posted 10 days ago on slashdot
British cyber-security researcher Marcus Hutchins, who has been credited with stopping the spread of WannaCry, is now facing four more charges related to separate malware he is alleged to have created. BleepingComputer reports: According to court documents, the new charges are for allegedly creating another piece of malware and for lying to the FBI. Hutchins had previously been accused of creating and selling the Kronos banking trojan last year. But in a superseding indictment filed this week, U.S. prosecutors claim Hutchins also coded and sold another piece of malware called the UPAS Kit. According to US prosecutors, UPAS Kit "used a form grabber and web injects to intercept and collect personal information from a protected computer," and "allowed for the unauthorized exfiltration of information from protected computers." The U.S. government claims Hutchins sold this second malware strain in July 2012 to a person going by the online pseudonym of Aurora123, who later infected US users. Hutchins expressed disappointment on the development, tweeting, "Spend months and $100k+ fighting this case, then they go and reset the clock by adding even more bullshit charges like 'lying to the FBI.' We require more minerals." In a subsequent tweet, he requested people to help him with the cost of legal proceedings.

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
The Trump administration struck a deal Thursday with a Chinese telecom that will allow it to do business with U.S. companies even though it violated sanctions. From a report: China's ZTE will pay a $1 billion penalty and will embed a U.S. appointed compliance team, terms that are similar to those President Trump discussed last month when he revealed that Chinese leaders had asked him to look into the matter. "At about 6 a.m. this morning, we executed a definitive agreement with ZTE," Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC in an interview Thursday. "And that brings to a conclusion this phase of the development with them." Trump asked the Commerce Department to investigate the restrictions on ZTE in April following a request from Chinese President Xi Jinping. Commerce imposed a seven-year ban after the company sold American-made products to Iran, a violation of U.S. sanctions.

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posted 10 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: If you drop your phone today and it falls to the ground, you can be fairly certain that if it slips from your grip again tomorrow (butterfingers!), it won't suddenly soar into the sky. That's thanks to one of the basic ideas in Einstein's theory of general relativity, which posits that the laws of physics don't change over space and time. But to actually know that for a fact, you'd have to perform the same task over and over again, in as many locations as possible, and watch closely for any change in outcome. That's why, as Sophia Chen reports, a group of physicists has spent the past 14 years -- or 450 million seconds -- watching clocks tick. Their results would have made Einstein heave a sigh of relief. The physicists were observing the 12 atomic clocks to see whether their subatomic particles' behavior changed over those 14 years -- but it was completely consistent, even as the clocks moved with the Earth around the sun. Now, these findings don't necessarily mean that the laws of physics are absolutely not changing across time and space. They only definitively show that the laws of physics stayed constant over the 14 years of the experiment. "Still, they can now say this with five times more certainty than they could a decade ago," Chen writes. "And if it holds true for Earth's location in the universe, it's not too much of a leap to imagine it's true elsewhere."

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader shares a report: YouTube is known to be a breeding ground for creators. At the same time, however, it's also regularly used to share copyrighted material without permission. While copyright holders can issue takedown notices to remove infringing content, a preliminary ruling by the Commercial Court in Vienna has decided this is not sufficient. The ruling follows a complaint from local television channel Puls 4. After a thorough review of YouTube's functionalities, the Court concluded that YouTube has an obligation to prevent third parties from uploading infringing content. In its defense, YouTube argued that it's a neutral hosting provider under the provisions of the E-Commerce Act. As such, it should be shielded from direct liability for the actions of users. However, the Commercial Court disagreed, noting that YouTube takes several motivated actions to organize and optimize how videos are displayed. By doing so, it becomes more than a neutral hosting provider.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
Facebook confirmed this week that it struck data partnerships with at least four Chinese electronics firms, including Huawei, a telecommunications-equipment maker that U.S. officials view as a potential tool for state-sponsored spying. WSJ: The four partnerships are among the roughly 60 that Facebook struck with device manufacturers starting in 2007 so they could recreate the Facebook service on their devices, a Facebook spokeswoman said. As of Tuesday, more than half of those partnerships have been wound down, the spokeswoman added. The social-media company said it plans to wind down its data-sharing partnership with Huawei by the end of the week. It isn't clear when Facebook will end partnerships with the three other companies: Lenovo, the world's largest personal-computer maker; Oppo, a smartphone maker; and Chinese electronics conglomerate TCL.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
Honolulu could become the first U.S. city to limit fares ride-hailing companies can charge when demand spikes, following a city council vote on Wednesday, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser newspaper reported. From a report: Ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft use a model known as "surge pricing" in which the fare for a ride rises when factors such as rush hour and bad weather increase demand for the service. The practice could be limited in the future in Hawaii's largest city after the Honolulu City Council approved by a 6-3 vote a bill requiring city officials to cap surge pricing by ride-hailing companies, the newspaper reported. For the bill to become law, however, it still needs to be signed by the Mayor Kirk Caldwell, whose administration appears to oppose the measure, Hawaiinewsnow.com reported.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Google today launched the second Android P beta with final APIs and 157 new emoji. If you're a developer, this is your third Android P preview, and you can start testing your apps against this release by downloading the new preview from developer.android.com/preview. The preview includes an updated SDK with system images for the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, and the official Android Emulator. If you're already enrolled and received the Android P Beta 1 on your Pixel device, you'll automatically get the update to Beta 2.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
Valve will no longer remove games from its Steam game marketplace unless they are "illegal, or straight up trolling," according to a statement from the Bellevue, Wash.-based gaming company posted today. From a report: The announcement comes a week after Valve removed a controversial game that simulated school shootings, following a nationwide outcry to ban the title. Last month it also issued warnings to developers about adult content in games. In its blog post, Valve executive Erik Johnson writes that "Valve shouldn't be the ones deciding this." "If you're a player, we shouldn't be choosing for you what content you can or can't buy," it reads. "If you're a developer, we shouldn't be choosing what content you're allowed to create. Those choices should be yours to make. Our role should be to provide systems and tools to support your efforts to make these choices for yourself, and to help you do it in a way that makes you feel comfortable."

