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Cybersecurity and the Tylenol Murders
Posted by News Fetcher on June 01 '15 at 01:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's best-practices department:
HughPickens.com writes: Cindy Cohn writes at EFF that when a criminal started lacing Tylenol capsules with cyanide in 1982, Johnson & Johnson quickly sprang into action to ensure consumer safety. It increased its internal production controls, recalled the capsules, offered an exchange for tablets, and within two months started using triple-seal tamper-resistant packaging. Congress ultimately passed an anti-tampering law but the focus of the response from both the private and the public sector was on ensuring that consumers remained safe and secure, rather than on catching the perpetrator. Indeed, the person who did the tampering was never caught.

< article continued at Slashdot >

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Ransomware Creator Apologizes For "Sleeper" Attack, Releases Decryption Keys
Posted by News Fetcher on June 01 '15 at 01:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's my-bad department:
colinneagle writes: Last week, a new strain of ransomware called Locker was activated after having been sitting silently on infected PCs. Security firm KnowBe4 called Locker a "sleeper" campaign that, when the malware's creator "woke it up," encrypted the infected devices' files and charged roughly $24 in exchange for the decryption keys. This week, an internet user claiming to be the creator of Locker publicly apologized for the campaign and appears to have released the decryption keys for all the devices that fell victim to it, KnowBe4 reported in an alert issued today. Locker's creator released this message in a PasteBin post, along with a link to a file hosted on Mega.co containing the decryption keys. The malware creator also said that an automatic decryption process for all devices that were affected by Locker will begin June 2nd.

However, the post did not mention anything about providing a refund to victims who paid the 0.1 bitcoin (equal to $22.88 at the time this was posted and about $24 last week) required for the decryption keys since last week. KnowBe4 CEO Stu Sjouwerman says the files released do not appear to be malicious after brief analysis, and that "it does contain a large quantity of RSA keys and Bitcoin addresses." But he warned those interested to only open these files "at your own risk until further analyses are performed." Sjouwerman speculated that the malware creator may have been spooked by attention from law enforcement or Eastern European organized crime syndicates that are behind most ransomware campaigns.


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LEGO Launches a Minecraft Competitor On Steam
Posted by News Fetcher on June 01 '15 at 12:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's original-builders department:
An anonymous reader writes: There's been plenty of rumors that LEGO was developing a competitor to Minecraft, and today they released it on Steam. "Lego Worlds enables you to populate your worlds with many weird and wonderful characters, creatures, models, and driveable vehicles, and then play out your own unique adventures," the game's Steam page explains. Unlike "Minecraft," LEGO's new game won't have multiplayer gameplay yet.

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U.S. Top Court Throws Out Pennsylvania Man's Conviction For Facebook Threats
Posted by News Fetcher on June 01 '15 at 12:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's sticks-and-stones department:
An anonymous reader writes: With a 8 to 1 vote, The U.S. Supreme Court threw out the conviction of a Pennsylvania man found guilty of making threatening statements to his estranged wife, and others on social media. With the dissenting opinion in the Anthony Elonis case, Justice Samuel Alito says that he would have sent the case back to the appeals court for it to decide. The decision may make it harder to prosecute people for violent outbursts on social media. "We're pleased that the Supreme Court saw the case for what it was: an unprecedented criminal conviction for a 'crime' of pure speech based on only a showing of negligence," said Elonis' lawyer, John Elwood.

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MIT Physicists Build World's First Fermion Microscope
Posted by News Fetcher on June 01 '15 at 11:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's all-the-better-to-see-you-with department:
Zothecula writes: Researchers working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) claim to have created a method to better observe fermions – the sub-atomic building blocks of matter – by constructing a microscope capable of viewing them in groups of a thousand at a time. A laser technique is used to herd the fermions into a viewing area and then freeze them in place so all of the captured particles can be imaged simultaneously.

