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Pwn2Own 2016 Recap: Hackers Earn $460,000 For 21 Hacks
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '16 at 10:52 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's money-is-a-good-incentive department:
wiredmikey writes from an article on SecurityWeek: Pwn2Own 2016 has come to an end, with researchers earning a total of $460,000 in cash for disclosing 21 new vulnerabilities in Windows, OS X, Flash, Safari, Edge and Chrome. On the first day of the well-known hacking competition, contestants earned $282,500 for vulnerabilities in Safari, Flash Player, Chrome, Windows and OS X. On the second day, Tencent Security Team Sniper took the lead after demonstrating a successful root-level code execution exploit in Safari via a use-after-free flaw in Safari and an out-of-bounds issue in Mac OS X. The exploit earned them $40,000 and 10 Master of Pwn points. This year's contestants earned nearly $100,000 less for their exploits compared to Pwn2Own 2015, when researchers walked away with more than $550,000 for their exploits.

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FBI Warns That Car Hacking Is a Real Risk
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '16 at 10:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's car-hacking-is-a-thing department:
An anonymous reader writes: The FBI and the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are voicing their concerns about the potential risk of cars being hacked. In an advisory note, they urge the public to be aware of cyber-security threats revolving around connected vehicles. From the advisory, "Modern motor vehicles often include new connected vehicle technologies that aim to provide benefits such as added safety features, improved fuel economy, and greater overall convenience. Aftermarket devices are also providing consumers with new features to monitor the status of their vehicles. However, with this increased connectivity, it is important that consumers and manufacturers maintain awareness of potential cyber security threats." They are also advising drivers and manufacturers to ensure the vehicle software is up-to-date, and keeping an eye out for recalls.

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FTC Warns Android App Developers About Use of Audio Tracking Code
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '16 at 09:32 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's i-know-what-you-watched-last-summer department:
Reader Trailrunner7 writes: The Federal Trade Commission is warning a dozen of developers about some code they've included in their apps that can surreptitiously listen to unique audio signals from TVs in the background and build detailed profiles of what consumers are watching. The technology, produced by a company called SilverPush, is used to track users across devices and the FTC warned the developers that if they don't disclose the use of the code to consumers, they could be violating the FTC Act. The commission sent the letter to 12 app developers whose apps are in the Google Play Store, and warned them that not disclosing the use of SilverPush's Unique Audio Beacon could be a problem. "For example, the code is configured to access the device's microphone to collect audio information even when the application is not in use. Moreover, your application requires permission to access the mobile device's microphone prior to install, despite no evident functionality in the application that would require such access," the letter says.

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Standing Desks May Not Be Healthier Than Sitting All Day, Say Scientists
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '16 at 09:32 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's standing-desk department:
An anonymous reader writes from a Fortune article: Standing desks are the fashionable furniture of choice at the moment, but they may not really be the healthier alternative to, well, a chair. A review of studies into the benefits of "workplace interventions" to reduce sitting at work, such as sit-stand desks, are inconclusive, according to researchers from a Cochrane work group. That's because there's little evidence of the long-term effects of standing at your desk. "At present there is very low to low-quality evidence that sit-stand desks may decrease workplace sitting between thirty minutes to two hours per day without having adverse effects at the short or medium term," scientists wrote in an updated Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews study released this week.

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Amazon Is Now Sending Postcards To Remind Kindle Owners To Update Their Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '16 at 09:32 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's overly-attached-girlfriend department:
Reader Nate the greatest writes: Amazon's getting serious about a recent required firmware update. Last month Amazon sent out emails, asking everyone to update, and this week they stepped up their game. Several Kindle owners say they've received postcards from Amazon with reminders to update their Kindles. Sure, this is an important update which adds security certificates, but don't you think this is overkill?

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US Government Pushed Many Tech Firms To Hand Over Source Code
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '16 at 08:12 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's affinity-for-source-code department:
An anonymous reader writes: Apple isn't the only company that has been asked to hand over the source code of its operating system. In an effort to find security flaws that could be used for surveillance or investigations, the U.S. government has made numerous attempts to obtain the source code from other tech companies. From the ZDNet report, "The government has demanded source code in civil cases filed under seal but also by seeking clandestine rulings authorized under the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a person with direct knowledge of these demands told ZDNet. The Justice Department wanted to draw outrage, painting Apple as the criminal. With these hearings held in secret and away from the public gaze, the person said that the tech companies hit by these demands are losing 'most of the time.'"

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Apple Employees, If Ordered To Unlock iPhone, Might Quit
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '16 at 08:12 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's moral-vs-money department:
An anonymous reader quotes an NYTimes article: Apple employees are already discussing what they will do if ordered to help law enforcement authorities. Some say they may balk at the work, while others may even quit their high-paying jobs rather than undermine the security of the software they have already created, according to more than a half-dozen current and former Apple employees. [...] The employees' concerns also provide insight into a company culture that despite the trappings of Silicon Valley wealth still views the world through the decades-old, anti-establishment prism of its co-founders Steven P. Jobs and Steve Wozniak. [...] The fear of losing a paycheck may not have much of an impact on security engineers whose skills are in high demand. Indeed, hiring them could be a badge of honor among other tech companies that share Apple's skepticism of the government's intentions.

