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Updated: 11 min 33 sec ago

FCC CIO: Consumers Need Privacy Controls In the Internet of Everything Era

Wed, 22/07/2015 - 8:43pm
Lemeowski writes: Who is responsible for ensuring security and privacy in the age of the Internet of Things? As the number of Internet-connected devices explodes — Gartner estimates that 25 billion devices and objects will be connected to the Internet by 2020 — security and privacy issues are poised to affect everyone from families with connected refrigerators to grandparents with healthcare wearables. In this interview, U.S. Federal Communications Commission CIO David Bray says control should be put in the hands of individual consumers. Speaking in a personal capacity, Bray shares his learnings from a recent educational trip to Taiwan and Australia he took as part of an Eisenhower Fellowship: "A common idea Bray discussed with leaders during his Eisenhower Fellowship was that the interface for selecting privacy preferences should move away from individual Internet platforms and be put into the hands of individual consumers." Bray says it could be done through an open source agent that uses APIs to broker their privacy preferences on different platforms.

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18th Annual International RoboSub Competition Happening Now In San Diego

Wed, 22/07/2015 - 8:20pm
New submitter madsci1016 writes: The 18th Annual International RoboSub Competition is happening this week at the TRANSDEC Naval Testing facility in San Diego, California. 38 teams from around the world have built fully autonomous underwater robots designed to complete a gauntlet of underwater obstacles. No GPS here, advanced image processing and acoustic sensors are your only tools. The competition is open to the public from now until Sunday. A few pictures from the ongoing event can be found here.

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The Lone Gunmen Are Not Dead

Wed, 22/07/2015 - 8:00pm
He Who Has No Name writes: It may have been one of Slashdot's most memorable front-page gaffes, but apparently there's no harm and no foul — because the Lone Gunmen are set to ride again in the X-Files return. Comicbook.com reports, "The Lone Gunmen, the X-Files' trio of conspiracy theorists, are set to appear in Fox's six-episode event. The three characters were played by Tom Braidwood, Dean Haglund, and Bruce Harwood. Haglund, who played the gunman 'Ringo,' confirmed his and his compatriots' return on Twitter today." We'll see how see how series creator Chris Carter handles their apparently greatly-exaggerated demise, and whether the explanation used in the print comics comes into play.

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Giving Doctors Grades Has Backfired

Wed, 22/07/2015 - 7:17pm
HughPickens.com writes: Beginning in the early 1990s a quality-improvement program began in New York State and has since spread to many other states where report cards were issued to improve cardiac surgery by tracking surgical outcomes, sharing the results with hospitals and the public, and when necessary, placing surgeons or surgical programs on probation. But Sandeep Jauhar writes in the NYT that the report cards have backfired. "They often penalized surgeons, like the senior surgeon at my hospital, who were aggressive about treating very sick patients and thus incurred higher mortality rates," says Jauhar. "When the statistics were publicized, some talented surgeons with higher-than-expected mortality statistics lost their operating privileges, while others, whose risk aversion had earned them lower-than-predicted rates, used the report cards to promote their services in advertisements." Surveys of cardiac surgeons in The New England Journal of Medicine have confirmed that reports like the Consumer Guide to Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery have limited credibility among cardiovascular specialists, little influence on referral recommendations and may introduce a barrier to care for severely ill patients. According to Jauhar, there is little evidence that the public — as opposed to state agencies and hospitals — pays much attention to surgical report cards anyway. A recent survey found that only 6 percent of patients used such information in making medical decisions. "Surgical report cards are a classic example of how a well-meaning program in medicine can have unintended consequences," concludes Jauhar. "It would appear that doctors, not patients, are the ones focused on doctors' grades — and their focus is distorted and blurry at best."

