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Updated: 17 hours 8 min ago

EFF Warns of Harsher CFAA

Sat, 05/28/2016 - 06:30
An anonymous reader writes: The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is "vague, draconian, and notoriously out of touch with how we use computers today," warns the EFF. But instead of reforming it, two U.S. Senators "are on a mission to make things worse..." The senators' proposed Botnet Prevention Act of 2016 "could make criminals of paid researchers who test access in order to identify, disclose, and fix vulnerabilities," according to the EFF. And the bill would also make it a felony to damage "critical infrastructure," which may include software companies and ISPs (since they're apparently using the Department of Homeland Security's definition). The harsher penalties would ultimately give prosecutors much more leverage for plea deals. But worst of all, the proposed bill even "empowers government officials to obtain court orders to force companies to hack computer users for a wide range of activity completely unrelated to botnets. What's worse is that the bill allows the government to do this without any requirement of notice to non-suspect or innocent customers or companies, including botnet victims... These changes would only increase -- not alleviate -- the CFAA's harshness, overbreadth, and confusion." The CFAA was originally written in 1986, and was partly inspired by the 1983 movie "WarGames".

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Finnish Government Criticizes Microsoft For Job Cuts, 'Broken Promises'

Sat, 05/28/2016 - 05:30
jones_supa writes: Softpedia reports: "Microsoft has recently announced a new round of job layoffs at its Mobile unit in Finland, as it moves forward with its restructuring and reorganization plan following the acquisition of Nokia's Devices and Services unit. The Finnish government has criticized Microsoft for turning to more job cuts in the country, pointing out that the company has a huge responsibility to help those who are being let go. Microsoft's latest job cut round included 1,850 people, 1,350 of which are said to be working in Finland. 'I am disappointed because of the (initial) promises made by Microsoft,' Finance Minister Alexander Stubb was quoted as saying by Reuters. 'One example is that the data center did not materialize despite the company's promise.'" He refers to Microsoft's promise in 2013 to invest $250 million in a data center located in Finland that was specifically meant to provide services to European customers. All of these worries are not unfounded as the employment situation in Finland is still quite terrible, and the decline of Nokia's former phone business certainly exacerbates the situation.

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ForcePhone App Uses Ultrasonic Tone To Create Pressure-Sensitive Batphone

Sat, 05/28/2016 - 03:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Stack: Researchers at the University of Michigan have created an app that makes any smartphone pressure-sensitive without additional hardware. The app, called ForcePhone, uses ultrasonic tones in the existing microphone and speaker hardware that respond to pressure for additional functionality for touchscreens. The app emits a high-frequency ultrasound tone from the device's existing microphone, which is inaudible to humans but can be picked up by the phone. That tone is calibrated to change depending on the pressure that the user gives on the screen or on the body of the phone. This gives users an additional way to interact with their device through the app alone. The additional functionality provided by ForcePhone can be used in a number of ways. Squeezing the body of the phone could take a user back a page, for example; or increased pressure on the touchscreen could act as a 'right-click' function, showing additional information on the app in use. Kan Shin, Professor at the University of Michigan, said, "You don't need a special screen or built-in sensors to do this. Now this functionality can be realized on any phone." He added, "We've augmented the user interface without requiring any special built-in sensors. ForcePhone increases the vocabulary between the phone and the user."

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Qualcomm To Manufacture Custom Chips For Chinese Market

Sat, 05/28/2016 - 00:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Stack: Qualcomm president Derek Aberle has suggested that the semiconductor giant is preparing to produce its own custom chips for the Chinese market. [A Wall Street Journal interview with] Aberle revealed that the American company had entered into a joint venture with the local government in Guizhou province to manufacture custom chips starting in the second half of 2016. According to Aberle, the Guizhou government owns 55% of the venture, while Qualcomm owns the remaining 45%. Aberle told the Wall Street Journal that he expects China's server demand to dwarf that of the U.S.. He said of the government-backed venture: "This is really going to be the primary vehicle from which we build our data center business in China. We are actually trying to create the company that is going to be able to win the market here as opposed to just licensing old technology."

