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When It Comes To Spy Gear, Many Police Ignore Public Records Laws

SlashDot - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 10:00pm
v3rgEz writes What should take precedence: State public records laws, or contractual agreements between local police, the FBI, and the privately owned Harris Corporation? That's the question being played out across the country, as agencies are strongly divided on releasing much information, if any, on how they're using Stingray technology to collect and monitor phone metadata without judicial oversight.

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US To Monitor Air Quality In India and Other Countries

SlashDot - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 9:10pm
mdsolar writes with news about a U.S. plan to monitor air quality in countries like India and Mongolia to help raise awareness about the dangers of pollution. "The United States says it will expand air-quality monitoring at some overseas diplomatic missions, following several years of reporting pollution data in China. The goal is to increase awareness of the health risks of outdoor air pollution, which easily spreads across borders, Secretary of State John Kerry said in announcing the program on Wednesday. The program is intended to help United States citizens abroad reduce their exposure to pollution and to help other countries develop their own air-quality monitoring through training and exchanges with American experts, he said. "We're hoping that this tool can also expand international cooperation when it comes to curbing air pollution," Mr. Kerry said. The program, run in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency, will begin to operate in India in a few months. New Delhi has some of the world's worst air pollution, and residents there are becoming increasingly concerned about the dangers. American diplomatic missions will also monitor air quality in Vietnam, Mongolia and elsewhere, Mr. Kerry said."

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Sony Offers a "Premium Sound" SD Card For a Premium Price

SlashDot - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 8:05pm
nateman1352 (971364) writes "Don't you just hate all that noise your memory cards make? No? Then you probably aren't going to want to buy Sony's new $160 memory cards, which the company brags offers "Premium Sound" that generates less electrical noise when reading data." As long as it works well with my hi-fi ethernet cable.

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Does Open Data Have a Dark Side?

SlashDot - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 7:24pm
itwbennett writes A Forbes article last month explored some of the potentially darker sides of open data — from creating a new kind of digital divide to making an argument in favor of privatizing certain government services. But how real are these downsides of open data? The World Wide Web Foundation's Open Data Program Manager Jose Alonso is unconcerned, telling ITworld's Phil Johnson via email that the WWWF "believes there is no substantial evidence yet that the availability of Open Data leads to the marketization of public services or public spending cuts." But Ben Wellington, a professor in the City & Regional Planning program at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York and author of the popular blog I Quant NY, takes a more cautious stance, acknowledging that there are some real concerns that may call for regulation. But, at least for now, "there's a lot more innovation and positive things coming out than these corner cases," says Wellington.

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AT&T Patents System To "Fast-Lane" File-Sharing Traffic

SlashDot - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 6:40pm
An anonymous reader writes Telecom giant AT&T has been awarded a patent for speeding up BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer traffic, and reducing the impact that these transactions have on the speed of its network. Unauthorized file-sharing generates thousands of petabytes of downloads every month, sparking considerable concern among the ISP community due to its detrimental effect on network speeds. AT&T and its Intellectual Property team has targeted the issue in a positive manner, and has appealed for the new patent to create a 'fast lane' for BitTorrent and other file-sharing traffic. As well as developing systems around the caching of local files, the ISP has proposed analyzing BitTorrent traffic to connect high-impact clients to peers who use fewer resources.

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How NSA Spies Stole the Keys To the Encryption Castle

SlashDot - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 5:30pm
Advocatus Diaboli writes with this excerpt from The Intercept's explanation of just how it is the NSA weaseled its way into one important part of our communications: AMERICAN AND BRITISH spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe, according to top-secret documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. The hack was perpetrated by a joint unit consisting of operatives from the NSA and its British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. The breach, detailed in a secret 2010 GCHQ document, gave the surveillance agencies the potential to secretly monitor a large portion of the world's cellular communications, including both voice and data.

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Microsoft's First Azure Hosted Service Is Powered By Linux

SlashDot - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 4:40pm
jones_supa (887896) writes "Canonical, through John Zannos, VP Cloud Alliances, has proudly announced that the first ever Microsoft Azure hosted service will be powered by Ubuntu Linux. This piece of news comes from the Strata + Hadoop World Conference, which takes place this week in California. The fact of the matter is that the news came from Microsoft who announced the preview of Azure HDInsight (an Apache Hadoop-based hosted service) on Ubuntu clusters yesterday at the said event. This is definitely great news for Canonical, as their operating system is getting recognized for being extremely reliable when handling Big Data. Ubuntu is now the leading cloud and scale-out Linux-based operating system."

