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US Voting Machines Cracked In 90 Minutes At DEFCON
Posted by News Fetcher on July 29 '17 at 07:10 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's secret-ballot-machines department:
An anonymous reader quotes The Hill:
Hackers at at a competition in Las Vegas were able to successfully breach the software of U.S. voting machines in just 90 minutes on Friday, illuminating glaring security deficiencies in America's election infrastructure. Tech minds at the annual "DEF CON" in Las Vegas were given physical voting machines and remote access, with the instructions of gaining access to the software. According to a Register report, within minutes, hackers exposed glaring physical and software vulnerabilities across multiple U.S. voting machine companies' products. Some devices were found to have physical ports that could be used to attach devices containing malicious software. Others had insecure Wi-Fi connections, or were running outdated software with security vulnerabilities like Windows XP.
Though some of the machines were out of date, they were all from "major U.S. voting machine companies" like Diebold Nixorf, Sequoia Voting Systems, and WinVote -- and were purchased on eBay or at government auctions. One of the machines apparently still had voter registration data stored in plain text in an SQLite database from a 2008 election, according to event's official Twitter feed.

By Saturday night they were tweeting video of a WinVote machine playing Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up."

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Apple Pulls Anti-Censorship Apps from China's App Store
Posted by News Fetcher on July 29 '17 at 04:32 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's don't-think-too-different department:
An anonymous reader quotes Fortune:Services helping Chinese users circumvent the "Great Firewall of China" have been pulled from Apple's Chinese App Store en masse. On Saturday morning, at least some software makers affected by the sweep received notification from Apple that their tools were removed for violating Chinese law. Internet censorship in China restricts communications about topics including democracy, Tibetan freedom, and the 1989 Tienanmen Square protests. The culling primarily seems to have affected virtual private networks, or VPNs, which mask users' Internet activity and data from outside monitoring. According to a report by the New York Times, many of the most popular such apps are now missing from the Chinese App Store.

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P&G Cuts More Than $100 Million In 'Largely Ineffective' Digital Ads
Posted by News Fetcher on July 29 '17 at 03:12 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's banishing-banner-ads department:
schwit1 quotes the Wall Street Journal: Procter & Gamble said that its move to cut more than $100 million in digital marketing spend in the June quarter had little impact on its business, proving that those digital ads were largely ineffective. Almost all of the consumer product giant's advertising cuts in the period came from digital, finance chief Jon Moeller said on its earnings call Thursday. The company targeted ads that could wind up on sites with fake traffic from software known as "bots," or those with objectionable content. "What it reflected was a choice to cut spending from a digital standpoint where it was ineffective, where either we were serving bots as opposed to human beings or where the placement of ads was not facilitating the equity of our brands," he said... The cuts echo marketing executives' mounting concerns around the efficacy of digital advertising and the growing perception that they are wasting money on digital ads that never reach their intended audience.

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Do Kill Switches Deter Cellphone Theft?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 29 '17 at 01:52 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's brick-by-brick department:
evolutionary shares an article from Ars Technica:
San Francisco's district attorney says that a California state law mandating "theft-deterring technological solutions" for smartphones has resulted in a precipitous drop in such robberies. Those measures primarily include a remote kill switch after a phone has been stolen that would allow a phone to be disabled, withstanding even a hard reset. Such a kill switch has become standard in all iPhones ("Activation Lock") and Android phones ("Device Protection") since 2015... When measured from the peak in 2013, "overall robberies involving smartphones have declined an astonishing 50 percent... Because of this hard-fought legislation, stealing a smartphone is no longer worth the trouble, and that means the devices we use every day no longer make us targets for violent crime."

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100x Faster, 10x Cheaper: 3D Metal Printing Is About To Go Mainstream
Posted by News Fetcher on July 29 '17 at 01:52 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's mass-producing-with-metal department:
Big Hairy Ian shares an article from New Atlas: Desktop Metal -- remember the name. This Massachussetts company is preparing to turn manufacturing on its head, with a 3D metal printing system that's so much faster, safer and cheaper than existing systems that it's going to compete with traditional mass manufacturing processes... Plenty of design studios and even home users run desktop printers, but the only affordable printing materials are cheap ABS plastics. And at the other end of the market, while organizations like NASA and Boeing are getting valuable use out of laser-melted metal printing, it's a very slow and expensive process that doesn't seem to scale well.