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Bug Exposes OpenSSH Servers To Brute-Force Password Guessing Attacks

Wed, 22/07/2015 - 6:34pm
itwbennett writes: OpenSSH servers with keyboard-interactive authentication enabled, which is the default setting on many systems, including FreeBSD ones, can be tricked to allow many authentication retries over a single connection, according to a security researcher who uses the online alias Kingcope, who disclosed the issue on his blog last week. According to a discussion on Reddit, setting PasswordAuthentication to 'no' in the OpenSSH configuration and using public-key authentication does not prevent this attack, because keyboard-interactive authentication is a different subsystem that also relies on passwords.

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Interviews: Brianna Wu Answers Your Questions

Wed, 22/07/2015 - 5:52pm
Last week you had a chance to ask the head of development at Giant Spacekat Brianna Wu about Gamergate, starting a company, and women-in-tech issues. Below you'll find her answers to your questions.

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Chrome 44 Launches With Tweaks To Push Messaging and Notifications

Wed, 22/07/2015 - 5:10pm
An anonymous reader writes: Google has launched Chrome 44 for Windows, Mac, and Linux with new developer tools. Aside from a host of security fixes, this release focuses mainly on developer features. The API for push notifications was updated to match the specification, a new implementation of multi-column layout was added, and they've extended support for Unicode escapes in strings. The full changelog notes a number of performance improvements as well.

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How Drug Companies Seek To Exploit Rare DNA Mutations

Wed, 22/07/2015 - 4:29pm
An anonymous reader writes: With so many people in the world, humanity can't help but generate a large amount of genetic outliers. Most random mutations are undetectable, and many of the rest lead to serious diseases. But there's another class of mutation that has drug companies salivating. For example: a few dozen people worldwide have a condition that prevents them from feeling any pain. Another condition called sclerosteosis affects less than 100 people, giving them incredibly dense bone structure. Both of these conditions have serious downsides, but drug companies are beginning to see the dollar signs behind isolating these mutations and making them safe. "People with sclerosteosis lack a protein that acts as a brake on bone growth. Without that protein, bones grow abnormally thick. It stood to reason, researchers thought, that a drug that could block the protein in patients with osteoporosis would encourage bone regrowth. Amgen's scientists created hundreds of antibodies that they tested to determine which might be able to get in the way of the protein. It took them three and a half years of research before they were able to identify the best antibody to inhibit the protein. Then NASA came calling." It's an unfortunate situation for those with the rare conditions; there's a lot more potential profit in finding a way to genetically prevent pain for billions of people than it is to cure the handful with the condition.

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Hacking Team's RCS Android May Be the Most Sophisticated Android Malware Ever Exposed

Wed, 22/07/2015 - 3:47pm
An anonymous reader writes: As each day passes and researchers find more and more source code in the huge Hacking Team data dump, it becomes more clear what the company's customers could do with the spyware. After having revealed one of the ways that the company used to deliver its spyware on Android devices, Trend Micro researchers have analyzed the code of the actual spyware: RCS Android (Remote Control System Android). Unsurprisingly, it can do so many things and spy on so many levels that they consider it the most sophisticated Android malware ever exposed. The software can, among other things, gather device information, capture screenshots and photos, record speech by using the devices' microphone, capture voice calls, record location, capture Wi-Fi and online account passwords, collect contacts and decode messages from IM accounts, as well as collect SMS, MMS, and Gmail messages. Hacking Team says it sold its surveillance and intrusion software strictly within the law.

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How Two Bored 1970s Housewives Helped Create the PC Industry

Wed, 22/07/2015 - 3:04pm
harrymcc writes: One of the first significant PC companies was Vector Graphic. Founded in 1976, it was an innovator in everything from industrial design to sales and marketing, and eventually went public. And alone among early PC makers, it was founded and run by two women, Lore Harp and Carole Ely. Over at Fast Company, Benj Edwards tells the story of this fascinating, forgotten company.

