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Wi-Fi Hotspot Blocking Persists Despite FCC Crackdown
Posted by News Fetcher on March 12 '16 at 11:32 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's let-them-have-it department:
An anonymous reader writes: An examination of consumer complaints to the FCC over the past year and a half shows that the practice of Wi-Fi hotspot device blocking continues even though the agency has slapped organizations such as Marriott and Hilton more than $2 million in total for doing this. Venues argue they need to block hotspots for security reasons, but the FCC and consumers say the organizations are doing this to force people to pay for pricey Internet access.

"Consumers who purchase cellular data plans should be able to use them without fear that their personal Internet connection will be blocked by their hotel or conference center," FCC Enforcement Bureau chief Travis LeBlanc said in a statement. "It is unacceptable for any hotel to intentionally disable personal hotspots while also charging consumers and small businesses high fees to use the hotel's own Wi-Fi network. This practice puts consumers in the untenable position of either paying twice for the same service or forgoing Internet access altogether." Consumers have filed many complaints about Wi-Fi hotspot blocking to the FCC.

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TP-Link Blocks Open Source Router Firmware To Comply With FCC Rules
Posted by News Fetcher on March 12 '16 at 11:32 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's government-vs-open-source department:
An anonymous reader points to an official announcement made by TP-Link, which confirms a report from last month that it is blocking open source firmware: The FCC requires all manufacturers to prevent users from having any direct ability to change RF parameters (frequency limits, output power, country codes, etc.) In order to keep our products compliant with these implemented regulations, TP-LINK is distributing devices that feature country-specific firmware. Devices sold in the United States will have firmware and wireless settings that ensure compliance with local laws and regulations related to transmission power. As a result of these necessary changes, users are not able to flash the current generation of open-source, third-party firmware. We are excited to see the creative ways members of the open-source community update the new firmware to meet their needs. However, TP-LINK does not offer any guarantees or technical support for customers attempting to flash any third-party firmware to their devices.

Don't lose all your hopes yet. Developer Sebastian Gottschall, who works on DD-WRT Linux-based firmware, believes that TP-Link hasn't blocked third-party firmware. He adds, "Just the firmware header has been a little bit changed and a region code has been added. This has been introduced in September 2015. DD-WRT for instance does still provide compatible images... in fact it's no lock." Furthermore, Cisco insists that FCC's existing or proposed rules doesn't limit or eliminate the ability of a developer to use open source software.

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Hertz Had Sheriffs On Hand the Day It Cut IT
Posted by News Fetcher on March 12 '16 at 10:11 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's violent-expectations department:
dcblogs writes: About 300 Hertz IT employees, most located in Oklahoma City, are being impacted [by] a decision to expand its outsourcing to IBM. About 75 will be hired by IBM and those workers [are expected] to receive offers this week while others are facing layoffs. The news was a shock for IT employees. There was "anger, resentment," especially by employees who "sacrificed that work/life balance to keep things going here," said one employee. Hertz took precautions. On the day that IT employees learned that their work was shifting to IBM, employees noticed Oklahoma sheriff patrol vehicles in the building's parking lot. They believed plainclothes officers were inside the building.

"We consider the safety and security of our people whenever there are circumstances or events that could increase the risk of a disturbance or some form of workplace violence," said Bill Masterson, a Hertz spokesman. "Knowing that this was a difficult announcement, we had additional security on hand," said Masterson. "Going forward, Hertz IT resources will be focused on development of future products and services for customers," he said. The majority of services will be cloud-based. According to the Computerworld article, along with severance pay, benefits also include three months of outplacement assistance. IT employees can receive up to $4,000 toward retraining or skill certification, said Masterson. IBM India Private Limited, a IBM subsidiary, has filed paper for H-1B visa workers for Hertz Technology offices.

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The Source of All Major Android Banking Trojans Just Got Updated To V2
Posted by News Fetcher on March 12 '16 at 08:53 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department:
An anonymous reader writes: Apparently, during the past months it has started coming to the surface the fact that most top-tier Android malware was actually related, coming from a common malware variant called GM Bot, and sold for only $5,000 on underground hacking forums. Taking advantage of his new found glory, the coder behind that malware has now released a second version, three times the price of the first, complete with 3 exploits that can guarantee root access on older versions of Android (which are plenty thanks to [ignorant] OEMs and carriers). Some of the malware that originated from GM Bot includes: SimpleLocker (first crypto-ransomware for Android), AceCard (considered the most sophisticated Android malware to date), Bankosy and SlemBunk (banking trojan and backdoor), and Mazar Bot (banking trojan, backdoor and ransomware). To make things worse, GM Bot v1's source code also got leaked online, making it available to any halfwit developer that wants a crack at a cybercrime career.

