msm1267 writes "The Blackhole Exploit Kit has been out of commission since October when its alleged creator, a hacker named Paunch, was arrested in Russia. The kit was a favorite among cybercriminals who took advantage of its frequent updates and business model to distribute financial malware to great profit. Since the arrest of Paunch, however, a viable successor has yet to emerge--and experts believe one will not in the short term. This is partially the reason for the increase in outbreaks of ransomware such as CryptoLocker as hackers aggressively attempt to recover lost profits."
Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop
ananyo writes "Astronomers say that they have discovered the first example of a long-sought cosmic oddity: a bloated, dying star with a surprise in its core — an ultradense neutron star. Such entities, known as Thorne-Zytkow objects, are theoretically possible but would alter scientists' understanding of how stars can be powered. Since Thorne-Zytkow objects were first proposed in 1975, researchers have occasionally offered up candidates, but none have been confirmed."
Lasrick writes "Mark Gubrud has another great piece exploring the slippery slope we seem to be traveling down when it comes to autonomous weapons systems: Quote: 'Autonomous weapons are robotic systems that, once activated, can select and engage targets without further intervention by a human operator. Advances in computer technology, artificial intelligence, and robotics may lead to a vast expansion in the development and use of such weapons in the near future. Public opinion runs strongly against killer robots. But many of the same claims that propelled the Cold War are being recycled to justify the pursuit of a nascent robotic arms race. Autonomous weapons could be militarily potent and therefore pose a great threat.'"
New submitter buddha379 writes "Over the holidays we discussed a story from SF author Charles Stross called 'Why I Want Bitcoin to Die in a Fire,' just as Bitcoin's price collapsed on news of the Chinese government's cautious approach to the fledgling internet currency. Well known economist Paul Krugman quoted the piece in a NY Times blog post called 'Bitcoin is Evil'. Now, with U.S. regulators reaffirming their hands off approach, U.S. companies embracing it and prices surging again, Bitcoin Magazine returns with a rebuttal called 'Why Charles Stross Doesn't Know a Thing about Bitcoin.' The article notes that like many other popular pieces, Stross' story seems to 'completely miss the point on why Bitcoin is a revolutionary concept.'"
the_newsbeagle writes "When surgeons set out to repair holes in the walls of the heart's chambers or in blood vessels, they often do invasive open-heart surgery and use sutures, staples, and glue to keep a patch in place. But the sutures and staples are a rough fix, and many of the glues on the market today don't work well on wet tissue that's continually flexed by the heart's contractions and the movement of pumping blood. Today biomaterial researchers announced a new light-activated glue that could make surgery less invasive, quicker, and easier. The adhesive was inspired by slugs' and sandcastle worms' sticky secretions, which work underwater, and it can be applied with slender tools during minimally invasive surgery. A flash of UV light then sets the glue, which bends and flexes with the tissue."
Lauro Ojeda is a researcher at the University of Michigan who also works with a Korean company, Microinfinity, that says it works with everything "from basic sensors to full navigation systems, and is becoming the world leading navigation system company." Prof. Ojeda also has a personal website, robotnav.com, where he posts his navigation and control code (under an open source license, of course) that you are welcome to download, play with, install on any suitable device you have handy, and modify at will. A lot of his work is with Lego-based robots because they're both inexpensive and readily available almost anywhere. If you already have a good-sized Lego collection, you probably only need a few pieces to follow or even surpass Prof. Ojeda's work. And who knows? If you manage to make an autonomous Lego robot, your next stage may be a car that drives itself so you can watch SyFy reruns on your way to work instead of worrying about the truck in the left lane that looks like it's about to make a right turn.
dryriver writes "We have developed a graphics algorithm that got an electronics manufacturer interested in turning it into hardware. Here comes the problematic bit... The electronics manufacturer asked us to describe how complex the algorithm is. More specifically, we were asked 'How many (logic) gates would be needed to turn your software algorithm into hardware?' This threw us a bit, since none of us have done electronics design before. So here is the question: Is there a piece of software or another tool that can analyze an algorithm written in C/C++ and estimate how many gates would be needed to turn it into hardware? Or, perhaps, there is a more manual method of converting code lines to gates? Maybe an operation like 'Add' would require 3 gates while an operation like 'Divide' would need 6 gates? Something along those lines, anyway. To state the question one more time: How do we get from a software algorithm that is N lines long and executes X number of total operations overall, to a rough estimate of how many gates this algorithm would use when translated into electronic hardware?"