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Ask Slashdot: What Do You Wish You'd Known Starting Your First "Real" Job?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 01 '15 at 10:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's when-I-was-younger department:
itwbennett writes: ITworld's Josh Fruhlinger asked seasoned (and some not-so-seasoned) tech professionals what they wished they knew back when they were newly minted graduates entering the workforce. Perhaps not surprisingly, some of the best advice has more to do with soft skills than with tech skills. To wit: 'When [managers] say they are suggesting you do something, it's not really a suggestion — it is an order disguised as a suggestion. Plain-speaking is a lost art at big companies and corporate double talk is the name of the game.' What's your best piece of advice for the newest among you?

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The Artificial Pancreas For Diabetics Is Nearly Here
Posted by News Fetcher on June 01 '15 at 10:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's no-more-daily-testing department:
the_newsbeagle writes: It's the tech that type 1 diabetics have long been waiting for: An implanted "closed-loop" system that monitors a person's blood-sugar level and adjusts injections from an insulin pump. Such a system would liberate diabetics from constant self-monitoring and give parents of diabetic children peace of mind. Thanks to improvements in glucose sensors and control algorithms, the first artificial pancreas systems are now in clinical trials.

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Supreme Court Overturns Conviction For Man Who Posted 'Threatening' Messages On Facebook
Posted by News Fetcher on June 01 '15 at 09:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's being-a-jerk-online-is-not-a-crime department:
schwit1 sends news that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled 7-2 in favor of Anthony Elonis, a man who wrote a series of angry messages on Facebook. The posts included quotes from rap lyrics containing "violent imagery," and were directed at Elonis's wife, his co-workers, law enforcement, and a kindergarten class. Elonis was charged and convicted under a federal statute that outlaws "any communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to injure the person of another." The jury in his case was told the standard for judging such a threat was whether a "reasonable person" would interpret it as such. According to the Court's ruling (PDF), that standard was not enough to convict him. They call it "a standard feature of civil liability in tort law inconsistent with the conventional criminal conduct requirement of 'awareness of some wrongdoing.'" The case is notable for being the first Supreme Court ruling about free speech on social media, but the ruling itself was quite narrow.

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1-Pixel Pac-Man
Posted by News Fetcher on June 01 '15 at 08:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's point-based-ghostbusting department:
szczys writes: Retro games just aren't the same since the display technology resolution has exploded. I went the opposite direction and chose a display with less resolution than the original. This reinvention of Pac-Man uses a 32x32 RGB LED module which are made for LED billboards. This makes the player just one pixel. Add in an Atari joystick and we have a winner.This is a great programming challenge. If you've never looked at Pac-Man AI before, it's fascinating and worth your time!

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Malware Attribution: Should We Identify the Crooks Who Deploy It?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 01 '15 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-break-it-you-bought-it department:
Brian Krebs asks: What makes one novel strain of malicious software more dangerous or noteworthy than another? Is it the sheer capability and feature set of the new malware, or are these qualities meaningless without also considering the skills, intentions and ingenuity of the person wielding it? Most experts probably would say it's important to consider attribution insofar as it is knowable, but it's remarkable how seldom companies that regularly publish reports on the latest criminal innovations go the extra mile to add context about the crooks apparently involved in deploying those tools.

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Carnegie Mellon Struggles After Uber Poaches Top Robotics Researchers
Posted by News Fetcher on June 01 '15 at 07:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's there's-an-app-for-that department:
ideonexus sends a report from the Wall Street Journal (paywalled) saying Uber has poached 40 researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in an attempt to jump-start development of autonomous vehicle technology. In February, Uber and CMU's National Robotics Engineering Center announced a partnership to work together on the technology. But according to the WSJ, Uber quickly offered massive bonuses and salary increases to simply bring many of the researchers in-house. The NREC's new director made a presentation a few weeks ago about strategies for rebuilding and recovering. The presentation said NREC’s funding from contracts to develop technology with the U.S. Department of Defense and other organizations was expected to sink as low as $17 million from the $30 million originally projected for this year. Some contracts scientists were working on disappeared when the researchers left, accounting for the drop in funding. And it appeared the center would have to raise salaries significantly to prevent more exits. A few scientists left NREC for other companies in Pittsburgh because of concerns the center might be shut down, said two people familiar with the departures.

