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Surveillance Court: NSA Can Resume Bulk Surveillance

/. - 30 June 2015 - 10:08pm
An anonymous reader writes: We all celebrated back in May when a federal court ruled the NSA's phone surveillance illegal, and again at the beginning of June, when the Patriot Act expired, ending authorization for that surveillance. Unfortunately, the NY Times now reports on a ruling from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which concluded that the NSA may temporarily resume bulk collection of metadata about U.S. citizens's phone calls. From the article: "In a 26-page opinion (PDF) made public on Tuesday, Judge Michael W. Mosman of the surveillance court rejected the challenge by FreedomWorks, which was represented by a former Virginia attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, a Republican. And Judge Mosman said that the Second Circuit was wrong, too. 'Second Circuit rulings are not binding' on the surveillance court, he wrote, 'and this court respectfully disagrees with that court's analysis, especially in view of the intervening enactment of the U.S.A. Freedom Act.' When the Second Circuit issued its ruling that the program was illegal, it did not issue any injunction ordering the program halted, saying that it would be prudent to see what Congress did as Section 215 neared its June 1 expiration."

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E.U. to End Cellphone Roaming Charges in 2017

Soylent New - 30 June 2015 - 9:25pm

European officials agreed on Tuesday to outlaw cellphone roaming charges, beginning in 2017, when people travel across the 28-member bloc. The change is part of long-awaited overhauls aimed at improving how Europeans connect to and use mobile services.

The new rules, which have pitted many of the region's telecommunications operators against consumer groups, also include so-called net neutrality regulations intended to ensure that Internet service providers and other companies cannot discriminate between different services that run on their data networks.

Policy makers hope the changes will jump-start the use of mobile services in Europe and foster greater economic activity across the region, which in many ways is still divided by national boundaries.


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Is Safari the New Internet Explorer?

/. - 30 June 2015 - 8:05pm
An anonymous reader writes: Software developer Nolan Lawson says Apple's Safari has taken the place of Microsoft's Internet Explorer as the major browser that lags behind all the others. This comes shortly after the Edge Conference, where major players in web technologies got together to discuss the state of the industry and what's ahead. Lawson says Mozilla, Google, Opera, and Microsoft were all in attendance and willing to talk — but not Apple. "It's hard to get insight into why Apple is behaving this way. They never send anyone to web conferences, their Surfin' Safari blog is a shadow of its former self, and nobody knows what the next version of Safari will contain until that year's WWDC. In a sense, Apple is like Santa Claus, descending yearly to give us some much-anticipated presents, with no forewarning about which of our wishes he'll grant this year. And frankly, the presents have been getting smaller and smaller lately." He argues, "At this point, we in the web community need to come to terms with the fact that Safari has become the new IE. Microsoft is repentant these days, Google is pushing the web as far as it can go, and Mozilla is still being Mozilla. Apple is really the one singer in that barbershop quartet hitting all the sour notes, and it's time we start talking about it openly instead of tiptoeing around it like we're going to hurt somebody's feelings."

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The Underfunded, Disorganized Plan To Save Earth From the Next Giant Asteroid

Soylent New - 30 June 2015 - 7:25pm

Asteroid threats seems only taken seriously when the last close call is fresh in memory. But it didn't last long enough to establish consistent funding. On March 23, 1989, when an asteroid 300 meters in diameter called 1989FC passed within 684 000 kilometers from Earth. New York Times wrote, "In cosmic terms, it was a close call." This event also woke up the powers that were after this arguably close brush with total annihilation. The US Congress asked NASA to prepare a report on the threat posed by asteroids. The document from 1992, "The Spaceguard Survey: Report of the NASA International Near-Earth-Object Detection Workshop," was rather bleak.

If a large Near-Earth Object (NEO) were to hit the Earth, the report said, its denizens could look forward to acid rain, firestorms, and an impact winter induced by dust being thrown kilometers into the stratosphere. After reports from the National Research Council made it clear that meeting the discovery requirement outlined in the Congressional mandate was impossible given the lack of program funding, NEOO got a tenfold budget increase from 2009 to 2014. Yet it still faces a number of difficulties. An audit of the program released September 2014 described the NEOO program as "a one-man operation that is poorly integrated and lacking in objectives and oversight".

