Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Researchers Calculate Capacity of a Steganographic Channel 114

KentuckyFC writes "Steganography is the art of hiding a message in such a way that only the sender and receiver realize it is there. (By contrast, cryptography disguises the content of a message but makes no attempt to hide it.) The central problem for steganographers is how much data can be hidden without being detected. But the complexity of this problem has meant it has been largely ignored. Now two computer scientists (one working for Google) have made a major theoretical breakthrough by tackling the problem in the same way that the electrical engineer Claude Shannon calculated the capacity of an ordinary communications channel in the 1940s. In Shannon's theory, a transmission is considered successful if the decoder properly determines which message the encoder has sent. In the stego-channel, a transmission is successful if the decoder properly determines the sent message without anybody else detecting its presence (abstract). Studying a stego-channel in this way leads to some counter-intuitive results: for example, in certain circumstances, doubling the number of algorithms looking for hidden data can increase the capacity of the steganographic channel"

Canada Comet Lengthened the Ice Age 66

Iddo Genuth writes "Recent geological evidence gathered in Ohio and Indiana has been verified by a University of Cincinnati assistant professor as support of a comet theory, claiming a comet explosion over earth was the cause of drastic changes to life on our planet. This evidence strengthens initial data collected over a year ago. The explosion, which occurred over what is now Canada, caused the extinction of animals and cultures and lengthened the Ice Age nearly 13,000 years ago that should have been coming to an end."

Virgin Galactic Shows the Finished WhiteKnight Two 212

Klaus Schmidt writes "Virgin Galactic today unveiled their WhiteKnight Two mothership, called 'EVE.' It is designed to carry the smaller SpaceShip Two into space. The rollout represents another major milestone in Virgin Galactic's quest to launch the world's first private, environmentally benign, space access system for people, payload and science. Christened 'EVE' in honor of Richard Branson's mother — Sir Richard performed the official naming ceremony — WK2 is both visually remarkable and represents ground-breaking aerospace technology. It is the world's largest all carbon composite aircraft and many of its component parts have been built using composite materials for the very first time. At 140 ft, the wing span is the longest single carbon composite aviation component ever manufactured."
The Courts

User Charged With Felony For Using Fake Name On MySpace 931

Recently a user, Lori Drew, was charged with a felony for the heinous crime of pretending to be someone else on the Internet. Using the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Lori was charged for signing up for MySpace using a fake name. "The access to MySpace was unauthorized because using a fake name violated the terms of service. The information from a "protected computer" was the profiles of other MySpace users. If this is found to be a valid interpretation of the law, it's really quite frightening. If you violate the Terms of Service of a website, you can be charged with hacking. That's an astounding concept. Does this mean that everyone who uses Bugmenot could be prosecuted? Also, this isn't a minor crime, it's a felony punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment per count. In Drew's case she was charged with three counts for accessing MySpace on three different occasions."

ISPs Experimenting With New P2P Controls 173

alphadogg points us to a NetworkWorld story about the search by ISPs for new ways to combat the web traffic issues caused by P2P applications. Among the typical suggestions of bandwidth caps and usage-based pricing, telecom panelists at a recent conference also discussed localized "cache servers," which would hold recent (legal) P2P content in order to keep clients from reaching halfway around the world for parts of a file. "ISPs' methods for managing P2P traffic have come under intense scrutiny in recent months after the Associated Press reported last year that Comcast was actively interfering with P2P users' ability to upload files by sending TCP RST packets that informed them that their connection would have to be reset. While speakers rejected that Comcast method, some said it was time to follow the lead of Comcast and begin implementing caps for individual users who are consuming disproportionately high amounts of bandwidth."

PhD Research On Software Design Principles? 541

cconnell writes "I am working on a PhD in software engineering at Tufts University. My interest are the general principles of good software design, and I am looking for links/references on this topic. The question is: What design/architecture qualities are shared by all good software? Good software means lacking in bugs, maintainable, modifiable, scalable, etc... Please don't tell me 'use object oriented methods' or 'try extreme programming.' These answers are too narrow, since there is good software written in COBOL, and by 1000-person teams for DoD projects. I am looking for general design principles. If it helps, I am trying to build on the ideas in this article from some years back."

