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NSA Planned To Hijack Google App Store To Hack Smartphones

/. - 25 min 57 sec ago
Advocatus Diaboli writes: A newly released top secret document reveals that the NSA planned to hijack Google and Samsung app stores to plant spying software on smartphones. The report on the surveillance project, dubbed "IRRITANT HORN," shows the U.S. and its "Five Eyes" alliance: Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia, were looking at ways to hack smartphones and spy on users. According to The Intercept: "The top-secret document, obtained from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, was published Wednesday by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept. The document outlines a series of tactics that the NSA and its counterparts in the Five Eyes were working on during workshops held in Australia and Canada between November 2011 and February 2012."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Feds Bust Cops Who Cleaned up Credit Histories by Filing Falsified Police Reports

Soylent New - 52 min 57 sec ago

For a few very profitable years, Vanessa and Mario Perez made more than $322,000 by clearing up the blemished credit reports of people with bad bill-paying histories, almost as if by magic.

Federal authorities say the Perezes had a secret weapon: a network of dirty Miami-Dade County, Florida police officers, who wrote 215 falsified police reports. The Perezes used these falsified police reports to claim their customers were victims of identity theft when the customers were not.

The false ID theft claims provided the Perezes' clients with an official excuse for their bad credit histories so they could get negative items removed from their reports. In turn, the customers could boost their credit scores with reporting agencies such as Equifax and obtain credit cards, loans and other financing again.

Vanessa Perez was previously convicted of absentee ballot fraud (along with dozens of others) after Miami's infamous 1997 election.

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Musical Organ Created From 49 Floppy Disk Drives

/. - 2 hours 45 min ago
ErnieKey writes: A youth club in Germany, called Toolbox Bodensee, has created an unusual musical organ. It is constructed of 49 floppy disk drives all of which combine to play quite a unique sound. It has the ability to be played manually or act as a playback device. If you have a bunch of old floppy drives and want to assemble your own organ, the 3D print files are available for free download on Thingiverse.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Charges Against Gyrocopter-Flying Protester Glenn Hughes Keep Piling Up

Soylent New - 2 hours 46 min ago

Glenn "Cannon Balls" Hughes, a mail carrier that took it upon himself to fly a gyrocopter into restricted space in Washington, D.C. to deliver messages to Congress, is now facing more charges and possible prison time, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Shortly after being arrested, he was charged with crimes that could have put him behind bars for up to five years. Now additional charges have been added to raise that to a possible nine-and-a-half years, almost double the time he faced at first.

Amid the debate, lawmakers have suggested that the laws under which Hughes faced charges should be updated with tougher penalties.

When Hughes was first charged in April, he faced fewer counts and a possible sentence of fewer than five years in prison.

The list of charges seems a bit over the top, but that level of vindictiveness from our government seems the norm these days, OMO.

"I am more convinced than ever that I did the right thing," Hughes said in a Wednesday evening interview.

The charges include two felonies: one count each of operating as an airman without an airman's certificate and violating registration requirements involving aircraft. In addition, he was indicted on four misdemeanor counts: three counts of violation of national defense airspace, and one of operating a vehicle falsely labeled as a postal carrier.

If Hughes is convicted of either of the two felonies, he will be required to forfeit his gyrocopter to the federal government.

Hughes called his potential sentence "excessive" because of the nature of his action: an act of civil disobedience where no one was hurt, and no property was damaged.

"How is that worth 9½ years?" he said. "I think the prosecutor has an uphill battle."

Hughes said he is not certain what will happen at Thursday's arraignment. But he said he is open to the idea of a plea bargain, if it means no jail time. But he also is prepared for the possibility that his case could go in front of a jury.

I'm not certain I would have his optimism about the prosecution having an uphill battle, but I do hope he is right about that.

Disclaimer: I take full blame for the 'Cannon Balls' moniker in the title summary. It was meant to be a statement and show of my admiration for G. Hughes, who I see as worthy of respect, whether you agree with his cause, or not.

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Quantum Physics: What is Really Real?