But a very exciting company out of Massachusetts, headed by some of the guys who came up with the idea of additive manufacture in the first place, believes it's got the technology and the machinery to boost 3D printing into the big time, for real. Desktop Metal is an engineering-driven startup whose founders include several MIT professors, and Emanuel Sachs, who has patents in 3D printing dating back to the dawn of the field in 1989. The company has raised a ton of money in the last few months, including some US$115 million in a recent Series D round that brings total equity investments up over US$210 million. That money has come from big players, too, including Google Ventures... And if Desktop Metal delivers on its promises -- that it can make reliable metal printing up to 100 times faster, with 10 times cheaper initial costs and 20 times cheaper materials costs than existing laser technologies, using a much wider range of alloys -- these machines might be the tipping point for large scale 3D manufacturing.

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Stealthy Google Play Apps Recorded Calls and Stole Emails
Posted by News Fetcher on July 29 '17 at 12:32 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's don't-be-an-evil-app department:
An anonymous reader quotes Ars Technica:
Google has expelled 20 Android apps from its Play marketplace after finding they contained code for monitoring and extracting users' e-mail, text messages, locations, voice calls, and other sensitive data. The apps, which made their way onto about 100 phones, exploited known vulnerabilities to root devices running older versions of Android.... As a result, the apps were capable of surreptitiously accessing sensitive data stored, sent, or received by at least a dozen other apps, including Gmail, Hangouts, LinkedIn, and Messenger. The now-ejected apps also collected messages sent and received by Whatsapp, Telegram, and Viber, which all encrypt data in an attempt to make it harder for attackers to intercept messages while in transit... To conceal their surveillance capabilities, the apps posed as utilities for cleaning unwanted files or backing up data.

Google reports that the malicious apps also had these functions:
Call recordingVOIP recordingRecording from the device microphoneLocation monitoringTaking screenshotsTaking photos with the device camera(s)Fetching device information and filesFetching user information (contacts, call logs, SMS, application-specific data)
12 hours later an antivirus provider reported two more Google Play apps could surreptitiously steal text messages by downloading a malicious plugin -- and that the apps had already been downloaded at least 100,000 times.

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The US Congress Is Investigating Government Use Of Kaspersky Software
Posted by News Fetcher on July 29 '17 at 11:12 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's have-you-now-or-have-you-ever-used department:
An anonymous reader quotes Reuters:
A U.S. congressional panel this week asked 22 government agencies to share documents on Moscow-based cyber firm Kaspersky Lab, saying its products could be used to carry out "nefarious activities against the United States," according to letters seen by Reuters. The requests made on Thursday by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology are the latest blow to the antivirus company, which has been countering accusations by U.S. officials that it may be vulnerable to Russian government influence... The committee "is concerned that Kaspersky Lab is susceptible to manipulation by the Russian government, and that its products could be used as a tool for espionage, sabotage, or other nefarious activities against the United States," wrote the panel's Republican chairman, Lamar Smith, in the letters... A committee aide told Reuters the survey was a "first step" designed to canvas the U.S. government and that more action may follow depending on the results.
Agencies contacted include both the Deparatment of Homeland Security and NASA. The committee wants to see internal risk assessments, plus a list of all systems using Kaspersky products and the names of government contractors using the software.

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Systemd Named 'Lamest Vendor' At Pwnie Security Awards
Posted by News Fetcher on July 29 '17 at 09:52 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's init-to-win-it department:
Long-time Slashdot reader darkpixel2k shares a highlight from the Black Hat USA security conference. The Register reports:

The annual Pwnie Awards for serious security screw-ups saw hardly anyone collecting their prize at this year's ceremony in Las Vegas... The gongs are divided into categories, and nominations in each section are voted on by the hacker community... The award for best server-side bug went to the NSA's Equation Group, whose Windows SMB exploits were stolen and leaked online this year by the Shadow Brokers...
And finally, the lamest vendor response award went to Systemd supremo Lennart Poettering for his controversial, and perhaps questionable, handling of the following bugs in everyone's favorite init replacement: 5998, 6225, 6214, 5144, and 6237... "Where you are dereferencing null pointers, or writing out of bounds, or not supporting fully qualified domain names, or giving root privileges to any user whose name begins with a number, there's no chance that the CVE number will referenced in either the change log or the commit message," reads the Pwnie nomination for Systemd, referring to the open-source project's allergy to assigning CVE numbers. "But CVEs aren't really our currency any more, and only the lamest of vendors gets a Pwnie!"
CSO has more coverage -- and presumably there will eventually be an official announcement up at Pwnies.com.