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FDA Approves First Implant Treatment For Opioid Addiction

Fri, 05/27/2016 - 20:30
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Bloomberg: The Food and Drug Administration cleared the first implant in the U.S. to treat heroin and opioid painkiller addictions. The product, Probuphine, may be used to treat addicts continuously for six months with the drug buprenorphine, according to a statement from the agency on Thursday. Titan Pharmaceuticals Inc. and partner Braeburn Pharmaceuticals are the two companies behind the implant and plan to bring it to the market just as Congress passed a bill aimed at addressing the opioid crisis. Buprenorphine differs from methadone in that it doesn't require a treatment program. Doctors can prescribe the implant to patients after they take a four-hour training program. The FDA rejected the implant in 2013 because the original dose that the companies proposed was too low to provide effective treatment. The companies decided to maintain the lower dose and attempt to gain approval by restricting use to patients who already were stable on such amounts. Meanwhile, employers are struggling to find workers who can pass a pre-employment drug test.

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Feinstein-Burr Encryption Legislation Is Dead In The Water

Fri, 05/27/2016 - 18:45
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Reuters: After the San Bernardino terrorist attack, key U.S. lawmakers pledged to require technology companies to give law enforcement agencies a "back door" to encrypted communications and electronic devices. Now, the push for legislation is dead only months after the terrorist attack. In April, Senators Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein released the official version of their anti-encryption bill with hopes for it to pass through Congress. But with the lack of White House support for the legislation as well as the high-profile court case between Apple and the Justice Department, the legislation will likely not be introduced this year, and even if it were, it would stand no chance of advancing, said sources familiar with the matter. "The short life of the push for legislation illustrates the intractable nature of the debate over digital surveillance and encryption, which has been raging in one form or another since the 1990s," reports Reuters. Technology companies believe security would be undermined if it were to create a "back door" for law enforcement, while law enforcement agencies believe they need to monitor phone calls, emails, text messages and encrypted data in general for security purposes.

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Google Boosts Mobile Web Speed On Apple Devices With Accelerated Mobile Pages

Fri, 05/27/2016 - 18:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune: The Google iOS app for devices like the iPhone and iPad now supports the search giant's Accelerated Mobile Pages project, created to increase the loading times of news articles on the Internet. Now when users search for news from their Apple devices using the Google app, they should see streamlined news articles from media companies like The Washington Post that chose to participate in Google's web project. The AMP project is a Google-led initiative to standardize the software code behind each news article on the mobile web. AMP was designed to remove years of accumulated software code that has built up on online publishers' websites. As of Friday, iOS users should see a lightning bolt graphic and the letters "AMP" next to news articles from participating publishers in the "Top Stories" section of their search results in the Google app.

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FBI Raids Dental Software Researcher Who Found Patient Records On Public Server

Fri, 05/27/2016 - 17:15
blottsie writes: Yet another security researcher is facing possible prosecution under the CFAA for accessing data on a publicly accessible server. The FBI on Tuesday raided Texas-based dental software security researcher Justin Shafer, who found the protected health records of 22,000 patients stored on an anonymous FTP. "This is a troubling development. I hope the government doesn't think that accessing unsecured files on a public FTP server counts as an unauthorized access under the CFAA," Orin Kerr, a George Washington University law professor and CFAA scholar told the Daily Dot. "If that turns out to be the government's theory -- which we don't know yet, as we only have the warrant so far -- it will be a significant overreach that raises the same issues as were briefed but not resolved in [Andrew 'weev' Auernheimer's] case. I'll be watching this closely." It was also reported this week via The Intercept that a provision snuck into the still-secret text of the Senate's annual intelligence authorization that would give the FBI the ability to demand individuals' email data and possibly web-surfing history from their service providers using those beloved 'National Security Letters' -- without a warrant and in complete secrecy.

