Nerval's Lobster writes "Retail giant Target continues to drastically downplay the impact of the massive data breach it suffered during December, even while admitting the number of customers affected is nearly twice as large as it had previously estimated. Target admitted today the massive data breach it suffered during the Christmas shopping season was more than twice as large and far more serious than previously disclosed. A Jan. 10 press release admits the number of customers affected by the second-largest corporate data breach in history had increased from 40 million to 70 million, and that the data stolen included emails, phone numbers, street addresses and other information absent from the stolen transactional data that netted thieves 40 million debit- and credit-card numbers and PINs. 'As part of Target's ongoing forensic investigation, it has been determined that certain guest information — separate from the payment card data previously disclosed — was taken during the data breach' according to Target's statement. 'This theft is not a new breach, but was uncovered as part of the ongoing investigation.' The new revelation does represent a new breach, however, or at least the breach of an unrelated system during the period covered during the same attack, according to the few details Target has released. Most analysts and news outlets have blamed the breach on either the security of Target's Windows-based Point-of-Sale systems or the company's failure to fulfill its security obligations under the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)."
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schwit1 writes "The Supreme Court will hear broadcasters' challenge to the legality of startup Aereo, in a case that may not only determine the future of digital streaming of station signals but of network television itself. Without comment, the justices on Friday agreed to accept ABC Television Stations vs. Aereo, in which the television networks are seeking to halt the Barry Diller-backed venture, contending that its offering of streams of station signals in New York and other markets violates the public performance provisions of the Copyright Act. Justice Samuel Alito took no part in the consideration of the petition, the court said, without elaborating. Typically such recusals are for a potential conflict of interest, and Alito has previously said that his family owned stock in the Walt Disney Co."
msm1267 writes "Mobile banking applications fall short on their use of encryption, validation of digital certificates and two-factor authentication, putting financial transactions at risk worldwide. An examination of 40 iOS mobile banking apps from 60 leading banks worldwide revealed a slew of security shortcomings that also included hard-coded development credentials discovered during a static analysis of app binaries. It's a mess, and to date, most of the banks have been informed and none have provided feedback indicating the vulnerabilities were patched."
KentuckyFC writes "Last year, a group of theoretical physicists suggested a bizarre experiment based on a quantum phenomenon known as weak measurement. Unlike ordinary measurements that always change the state of a quantum object, a weak measurement extracts such a small amount of information that it leaves the quantum state intact. For example, a weak measurement can detect the presence of a photon by the deflection it causes when it bounces off a mirror. However, this does not change the photon's quantum state. The new idea was to make two weak measurements on a quantum system that is in a superposition of states, the goal being to separate the location of this quantum system from its properties, like a Cheshire cat. Now a group of experimentalists say they've observed a quantum Cheshire cat for the first time in an experiment involving neutrons. They passed a beam of neutrons through a magnetic field to align their spins and then sent them through an interferometer in which the neutrons pass down both arms of the experiment at the same time. They then used weak measurements to locate the neutrons in one arm while measuring their magnetic properties in the other. Voila! A quantum Cheshire cat."
JoeyRox writes "Tesla is sending its customers new home charging connectors after recent reports of chargers overheating in garages and one instance of a fire inside a wall socket that held one of the chargers. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the new charging adapter will contain a thermal fuse capable of terminating the charging process if it gets too hot. 'These are very rare events, but occasionally the wiring isn't done right. We want people to have absolute comfort, so we're going to be providing them with an upgraded adapter.' The company also issued a software update in December to address the overheating issue."
An anonymous reader writes "The PC market continues to be in free fall, having now seen its seventh consecutive quarter of declining worldwide shipments. Worldwide PC shipments dropped to 82.6 million units in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to Gartner, a 6.9 percent decrease from the same period last year. It's worth emphasizing that this past quarter resulted in a total of 315.9 million units shipped in 2013, a 10 percent decline from 2012, and the worst decline in PC market history. The overall shipment level was equal to the one in 2009."
