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The Internet

New Campaign Features Internet Trolls On Roadside Billboards ( 131

An anonymous reader writes: A campaign taking shape in Brazil seeks to fight online harassment in an unusual way: by posting the abusive comments on real billboards. "The group collects comments from Facebook or Twitter and uses geolocation tools to find out where the people who have posted them live. They then buy billboard space nearby and post the comments in huge letters, although names and photos are pixelated." Brazil has laws prohibiting racial abuse, but this group doesn't think the government is doing enough to stop it. The campaign's founder said, "Those people [who post abuse online] think they can sit in the comfort of their homes and do whatever they want on the internet. We don't let that happen. They can't hide from us, we will find them."

Creator of Relay On BITNET, Predecessor of IRC, Dies ( 34

tmjva writes: Jeff Kell passed away on November 25 as reported here in the 3000newswire. He was inventor of BITNET Relay, a predecessor of Internet Relay Chat using the REXX programming language.

In 1987 he wrote the following preserved article about RELAY and here is his obituary. May this early inventor rest in peace.

The Courts

Insurer Refuses To Cover Cox In Massive Piracy Lawsuit ( 100

An anonymous reader writes with news that Cox Communications' insurer, Lloyds Of London underwriter Beazley, is refusing to cover legal costs and any liabilities from the case brought against it by BMG and Round Hill Music. TorrentFreak reports: "Trouble continues for one of the largest Internet providers in the United States, with a Lloyds underwriter now suing Cox Communications over an insurance dispute. The insurer is refusing to cover legal fees and potential piracy damages in Cox's case against BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music. Following a ruling from a Virginia federal court that Cox is not protected by the safe-harbor provisions of the DMCA, the Internet provider must now deal with another setback. Following a ruling from a Virginia federal court that Cox is not protected by the safe-harbor provisions of the DMCA, the Internet provider must now deal with another setback."

BBC World Service To Provide Radio For North Korea and Eritrea ( 64

Ewan Palmer writes: The BBC World service has announced it will expand to serve the worst countries for press freedom as part of a plan to reach a global audience of 500 million. The British government announced its "single biggest increase in the World Service budget ever committed" and promised to invest more than $128 million by 2017/18 to the service. Along with improvements in countries such as Thailand, Russia and Somalia, they will launch radio services in North Korea and Eritrea who, according to Reporters Without Borders' 2015 World Press Freedom index, are the two worst performing countries in the world when ranked on a number of criteria including media independence, respect for the safety and freedom of journalists, and infrastructural environment in which the media operate.
The Courts

Judge: Stingrays Are 'Simply Too Powerful' Without Adequate Oversight ( 111

New submitter managerialslime sends news that an Illinois judge has issued new requirements the government must meet before it can use cell-site simulators, a.k.a. "stingrays," to monitor the communications of suspected criminals. While it's likely to set precedent for pushing back against government surveillance powers, the ruling is specific to the Northern District of Illinois for now. What is surprising is Judge Johnston’s order to compel government investigators to not only obtain a warrant (which he acknowledges they do in this case), but also to not use them when "an inordinate number of innocent third parties’ information will be collected," such as at a public sporting event. This first requirement runs counter to the FBI’s previous claim that it can warrantlessly use stingrays in public places, where no reasonable expectation of privacy is granted. Second, the judge requires that the government "immediately destroy" collateral data collection within 48 hours (and prove it to the court). Finally, Judge Johnston also notes: "Third, law enforcement officers are prohibited from using any data acquired beyond that necessary to determine the cell phone information of the target. A cell-site simulator is simply too powerful of a device to be used and the information captured by it too vast to allow its use without specific authorization from a fully informed court."

ISIS Help Desk Assists In Covering Tracks ( 145

An anonymous reader writes: The ISIS terror group appears to have 5 to 6 members offering 24-hour support on how to encrypt communications, hide personal details and use apps like Twitter while avoiding surveillance. It's kind of like a 'help desk,' though not an actual call center hiding in the hills. It is a group of IT specialists answering questions from locations spread out all over the world, according to Aaron Brantly at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. It has been find out that the advice is largely being relayed on an ISIS channel on Telegram, a messaging app that has become popular among members of the group because it allows for special secret chats. The jihadi help desk has lengthy training manuals, and Brantly has reviewed over 300 pages of training documents and roughly 25 YouTube videos that provide tips to evade intelligence agencies and law enforcement.

Manhattan DA Pressures Google and Apple To Kill Zero Knowledge Encryption ( 291

An anonymous reader writes: In a speech to the 6th Annual Financial Crimes and Cybersecurity Symposium, New York County District Attorney for Manhattan Cyrus Vance Jr. has appealed to the tech community — specifically citing Google and Apple — to "do the right thing" and end zero-knowledge encryption in mobile operating systems. Vance Jr. praised FBI director James Comey for his 'outspoken' and 'fearless' advocacy against zero knowledge encryption, and uses the recent attacks on Paris as further justification for returning encryption keys to the cloud, so that communications providers can once again comply with court orders.

