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Facebook Will Open a 'War Room' Next Week To Monitor Election Interference

/. - 20 September 2018 - 11:30pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Sheera Frankel and Mike Isaac [write from The New York Times]: "Sandwiched between Building 20 and Building 21 in the heart of Facebook's campus, an approximately 25-foot by 35-foot conference room is under construction. Thick cords of blue wiring hang from the ceiling, ready to be attached to window-size computer monitors on 16 desks. On one wall, a half dozen televisions will be tuned to CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and other major cable networks. A small paper sign with orange lettering taped to the glass door describes what's being built: "War Room." Set to open next week, the conference room is in keeping with Facebook's nick-of-time approach to midterm election preparedness. (It introduced a "pilot program" for candidate account security on Monday.) It's a big project. Samidh Chakrabarti, who oversees elections and civic engagement, told the Times: "We see this as probably the biggest companywide reorientation since our shift from desktops to mobile phones." Of course, the effort extends beyond the new conference room. Chakrabarti showed the Times a new internal tool "that helps track information flowing across the social network in real time," helping to identify misinformation as it goes viral or a surge in the creation of new (and likely fake) accounts.

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China Blocks Twitch

/. - 20 September 2018 - 10:10pm
After becoming the third most popular free app on China's App Store, Twitch is now no longer accessible and the Twitch app has been removed from the country's App Store. Engadget reports: While Twitch was available in China previously, it never gained much traction since its service is much slower than it is elsewhere. But when the country's CCTV state broadcaster chose not to air the Asian Games, those wanting to watch the event's eSports competitions sought coverage from other outlets. Now, with Twitch seemingly blocked in the country, it follows in the footsteps of other banned sites, including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Abacus first reported the news.

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Tesla Model 3 Earns Five-Star Crash Safety Rating From NHTSA

/. - 20 September 2018 - 10:10pm
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has awarded the Tesla Model 3 with a five-star safety rating -- the highest possible score. This means that every car Tesla has built has earned a five-star rating. Jalopnik reports: The NHTSA tests cover three primary categories: Frontal Crash, Side Crash, and Rollover, and the Model 3 received the highest ratings in all categories. For some categories, it's easy to understand why Teslas do so well. Rollover resistance, for example, makes sense for cars that carry most of their weight at the very bottom, in the batteries sandwiched in the Tesla's chassis design. Other reasons for the remarkable crash safety may be that, without the need for a heavy chunk of metal as a drivetrain, effective and large crumple zones can be designed in, front and rear. The NHTSA has released videos of their frontal collision test, side pole collision test, and side collision test, for those who like watching these sort of things.

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Apple Will Judge Call, Email Activity To Assign Users a 'Trust Score'

/. - 20 September 2018 - 9:30pm
Apple recently updated its iTunes privacy policy page, making mention of a "trust score" it gives iPhone users on how they make calls or send emails. The INQUIRER reports: "To help identify and prevent fraud, information about how you use your device, including the approximate number of phone calls or emails you send and receive, will be used to compute a device trust score when you attempt a purchase," Apple explained. "The submissions are designed so Apple cannot learn the real values on your device. The scores are stored for a fixed time on our servers." In practical terms, the Cupertino crew will only look at Apple account usage patterns and hoover up metadata rather than more personal, and potentially damning information. [T]he data collection and trust score assigning should help Apple better spot and dodgy activity going on in Apple accounts that aren't in keeping with those of the legitimate users. [I]t's not entirely clear how Apple will use the metadata to actually spot fraud, as it hasn't explained its workings.

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Walmart Is Putting 17,000 Oculus Go Headsets In Its Stores To Help Train Employees In VR

/. - 20 September 2018 - 8:50pm
Walmart is reportedly planning to send Oculus Go headsets to each of its nearly 5,000 stores so that more of its employees can get instruction more often. TechCrunch reports: The big box giant will begin sending four headsets to each Walmart supercenter and two headsets to each Neighborhood Market in the country. That may not necessarily seem like a ton to train a store full of employees, but at Walmart's scale that amounts to about 17,000 headsets being shipped by year's end. The move is the evolution of an announcement that the company made last year that it was working with STRIVR Labs to bring virtual reality training to its 200 "Walmart Academy" training centers. Those training sessions were done on PC-tethered Oculus Rifts, the move to Oculus Go headsets really showcases how much more simple standalone headset hardware is to set up and operate.

