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Updated: 6 min 50 sec ago

Cheap Web Cams Can Open Permanent, Difficult-To-Spot Backdoors Into Networks

Sat, 16/01/2016 - 8:09am
An anonymous reader writes: They might seems small and relatively insignificant, but cheap wireless web cams deployed in houses and offices (and connected to home and office networks) might just be the perfect way in for attackers. Researchers from the Vectra Threat Lab have demonstrated how easy it can be to embed a backdoor into such a web cam, with the goal of proving how IoT devices expand the attack surface of a network. They bought a consumer-grade D-Link WiFi web camera for roughly $30, and cracked it open. After installing a back-door to the Linux system that runs the camera, and then turning off the ability to update the system, they had an innocent seeming but compromised device that could be stealthily added to a network environment.

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Geoblocking, Licensing, and Piracy Make For Tough Choices at Netflix

Sat, 16/01/2016 - 5:18am
An anonymous reader writes: If Netflix's promise to invigilate users' IP addresses and block VPNs is more than a placatory sop to the lawyers, and if the studios would rather return to fighting piracy by lobbying governments to play whack-a-mole with torrent sites, the streaming company's long-term efforts to abolish or reduce regional licensing blockades could falter this year. This article examines the possible hard choices Netflix must make in appeasing major studios without destroying the user-base that got their attention in the first place. I wonder how long VPN vendors will keep bragging that their services provide worldwide streaming availability, and whether some of them will actually do a decent job of it.

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Cryptsy Bitcoin Trader Robbed, Blames Backdoor In the Code of a Wallet

Sat, 16/01/2016 - 2:29am
An anonymous reader writes: Cryptsy, a website for trading Bitcoin, Litecoin, and other smaller crypto-currencies, announced a security incident, accusing the developer of Lucky7Coin of stealing 13,000 Bitcoin and 300,000 Litecoin, which at today's rate stands more than $5.7 million / €5.2 million. Cryptsy says "the developer of Lucky7Coin had placed an IRC backdoor into the code of [a] wallet, which allowed it to act as a sort of a Trojan, or command and control unit." Coincidentally this also explains why two days after the attack was carried out, exactly 300,000 Litecoin were dumped on the BTC-e exchange, driving Litecoin price down from $9.5 to $2.

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Netgear Nighthawk X8 AC5300 Router With Active Antennaes Tested

Sat, 16/01/2016 - 12:04am
MojoKid writes: Netgear recently launched the Nighthawk X8 router, which is part of a new round of second-gen wireless AC devices dubbed "Wave 2", carrying the AC5300 moniker. Instead of using a 3x3 configuration with six antennae, this router offers a 4x4 configuration, with four internal antennae and four active external antennae, each with their own blue LEDs to signal their active state. The actual amplifiers are on the antennae themselves, rather than down on the main board, helping to boost the signal and minimize crosstalk and loss associated with modern PCB circuitry. Each 5GHz radio is able to broadcast at 2.1Gbps compared to 1.3Gbps on Gen 1 devices, and the bandwidth on the 2.4GHz channel is also increased from 600Mb/s on Gen 1 devices to 1GB/s. When you take both 5GHz channels at 2,100Gb/s and add it to the 1000Gb/s on the 2.4GHz channel, you end up with a number around 5,300Gb/s, hence the branding. Performance-wise, the Nighthawk X8 is one of the fastest Wi-Fi routers on the market currently. However, its hefty price point might be hard to justify for most mainstream users. Enthusiasts and small office/home office users looking for ultimate range on a 5GHz channel with lots of clients connected will appreciate this routers throughput and power, however.

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Twitter Sued For Giving Voice To Islamic State

Fri, 15/01/2016 - 11:18pm
An anonymous reader writes: An American woman named Tamara Fields has sued Twitter in U.S. federal court, saying the social network gave the Islamic State a voice to spread its propaganda. Fields's husband died on November 9, when the terrorist organization attacked a police training center in Amman, Jordan. The complaint alleges, "Without Twitter, the explosive growth of ISIS over the last few years into the most-feared terrorist group in the world would not have been possible." At the end of 2015, Twitter stepped up its efforts (or at least its official policies) to block such content from its site. But the company has been under fire for over a year from citizens and law enforcement officials over the activity of various terrorist groups on its platform. Fields's attorneys hope that her husband's death will give her proper standing to challenge Twitter in court.