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader shares a report: At one time, Google Assistant could only be found on a handful of smartphones. Today, Google Assistant is available on 500 million devices -- smartphones, smart speakers, smart watches, tablets, smart televisions, and a broad range of home appliances and cars. But what about the billions of people in the world who still don't have a smartphone? Enter My Line, a phone number you can call to ask Google Assistant questions in parts of Colombia -- without a smartphone or computer or even the internet. When a person calls 6000913, they receive a welcome greeting and invitation to ask any question. After posing a question, users may hear prompts like "Do you have more questions?" or "Feel free to hang up whenever you're done," Cainkade Studio CEO Jeremy Landis told VentureBeat in a phone interview.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
Pew Research: Sixty years after the founding of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), most Americans believe the United States should be at the forefront of global leadership in space exploration. Majorities say the International Space Station has been a good investment for the country and that, on balance, NASA is still vital to the future of U.S. space exploration even as private space companies emerge as increasingly important players. Roughly seven-in-ten Americans (72%) say it is essential for the U.S. to continue to be a world leader in space exploration, and eight-in-ten (80%) say the space station has been a good investment for the country, according to a new Pew Research Center survey conducted March 27-April 9, 2018. These survey results come at a time when NASA finds itself in a much different world from the one that existed when the Apollo astronauts first set foot on the moon nearly half a century ago. The Cold War space race has receded into history, but other countries (including China, Japan and India) have emerged as significant international players in space exploration. Another finding in the report: Most Americans would like NASA to focus on Earth, instead of Mars.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
Joseph Cox, writing for Motherboard: U.S. government researchers believe it is only a matter of time before a cybersecurity breach on an airline occurs, according to government documents obtained by Motherboard. The comment was included in a recent presentation talking about efforts to uncover vulnerabilities in widely used commercial aircraft, building on research in which a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) team successfully remotely hacked a Boeing 737. The documents, which include internal presentations and risk assessments, indicate researchers working on behalf of the DHS may have already conducted another test against an aircraft. They also show what the US government anticipates would happen after an aircraft hack, and how planes still in use have little or no cybersecurity protections in place. "Potential of catastrophic disaster is inherently greater in an airborne vehicle," a section of a presentation dated this year from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), a Department of Energy government research laboratory, reads. Those particular slides are focused on PNNL's findings around aviation cybersecurity. "A matter of time before a cyber security breach on an airline occurs," the document adds.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft recently published an interesting open source project called "PQCrypto-VPN" that implements post-quantum cryptography (PQC) within OpenVPN. Being developed by the Microsoft Research Security and Cryptography group, as part of their research into post-quantum cryptography, this fork is being used to test PQC algorithms and their performance and functionality when used with VPNs. Microsoft's PQCrypto-VPN is published on Github and allows anyone to build an OpenVPN implementation that can encrypt communications using three different post-quantum cryptography protocols, with more coming as they are developed. These protocols are: (1) Frodo: a key exchange protocol based on the learning with errors problem (2) SIKE: a key exchange protocol based on Supersingular Isogeny Diffie-Hellman and (3) Picnic: a signature algorithm using symmetric-key primitives and non-interactive zero-knowledge proofs.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
Comcast's Xfinity phone service is apparently suffering a massive outage today, knocking out phone service for thousands of companies across the country that still largely rely on landline access to do business. From a report: According to DownDetector.com, Comcast phone service began experiencing issues around 8AM ET this morning and by the afternoon, areas around the country have started reporting disruptions. The areas most affected appear to be the Pacific Northwest, California, the tri-state area, and Florida. The official support Twitter account for Comcast Xfinity's residential and business services has acknowledged the issues, tweeting at 1PM ET today that some "customers may still be experiencing an issue with their Voice service," though Comcast has yet to release an official statement regarding the issue.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader shares a report: Hurricanes are moving more slowly over both land and water, and that's bad news for communities in their path. In the past 70 years, tropical cyclones around the world have slowed down 10 percent, and in some regions of the world, the change has been even more significant, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature. That means storms are spending more time hanging out, battering buildings with wind and dropping more rain. "The slowdown over land is what's really going to effect people," says James Kossin, the author of the study and a tropical cyclone specialist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He points to Hurricane Harvey's effect on Houston as an example of what slower storms can mean for cities. "Hurricane Harvey last year was a real outlier in terms of the amount of rain it dropped," he explains. "And the amount of rain it dropped was due, almost entirely, to the fact that it moved so slowly."