Original Submission

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Quebec Government May Force ISPs To Block Gambling Websites

/. - 30 June 2015 - 7:24pm
New submitter ottawan- writes: In order to drive more customers to their own online gambling website, the Quebec government and Loto-Quebec (the provincial organization in charge of gaming and lotteries) are thinking about forcing the province's ISPs to block all other online gambling websites. The list of websites to be blocked will be maintained by Loto-Quebec, and the government believes that the blocking will increase government revenue by up to $27 million (CAD) per year.

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Celebrating Workarounds, Kludges, and Hacks

/. - 30 June 2015 - 6:41pm
itwbennett writes: We all have some favorite workarounds that right a perceived wrong (like getting around the Wall Street Journal paywall) or make something work the way we think it ought to. From turning off annoying features in your Prius to getting around sanctions in Crimea and convincing your Android phone you're somewhere you're not, workarounds are a point of pride, showing off our ingenuity and resourcefulness. And sometimes artful workarounds can even keep businesses operating in times of crisis. Take, for example, the Sony employees, who, in the wake of the Great Hack of 2014 when the company's servers went down, dug out old company BlackBerrys that, while they had been abandoned, had never had their plans deactivated. Because BlackBerrys used RIM's email servers instead of Sony's, they could still communicate with one another, and employees with BlackBerrys became the company's lifeline as it slowly put itself back together. What hacks and workarounds keep your life sane?

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Apple Loses Ebook Price Fixing Appeal, Must Pay $450 Million

/. - 30 June 2015 - 6:00pm
An anonymous reader writes: A federal appeals court ruled 2-1 today that Apple indeed conspired with publishers to increase ebook prices. The ruling puts Apple on the hook for the $450 million settlement reached in 2014 with lawyers and attorneys general from 33 states. The Justice Dept. contended that the price-fixing conspiracy raised the price of some e-books from the $10 standard set by Amazon to $13-$15. The one dissenting judge argued that Apple's efforts weren't anti-competitive because Amazon held 90% of the market at the time. Apple is unhappy with the ruling, but they haven't announced plans to take the case further. They said, "While we want to put this behind us, the case is about principles and values. We know we did nothing wrong back in 2010 and are assessing next steps."

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Most Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) leaks users' details.

Soylent New - 30 June 2015 - 5:32pm

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are legal and increasingly popular for individuals wanting to circumvent censorship, avoid mass surveillance or access geographically limited services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer. Used by around 20 per cent of European internet users they encrypt users' internet communications, making it more difficult for people to monitor their activities.

The study of fourteen popular VPN providers found that eleven of them leaked information about the user because of a vulnerability known as 'IPv6 leakage'. The leaked information ranged from the websites a user is accessing to the actual content of user communications, for example comments being posted on forums. Interactions with websites running HTTPS encryption, which includes financial transactions, were not leaked.

The leakage occurs because network operators are increasingly deploying a new version of the protocol used to run the Internet called IPv6. IPv6 replaces the previous IPv4, but many VPNs only protect user's IPv4 traffic. The researchers tested their ideas by choosing fourteen of the most famous VPN providers and connecting various devices to a WiFi access point which was designed to mimic the attacks hackers might use.


[More Info]: GWI Infographic: VPN Users

The paper 'A Glance through the VPN Looking Glass: IPv6 Leakage and DNS Hijacking in Commercial VPN clients' by V. Perta, M. Barbera, G. Tyson, H. Haddadi, A. Mei will be presented at the Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium on Tuesday 30 June 2015.

See also our story here.

Original Submission

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Stanford Starts the 'Secure Internet of Things Project'

/. - 30 June 2015 - 5:18pm
An anonymous reader writes: The internet-of-things is here to stay. Lots of people now have smart lights, smart thermostats, smart appliances, smart fire detectors, and other internet-connect gadgets installed in their houses. The security of those devices has been an obvious and predictable problem since day one. Manufacturers can't be bothered to provide updates to $500 smartphones more than a couple years after they're released; how long do you think they'll be worried about security updates for a $50 thermostat? Security researchers have been vocal about this, and they've found lots of vulnerabilities and exploits before hackers have had a chance to. But the manufacturers have responded in the wrong way. Instead of developing a more robust approach to device security, they've simply thrown encryption at everything. This makes it temporarily harder for malicious hackers to have their way with the devices, but also shuts out consumers and white-hat researchers from knowing what the devices are doing. Stanford, Berkeley, and the University of Michigan have now started the Secure Internet of Things Project, which aims to promote security and transparency for IoT devices. They hope to unite regulators, researchers, and manufacturers to ensure nascent internet-connected tech is developed in a way that respects customer privacy and choice.

