chicksdaddy writes "Cyber attacks on 'connected vehicles' are still in the proof of concept stage. But those proofs of concept are close enough to the real thing to prompt an inquiry from U.S. Senator Ed Markey, who sent a letter to 20 major auto manufacturers (PDF) asking for information about consumer privacy protections and safeguards against cyber attacks in their vehicles. Markey's letter, dated December 2, cites recent reports of 'commands...sent through a car's computer system that could cause it to suddenly accelerate, turn or kill the breaks,' and references research conducted by Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek (PDF) on the Toyota Prius and Ford Escape. 'Today's cars and light trucks contain more than 50 separate electronic control units (ECUs), connected through a controller area network (CAN) ... Vehicle functionality, safety and privacy all depend on the functions of these small computers, as well as their ability to communicate with one another,' Markey wrote. Among the questions Markey wants answers to: What percentage of cars sold in model years 2013 and 2014 do not have any wireless entry points? What are automakers' methods for testing for vulnerabilities in technologies it deploys — including third pressure technologies? Markey asks specifically about tire pressure monitors, bluetooth and other wireless technologies and GPS (like Onstar). What third party penetration testing is conducted on vehicles (and any results)? What intrusion detection features exist for critical components like controller area network (CAN) buses on connected vehicles?"
aitikin writes "The Federal Communications Commission is expected to propose allowing passengers to use their cellphones on airplanes. While phone use would still be restricted during takeoff and landing, the proposal would lift an FCC ban on airborne calls and cellular data use by passengers once a flight reaches 10,000 feet. From the article: 'The move would lift a regulatory hurdle, but any use of cellphones on planes would still have to be approved by the airlines, which have said they would approach the issue cautiously due to strong objections from their customers. Airlines would have to install equipment in their planes that would communicate with cellphone towers on the ground.'"
schwit1 writes "In 2006, climate change experts from Bangor University in north Wales found a very special clam while dredging the seabeds of Iceland. At that time scientists counted the rings on the inside shell to determine that the clam was the ripe old age of 405. Unfortunately, by opening the clam which scientists refer to as 'Ming,' they killed it instantly. Cut to 2013, researchers have determined that the original calculations of Ming's age were wrong, and that the now deceased clam was actually 102 years older than originally thought. Ming was 507 years old at the time of its demise."
Trailrunner7 writes "If espionage is the world's second-oldest profession, counterfeiting may be in the running to be third on that list. People have been trying to forge currency for just about as long as currency has been circulating, and anti-counterfeiting methods have tried to keep pace with the state of the art. The anti-counterfeiting technology in use today of course relies on computers and software, and like all software, it has bugs, as researchers at IOActive discovered when they reverse-engineered the firmware in a popular Euro currency verifier and found that they could insert their own firmware and force the machine to verify any piece of paper as a valid Euro note. 'The impact is obvious. An attacker with temporary physical access to the device could install customized firmware and cause the device to accept counterfeit money. Taking into account the types of places where these devices are usually deployed (shops, mall, offices, etc.) this scenario is more than feasible.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The California attorney general and the state's top election watchdog named the 'Koch brothers network' of donors and dark-money nonprofits as the true source of $15 million in secret donations made last year to influence two bitterly fought ballot propositions in California. State officials unmasked the Kochs' network as part of a settlement deal that ends a nearly year-long investigation into the source of the secret donations that flowed in California last fall."
Mark Gibbs writes "Shiver me timbers: Antigua and Barbuda's 'WTO Remedies Implementation Committee', is said to be recommending the establishment by the Government of Antigua & Barbuda of a statutory body to own, manage and operate the ultimate platform to be created for the monetisation or other exploitation of the suspension of American intellectual property rights authorised earlier this year by the WTO ... Additionally, an announcement regarding the opening of tenders for private sector participation in the operating of the platform should be announced shortly. Arghhh ... matey!" See also this Slashdot post (from 2007) for some background.
An anonymous reader writes "Richard Schiffman writes in The Guardian that the Republican-led shutdown of the U.S. government caused significant damage to many scientific programs. For example: shortly before the shutdown started, over a hundred scientists had gathered to perform critical equipment tests on the James Webb Space Telescope — Hubble's successor — and that work was unable to continue without the government around. 'Not only did this delay cost the program an estimated $1M a day, but, given NASA's tight schedule, some tests may never get done now.' It doesn't stop there: 'This is only one of untold thousands of projects that were mothballed when Congress's failure to approve a budget defunded the US government at the start of the month. Federal websites were taken offline, scientists couldn't receive emails, attend meetings, or interact with their colleagues. Crucial environmental, food safety and climate monitoring programs were either suspended, or substantially scaled back.' Schiffman provides a few more examples, including one project that's losing a year's worth of work and equipment that will end up buried under snow in Antarctica. But it goes beyond even the basic funding issues; in many cases, scientific work is simply too intertwined with the government to continue without it. Andrew Rosenberg, the director of the Union of Concerned Scientists' center for science and democracy, said, 'It is all so interconnected now. Federal researchers collect data that is utilized by researchers in academia, by people working in industry, at state and local levels, so when you ask how dependent are we on the federal government in terms of science, it's a bit like asking: do you need your left leg?'"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Time Magazine reports that according to an estimate from Standard & Poor's, the government shutdown, which ended with a deal late Wednesday night after 16 days, took $24 billion out of the U.S. economy and reduced projected fourth-quarter GDP growth from 3 percent to 2.4 percent. The breakdown includes about $3.1 billion in lost government services, $152 million per day in lost travel spending, $76 million per day lost because of National Parks being shut down, and $217 million per day in lost federal and contractor wages in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area alone. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers bore the economic brunt of the shutdown but small businesses also suffered from frozen government contracts and stalled business loans. With the deal only guaranteeing government funding through January 15, the situation could grow worse. 'This is a real corrosion on the economy,' says Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics. 'If we have to go down a similar road in the near future, the costs are going to continue to add up.'"
