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A Brief History of Patenting the Wheel: What Goes Around Comes Around

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the round-and-round dept.

Patents 36

v3rgEz writes Marc Abrahams, founder of the Ig Nobel Prize, has put together a fascinating history of people patenting the wheel, including one inventor that did it to prove how ridiculous Australia's patent system was and another that put wheels on a wheel so it could wheel while it wheels. From the article: "I discovered today that the Australian patent office has — quietly — revoked the patent it granted, in the year 2001, for the wheel. The patent office had awarded Innovation Patent #2001100012 to John Keogh of Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia. Keogh’s application called his invention a “circular transportation facilitation device.” I became acquainted with Mr. Keogh when we awarded him — and the Australian Patent Office — an Ig Nobel Prize, in 2001."

The Pentagon's $399 Billion Plane To Nowhere

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the flights-of-fancy dept.

The Military 364

schwit1 writes with an update on the U.S. government's troubled F-35 program, the cost of which keeps rising while the planes themselves are grounded. A fire in late June caused officials to halt flights for the entire fleet of $112 million vehicles last week. Despite this, Congress is still anxious to push the program forward, and Foreign Policy explains why: Part of that protection comes from the jaw-dropping amounts of money at stake. The Pentagon intends to spend roughly $399 billion to develop and buy 2,443 of the planes. However, over the course of the aircrafts' lifetimes, operating costs are expected to exceed $1 trillion. Lockheed has carefully hired suppliers and subcontractors in almost every state to ensure that virtually all senators and members of Congress have a stake in keeping the program — and the jobs it has created — in place. "An upfront question with any program now is: How many congressional districts is it in?" said Thomas Christie, a former senior Pentagon acquisitions official. Counting all of its suppliers and subcontractors, parts of the program are spread out across at least 45 states. That's why there's no doubt lawmakers will continue to fund the program even though this is the third time in 17 months that the entire fleet has been grounded due to engine problems."

Tor Project Sued Over a Revenge Porn Business That Used Its Service

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the tor-is-a-series-of-eeeeevil-tubes dept.

The Courts 311

redletterdave writes: The Tor Project has been sued in the state of Texas over a revenge porn website that used its free encrypted communications service. The plaintiff in the case — Shelby Conklin, a criminal justice major at the University of North Texas — alleges a revenge porn site called Pinkmeth "gained unauthorized access to nude photographs" she owned and posted them to the internet. She also said Tor, which The Economist once called "a dark corner of the web," was involved in an active "civil conspiracy" with Pinkmeth because the revenge porn website used the anonymous communications service to prevent others from tracking its location.

Meet the Muslim-American Leaders the FBI and NSA Have Been Spying On

Unknown Lamer posted about a month and a half ago | from the electric-eye dept.

Privacy 223

Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes The National Security Agency and FBI have covertly monitored the emails of prominent Muslim-Americans — including a political candidate and several civil rights activists, academics, and lawyers — under secretive procedures intended to target terrorists and foreign spies. From the article: "The individuals appear on an NSA spreadsheet in the Snowden archives called 'FISA recap.' Under that law, the Justice Department must convince a judge with the top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that there is probable cause to believe that American targets are not only agents of an international terrorist organization or other foreign power, but also 'are or may be' engaged in or abetting espionage, sabotage, or terrorism. The authorizations must be renewed by the court, usually every 90 days for U.S. citizens. ... The five Americans whose email accounts were monitored by the NSA and FBI have all led highly public, outwardly exemplary lives. All five vehemently deny any involvement in terrorism or espionage, and none advocates violent jihad or is known to have been implicated in any crime, despite years of intense scrutiny by the government and the press. Some have even climbed the ranks of the U.S. national security and foreign policy establishments."

DHS Mistakenly Releases 840 Pages of Critical Infrastructure Documents

Unknown Lamer posted about a month and a half ago | from the someone-inverted-the-black-lines dept.

United States 50

wiredmikey (1824622) writes The Operation Aurora attack was publicized in 2010 and impacted Google and a number of other high-profile companies. However, DHS responded to the request by releasing more than 800 pages of documents related to the 'Aurora' experiment conducted several years ago at the Idaho National Laboratory, where researchers demonstrated a way to damage a generator via a cyber-attack. Of the documents released by the DHS, none were related to the Operation Aurora cyber attack as requested. Many of the 840 pages are comprised of old weekly reports from the DHS' Control System Security Program (CSSP) from 2007. Other pages that were released included information about possible examples of facilities that could be vulnerable to attack, such as water plants and gas pipelines.

Climate Change Skeptic Group Must Pay Damages To UVA, Michael Mann

Unknown Lamer posted about a month and a half ago | from the stop-trolling dept.

The Courts 497

ideonexus (1257332) writes In January of 2014, the American Traditions Institute (ATI) sought climate scientist Micheal Mann's emails from his time at the University of Virginia, a request that was denied in the courts. Now the Virginia Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling that ATI must pay damages for filing a frivolous lawsuit. Thus ends "Climategate." Hopefully.

Avast Buys 20 Used Phones, Recovers 40,000 Deleted Photos

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the delete-then-rewrite-then-smash-into-bits dept.