Carnegie Mellon Denies FBI Paid For Tor-Breaking Research ( 79

New submitter webdesignerdudes writes with news that Carnegie Mellon University now implies it may have been subpoenaed to give up its anonymity-stripping technique, and that it was not paid $1 million by the FBI for doing so. Wired reports: "In a terse statement Wednesday, Carnegie Mellon wrote that its Software Engineering Institute hadn’t received any direct payment for its Tor research from the FBI or any other government funder. But it instead implied that the research may have been accessed by law enforcement through the use of a subpoena. 'In the course of its work, the university from time to time is served with subpoenas requesting information about research it has performed,' the statement reads. 'The university abides by the rule of law, complies with lawfully issued subpoenas and receives no funding for its compliance.'"

Police Find Paris Attackers Coordinate Via Unencrypted SMS ( 202

schwit1 writes: In the wake of the tragic events in Paris last week encryption has continued to be a useful bogeyman for those with a voracious appetite for surveillance expansion. Like clockwork, numerous reports were quickly circulated suggesting that the terrorists used incredibly sophisticated encryption techniques, despite no evidence by investigators that this was the case. These reports varied in the amount of hallucination involved, the New York Times even having to pull one such report offline. Other claims the attackers had used encrypted Playstation 4 communications also wound up being bunk.
The Courts

Facebook Can Block Content Without Explanation, Says US Court ( 147

An anonymous reader writes: A U.S. court has ruled that Facebook can block any content posted to its site without explanation, after a Sikh group legally challenged the company for taking its page offline. U.S. Northern District of California Judge Lucy Koh ruled that the U.S. based rights group's encouragement of religious discrimination is illegal under the Communications Decency Act, which protects 'interactive computer services' providers by preventing courts from treating them as the publishers of the speech created by their users.

How Cisco Is Trying To Prove It Can Keep NSA Spies Out of Its Gear ( 130

itwbennett writes: A now infamous photo [leaked by Edward Snowden] showed NSA employees around a box labeled Cisco during a so-called 'interdiction' operation, one of the spy agency's most productive programs,' writes Jeremy Kirk. 'Once that genie is out of the bottle, it's a hell of job to put it back in,' said Steve Durbin, managing director of the Information Security Forum in London. Yet that's just what Cisco is trying to do, and early next year, the company plans to open a facility in the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina where customers can test and inspect source code in a secure environment. But, considering that a Cisco router might have 30 million lines of code, proving a product hasn't been tampered with by spy agencies is like trying 'to prove the non-existence of god,' says Joe Skorupa, a networking and communications analyst with Gartner.
The Internet

US Rep. Joe Barton Has a Plan To Stop Terrorists: Shut Down Websites ( 275

Earthquake Retrofit writes: In an FCC oversight hearing, U.S. Representative Joe Barton (R-TX) asked Chairman Tom Wheeler if it's possible to shut down websites used by ISIS and other terrorist groups. He said, "Isn't there something we can do under existing law to shut those Internet sites down, and I know they pop up like weeds, but once they do pop up, shut them down and then turn those Internet addresses over to the appropriate law enforcement agencies to try to track them down? I would think that even in an open society, when there is a clear threat, they've declared war against us, our way of life, they've threatened to attack this very city our capital is in, that we could do something about the Internet and social media side of the equation." Wheeler pointed out that the legal definition of "lawful intercept" did not support such actions, but added that Congress could expand the law to validate the concept. Meanwhile, the Senate Intelligence Committee is exploring the idea of using the recent terror attacks in France as ammunition to force tech companies away from end-to-end encryption. "Lawmakers said it was time to intensify discussions over what technology companies such as Apple and Google could do to help unscramble key information on devices such as iPhones and apps like WhatsApp, where suspected terrorists have communicated."
The Courts

Terrorism Case Challenges FISA Spying ( 108

An anonymous reader writes: As we've come to terms with revelations of U.S. surveillance over the past couple years, we've started to see lawsuits spring up challenging the constitutionality of the spying. Unfortunately, it's slow; one of the difficulties is that it's hard to gain standing in court if you haven't been demonstrably harmed. A case before the 9th Circuit Appeals Court is now testing the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act in a big way, and whatever the outcome, it's likely to head to the Supreme Court. The case itself is long and complicated; it centers on a teenager who joined a plot to detonate a huge bomb in Portland, Oregon in 2010, but his co-conspirators turned out to be undercover FBI agents.

The case history is worth a read, and raises questions about entrapment and impressionable kids. However, the issue now being argued in court is simpler: the defendant was a U.S. citizen, and the FBI used FISA powers to access his communications without a warrant. Crucially, they failed to notify the defendant of this before trial — something they're legally required to do. This gives him and his lawyers standing to challenge the constitutionality of the law in the first place. It's a difficult puzzle, with no clear answer, but oral arguments could begin as soon as January for one of the most significant cases yet to challenge the U.S. government's surveillance of its own citizens.