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
EPA must produce the opposing body of science Administrator Scott Pruitt has relied upon to claim that humans are not the primary drivers of global warming, a federal judge has ruled. From a report: The EPA boss has so far resisted attempts to show the science backing up his claims. His critics say such evidence doesn't exist, even as Pruitt has called for greater science transparency at the agency. Now, a court case may compel him to produce research that attempts to contradict the mountain of peer-reviewed studies collected by the world's top science agencies over decades that show humans are warming the planet at an unprecedented pace through the burning of fossil fuels. Not long after he took over as EPA administrator, Pruitt appeared on CNBC's "Squawk Box," where he was asked about carbon dioxide and climate change. He said, "I would not agree that it's a primary contributor to the global warming that we see." The next day, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, or PEER, filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking the studies Pruitt used to make his claims. Specifically, the group requested "EPA documents that support the conclusion that human activity is not the largest factor driving global climate change." On Friday, the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Beryl Howell, ordered the agency to comply.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
Catalin Cimpanu, writing for BleepingComputer: The VPNFilter malware that infected over 500,000 routers and NAS devices across 54 countries during the past few months is much worse than previously thought. According to new research technical details published today by the Cisco Talos security team, the malware -- which was initially thought to be able to infect devices from Linksys, MikroTik, Netgear, TP-Link, and QNAP -- can also infect routers made by ASUS, D-Link, Huawei, Ubiquiti, UPVEL, and ZTE. The list of devices vulnerable to VPNFilter has seen a sharp jump from Cisco's original report, going from 16 device models to 71 -- and possibly more.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
Scientists have determined that some 1.4 billion years ago, an Earth day -- that is, a full rotation around its axis -- took 18 hours and 41 minutes, rather than the familiar 24 hours. The Guardian reports: According to fresh calculations, a day on Earth was a full five hours and fifteen minutes shorter a billion or so years ago, well before complex life spread around the planet. Scientists used a combination of astronomical theory and geochemical signatures buried in ancient rocks to show that 1.4bn years ago the Earth turned a full revolution on its axis every 18 hours and 41 minutes. The number means that, on average, the length of the day on Earth has grown by approximately one 74 thousandth of a second per year since Precambrian times, a trend that is expected to continue for millions, if not billions, of years more.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft has sunk a data centre in the sea off Orkney to investigate whether it can boost energy efficiency. The data centre, a white cylinder containing computers, could sit on the sea floor for up to five years. An undersea cable brings the data centre power and takes its data to the shore and the wider internet -- but if the computers onboard break, they cannot be repaired. The operation to sink the Orkney data centre has been an expensive multinational affair. The cylinder was built in France by a shipbuilding company, Naval, loaded with its servers and then sailed from Brittany to Stromness in Orkney. There, another partner, the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), provided help including the undersea cable linking the centre to the shore. "This is a crazy experiment that I hope will turn into reality" said Ben Cutler, who is in charge of what Microsoft has dubbed Project Natick. "But this is a research project right now -- and one reason we do different types of research into data centres is to learn what makes sense before we decide to take it to a larger scale."