First time accepted submitter Saethan writes "Healthcare.gov, the site to be used by people in 36 states to get insurance as part of the Affordable Care Act, has apparently cost the U.S. Government $634 million. Not only is this more than Facebook spent during its first 6 years in operation, it is also over $500 million above what the original estimate was: $93.7 million. Why, in a country with some of the best web development companies in the world, has this website, which is poor quality at best, cost so much?" That $634 million figure comes from this U.S. government budget-tracking system. Given that this system is national rather than for a single city, maybe everyone should just be grateful the contract didn't go to TechnoDyne.
The partial government shut-down that the U.S. is experiencing right now is about to enter its second week. Various government functions and services have been disrupted (including some web sites, whether it's a good idea or not), and lots of workers on the Federal payroll have been furloughed. But since the U.S. government is involved in so many aspects of modern American life, you don't have to work for the government to be affected by the budget politics at play. So, whether or not you work for the government in any capacity, the question we'd like to hear your answer to is this: What does the shutdown mean to you, in practical terms, whether the effects are good, bad, or indifferent?
coondoggie writes "Call it a modern day love story: Boy meets girl; they 'like' each other; they privately sext naked pics of each other to celebrate; girl loses interest, breaks it off; guy responds by posting previously private pics to Internet site specializing in revenge; girl has little recourse, suffers much humiliation, ridicule. There is a lot of pressure to change the outcome of such wretched stories, which seem to be pervasive these days. Some relief is on the way the way, at least in California, where this week the governor signed one of the nation's first laws making so-called 'revenge porn' illegal. Specifically, the bill prevents people from electronically distributing or posting naked pictures of ex-romantic partners after a break-up with the intent to shame the person publicly."
dcblogs writes "The arrival of Obamacare may make it easier for some employees to quit their full-time jobs to launch tech start-ups, work as a freelance consultant, or pursue some other solo career path. Most tech start-up founders are older and need health insurance. 'The average age of people who create a tech start-up is 39, and not 20-something,' said Bruce Bachenheimer, who heads Pace University's Entrepreneurship Lab. Entrepreneurs are willing to take on risks, but health care is not a manageable risk, he said. 'There is a big difference between mortgaging your house on something you can control, and risking going bankrupt by an illness because of something you can't control,' said Bachenheimer. Donna Harris, the co-founder of the 1776 incubation platform in Washington, believes the healthcare law will encourage more start-ups. 'You have to know that there are millions of Americans who might be fantastic and highly successful entrepreneurs who are not pursuing that path because of how healthcare is structured,' said Harris"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Joseph Stromberg reports at the Smithsonian that if there's one group has an obvious and immediate financial stake in climate change, it's the insurance industry and in recent years, insurance industry researchers who attempt to determine the annual odds of catastrophic weather-related disasters say they're seeing something new. 'Our business depends on us being neutral. We simply try to make the best possible assessment of risk today, with no vested interest,' says Robert Muir-Wood, the chief scientist of Risk Management Solutions (RMS), a company that creates software models to allow insurance companies to calculate risk. Most insurers, including the reinsurance companies that bear much of the ultimate risk in the industry, have little time for the arguments heard in some right-wing circles that climate change isn't happening, and are quite comfortable with the scientific consensus that burning fossil fuels is the main culprit of global warming. 'Insurance is heavily dependent on scientific thought,' says Frank Nutter, president of the Reinsurance Association of America. 'It is not as amenable to politicized scientific thought.' A pronounced shift can be seen in extreme rainfall events, heat waves and wind storms and the underlying reason is climate change, says Muir-Wood, driven by rising greenhouse gas emissions. 'The first model in which we changed our perspective is on U.S. Atlantic hurricanes. Basically, after the 2004 and 2005 seasons, we determined that it was unsafe to simply assume that historical averages still applied,' he says. 'We've since seen that today's activity has changed in other particular areas as well—with extreme rainfall events, such as the recent flooding in Boulder, Colorado, and with heat waves in certain parts of the world.' Muir-Wood puts his money where his mouth is. 'I personally wouldn't invest in beachfront property anymore,' he says, noting the steady increase in sea level we're expecting to see worldwide in the coming century, on top of more extreme storms. 'And if you're thinking about it, I'd calculate quite carefully how far back you'd have to be in the event of a hurricane.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The National Security Agency sent a letter to its employees, affiliates and contractors to reassure them that the NSA is not really an abusive and unchecked spying agency engaged in illegal activity." Whatever you think of the commentary, you can read the original, attached to the linked story.
Funksaw writes "Here's an op-ed by first-time politician, long-time Slashdotter Brian Boyko, where he talks about his experiences testifying at the Texas Board of Education in favor of having real science in science textbooks. But beyond that, he also tries to examine, philosophically, why there is such hardened resistance to the idea of evolution in Texas. From the article: '[W]hat is true is that evolution tests faith. The fact of evolution is incontrovertible and supported by mounds of empirical evidence. Faith, on the other hand, is fragile. It is supported only by the strength of human will. And this is where it gets tricky. Because to many believers, faith, not works, is the only guarantee that one can pass God's litmus test and gain access to His divine kingdom. To lose one's faith is to literally damn oneself. So tests to that faith must be avoided at all costs. Better to be a philosophical coward than a theological failure.'"