astroengine writes "In research presented at the Meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society in London on Friday, astronomers discussed the dusty, stormy atmospheres of exoplanets and brown dwarfs and how they could be hothouses for the formation of prebiotic molecules. These are organic molecules that are known to form the building blocks for life as we know it. 'The atmospheres around exoplanets and brown dwarfs form exotic clouds that, instead of being composed of water droplets, are made of dust particles made of minerals,' said astronomer Craig Stark, of the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. The idea is that lightning storms generate copious amounts of highly charged ions and electrons, which then get stuck to dust particles, using them as miniature prebiotic chemistry factories. Of particular interest is the formation of formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide and the amino acid glycine, all of which underpin Earth's biosphere."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Months after a problem-riddled rollout of the Healthcare.gov Website, the White House is dismissing a key contractor, CGI Federal, that built much of the portal, according to The Washington Post. The newspaper suggested the federal government is on the verge of signing a new contract with a replacement, Accenture, which has some experience in building online health-insurance portals on the state level. 'We are in discussions with potential clients all the time but it is not appropriate to discuss with the media contracts we may or may not be discussing,' an Accenture spokesperson is quoted as saying. Unnamed sources 'familiar with the matter' informed the Post of CGI Federal's dismissal, and suggested that it has much to do with continuing anger over the botched introduction of Healthcare.gov, as well as the pace of continuing repairs to the Website. As their contract is due to expire anyway at the end of February, government officials reportedly decided that it was the perfect time to pull the plug with a minimum of legal ramifications."
Stunt Pope writes "Back when the City of London Police issued those 'takedown requests' to domain registrars, most complied. However, as previously reported here, easyDNS didn't. A bunch of the taken-down domains wanted to move to easyDNS. One problem: their registrar wouldn't let them. It took awhile, but easyDNS fought it. They've finally gotten a ruling (PDF) under the ICANN policy that ordered the hostage domains transferred."
theodp writes "Purportedly intended to defuse tensions over gentrification that have led to blockades and vandalism of Google's ubiquitous shuttles (video), which make use of public San Francisco bus stops (map), Wired reports that Google is now chartering a ferry to take its workers from SF to Silicon Valley. 'We certainly don't want to cause any inconvenience to SF residents, and we're trying alternative ways to get Googlers to work,' Google explained. Inconveniencing whale-seeking visitors to The Aquarium of the Pacific, however, is apparently not considered evil. After learning that Google had co-opted the $4 million, 83-foot, 150-passenger whale-watching catamaran MV/Triumphant to ferry as few as 30-40 Googlers to work, some expressed concerns on Facebook that Google would be The Grinch That Stole Whale Watching Season (not to worry; the boat's slated to make its 'triumphant' return to Long Beach after Google's '30-day trial')."
Zothecula writes "When someone mentions flying cars, it conjures up images of a sporty little number that takes to the air like something out of the Jetsons. But what about one that's a cross between a 4x4, an octocopter, and a blackhawk helicopter? That's what Advanced Tactics of El Segundo, California is seeing with its ambitions to produce a roadable VTOL aircraft capable of unmanned autonomous operations as a more flexible way to recover casualties, move supplies, and support special forces."
ananyo writes "The waters of the African lake seem calm and peaceful. A few migrant swallows flit near the surface. Suddenly, leaping from the water, a fish grabs one of the famously speedy birds straight out of the air. 'The whole action of jumping and catching the swallow in flight happens so incredibly quickly that after we first saw it, it took all of us a while to really fully comprehend what we had just seen,' says Nico Smit, director of the Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management at North-West University in Potchefstroom, South Africa. After the images did sink in, he adds, 'the first reaction was one of pure joy, because we realized that we were spectators to something really incredible and unique.' Rumours of such behaviour by the African tigerfish (Hydrocynus vittatus), which has been reported as reaching one metre in length, have circulated since the 1940s. But this is the first confirmed record of a freshwater fish preying on birds in flight, the team reports in the Journal of Fish Biology (PDF)."
An anonymous reader writes "The 4K television revolution is upon us, and nobody is impressed. Most users seem content to wait until there's actually something to watch on these ultra-high-res displays, and also for the price to come down. However, Brian Hauer has written an article promoting a non-standard use for these displays. His office just got a 39", 3840x2160 display for each of their programmers' workstations. He now confidently declares, 'For the time being, there is no single higher-productivity display for a programmer.' Hauer explains: 'Four editors side-by-side each with over a hundred lines of code, and enough room to spare for a project navigator, console, and debugger. Enough room to visualize the back-end service code, the HTML template, the style-sheet, the client-side script, and the finished result in a web browser — all at once without one press of Alt-tab.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Bitcoin transactions are confirmed by performing complex calculations, also known as 'mining.' If a single mining pool gains 51% of the overall computational power in the network, various forms of transaction manipulation become possible. Only a few years into Bitcoin's existence, this existential threat appears to be at hand, with Bitcoin mining pool ghash.io approaching 51% of mining power. ghash.io has now assured the Bitcoin community in a press release (PDF): 'GHash.IO does not have any intentions to execute a 51% attack, as it will do serious damage to the Bitcoin community, of which we are a part.' But can a network relying on such assurances survive in the long run?"
