mrspoonsi writes "Business Insider Reports: The National Security Agency described for the first time a cataclysmic cyber threat it claims to have stopped On Sunday's '60 Minutes.' Called a BIOS attack, the exploit would have ruined, or 'bricked,' computers across the country, causing untold damage to the national and even global economy. Even more shocking, CBS goes as far as to point a finger directly at China for the plot — 'While the NSA would not name the country behind it, cyber security experts briefed on the operation told us it was China.' The NSA says it closed this vulnerability by working with computer manufacturers. Debora Plunkett, director of cyber defense for the NSA: One of our analysts actually saw that the nation state had the intention to develop and to deliver — to actually use this capability — to destroy computers."
An anonymous reader writes "A New Zealand backpacker stripped of all electrical equipment at Auckland airport suggests attending a London talk on cyber-security following the Edward Snowden leaks may be to blame. Samuel Blackman was returning home for Christmas on 11 December from London Heathrow to Auckland via San Francisco when a customs officer at his final destination took the law graduate's two smartphones, iPad, external hard drive and laptop, demanding the passwords for all devices." For a quieter version, see also The New Zealand Herald.
New submitter Cid Highwind writes "If you want to download the latest version of Winamp, you'd better do it soon. According to a new banner on the download page, AOL will be pulling the plug on the iconic llama-whipping music player in a month. 'Winamp.com and associated web services will no longer be available past December 20, 2013. Additionally, Winamp Media players will no longer be available for download. Please download the latest version before that date. See release notes for latest improvements to this last release. Thanks for supporting the Winamp community for over 15 years.' Ars Technica ran an article last year detailing how the music player lost its dominance."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "The Boston Globe reports that the pending use of GPS tracking devices, slated to be installed in Boston police cruisers, has many officers worried that commanders will monitor their every move. Boston police administrators say the system gives dispatchers the ability to see where officers are, rather than wait for a radio response and supervisors insist the system will improve their response to emergencies. Using GPS, they say, accelerates their response to a call for a shooting or an armed robbery. 'We'll be moving forward as quickly as possible,' says former police commissioner Edward F. Davis. 'There are an enormous amount of benefits. . . . This is clearly an important enhancement and should lead to further reductions in crime.' But some officers said they worry that under such a system they will have to explain their every move and possibly compromise their ability to court street sources. 'No one likes it. Who wants to be followed all over the place?' said one officer who spoke anonymously because department rules forbid police from speaking to the media without authorization. 'If I take my cruiser and I meet [reluctant witnesses] to talk, eventually they can follow me and say why were you in a back dark street for 45 minutes? It's going to open up a can of worms that can't be closed.' Meanwhile civil libertarians are relishing the rank and file's own backlash. 'The irony of police objecting to GPS technology for privacy reasons is hard to miss in the aftermath of United States v. Jones,' says Woodrow Hartzog. 'But the officers' concerns about privacy illustrate just how revealing GPS technology can be. Departments are going to have to confront the chilling effect this surveillance might have on police behavior.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Employees don't like to be graded on the bell curve (or any other curve except for Lake Wobegon's) — we know that from the Microsoft experience. But Yahoo is struggling with what some say is vastly bloated headcount, and CEO Marissa Mayer has implemented a 'quarterly performance review' system that requires, or strongly recommends, that managers place a certain quota of their charges in the less-than-stellar categories. That sounds a lot like the infamous GE-Microsoft stack rank system. But according to AllThingsD's Kara Swisher, who (as usual) broke the latest story about life inside Mayer's Yahoo, Mayer's curve may more similar to the elaborate evaluation system used by her old employer, Google."
An anonymous reader writes "Paedophiles may escape detection because highly-classified material about Britain's surveillance capabilities have been published by the Guardian newspaper, the UK government has claimed. A senior Whitehall official said data stolen by Edward Snowden, a former contractor to the US National Security Agency, could be exploited by child abusers and other cyber criminals. It could also put lives at risk by disclosing secrets to terrorists, insurgents and hostile foreign governments, he said."
An anonymous reader writes in with good news for Windows loving nonprofits and libraries. "Microsoft today announced the availability of Windows 8.1 for nonprofits. The move is an extension of the company's nod to the nonprofit community with the launch Windows 8. The announcement means eligible nonprofit organizations and public libraries can request Windows 8.1 through Microsoft's software donation program."