An anonymous reader writes "Hungarian photographer Adam Magyar doesn't work like most artists. He takes the world's most sophisticated photographic equipment, then hacks it with software he writes himself — all in order to twist our perception of time inside out. In this latest story from the digital publisher MATTER, Joshua Hammer discovers how Magyar's unique combination of technology and art challenges the way we understand the world. At one point, Magyar realized he needed a 'slit-scan' camera, 'the type used to determine photo finishes at racetracks and at Olympic sporting events by capturing a time sequence in one image. Such cameras were rare and cost many thousands of dollars, so Magyar set out to build one himself. He joined a medium-format camera lens to another sensor and wrote his own software for the new device. Total cost: $50. He inverted the traditional scanning method, where the sensor moves across a stationary object. This time, the sensor would remain still while the scanned objects were in motion, being photographed one consecutive pixel-wide strip at a time. (This is the basic principle of the photo-finish camera.) Magyar mounted the device on a tripod in a busy Shanghai neighborhood and scanned pedestrians as they passed in front of the sensor. He then digitally combined over 100,000 sequential strips into high-resolution photographs.' There are pictures and videos interspersed throughout the article."
ClockEndGooner writes "A giant coronal mass ejection from the Sun yesterday has resulted in a higher than normal level of radioactivity, and in turn, forced Orbital Sciences to postpone their first mission launch of the Cygnus space truck to the International Space Station. Citing concerns of the effect increased levels of space radiation may have on the Antares launcher and Cygnus avionics, the NASA and Orbital launch team is now evaluating if conditions will improve for a launch on Thursday, which would have Cygnus arriving at the ISS on Sunday morning." In other ISS news, the Orlando Sentinel is reporting that NASA has gotten approval from the White House to extend the ISS's mission for another four years, pushing the end date back to 2024. An official announcement is expected later this week.
KentuckyFC writes "In 2012, Richard Branson, Larry Page, and Eric Schmidt announced the launch of Planetary Resources, an ambitious start up with the goal of mining nearby asteroids for natural resources. Now an academic survey of ore-bearing asteroids estimates that only about 10 are likely to have resources worth mining. The new approach is to create a Drake-like equation that starts with the total number of asteroids and determines the percentage that are close enough to Earth, the percentage of these that contain valuable resources, the percentage of these large enough to pay for a space mining mission and so on. Each of these factors is filled with uncertainty but the bottom line is that when it comes to platinum group metals such as platinum, palladium, and iridium there are likely to be very few worth exploiting. That has significant implications for the future of space exploration. With so few commercially-viable space rocks out there, knowing which ones to pursue will be hugely valuable information, concludes the study. And that means the prospecting of asteroids is likely to become a highly secretive commercial endeavor in the not-too-distant future."
An anonymous reader writes "Security researcher Robert Watson at the University of Cambridge has posted a blog article describing recent progress on the Capsicum security model, which will shortly appear in FreeBSD 10.0 enabled by default, and has now been ported to Linux by Google, who have posted patches with the intent to upstream to the Linux kernel." Capability systems are pretty interesting.
sfcrazy writes "The openSUSE Forums were hijacked yesterday. An alleged Pakistani hacker who goes by handle H4x0r HuSsY reportedly exploited a vulnerability in the vBulletin 4.2.1 software SuSE uses to host the forum. vBulletin is a proprietary forum software. The openSUSE team notes that user passwords were not compromised. 'Credentials for your openSUSE login are not saved in our application databases as we use a single-sign-on system (Access Manager from NetIQ) for all our services. This is a completely separate system and it has not been compromised by this crack. What the cracker reported as compromised passwords where indeed random, automatically set strings that are in no way connected to your real password.' It's shocking to learn that SUSE/openSUSE are using proprietary forum software vBulleting as well as proprietary single sign on solution." SuSE was using vBulletin 4.x which has no known fix for the security hole, and they are leaving the forums offline for now. It seems likely they'll be upgrading to the 5.x series.