Cellphones 231

An anonymous reader writes: The used smartphone market is thriving, with many people selling their old devices on eBay or craigslist when it's time to upgrade. Unfortunately, it seems most people are really bad at wiping their phone of personal data before passing it on to a stranger. Antivirus company Avast bought 20 used Android phones off eBay, and used some basic data recovery software to reconstruct deleted files. From just those 20 phones, they pulled over 40,000 photographs, including 1,500 family pictures of children and over a thousand more.. personal pictures. They also recovered hundreds of emails and text messages, over a thousand Google searches, a completed loan application, and identity information for four of the previous owners. Only one of the phones had security software installed on it, but that phone turned out to provide the most information of all: "Hackers at Avast were able to identify the previous owner, access his Facebook page, plot his previous whereabouts through GPS coordinates, and find the names and numbers of more than a dozen of his closest contacts. What's more, the company discovered a lot about this guy's penchant for kink and a completed copy of a Sexual Harassment course — hopefully a preventative measure."

A Box of Forgotten Smallpox Vials Was Just Found In an FDA Closet

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the thanks-for-making-me-feel-safe dept.

Medicine 120

Jason Koebler writes: The last remaining strains of smallpox are kept in highly protected government laboratories in Russia and at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. And, apparently, in a dusty cardboard box in an old storage room in Maryland. The CDC said today that government workers had found six freeze-dried vials of the Variola virus, which causes smallpox, in a storage room at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland last week. Each test tube had a label on it that said "variola," which was a tip-off, but the agency did genetic testing to confirm that the viruses were, in fact, smallpox.

Tired of Playing Cyber Cop, Microsoft Looks For Partners In Crime Fighting

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the every-batman-needs-a-robin dept.

Microsoft 113

chicksdaddy writes: When it comes to fighting cybercrime, few companies can claim to have done as much as Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, which spent the last five years as the Internet's Dirty Harry: using its size, legal muscle and wealth to single-handedly take down cyber criminal networks from Citadel, to Zeus to the recent seizure of servers belonging to the (shady) managed DNS provider NO-IP. The company's aggressive posture towards cyber crime outfits and the companies that enable them has earned it praise, but also criticism. That was the case last week after legitimate customers of NO-IP alleged that Microsoft's unilateral action had disrupted their business. There's evidence that those criticisms are hitting home – and that Microsoft may be growing weary of its role as judge, jury and executioner of online scams. Microsoft Senior Program Manager Holly Stewart gave a sober assessment of the software industry's fight against cyber criminal groups and other malicious actors. Speaking to a gathering of cyber security experts and investigators at the 26th annual FIRST Conference in Boston, she said that the company has doubts about the long term effectiveness of its botnet and malware takedowns.

Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the beware-the-all-seeing-actuaries dept.

Privacy 353

New submitter jbmartin6 writes: The Panopticon may be coming, but perhaps not how we think. Instead of a massive government surveillance program, we might end up subjected to ubiquitous monitoring to save on our insurance premiums. The "internet of things (you can't get away from)" makes this more and more possible. Here a company saved money on its health insurance premiums by distributing Fitbits and an online service to enable reporting fitness gains back to the insurance company. We've already seen the stories on using black boxes to monitor drivers. There is even an insurance company named Panoptic! Heck, why not a premium hike for owners of this or that "aggressiveness gene"? What if in the future we got a quick "+50 cents" tweet for every scoop of ice cream? I suppose the natural stopping point might be the balance between an individual's willingness to be monitored and the desire to reduce insurance premiums.

Thousands of Leaked KGB Files Are Now Open To the Public

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the file-a-foia-request dept.

Government 95

schwit1 (797399) writes "Over 20 years after being smuggled out of Russia, a trove of KGB documents are being opened up to the public for the first time. The leaked documents include thousands of files and represent what the FBI is said to view as "the most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source." The documents include KGB information on secret Russian weapons caches, Russian spies, and KGB information on the activities of Pope John Paul II. Known as the Mitrokhin Archive, the files are all available as of today at Churchill College's Archives Centre."

Coddled, Surveilled, and Monetized: How Modern Houses Can Watch You

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the eye-oh-tee dept.

Privacy 150

Presto Vivace (882157) links to a critical look in Time Magazine at the creepy side of connected household technology. An excerpt: A modern surveillance state isn't so much being forced on us, as it is sold to us device by device, with the idea that it is for our benefit. ... ... Nest sucks up data on how warm your home is. As Mocana CEO James Isaacs explained to me in early May, a detailed footprint of your comings and goings can be inferred from this information. Nest just bought Dropcam, a company that markets itself as a security tool allowing you to put cameras in your home and view them remotely, but brings with it a raft of disquieting implications about surveillance. Automatic wants you to monitor how far you drive and do things for you like talk to your your house when you're on your way home from work and turn on lights when you pull into your garage. Tied into the new SmartThings platform, a Jawbone UP band becomes a tool for remotely monitoring someone else's activity. The SmartThings hubs and sensors themselves put any switch or door in play. Companies like AT&T want to build a digital home that monitors your security and energy use. ... ... Withings Smart Body Analyzer monitors your weight and pulse. Teddy the Guardian is a soft toy for children that spies on their vital signs. Parrot Flower Power looks at the moisture in your home under the guise of helping you grow plants. The Beam Brush checks up on your teeth-brushing technique. Presto Vivaci adds, "Enough to make the Stasi blush. What I cannot understand is how politicians fail to understand what a future Kenneth Starr is going to do with data like this."