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Intel's Optane SSD Compatible With NVMe; Could Boost MacBook Storage Speeds By 1000x
Posted by News Fetcher on March 12 '16 at 08:53 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's need-for-speed department:
More details have emerged about Intel's Optane, a new kind of memory and SSD that utilizes 3D Xpoint. The upcoming 3D Xpoint technology, which is supposedly 10 times denser than DRAM and 1,000 times faster than flash storage, will be compatible with NVMe, a storage protocol that allows an SSD to make effective use of a high-speed PCIe. Several MacBook Pro models already support NVMe technology.

Apple is often among the first companies to adopt emerging standards and technologies, which has led many to believe that the Cupertino-based company might leverage Intel's Optane solid state drives for super fast performance speeds in its next batch of laptops. Apple is expected to announce the refreshed MacBook lineup sporting Intel Skylake processor later this year.

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Alpha Go Takes the Match, 3-0
Posted by News Fetcher on March 12 '16 at 07:32 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's rhyming-singlet department:
mikejuk writes: Google's AlphaGo has won the Deep Mind Challenge, by winning the third match in a row of five against the 18-time world champion Lee Se-dol. AlphaGo is now the number three Go player in the world and this is an event that will be remembered for a long time. Most AI experts thought that it would take decades to achieve but now we know that we have been on the right track since the 1980s or earlier. AlphaGo makes use of nothing dramatically new — it learned to play Go using a deep neural network and reinforcement learning, both developments on classical AI techniques. We know now that we don't need any big new breakthroughs to get to true AI. The results of the final two games are going to be interesting but as far as AI is concerned the match really is all over.

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Qubes OS 3.1 Has Been Released
Posted by News Fetcher on March 12 '16 at 07:32 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's or-is-that-have-been-released department:
Burz writes: Invisible Things Labs has released Qubes OS 3.1. Some of the features recently introduced into this secure concept, single-user desktop OS are Salt management, the Odyssey abstraction layer, and UEFI boot support. The 3.x series also lays the groundwork for distributed verifiable builds, Whonix VMs for Tor isolation, split-GPG key management, USB sandboxing, and a host of others.
Qubes has recently gained a following among privacy advocates, notable among them journalist J.M. Porup, Micah Lee at The Intercept and Edward Snowden.
Embodying a shift away from complex kernel-based security and towards bare metal hypervisors and IOMMUs for strict isolation of hardware components, Qubes seals off the usual channels for 'VM breakout' and DMA attacks. It isolates NICs and USB hardware within unprivileged VMs which are themselves are a re-working of the usual concept, each booting from read-only OS 'templates' which can be shared. Graphics are also virtualized behind a simple, hardened interface. Some of the more interesting attacks mitigated by Qubes are Evil Maid, BadBIOS, BadUSB and Mousejack.

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600,000 TFTP Servers Can Be Abused For Reflection DDoS Attacks
Posted by News Fetcher on March 12 '16 at 06:01 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's doesn't-mean-they-should-be department:
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers have discovered that improperly configured TFTP servers can be easily abused to carry out reflection DDoS attacks that can sometimes have an amplification factor of 60, one of the highest such values. There are currently around 600,000 TFTP servers exposed online, presenting a huge attack surface for DDoS malware developers. Other protocols recently discovered as susceptible to reflection DDoS attacks include DNSSEC, NetBIOS, and some of the BitTorrent protocols.

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Critical Bug In Libotr Opens Users of ChatSecure, Adium, Pidgin To Compromise
Posted by News Fetcher on March 12 '16 at 03:11 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's knowing-is-half-the-aaaaauuuuggghhh department:
An anonymous reader writes with a report at HelpNet Security that A vulnerability in "libotr," the C code implementation of the Off-the-Record (OTR) protocol that is used in many secure instant messengers such as ChatSecure, Pidgin, Adium and Kopete, could be exploited by attackers to crash an app using libotr or execute remote code on the user's machine.

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Plastic-Eating Bacteria Could Help Clean Up Waste
Posted by News Fetcher on March 12 '16 at 12:31 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's change-doesn't-happen-overnight department:
Kristine Lofgren writes: Japanese researchers have discovered a microorganism that literally devours ocean-clogging plastic. The bacterium Ideonella sakaiensis can completely break down polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a common plastic used in bottles and containers. That type of plastic makes up a huge proportion of all the plastic waste in the world, particularly in the ocean. The bacterium uses a pair of enzymes to break down PET and turn it into a food source. The problem is, it takes up to six weeks for the bacterium to completely breakdown a small, low-grade sample of PET. Microbiologist Kohei Oda of the Kyoto Institute of Technology co-authored the study published this week in the journal Science, and he told PBS NewsHour he was "very surprised to find microorganisms that degrade PET" because the plastic has always been thought to be non-biodegradable. Now, scientists just need to figure out how to harness the hungry little bug to recycle plastic and reduce pollution.