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Tallying the Mistakes and Malfunctions of Robot Surgeons

Wed, 22/07/2015 - 2:21pm
An anonymous reader writes: El Reg reports on a new study (PDF) that looked into malfunction and injury reports for medical procedures that used robot surgeons. From 2007 to 2013, 1.74 million such procedures were carried out, 86% of which were related to urology and gynecology. Of those, the study looked at reports of "adverse events," which were sent to the FDA. In that time period, there were 144 deaths, 1,391 patient injuries, and 8,061 device malfunctions. The malfunctions included "falling of burnt/broken pieces of instruments into the patient (14.7%), electrical arcing of instruments (10.5%), unintended operation of instruments (8.6%), system errors (5%), and video/imaging problems (2.6%)." The more complicated surgeries involving vital organs were naturally the most dangerous. Head and neck surgeries accounted for 19.7% of all adverse results, and cardiothoracic procedures accounted for 6.4%. The much more common urology and gynecology procedures had adverse event rates of 1.4% and 1.9%. The researchers are quick to note that despite the high number of malfunctions, a vastly higher number of robotic procedures went off without a hitch. They say increased adoption of these techniques will go a long way toward resolving bugs and device failures.

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Ex-Lottery Worker Convicted of Programming System To Win $14M

Wed, 22/07/2015 - 1:49pm
An anonymous reader sends news that Eddie Tipton, a man who worked for the Multi-State Lottery Association, has been convicted of rigging a computerized lottery game so he could win the $14 million jackpot. Tipton wrote a computer program that would ensure certain numbers were picked in the lottery game, and ran it on lottery system machines. He then deleted it and bought a ticket from a convenience store. Lottery employees are forbidden to play, so he tried to get acquaintances to cash the winning ticket for him. Unfortunately for him, Iowa law requires the original ticket buyer's name to be divulged before any money can be paid out.

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The Mystery of Acupuncture Partly Explained In Rat Study

Wed, 22/07/2015 - 1:06pm
hackingbear writes: A biological mechanism explaining part of the mystery of acupuncture has been pinpointed by scientists studying rats. The research showed that applying electroacupuncture to an especially powerful acupuncture point known as stomach meridian point 36 (St36) affected a complex interaction between hormones known as the hypothalamus pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis. In stressed rats exposed to unpleasant cold stimulation, HPA activity was reduced (abstract). The findings provide the strongest evidence yet that the ancient Chinese therapy has more than a placebo effect when used to treat chronic stress, it is claimed. "Some antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs exert their therapeutic effects on these same mechanisms," said lead investigator Dr Ladan Eshkevari, from Georgetown University medical center in Washington DC.

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Police Not Issuing Charges For Handgun-Firing Drone -- Feds Undecided

Wed, 22/07/2015 - 12:25pm
Mr.Intel sends a followup to last week's news of an 18-year-old man getting a lot of attention for posting a video of a handgun being fired from a drone. Despite calls to arrest the man, police say they can't find any reason to charge him. "It appears to be a case of technology surpassing current legislation," they said. Todd Lawrie, the chief of police where it happened, said, "We are attempting to determine if any laws have been violated at this point. It would seem to the average person, there should be something prohibiting a person from attaching a weapon to a drone. At this point, we can't find anything that's been violated. The legislature in Connecticut (recently) addressed a number of questions with drones, mostly around how law enforcement was going to use drones. It is a gray area, and it's caught the legislature flatfooted." The FAA and other federal agencies are still investigating and trying to figure out if any criminal statutes were violated.

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FTC Accuses LifeLock of False Advertising Again

Wed, 22/07/2015 - 11:44am
An anonymous reader writes: You may remember LifeLock — it's the identity protection company whose CEO published his social security number and dared people to steal his identity. Predictably, 13 different people succeeded. LifeLock was later sued for deceptive marketing practices, and eventually settled with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to the tune of $12 million. Part of that settlement, of course, required that they refrain from misrepresenting their services in the future. Now, the FTC is taking action against them again, saying they failed to live up to that promise. The FTC claims (PDF) LifeLock falsely advertised that it "protected consumers' sensitive data with the same high-level safeguards as financial institutions" and also failed build systems to protect the data they held.