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Ancient Tools May Shed Light On the Mysterious 'Hobbit'

Fri, 15/01/2016 - 10:37pm
sciencehabit writes: The "hobbit" had neighbors. Back in 2004, researchers announced the discovery of this tiny, ancient human, which apparently hunted dwarf elephants with stone tools on the Indonesian island of Flores 18,000 years ago. Its discoverers called the 1-meter-tall creature Homo floresiensis, but skeptics wondered whether it was just a stunted modern human. In the years since, researchers have debunked many of the "sick hobbit" hypotheses. Yet scientists have continued to wonder where the species came from. Now, an international team originally led by the hobbit discoverer reports stone tools, dated to 118,000 to 194,000 years ago, from another Indonesian island, Sulawesi, likely made by another archaic human—or possibly by other hobbits. "It shows that on another island we have evidence of a second archaic early human," says paleoanthropologist Russell Ciochon of the University of Iowa in Iowa City, who was not involved with the work. The discovery makes the original hobbit claim appear more plausible, he says, by suggesting that human ancestors may have island-hopped more often than had been thought.

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California Legislation Would Require License Plates, Insurance For Drones

Fri, 15/01/2016 - 9:56pm
An anonymous reader writes: A pair of legislators in California have introduced separate pieces of legislation aimed at further regulating the nascent drone industry in the name of safety. Assemblyman Mike Gatto wants inexpensive insurance policies sold with drones, and also wants those drones to be outfitted with tiny license plates. He said, "If cars have license plates and insurance, drones should have the equivalent, so they can be properly identified, and owners can be held financially responsible, whenever injuries, interference, or property damage occurs." Another bill, put forth by Assemblyman Ed Chau, wants to require drone owners to leave contact information in the event of a crash. Chau also made parallels with cars: "If you lose control of your drone and someone gets hurt – or someone else's property gets damaged — then you should have the same duty to go to the scene of the accident, give your name and address, and cooperate with the police." The bills follow a number of incidents during 2015 in which drones damaged people and property, or simply got in the way of other operations.

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GNU/Linux Desktops with No User Knowledge Needed (Video)

Fri, 15/01/2016 - 9:16pm
Joey Amanchukwu is co-founder and CEO of Transforia, a company that leases computers pre-loaded with Red Hat Enterprise Linux -- a distro choice that may have been made at least partly because Joey used to sell for Red Hat. There have been other companies that tried to sell Linux desktops and laptops on a "don't worry about a thing; we'll administer them for you, no problem" basis. Not a lot (maybe none) of those companies have survived, as far as we know. Will Transforia manage to make it big? Or at least become profitable? We'll see.

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Inside Google's Self-Driving Car Test Center

Fri, 15/01/2016 - 8:25pm
An anonymous reader writes: Steven Levy reports on his trip to the facility where Google tests is autonomous vehicles (here's a map). The company apparently has a four-week program to certify people to not-drive these cars, and they gave Levy an abbreviated version of it. "The most valuable tool the test team has for making sure things are running smoothly is the laptop on the co-driver's lap. Using an interface called x_view, the laptop shows the world as the car sees it, a wireframe representation of the area that depicts all the objects around the car: pedestrians, trees, road signs, other cars, motorcycles—basically everything picked up by the car's radar and laser sensors. X_view also shows how the car is planning to deal with conditions, mainly through a series of grid-like "fences" that depict when the car intends to stop, cautiously yield, or proceed past a hazard. It also displays the car's path. If the co-driver sees a discrepancy between x_view and the real world, that's reason to disengage. ... At the end of the shift, the entire log is sent off to an independent triage team, which runs simulations to see what would have happened had the car continued autonomously. In fact, even though Google's cars have autonomously driven more than 1.3 million miles—routinely logging 10,000 to 15,000 more every week—they have been tested many times more in software, where it's possible to model 3 million miles of driving in a single day."