US Arrests Son of Russian MP In Maldives For Hacking

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the by-coincidence dept.

Crime 176

First time accepted submitter ugen (93902) writes "The son of a Russian lawmaker has been arrested by the U.S. on charges of selling credit card information he stole by hacking into the computers of American retailers. Roman Seleznev, 30, was arrested overseas by the U.S. Secret Service on July 5 and was ordered detained today during a hearing in federal court in Guam, the Justice Department said in a statement."

Australian Police Use Telcos For Cell "Tower Dump" of All Connected Users' Data

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the banning-opaque-envelopes-too dept.

Australia 60

AHuxley (892839) writes The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that Australian federal and state police are using a no warrant cell phone tower metadata access technique called a "tower dump". A "tower dump" provides the identity, activity and location of all cell phones that connect a cellphone tower(s) over time (an hour or two). The metadata from thousands of phones and numbers connected are then sorted. Australian law-enforcement agencies made 330,000 requests for metadata in 2012-13. AHuxley links to some U.S. views on the same kind of massive data grab: The Wall Street Journal says they caputure innocent users' data; the Chicago Police Department is being sued for information on its purchases of equipment associated with this kind of slurping; and the EFF asks whether warrant protection for users' data will be extended by voice-comm companies as it has been for ISPs. I wonder what people would think of an occasional "postal zone dump" employing the same kind of dragnet but for communications on paper.

Blue Shield Leaks 18,000 Doctors' Social Security Numbers

Unknown Lamer posted about a month and a half ago | from the measure-twice dept.

Privacy 74

itwbennett (1594911) writes "The Social Security numbers of roughly 18,000 California physicians and health-care providers were inadvertently made public after a slip-up at health insurance provider Blue Shield of California, the organization said Monday. The numbers were included in monthly filings on medical providers that Blue Shield is required to make to the state's Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC). The provider rosters for February, March and April 2013 included the SSNs and other sensitive information and were available under the state's public records law." Ten copies were requested under the public records law.

Researchers Develop New Way To Steal Passwords Using Google Glass

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the let's-see-what-you-typed-there dept.

Google 116

mpicpp writes with a story about researchers who have developed a way to steal passwords using video-capturing devices.Cyber forensics experts at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell have developed a way to steal passwords entered on a smartphone or tablet using video from Google's face-mounted gadget and other video-capturing devices. The thief can be nearly ten feet away and doesn't even need to be able to read the screen — meaning glare is not an antidote. The security researchers created software that maps the shadows from fingertips typing on a tablet or smartphone. Their algorithm then converts those touch points into the actual keys they were touching, enabling the researchers to crack the passcode. They tested the algorithm on passwords entered on an Apple iPad, Google's Nexus 7 tablet, and an iPhone 5.

DC Entertainment Won't Allow Superman Logo On Murdered Child's Memorial Statue

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the that's-some-good-PR-work-there-lou dept.

Businesses 249

An anonymous reader writes Jeffrey Baldwin was essentially starved to death by his grandparents. Funds had been raised to build a monument for Jeffrey in Toronto. The monument was designed to feature Jeffrey in a Superman costume, and even though Superman should be public domain, DC Comics has denied the request. "The request to DC had been made by Todd Boyce, an Ottawa father who did not know the Baldwin family. Boyce was so moved by the testimony at the coroner’s inquest into Jeffrey’s death last year that he started an online fundraising campaign for the monument. DC’s senior vice-president of business and legal affairs, Amy Genkins, told Boyce in an email that 'for a variety of legal reasons, we are not able to accede to the request, nor many other incredibly worthy projects that come to our attention.'... For Boyce, it was a huge blow, as he felt the Superman aspect was a crucial part of the bronze monument, which will include a bench. The coroner’s inquest heard from Jeffrey’s father that his son loved to dress up as Superman."

Airbus Patents Windowless Cockpit That Would Increase Pilots' Field of View

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the looking-at-the-screen dept.

Transportation 468

Zothecula writes Imagine showing up at the airport to catch your flight, looking at your plane, and noticing that instead of windows, the cockpit is now a smooth cone of aluminum. It may seem like the worst case of quality control in history, but Airbus argues that this could be the airliner of the future. In a new US patent application, the EU aircraft consortium outlines a new cockpit design that replaces the traditional cockpit with one that uses 3D view screens instead of conventional windows.

New Zealand ISP's Anti-Geoblocking Service Makes Waves

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the open-it-up dept.

