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Godfather Of Encryption Explains Why Apple Should Help The FBI
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 06:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's there's-always-next-time department:
An anonymous reader writes: Famed cryptographer and Turing Award winner, Adi Shamir, has an interesting if not surprising take on Apple's current legal tussle with the FBI. While speaking on a panel at RSA Conference 2016 earlier this week, the man who helped co-invent the vaunted RSA algorithm (he's the 'S' in RSA) explained why he sides with the FBI as it pertains to the San Bernardino shooter's locked iPhone. It has nothing to do with placing trapdoors on millions of phones around the world," Shamir explained. "This is a case where it's clear those people are guilty. They are dead; their constitutional rights are not involved. This is a major crime where 14 people were killed. The phone is intact. All of this aligns in favor of the FBI." Shamir continued, "even though Apple has helped in countless cases, they decided not to comply this time. My advice is that they comply this time and wait for a better test case to fight where the case is not so clearly in favor of the FBI."

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French Bill Carries 5-Year Jail Sentence For Company Refusals To Decrypt Data For Police
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 06:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's mandated-backdoors department:
Patrick O'Neill writes: Employees of companies in France that refuse to decrypt data for police can go to prison for five years under new legislation from conservative legislators, Agence France-Presse reports. The punishment for refusing to hand over access to encrypted data is a five year jail sentence and $380,000 fine. Telecom companies would face their own penalties, including up to two years in jail. M. Pierre Lellouche, a French Republican, singled out American encryption in particular. "They deliberately use the argument of public freedoms to make money knowing full well that the encryption used to drug traffickers, to serious [criminals] and especially to terrorists. It is unacceptable that the state loses any control over encryption and, in fact, be the subject of manipulation by U.S. multinationals."

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Aging Indian Point Reactor Shut Down By Bird Droppings
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 06:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's reminiscing-about-the-Death-Star department:
mdsolar writes: A gloop of bird poop was responsible for shutting down the Indian Point nuclear plant for a few hours last December, according to a state-commissioned report into the incident. The Westchester power plant automatically shut down on Dec. 14, 2015 when a string of dropping from a "large bird" fell into some of the plant's electrical equipment and caused the reactor's automatic shut down to trip, according to findings by Entergy, the company that runs the plant. "Damage was caused by a bird streamer. Streamers are long streams of excrement from large birds that are often expelled as a bird takes off from a perch," company officials said in the report, ordered by Gov. Cuomo. Last December's unplanned shut down was the 13th since June 2012.

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Viral 'Fossils' In Our DNA May Help Us Fight Infection
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 06:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's material-culture department:
sciencehabit writes: In a new study, researchers led by Edward Chuong, a computational biologist at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, explored whether endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) help us fend off invaders. The scientists scanned three different human cell lines for ERVs in their DNA that could bind to innate immunity transcription factors, which turn on genes to ramp up the immune system's attack against pathogens. They found thousands of ERVs. The researchers predicted that if they remove this viral DNA from the cell, the transcription factors would not function properly, potentially disrupting genes involved in the innate immune response. Using the gene-editing tool CRISPR, they snipped out several endogenous viruses from the cell's DNA. When researchers infected these ERV-depleted cells with the vaccinia virus, they found a much weaker innate immune response that unedited normal cells, the team reports online today in Science. A key immune protein wasn't produced and thus was not fighting the virus. When researchers later added the genes back into the cells experimentally, immune function was restored. This new research provides evidence that "an ancient viral element is assisting us against an infection," Chuong says.

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IBM Sues Groupon Over 1990s Patents Related To Prodigy
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 03:03 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's precursor-to-the-modern-web department:
An anonymous reader writes: IBM is pushing big internet companies to pay patent licensing fees in part because IBM invented the Prodigy service, a precursor to the modern web. Yesterday, Big Blue filed a lawsuit against Groupon, saying the company has infringed four IBM patents, including patents 5,796,967 and 7,072,849. IBM inventors working on Prodigy "developed novel methods for presenting applications and advertisements," and "the technological innovations embodied in these patents are fundamental to the efficient communication of internet content," according to the company. The Prodigy patents were filed in 1993 and 1996, but they have "priority dates" stretching back to 1988. "Despite IBM's repeated attempts to negotiate, Groupon refuses to take a license but continues to use IBM's property," IBM lawyers write. IBM says it informed Groupon that it was infringing the '967, '849, and '346 patents as early as 2011. As for the '601 patent, IBM says that Groupon should have been on notice of that once Priceline got sued last year.