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NY Bill Would Provide Tax Credit For Open Source Contributors
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '16 at 06:51 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's not-where-I-want-the-government-involved department:
An anonymous reader writes: For many years, the open source software community has made the distinction between "free as in freedom" (the software can be used or modified as the user sees fit) and "free as in beer" (the software is available at no cost). Some have added a third type of free: "free as in puppy". Like a puppy, adopting open source software has ongoing cost. What many people don't consider is that developing open source software has a cost, too. Many developers purchase extra hardware for testing or pay for code hosting, a website, etc. A pending bill in the New York Senate aims to help offset those costs. The bill, sponsored by Senator Daniel Squadron (D-26th) and co-sponsored by Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D-36th), would provide a tax credit of 20% of "expenses associated with the development of open source and free software", up to an annual maximum of $200. Based on a 2006 report by the Center for American Progress, this bill appears to be the first of its kind introduced to a state legislature.

I'd rather they require that any software developed at taxpayer expense be released as open source.

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NASA's Journey To Mars May Use Nuclear Rockets
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '16 at 06:51 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's warm-way-to-get-there department:
MarkWhittington writes: NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has been making the rounds of congressional committees, defending the indefensible, that being the latest Obama space agency budget proposal. Thursday it was the turn of the House Science Committee to complain to Bolden that the budget underfunded the Journey to Mars and to vow that more money would be forthcoming. One of the other complaints Congress has been making is that NASA lacks a plan to get people to Mars, scheduled to happen sometime in the 2030s. Bolden was coy, suggesting that the time was not right to start firming up architectures and missions. However, he did drop an intriguing hint that a nuclear thermal rocket engine being developed at NASA's Marshall Spaceflight Center may take people to Mars quicker than chemical rockets.

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Gov't Accidentally Publishes Target of Lavabit Probe: It's Snowden
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '16 at 06:51 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's totally-shocking department:
AmiMoJo writes: In the summer of 2013, secure e-mail service Lavabit was ordered by a federal judge to provide real-time e-mail monitoring of one of its users. Rather than comply with the order, Levison shut down his entire company. He said what the government was seeking would have endangered the privacy of all of his 410,000 users. Now, what was widely assumed has been confirmed. In documents posted to the federal PACER database this month, the government accidentally left his e-mail, 'Ed_snowden@lavabit.com,' unredacted for all to see.

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Microsoft Tries Hard To Play Nice With Open Source, But There's an Elephant In the Room
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '16 at 06:51 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's as-has-gits department:
Esther Schindler writes: They're trying, honest they are. In 2016 alone, writes Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Microsoft announced SQL Server on Linux; integrated Eclipse and Visual Studio, launched an
open-source network stack on Debian Linux; and it's adding Ubuntu Linux to its Azure Stack hybrid-cloud offering. That's all well and good, he says, but it's not enough. There's one thing Microsoft could do to gain real open-source trust: Stop forcing companies to pay for its bogus Android patents. But, there's too much money at stake, writes sjvn, for this to ever happen. For instance, in its last quarter, volume licensing and patents, accounted for approximately 9% of Microsoft's total revenue.

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Why Buses Need To Be More Dangerous
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '16 at 06:51 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's contrarian-labeling department:
HughPickens.com writes: Is there such a thing as being too safe? Jeff Kaufman writes that buses are much safer than cars, by about a factor of 67 but buses are not very popular and one of the main reasons is that if you look at situations where people who can afford private transit take mass transit instead, speed is the main factor. According to Kauffman, we should look at ways to make buses faster so more people will ride them, even if this means making them somewhat more dangerous. Kauffman presents some ideas, roughly in order from "we should definitely do this" to "this is crazy, but it would probably still reduce deaths overall when you take into account that more people would ride the bus": Suggestions include not to require buses to stop and open their doors at railroad crossings, allow the driver to start while someone is still at the front paying, allow buses to drive 25mph on the shoulder of the highway in traffic jams where the main lanes are averaging below 10mph, and leave (city) bus doors open, allowing people to get on and off any time at their own risk. "If we made buses more dangerous by the same percentage that motorcycles are more dangerous than cars," concludes Kauffman, "they would still be more than twice as safe as cars."

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Fast-Food CEO Invests In Machines Because Regulation Makes Them Cheaper Than Employees
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '16 at 02:44 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's it's-only-a-matter-of-time department:
An anonymous reader writes: The CEO of Carl's Jr., Andy Puzder, has been inspired by the 100-percent automated restaurant, Eatsa, as he looks for ways to deal with rising minimum wages. "With government driving up the cost of labor, it's driving down the number of jobs," he says. "You're going to see automation not just in airports and grocery stores, but in restaurants." Puzder doesn't believe in [the progressive idea of] raising the minimum wage. "Does it really help if Sally makes $3 more an hour if Suzie has no job? If you're making labor more expensive, and automation less expensive -- this is not rocket science," says Puzder. What comes as a challenge is automating employee tasks. This is where he draws the line and doesn't think that it's likely any machine could perform such work. But for more rote tasks like grilling a burger or taking an order, technology may be even more precise than human employees. "They're always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there's never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case," says Puzder in regard to replacing employees with machines.