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How Rust Can Replace C In Python Libraries
Posted by News Fetcher on July 29 '17 at 09:52 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's C-u-later department:
An anonymous reader quotes InfoWorld:
Proponents of Rust, the language engineered by Mozilla to give developers both speed and memory safety, are stumping for the language as a long-term replacement for C and C++. But replacing software written in these languages can be a difficult, long-term project. One place where Rust could supplant C in the short term is in the traditionally C libraries used in other languages... [A] new spate of projects are making it easier to develop Rust libraries with convenient bindings to Python -- and to deploy Python packages that have Rust binaries.

The article specifically highlights these four new projects:
Rust-CPython - a set of bindings in Rust for the CPython runtime PyO3 - a basic way to write Rust software with bindings to Python in both directions. Snaek - lets developers create Rust libraries that are loaded dynamically into Python as needed, but don't rely on being linked statically against Python's runtime. Cookiecutter PyPackage Rust Cross-Platform Publish - simplifies the process of bundling Rust binaries with a Python library.

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Scientists Genetically Engineer the World's First Blue Chrysanthemum
Posted by News Fetcher on July 29 '17 at 08:32 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's prettier-petals department:
sciencehabit shares an article from Science magazine: True blue flowers are a rarity in nature -- they occur only in select species like morning glories and delphiniums. Now, researchers have created a genuinely blue chrysanthemum by adding two genes to the normally pink or reddish flower. The advance could be applied to other species -- and it may mean that florists wanting to hawk blooms of blue will no longer have to dye them... The next step for Noda and his colleagues is to make blue chrysanthemums that can't reproduce and spread into the environment, making it possible to commercialize the transgenic flower. But that approach could spell trouble in some parts of the world. "As long as GMO [genetically modified organism] continues to be a problem in Europe, blue [flowers] face a difficult economic future," predicts Ronald Koes, a plant molecular biologist at the University of Amsterdam who was not involved with the work.

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Microsoft's 'Windows Subsystem For Linux' Finally Leaves Beta
Posted by News Fetcher on July 29 '17 at 07:12 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's ghost-in-the-shell department:
An anonymous reader quotes Microsoft's Developer blog:
Early adopters on the Windows Insider program will notice that Windows Subsystem for Linux is no longer marked as a beta feature as of Insider build 16251. This will be great news for those who've held-back from employing WSL as a mainline toolset: You'll now be able to leverage WSL as a day-to-day developer toolset, and become ever more productive when building, testing, deploying, and managing your apps and systems on Windows 10... What will change is that you will gain the added advantage of being able to file issues on WSL and its Windows tooling via our normal support mechanisms if you want/need to follow a more formal issue resolution process. You can also provide feedback via Windows 10 Feedback Hub app, which delivers feedback directly to the team.
Microsoft points out that distro-publishers are still responsible for supporting and fixing the internals of their distros -- and they have no plans to support X/GUI apps or desktops. And of course, Linux files are not currently accessible from Windows -- though Microsoft says they're working on a fix.

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OpenMoko: Ten Years After
Posted by News Fetcher on July 29 '17 at 05:52 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's inside-story department:
Michael Lauer, member of the core team at OpenMoko, a project that sought to create a family of open source mobile phones -- which included the hardware specs and the Linux-based OS -- has shared the inside story of what the project wanted to do and why it failed. From his blog post: For the 10th anniversary since the legendary OpenMoko announcement at the "Open Source in Mobile" (7th of November 2006 in Amsterdam), I've been meaning to write an anthology or -- as Paul Fertser suggested on #openmoko-cdevel -- an obituary. I've been thinking about objectively describing the motivation, the momentum, how it all began and -- sadly -- ended. I did even plan to include interviews with Sean, Harald, Werner, and some of the other veterans. But as with oh so many projects of (too) wide scope this would probably never be completed. As November 2016 passed without any progress, I decided to do something different instead. Something way more limited in scope, but something I can actually finish. My subjective view of the project, my participation, and what I think is left behind: My story, as OpenMoko employee #2. On top of that you will see a bunch of previously unreleased photos (bear with me, I'm not a good photographer and the camera sucked as well). [....] Right now my main occupation is writing software for Apple's platforms -- and while it's nice to work on apps using a massive set of luxury frameworks and APIs, you're locked and sandboxed within the software layers Apple allows you. I'd love to be able to work on an open source Linux-based middleware again. However, the sad truth is that it looks like there is no business case anymore for a truly open platform based on custom-designed hardware, since people refuse to spend extra money for tweakability, freedom, and security. Despite us living in times where privacy is massively endangered.