Soylent New - 4 hours 44 min ago

Owen Maroney worries that physicists have spent the better part of a century engaging in fraud.

Ever since they invented quantum theory in the early 1900s, explains Maroney, who is himself a physicist at the University of Oxford, UK, they have been talking about how strange it is — how it allows particles and atoms to move in many directions at once, for example, or to spin clockwise and anticlockwise simultaneously. But talk is not proof, says Maroney. “If we tell the public that quantum theory is weird, we better go out and test that's actually true,” he says. “Otherwise we're not doing science, we're just explaining some funny squiggles on a blackboard.”

It is this sentiment that has led Maroney and others to develop a new series of experiments to uncover the nature of the wavefunction — the mysterious entity that lies at the heart of quantum weirdness. On paper, the wavefunction is simply a mathematical object that physicists denote with the Greek letter psi (Ψ) — one of Maroney's funny squiggles — and use to describe a particle's quantum behaviour. Depending on the experiment, the wavefunction allows them to calculate the probability of observing an electron at any particular location, or the chances that its spin is oriented up or down. But the mathematics shed no light on what a wavefunction truly is. Is it a physical thing ? Or just a calculating tool for handling an observer's ignorance about the world ?


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DNA On Pizza Crust Leads To Quadruple Murder Suspect

/. - 5 hours 26 min ago
HughPickens.com writes: In a case straight out of CSI, CNN reports that police are searching for the man suspected in the gruesome slayings of the Savopoulos family and their housekeeper, after his DNA was purportedly found on a pizza crust at the scene of the quadruple murders. They discovered his DNA on the crust of a Domino's pizza — one of two delivered to the Savopoulos home May 14 as the family was held hostage inside — a source familiar with the investigation said. The pizza apparently was paid for with cash left in an envelope on the porch. The next morning, Savvas Savopoulos's personal assistant dropped off a package containing $40,000 in cash at the home, according to the officials and police documents. The bodies of Savopoulos, along with his wife, Amy, their 10-year-old son Philip and the family's housekeeper, Veralicia Figueroa, were discovered the afternoon of May 14 after firefighters responded to reports of a fire. D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier says the killings are likely not a random crime and police have issued an arrest warrant for the 34-year-old Daron Dylon Wint, who is described as 5'7 and 155 lbs and might also go by the name "Steffon." Wint apparently used to work at American Iron Works, where Savvas Savopoulos was CEO and president. The neighborhood is home to numerous embassies and diplomatic mansions as well as the official residence of Vice President Joe Biden and his wife. "Right now you have just about every law enforcement officer across the country aware of his open warrant and are looking for him," says Lanier. "I think even his family has made pleas for him to turn himself in."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

NSA Plan to Hack Smartphones Using Google and Samsung App Stores

Soylent New - 21 May 2015 - 11:03pm

According to a story at the Intercept, the National Security Agency and its closest allies planned to hijack data links to Google and Samsung app stores to infect smartphones with spyware, a top-secret document reveals.

As part of a pilot project codenamed IRRITANT HORN, the agencies were developing a method to hack and hijack phone users’ connections to app stores so that they would be able to send malicious “implants” to targeted devices. The implants could then be used to collect data from the phones without their users noticing.

Read more of this story at SoylentNews.

Gravitational Anomalies Beneath Mountains Point To Isostasy of Earth's Crust

/. - 21 May 2015 - 10:05pm
StartsWithABang writes: Imagine you wanted to know what your acceleration was anywhere on Earth; imagine that simply saying "9.81 m/s^2" wasn't good enough. What would you need to account for? Sure, there are the obvious things: the Earth's rotation and its various altitudes and different points. Surely, the farther away you are from Earth's center, the less your acceleration's going to be. But what might come as a surprise is that if you went up to the peak of the highest mountains, not only would the acceleration due to gravity be its lowest, but there'd also be less mass beneath your feet than at any other location.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

China to Spend $182 Billion on Network Infrastructure

Soylent New - 21 May 2015 - 8:54pm

China has announced plans to spend $182 billion over the next 30 months to modernize the nation's network infrastructure:

The State Council, China's chief administrative authority, said the government will invest at least $69.3bn in network construction this year, which in turn will be supplemented with $112.8bn in expenditure before the end of 2017, all in order to accelerate the construction of fiber optic networks and 4G networks.