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Cory Doctorow Talks About Fighting the DMCA (2 Videos)

/. - 30 June 2015 - 4:27pm
Wikipedia says, 'Cory Efram Doctorow (/kri dktro/; born July 17, 1971) is a Canadian-British blogger, journalist, and science fiction author who serves as co-editor of the blog Boing Boing. He is an activist in favour of liberalising copyright laws and a proponent of the Creative Commons organization, using some of their licenses for his books. Some common themes of his work include digital rights management, file sharing, and post-scarcity economics.' Timothy Lord sat down with Cory at the O'Reilly Solid Conference and asked him about the DMCA and how the fight against it is going. Due to management-imposed restraints on video lengths, we broke the ~10 minute interview into two parts, both attached to this paragraph. The transcript covers both videos, so it's your choice: view, read or listen to as much of this interview as you like.

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White House Lures Mudge From Google To Launch Cyber UL

/. - 30 June 2015 - 3:53pm
chicksdaddy writes: The Obama Whitehouse has tapped famed hacker Peiter Zatko (aka "Mudge") to head up a new project aimed at developing an "underwriters' lab" for cyber security. The new organization would function as an independent, non-profit entity designed to assess the security strengths and weaknesses of products and publishing the results of its tests. Zatko is a famed hacker and security luminary, who cut his teeth with the Boston-based hacker collective The L0pht in the 1990s before moving on to work in private industry and, then, to become a program manager at the DARPA in 2010. Though known for keeping a low profile, his scruffy visage (circa 1998) graced the pages of the Washington Post in a recent piece that remembered testimony that Mudge and other L0pht members gave to Congress about the dangers posed by insecure software.

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A Chinese Artificial Intelligence Program Just Beat Humans in an IQ Test.

Soylent New - 30 June 2015 - 3:41pm

Science just took us a small step closer to HAL 9000. A new artificial intelligence (AI) program designed by Chinese researchers has beat humans on a verbal IQ test. Scoring well on the verbal section of the intelligence test has traditionally been a tall order for computers, since words have multiple meanings and complex relationships to one another.

But in a new study, the program did better than its human counterparts who took the test. The findings suggest machines could be one small step closer to approaching the level of human intelligence, the researchers wrote in the study, which was posted earlier this month on the online database arXiv, but has not yet been published in a scientific journal. Don't get too excited just yet: IQ isn't the end-all, be-all measure of intelligence, human or otherwise.

For one thing, the test only measures one kind of intelligence (typically, critics point out, at the expense of others, such as creativity or emotional intelligence. Plus, because some test questions can be hacked using some basic tricks, some AI researchers argue that IQ isn't the best way to measure machine intelligence.

[Paper - PDF]: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1505.07909v2.pdf

Original Submission

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Microsoft To Sell Bing Maps, Advertising Sections

/. - 30 June 2015 - 3:09pm
UnknowingFool writes: Microsoft has announced that they will sell some Bing Maps technology to Uber and their advertising business to AOL. About 1,300 employees are expected to be offered positions in their new companies. CEO Nadella said previously that there would be "tough choices" to be made. Some outside analysts have said neither venture was very profitable for Microsoft and may have been unprofitable at times.

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Test Pilot: the F-35 Can't Dogfight

/. - 30 June 2015 - 2:26pm
schwit1 sends this report from the War Is Boring column: A test pilot has some very, very bad news about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The pricey new stealth jet can't turn or climb fast enough to hit an enemy plane during a dogfight or to dodge the enemy's own gunfire, the pilot reported following a day of mock air battles back in January. And to add insult to injury, the JSF flier discovered he couldn't even comfortably move his head inside the radar-evading jet's cramped cockpit. "The helmet was too large for the space inside the canopy to adequately see behind the aircraft." That allowed the F-16 to sneak up on him. The test pilot's report is the latest evidence of fundamental problems with the design of the F-35 — which, at a total program cost of more than a trillion dollars, is history's most expensive weapon. Your tax dollars at work.