KDE Community writes "The KDE Community is proud to announce a Tech Preview of KDE Frameworks 5. Frameworks 5 is the result of almost three years of work to plan, modularize, review and port the set of libraries previously known as KDElibs or KDE Platform 4 into a set of Qt Addons with well-defined dependencies and abilities, ready for Qt 5. This gives the Qt ecosystem a powerful set of drop-in libraries providing additional functionality for a wide variety of tasks and platforms, based on over 15 years of KDE experience in building applications. Today, all the Frameworks are available in Tech Preview mode; a final release is planned for the first half of 2014. Some Tech Preview addons (notably KArchive and Threadweaver) are more mature than others at this time." Check out that dependency graph.
An anonymous reader writes "Activities, technologies, equipment, or other matters regarding the U.S. Department of Defense are a common topic on Slashdot, both as stories and in discussions. Despite that, we seldom see stories regarding the senior leadership of DoD as we do for technologists, the political branches, and lately the NSA. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who served under both Presidents Bush and Obama, has released a rather biting memoir of his tenure as the Secretary of Defense. The Wall Street Journal has an excerpt: '... despite everyone being "nice" to me, getting anything consequential done was so damnably difficult — even in the midst of two wars. I did not just have to wage war in Afghanistan and Iraq and against al Qaeda; I also had to battle the bureaucratic inertia of the Pentagon, surmount internal conflicts within both administrations, avoid the partisan abyss in Congress, evade the single-minded parochial self-interest of so many members of Congress and resist the magnetic pull exercised by the White House, especially in the Obama administration, to bring everything under its control and micromanagement. Over time, the broad dysfunction of today's Washington wore me down, especially as I tried to maintain a public posture of nonpartisan calm, reason and conciliation. ... difficulties within the executive branch were nothing compared with the pain of dealing with Congress. ... I saw most of Congress as uncivil, incompetent at fulfilling their basic constitutional responsibilities (such as timely appropriations), micromanagerial, parochial, hypocritical, egotistical, thin-skinned, and prone to put self (and re-election) before country.' — More at The Washington Post."
Nerval's Lobster writes "In a keynote talk at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, David Pogue (Yahoo's freshly minted technology columnist) suggested that the new 'Yahoo Tech' Website — a key part of the company's latest rebranding — would be targeted at 'normal' people as opposed to 'gearheads.' Based on a map that flashed on the giant screen behind him, which showed the 'normals' clustered in the middle of the country and the 'gearheads' restricted to the coasts, it's clear that Yahoo has embraced a divisive strategy that tries to equate Yahoo's brands with some sort of mythical 'middlebrow' audience that exists within clearly defined borders. (During his presentation, Pogue also flashed a slide that made fun of competing tech-news brands: The Verge was rendered as 'The Urge,' for example, while Gizmodo became 'Gizmoody.') The problem is that rigid audience of 'normals' doesn't exist, at least not in the way that Yahoo envisions. Large numbers of well-educated technology consumers — 'gearheads,' in Pogue's parlance — exist all over the country; to say otherwise is like suggesting that Wyoming is 100 percent Republican, or that everybody who lives in Florida hates snow. In other words, Yahoo's approach to tech content isn't merely schismatic; it's willfully unaware of the variety that exists among technology fans."
AHuxley writes "A team of eight antiwar activists broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania and removed at least 1000 documents. Once removed and sorted, the bulk of the files showed FBI spying on U.S. political groups. COINTELPRO had been found. 43 years later five of the participants have come forward."
An anonymous reader writes "The recent report of X11/X.Org security in bad shape rings more truth today. The X.Org Foundation announced today that they've found a X11 security issue that dates back to 1991. The issue is a possible stack buffer overflow that could lead to privilege escalation to root and affects all versions of the X Server back to X11R5. After the vulnerability being in the code-base for 23 years, it was finally uncovered via the automated cppcheck static analysis utility." There's a scanf used when loading BDF fonts that can overflow using a carefully crafted font. Watch out for those obsolete early-90s bitmap fonts.
crabel writes "The Oculus rift prototype Crystal Cove shown at CES uses a camera to track over two dozen infrared dots placed all over the headset. With the new tracking system, you can lean and crouch because the system knows where your head is in 3D space, which can also help reduce motion sickness by accurately reflecting motions that previously weren't detected. On top of that, the new 'low persistence' display practically removes motion blur." The new low-persistence AMOLEDs also achieve 1920x1080 across the field of vision. Reports are that immersion was greatly enhanced with head tracking.