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What Spotlighting Harassment In Astronomy Means

Fri, 15/01/2016 - 7:42pm
StartsWithABang writes: Geoff Marcy. Tim Slater. Christian Ott. And a great many more who are just waiting to be publicly exposed for what they've done (and in many cases, are still doing). Does it mean that astronomy has a harassment problem? Of course it does, but that's not the real story. The real story is that, for the first time, an entire academic field is recognizing a widespread problem, taking steps to change its policies, and is beginning to support the victims, rather than the senior, more famous, more prestigious perpetrators. Astronomy is the just start; hopefully physics, computer science, engineering, philosophy and economics are next.

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New Ebola Case Emerges In Sierra Leone

Fri, 15/01/2016 - 7:00pm
An anonymous reader writes: Just hours after the World Health Organization declared an end to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, officials from Sierra Leone confirmed a death from the virus. The country was declared free of Ebola on November 7. "Ebola test center spokesman Sidi Yahya Tunis told the BBC that the patient had died in the Tonkolili district. He had traveled there from Kambia, close to the border with Guinea." WHO was quick to put out another press release saying there is an ongoing risk of flareups, and local governments and medical workers need to remain vigilant.

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Apple's Gatekeeper Still Broken

Fri, 15/01/2016 - 6:10pm
itwbennett writes: This weekend, Apple security expert Patrick Wardle will detail a vulnerability in Apple's Gatekeeper that makes it possible to bypass the anti-malware defense. This is the same vulnerability that was disclosed last April, which Apple said it patched later. Wardle was able to easily bypass Apple's fixes. He says "all Apple did was blacklist the signed apps he was abusing, but didn't fix the underlying issue, which is that, essentially, Gatekeeper functions as a guard that doesn't check" software already on the whitelist.

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Explaining the Lack of Quality Journalism In the Internet Age

Fri, 15/01/2016 - 5:28pm
schnell writes: While many lament the seeming lack of quality, in-depth journalism today, a Gawker article argues that the inescapable problem is that you need a paying (in some form) audience (of a large enough size) to do it. There are plenty of free "news" sources to be found online, especially blogs simply regurgitating and putting a spin on wire news reports. But as the article notes, "The audience for quality prestige content is small. Even smaller than the actual output of quality prestige content, which itself is smaller than most media outlets like to imagine." Even highly respected news sources like the New York Times are resorting to wine clubs, and the Washington Post is giving free subscriptions to Amazon Prime members to drive more corporate synergy and revenue. Rich parent companies are giving up on boutique, high-quality, niche journalism projects like ESPN's Grantland and Al Jazeera America because there simply aren't enough TV viewers/online ad clickers to pay the bills. So how do we reconcile our collectively-stated desire for high quality journalism with our (seeming) collective unwillingness to pay for it?

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French Drug Trial Leaves One Brain Dead and Five Critically Ill

Fri, 15/01/2016 - 4:45pm
jones_supa writes: One person is brain dead and five others are seriously ill after taking part in a phase one drug trial for an unnamed pharmaceutical firm at the Biotrial clinic in France. In medicine, phase one entails a small group of volunteers, and focuses only on safety. Phase two and three are progressively larger trials to assess the drug's effectiveness, although safety remains paramount. The French health ministry said the six patients had been in good health until taking the oral medication. It did not say what the new medicine was intended to be used for, but a source close to the case told AFP that the drug was a painkiller containing cannabinoids, an active ingredient found in cannabis plants. Mishaps like this are relatively rare, but in 2006 six men fell ill in London after taking part in a clinical trial into a drug developed to fight auto-immune disease and leukaemia. All trials on the drug at the French clinic have been suspended and the state prosecutor has opened an inquiry.

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Governments Don't Do Enough to Protect Nuclear Facilities From Cyberattacks

Fri, 15/01/2016 - 4:03pm
mdsolar writes: Twenty nations with significant atomic stockpiles or nuclear power plants have no government regulations requiring minimal protection of those facilities against cyberattacks, according to a study by the Nuclear Threat Initiative. The findings build on growing concerns that a cyberattack could be the easiest and most effective way to take over a nuclear power plant and sabotage it, or to disable defenses that are used to protect nuclear material from theft. The countries on the list include Argentina, China, Egypt, Israel, Mexico and North Korea.