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Leaked Islamic State Documents Identify Thousands of Jihadis
Posted by News Fetcher on March 11 '16 at 09:51 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's could-be-a-youthful-phase department:
itwbennett writes: Sky News reports that it was handed a USB stick with 'tens of thousands of documents' detailing phone numbers and family contacts of Islamic State members by 'a disillusioned convert' to Islamic State. 'One of the files marked 'Martyrs' detailed a brigade manned entirely by fighters who wanted to carry out suicide attacks and were trained to do so,' according to Sky News. CSO Online's Steve Ragan had a little fun at ISIS' expense and worked up a data breach notification that ISIS HR is free to use should they so choose.

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Twitter Can Predict Hurricane Damage As Well As Emergency Agencies
Posted by News Fetcher on March 11 '16 at 08:21 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's social-media-to-rescue department:
sciencehabit quotes an article from ScienceMag.com: In October 2012, meteorologists noticed a massive low-pressure system forming over the waters south of Cuba. In just 5 days, it spun into one of the largest hurricanes on record, cutting a path up the eastern U.S. coast and devastating communities with flooding and 140-kilometer-per-hour winds. Superstorm Sandy posed a massive problem for government clean-up crews. Where should they send their limited emergency supplies and services? A new study suggests a way to get that answer fast: Just listen to Twitter. Scientists have found that data gathered from the social media platform is as accurate and powerful as that collected by FEMA.

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2 Years Later, Java Security Still Broken By Faulty Oracle Patch
Posted by News Fetcher on March 11 '16 at 08:21 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's bitter-brew department:
An anonymous reader writes: A faulty security patch has left Java users vulnerable to attacks in the past two years, researchers from Polish security firm Security Explorations are claiming. The issue in question is CVE-2013-5838, which was discovered and patched in October 2013. Two years later, going back over their researcher, the same security researchers have now discovered that Oracle had not only misclassified its impact but also botched the fix. In a Full Disclosureexposé, the researcher says that changing four characters in the company's original proof-of-concept code allowed them to exploit the flaw, despite Oracle's patch.

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FDA Approves Indego Exoskeleton For Clinical And Personal Use
Posted by News Fetcher on March 11 '16 at 07:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's part-human-part-machine department:
Science_afficionado writes to note that the FDA "has approved a powered lower-limb exoskeleton created by a team of Vanderbilt engineers and commercialized by the Parker Hannifin Corporation for both clinical and personal use in the United States." Indego, which allows people paralyzed below the waist to stand up and walk, is the result of an intensive, 10-year effort. The initial development was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The device acts like an external skeleton as it straps in tightly around the torso. Rigid supports are strapped to the legs and extend from the hip to the knee and from the knee to the foot. The hip and knee joints are driven by computer-controlled electric motors powered by advanced batteries. The device operates a lot like a Segway with legs and the minimalist design allows users to take it on and off while sitting in a wheelchair. Indego's clearance came after completion of the largest exoskeleton clinical trial conducted in the United States. It has been available in Europe since November, when it received the CE Mark, the European Union's equivalent of FDA approval. The initial price is $80,000.

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An Inside Look At How Netflix Builds Code
Posted by News Fetcher on March 11 '16 at 07:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's gelatinous-binge-watching-humans department:
mmoorebz writes: Netflix is known as a place to binge watch television, but behind the scenes, there's a lot that goes on before everyone's favorite show can be streamed. The first step to deploying an application or service is building. Netflix created Nebula, a set of plugins for the Gradle build system, that "help with the heavy-lifting around building applications," said the engineers. Once the code has been built and tested locally using Nebula, the team pushes the updated source code to a Git repository. Every deployment at Neflix begins with the creation of an Amazon Machine Image, and to generate them from source, Netflix created what it calls "the Bakery." It exposes an API that facilitates the creation of AMIs globally, according to the blog. When it comes time to deploy and after the "baking" is complete, teams will use Spinnaker to manage multi-region deployments, canary releases, and red/black deployments. Netflix is continuing to look at the developer experience and determine how it can improve.

