen 14 percent. The company said it had discovered that its measure of monthly active users had been improperly including figures from third-party applications that used Digits, a software-development program. Digits is part of the Fabric mobile application platform that Twitter sold to Alphabet, Google's parent company, this year. Digits allowed third-party applications to send authentication messages through Twitter's systems and did not reflect activity on the Twitter platform, the company said. As a result, the company lowered the number of monthly active users by two million for the first and second quarters of this year and by one million for the fourth quarter of 2016. Twitter said its data-retention policies made it unable to reconcile the figures for periods before last year's fourth quarter.

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PCIe 4.0 Specs Revealed: 16GTps Rate and Not Just For Graphics Cards Anymore
Posted by News Fetcher on October 26 '17 at 01:33 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
Freshly Exhumed writes: PCI-SIG has released the specifications for version 4.0 of the PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) bus, which, according to Chairman Al Yanes, promises data transfer rates of 16GTps, extended tags and credits for service devices, reduced system latency, lane margining, superior RAS capabilities, scalability for added lanes and bandwidth, improved I/O virtualization and platform integration. Tom's Hardware has posted a slide deck of the new version's specifications.

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This Machine Kills Captchas
Posted by News Fetcher on October 26 '17 at 01:33 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's catch-me-if-you-can department:
New submitter dmoberhaus writes: It is with a heavy heart that I must tell you that an artificial intelligence has finally cracked a widely used tool that was literally made to differentiate humans from robots: the CAPTCHA. CAPTCHAs are the annoying puzzles that might ask you to rewrite a piece of distorted text or click on all the automobiles in a photograph to log on to sites like PayPal. According to research published today in Science, a new type of AI was able to solve certain types of CAPTCHA with up to 66.6 percent accuracy. To put this in perspective, humans can solve the same type of CAPTCHA with about 87 percent accuracy due to multiple interpretations of some examples and a CAPTCHA is considered broken if a bot can pass it 1 percent of the time.

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Many Junior Scientists Need To Take a Hard Look at Their Job Prospects
Posted by News Fetcher on October 26 '17 at 12:13 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's harsh-advise department:
In its careers section this week, science journal Nature surveyed more than 5,700 early-career scientists worldwide who are working on PhDs. Three-quarters of them, they told the journal, think it's likely that they will pursue an academic career when they graduate. How many of them will succeed? The editorial board of the journal wrote in a column published on Wednesday. Most PhD students will have to look beyond academia for a career, the editorial board added. From the article: Statistics say these young researchers will have a better chance of pursuing their chosen job than the young footballers. But not by much. Global figures are hard to come by, but only three or four in every hundred PhD students in the United Kingdom will land a permanent staff position at a university. It's only a little better in the United States. Simply put, most PhD students need to make plans for a life outside academic science. And more universities and PhD supervisors must make this clear. That might sound like an alarmist and negative attitude for the International Weekly Journal of Science. But it has been evident for years that international science is training many more PhD students than the academic system can support. Most of the keen and talented young scientists who responded to our survey will probably never get a foot in the door. Of those who do, a sizeable number are likely to drift from short-term contract to short-term contract until they become disillusioned and look elsewhere.

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'The Second Gilded Age Is Upon Us'
Posted by News Fetcher on October 26 '17 at 12:13 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
Robotron23 writes: Wealth inequality is at its highest since the turn of the 20th century -- the so-called 'Gilded Age' -- as the proportion of capital held by the world's 1,542 dollar billionaires swells further. The report, commissioned by the Swiss banking giant UBS and UK accounting company PwC, discusses the impacts of technology and globalization on the situation, and arrives weeks after the IMF recommended that the world's richest pay higher taxes to ease the disparity of wealth.

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New Science Suggests the Ocean Could Rise More -- and Faster -- Than We Thought
Posted by News Fetcher on October 26 '17 at 10:55 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
Chris Mooney, writing for the Washington Post: Climate change could lead to sea level rises that are larger, and happen more rapidly, than previously thought, according to a trio of new studies that reflect mounting concerns about the stability of polar ice. In one case, the research suggests that previous high end projections (PDF) for sea level rise by the year 2100 -- a little over three feet -- could be too low, substituting numbers as high as six feet at the extreme if the world continues to burn large volumes of fossil fuels throughout the century (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled). "We have the potential to have much more sea level rise under high emissions scenarios," said Alexander Nauels, a researcher at the University of Melbourne in Australia who led one of the three studies. His work, co-authored with researchers at institutions in Austria, Switzerland, and Germany, was published Thursday in Environmental Research Letters. The results comprise both novel scientific observations -- based on high resolution seafloor imaging techniques that give a new window on past sea level events -- and new modeling techniques based on a better understanding of Antarctic ice. Further reading: Sea levels to rise 1.3m unless coal power ends by 2050, report says (The Guardian).

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McAfee Says It No Longer Will Permit Government Source Code Reviews
Posted by News Fetcher on October 26 '17 at 10:55 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department:
Dustin Volz, Joel Schectman, and Jack Stubbs, reporting for Reuters: U.S.-based cyber firm McAfee said it will no longer permit foreign governments to scrutinize the source code of its products, halting a practice some security experts have warned could be leveraged by nation-states to carry out cyber attacks. Reuters reported in June that McAfee was among several Western technology companies that had acceded in recent years to greater demands by Moscow for access to source code, the instructions that control basic operations of computer equipment. The reviews, conducted in secure facilities known as "clean rooms" by Russian companies with expertise in technology testing, are required by Russian defense agencies for the stated purpose of ensuring no hidden "backdoors" exist in foreign-made software. But security experts and former U.S. officials have said those inspections provide Russia with opportunities to find vulnerabilities that could be exploited in offensive cyber operations. McAfee ended the reviews earlier this year after spinning off from Intel in April as an independent company, a McAfee spokeswoman said in an email to Reuters last week.

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Saudi Arabia Becomes First Nation To Grant Citizenship To Humanoid Robot
Posted by News Fetcher on October 26 '17 at 09:35 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
Saudi Arabia became the first country in the world to offer citizenship to a humanoid robot, but Brad Keywell, CEO of Uptake, a predictive analytics technology company, told FOX Business on Thursday artificial intelligence (AI) will not replace humans anytime soon. From a report: "Humans are made super-human through the intelligence that can be derived from these sensors and there is a clear argument that's made about the possibility that there will be no humans, there'd be just autonomous everything... but this is something that has historically involved humans and I just don't see that changing," he told Maria Bartiromo on "Mornings with Maria." Uptake's products are used in a collection of industries ranging from energy to aviation, helping "people and machines work better and faster," according to the company website.

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