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What Ecstasy Does To Octopuses

/. - 20 September 2018 - 8:10pm
Gul Dolen, a neuroscientist at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine who studies how the cells and chemicals in animal brains influence animals' social lives, gave ecstasy to octopuses and recorded her observations. The study, published in the journal Current Biology, suggests that the psychoactive drug that can make people feel extra loving toward others also has the same effect on octopuses. An anonymous reader shares the report from The Atlantic: [Dolen] and her colleague Eric Edsinger put five Californian two-spot octopuses individually into the middle of three connected chambers and gave them free rein to explore. One of the adjacent chambers housed a second octopus, confined inside an overturned plastic basket. The other contained an unfamiliar object, such as a plastic flower or a Chewbacca figurine. Dolen and Edsinger measured how long the main animal spent in the company of its peer, and how long with the random toy. The free-moving individuals thoroughly explored the chambers, and from their movements, Dolen realized that individuals of any sex gravitate toward females, but avoid males. Next, she dosed the animals with ecstasy. Again, there's no precedent for this, but researchers often anesthetize octopuses by dunking them in ethanol -- a humane procedure with no lasting side effects. So Dolen and Edsinger submerged their octopuses in an MDMA solution, allowing them to absorb the drug through their gills. At first they used too high a dose, and the animals "freaked out and did all these color changes," Dolen says. But once the team found a more suitable dose, the animals behaved more calmly -- and more sociably. "With ecstasy in their system, the five octopuses spent far more time in the company of the same trapped male they once shunned," the report continues. "Even without a stopwatch, the change was obvious. Before the drug, they explored the chamber with the other octopus very tentatively." "They mashed themselves against one wall, very slowly extended one arm, touched the [other animal], and went back to the other side," Dolen says. "But when they had MDMA, they had this very relaxed posture. They floated around, they wrapped their arms around the chamber, and they interacted with the other octopus in a much more fluid and generous way. They even exposed their [underside], where their mouth is, which is not something octopuses usually do."

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Crippling DDoS Vulnerability Put the Entire Bitcoin Market At Risk

/. - 20 September 2018 - 7:30pm
A major flaw was spotted in the Bitcoin network that could have allowed miners to bring down the entire blockchain by flooding full node operators with traffic, via a Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack. "A denial-of-service vulnerability (CVE-2018-17144) exploitable by miners has been discovered in Bitcoin Core versions 0.14.0 up to 0.16.2." the patch notes state. "It is recommended to upgrade any of the vulnerable versions to 0.16.3 as soon as possible." The Next Web reports: Developers have issued a patch for anyone running nodes, along with an appeal to update the software immediately. As far as the attack vector in question goes, there's a catch: anyone ballsy enough to try to bring down Bitcoin would have to sacrifice almost $80,000 worth of Bitcoin in order do it. The bug relates to its consensus code. It meant that some miners had the option to send transaction data twice, causing the Bitcoin network to crash when attempting to validate them. As such invalid blocks need to be mined anyway, only those willing to disregard block reward of 12.5BTC ($80,000) could actually do any real damage.

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Xiaomi Admits To Putting Ads In the Settings Menu of Its Phones

/. - 20 September 2018 - 6:50pm
Xiaomi, the world's fourth largest smartphone maker, was caught by a Reddit user for placing ads in the settings menu of its smartphones. The ads reportedly show up in Xiaomi's MIUI apps, including the music app and settings menu (MIUI is the name of Xiaomi's skinned version of Android). The Verge reports: When The Verge reached out to Xiaomi for confirmation on this matter, the company responded with the following statement, while also clarifying that it only applies to its devices running MIUI and not its Android One phones: "Advertising has been and will continue to be an integral part of Xiaomi's Internet services, a key component of the company's business model. At the same time, we will uphold user experience by offering options to turn off the ads and by constantly improving our approach towards advertising, including adjusting where and when ads appear. Our philosophy is that ads should be unobtrusive, and users always have the option of receiving fewer recommendations."