Australia 153

angry tapir writes New Zealanders and Australians are often blocked from using cheap streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu and instead at the mercy of local content monopolies for popular shows such as Game of Thrones. However, a New Zealand ISP, Slingshot, has caused a stir by making a previously opt-in service called 'Global Mode' a default for its customers. The new service means that people in NZ don't need to bother with VPNs or setting up proxies if they want to sign up to Netflix — they can just visit the site. The service has also caused a stir in Australia where the high price for digital goods, such as movies from the iTunes store, is a constant source of irritation for consumers.

Police Using Dogs To Sniff Out Computer Memory

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the smells-like-a-terabyte dept.

Crime 415

First time accepted submitter FriendlySolipsist points out a story about Rhode Island Police using a dog to find hidden hard drives. The recent arrival of golden Labrador Thoreau makes Rhode Island the second state in the nation to have a police dog trained to sniff out hard drives, thumb drives and other technological gadgets that could contain child pornography. Thoreau received 22 weeks of training in how to detect devices in exchange for food at the Connecticut State Police Training Academy. Given to the state police by the Connecticut State Police, the dog assisted in its first search warrant in June pinpointing a thumb drive containing child pornography hidden four layers deep in a tin box inside a metal cabinet. That discovery led the police to secure an arrest warrant, Yelle says. “If it has a memory card, he’ll sniff it out,” Detective Adam Houston, Thoreau’s handler, says.

New Snowden Leak: of 160000 Intercepted Messages, Only 10% From Official Targets

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the that-old-familiar-story dept.

United States 201

An anonymous reader writes in with the latest news about NSA spying from documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post. Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else. Many of them were Americans. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or "minimized," more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans' privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S. residents."

Rightscorp Pushing ISPs To Disconnect Repeat Infringers

Unknown Lamer posted about a month and a half ago | from the can't-make-art-so-time-to-sue dept.

Piracy 92

Torrentfreak acquired slides from the Anti-Piracy and Content Protection Summit indicating that Rightscorp wants ISPs to disconnect repeat copyright infringers, and that 140 small ISPs are already doing so. From the article: Christopher Sabec, CEO of Rightscorp, says that they have been in talks with various Internet providers urging them to step up their game. Thus far a total of 140 ISPs are indeed following this disconnection principle. ... By introducing disconnections Rightcorp hopes to claim more settlements to increase the company’s revenue stream. They offer participating ISPs a tool to keep track of the number of warnings each customer receives, and the providers are encouraged to reconnect the subscribers if the outstanding bills have been paid. ... Cutting off repeat infringers is also in the best interests of ISPs according to Rightscorp, who note that it is a requirement for all providers if they are to maintain their DMCA safe harbor. The presentation slides seem to indicate that Rightscorp is planning to go after the safe harbor protections that ISPs are given under the DMCA in order to force the issue.

Gov't Censorship Pushing Users To More Private Messaging In China

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the best-defense-is-a-really-really-good-defense dept.

China 47

An anonymous reader writes What happens when the Chinese government drastically restricts the type of speech that can be used in their country's most popular public forum? Users start migrating to more private options, naturally. Microblogging service Sina Weibo is bleeding users, while the semiprivate WeChat is growing expansively. It's growing so quickly that the government is stepping up its efforts to monitor and delete conversations that don't meet its exacting standards. The site's posting rules have developed in an interesting way, given the lack of free speech: "WeChat allows the creation of public accounts that anyone can follow, but limits posts to one a day. In addition, access to public accounts is not possible on cellphones, making it more difficult, for instance, to launch an incriminating photo of a public official into the blogosphere. Comments are also deleted after a few days, making long-term discussions challenging and erasing a historical record." Is this the natural result of government meddling in online conversations? What will chat services in China (and other speech-stifling nations) look like in another five or ten years?

New Russian Law To Forbid Storing Russians' Data Outside the Country

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the just-one-small-restriction dept.

The Internet 206

TechWeek Europe reports that on Friday Russia's parliament passed a law "which bans online businesses from storing personal data of Russian citizens on servers located abroad[.] ... According to ITAR-TAAS, the changes to existing legislation will come into effect in September 2016, and apply to email services, social networks and search engines, including the likes of Facebook and Google. Domain names or net addresses not complying with regulations will be put on a blacklist maintained by Roskomnadzor (the Federal Supervision Agency for Information Technologies and Communications), the organisation which already has the powers to take down websites suspected of copyright infringement without a court order. In the case of non-compliance, Roskomnadzor will be able to impose 'sanctions,' and even instruct local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to cut off access to the offending resource." According to the article, the "measure is widely seen as a response to reports about the intrusive surveillance practices of the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK’s GCHQ. Edward Snowden, who revealed sensitive data about the operations of both, is currently residing in Russia, with his asylum application up for a review in a couple of months." The writer points out that this would mean many web sites would be legally unavailable altogether to Russian users.

Google Reinstating Some 'Forgotten' Links

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the now-that-a-point-has-been-made dept.

