By msmash from Slashdot's getting-to-the-bottom-of-things department
Russian hacking groups played a larger role in the 2016 election than anyone realized, according to a highly-classified NSA document published today in The Intercept. The document reveals that a Russian intelligence operation sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials days before the election, which ran through a hack of a U.S. voting software supplier. The Russian cyber espionage operation was functional for months before the 2016 U.S. election. From the report: It states unequivocally in its summary statement that it was Russian military intelligence, specifically the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, that conducted the cyber attacks described in the document: "Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate actors ... executed cyber espionage operations against a named U.S. company in August 2016, evidently to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions. ... The actors likely used data obtained from that operation to ... launch a voter registration-themed spear-phishing campaign targeting U.S. local government organizations." This NSA summary judgment is sharply at odds with Russian President Vladimir Putin's denial last week that Russia had interfered in foreign elections: "We never engaged in that on a state level, and have no intention of doing so." Putin, who had previously issued blanket denials that any such Russian meddling occurred, for the first time floated the possibility that freelance Russian hackers with "patriotic leanings" may have been responsible. The NSA report, on the contrary, displays no doubt that the cyber assault was carried out by the GRU.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's blast-from-the-past department
Most videotapes were recorded in the 1980s and '90s, when video cameras first became widely available to Americans. Most of those VHS cassettes have become unwatchable, and others are quickly dying, too. Research suggests that tapes like this aren't going to live beyond 15 to 20 years. NPR has a story about a group of archivists and preservationists who are increasingly scrambling through racks of tape decks, oscilloscopes, vector scopes and wave-form monitors to ensure a quality transfer from analog to digital. From the article: Here's how magnetic tapes work: Sounds and images are magnetized onto strips of tape, using the same principle as when you rub a piece of metal with a magnet and it retains that magnetism. But when you take the magnet away, the piece of metal slowly loses its magnetism -- and in the same way, the tape slowly loses its magnetic properties. "Once that magnetic field that's been imprinted into that tape has kind of faded too much, you won't be able to recover it back off the tape after a long period of time," says Howard Lukk, director of standards at the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. Lukk estimates there are billions of tapes sitting around. There are plenty of services out there to digitize tapes -- local stores, online services, even public libraries and universities. Some services are free; some cost a lot of money. The thing is, many people don't realize their tapes are degrading. And some who do know -- even members of the XFR Collective (the aforementioned group), like Mary Kidd -- haven't even gotten around to their own tapes. Digitizing also takes a lot of troubleshooting. Each transfer the Collective does requires them to play the entire tape through while they sit there and watch it.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's more-transparency department
Carolyn Said, reporting for San Francisco Chronicle: It's a San Francisco truism: Every other car on the streets these days seems to bear a logo for Uber or Lyft -- and many are double-parked as they pick up or drop off passengers. Now the city seeks to compel Uber and Lyft to share details on how many cars are roving the streets, so it can ensure that they comply with local laws; assess their impact on traffic congestion, safety, pollution and parking; and ascertain if they are accessible for disabled and low-income riders. City Attorney Dennis Herrera on Monday subpoenaed Uber and Lyft to disgorge records on four years of driving practices, disability access and service in San Francisco. "No one disputes the convenience of the ride-hailing industry, but that convenience evaporates when you're stuck in traffic behind a double-parked Uber or Lyft, or when you can't get a ride because the vehicle isn't accessible to someone with a disability or because the algorithm disfavors the neighborhood where you live," Herrera said in a statement. The subpoenas seek information on "miles and hours logged by drivers, incentives that encourage drivers to 'commute' from as far away as Fresno or Los Angeles, driver guidance and training, accessible vehicle information, and the services provided to residents of every San Francisco neighborhood," Herrera's office said.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's new-shiny-computers department