The state investment follows Li Keqiang, the State Council Premier, announcing China's "Internet Plus" policy, which is intended to see the nation focus on domestic technology adoption in order to boost domestic growth while also giving Chinese technology firms a chance do do better overseas.

Complaining about China's internet speeds previously, Keqiang undershot the Network Readiness Index [which ranks China 62nd], instead seemingly favouring Akamai's State of the Internet: Q4 2014 report [Subscription required], stating that "China has more cellphone users than any other country, but its net service speed ranks below 80th in the world due to underdeveloped information infrastructure".

The State Council has said: "By the end of 2017, all households in locations above prefecture level will have access to 100 Mbps fiber optic networks, over 80 per cent of villages will be covered by fiber optic networks, all cities and villages will be covered by 4G networks, and broadband speeds in municipalities and provincial capitals will reach 30 Mbps."

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Netgear and ZyXEL Confirm NetUSB Flaw, Are Working On Fixes

/. - 21 May 2015 - 8:18pm
itwbennett writes: In follow-up to a story that appeared on Slashdot yesterday about a critical vulnerability in the NetUSB service, networking device manufacturers ZyXEL Communications and Netgear have confirmed that some of their routers are affected and said they are working on fixes. ZyXEL will begin issuing firmware updates in June, while Netgear plans to start releasing patches in the third quarter of the year.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

YouTube Live Streams Now Support HTML5 Playback and 60fps Video

/. - 21 May 2015 - 7:35pm
An anonymous reader writes: YouTube today announced that it is rolling out HTML5 playback and has added 60fps live streaming to allow users to broadcast in real time. "When you start a live stream on YouTube at 60fps, we'll transcode your stream into 720p60 and 1080p60, which means silky smooth playback for gaming and other fast-action videos," YouTube said in a statement. "We'll also make your stream available in 30fps on devices where high frame rate viewing is not yet available, while we work to expand support in the coming weeks."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The MinION - Genome Sequencing in a Handheld Device

Soylent New - 21 May 2015 - 7:26pm

[Editor's Comment: This article might sound a bit like a soyvertisement but it has been submitted by one of our community and someone who is well qualified in his field - David Eccles from the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research in New Zealand. It is interesting to read about what is considered currently to be state of the art in field genome sequencing.]

On the 14th and 15th of May, 2015, Oxford Nanopore Technologies held their inaugural nanopore sequencing conference, London Calling. The conference was set up to inform people about the current progress of Oxford Nanopore's first sequencing device, the muesli bar-sized, USB-powered MinION. Over 250 people were in attendance at the conference, representing 35 countries, including two from New Zealand: Nicole Moore from Environmental Science and Research, and David Eccles from the Malaghan Insititute of Medical Research. Over the course of two days, these attendees discovered how the MinION is quietly turning the world of sequencing inside out.

Everything needed for sample preparation and sequencing can fit into a single piece of checked luggage on an airplane. The MinION is robust enough to make it across unsealed roads to remote parts of Africa, where it has been used for sequencing on-location during the Ebola outbreak. The MinION has also been put through its paces for tracking the traffic of organisms. Detection at the species level can be achieved in under 20 minutes of sequencing, and very subtle changes for the same species from different origins can be identified in less than an hour.

Clive Brown, Chief Technical Officer for Oxford Nanopore Technologies, gave a brief summary of what is to come in the near future of nanopore sequencing:

  • A fast mode for sequencing, allowing a human genome to be sequenced with high reliability in a 2-day run.
  • An improved Mk II sequencer, with six time the throughput and six times the run time of the first sequencer.
  • A clip-on sample preparation laboratory (Voltrax), allowing preparation and sequencing directly from blood in 20 minutes.
  • Time-based pricing, reducing the minimum cost of a single-molecule sequencing run to $50.
  • A 48-cell desktop sequencing device (PromethION) that can produce over 6 terabases of sequence per day, making sample preparation time the slowest part of the sequencing process.