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Use Code From Stack Overflow? You Must Provide Attribution

Fri, 15/01/2016 - 3:19pm
An anonymous reader writes: Have you ever used Stack Overflow to answer a question about some code you're working on? Most people who write code on a regular basis have done so, and this sometimes involves copying code snippets. Well, starting on March 1, copying code from Stack Overflow will require you to attribute that code. Code published by contributors to SO will be covered by the MIT license. Users copying that code don't have to include the full license in their code, as it usually requires, but they do have to provide a URL as a comment in their code, or some similar level of attribution. This change applies to other sites in the Stack Exchange network, as well. The SO community is widely criticizing the change, citing problems with the decision-making process that led to it and complications that may arise from mandating attribution. Why did SO make the change in the first place? They say "it's always been a little ambiguous how CC-BY-SA covers code. This has led to uncertainty among conscientious developers as they've struggled to understand what (if anything) the license requires of them when grabbing a few lines of code from a post on Stack Exchange. Uncertainty is a drag on productivity, for you and for us, and we feel obligated to make code use more clear."

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Big Trouble for Bitcoin

Fri, 15/01/2016 - 2:36pm
TheCoop1984 writes: A blog post by ex-Bitcoin developer Mike Hearn has highlighted dysfunctional management right at the top of Bitcoin development. He says it is clear Bitcoin is on the verge of collapse, and lays out several compelling reasons why. Quoting: "What was meant to be a new, decentralized form of money that lacked 'systemically important institutions' and 'too big to fail' has become something even worse: a system completely controlled by just a handful of people. Worse still, the network is on the brink of technical collapse. The mechanisms that should have prevented this outcome have broken down, and as a result there’s no longer much reason to think Bitcoin can actually be better than the existing financial system." Is the end of Bitcoin on the horizon?

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Obama Proposes $4 Billion Investment In Self-Driving Cars

Fri, 15/01/2016 - 1:55pm
An anonymous reader writes: The Obama Administration has unveiled a proposal for a 10-year, $4 billion investment in the adoption of autonomous car technology. The money would fund pilot projects to, among other things, "test connected vehicle systems in designated corridors throughout the country, and work with industry leaders to ensure a common multistate framework for connected and autonomous vehicles." The administration says it has an interest in cutting the death toll — over 30,000 people each year in the U.S. — associated with traffic accidents. The proposal also calls for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to work with industry to resolve regulatory issues before they inhibit development of self-driving cars. "This is the right way to drive innovation," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

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World Bank Says Internet Technology May Widen Inequality

Fri, 15/01/2016 - 1:13pm
HughPickens.com writes: Somini Sengupta writes in the NY Times that a new report from the World Bank concludes that the vast changes wrought by Internet technology have not expanded economic opportunities or improved access to basic public services but stand to widen inequalities and even hasten the hollowing out of middle-class employment. "Digital technologies are spreading rapidly, but digital dividends — growth, jobs and services — have lagged behind," says the bank in a news release announcing the report. "If people have the right skills, digital technology will help them become more efficient and productive, but if the right skills are lacking, you'll end up with a polarized labor market and more inequality," says Uwe Deichmann. Those who are already well-off and well-educated have been able to take advantage of the Internet economy, the report concludes pointedly, but despite the expansion of Internet access, 60 percent of humanity remains offline. According to the report, in developed countries and several large middle-income countries, technology is automating routine jobs, such as factory work, and some white-collar jobs. While some workers benefit, "a large share" of workers get pushed down to lower-paying jobs that cannot be automated. "What we're seeing is not so much a destruction of jobs but a reshuffling of jobs, what economists have been calling a hollowing out of the labor market. You see the share of mid-level jobs shrinking and lower-end jobs increasing." The report adds that in the developing world digital technologies are not a shortcut to development, though they can accelerate it if used in the right way. "We see a lot of disappointment and wasted investments. It's actually quite shocking how many e-government projects fail," says Deichmann. "While technology can be extremely helpful in many ways, it's not going to help us circumvent the failures of development over the last couple of decades. You still have to get the basics right: education, business climate, and accountability in government."

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Google Has Toughest Interview Process For Developers, But Not the Worst

Fri, 15/01/2016 - 12:34pm
An anonymous reader writes: A casual survey of candidates' reactions to the interview processes of the biggest tech companies in the world shows Google as having one of the most grueling hiring gauntlets in the sector — but Twitter's is perceived as the worst. The survey measured the amount of time candidature took, as well as the number of stages and the methods involved at each stage, and additionally estimated whether the job-seekers felt positive or negative about the procedure.

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