The Internet

Fire Takes Azerbaijan Offline ( 57

judgecorp writes: On Monday, 90 percent of Azerbaijan lost Internet access, due to a fire at one data center in Baku, the capital of the former Soviet Republic. Cables caught fire at the Delta Telecom facility, and international providers including NTT and Telecom Italia all lost service for nearly eight hours. Some interesting snippets: Azerbaijan is a former Soviet republic that has seen rapid development thanks to its rich oil and gas reserves. The country has been running several projects aimed at modernizing its communications infrastructure, including participation in Trans-Eurasian Information Highway (TASIM). ... At about 16:10 on Monday, consumers, businesses and government agencies across Azerbaijan suddenly lost their connections to the Internet. Banks couldn’t make domestic money transfers, and even Point-of-Sale terminals were not working. ... Interestingly, no international traffic flowing though Azerbaijan was affected by the outage. “Transmission channels to Georgia, Iran, and the Middle East were working at full capacity,” Iltimas Mammadov, the minister of communications, told AzerNews.

NYT Quietly Pulls Article Blaming Encryption In Paris Attacks 259 writes: Inside Sources reports that the NY Times has quietly pulled a story from its website alleging the attackers used encrypted technology. The original piece, which has since been removed, can be found on the Internet Archive. It stated, "The attackers are believed to have communicated using encryption technology, according to European officials who had been briefed on the investigation but were not authorized to speak publicly. It was not clear whether the encryption was part of widely used communications tools, like WhatsApp, which the authorities have a hard time monitoring, or something more elaborate. Intelligence officials have been pressing for more leeway to counter the growing use of encryption."

A link to the NY Times article now redirects readers to a separate, general article on the attacks, which does not contain the word "encrypt." The Times later posted a second article citing an anonymous "European counterterrorism official" who was quoted saying authorities' "working assumption is that these guys were very security aware," but clarified officials "offered no evidence."

ISP To Court: BitTorrent Usage Doesn't Equal Piracy ( 175

An anonymous reader writes: The music industry has long argued that evidence of BitTorrent is evidence of piracy, and ISPs have generally gone along with them. But now, ISP Cox Communications is pushing back against that claim. They have been sued by publishers for failing to halt service for users alleged to have pirated music. Not only has Cox argued that the piracy evidence is invalid, they're also contesting the idea that BitTorrent is only used for piracy (PDF). "Instead of generalizing BitTorrent traffic as copyright infringement, the music companies should offer direct proof that Cox subscribers pirated their work. Any other allegations are inappropriate and misleading according to Cox." The company says, "the Court should preclude Plaintiffs from relying on mere innuendo that BitTorrent inherently allows individuals to infringe Plaintiffs' copyrights."

Belgian Home Affairs Minister: Terrorists Communicate Via PlayStation 4 ( 202

bricko writes with story at Quartz reporting the words of Belgium's home affairs minister Jan Jambon, who says that ISIL operators communicate using their PlayStation 4s; "which allows terrorists to communicate with each other and is difficult for the authorities to monitor. 'PlayStation 4 is even more difficult to keep track of than WhatsApp,' he said. The gaming console also was implicated in ISIL's plans back in June, when an Austrian teen was arrested for downloading bomb plans to his PS4." This seems a strange place to concentrate investigators' energies; terrrorists could be communicating in the chat session on the side of many social media games, too, or by any number of other means; Jambon would do well to read through some of the movie plotlines that Bruce Schneier has gathered.
Wireless Networking

An Algorithm To Facilitate Uber-Style Dynamic Phone Tariffs ( 75

An anonymous reader writes: A new paper proposes an algorithm to help network providers furnish 'surge' pricing for mobile data and other network communications, citing a 50% shortfall between demand and capacity over the next five years as an indicator that consumers may have to be shepherded out of the congested times and areas in order for normal service to continue to be maintained. Just don't tell any of the people in charge of airport wireless networks.

Getting Started With GNU Radio ( 42

An anonymous reader writes: Software Defined Radio must be hard to create, right? Tools like GNU Radio and GNU Radio Companion make it much easier to build radios that can tune AM, FM, and even many digital modes. Of course, you need some kind of radio hardware, right? Not exactly. Hackaday has one of their video hands on tutorials about how to use GNU Radio with no extra hardware (or, optionally, a sound card that you probably already have). The catch? Well, you can't do real radio that way, but you can learn the basics and do audio DSP. The next installment promises to use some real SDR hardware and build an actual radio. But if you ever wanted to see if it was worth buying SDR hardware, this is a good way to see how you like working with GNU Radio before you spend any money.

Bluetooth 2016 Roadmap Brings Fourfold Range Increase and Mesh Networking ( 29

An anonymous reader writes: The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has announced its roadmap for Bluetooth Smart in 2016, promising a fourfold range increase in the low-energy, IoT-oriented version of the protocol, along with dedicated mesh networking, a 100% increase in speed and no extra consumption of energy. The last set of upgrades to the protocol offered direct access to the internet and security enhancements. Since Bluetooth must currently contend with attacks on everything from cars to toilets, the increased range means that developers may not be able to rely on 'fleeting contact' as a security feature quite as much.