AT&T, 2Wire Ignoring Active Security Exploit [Updated] 134

An anonymous reader writes "2Wire manufactures DSL modems and routers for AT&T and other major carriers. Their devices suffer from a DNS redirection vulnerability that can be used as part of a variety of attacks, including phishing, identity theft, and denial of service. This exploit was publicly reported more than eight months ago and applies to nearly all 2Wire firmware revisions. The exploit itself is trivial to implement, requiring the attacker only to embed a specially crafted URL into a Web site or email. User interaction is not required, as the URL may be embedded as an image that loads automatically with the requested content. The 2Wire exploit bypasses any password set on the modem/router and is being actively exploited in the wild. AT&T has been deploying 2Wire DSL modems and router/gateways for years, so there exists a large vulnerable installed base. So far, AT&T/2Wire haven't done anything about this exploit." Update: 04/09 17:48 GMT by KD : AT&T spokesman Seth Bloom sends word that AT&T has not been ignoring the problem. According to Bloom: "The majority of our customers did not have gateways affected by this vulnerability. For those that did, as soon as we became aware of the issue, we expeditiously implemented a permanent solution to close the vulnerability. In fact, we've already updated the majority of affected 2Wire gateways, and we're nearing completion of the process. We've received no reports of any significant threats targeting our customers."

Micro-Projectors May Bring YouTube On-The-Go 143

An anonymous reader writes "A tiny portable projector, about the size of a pack of cards, may soon replace a ring tone as the most annoying thing on the train or bus. These technical innovations can project an image up to 50 inches in size in dark lighting, making them ideal for on-the-road business presentations. They can also be hooked up to cell phones or media devices, though, possibly introducing a whole new level of social intrusion into US culture. 'Digital projectors were once bulky. These new models, though, are small enough to fit into the pocket of consumers who want a big-screen experience from a small-screen device. Some of the models are expected to be on the market by year-end, or sooner. Prices have yet to be announced. Matthew S. Brennesholtz, an analyst at Insight Media, a marketing research firm in Norwalk, Conn., says he thinks the projectors will initially cost about $350, then quickly drop to less than $300.'"
United States

The Century's Top Engineering Challenges 290

coondoggie writes "The National Science Foundation announced today 14 grand engineering challenges for the 21st century that, if met, would greatly improve how we live. The final choices fall into four themes that are essential for humanity to flourish — sustainability, health, reducing vulnerability, and joy of living. The committee did not attempt to include every important challenge, nor did it endorse particular approaches to meeting those selected. Rather than focusing on predictions or gee-whiz gadgets, the goal was to identify what needs to be done to help people and the planet thrive, the group said. A diverse committee of engineers and scientists — including Larry Page, Robert Langer, and Robert Socolow — came up with the list but did not rank the challenges. Rather, the National Academy of Engineering is offering the public an opportunity to vote on which one they think is most important."

Airport Security Prize Announced 381

Reservoir Hill writes "Verified Identity Pass, a firm that offers checkpoint services at airports, has announced a $500,000 award for any solution that will make airport security checks quicker and simpler for passengers. The cash prize will go to any individual, company or institution that can get customers through airport security 15% faster, at a cost of less than 25 cents per passenger, using technology or processes that will be approved by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Passengers must not need to remove their clothes or shoes, something that slows down processing significantly. "We're looking at moving things that are conceptual or in the lab to things that we can deploy," says company spokesman Jason Slibeck and added that over 150 individuals, start-ups, defense contractors and universities have shown an interest in the prize. One promising procedure is mass spectroscopy, which involves analyzing the mass-charge ratio of ions on a swab sample taken from a passenger's clothing or air collected from around them to spot traces of substances including explosives or drugs. The Pre-Registration Package Information Sheet is available online."

Nimoy May Be the Star of the Next Trek Film? 248

ajs writes "Moriarty, over on Ain't It Cool News is running a column about the upcoming J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie. In it, he discusses some theories about where the movie is going, but doesn't reveal his sources. He claims that Nimoy's Spock, not the younger versions of the original Trek trio, will be the primary star of the film; and that the movie will make some very substantial changes to the Trek lore in a way that is internally consistent with what went before, but opens up many more options for future franchise films or series. If he's right, there are some pretty substantial spoilers in the column." Obviously, as unverifiable speculation this should be taken with a grain of salt. Live long and prosper.

BusinessWeek Advocates Microsoft Piracy 181

xzvf writes "In a lengthy editorial, BusinessWeek advocates allowing users in China and India to pirate Microsoft software so that it can obtain the same level of market share there as it has in the US and Europe. From the piece: 'If Microsoft succeeds in discouraging piracy of Windows in China and India, it is far more likely to drive the user of the pirated software into the Linux camp than it is to steer them into the land of paid-up Windows users. Microsoft's IP management strategy in China and India should instead focus on securing the victory of Windows on the desktops of all PC users. That may require deliberately lax enforcement efforts against pirated copies of Windows for the short and medium term. Only after the Linux threat lessens might Microsoft have the luxury of tightening up piracy protections, as it is now doing in the West. Microsoft can afford to be patient.'"

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but "That's funny ..." -- Isaac Asimov