AmiMoJo writes "According to security company Sophos, around 55% of home users and 18% of enterprise users have updated to Mavericks, the latest version of Mac OS (10.9). Unfortunately Apple appears to have stopped providing security updates for older versions. Indeed, they list Mavericks itself as a security update. This means that the majority of users are no longer getting critical security patches. Sophos recommends taking similar precautions to those recommended for people who cannot upgrade from Windows XP."
An anonymous reader sends this report from Business Insider: "[Ford VP Jim Farley] was trying to describe how much data Ford has on its customers, and illustrate the fact that the company uses very little of it in order to avoid raising privacy concerns: 'We know everyone who breaks the law, we know when you're doing it. We have GPS in your car, so we know what you're doing. By the way, we don't supply that data to anyone,' he told attendees. Rather, he said, he imagined a day when the data might be used anonymously and in aggregate to help other marketers with traffic related problems. Suppose a stadium is holding an event; knowing how much traffic is making its way toward the arena might help the venue change its parking lot resources accordingly, he said." Farley later realized how his statement sounded, and added, "We do not track our customers in their cars without their approval or consent."
retroworks writes "Several news outlets report on Intel's announcement that it will avoid purchases of rare earth minerals and metals, such as tantalum, sourced from high conflict areas such as the Congo basin. Could this lead to manufacturers stating the percentage of their boards which are made from recycled boards, like recycled paper greeting cards?"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "These days, it seems just about every imaginable thing is 'connected.' There's connected thermostats, locks, refrigerators, forks, and so many more. Now we can add toothbrushes to the list. Brandon Griggs reports at CNN that the Kolibree toothbrush syncs wirelessly with an iPhone or an Android device to track brushing habits, announce whether you have brushed thoroughly enough and reward you for good oral hygiene. 'It works just like a regular toothbrush,' says Renee Blodgett. 'The only difference is that all the data is stored on your phone so you can see how you're brushing.' Users download a mobile app and connect via Bluetooth, and the Kolibree documents every brushing via three sensors that record 1) how long you brush, 2) whether you brush all four quadrants of your mouth, and 3) whether you brush up and down (good) instead of just side to side (bad). 'Before Kolibree, the issue is that there has been no easy and quick way to monitor whether you're doing an A+ job or a C- one when you brush, so how can you improve on a habit you don't have any data about?.' There's a bit of gameplay built in, which challenges users to do better next time, and the company has created an API, hoping that third-party developers will come up with additional apps that will inspire users to brush more and more effectively writes Daniel Terdiman. 'With individual health getting more attention than ever, it's certainly possible people will see the benefit of something that keeps a close eye on how well they're treating their teeth, and which challenges them to do better.'"
An anonymous reader writes "MIT announced today that it will begin offering for-profit courses on the edX platform, beginning with a course in Big Data. This is the first for-pay course offered on any of the major MOOC platforms. It is run through MIT Professional Education, the arm of MIT that provides professional education and training for science, engineering and technology professionals worldwide. MIT announced that it will be the first of a new line of professional programs called Online X Programs, to be delivered globally using the MIT and Harvard founded open-sourced online education platform, edX."
Nerval's Lobster writes "IBM believes its Watson supercomputing platform is much more than a gameshow-winning gimmick: its executives are betting very big that the software will fundamentally change how people and industries compute. In the beginning, IBM assigned 27 core researchers to the then-nascent Watson. Working diligently, those scientists and developers built a tough 'Jeopardy!' competitor. Encouraged by that success on live television, Big Blue devoted a larger team to commercializing the technology—a group it made a point of hiding in Austin, Texas, so its members could better focus on hardcore research. After years of experimentation, IBM is now prepping Watson to go truly mainstream. As part of that upgraded effort (which includes lots of hype-generating), IBM will devote a billion dollars and thousands of researchers to a dedicated Watson Group, based in New York City at 51 Astor Place. The company plans on pouring another $100 million into an equity fund for Watson's growing app ecosystem. If everything goes according to IBM's plan, Watson will help kick off what CEO Ginni Rometty refers to as a third era in computing. The 19th century saw the rise of a "tabulating" era: the birth of machines designed to count. In the latter half of the 20th century, developers and scientists initiated the 'programmable' era—resulting in PCs, mobile devices, and the Internet. The third (potential) era is 'cognitive,' in which computers become adept at understanding and solving, in a very human way, some of society's largest problems. But no matter how well Watson can read, understand and analyze, the platform will need to earn its keep. Will IBM's clients pay lots of money for all that cognitive power? Or will Watson ultimately prove an overhyped sideshow?"