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AI

NHTSA Gives Green Light To Self-Driving Cars 220

New submitter tyme writes: Reuters reports that the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) told Google that it would recognize the artificial intelligence in a self-driving car as the "driver" (rather than any of the occupants). The letter also says that NHTSA will write safety rules for self-driving cars in the next six months, paving the way for deployment of self-driving cars in large numbers.

Submission + - iRobot is selling off its military division (engadget.com)

AmiMoJo writes: Vacuum bot maker iRobot has sold off its defense and security division in order to focus on its core Roomba business. If you were unaware that iRobot even made military toys, the company actually got its start building military hardware for the likes of DARPA as far back as 1998. At one point, it was awarded a $286 million military contract to produce robots that can detect and disarm bombs and do other risky chores. Turns out, there just wasn't enough money in it. According to its financial statements, iRobot raked in around 15 times more money with Roomba vacs than military robots.
Encryption

Federal Bill Could Override State-Level Encryption Bans (thestack.com) 140

An anonymous reader writes: A new bill has been proposed in Congress today by Representatives Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) which looks to put a stop to any pending state-level legislation that could result in misguided encryption measures. The Ensuring National Constitutional Rights of Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016 comes as a response to state-level encryption bills which have already been proposed in New York state and California. These near-identical proposals argued in favour of banning the sale of smartphones sold in the U.S. that feature strong encryption and cannot be accessed by the manufacturer. If these bills are passed, current smartphones, including iPhone and Android models, would need to be significantly redesigned for sale in these two states. Now Lieu and Farenthold are making moves to prevent the passing of the bills because of their potential impact on trade [PDF] and the competitiveness of American firms.

Submission + - The Second Coming of Neuromorphic Computing (nextplatform.com)

An anonymous reader writes: There have been a couple of noteworthy investments that have fed existing research for neuromorphic architectures. The DARPA Synapse program was one such effort, which beginning in 2008, eventually yielded IBM’s “True North” chip—a 4096-core device comprised of 256 programmable “neurons” that act much like synapses in the brain, resulting in a highly energy efficient architecture that while fascinating—means an entire rethink of programming approaches. Since that time, other funding from scientific sources, including the Human Brain Project, have pushed the area further, leading to the creation of the SpiNNaker neuromorphic device, although there is still a lack of a single architecture that appears best for neuromorphic computing in general. The problem is really that there is no “general” purpose for such devices as of yet and no widely accepted device or programmatic approach...but all of that initial interest and funding is about to rewarded and things are set to change...

Submission + - Federal Bill Could Override State-Level Encryption Bans (thestack.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A new bill has been proposed in Congress today by Representatives Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) which looks to put a stop to any pending state-level legislation that could result in misguided encryption measures. The Ensuring National Constitutional Rights of Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016 comes as a response to state-level encryption bills which have already been proposed in New York state and California. These near-identical proposals argued in favour of banning the sale of smartphones sold in the U.S. that feature strong encryption and cannot be accessed by the manufacturer. If these bills are passed, current smartphones, including iPhone and Android models, would need to be significantly redesigned for sale in these two states. Now Lieu and Farenthold are making moves to prevent the passing of the bills because of their potential impact on trade [PDF] and the competitiveness of American firms.
Opera

Chinese Tech Group Offers To Buy Opera; Board Endorses 120

jones_supa writes: There's been plenty of speculation around the future of web browser maker Opera, and now that looks like it will soon be resolved. Today the Norway-headquartered company confirmed that it has received a $1.2 billion acquisition offer from a group fronted by Chinese consumer tech companies Kunlun Tech and Qihoo 360. The deal is for 100% of the company, and it represents a 53% premium on the company's valuation based on its most recent trading price. Opera's board said in a statement (PDF) that it has "unanimously decided to recommend" its shareholders to accept the bid. The final deal is subject to government and shareholders' approvals.

Submission + - NHTS Declares Google Self-Drive AI Is A 'Driver' (thestack.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has told Google that the artificial intelligence behind its driverless vehicles qualifies as a 'driver' for the purposes of highway regulation and testing. The Google experimental self-drive model omits fundamentals such as steering wheels, gas and brake pedals, with Google declaring that the opportunity for human intervention could prove detrimental to the safe functioning of the vehicle.

Submission + - Identity Thieves Obtain 100,000 Electronic Filing PINs From IRS System (csoonline.com)

itwbennett writes: In January attackers targeted an IRS Web application in an attempt to obtain E-file PINs corresponding to 464,000 previously stolen social security numbers (SSNs) and other taxpayer data. The automated bot was blocked by the IRS after obtaining 100,000 PINs. The IRS said in a statement Tuesday that the SSNs were not stolen from the agency and that the agency would be notifying affected taxpayers.
Advertising

Why Stack Overflow Doesn't Care About Ad Blockers 287

Press2ToContinue writes: Forging a bold step in the right direction, Stack Overflow announced today that they don't care if you use an ad blocker when you visit their site. "The truth is: we don't care if our users use ad blockers on Stack Overflow. More accurately: we hope that they won't, but we understand that some people just don't like ads. Our belief is that if someone doesn't like them, and they won't click on them, any impressions served to them will only annoy them-- plus, serving ads to people who won't click on them harms campaign performance. ... Publishers can't win by forcing ads — especially low-quality ads — in people's faces. Think scantily-clad women selling flight deals, weight-loss supplement promos or wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube-men promoting car dealerships." It's possible that this declaration by SO might help to clarify to advertisers that it is the overabundance of low quality ads that practically force the public to seek out ad blockers. But seriously, what is the likelihood of that?
Encryption