Read more of this story at SoylentNews.

What Was the Effect of Rand Paul's 10-Hour "Filibuster"?

/. - 21 May 2015 - 6:52pm
An anonymous reader writes: Sen. Rand Paul held up a vote on the Fast Track Authority for an eleven hour dissertation on the flaws of: the Patriot Act, the replacement the USA Freedom Act, bulk data collection including credit card purchases, the DEA and IRS's use of NSA intel. for "parallel construction", warrant-less GPS bugs on vehicles, as well as the important distinction of a general warrant versus a specific one. "There is a general veil of suspicion that is placed on every American now. Every American is somehow said to be under suspicion because we are collecting the records of every American," Paul said. The questions is what did the "filibuster" really accomplish? The speeches caused a delay in Senate business but it's unclear what larger effect, if any, that will have.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Security Researchers Wary of Wassenaar Rules

/. - 21 May 2015 - 6:08pm
msm1267 writes: The Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security today to implement the controversial Wassenaar Arrangement, and computer security specialists are wary of its language and vagaries. For starters, its definition of "intrusion software" that originally was meant to stem the effect of spying software such as FinFisher and Hacking Team, has also apparently snared many penetration testing tools. Also, despite the Commerce Department's insistence that vulnerability research does not fall under Wassenaar, researchers say that's up for interpretation.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

New Class of Swelling Magnets Have the Potential to Energize the World

Soylent New - 21 May 2015 - 5:58pm

Shedding new light on 175-year-old principle: New class of swelling magnets have the potential to energize the world

A new class of magnets that expand their volume when placed in a magnetic field and generate negligible amounts of wasteful heat during energy harvesting, has been discovered by researchers at Temple University and the University of Maryland.

The researchers, Harsh Deep Chopra, professor and chair of mechanical engineering at Temple, and Manfred Wuttig, professor of materials science and engineering at Maryland, published their findings, "Non-Joulian Magnetostriction," in the May 21st issue of the journal, Nature. This transformative breakthrough has the potential to not only displace existing technologies but create altogether new applications due to the unusual combination of magnetic properties.

"Our findings fundamentally change the way we think about a certain type of magnetism that has been in place since 1841," said Chopra, who also runs the Materials Genomics and Quantum Devices Laboratories at Temple's College of Engineering.

In the 1840s, physicist James Prescott Joule discovered that iron-based magnetic materials changed their shape but not their volume when placed in a magnetic field. This phenomenon is referred to as "Joule Magnetostriction," and since its discovery 175 years ago, all magnets have been characterized on this basis.

"We have discovered a new class of magnets, which we call 'Non-Joulian Magnets,' that show a large volume change in magnetic fields," said Chopra. "Moreover, these non-Joulian magnets also possess the remarkable ability to harvest or convert energy with minimal heat loss."

[Abstract]: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v521/n7552/full/nature14459.html

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Australian ISP Offers Pro-bono Legal Advice To Accused Pirates

/. - 21 May 2015 - 5:25pm
New submitter thegarbz writes: As covered previously, after losing a legal battle against Dallas Buyers Club and Voltage Pictures the Federal Court of Australia asked ISP iiNet to hand over details of customers allegedly downloading the movie The Dallas Buyers Club. iiNet has now taken the unprecedented move to offer pro-bono legal advice to all of its customers targeted over piracy claims. "It is important to remember that the Court's findings in this case do not mean that DBC and Voltage's allegations of copyright infringement have been proven," Ben Jenkins, financial controller for iiNet wrote. Also, as part of the ruling the court will review all correspondence sent to alleged copyright infringers in hopes to prevent the practice of speculative invoicing. Unless it can be proven exactly how much and and with how many people a film was shared the maximum damages could also be limited to the lost revenue by the studio, which currently stands at $10AU ($7.90US) based on iTunes pricing.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Student Photographer Threatened With Suspension For Sports Photos