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Fossil Fuels Are Messing With Carbon Dating

Wed, 22/07/2015 - 9:21am
Taco Cowboy writes: The carbon dating method used in determining the age of an artifact is based on the amount of radioactive carbon-14 isotopes it contains. The C-14 within an organism is continually decaying into stable carbon isotopes, but since the organism is absorbing more C-14 during its life, the ratio of C-14 to C-12 remains about the same as the ratio in the atmosphere. When the organism dies, the ratio of C-14 within its carcass begins to gradually decrease. The amount of C-14 drops by half every 5,730 years after death. The fossil fuels we're burning are old — so old they don't contain any C-14. The more we burn these fossil fuels, the more non-C-14 carbon we pump into the atmosphere. If emissions continue as they have for the past few decades, then by year 2050 a shirt made in that year (2050) will have the same C-14 signature as a shirt worn by William the Conqueror a thousand years earlier.

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Genetic Access Control Code Uses 23andMe DNA Data For Internet Racism

Wed, 22/07/2015 - 6:24am
rjmarvin writes: A GitHub project is using the 23andMe API for genetic decoding to act as a way to bar users from entering websites based on their genetic data — race and ancestry. "Stumbling around GitHub, I came across this bit of code: Genetic Access Control. Now, budding young racist coders can check out your 23andMe page before they allow you into their website! Seriously, this code uses the 23andMe API to pull genetic info, then runs access control on the user based on the results. Just why you decide not to let someone into your site is up to you, but it can be based on any aspect of the 23andMe API. This is literally the code to automate racism."

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Woman Recruited By Google Four Times and Rejected Now Joins Age Discrimination Suit

Wed, 22/07/2015 - 4:15am
dcblogs writes: An Ivy league graduate, with a Ph.D. in geophysics, Cheryl Fillekes, who also specializes in Linux and Unix systems, was contacted by Google recruiters four separate times over a seven year period. In each instance, she did well enough on the phone interviews to get invited to an in-person interview but was rejected every time for a job. She has since joined an age discrimination lawsuit against Google filed about two months ago by another older worker. "The amended lawsuit also alleges that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received 'multiple complaints of age discrimination by Google, and is currently conducting an extensive investigation.'"

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FBI's Hacks Don't Comply With Legal Safeguards

Wed, 22/07/2015 - 2:17am
An anonymous reader writes: The FBI hacks computers. Specifics are scarce, and only a trickle of news has emerged from court filings and FOIA responses. But we know it happens. In a new law review article, a Stanford Ph.D. candidate and privacy expert pulls together what's been disclosed, and then matches it against established law. The results sure aren't pretty. FBI agents deceive judges, ignore time limits, don't tell computer owners after they've been hacked, and don't get 'super-warrants' for webcam snooping. Whatever you think of law enforcement hacking, it probably shouldn't be this lawless.

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On Being Pro-GPL

Wed, 22/07/2015 - 12:14am
just_another_sean writes: Christopher Allan Webber, recently returned from OSCON, shares his thoughts on the GPL and why he dislikes people pitting one type of software license against another. He says, "I am not only pro-copyleft, I am also pro-permissive licensing. The difference between these is tactics: the first tactic is towards guaranteeing user freedom, the second tactic is toward pushing adoption. I am generally pro-freedom, but sometimes pushing adoption is important, especially if you're pushing standards and the like. But let's step back for a moment. One thing that's true is that over the last many years we've seen an explosion of free and open source software... at the same time that computers have become more locked down than ever before! How can this be? And notice... the rise of the arguments for permissive/lax licensing have grown simultaneously with this trend. ...The fastest way to develop software which locks down users for maximum monetary extraction is to use free software as a base. And this is where the anti-copyleft argument comes in, because copyleft may effectively force an entity to give back at this stage... and they might not want to. ... Copyleft's strings say, 'you can use my stuff, as long as you give back what you make from it.' But the proprietary differentiation strategy's strings say, 'I will use your stuff, and then add terms which forbid you to ever share or modify the things I build on top of it.' Don't be fooled: both attach strings. But which strings are worse?"

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