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LibreOffice 5.4 Adds More New Features, Improves Office File Format Compatibility
Posted by News Fetcher on July 29 '17 at 04:32 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's free-office-suite department:
The Document Foundation has released LibreOffice 5.4. Again, it's on time, arriving six months after the release of LibreOffice 5.3. From a report: LibreOffice 5.4 is "the last major release of the LibreOffice 5.x family," and like other point releases is a major one, adding features across all components and incrementally improving compatibility with Microsoft Office document formats. Highlights include a new standard color palette based on the RYB (Red Yellow Blue) color model. File format compatibility improvements include better support for EMF vector images and higher quality rendering of imported PDF files (with support for embedding video in exported PDFs from Writer and Impress). Also added is OpenPGP key support for signing ODF documents in Linux. LibreOffice Writer adds new context menu items for working with sections, footnotes, endnotes and styles. Users can now import AutoText entries from Microsoft Word .dotm templates. The full structure of bulleted and numbered lists is now preserved when pasted as plain text, and users gain the ability to create custom watermarks for their documents via the Format menu.

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Crooks Reused Passwords On the Dark Web So Dutch Police Took Over Their Accounts
Posted by News Fetcher on July 29 '17 at 03:12 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's gotcha department:
An anonymous reader writes: Dutch Police is aggressively going after Dark Web vendors using data they collected from the recently seized Hansa Market. According to reports, police is using the Hansa login credentials to authenticate on other Dark Web portals, such as Dream. If vendors reused passwords, police take over the accounts and set up traps or map the sales of illegal products. Other crooks noticed the account hijacks because Dutch Police changed the PGP key for the hijacked accounts with their own, which was accidentally signed with the name "Dutch Police." The second method of operation spotted by the Dark Web community involves so-called "locktime" files that were downloaded from the Hansa Market before Dutch authorities shut it down on July 20. Under normal circumstances a locktime file is a simple log of a vendor's market transaction, containing details about the sold product, the buyer, the time of the sale, the price, and Hansa's signature. The files are used as authentication by vendors to request the release of Bitcoin funds after a sale's conclusion, or if the market was down due to technical reasons. Before the market went down, these locktime files were replaced with Excel files that contained a hidden image that would beacon back to police servers, exposing the vendor's real location. Dutch Police was able to do this because they took over Hansa servers on June 20 and operated the market for one more month, collecting data on vendors.

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Ask Slashdot: Should Average Consumers Install More Than One Antivirus Program On Their System?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 29 '17 at 01:52 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's what-would-you-say department:
Even though you would assume that people would know better, an anonymous reader writes, in my experience, I have found many who think installing more than one antivirus program on their computer is the right way to go about it. Some have installed as many as three third-party security suites, which among other things, takes a toll on the performance. This week the New York Times' tech tip section addresses the matter. From the article, which could be paywalled, but you don't have to read it in entirety anyway: Installing more than one program to constantly scan and monitor your PC for viruses and other security threats can create problems, because the two applications will likely interfere with each other's work. Clashing antivirus programs can cause the computer to behave erratically and run more slowly as the applications battle for system resources. Microsoft advises against running its Windows Defender security software on the same system with another installed third-party antivirus program. Likewise, antivirus software companies also warn against using other system security products when you are using theirs; Bitdefender, Kaspersky Lab and
Symantec all have articles on their sites explaining the potential problems in detail. Programs that do not constantly patrol your operating system, like mail scanners, may not be an issue. What do you folks recommend to people who are not as tech-savvy?

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Bad News If You Make $150,000 to $300,000: Higher Taxes for Many
Posted by News Fetcher on July 29 '17 at 12:32 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
From a WSJ report: If President Donald Trump sticks to what he has said, Americans earning between $149,400 and $307,900 are most likely to see an increase in their taxes as a result of tax reform (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled). Those figures come from a recent study by the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan group in Washington, and are based on Mr. Trump's statements and proposals. The study concludes that nearly one-third of about 19 million households in that income range could see tax increases averaging from $3,000 to $4,000 a year. By contrast, less than 10% of households earning the least or the most -- below $25,000 or above $733,000 -- would owe more after a tax overhaul. Over all, the study found that about 20% of taxpayers would owe more after tax reform than before it. The issue of tax reform's winners and losers has resurfaced after top congressional Republicans and the Trump administration released a set of broad principles for tax policy on Thursday containing few details.