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Cisco Issues Patch For Nexus Switches To Remove Hardcoded Credentials
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 03:03 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's where's-the-remote department:
itwbennett writes: Cisco Systems has released critical software updates for its Nexus 3000 and 3500 switches to remove a default administrative account with static credentials that could allow remote attackers access to a bash shell with root privileges, meaning that they can fully control the device. The account is created at installation time by the Cisco NX-OS software that runs on these switches and it cannot be changed or deleted without affecting the system's functionality, Cisco said in an advisory. The affected devices are: Cisco Nexus 3000 Series switches running NX-OS 6.0(2)U6(1), 6.0(2)U6(2), 6.0(2)U6(3), 6.0(2)U6(4) and 6.0(2)U6(5) and Cisco Nexus 3500 Platform switches running NX-OS 6.0(2)A6(2), 6.0(2)A6(3), 6.0(2)A6(4), 6.0(2)A6(5) and 6.0(2)A7(1).

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Robots May Soon Put Surgery Into the Hands of Non-Surgeons
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 03:03 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's all-done-from-nellis-air-force-base department:
Lucas123 writes: By 2020, surgical robotics sales are expected to almost double to $6.4 billion, at the same time robots are becoming easier to use. One new robot is so easy to use that even med students can achieve proficiency with a few tries, according to Umamaheswar Duvvuri, director of head and neck surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The robot, a snake-like endoscope that can be directed into any shape through the relative orientations of its linkages, requires only one incision, reducing the number from several involved in typical laparoscopic procedures. Older, and more popular surgical robotic systems, such as the da Vinci Surgical System, are now being tested by physicians who are at controls more than 1,000 miles away. Probably a lot of the same misgivings that people have about autonomous cars apply here, too.

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U8 Smartwatch Engages In Covert Traffic With Chinese IP Behind Your Back
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 03:03 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's your-every-move department:
An anonymous reader writes: In a presentation at the BSides security conferences in San Francisco, Michael Raggo from MobileIron, has revealed that he discovered a cheap smartwatch engaging in covert communications behind the users' back. The watch in question is the U8 Nucleus, a cheap smartwatch that's made in China, sold for around $17 (€15.6), which also runs its own operating system, also known as Nucleus. When the user would install the iOS/Android app that allows the owners to manage the smartwatch via their phones, the app would start an encrypted communications channel with an IP address in China. This could be telemetry or analytics data, but nothing in the U8 smartwatch manual or website even mentioned something like this was happening in the first place.

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Hopkins Study Finds Popular Blood Pressure App Wildly Inaccurate
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 03:03 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's yeah-ok-but-that's-only-one-kind-of-error department:
An anonymous reader writes to point out a software review of the kind you can't generally find in an app store. A group from Johns Hopkins checked the accuracy of the Instant Blood Pressure app, which has sold more than 148,000 copies, and purports to measure blood pressure with just an iPhone -- no cuff required -- and found it wanting, to put it mildly. In the researcher's study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the app missed elevated blood pressures four out of five times.

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Windows RT Could Make a Comeback
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 12:16 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's well-that's-a-low-bar department:
SmartAboutThings writes: Windows RT has been a terrible flop for Microsoft, but it seems the company isn't yet ready to totally abandon the concept. There's now speculation that Microsoft is working on Windows 10 RT, as mentions of the 'new OS' have been spotted inside of Device Guard which is a new security feature for Windows 10 Enterprise that scans a program for a digital signature, and determines whether it's trusted or not. Judging by its name, the OS should not be confused with proper Windows 10 that we see on Microsoft's mobile devices, as Windows 10 RT is a version of the OS that is designed for the desktop class PC and tablets.