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Silk Road is rising from the dead. After the FBI seized the deep web's favourite illegal drug market and arrested its alleged founder Ross Ulbricht last month (for, among other things, ordering a hit through his own website), the online-marketplace-cum-libertarian-movement has found a new home and opened for business at 16:20 GMT this afternoon. In the wake of the original Silk Road's closure, everything became a little turbulent for its users. First, they had to get used to not getting high-quality, peer-reviewed drugs delivered direct to their sofas. (Though presumably they didn't stop getting high, instead forced back to the 'mystery mix' street dealers and surly ex-Balkan war criminals who have spent years filling cities with drugs at night.) Some users were pissed off that they'd lost all the Bitcoin wealth they'd amassed, or that paid-for orders would go undelivered, while small-time dealers freaked out about how they suddenly lacked the funds to pay off debts owed to drug sellers higher up the food chain."
mrspoonsi writes "Dutch researchers conducted a 10-week sting, using a life-like, computer-generated 10-year-old Filipino girl named 'Sweetie.' During this time, 20,000 men contacted her. 1,000 of these men offered money to remove clothing (254 were from the U.S., 110 from the U.K. and 103 from India). Charity organization Terre des Hommes launched a global campaign to stop 'webcam sex tourism.' It has 'handed over its findings to police and has said it will provide authorities with the technology it has developed."
New submitter GODISNOWHERE writes "Nortel went bankrupt in 2009. In 2011, it held an auction for its massive patent portfolio. The winners of the auction were Apple, Microsoft, Sony, RIM, and others, who bought the patents for $4.5 billion as a consortium named Rockstar Bidco. At the time, many people speculated those patents would be used against Google, who bid separately but lost. It turns out they were right. Rockstar has filed eight lawsuits in federal court targeting Google and Android device manufacturers. 'The complaint (PDF) against Google involves six patents, all from the same patent "family." They're all titled "associative search engine," and list Richard Skillen and Prescott Livermore as inventors. The patents describe "an advertisement machine which provides advertisements to a user searching for desired information within a data network. The oldest patent in the case is US Patent No. 6,098,065, with a filing date of 1997, one year before Google was founded. The newest patent in the suit was filed in 2007 and granted in 2011. The complaint tries to use the fact that Google bid for the patents as an extra point against the search giant.'"
barlevg writes "The Washington Post reports that, according to documents obtained from Edward Snowden, through their so-called 'MUSCULAR' initiative, the National Security Agency has exploited a weakness in the transfers between data centers, which Google and others pay a premium to send over secure fiber optic cables. The leaked documents include a post-it note as part of an internal NSA Powerpoint presentation showing a diagram of Google network traffic, an arrow pointing to the Google front-end server with text reading, 'SSL Added and Removed Here' with a smiley face. When shown the sketch by The Post and asked for comment, two engineers with close ties to Google responded with strings of profanity." The Washington Post report is also summarized at SlashBI. Also in can't-trust-the-government-not-to-spy news, an anonymous reader writes: "According to recent reports, the National Security Agency collects 'one-end foreign' Internet metadata as it passes through the United States. The notion is that purely domestic communications should receive greater protection, and that ordinary Americans won't send much personal information outside the country. A researcher at Stanford put this hypothesis to the test... and found that popular U.S. websites routinely pass browsing activity to international servers. Even the House of Representatives website was sending traffic to London. When the NSA vacuums up international Internet metadata, then, it's also snooping on domestic web browsing by millions of Americans."
An anonymous reader writes "Debian has been one of the last holdouts using SysVinit over a modern init system, but now after much discussion amongst Debian developers, they are deciding whether to support systemd or Upstart as their default init system. The Debian technical committee has been asked to vote on which init system to use, which could swing in favor of using Upstart due to the Canonical bias present on the committee."
An anonymous reader writes "According to a recent Pew Research poll a third of Americans get their news while they 'like' things. 'All in all, then, it may be the very incidental nature of the site that ultimately exposes more people to news there,' Pew said. 'Indeed, the more time one spends on the site, the more likely they are to get news there.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The administrator of file-sharing site UploaderTalk shocked and enraged his userbase a few days ago when he revealed that the site was nothing more than a honeypot set up by a company called Nuke Piracy. The main purpose of the site had been to gather data on its users. The administrator said, 'I collected info on file hosts, web hosts, websites. I suckered $#!&loads of you. I built a history, got the trust of some very important people in the warez scene collecting information and data all the time.' Nobody knows what Nuke Piracy is going to do with the data, but it seems reasonable to expect lawsuits and the further investigation of any services the users discussed. His very public betrayal is likely meant to sow discord and distrust among the groups responsible for distributing pirated files."
An anonymous reader writes with this news from the Guardian: "GCHQ lobbied furiously to keep secret the fact that telecoms firms had gone 'well beyond' what they were legally required to do to help intelligence agencies' mass interception of communications, both in the UK and overseas. GCHQ feared a legal challenge under the right to privacy in the Human Rights Act if evidence of its surveillance methods became admissable in court. GCHQ assisted the Home Office in lining up sympathetic people to help with "press handling", including the Liberal Democrat peer and former intelligence services commissioner Lord Carlile, who this week criticised the Guardian for its coverage of mass surveillance by GCHQ and the US National Security Agency."