Google 74

An anonymous reader writes Only days after receiving harsh criticism from all corners of the internet for taking down links to news articles, Google has started to reinstate those links. Google's Peter Barron denied that they were simply granting all "right to be forgotten" requests. "The European Court of Justice [ECJ] ruling was not something that we welcomed, that we wanted — but it is now the law in Europe and we are obliged to comply with that law," he said. Still, Google's actions are being called "tactical" for how quickly they were able to stir public dissent over the EU ruling. "It's convenient, then, that it's found a way to get the media to kick up the fuss for it: there are very few news organisations in the world who are happy to hear their output is being stifled. A few automated messages later, the story is back in the headlines – and Google is likely to be happy about that."

German Intelligence Employee Arrested On Suspicion of Spying For US On Bundestag

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the and-you-thought-the-NSA-thing-was-winding-down dept.

United States 74

New submitter Plumpaquatsch writes: Deutsche Welle reports: "A member of Germany's foreign intelligence agency has been detained for possibly spying for the U.S. The 31-year-old is suspected of giving a U.S. spy agency information about a parliamentary inquiry of NSA activities. During questioning, the suspect reportedly told investigators that he had gathered information on an investigative committee from Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag. The panel is conducting an inquiry into NSA surveillance on German officials and citizens; yesterday an ex-staffer told it the NSA was 'totalitarian' mass collector of data."

Android Leaks Location Data Via Wi-Fi

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the we-all-know-about-your-addiction-to-krispy-kreme dept.

Android 112

Bismillah writes: The Preferred Network Offload feature in Android extends battery life, but it also leaks location data, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. What's more, the same flaw is found in Apple OS X and Windows 7. "This location history comes in the form of the names of wireless networks your phone has previously connected to. These frequently identify places you've been, including homes ('Tom’s Wi-Fi'), workplaces ('Company XYZ office net'), churches and political offices ('County Party HQ'), small businesses ('Toulouse Lautrec's house of ill-repute'), and travel destinations ('Tehran Airport wifi'). This data is arguably more dangerous than that leaked in previous location data scandals because it clearly denotes in human language places that you've spent enough time to use the Wi-Fi."

European Commission Spokesman: Google Removing Link Was "not a Good Judgement"

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the we've-always-been-at-war-with-Eastasia dept.

Google 210

An anonymous reader writes in with this article from the BBC about Google's recent removal of a news story from search results. "Google's decision to remove a BBC article from some of its search results was "not a good judgement", a European Commission spokesman has said. A link to an article by Robert Peston was taken down under the European court's "right to be forgotten" ruling. But Ryan Heath, spokesman for the European Commission's vice-president, said he could not see a "reasonable public interest" for the action. He said the ruling should not allow people to "Photoshop their lives". The BBC understands that Google is sifting through more than 250,000 web links people wanted removed."

Can the NSA Really Track You Through Power Lines?

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the follow-that-hum dept.

Privacy 109

mask.of.sanity writes Forensics and industry experts have cast doubt on an alleged National Security Agency capability to locate whistle blowers appearing in televised interviews based on how the captured background hum of electrical devices affects energy grids. Divining information from electrified wires is a known technique: Network Frequency Analysis (ENF) is used to prove video and audio streams have not been tampered with, but experts weren't sure if the technology could be used to locate individuals.

Comcast Executives Appear To Share Cozy Relationships With Regulators

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the how-totally-amazing dept.

Government 63

v3rgEz (125380) writes A month before Comcast's announcement of a $45B takeover of rival Time-Warner, Comcast's top lobbyist invited the US government's top antitrust regulators to share the company's VIP box at the Sochi Olympics. A Freedom of Information Act request from Muckrock reveals that the regulators reluctantly declined, saying "it sounds like so much fun" but the pesky "rules folks" would frown on it, instead suggesting a more private dinner later.

Use of Encryption Foiled the Cops a Record 9 Times In 2013

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the achievement-unlocked dept.

Encryption 115

realized (2472730) writes "In nine cases in 2013, state police were unable to break the encryption used by criminal suspects they were investigating, according to an annual report on law enforcement eavesdropping released by the U.S. court system on Wednesday. That's more than twice as many cases as in 2012, when police said that they'd been stymied by crypto in four cases—and that was the first year they'd ever reported encryption preventing them from successfully surveilling a criminal suspect. Before then, the number stood at zero."

California Property Tax Exemptions For Solar Energy Systems Extended To 2025

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the special-favors-if-you-can-get-'em dept.

Government 76

New submitter DaveSmith1982 writes with word from PV Tech that A property tax exemption for solar power systems in California has been extended to 2025, following the passing of a bill as part of the annual state budget. Senate Bill 871 (SB871) was approved during the signing of the budget by governor Jerry Brown, which took place last week. The wording of SB871 extends the period during which property taxes will not be applied to "active solar energy systems," which includes PV and solar water heaters.

NSA Considers Linux Journal Readers, Tor (And Linux?) Users "Extremists"

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the where-do-we-sign-up? dept.

Encryption 361

New submitter marxmarv writes If you search the web for communications security information, or read online tech publications like Linux Journal or BoingBoing, you might be a terrorist. The German publication Das Erste disclosed a crumb of alleged XKeyScore configuration, with the vague suggestion of more source code to come, showing that Tor directory servers and their users, and as usual the interested and their neighbor's dogs due to overcapture, were flagged for closer monitoring. Linux Journal, whose domain is part of a listed selector, has a few choice words on their coveted award. Would it be irresponsible not to speculate further?