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Intel To Buy Altera For $16.7 Billion
Posted by News Fetcher on June 01 '15 at 06:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's go-big-or-go-home department:
An anonymous reader writes: Today Intel purchased chipmaker Altera for $16.7 billion. This follows another huge purchase in the semiconductor industry last week, when Avago snapped up Broadcom for $37 billion. This has been a record year for consolidation within the industry, as companies struggle to deal with slowing growth and stagnating stock prices. Altera had already rejected an offer from Intel, but shareholders pressured them to reconsider. "Acquiring Altera may help Intel defend and extend its most profitable business: supplying server chips used in data centers. While sales of semiconductors for PCs are declining as more consumers rely on tablets and smartphones to get online, the data centers needed to churn out information and services for those mobile devices are driving orders for higher-end Intel processors and shoring up profitability."

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Windows 10 Release Date: July 29th
Posted by News Fetcher on June 01 '15 at 05:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's onward-and-upward department:
Ammalgam writes with news that Windows 10 will be released worldwide on July 29th, 2015. It'll be immediately available for PCs and tablets — their announcement doesn't mention smartphones. The upgrade will be free (within one year of launch) for users running legitimate copies of Windows 7 and 8.1.

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SourceForge and GIMP
Posted by News Fetcher on June 01 '15 at 04:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's yelling-on-the-internet department:
New submitter tresf writes: In response to a Google+ post from the Gimp project claiming that "[Sourceforge] is now distributing an ads-enabled installer of GIMP," Sourceforge had this response: "In cases where a project is no longer actively being maintained, SourceForge has in some cases established a mirror of releases that are hosted elsewhere. This was done for GIMP-Win.

Submitter's note: Gimp is actively being maintained and the definition of "mirror" is quite misleading here as a modified binary is no longer a verbatim copy. Download statistics for Gimp on Windows show SourceForge as offering over 1,000 downloads per day of the Gimp software.

In an official response to this incident, the official Gimp project team reminds users to use official download methods. Slashdotters may remember the last time news like this surfaced (2013) when the Gimp team decided to move downloads from SourceForge to their own FTP service. "Therefore, we remind you again that GIMP only provides builds for Windows via its official Downloads page." Note: SourceForge and Slashdot share a corporate parent.

Editor's note: I just got back from a busy weekend to see that a bunch of people are freaking out that we're "burying" this story, so here it is. Go hog wild. Sorry it took so long. (And for future reference, user submissions are easily found in the firehose, listed in the order they appear, newest first.)

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Khan Academy Seeks Patents On Learning Computer Programming, Social Programming
Posted by News Fetcher on June 01 '15 at 04:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's well-that-sounds-bad department:
theodp writes: When it announced its brand new Computer Science platform in August 2012, Khan Academy explained it drew inspiration from both Bret Victor and GitHub (SlideShare). Still, that didn't stop Khan Academy from eventually seeking patents on its apparently Victor-inspired Methods and Systems for Learning Computer Programming and GitHub-inspired Systems and Methods for Social Programming, applications for which were quietly disclosed by the USPTO earlier this year. Silicon Valley legal powerhouse Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, which provides a pro bono team of 20+ to assist billionaire-backed Khan Academy with its legal needs, filed provisional patent applications for KA in August 2013 — provisional applications can be filed up to 12 months following an inventor's public disclosure of the invention — giving it another 12 months before formal claims had to be filed (KA's non-provisional applications were filed in August 2014).

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Tor Connections To Hidden Services Could Be Easy To De-Anonymize
Posted by News Fetcher on June 01 '15 at 03:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's they-see-what-you-did-there department:
angry tapir writes with news of a report presented Friday at Hack In The Box which outlines a counterintuitive fact about Tor:
Identifying users who access Tor hidden services — websites that are only accessible inside the Tor anonymity network — is easier than de-anonymizing users who use Tor to access regular Internet websites.