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Fedcoin Rising?

SlashDot - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 3:59pm
giulioprisco writes US economists are considering a government-sponsored digital currency. On February 3, David Andolfatto, Vice President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, wrote a blog post based on a presentation he gave at the International Workshop on P2P Financial Systems 2015 [YouTube video]. The title of the blog post is "Fedcoin: On the Desirability of a Government Cryptocurrency."

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Darkleaks: an Online Black Market For Selling Secrets

SlashDot - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 3:11pm
An anonymous reader writes Whistleblowers and those individuals that are simply out to make a buck out of any confidential and valuable information, can now offer it for sale on Darkleaks, a decentralized, anonymous black market on the Internet. The Darkleaks project is built on top of the Bitcoin blockchain, and can be used by downloading this software package (source code is open).

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Superfish Security Certificate Password Cracked, Creating New Attack Vector

SlashDot - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 2:24pm
In a followup to today's news about junk software included with Lenovo computers, an anonymous reader writes Robert Graham at Errata Security has published an article announcing his success in extracting the SuperFish self-signed security certificate from the adware which has caused Chinese computer manufacturer Lenovo such embarrassment in the last day. Since SuperFish is already capable of carrying out man-in-the-middle attacks over secure connections on the Lenovo machines which use the certificate, the disclosure of the certificate's password presents hackers with a 'a pre-installed hacking environment' which would be difficult to arrange by other means. The password, "komodia," is also the name of the Komodia Redirector framework, which allows its clients to manipulate TCP/IP network sessions "with a few simple clicks."

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Apple Patent Could Have "Broad Ramifications" For VR Headsets

SlashDot - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 1:58pm
An anonymous reader writes Filed in 2008, published in 2013, and legally granted to Apple this week, the company's patent for a 'Head-mounted display apparatus for retaining a portable electronic device with display' could have "broad ramifications" for mobile VR headsets like Samsung's Gear VR and Google Cardboard, says patent attorney Eric Greenbaum. "This Apple HMD patent is significant. I would say it introduces potential litigation risks for companies that have or are planning to release a mobile device HMD," he said. "There is no duty for Apple to make or sell an HMD. They can sit on this patent and use it strategically either by enforcing it against potential infringers, licensing it, or using it as leverage in forming strategic partnerships."

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Gadgets That Spy On Us: Way More Than TVs

SlashDot - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 1:40pm
Presto Vivace writes with a reminder that it's not just Samsung TVs — lots of other gadgets are spying on you "But Samsung's televisions are far from the only seeing-and-listening devices coming into our lives. If we're going to freak out about a Samsung TV that listens in on our living rooms, we should also be panicking about a number of other emergent gadgets that capture voice and visual data in many of the same ways. .... Samsung's competitor, the LG Smart TV, has basically the same phrase about voice capture in its privacy policy: "Please be aware that if your spoken word includes personal or other sensitive information, such information will be among the Voice Information captured through your use of voice recognition features." It isn't just TVs, Microsoft's xBox Kinect, Amazon Echo, GM's Onstar, Chevrolet's MyLink and PDRs, Google's Waze, and Hello's Sense all have snooping capabilities. Welcome to the world of Stasi Tech.

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Human DNA Enlarges Mouse Brains

SlashDot - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 1:13pm
sciencehabit writes Researchers have increased the size of mouse brains by giving the rodents a piece of human DNA that controls gene activity. The work provides some of the strongest genetic evidence yet for how the human intellect surpassed those of all other apes. The human gene causes cells that are destined to become nerve cells to divide more frequently, thereby providing a larger of pool of cells that become part of the cortex. As a result, the embryos carrying human HARE5 have brains that are 12% larger than the brains of mice carrying the chimp version of the enhancer. The team is currently testing these mice to see if the bigger brains made them any smarter.