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Possible Cellphone Link To Cancer Found In Rat Study

Fri, 05/27/2016 - 16:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NBC News: A giant U.S. study meant to help decide whether cellphones cause cancer is coming back with confusing results. A report on the study, conducted in rats and mice, is not finished yet. But advocates pushing for more research got wind of the partial findings and the U.S. National Toxicology Program has released them early. They suggest that male rats exposed to constant, heavy doses of certain types of cellphone radiation develop brain and heart tumors. But female rats didn't, and even the rats that developed tumors lived longer than rats not exposed to the radiation. The National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, is still analyzing the findings. But John Bucher, associate director of the program, said the initial findings were so significant that the agency decided to release them. A 29-year-old study published earlier this month from Australia reassures us that cellphones are reasonably safe, and do not cause cancer.

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SpaceX Successfully Lands A Falcon 9 Rocket At Sea For The Third Time

Fri, 05/27/2016 - 15:45
An anonymous reader writes: SpaceX has successfully landed the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean for the third time in a row. The Verge reports: "It was the third time in a row the company has landed a rocket booster at sea, and the fourth time overall. The landing occurred a few minutes before the second stage of the Falcon 9 delivered the THAICOM-8 satellite to space, where it will make its way to geostationary geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). GTO is a high-elliptical orbit that is popular for satellites, sitting more than 20,000 miles above the Earth. The 3,100-kilogram satellite will spend 15 years improving television and data signals across Southeast Asia." The company landed its Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship for the second time earlier this month. UPDATE 5/27/15: Frank249 writes in a comment: "Elon Musk just tweeted: 'Rocket landing speed was close to design max and used up contingency crush core, hence back and forth motion. Prob ok, but some risk of tipping.'" He went on to tweet: "Crush core is aluminum honeycomb for energy absorption in the telescoping actuator. Easy to replace (if Falcon makes it back to port)."

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Model X Owner Files Lemon Law Suit Against Tesla, Claims Car Is Unsafe To Drive

Fri, 05/27/2016 - 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BGR: When designing the Model X, Tesla went more than a little bit overboard in trying to trick out its crossover SUV with as many bells and whistles as possible. Not only did Tesla's overly ambitious development delay the launch of the Model X, it has arguably resulted in a noticeably higher number of quality control issues than we're accustomed to seeing. Hardly a controversial point, even Tesla CEO Elon Musk has conceded that the company was far too zealous when developing the Model X. While some customers with frustrating Model X issues have noted that Tesla has been quick to fix any problems, one Model X owner from California has had enough. According to the Courthouse News Service, via Teslarati, Barrett Lyon recently filed a Lemon Law claim against Tesla, arguing that the car's problems are unfixable and that it's ultimately unsafe to drive. In addition to finding that the front door would often slam shut on his leg, Lyon's suit details a slew of other problems, including Auto Pilot problems, touch screen freezes and more. A Tesla Model S owner, on the other hand, reported that his vehicle went rogue causing an accident all by itself.

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Wearable 'Backpack PCs' Let You Experience High-End VR On The Go

Fri, 05/27/2016 - 14:15
An anonymous reader writes: Powerful virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive require powerful PCs with beefy graphics cards to operate. That means you'll usually be tethered to a PC tower in your home. Well, HP and MSI have announced portable 'backpack PCs' designed to be used with high-end virtual reality headsets. These PC internals are built in a backpack enclosure powered by a large battery pack. The HP Omen X weighs less than 10 pounds and has a battery that's big enough to last for up to one hour of gameplay, but you do have the option of swapping out the batteries for uninterrupted VR. Specs include either an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, up to 32GB of RAM, and at least an Nvidia GTX 970 or AMD R9 290 or higher. The MSI Backpack PC features an Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia GTX 980 graphics, according to the company. The last of the backpack PC trio is the Zotac Mobile VR. The company hasn't released any specs of the product but the company did state in a blog post, "This mobile solution not only removes the bulk of connecting to the large traditional computer towers of old, but also allows the user to roam freely in VR with their undivided attention. This innovative solution includes a system powerful enough to drive VR, and a portable battery pack to keep you going." There is no pricing or availability information as of yet.