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Amazon Plants Fake Packages In Delivery Trucks As Part of Undercover Ploy To 'Trap' Drivers Stealing

/. - 20 September 2018 - 6:10pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Business Insider: Amazon uses fake packages to catch delivery drivers who are stealing, according to sources with knowledge of the practice. The company plants the packages -- internally referred to as "dummy" packages -- in the trucks of drivers at random. The dummy packages have fake labels and are often empty. Here's how the practice works, according to the sources: During deliveries, drivers scan the labels of every package they deliver. When they scan a fake label on a dummy package, an error message will pop up. When this happens, drivers might call their supervisors to address the problem, or keep the package in their truck and return it to an Amazon warehouse at the end of their shift. Drivers, in theory, could also choose to steal the package. The error message means the package isn't detected in Amazon's system. As a result, it could go unnoticed if the package were to go missing. "If you bring the package back, you are innocent. If you don't, you're a thug," said Sid Shah, a former manager for DeliverOL, a courier company that delivers packages for Amazon.

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In a World of Robots, Carmakers Persist in Hiring More Humans

/. - 20 September 2018 - 5:30pm
It looks like car-industry employees who are concerned about robots taking their jobs don't need to worry -- for now, at least. Of the 13 publicly traded automakers with at least 100,000 workers at the end of their most-recent fiscal year, 11 had more staff compared with year-end 2013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Combined, they had 3.1 million employees, or 11 percent more than four years earlier, the data show. From the report: Carmakers in China and other emerging markets, where growth is strongest, favor human labor because it requires less upfront investment, said Steve Man, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence in Hong Kong. In developed markets, tasks that can be handled by robots were automated years ago and automakers are now boosting hiring in research and development as the industry evolves. "There's been a lot of growth in emerging markets, especially China, so that's one reason automakers are adding staff," Man said. "More staff is being added on the R&D side, with the push for autonomous, electric, connected vehicles." A trio of Chinese automakers, SAIC Motor, Dongfeng Motor Group and BYD -- in which Warren Buffett is a major investor -- increased staff by at least 24 percent. Volkswagen accounted for more than one in five jobs among the group of 13, and increased its employee count by 12 percent in the period. Things, however, look differently at General Motors, which shrank its payroll 18 percent to 180,000, and Nissan Motor, which contracted by 2.8 percent to 139,000 workers, the report added.

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Radio Astronomers Are Increasingly Using Convolutional Neural Networks To Sift Through Massive Amounts of Data

/. - 20 September 2018 - 4:50pm
Radio astronomers have so far cataloged fewer than 300 fast radio bursts, mysterious broadband radio signals that originate from well beyond the Milky Way. Almost a third of them -- 72, to be precise -- were not detected by astronomers at all but instead were recently discovered by an artificial intelligence (AI) program trained to spot their telltale signals, even hidden underneath noisy background data. The very first recorded fast radio burst, or FRB, was spotted by radio astronomers in 2007, nestled in data from 2001, reads a report on IEEE Spectrum. Today, algorithms spot FRBs by sifting through massive amounts of data as it comes in. However, today's best algorithms still can't detect every FRB that reaches Earth. That's why AI developed by Breakthrough Listen, a SETI project headed by the University of California, Berkeley, which has already found dozens of new bursts in its trial run, will be a big help in future searches. The report adds: There are a few theories about what FRBs (fast radio bursts) might be. The prevailing theory is that they're created by rapidly rotating neutron stars. In other theories, they emanate from supermassive black holes. Even more out-there theories describe how they're produced when neutron stars collide with stars composed of hypothetical dark matter particles called axions. The bursts are probably not sent by aliens, but that theory has its supporters, too. What we do know is that FRBs come from deep space and each burst lasts for only a few milliseconds. Traditionally, algorithms tease them out of the data by identifying the quadratic signals associated with FRBs. But these signals are coming from far-flung galaxies. "Because these pulses travel so far, there are plenty of complications en route," says Zhang. Pulses can be distorted and warped along the way. And even when one reaches Earth, our own noisy planet can obfuscate a pulse. That's why it makes sense to train an AI -- specifically, a convolutional neural network -- to poke through the data and find the ones that traditional algorithms missed. "In radio astronomy," says Zhang, "at least nowadays, it's characterized by big data." Case in point: The 72 FRBs identified by the Berkeley team's AI were found in 8 terabytes of data gathered by the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. To even give the AI enough information to learn how to spot those signals in the first place, Zhang says the team generated about 100,000 fake FRB pulses. The simple quadratic structure of FRBs makes it fairly easy to construct fake pulses for training, according to Zhang. Then, they disguised these signals among the Green Bank Telescope data. As the team explains in their paper [PDF], accepted by The Astrophysical Journal with a preprint available on arXiv, it took 20 hours to train the AI with those fake pulses using a Nvidia Titan Xp GPU. By the end, the AI could detect 88 percent of the fake test signals. Furthermore, 98 percent of the identifications that the AI made were actually planted signals, as opposed to the machine mistakenly identifying background noise as an FRB pulse.