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Delivery Drones: More Feasible If They Come By Truck

SlashDot - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 12:54pm
malachiorion writes Amazon's drone delivery service was never going to work. It was too autonomous, and simply too risky to be approved by the FAA in the timeframe that Jeff Bezos specified (as early as this year). And yet, the media is still hung up on Amazon, and much of the coverage of the FAA's newly released drone rules center around Prime Air, a program that was essentially a PR stunt. Meanwhile, a Cincinnati-based company that makes electric delivery trucks has an idea that's been largely ignored, but that's much more feasible. The Horsefly launches from and returns to a delivery truck once it reaches a given neighborhood, with a mix of autonomous flight to destination, driver-specified drop-off locations, and remote-piloted landings. The company will still need to secure exemptions from the FAA, but unlike Amazon, they at least have a chance. There's more detail about Amp's technically impressive (and seemingly damn tough) drone in my story for Popular Science.

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The Disastrous Privacy Consequences of Canada's Anti-Terrorism Bill

SlashDot - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 12:12pm
An anonymous reader writes "Canada's proposed anti-terrorism legislation is currently being debated in the House of Commons, with the government already serving notice that it plans to limit debate. Michael Geist argues that decision has enormous privacy consequences, since the bill effectively creates a "total information awareness" approach that represents a radical shift away from our traditional understanding of public sector privacy protection. The bill permits information sharing across government for an incredibly wide range of purposes, most of which have nothing to do with terrorism and opens the door to further disclosure "to any person, for any purpose." The cumulative effect is to grant government near-total power to share information for purposes that extend far beyond terrorism with few safeguards or privacy protections."

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New Android Trojan Fakes Device Shut Down, Spies On Users

SlashDot - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 11:31am
An anonymous reader writes A new Android Trojan that tricks users into believing they have shut their device down while it continues working, and is able to silently make calls, send messages, take photos and perform many other tasks, has been discovered and analyzed by AVG researchers. They dubbed it, and AVG's security solutions detect it as PowerOffHijack.

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Resistant Bacterial Infection Outbreak At California Hospital

SlashDot - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 10:51am
puddingebola writes From the article: "A potentially deadly "superbug" resistant to antibiotics has infected seven patients, including two who died, and more than 160 others were exposed at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center through contaminated medical instruments, the hospital revealed. The drug-resistant superbug known as CRE was likely transmitted to the Los Angeles patients by contaminated medical scopes during endoscopic procedures that took place between October 2014 and January 2015, a university statement said. " UCLA says the infections occurred via contaminated endoscopes that were sterilized according to the manufacturer's specifications. (Note: beware autoplaying video ad; adjust your volume accordingly.)

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Duplicate SSH Keys Put Tens of Thousands of Home Routers At Risk

SlashDot - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 10:10am
alphadogg (971356) writes A setup mistake has apparently left hundreds of thousands of home routers running the SSH (Secure Shell) remote access tool with identical private and public keys. John Matherly, founder of a specialized search engine company whose technology is used for querying Internet-connected devices, found more than 250,000 devices that appear to be deployed by Telefónica de España sharing the same public SSH key. A different search found another 150,000 devices, mostly in China and Taiwan, that have the same problem. Matherly said in a phone interview on Wednesday it is possible the manufacturers copied the same operating system image to all of the routers.

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Carnegie-Mellon Sends Hundreds of Acceptance Letters By Mistake

SlashDot - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 9:28am
An anonymous reader writes As reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Carnegie-Mellon University mistakenly sent 800 acceptances for its Master of Science in Computer Science program. They're not saying "computer error," but what are the other explanations? High irony all around. The program accepts fewer than nine percent of more than 1,200 applicants, which places the acceptance level at about a hundred, so they're bad at math, too.

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Lenovo Allegedly Installing "Superfish" Proxy Adware On New Computers

SlashDot - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 8:47am
An anonymous reader writes It looks like Lenovo has been installing adware onto new consumer computers from the company that activates when taken out of the box for the first time. The adware, named Superfish, is reportedly installed on a number of Lenovo's consumer laptops out of the box. The software injects third-party ads on Google searches and websites without the user's permission. Another anonymous reader points to this Techspot article, noting that that it doesn't mention the SSL aspect, but this Lenovo Forum Post, with screen caps, is indicating it may be a man-in-the-middle attack to hijack an SSL connection too. It's too early to tell if this is a hoax or not, but there are multiple forum posts about the Superfish bug being installed on new systems. Another good reason to have your own fresh install disk, and to just drop the drivers onto a USB stick. Also at ZDnet.

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