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Tesla Model 3 Test Drive: Car Has Bite and Simple Interior
Posted by News Fetcher on July 28 '17 at 11:10 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's meet-the-new-Tesla department:
An anonymous reader shares a WSJ article: A first peek inside Tesla's new Model 3 compact car revealed a starker, cozier interior than the more spacious and luxurious Model S. But as the sedan sped off, the experience felt similar. On Friday, the Silicon Valley auto maker showed off details of the all-electric sedan's interior for the first time (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternative source), allowing brief test rides with a roughly 10-minute spin around the factory. The Model 3 represents a milestone for Chief Executive Elon Musk, who has long wanted to create an electric car for the masses. He's betting the new vehicle can help fuel massive growth for his 14-year-old company, projecting Tesla will produce a half-million cars next year, after delivering about 76,000 Model S sedans and Model X sport-utility vehicles last year. The Model 3's exterior was revealed in March last year, but details about the interior have been scarce. The $35,000 sedan is noticeably bare bones inside -- gone are the displays and instrument panel behind the steering wheel and the numerous switches and buttons found in the cockpit of traditional cars. Instead, the Model 3 makes greater use of a video screen in the center dash that controls most of the car's functions.

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Apple Paid Nokia $2 Billion To Escape Fight Over Old Patents
Posted by News Fetcher on July 28 '17 at 08:32 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's settling-it department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Apple's latest patent spat with Nokia resulted in a $2 billion up-front payment from the iPhone maker, a colossal sum that seems to indicate Apple was eager to avoid a protracted and ugly dispute that could rival the one it had with Samsung. The new details of the settlement, which was first announced back in May without the disclosure of a financial amount or the new licensing terms, were spotted in Nokia's second quarter earnings release. "We got a substantial upfront cash payment of $2 billion from Apple, strengthening further our cash position. As said earlier, our plans is to provide more details on the intended use of cash in conjunction with our Q3 earnings," reads the official transcript of Nokia's quarterly earnings call with investors yesterday. Neither Nokia nor Apple have disclosed the terms of the new licensing deal, including whether it involves recurring payments or how many years it will be in place.

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Roomba Is No Spy: CEO Says iRobot Will Never Sell Your Data
Posted by News Fetcher on July 28 '17 at 07:12 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's steering-clear department:
It's been a challenging week for iRobot, the company behind the popular Roomba robotic vacuums. From a report: It started with an interview in Reuters, in which the company's chief executive Colin Angle gave the clear impression that iRobot was selling consumers' home mapping data (Editor's note: the chief executive said the company intended to explore the opportunity). Last night, Angle and iRobot got back to me on this issue. They provided the following response to the concerns I and others shared. "First things first, iRobot will never sell your data. Our mission is to help you keep a cleaner home and, in time, to help the smart home and the devices in it work better. There's no doubt that a robot can help your home be smarter. It's the data it collects to do its job, and the trusted relationship between you, your robot and iRobot, that is critical for that to happen. Information that is shared needs to be controlled by the customer and not as a data asset of a corporation to exploit. That is how data is handled by iRobot today. Customers have control over sharing it. I want to make very clear that this is how data will be handled in the future."

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Appocalypse Now - How iOS11 Will Kill Some Of Your Favourite iPhone Apps
Posted by News Fetcher on July 28 '17 at 05:50 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
Ronan Price, writing for Independent: The app-ocalypse is coming and almost no one knows it. Apologies for the dreadful pun but, in about six to eight weeks' time, hundreds of thousands of older apps for iPhone and iPad will cease to work when Apple updates its iOS software to version 11. Businesses and consumers who rely on these elderly apps and update to iOS11 without knowing the consequences face a rude awakening. Their difficulty ranges from mere inconvenience that a useful app no longer functions to the complete loss of valuable data buried in a piece of obsolete software. Apple began signalling two years ago that it was signing the death warrant for older apps when it moved iOS to 64-bit software - essentially a more secure, faster and technologically advanced version that replaced the previous 32-bit code. First, Apple encouraged developers to rewrite their apps to 64-bit status but continued to allow 32-bit apps to function. Then it began to warn developers and customers that future iOS updates would experience compatibility issues. You may have seen -- and ignored -- the messages when launching apps in the last year telling you "App X needs up to be updated, the developer needs to update it to improve its compatibility." Finally, just this June, Apple confirmed that iOS11 would put the kibosh on 32-bit forever when it's released into the wild in late September. The announcement came and went with little fanfare from the public's perspective.

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