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Titans of Mathematics Clash Over Epic Proof of ABC Conjecture

/. - 20 September 2018 - 4:10pm
Two mathematicians have found what they say is a hole at the heart of a proof that has convulsed the mathematics community for nearly six years. Quanta Magazine: In a report [PDF] posted online Thursday, Peter Scholze of the University of Bonn and Jakob Stix of Goethe University Frankfurt describe what Stix calls a "serious, unfixable gap" within a mammoth series of papers by Shinichi Mochizuki, a mathematician at Kyoto University who is renowned for his brilliance. Posted online in 2012, Mochizuki's papers supposedly prove the abc conjecture, one of the most far-reaching problems in number theory. Despite multiple conferences dedicated to explicating Mochizuki's proof, number theorists have struggled to come to grips with its underlying ideas. His series of papers, which total more than 500 pages, are written in an impenetrable style, and refer back to a further 500 pages or so of previous work by Mochizuki, creating what one mathematician, Brian Conrad of Stanford University, has called "a sense of infinite regress." Between 12 and 18 mathematicians who have studied the proof in depth believe it is correct, wrote Ivan Fesenko of the University of Nottingham in an email. But only mathematicians in "Mochizuki's orbit" have vouched for the proof's correctness, Conrad commented in a blog discussion last December. "There is nobody else out there who has been willing to say even off the record that they are confident the proof is complete." Nevertheless, wrote Frank Calegari of the University of Chicago in a December blog post, "mathematicians are very loath to claim that there is a problem with Mochizuki's argument because they can't point to any definitive error." That has now changed. In their report, Scholze and Stix argue that a line of reasoning near the end of the proof of "Corollary 3.12" in Mochizuki's third of four papers is fundamentally flawed. The corollary is central to Mochizuki's proposed abc proof. "I think the abc conjecture is still open," Scholze said. "Anybody has a chance of proving it."

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The New York Times Sues FCC For Net Neutrality Records

/. - 20 September 2018 - 3:45pm
The New York Times Company on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) concerning records the newspaper alleges may shed light on possible Russian participation in a public comment period before the commission rolled back Obama-era net neutrality rules. Bloomberg reports: The plaintiffs, including Times reporter Nicholas Confessore and investigations editor Gabriel Dance, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Sept. 20 under the Freedom of Information Act, seeking to compel the commission to hand over data. "The request at issue in this litigation involves records that will shed light on the extent to which Russian nationals and agents of the Russian government have interfered with the agency notice-and-comment process about a topic of extensive public interest: the government's decision to abandon 'net neutrality,'" the plaintiffs alleged.

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Scientists Find 'Super-Earth' In Star System From 'Star Trek'

/. - 20 September 2018 - 3:20pm
In a wonderful example of truth validating fiction, the star system imagined as the location of Vulcan, Spock's home world in Star Trek, has a planet orbiting it in real life. From a report: A team of scientists spotted the exoplanet, which is about twice the size of Earth, as part of the Dharma Planet Survey (DPS), led by University of Florida astronomer Jian Ge. It orbits HD 26965, more popularly known as 40 Eridani, a triple star system 16 light years away from the Sun. Made up of a Sun-scale orange dwarf (Eridani A), a white dwarf (Eridani B), and a red dwarf (Eridani C), this system was selected to be "Vulcan's Sun" after Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry consulted with astronomers Sallie Baliunas, Robert Donahue, and George Nassiopoulos about the best location for the fictional planet. "An intelligent civilization could have evolved over the aeons on a planet circling 40 Eridani," Roddenberry and the astronomers suggested in a 1991 letter to the editor published in Sky & Telescope. The three stars "would gleam brilliantly in the Vulcan sky," they added. The real-life exoplanet, known as HD 26965b, is especially tantalizing because it orbits just within the habitable zone of its star, meaning that it is theoretically possible that liquid water -- the key ingredient for life as we know it -- could exist on its surface.