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Justice Dept. Grants Immunity To Staffer Who Set Up Clinton Email Server
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 12:16 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's not-to-suggest-the-need-for-immunity department:
schwit1 writes with this news from the Washington Post: The Justice Department has granted immunity to the former State Department staffer who worked on Hillary Rodham Clinton's private email server, a sign the FBI investigation into possible criminal wrongdoing is progressing. A senior U.S. law enforcement official said the FBI had secured the cooperation of Bryan Pagliano, who worked on Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign before setting up the server in her New York home in 2009. As the FBI looks to wrap up its investigation in the coming months, agents will likely want to interview Clinton and her senior aides about the decision to use a private server, how it was set up, and whether any of the participants knew they were sending classified information in emails, current and former officials said. The inquiry comes against a sensitive political backdrop in which Clinton is the favorite to secure the Democratic nomination for the presidency.

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$500K NSF Grant Boosted Girls' CS Participation At Obama Daughters' $37K/Yr HS
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 12:16 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's every-little-bit-helps department:
theodp writes: On Friday, a paper entitled Creative Computation in High School will be presented at SIGCSE '16. "In this paper," explain the paper's authors, "we describe the success of bringing Creative Computation via Processing into two very different high schools...providing a catalyst for significant increases in total enrollment as well as female participation in high school computer science." One of the two schools that participated in the National Science Foundation-supported project — see NSF awards 1323305 & 1323463 for Creative Computation in the Context of Art and Visual Media — was Sidwell Friends School, which a 2013 SMU news release on the three-year, $500K NSF grant noted was best known as the school attended by President Obama's daughters. Interestingly, in a late-2014 interview, the President lamented that his daughters hadn't taken to coding the way he'd like, adding that "part of what's happening is that we are not helping schools and teachers teach it in an interesting way." Hey, nothing that a $4B 'Computer Science For All' K-12 Program can't fix, right?

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Amazon Just Removed Encryption From the Software Powering Kindles, Smartphones, Tablets
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 10:35 AM
By whipslash from Slashdot's backdoor-or-no-door department:
Patrick O'Neill writes: While Apple continues to resist a court order requiring it to help the FBI access a terrorist's phone, another major tech company took a strange and unexpected step away from encryption. Amazon has removed device encryption from the operating system that powers its Kindle e-reader, Fire Phone, Fire Tablet, and Fire TV devices. The change, which took effect in Fire OS 5, affects millions of users.

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Buffer Sees Clear Benefits To Transparent Employee Salary Policy
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 10:35 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's ok-ok-peeking department:
An anonymous reader writes: At social media startup Buffer, a single leadership decision eliminated salary negotiation for new employees, preempted gender-based salary discrimination, and prompted a flood of job applications. The decision? Make all employee salaries transparent. "We set down transparency as a core value for the company," CEO Joel Gascoigne said in 2014. "And then, once we'd done that, we went through everything. And salaries was one of those key things that we found that [made us] question ourselves: 'Why are we not transparent about this?'" Years later, the policy is still in place (go ahead and calculate your salary as a would-be Buffer employee) — and it presents a fascinating case study for anyone interested in the ways open organizations approach a rather prickly subject: transparency.

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FREAK, Logjam, DROWN All a Result of Weaknesses Demanded By US Gov't
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 09:14 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's home-to-roost department:
itwbennett writes: You need look no further than the FREAK and Logjam attacks in 2015 and the DROWN attack announced just this week to get a sense of 'the dangers of deliberately weakening security protocols by introducing backdoors or other access mechanisms like those that law enforcement agencies and the intelligence community are calling for today,' writes Lucian Constantin. But this isn't a new problem. 'One approach [the government] used throughout the 1990s [to keep encryption under its control] was to enforce export controls on products that used encryption by limiting the key lengths, allowing the National Security Agency to easily decrypt foreign communications,' says Constantin. 'This gave birth to so-called 'export-grade' encryption algorithms that have been integrated into cryptographic libraries and have survived to this day.'