/. - 21 May 2015 - 4:42pm
sandbagger writes: Anthony Mazur is a senior at Flower Mound High School in Texas who photographed school sports games and other events. Naturally he posted them on line. A few days ago he was summoned to the principal's office and threatened with a suspension and 'reporting to the IRS' if he didn't take those 4000 photos down. Reportedly, the principal's rationale was that the school has copyright on the images and not him.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Hackers Love Robots.txt

Soylent New - 21 May 2015 - 4:28pm

Robots.txt files are simple text files that website owners put in directories to keep web crawlers like Google, Yahoo, from indexing the contents of that directory. It's a game of trust, web masters don't actually trust the spiders to not access every file in the directories, they just expect these documents not to appear in search engines. By and large, the bargain has been kept.

But hackers have made no such bargain, and the mere presence of robots.txt files are like a X on a treasure map. And web site owners get careless, and, yes, some operate under the delusion that the promise of the spiders actually protects these documents.

The Register has an article that explains that hackers and rogue web crawlers, actually use robots.txt files to find directories worth crawling.

Melbourne penetration tester Thiebauld Weksteen is warning system administrators that robots.txt files can give attackers valuable information on potential targets by giving them clues about directories their owners are trying to protect.

Once a hacker gets into a system, it is standard reconnaissance practice to compile and update detailed lists of interesting sub directories by harvesting robots.txt files. It requires less than 100 lines of code.

If you watch your logs, you've probably seen web crawler tracks, and you've probably seen some just walk right past your robots.txt files. If you are smart there really isn't anything of value "protected" by your robots.txt. But the article lists some examples of people who should know better leaving lots of sensitive information hiding behind a robots.txt.

Read more of this story at SoylentNews.

Academics Build a New Tor Client Designed To Beat the NSA

/. - 21 May 2015 - 3:50pm
An anonymous reader writes: In response to a slew of new research about network-level attacks against Tor, academics from the U.S. and Israel built a new Tor client called Astoria designed to beat adversaries like the NSA, GCHQ, or Chinese intelligence who can monitor a user's Tor traffic from entry to exit. Astoria differs most significantly from Tor's default client in how it selects the circuits that connect a user to the network and then to the outside Internet. The tool is an algorithm designed to more accurately predict attacks and then securely select relays that mitigate timing attack opportunities for top-tier adversaries.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ask Slashdot: Career Advice For an Aging Perl Developer?

/. - 21 May 2015 - 3:09pm
New submitter ukrifleman writes: I've been doing UK based perl, JS, light PHP and JQUERY dev plus Centos/Debian sys admin on a freelance basis for over a decade now. Mostly maintaining older stuff but I also undertook a big, 3 year bespoke project (all written in legacy non OO perl). The trouble is, that contract has now finished and all the legacy work has dried out and I've only got about 2 months of income left! I need to get a full time job. To most dev firms I'm going to look like a bit of a dinosaur, 40 odd years old, knows little of OO coding OR modern languages and aproaches to projects. I can write other languages and, with a bit of practice I'll pick them up pretty quickly. I really don't know where to start. What's hot, what's worth learning, I'm self-taught so have no CS degree, just 15 years of dev and sys admin experience. I've got a bit of team and project management experience too it's quite a worry going up against young whipper snappers that know all the buzz words and modern tech! Am I better off trying to get a junior job to start so I can catch up with some tech? Would I be better off trawling the thousands of job sites or finding a bonafide IT specialist recruitment firm? Should I take the brutally honest approach to my CV/interviews or just wing it and hope I don't bite off more than I can chew? What kind of learning curve could I expect if I took on a new language I have no experience with? Are there any qualififcations that I NEED to have before firms would be willing to take me on? I've been sitting here at this desk for 10 years typing away and only now do I realise that I've stagnated to the point where I may well be obsolete!

Read more of this story at Slashdot.