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Amazon Built An Echo Simulator You Can Use In the Browser

Fri, 05/27/2016 - 13:35
Jordan Novet, writing for VentureBeat: Amazon today announced the availability of Echosim.io, a website that simulates the capabilities of the Amazon Echo speaker, which employs Amazon's Alexa voice assistant technology. The thing about Alexa is that many people who don't own the Echo -- or its smaller siblings, the Tap and the Echo Dot -- haven't been able to see what Alexa is capable of. The new tool -- which was inspired by the Alexa in the Browser application that Nexmo developer advocate Sam Machin came up with during a hackathon last year -- solves that problem. All you have to do is head to the website, sign in with your Amazon credentials, and start holding your mouse down over the microphone button to see what Alexa can do. It's nifty for anyone to use, but it's also potentially useful to developers. "Developers worldwide can use Echosim to experience Alexa," Amazon Alexa developer marketing manager Glenn Cameron wrote in a blog post.Interesting move, especially for people who either do not want to -- or can't -- purchase the device (unavailability being one reason). You will need to login with your Amazon account in order to test Echosim.

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Someone In North Korea Is Hosting a Facebook Clone

Fri, 05/27/2016 - 12:55
Reporter Jason Koebler shares: Someone in North Korea appears to have created a Facebook clone, according to an internet analytics company that traced the site's DNS to the notoriously isolated country. The social network is an off-the-shelf Facebook clone called dolphinPHP. Dyn Analytics researcher Doug Madory said that "very few websites resolve to the North Korean address space, and this one does."From the screenshots in the article, the user interface, and other elements do look similar to that of Facebook.

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All European Scientific Articles To Be Freely Accessible By 2020

Fri, 05/27/2016 - 12:30
An anonymous reader shares a report on EU2016: All scientific articles in Europe must be freely accessible as of 2020. EU member states want to achieve optimal reuse of research data. They are also looking into a European visa for foreign start-up founders. And, according to the new Innovation Principle, new European legislation must take account of its impact on innovation. These are the main outcomes of the meeting of the Competitiveness Council in Brussels on 27 May. Under the presidency of Netherlands State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science Sander Dekker, the EU ministers responsible for research and innovation decided unanimously to take these significant steps.Many questions remain unanswered. For instance, it is not clear whether the publishers would be forced to make their papers available for free or whether EU will only allow scientists who are happy to abide by the rules to publish papers. We should have more details on this soon.

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Secret Text In Senate Bill Would Give FBI Warrantless Access To Email Records

Fri, 05/27/2016 - 06:00
mi quotes a report from The Intercept: A provision snuck into the still-secret text of the Senate's annual intelligence authorization would give the FBI the ability to demand individuals' email data and possibly web-surfing history from their service providers using those beloved 'National Security Letters' -- without a warrant and in complete secrecy. [The spy bill passed the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, with the provision in it. The lone no vote came from Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who wrote in a statement that one of the bill's provisions "would allow any FBI field office to demand email records without a court order, a major expansion of federal surveillance powers." If passed, the change would expand the reach of the FBI's already highly controversial national security letters. The FBI is currently allowed to get certain types of information with NSLs -- most commonly, information about the name, address, and call data associated with a phone number or details about a bank account. The FBI's power to issue NSLs is actually derived from the Electronic Communications Privacy Act -- a 1986 law that Congress is currently working to update to incorporate more protections for electronic communications -- not fewer. The House unanimously passed the Email Privacy Act in late April, while the Senate is due to vote on its version this week. "NSLs have a sordid history. They've been abused in a number of ways, including targeting of journalists and use to collect an essentially unbounded amount of information," Andrew Crocker, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote. One thing that makes them particularly easy to abuse is that recipients of NSLs are subject to a gag order that forbids them from revealing the letters' existence to anyone, much less the public.]