ananyo writes "By pouring cash into science and technology faster than its economy has expanded, China has for the first time overtaken Europe on a key measure of innovation: the share of its economy devoted to research and development. In 2012, China invested 1.98% of its gross domestic product (GDP) into R&D — just edging out the 28 member states of the European Union, which together managed 1.96%, according to the latest estimates of research intensity, to be released this month by the OECD. The figures show that China's research intensity has tripled since 1998, whereas Europe's has barely increased (see graph). The numbers are dominated by business spending, reflecting China's push in the manufacturing and information- and communication-technology industries."
theodp writes "Writing in the NY Times, Dr. Haider Javed Warraich shares a dirty little medical secret: doctors do 'Google' their patients, and the practice is likely to only become more common. And while he personally feels the practice should be restricted to situations where there's a genuine safety issue, an anecdote Warraich shares illustrates how patient search could provide insight into what otherwise might be unsolved mysteries — or lead to a snap misdiagnosis: 'I was once taking care of a frail, older patient who came to the hospital feeling very short of breath. It wasn't immediately clear why, but her breathing was getting worse. To look for accidental ingestions, I sent for a drug screen and, to my great surprise, it came back positive for cocaine. It didn't make sense to me, given her age and the person lying before me, and I was concerned she had been the victim of some sort of abuse. She told me she had no idea why there was cocaine in her system. When I walked out of the room, a nurse called me over to her computer. There, on MugShots.com, was a younger version of my patient's face, with details about how she had been detained for cocaine possession more than three decades earlier. I looked away from the screen, feeling like I had violated my patient's privacy. I resumed our medical exam, without bringing up the finding on the Internet, and her subsequent hospital course was uneventful.'"
Phopojijo writes "You can encrypt your password library using a client-side manager or encrypted file container. You could practice your password every day, keep no written record, and do everything else right. You then go in for a serious operation or get in a terrible accident and, when you wake up, suffer severe memory loss. Slashdot readers, what do you consider an acceptable trade-off between proper security and preventing a data-loss catastrophe? I will leave some details and assumptions up to interpretation (budget, whether you have friends or co-workers to rely on, whether your solution will defend against the Government, chance of success, and so forth). For instance, would you split your master password in pieces and pay an attorney to contact you with a piece of it in case of emergency? Would you get a safe deposit box? Some biometric device? Leave the password with your husband, wife, or significant other? What can Slashdot come up with?"
Daniel_Stuckey writes "In the beginning, they used catapults, dune buggies, 'jalapeños,' $1 million submarines, and sophisticated drug tunnels to move drugs northward. Now, Mexican drug cartels are taking to high-end industrial drills to carve out literal drug pipelines into the U.S. It's the next big leap in the evolution of the narcos' ingenious smuggle tech. The future of borderland drug running, it turns out, is boring. Jason Kersten reports on the phenomenon in a great GQ feature that focuses on the Sinaloa Cartel, the international crime syndicate believed to be behind the first known narco pipeline in 2008: '...Mexican authorities, responding to reports of a cave-in and flooding near the [All-American] canal, discovered a tunnel unlike anything they'd ever seen. Only ten inches wide, it was essentially a pipe. The Mexican cops traced it back to a house about 600 feet from the border, where they found a tractor-like vehicle with a long barrel on its side—a horizontal directional drill, or HDD.'"
dcblogs writes "The technology industry has been coasting along on steady, predictable performance gains, as laid out by Moore's law. But stability and predictability are also the ingredients of complacency and inertia. At this stage, Moore's Law may be more analogous to golden handcuffs than to innovation. With its end in sight, systems makers and governments are being challenged to come up with new materials and architectures. The European Commission has written of a need for 'radical innovation in many computing technologies.' The U.S. National Science Foundation, in a recent budget request, said technologies such as carbon nanotube digital circuits will likely be needed, or perhaps molecular-based approaches, including biologically inspired systems. The slowdown in Moore's Law has already hit high-performance computing. Marc Snir, director of the Mathematics and Computer Science Division at the Argonne National Laboratory, outlined in a series of slides the problem of going below 7nm on chips, and the lack of alternative technologies."