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
New submitter Fatalis writes: Substack is a venture capital funded startup for subscription-based newsletters, and it admittedly chose its name following the advice from a Paul Graham (co-founder of Y Combinator) article to prefer names not registered in the .com zone. The same name has also been the user handle for a prolific open-source developer who now finds themselves competing for recognition in the tech space with a capital backed company. The lesson seems to be for developers to protect their personal brand by registering a domain name with the .com extension due to it being perceived as the default.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
Speaking at a conference held at MIT, Donald Trump's chief technology advisor, Michael Kratsios, said this week that the U.S. government would release any data that might help fuel AI research in the United States, although he didn't specify immediately what kind of data would be released or who would be eligible to receive the information. From a report: Kratsios, who is deputy assistant to the president and deputy US chief technology officer, said the government is looking for ways to open up federal data to AI researchers. "Anything that we can do to unlock government data, we're committed to," Kratsios told MIT Technology Review. "We'd love to hear from any academic that has any insights." Data has been a key factor behind recent advances in artificial intelligence. For example, better voice recognition and image processing have been contingent on the availability of huge quantities of training data. The government has access to large amounts of data, and it's possible that it could be used to train innovative algorithms to do new things. "Anything we can do to figure that out, we will work very hard on," Kratsios added. The Trump administration has faced criticism for a more laissez-faire approach to artificial intelligence than many other countries have taken. Kratsios argued that the White House is quietly pushing an aggressive policy, pointing to examples of research projects that have received federal funding. When asked about the president's interest in artificial intelligence, Kratsios said, "The White House has prioritized AI, and he obviously runs the White House."

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
DuroSoft writes: Earlier this week an article ran about how Microsoft's multi-year refusal to rename its terabyte-scale Git extension "GVFS" (Git Virtual File System) had drawn the ire and dismay of the GNOME GVfs project (Gnome Virtual File System) which predates the Microsoft project by years. Thanks to Slashdot coverage and community pressure, Microsoft has now officially promised to rename GVFS to something else, and is asking the community for suggestions for a new name. Is this an official sign that MIcrosoft is finally listening to developers (albeit with a Slashdot-level of negative attention), or are they simply trying to appease the crowd while they are still in the news due to their acquisition of GitHub?

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
Kesha Williams, reporting for InfoQ (shared by numerous readers): The Java Mission Control suite of tools, also known as JMC, was open sourced by Oracle on May 3rd to much applause and excitement from the Java development community. The excitement was replaced with unease as sources reported that the entire JMC development team had been laid off. JMC is a well-known profiling and diagnostics tools suite for the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) primarily targeting systems running in production. It is used by developers to gather detailed low-level information about how the JVM and the Java application are behaving. The official open source announcement came on May 5th from Marcus Hirt, a member of the Java Platform Group at Oracle. "Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who helped open source Java Mission Control in the relatively short period of time it was done in." According to Hirt, the intent behind open sourcing JMC was to provide the community with the opportunity to add new features and capabilities to the tools suite.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Until yesterday, rare Japanese PC game Labyrinthe, developed by Caravan Interactive, was long thought to be lost forever. That is until the almost mythical third game in the already obscure Horror Tour series was found on a 67GB folder of ROMs on a private forum. Other rare games from the folder are expected to become public soon. According to a YouTuber called Saint, who posted a video of him playing the game and a link to download it on Mega, Labyrinthe and as many as 70 other rare or never-before-released Japanese titles have been circulating in a file sharing directory on a private torrent site. Labyrinthe, alongside other rare titles including Cookie's Bustle, Yellow Brick Road and Link Devicer 2074 were in a folder called "DO NOT UPLOAD." Members of the private forum hesitated to upload Labyrinthe in the fear that the private collector would take down the folder and leave the collection out of reach once again. This hesitation demonstrates the often tense relationship between game preservationists and private collectors. According to a screenshot uploaded by Saint, the private collector threatened to pull the entire folder of content from the directory and stop uploading games altogether if anyone leaked Labyrinthe. In uploading the game to Mega, it's possible the folder will be pulled from the internet. But in doing so, the person advanced the interests of game preservationists worldwide by leaking the this game and others.

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
Zorro shares a report from The Hollywood Reporter: To borrow one of Han Solo's lines from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, "That's not how the Force works!" It's an apt way to sum up the troubled performance of Solo: A Star Wars Story. In one of the biggest box-office surprises in recent times, Solo is badly underperforming and will become the first of the Star Wars movies made by Disney and Lucasfilm to lose money. Wall Street analyst Barton Crockett says Solo will lose more than $50 million. Industry financing sources, however, say that figure could come in at $80 million or higher, although no one knows the exact terms of Disney's deals for home entertainment and television, among other ancillary revenues.

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
Sarah Krouse, reporting for WSJ: Caller ID is feeding one of the very problems it was developed to stop: junk calls. Illegitimate robocallers, or outfits that flood American landlines with marketing calls, use the decades-old identification system to make money, even when no one picks up. While scammers' biggest paydays come from tricking victims into handing over credit card or bank account information, many robocallers make incremental cash along the way, thanks to little-known databases that try to identify who is calling. Each time a caller's name is displayed, phone companies pay small fees -- typically fractions of pennies -- to databases that store such records. Some of these fees are handed back to the caller. With millions of automated calls a day, the amounts can add up. "It's slow nickels, not fast dimes" for scammers, but it helps offset the costs of making the calls, said Aaron Woolfson, president of TelSwitch, a company that licenses out telecommunications-billing software.

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