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Mars Is Coming Out Of An Ice Age

Fri, 05/27/2016 - 03:00
Taco Cowboy quotes a report from Reuters: An analysis of radar images that peered inside the polar ice caps of Mars shows that Earth's neighbor is coming out of an ice age that is part of an ongoing cycle of climate change, scientists said on Thursday. Using images taken by satellites orbiting Mars, the researchers determined that about 20,872 cubic miles (87,000 cubic km) of ice has accumulated at its poles since the end of the ice age, mostly in the northern polar cap. Scientists are keenly interested in piecing together the climate history of Mars, which contains strong evidence that oceans and lakes once pooled on its surface, bolstering the prospects for life. From the perspective of an Earthling, every day on Mars may feel like an ice age. According to NASA, temperatures on Mars may hit a high at noon at the equator in the summer of roughly 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius), or a low of about minus-225 degrees Fahrenheit (minus-153 degrees Celsius) at the poles. The Martian ice began its retreat about 370,000 years ago, marking the end of the last ice age, according to the research published in the journal Science

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Apple Not Allowed To Open Stores In India

Fri, 05/27/2016 - 00:00
ffkom writes: Reuters reports: "India has said Apple Inc must meet a rule obliging foreign retailers to sell at least 30 percent locally-sourced goods if it wishes to open stores in the country, a senior government official told Reuters. A change in legislation last year exempted foreign retailers selling high-tech goods from the rule, which states 30 percent of the value of goods sold in the store should be made in India. However, Apple's products were not considered to be in this category, said the official, who has direct knowledge of the matter." Now just imagine what Apple stores in the U.S. would look like if 30% of their offerings had to be made in the US... "They did ask for a waiver but didn't provide any material on record to justify it. The decision was taken only after a thorough examination of their application," the source said. Apple planned to open at least three stores in India by the end of 2017. Separate sources said Apple talked with the Indian government about a relaxation of the rule before it filed an application to open stores in the country in January. In a report from The Wall Street Journal (Warning: source may be paywalled), one of India's government officials said, "We are sticking to the old policy. We want local sourcing for job creation. You can't have a situation where people view India only as a market. Let them start doing some manufacturing here." Currently, Apple sells its products "through a network of Indian-owned distribution companies and retailers."

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Patent Troll VirnetX Wants To Ban FaceTime and iMessage, Increase Damages Award By $190M

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 20:30
An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this year, patent troll VirnetX won a court battle with Apple to the tune of $625 million. Now, the company wants to increase the damages award by $190 million. Law360 reports: "At a post-trial hearing Wednesday, Texas technology company VirnetX argued that although an injunction blocking Apple's popular video chatting and messaging features, along with a virtual private network on demand feature, may seem like a harsh remedy, it is necessary because of the irreparable harm Apple's infringement caused the company. VirnetX also asked the court to increase the jury's damages award by at least $190 million, arguing that Apple has been the 'poster child' for unreasonable litigation tactics." VirnetX also wants the court to block FaceTime and iMessage entirely. "Meanwhile, Apple argued that in light of U.S. Patent and Trademark Office decisions rejecting the four patents-in-suit, an injunction would be inappropriate, as would any ongoing royalty based on FaceTime, iMessage and virtual private network on demand features. The tech giant also sought a mistrial based on a purportedly inappropriate argument to the jury and argued that the company is entitled to a judgment of non infringement, despite the jury verdict, based on VirnetX's allegedly insufficient evidence," reports Law360.

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Anonymous Hackers Turned Stock Analysts Are Targeting US, Chinese Corporations

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 18:15
An anonymous reader writes: A smaller group of Anonymous, called Anonymous Analytics, reached the conclusion that DDoSing is stupid and never fixes anything, so they decided to use their hacking skills and stock market knowledge to make a difference in another way. For the past years, the group has been compiling market reports on U.S. and Chinese companies and publishing their results. Their reports have been noticed by the stock market, who recently started to react to their findings. The most obvious case was of Chinese lottery machine maker REXLot. The hackers discovered that REXLot inflated its revenue and the amount of cash on its balance sheet, based on the amount of interest earned. "The group published its findings on June 24, 2015, and REXLot stock price plummeted from 0.485 Hong Kong dollar per share to 0.12, before trading was suspended [for ten months]. REXLot rejoined the market on April 18, 2016, this year, but even after submitting a 53-page report, the company stock fell again by 50 percent," reports Softpedia. Anonymous Analytics then published two more reports on the company, urging the market to sell, and two days later, Reuters reported that REXLot did not have enough cash to make due bond payments, which meant the company had to sell assets to repay bonds. Other companies on which the group published market reports include Qihoo 360 and Western Union.

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