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Ask Slashdot: What To Do With Empty Toner Cartridges?

/. - 30 June 2015 - 1:44pm
New submitter MoarSauce123 writes: Over time I accumulated a number of empty toner cartridges for a Brother laser printer. Initially, I wanted to take a local office supply chain store up on their offer to give me store credit for the returned cartridge. For that credit to be issued I would have to sign up for their store card providing a bunch of personal information. The credit is so lousy that after the deduction from the sales price of a new toner cartridge the price is still much higher than from a large online retailer. And the credit only applies to one new cartridge, so I cannot keep collecting the credit and then get a cartridge 'for free' at some point. I also looked into a local store of a toner refill chain. Their prices are a bit better, but the closest store is about half an hour away with rather odd business hours. Still, at the end they charge more than the large online retailer asks for a brand new cartridge. For now I bring the empty cartridges to the big office supply store and tell them that I do not want their dumb store credit. I rather have big corp make some bucks on me than throw these things in the trash and have it go to a landfill. Are there any better options? Anything from donating it to charity to refilling myself is of interest.

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What If You Could See Asteroids In the Night Sky?

/. - 30 June 2015 - 1:20pm
An anonymous reader writes: As part of Asteroid Day a 360-degree video rendering the night sky with the population of near-earth asteroids included has been created by 'Astronogamer' Scott Manley. The video shows how the Earth flies through a cloud of asteroids on its journey around the sun, and yet we've only discovered about 1% of the near earth asteroid population.

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Your Personal Information is Private, Unless We Need to Sell It

Soylent New - 30 June 2015 - 1:15pm

The New York Times published an article on Sunday confirming what we've all assumed — that internet privacy policies are so full of loopholes as to be meaningless. They found that of the 100 top alexa-ranked english-language websites, 85 had privacy policies that permitted them to disclose users' personal information in cases of mergers, bankruptcy, asset sales and other business transactions.

When sites and apps get acquired or go bankrupt, the consumer data they have amassed may be among the companies' most valuable assets. And that has created an incentive for some online services to collect vast databases on people without giving them the power to decide which companies, or industries, may end up with their information.

"In effect, there's a race to the bottom as companies make representations that are weak and provide little actual privacy protection to consumers," said Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a nonprofit research center in Washington.

Original Submission

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Interviews: Brian Krebs Answers Your Questions

/. - 30 June 2015 - 1:00pm
A few weeks ago you had a chance to ask Brian Krebs about security, cybercrime and what it's like to be the victim of Swatting. Below you will find his answers to your questions.

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Nvidia Details 'Gameworks VR', Aims To Boost Virtual Reality Render Performance

/. - 30 June 2015 - 12:18pm
An anonymous reader writes: In a guest article published to Road to VR, Nvidia graphics programmer Nathan Reed details Nvidia's 'Gameworks VR' initiative which the company says is designed to boost virtual reality render performance, including support for 'VR SLI' which will render one eye view per GPU for low latency stereoscopy. While many Gameworks VR features will be supported as far back as GeForce 6xx cards, the company's latest 'Maxwell' (9xx and Titan X) GPUs offer 'Multi-projection' which Reed says, 'enables us to very efficiently rasterize geometry into multiple viewports within a single render target at once... This better approximates the shading rate of the warped image that will eventually be displayed—in other words, it avoids rendering a ton of extra pixels that weren't going to make it to the display anyway, and gives you a substantial performance boost for no perceptible reduction in image quality.'

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Cisco To Acquire OpenDNS

/. - 30 June 2015 - 11:37am
New submitter Tokolosh writes: Both Cisco and OpenDNS announced today that the former is to acquire the latter. From the Cisco announcement: "To build on Cisco's advanced threat protection capabilities, we plan to continue to innovate a cloud delivered Security platform integrating OpenDNS' key capabilities to accelerate that work. Over time, we will look to unite our cloud-delivered solutions, enhancing Cisco's advanced threat protection capabilities across the full attack continuum—before, during and after an attack." With Cisco well-embedded with the US security apparatus (NSA, CIA, FBI, etc.) is it time to seek out alternatives to OpenDNS?

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