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Maryland Public Buses Record Passengers' Conversations
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 09:14 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's you-are-entering-a-secured-area department:
mi writes: You may not have heard of it yet, but Maryland Transit Administration began recording passengers' conversations in 2012 — on its own initiative. Legislative efforts to put an end to the practice failed four times since then — but some State Senators keep trying "What [the MTA] is doing is a mass surveillance [...] I can make an argument to tape everybody, everywhere, everywhere they walk, everywhere they talk, and you can make the excuse for homeland security." If we had competing public transport companies, one could've switched to a privacy-respecting competitor. Alas, MTA holds a monopoly and legislation is the only recourse.

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Skydio's Forthcoming Consumer Drones Can Sense and Avoid Obstacles
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 07:42 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's get-outta-my-way department:
moon_unit2 writes: DJI's new Phantom 4 drone may be able to stop if there's an obstacles directly in front of it, but MIT Technology Review has a story about a much more sophisticated self-flying drone, from a startup called Skydio (basically using high-speed visual SLAM, which is no mean feat in such a tiny package). The company's prototype uses several video cameras to navigate around obstacles at high speeds through busy airspace. The technology could make consumer drones much harder to crash, and it could let drones do more complex surveillance tasks. Skydio, founded last year, has so far raised $25 million in funding in a round led by Andreessen Horowitz and Accel Partners.

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Dell Bringing Thunderbolt 3 USB-C Support To Linux
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 07:42 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's bring-it-faster department:
Freshly Exhumed writes: A series of posts on the Project Sputnik developers' forum at Dell indicate that hardware on a soon to be released XPS 13 Developer Edition laptop will support Thunderbolt 3 USB Type C, which has been tested on the device with video and USB 3.1 on non-dock devices, although Dell's Type C docks are not yet supported. Intel has already implemented Thunderbolt 3 drivers in the Linux kernel, so this Dell initiative represents a first for a physical implementation on a consumer platform.

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Samsung Ships 15.38TB SSD With Up To 1,200MBps Performance
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 06:26 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's looking-forward-to-the-trickle-down department:
Lucas123 writes: Samsung announced it is now shipping the world's highest capacity 2.5-in SSD, the 15.38TB PM1633a. The new SSD uses a 12Gbps SAS interface and is being marketed for use in enterprise-class storage systems where IT managers can fit twice as many of the drives in a standard 19-inch, 2U rack compared to an equivalent 3.5-inch drive. The PM1633a sports random read/write speeds of up to 200,000 and 32,000 IOPS, respectively. It delivers sequential read/write speeds of up to 1,200MBps, the company said. The SSD can sustain one full drive write (15.38TB) per day, every day over its life, which Samsung claims is two to ten times more data than typical SATA SSDs based on planar MLC and TLC NAND flash technologies. The SSD is based on Samsung's 48-layer V-NAND (3D NAND) technology, which also uses 3-bit MLC flash. Also at Hot Hardware

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The Case Against Algebra
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 06:26 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's not-the-only-possible-swap department:
HughPickens.com writes: Dana Goldstein writes at Slate that political scientist Andrew Hacker proposes replacing algebra II and calculus in the high school and college with a practical course in statistics for citizenship. According to Hacker, only mathematicians and some engineers actually use advanced math in their day-to-day work and even the doctors, accountants, and coders of the future shouldn't have to master abstract math that they'll never need. For many math is often an impenetrable barrier to academic success. Algebra II, which includes polynomials and logarithms, and is required by the new Common Core curriculum standards used by 47 states and territories, drives dropouts at both the high school and college levels. Hacker's central argument is that advanced mathematics requirements, like algebra, trigonometry and calculus, are "a harsh and senseless hurdle" keeping far too many Americans from completing their educations and leading productive lives. "We are really destroying a tremendous amount of talent—people who could be talented in sports writing or being an emergency medical technician, but can't even get a community college degree," says Hacker. "I regard this math requirement as highly irrational." According to Hacker many of those who struggled through a traditional math regimen feel that doing so annealed their character while critics says that mathematics is used as a hoop, a badge, a totem to impress outsiders and elevate a profession's status. "It's not hard to understand why Caltech and M.I.T. want everyone to be proficient in mathematics. But it's not easy to see why potential poets and philosophers face a lofty mathematics bar. Demanding algebra across the board actually skews a student body, not necessarily for the better."

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