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Dozens of Russian Banks Phished By Crooks Pretending To Be FinCERT
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '16 at 01:13 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's if-it-wasn't-for-you-grammarian-kids department:
itwbennett writes: CSO Online's Steve Ragan reports that dozens of Russian banks were targeted this week by meticulous attackers who formatted a Word document 'to look like a legitimate FinCERT bulletin – suggesting that the attackers took their time to learn proper protocol and standards. A remarkable feat, considering FinCERT notifications are usually not for public consumption,' says Ragan. The attackers also were reportedly particular about their messages and to whom they were addressed. They even timed the email campaign to coincide with the lunch rush, presumably thinking that workers hurrying to get out of the office would be less cautious. Their only misstep, in the form of a grammatical error, came the next day when they sent the message out to hundreds more banks.

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Comcast Failed To Install Internet, Then Demanded $60,000 In Fees
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '16 at 10:23 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's arction-news-at-10 department:
Earthquake Retrofit writes: A Silicon Valley startup called SmartCar in Mountain View, California signed up for Comcast Internet service. After hearing Comcast excuses for months, company owner Katta finally got fed up and decided that he would find a new office building once his 12-month lease expires on April 20 of this year. Katta told Comcast he wanted to 'cancel' his nonexistent service and get a refund for a $2,100 deposit he had paid. Instead, Comcast told him he'd have to pay more than $60,000 to get out of his contract with the company. Comcast eventually waived the fee—but only after being contacted by Ars Technica about the case.

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Anonymous Doxes Trump, But Leaked Info Underwhelms
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '16 at 07:32 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's dog-isn't-that-shaggy department:
Mic.com reports that the "total war" declared by Anonymous against presidential candidate Donald Trump has resulted in a grandly presented leak of some personal information. Items alleged to be personal information about Trump have been posted to PasteBin; these include a social security number purported to be his, contact information for some Trump business associates (including his agent and his lawyer's office), and some information about his family relationships. As Tech Insider points out, though, the YouTube video announcing the dump seems to overstate its significance, in that none of the information leaked is new or earth-shattering -- most of it could be quickly gleaned from a Google search or a visit to Wikipedia.

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What's Frying the Electrical Systems On BART Trains?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '16 at 06:11 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's secondhand-smoke department:
Tekla Perry writes: Earlier this month, BART engineers shut down a substation in hopes that the closure would quiet the power surges that were frying the electrical propulsion equipment on BART cars -- a peak of 40 in just one day in February. The shutdown seemed to solve the problem, but BART officials weren't sure they'd really found the answer. Yesterday, the power surges popped up again, on an entirely different section of tracks, damaging 50 cars before BART closed off that section, rerouting passengers onto buses. Track inspections yesterday revealed nothing, and BART reports that it has reached out to experts around the country and asked them to fly in and help solve the mystery. Do you have a theory? Note: BART is the 5th-busiest heavy-rail rapid transit system in the U.S.

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Emails Show NSA Rejected Hillary Clinton's Request For Secure Smartphone
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '16 at 04:57 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's another-day-another-email department:
An anonymous reader writes from an article on CBSNews: Newly released emails show a 2009 request to issue a secure government smartphone to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was denied by the National Security Agency. Clinton's desire for a secure "BlackBerry-like" device, like the one provided to President Barack Obama, is recounted in a series of February 2009 exchanges between high-level officials at the State Department and NSA. Clinton was sworn in as secretary the prior month, and had become "hooked" on reading and answering emails on a BlackBerry she used during the 2008 presidential race. "We began examining options for (Secretary Clinton) with respect to secure 'BlackBerry-like' communications," wrote Donald R. Reid, the department's assistant director for security infrastructure. "The current state of the art is not too user friendly, has no infrastructure, and is very expensive." Reid wrote that each time they asked the NSA what solution they had worked up to provide a mobile device to Obama, "we were politely told to shut up and color."

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N. Korea Launches Ballistic Missile
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '16 at 04:57 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's were-the-proclaimers-aboard? department:
The BBC reports that North Korea's military today launched a ballistic missile from that country's east coast; the missile fell into the water after a flight of about 500 miles.

Reuters adds some more details, and names a different launching point. From their report: South Korea's Yonhap news agency said the missile was likely a medium-range Rodong-missile. ... The missile was launched from an area near the west coast north of the capital, Pyongyang, flying across the peninsular and into the sea off the east coast early Friday morning, the South's Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. CNN adds a sobering graphic indicating projected range of North Korea's missile arsenal.

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Asteroid Impacts Make Tiny Diamonds
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '16 at 04:57 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's when-you-love-her-just-a-bit department:
The Bad Astronomer writes: It's long been thought that asteroid impacts create pressures high enough to form diamonds. Now, using high-energy lasers and X-ray crystallography, researchers have confirmed that lonsdaleite, a form of diamond, can be made this way.

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