Apple today announced updates to its iMac line and MacBook lineups at WWDC, giving its all-in-one desktop, and laptop series more powerful specifications and the latest Intel chips. From a report: Apple is bringing Intel's 7th generation Kaby Lake processors to the new iMac, along with what Apple calls "the best Mac display ever," offering 500 nits of brightness, or 43 percent brighter than the previous generation. The 21.5-inch model now can be configured up to 32GB of RAM, while the 27-inch goes up to 64GB, twice what had previously been offered. The new iMacs also are getting two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, making it Apple's first desktop computer to embrace the port standard. Graphics cards are getting a spec boost in the updated iMacs, too. The entry level 21.5-inch model will have an Intel Iris Plus 640 GPU, while the 4K 21.5-inch models will get Radeon Pro 555 and 560 graphics cards. Meanwhile, the 27-inch 5K model will have a choice of Radeon Pro 570, 575, and 580 graphics cards, topping out at 8GB of VRAM. The 21.5-inch iMac will start at $1099 and the 4K 21.5-inch model at $1299. As expected, Apple also refreshed the MacBook lineup. From a report: Today Apple provided a minor but wide-ranging refresh to its modern MacBooks and MacBook Pros, adding new processors from Intel and making a handful of other tweaks. The new processors are from Intel's "Kaby Lake" family, and some of them have been available for the better part of a year. Compared to the outgoing Skylake architecture, Kaby Lake introduces a gently tweaked version of Intel's 14nm manufacturing process, provides small boosts to CPU clock speeds, and supports native acceleration for decoding and encoding some kinds of 4K video streams.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's another-windows-10-edition department
Upon close inspection of the Windows 10 build that Microsoft accidentally pushed to insiders last week, several users are reporting discovering the reference of a new Windows 10 SKU. From a report: In a leaked slide, Microsoft describes the edition as "Windows 10 Pro for Workstation" with four main capabilities: 1. Workstation mode: Microsoft plans to optimize the OS by identifying "typical compute and graphics intensive workloads" to provide peak performance and reliability when Workstation mode is enabled. 2. Resilient file system: Microsoft's file system successor to NTFS, dubbed ReFS, is enabled in this new version, with support for fault-tolerance, optimized for large data volumes, and auto-correcting. 3. Faster file handling: As workstation machines are typically used for large data volumes across networks, Microsoft is including the SMBDirect protocol for file sharing and high throughput, low latency, and low CPU utilization when accessing network shares. 4. Expanded hardware support: Microsoft is also planning to allow Windows 10 Pro for Workstation on machines with up to 4 CPUs and a memory limit of 6TB. Windows 10 Pro currently only supports 2 CPUs.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's 'breakthrough' department
IBM, GlobalFoundries, and Samsung said Monday that they have found a way to make thinner transistors, which should enable them to pack 30 billion switches onto a microprocessor chip the size of a fingernail. The tech industry has been fueled for decades by the ability of chipmakers to shoehorn ever smaller, faster transistors into the chips that power laptops, servers, and mobile devices. But industry watchers have worried lately that technology was pushing the limits of Moore's Law -- a prediction made by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 1965 that computing power would double every two years as chips got more densely packed. From a report: Today's chips are built with transistors whose dimensions measure 10 nanometers, which means about 1,000 fit end-to-end across the diameter of a human hair. The next generation will shrink that dimension to 7nm, and the IBM-Samsung development goes one generation beyond that to 5nm. That means transistors can be packed four times as densely on a chip compared with today's technology. "A nanosheet-based 5nm chip will deliver performance and power, together with density," said Huiming Bu, IBM's director of silicon integration and device research. Take all those numbers with a nanograin of salt, though, because chipmakers no longer agree on what exactly they're measuring about transistors. And there's also a long road between this research announcement and actual commercial manufacturing. IBM believes this new process won't cost any more than chips with today's transistor designs, but its approach requires an expensive shift that chipmakers have put off for years: the use of extreme ultraviolet light to etch chip features onto silicon wafers.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's what-we-want-what-we-get department