That's because the addresses of the Hidden Service Directories (HSDirs) used to index those Tor-network-only sites, though shuffled daily, can be predicted (and hijacked) with cheap brute-force techniques.

"The researchers managed to place their own nodes as the 6 HSDirs for facebookcorewwwi.onion, Facebook's official site on the Tor network, for the whole day on Thursday. They still held 4 of the 6 spots on Friday. Brute-forcing the key for each node took only 15 minutes on a MacBook Pro and running the Tor relays themselves cost US$62 on Amazon's EC2 service.

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Macs Vulnerable To Userland Injected EFI Rootkits
Posted by News Fetcher on June 01 '15 at 01:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's but-it's-a-mac-it's-safe department:
Bismillah writes that a new vulnerability in recent Macs — and potentially older ones — can be used to plant code such as rootkits into areas of EFI memory that shouldn't be writeable, but become unlocked after the computer wakes up from sleep mode. The article explains that [The vulnerability] appears to be due to a bug in Apple's sleep-mode energy conservation implementation that can leave areas of memory in the extensible firmware interface (EFI) (which provides low-level hardware control and access) writeable from user accounts on the computer.

Memory areas are normally locked as read-only to protect them.

However, putting some late-model Macs to sleep for around 20 seconds and then waking them up unlocks the EFI memory for writing.


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Does a Black Hole Have a Shape?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 31 '15 at 10:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's how-long-is-a-piece-of-string-theory? department:
StartsWithABang writes: When you think about a black hole, you very likely think about a large amount of mass, pulled towards a central location by the tremendous force of gravity. While black holes themselves may be perfectly spherical (or for rotating black holes, almost perfectly spherical), there are important physical cases that can cause them to look tremendously asymmetrical, including the possession of an accretion disk and, in the most extreme case, a merger with another black hole.

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NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 980 Ti Costs $350 Less Than TITAN X, Performs Similarly
Posted by News Fetcher on May 31 '15 at 07:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's most-of-the-price-of-a-chromebook-pixel department:
Deathspawner writes: In advance of the rumored pending launch of AMD's next-generation Radeon graphics cards, NVIDIA has decided to pull no punches and release a seriously tempting GTX 980 Ti at $649. It's tempting both because the extra $150 it costs over the GTX 980 more than makes up for it in performance gained, and despite it coming really close to the performance of TITAN X, it costs $350 less. AMD's job might just have become a bit harder. Vigile adds The GTX 980 Ti has 6GB of memory (versus 12GB for the GTX Titan X) but PC Perspective's review shows no negative side effects of the drop. This implementation of the GM200 GPU uses 2,816 CUDA cores rather than the 3,072 cores of the Titan X, but thanks to higher average Boost clocks, performance between the two cards is identical. And at Hot Hardware, another equally positive, benchmark-laden review.

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Patriot Act Spy Powers To Expire As Rand Paul Blocks USA Freedom Act Vote
Posted by News Fetcher on May 31 '15 at 04:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's on-paper-at-least department:
Saturday, we mentioned that three major spying powers that the U.S. government has exercised under the Patriot Act might be nixed, as the sections of the Act granting authority to use them expires. The Daily Dot reports that Senator (and presidential contender) Rand Paul today used Senate rules to block a bill which would have extended those powers, which means that as of midnight Sunday on the U.S. east coast, sections 206, 207 and 215 of the Patriot Act will have expired. Says the Daily Dot's article, linked by reader blottsie:

The reform bill, which the House passed before leaving town for a week-long recess, would end the government's bulk collection of Americans' phone records under the Patriot Act's controversial Section 215 but leaves the other two provisions intact. ... Sunday's procedural meltdown was the second narrow defeat for the USA Freedom Act. In a late-night session on Friday, May 22, the bill fell three votes short of an initial procedural step after [Senate Majority Leader] McConnell lobbied hard against it. The Senate's failure to meet its deadline was a blow to President Obama, who on Friday had warned lawmakers that the country would be vulnerable if the USA Freedom Act did not pass.

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