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Obama: Government Can't Let Smartphones Be 'Black Boxes'
Posted by News Fetcher on March 11 '16 at 05:42 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's not-to-be-taken-literally department:
JoeyRox writes: President Obama said Friday that smartphones -- like the iPhone the FBI is trying to force Apple to help it hack -- can't be allowed to be "black boxes," inaccessible to the government. He believes technology companies should work with the government on encryption rather than leaving the issue for Congress to decide. He went on to say, "If your argument is strong encryption no matter what, and we can and should create black boxes, that I think does not strike the kind of balance we have lived with for 200, 300 years, and it's fetishizing our phones above every other value." Obama's appearance on Friday at the event known as SXSW, the first by a sitting president, comes as the FBI tries to force Apple to help investigators access an iPhone used by one of the assailants in December's deadly San Bernardino, California, terror attack. "The question we now have to ask is, if technologically it is possible to make an impenetrable device or system, where the encryption is so strong there's no key, there's no door at all, then how do we apprehend the child pornographer? How do we solve or disrupt a terrorist plot?" Obama said. "If in fact you can't crack that at all, government can't get in, then everybody's walking around with a Swiss bank account in their pocket." He said compromise is possible and the technology industry must help design it.

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Skype Co-Founder Launches End-To-End Encrypted 'Wire' App
Posted by News Fetcher on March 11 '16 at 04:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's private-conversations department:
An anonymous reader writes: A group of former Skype technologists, backed by the co-founder of the messaging platform, has introduced a new version of its own messaging service that promises end-to-end encryption for all conversations, including by video. Wire, a 50-person start-up mostly made up of engineers, is stepping into a global political debate over encryption that pits privacy against security advocates, epitomized by the standoff between the U.S. government and Apple. Wire, which is headquartered in Switzerland and Germany, two of the most privacy-friendly countries in the world, relays communications through its network of cloud computers where user communications are stored, in encrypted form, on their own devices. It delivers privacy protections that are always on, even when callers use multiple devices, such as a phone or desktop PC simultaneously. For voice and video calls, Wire uses the same DTLS and SRTP encryption standards found in the peer-to-peer WebRTC protocol. Rivals such as Facebook's Messenger and WhatsApp or Telegram offer encryption on only parts of a message's journey or for a specific set of services, the company said. "Everything is end-to-end encrypted: That means voice and video calls, texts, pictures, graphics -- all the content you can send," Wire Executive Chairman Janus Friis told Reuters.

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HPE's Haven OnDemand Offers 'Machine Learning As a Service'
Posted by News Fetcher on March 11 '16 at 04:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's machine-learning-as-a-service department:
An anonymous reader writes: Hewlett Packard Enterprise has announced its HPE Haven OnDemand machine learning service to bring Big Data analytics to mainstream developers. "HPE Haven OnDemand democratizes Big Data by bringing the power of machine learning, traditionally reserved for high-end, highly trained data scientists, to the mainstream developer community," said exec Colin Mahony. "Now, anyone can leverage our easy to use cloud-based service to harness the rich variety of data available today to build applications that produce new insights, differentiate businesses, delight customers and deliver competitive advantage." The platform, which is hosted on Microsoft's Azure platform, features more than 60 advanced ML APIs and services to help developers build data-driven applications including mobile, enterprise, consumer, desktop and Internet of Things projects. The APIs provide capabilities such as "prediction, face-detection, speech-to-text, and knowledge graph analysis for a wide range of data formats, including text, audio, image, social, web and video," the company said.

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Surprise Nuclear Strike? Here's How We'll Figure Out Who Did It
Posted by News Fetcher on March 11 '16 at 03:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's unmasking-the-perpetrator department:
sciencehabit writes: Many experts believe that a nuclear attack on U.S. soil is more likely than ever; a bomb set off in a city street is seen as the most likely scenario. The conceivable need to unmask a perpetrator, and mount an effective response, is propelling the emerging area of post-detonation forensics. Scientists are devising new sensors, manufacturing artificial fallout to hone analytical techniques, and studying how the glass formed in the furnace of an atomic blast would vary depending on the nature of the bomb and the city where it detonated. Discreet Oculus, a sensor array that would collect data during a nuclear attack on a U.S. city, was tested in the first exercise of its kind last summer.

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GM Buys Driverless Software Startup Cruise Automation
Posted by News Fetcher on March 11 '16 at 03:02 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's press-play-to-continue department:
An anonymous reader writes: General Motors has confirmed its acquisition of autonomous software company Cruise Automation. The Silicon Valley-based firm, set up by former Twitch co-founder Kyle Vogt in 2013, creates auto-pilot technologies which can transform regular cars into driverless vehicles. Cruise will now be turning its focus exclusively to designing software for GM vehicles. It will continue to operate as an independent unit from its San Francisco base within the auto giant's newly established Autonomous Vehicle Development Team. Cruise now represents the latest strategic push for the multinational into future transport technologies, following its purchase of assets from former ride-hailing company Sidecar and a $500 million partnership with Uber-rival Lyft.

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