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Google Defends Gmail Data Sharing, Gives Few Details on Violations

/. - 20 September 2018 - 2:40pm
Google defended how it polices third-party add-ons for Gmail in a letter to U.S. senators made public on Thursday, saying that upfront review catches the "majority" of bad actors. A report adds: Google said it uses automated scans and reports from security researchers to monitor third parties with access to Gmail data, but gave no details on how many add-ons have been caught violating its policies. Google's privacy practices have been under growing scrutiny. The Senate Commerce Committee has a hearing scheduled for Sept. 26 to question Google, Apple, AT&T, Twitter about their consumer data privacy practices. Gmail, the Google email service used by 1.4 billion people, enables add-on developers access to users' emails and the ability to share that data with other parties as "long as they are transparent" with users about how they are using data and get consent, Google said in the letter. For instance, a program that logs receipts could be allowed to scan Gmail as it searches for receipts.

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Amazon Announces a Range of New and Refreshed Echo and Alexa Products

/. - 20 September 2018 - 2:00pm
The rumors were true. Amazon on Thursday announced a range of new Echo smart speakers and other Alexa-enabled devices. The company first announced the Echo Sub, its answer to voice-enabled premium audio products such as Apple's HomePod, Sonos One, and Google Home Max. Then there is the Echo Input, a wireless accessory that connects to legacy speakers; the Echo Link Amp and Echo Link, amplifiers with multiple audio inputs and outputs; and Amazon Smart Plug, a connected outlet plug. VentureBeat: They round out Amazon's existing and refreshed selection of smart speakers (the Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Plus), smart displays (the Echo Show and Echo Spot), and smart cameras (the Echo Look). The $129.99 Echo Sub, which ships today, features a mesh cloth that comes in several colors, and a 6-inch, 100W down-firing speaker that can be configured in stereo. Two paired Echo Sub speakers can act as a single 2.1 system, with distinct left and right audio channels. That's one better than current-gen Echo speakers, which support multiroom audio (i.e., the ability to group speakers together by room) but not proper stereo. The $25 Amazon Smart Plug (shipping next month) doesn't have nearly as many bells and whistles as the Sub, but lets you switch off or on whatever's plugged into it with a voice command. You can schedule quiet hours, too, and it works independently of a hub -- it's managed entirely through the Alexa app for Android, iOS, and Amazon Fire devices. The Echo Link Amp and Echo Amp are amplifiers through and through -- both with Ethernet, coax, optical in, and multichannel capabilities. The Echo Link stars at $200 and will be available later this year, and the Amp starts at $300. It'll hit store shelves in 2019. Last but not least, the Echo Input, which starts at $34.99, adds music-casting (and multiroom audio) capabilities to legacy speakers. There's also the $30 The Echo Wall Clock, which is literally just an old-school analog wall clock like you might see in a classroom. It's not an Echo speaker; it works with Echo nearby to show you timer you set. LEDs around the rim of the clock show your Alexa timers. "You never have to worry about daylight savings time," an Amazon executive said. CNET reporters talk about other devices in a live blog: Introducing "Echo Guard." Say something like "Alexa, I'm leaving," and she'll move your Echoes into Guard mode. You'll get a notification if they hear breaking glass or the sound of an alarm. If you have smart lights, Guard-mode Alexa will randomly turn them on and off to make it look like you're home. The Ring Stick Up Cam, priced at $180, will be available later this year. [...] An all-new Echo Show. Complete redesign. "This product has been completely redesigned. It has great sound." Integrated a bass radiator inside, real-time Dolby processing. Fabric back-cover matches the new Dot and Echo Plus. Also has the same smart home hub functions as the Echo Plus, with built-in Zigbee support. And yep, it looks a lot like some of the new Google Assistant smart displays. Amazon playing some defense, here. 10-inch HD display, 2X display area from original Echo Show. 8 mic array, "it's the most advanced mic array we know how to build. Same price, $230. Preorders today, ship next month. There's also an Alexa-powered microwave: Amazon will begin to sell its own brand of Wi-Fi-connected microwaves that work with Alexa, Amazon's voice-activated, internet-connected digital assistant, the company announced Thursday at its headquarters in Seattle. The AmazonBasics-brand, $60 microwave will also include Dash Replenishment Services so it can automatically order popcorn from Amazon. You can preorder the microwave starting today, and Amazon will begin to ship them later this year. The AmazonBasics Microwave has dozens of quick-cook voice settings so you can use verbal commands to operate the microwave. Additionally, the company also unveiled new software features, including some that are aimed at developers. You can read them here.