FCC Proposal To Limit Access To 5725-5850 MHz Band

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the why-can't-they-call-it-a-name-like-the-eagles? dept.

Communications 112

New submitter thittesd0375 (1111917) writes New rules adopted by the FCC will greatly limit the amount of bandwidth available in the unlicensed U-NII band used to deliver internet to rural areas. The filters required to comply with the new rules would shrink the available frequencies from 125MHz to only 45MHz. Petitions to reconsider this ruling can be submitted here and previous petitions can be found here.

Austrian Tor Exit Node Operator Found Guilty As an Accomplice

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the blame-thompson-for-babyface-nelson dept.

Communications 255

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from TechDirt: Three years ago we wrote about how Austrian police had seized computers from someone running a Tor exit node. This kind of thing happens from time to time, but it appears that folks in Austria have taken it up a notch by... effectively now making it illegal to run a Tor exit node. According to the report, which was confirmed by the accused, the court found that running the node violated 12 of the Austrian penal code, which effectively says:"Not only the immediate perpetrator commits a criminal action, but also anyone who appoints someone to carry it out, or anyone who otherwise contributes to the completion of said criminal action." In other words, it's a form of accomplice liability for criminality. It's pretty standard to name criminal accomplices liable for "aiding and abetting" the activities of others, but it's a massive and incredibly dangerous stretch to argue that merely running a Tor exit node makes you an accomplice that "contributes to the completion" of a crime. Under this sort of thinking, Volkswagen would be liable if someone drove a VW as the getaway car in a bank robbery. It's a very, very broad interpretation of accomplice liability, in a situation where it clearly does not make sense.

Ask Slashdot: Hosting Services That Don't Overreact To DMCA Requests?

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the let's-all-just-reflect-for-a-moment-first dept.

The Internet 148

tobiasly (524456) writes I run a few websites which are occasionally the target of bogus DMCA takedown requests. Even a cursory look at these requests would reveal that the content these requests try to have removed are not even eligible for copyright (for example, someone named "John Smith" decides he wants to have every instance of his name removed from the internet, so he claims he has a copyright on "John Smith", and the comment section of my website has that name somewhere.) I'm guessing most webmasters of sites with significant traffic face this problem, but I'm having difficulty finding information on domain registrars' and hosting providers' DMCA response policies. Most seem to over-react and require an official counter-response. I'm worried I'll miss one of these someday and find that my entire domain was suspended as a result. Both my domain registrar and hosting provider have forwarded these notices in the past. I'm also worried that they're forwarding my response (including personal details) to the original complainant. Which domain registrars and hosting providers have you found who handle these complaints in a reasonable manner, and filter out the ones that are obviously bogus? Which ones have a clearly stated policy regarding these requests, and respect the site owner's privacy? Some of these domains are .us TLD, which unfortunately will limit my choice to U.S.-based companies.

Judge Frees "Cannibal Cop" Who Shared His Fantasies Online

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the not-my-first-choice-for-babysitter dept.

Crime 185

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) writes The story is classic: Boy meets Girl. Boy likes Girl. Boy goes on the internet and writes about his fantasies that involve killing and eating Girl. Boy goes to jail. In this case, the man in question, NYC police officer Gilberto Valle, didn't act on his fantasies — he just shared them in a like-minded internet forum. Yesterday, Valle was released from jail after a judge overturned his conviction on appeal. U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe wrote that Valle was "guilty of nothing more than very unconventional thoughts... We don't put people in jail for their thoughts. We are not the thought police and the court system is not the deputy of the thought police." The judge concluded that there was insufficient evidence, since "this is a conspiracy that existed solely in cyberspace" and "no reasonable juror could have found that Valle actually intended to kidnap a woman... the point of the chats was mutual fantasizing about committing acts of sexual violence on certain women." (A New York magazine article covered the details of the case and the implications of the original conviction earlier this year.)

Goldman Sachs Demands Google Unsend One of Its E-mails

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the need-to-turn-on-google-labs-for-unsend dept.

Google 346

rudy_wayne (414635) writes A Goldman Sachs contractor was testing internal changes made to Goldman Sachs system and prepared a report with sensitive client information, including details on brokerage accounts. The report was accidentally e-mailed to a 'gmail.com' address rather than the correct 'gs.com' address. Google told Goldman Sachs on June 26 that it couldn't just reach into Gmail and delete the e-mail without a court order. Goldman Sachs filed with the New York Supreme Court, requesting "emergency relief" to avoid a privacy violation and "avoid the risk of unnecessary reputational damage to Goldman Sachs."

Senate Budgetmakers Move To End US Participation In ITER

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the costs-and-benefits dept.