In a few hours, Apple will kickstart its annual developer conference. At the event, the company is expected to announce new MacBook laptops, the next major updates for iOS and MacOS, new features of Siri, and a home-speaker. Ahead of the conference, The New York Times has run a story that talks some of the headline announcements that Apple announced last year: one of which was, the ability to order food, scribble doodles and send funny images known as stickers in chats on its Messages app. Speaking with users, engineers and industry insiders, the Times reports that many of its existing features -- including expansion of Messages -- are too complicated for many users to figure out (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternative source). From the report: The idea was to make Messages, one of the most popular apps on the iPhone, into an all-purpose tool like China's WeChat. But the process of finding and installing other apps in Messages is so tricky that most users have no idea they can even do it, developers and analysts say.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's second-time's-the-charm department
Reader joshtops writes: Amazon plans to have another go at selling its own branded smartphones, according to a new report. The ecommerce giant, which killed off its Fire Phone in 2015, is working on a new lineup of smartphones branded as 'Ice', the report said, citing unnamed sources. Unlike the Fire Phone -- for which Amazon focused largely on the US and a couple of other western markets -- the company is eyeing emerging regions like India for selling its new phones. Amazon's upcoming smartphones run the latest version of Google's Android operating system with Google Mobile Services (GMS) such as Gmail and Google Play, the people said. Incorporating Google Mobile Services in its devices is a major change in strategy for Amazon, which currently offers a range of Android tablets without Google apps on them. The smartphones are being referred to as 'Ice' internally, in what could be a move to distance itself from the disastrous Fire Phone brand, though it's not clear if Amazon will eventually bring the devices under the Ice name. A source cited in the story said the phones will ship with Alexa, Amazon's AI assistant.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's everywhere-but-IBM department
The Wall Street Journal reports that the trend towards remote working "is inexorable" in America's labor force, with 43% of workers now doing at least some of their work from home (up from 39% in 2012), and 20% now working entirely from home (up from 15%). An anonymous reader writes:
Besides lowering an employer's rent, telecommuting also makes employees happier, which helps with both recruiting and retention according to the Journal. Automattic, maker of WordPress, is able to have an almost entirely remote workforce of 558 employees spread across more than 50 countries. But it depends on getting the right set of tools. Automattic uses Slack for conversations, Zoom for videoconferences, "and its own internal system of threaded conversations for documenting everyone's work and for major decisions." One of the company's "happiness engineers" even says online communicaton has created "radical transparency," since it's possible to read and search through internal communcations. Just remember that not every job can work remotely, according to Dell's chief human resources officer. "Engineering, leadership, R&D, sales and customer support -- those are roles that don't lend themselves very well to remote work."
It'd be interesting to hear the experiences of Slashdot's readers. Anyone want to share their own experiences with working remotely -- or of working with remote co-workers?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's back-in-black-hats department
Representative Tom Graves, R-Ga., thinks that when anyone gets hacked -- individuals or companies -- they should be able to "fight back" and go "hunt for hackers outside of their own networks." The Active Cyber Defense Certainty ("ACDC") Act is getting closer to being put before lawmakers, and the congressman trying to make "hacking back" easy-breezy-legal believes it would've stopped the WannaCry ransomware. Despite its endlessly lulzy acronym, Graves says he "looks forward to formally introducing ACDC" to the House of Representatives in the next few weeks... The bipartisan ACDC bill would let companies who believe they are under ongoing attack break into the computer of whoever they think is attacking them, for the purposes of stopping the attack or gathering info for law enforcement.
Friday The Hill published a list of objections to the proposed law from the CEO of cybersecurity company Vectra Networks. "To start with, when shooting back, there's the fundamental question of who to shoot... We might be able to retaliate, weeks or months after being attacked, but we certainly could not shoot back in time to stop an attack in progress." And if new retaliatory tools are developed, "How can we be sure that these new weapons won't be stolen and misused? Who can guarantee that they won't be turned against us by our corporate competitors? Would we become victims of our own cyber-arms race?"
Slashdot reader hattable writes, "I would think a proposal like this would land dead in the water, but given some recent, and 'interesting' decisions coming from Congress and White House officials, I am not sure many can predict the momentum."Read Replies (0)