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ICANN Sets Plan To Reinforce Internet DNS Security

/. - 20 September 2018 - 1:15pm
coondoggie shares a report: In a few months, the internet will be a more secure place. That's because the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has voted to go ahead with the first-ever changing of the cryptographic key that helps protect the internet's address book -- the Domain Name System (DNS). The ICANN Board at its meeting in Belgium this week, decided to proceed with its plans to change or "roll" the key for the DNS root on Oct. 11, 2018. It will mark the first time the key has been changed since it was first put in place in 2010. During its meeting ICANN spelled out the driving forces behind the need for improved DNS security that the rollover will bring. For example, the continued evolution of Internet technologies and facilities, and deployment of IoT devices and increased capacity of networks all over the world, coupled with the unfortunate lack of sufficient security in those devices and networks, attackers have increasing power to cripple Internet infrastructure, ICANN stated. "Specifically, the growth in attack capacity risks outstripping the ability of the root server operator community to expand defensive capacity. While it remains necessary to continue to expand defensive capacity in the near-term, the long-term outlook for the traditional approach appears bleak," ICANN stated. The KSK rollover means generating a new cryptographic public and private key pair and distributing the new public component to parties who operate validating resolvers, according to ICANN. Such resolvers run software that converts typical addresses like networkworld.com into IP network addresses. Resolvers include: internet service providers, enterprise network administrators and other DNS resolver operators, DNS resolver software developers; system integrators, and hardware and software distributors who install or ship the root's "trust anchor," ICANN said.

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Time To Regulate Bitcoin, Says UK Treasury Committee Report

/. - 20 September 2018 - 12:31pm
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are "wild west" assets that expose investors to a litany of risks and are in urgent need of regulation, MPs on the Treasury select committee have said. From a report: The committee said in a report that consumers were left unprotected from an unregulated industry that aided money laundering, while the government and regulators "bumble along" and fail to take action. The Conservative MP Nicky Morgan, the chair of the committee, said the current situation was unsustainable. "Bitcoin and other crypto-assets exist in the wild west industry of crypto-assets. This unregulated industry leaves investors facing numerous risks," Morgan said. "Given the high price volatility, the hacking vulnerability of exchanges and the potential role in money laundering, the Treasury committee strongly believes that regulation should be introduced."

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Equifax Slapped With UK's Maximum Penalty Over 2017 Data Breach

/. - 20 September 2018 - 11:50am
Credit rating giant Equifax has been issued with the maximum possible penalty by the UK's data protection agency for last year's massive data breach. From a report: Albeit, the fine is only 500,000 Pound (roughly $6,62,000) because the loss of customer data occurred when the UK's prior privacy regime was in force -- rather than the tough new data protection law, brought in via the EU's GDPR, which allows for maximum penalties of as much as 4% of a company's global turnover for the most serious data failures. So, again, Equifax has managed to dodge worse consequences over the 2017 breach, despite the hack resulting from its own internal process failings after it failed to patch a server that was known to be vulnerable for months -- thereby giving hackers a soft-spot to attack and swipe data on 147 million consumers. Personal information that was lost or compromised in the 2017 Equifax breach included names and dates of birth, addresses, passwords, driving licence and financial details.

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Cloudflare Ends CAPTCHAs For Tor Users

/. - 20 September 2018 - 11:10am
Cloudflare announced on Monday a new service named the "Cloudflare Onion Service" that can distinguish between bots and legitimate Tor traffic. The main advantage of this new service is, said Cloudflare, that Tor users will see far less, or even no CAPTCHAs when accessing a Cloudflare-protected website via the Tor Browser. A reader writes: The new Cloudflare Onion Service needed the Tor team to make "a small tweak in the Tor binary," hence it will only work with recent versions of the Tor Browser -- the Tor Browser 8.0 and the new Tor Browser for Android, both launched earlier this month. Tor users have been complaining about seeing too many CAPTCHAs when accessing a Cloudflare-protect site for years now. In February 2016, Tor Project administrators went as far as to accuse Cloudflare of "sabotaging Tor traffic" by forcing Tor users to solve CAPTCHA fields ten times or more, in some cases. Cloudflare responded to accusations a month later, claiming the company was only showing CAPTCHAs because 94 percent of all Tor traffic was either automated bots or originating from malicious actors. Half a year later, in October 2016, Cloudflare started looking into methods of removing CAPTCHAS for Tor users. Their first foray was the Challenge Bypass Specification and a Tor Browser extension, but that project didn't go too far, and has been eventually replaced by the new Cloudflare Onion Service today.

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