The Almighty Buck 225

Graculus (3653645) writes Budgetmakers in the U.S. Senate have moved to halt U.S. participation in ITER, the huge international fusion experiment now under construction in Cadarache, France, that aims to demonstrate that nuclear fusion could be a viable source of energy. Although the details are not available, Senate sources confirm a report by Physics Today that the Senate's version of the budget for the Department of Energy (DOE) for fiscal year 2015, which begins 1 October, would provide just $75 million for the United States' part of the project. That would be half of what the White House had requested and just enough to wind down U.S. involvement in ITER. According to this story from April, the U.S. share of the ITER budget has jumped to "$3.9 billion — roughly four times as much as originally estimated." (That's a pretty big chunk; compare it, say, to NASA's entire annual budget.)

Cybercrooks May Have Stolen Billions Using Brazilian "Boletos"

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the making-that-money dept.

Crime 69

wiredmikey writes Researchers with RSA have discovered a Boleto malware (Bolware) ring that compromised as many as 495,753 Boleto transactions during a two-year period. Though it is not clear whether the thieves successfully collected on all of the compromised transactions, the value of those transactions is estimated to be worth as much as $3.75 billion. A Boleto is essentially a document that allows a customer to pay an exact amount to a merchant. Anyone who owns a bank account — whether a company or an individual — can issue a Boleto associated with their bank. The first signs of its existence appeared near the end of 2012 or early 2013, when it began to be reported in the local news media," according to the report (PDF). "The RSA Research Group analyzed version 17 of the malware, gathering data between March 2014 and June 2014. The main goal of Boleto malware is to infiltrate legitimate Boleto payments from individual consumers or companies and redirect those payments from victims to fraudster accounts."

Privacy Oversight Board Gives NSA Surveillance a Pass

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the raise-your-hand-if-you're-surprised dept.

Privacy 170

An anonymous reader writes There's an independent agency within the U.S. government called the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. Their job is to weigh the benefits of government actions — like stopping terrorist threats — against violations of citizens' rights that may result from those actions. As you might expect, the NSA scandal landed squarely in their laps, and they've compiled a report evaluating the surveillance methods. As the cynical among you might also expect, the Oversight Board gave the NSA a pass, saying that while their methods were "close to the line of constitutional reasonableness," they were used for good reason. In the completely non-binding 191-page report (PDF), they said, "With regard to the NSA's acquisition of 'about' communications [metadata], the Board concludes that the practice is largely an inevitable byproduct of the government's efforts to comprehensively acquire communications that are sent to or from its targets. Because of the manner in which the NSA conducts upstream collection, and the limits of its current technology, the NSA cannot completely eliminate 'about' communications from its collection without also eliminating a significant portion of the 'to/from' communications that it seeks."

Encryption Keys For Kim Dotcom's Data Can't Be Given To FBI, Court Rules

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the do-not-pass-go,-do-not-encrypt-$200 dept.

Encryption 149

the simurgh writes: As many who follow the Kim Dotcom saga know, New Zealand police seized his encrypted computer drives in 2012, copies of which were illegally passed to the FBI. Fast-forward to 2014: Dotcom wants access to the seized but encrypted content. A New Zealand judge has now ruled that even if the Megaupload founder supplies the passwords, the encryption keys cannot be forwarded to the FBI.

Amazon Sues After Ex-Worker Takes Google Job

Unknown Lamer posted about a month and a half ago | from the everything-you-know-belongs-to-bezos dept.

Businesses 272

vortex2.71 (802986) writes Amazon is suing a former employee of its cloud services division after he took a similar position at Google. The interesting aspect of the lawsuit is that Google is choosing to vigorously defend the lawsuit, so this is a case of Goliath vs. Goliath rather than David vs. Goliath. According to court documents, Zoltan Szabadi left a business-development position at Amazon Web Services for Google's Cloud Platform division. Szabadi's lawyer responded by contending that, while Szabadi did sign a non-compete agreement, he would only use his general knowledge and skills at Google and would not use any confidential information he had access to at Amazon. He also believes Amazon's confidentiality and non-compete agreements are an unlawful business practice.

Seven ISPs Take Legal Action Against GCHQ

Unknown Lamer posted about a month and a half ago | from the ways-to-get-on-a-watch-list dept.

United Kingdom 65

mrspoonsi (2955715) writes with this excerpt from the BBC: ISPs from the U.S., UK, Netherlands, and South Korea have joined forces with campaigners Privacy International to take GCHQ to task over alleged attacks on network infrastructure. It is the first time that GCHQ has faced such action. The ISPs claim that alleged network attacks, outlined in a series of articles in Der Spiegel and the Intercept, were illegal and "undermine the goodwill the organizations rely on." The complaint (PDF).

Microsoft Opens 'Transparency Center' For Governments To Review Source Code

Soulskill posted about 1 month ago | from the proof-is-in-the-proprietary-pudding dept.

Microsoft 178

MojoKid writes with news that Microsoft has announced the opening of a 'Transparency Center' at their Redmond campus, a place where governments who use Microsoft software can come to review the source code in order to make sure it's not compromised by outside agencies. (The company is planning another Transparency Center for Brussels in Belgium.) In addition, Microsoft announced security improvements to several of its cloud products: As of now, Outlook.com uses TLS (Transport Layer Security) to provide end-to-end encryption for inbound and outbound email — assuming that the provider on the other end also uses TLS. The TLS standard has been in the news fairly recently after discovery of a major security flaw in one popular package (gnuTLS), but Microsoft notes that it worked with multiple international companies to secure its version of the standard. Second, OneDrive now uses Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS). Microsoft refers to this as a type of encryption, but PFS isn't a standard like AES or 3DES — instead, it's a particular method of ensuring that an attacker who intercepts a particular key cannot use that information to break the entire key sequence. Even if you manage to gain access to one file or folder, in other words, that information can't be used to compromise the entire account.

Russia Moves From Summer Time To Standard Time

Soulskill posted about 1 month ago | from the turn-back-the-clock dept.

Censorship 158

jones_supa writes: Russia's legislature, often accused of metaphorically turning back the clock, has decided to do it literally – abandoning the policy of keeping the country on daylight-saving time all year. The 2011 move to impose permanent "summer time" in 2011 was one of the most memorable and least popular initiatives of Dmitry Medvedev's presidency. It forced tens of millions to travel to their jobs in pitch darkness during the winter. In the depths of December, the sun doesn't clear the horizon in Moscow until 10am. The State Duma, the lower house of parliament, voted 442-1 on Tuesday to return to standard time this autumn and stay there all year. The article also discusses a ban on swearing in books, plays, and films that went into effect today in Russia.

The New 501(c)(3) and the Future of Open Source In the US

Soulskill posted about 1 month ago | from the learning-at-the-speed-of-government dept.

Government 228

An anonymous reader writes: If you're involved in the free and open-source software movement — especially in the United States — you may want to read through this, as long as it may seem. It appears that the United States' Internal Revenue Service has strongly shifted its views of free and open-source software, and to the detriment of the movement, in my opinion. From the article: "The IRS reasons that since Yorba’s open source software may be used for any purpose, Yorba is not a charity. Consider all the for-profit and non-charitable ways the Apache server is used; I’d still argue Apache is a charitable organization. (What else could it be?) There’s a charitable organization here in San Francisco that plants trees throughout the city for the benefit of all. If one of their tree’s shade falls on a cafe table and cools the cafe’s patrons as they enjoy their espressos, does that mean the tree-planting organization is no longer a charity?"

Baton Bob Strikes Back Against Police That Coerced Facebook Post From Him

timothy posted about 1 month ago | from the bizarro-world-southeast-division dept.

Facebook 203

McGruber (1417641) writes "In June 2013, Atlanta police arrested costumed street performer "Baton Bob" during the middle of a street performance after Baton Bob was allegedly involved in a verbal altercation with mall security guards. Now, a year later, Baton Bob has filed a federal lawsuit accusing Atlanta police of violating his constitutional rights, assault, discrimination, privacy violations and identify theft. Atlanta Police allegedly forced Baton Bob to make a pro-police statement on his Facebook page before officers would allow Bob to be released on bond. According to the lawsuit: "At approximately 3:40 p.m., while Plaintiff sat handcuffed and without an attorney, he was told to dictate a public statement to Officer Davis, who then typed and posted the message to the Baton Bob Facebook account. The message read: 'First of all, the atl police officer that responded to the incident thru security has been very respectful and gracious to me even in handcuffs. So, the situation escalated from a complaint from a security officer in the area and for some reason she rolled up on me like she didn't know who I was and like I had not been there before. For them to call police to come to intervene was not necessary. So, out of it, because of my fury, the Atlanta police officer did not understand the elements of the situation, so he was trying to do his job, respectfully and arrested my ass!!!!!!!!! I'll be out tomorrow so look out for my show at 14th and Peachtree. So now I'm waiting to be transported so I can sign my own bond and get the hell out of here. I want to verify, that the Atlanta police was respectful to me considering the circumstances. See you when I see you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!' As promised, Plaintiff was then given a signature bond and released from jail."

Western Energy Companies Under Sabotage Threat

timothy posted about 1 month ago | from the shame-if-anything-was-t'-happen dept.

Security 86

An anonymous reader writes In a post published Monday, Symantec writes that western countries including the U.S., Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Turkey, and Poland are currently the victims of an ongoing cyberespionage campaign. The group behind the operation, called Dragonfly by Symantec, originally targeted aviation and defense companies as early as 2011, but in early 2013, they shifted their focus to energy firms. They use a variety of malware tools, including remote access trojans (RATs) and operate during Eastern European business hours. Symantec compares them to Stuxnet except that "Dragonfly appears to have a much broader focus with espionage and persistent access as its current objective with sabotage as an optional capability if required."

Court Allowed NSA To Spy On All But 4 Countries

timothy posted about 1 month ago | from the under-color-of-official-right dept.

Communications 242

mrspoonsi (2955715) writes A court permitted the NSA to collect information about governments in 193 countries and foreign institutions like the World Bank, according to a secret document the Washington Post published Monday. The certification issued by a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2010 shows the NSA has the authority to "intercept through U.S. companies not just the communications of its overseas targets, but any communications about its targets as well," according to the Post's report. Only four countries in the world — Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — were exempt from the agreement, due to existing no-spying agreements that the Post highlights in this document about the group of countries, known as "Five Eyes" with the U.S.

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