NSA Chief: Arguing Against Encryption Is a Waste of Time (theintercept.com) 184

An anonymous reader writes: On Thursday, NSA director Mike Rogers said, "encryption is foundational to the future." He added that it was a waste of time to argue that encryption is bad or that we ought to do away with it. Rogers is taking a stance in opposition to many other government officials, like FBI director James Comey. Rogers further said that neither security nor privacy should be the imperative that drives everything else. He said, "We've got to meet these two imperatives. We've got some challenging times ahead of us, folks."
Space

The Russian Plan To Use Space Mirrors To Turn Night Into Day (vice.com) 126

merbs writes: Throughout the early 90s, a team of Russian astronomers and engineers were hellbent on literally turning night into day. By shining a giant mirror onto the earth from space, they figured they could bring sunlight to the depths of night, extending the workday, cutting back on lighting costs and allowing laborers to toil longer. If this sounds a bit like the plot of a Bond film, well, it's that too. The difference is that for a second there, the scientists, led by Vladimir Sergeevich Syromyatnikov, one of the most important astronautical engineers in history, actually pulled it off.

Submission + - LastPass Disputes Severity of LostPass Phishing Attack

Trailrunner7 writes: A security researcher has developed a phishing attack against the LastPass password manager app that is virtually impossible to detect and has the ability to mimic the LastPass login sequence perfectly.

The technique takes advantage of several weaknesses in the way that LastPass handles user logout notifications and the resulting authentication sequence. Sean Cassidy, the CTO of Seattle-based Praesidio, developed the attack and has released code for the technique, which he calls LostPass. In essence, the technique allows an attacker to copy much of the login sequence for a LastPass user, including the use of identical login dialogs and the ability to capture and replay two-factor authentication codes.

In order for LostPass to work, an attacker needs to get a victim to visit a malicious site where the LostPass code is deployed. The code will check to see if the victim has LastPass installed, and if so, use a CSRF (cross-site request forgery) weakness in LastPass to force the victim to log out of the app. The attacker using LostPass then will show the victim the notification telling her she’s logged out and when she clicks on it, will bring her to the login page the attacker controls. It will look identical to the authentic one.

Once the victim enters her credentials, they are sent to the attacker’s server, who can use the LastPass API to check their authenticity. If the server says that 2FA is set up on the victim’s account, LostPass will display a screen to enter the 2FA code, which the attacker will capture and use to log in to the victim’s account.

LastPass says Cassidy didn't contact him in November, as he claims, but Cassidy said he did and also gave the company all of the information in his ShmooCon talk well before he spoke.

Submission + - Future iPhones may contain Li-Fi, a technology with a transfer speed of 224 Gbps (bgr.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Recently discovered code in iOS suggests that Apple may be exploring the feasibility of incorporating Li-Fi functionality into future iPhone models. Li-Fi, in case you’re unfamiliar, is a technology capable of transmitting data via light. What makes Li-Fi so compelling is that it’s effectively Wi-Fi on steroids and can transmit data more than 100 times faster than a standard Wi-Fi connection.

In lab conditions, researchers this past February were able to achieve Li-Fi speeds of 224 gigabits per second, fast enough to download multiple HD movies in less than two seconds. While Li-Fi still remains something of an experimental technology, iOS 9’s references to the blazing fast data transfer technology are certainly intriguing.

Is this likely to be a feature with the iPhone 7? Not a chance. As it stands today, Li-Fi, despite its promises of speed, is still plagued with a number of limitations. At a base level, it can’t work through walls because, well, visible light can’t travel through walls. In this respect, Wi-Fi has a huge practical advantage. Not only that, but a Li-Fi enabled device needs to have a direct line of sight to an operational light sensor to operate. This operational limitation, however, does make Li-Fi a more secure transfer protocol than Wi-Fi. Today, Li-Fi is far from being a true Wi-Fi replacement, but it’s not out of the realm of comprehension that Li-Fi, in the future, may dutifully serve as a Wi-Fi supplement.

Submission + - UK Voice Crypto Standard Built for Key Escrow, Mass Surveillance

Trailrunner7 writes: The U.K. government’s standard for encrypted voice communications, which already is in use in intelligence and other sectors and could be mandated for use in critical infrastructure applications, is set up to enable easy key escrow, according to new research.

The standard is known as Secure Chorus, which implements an encryption protocol called MIKEY-SAKKE. The protocol was designed by GCHQ, the U.K.’s signals intelligence agency, the equivalent in many ways to the National Security Agency in the United States. MIKEY-SAKKE is designed for voice and video encryption specifically, and is an extension of the MIKEY (Multimedia Internet Keying) protocol, which supports the use of EDH (Ephemeral Diffie Hellman) for key exchange.

“MIKEY supports EDH but MIKEY-SAKKE works in a way much closer to email encryption. The initiator of a call generates key material, uses SAKKE to encrypt it to the other communication partner (responder), and sends this message to the responder during the set-up of the call. However, SAKKE does not require that the initiator discover the responder’s public key because it uses identity-based encryption (IBE),” Dr. Steven Murdoch of University College London’s Department of Computer Science, wrote in a new analysis of the security of the Secure Chorus standard.

“By design there is always a third party who generates and distributes the private keys for all users. This third party therefore always has the ability to decrypt conversations which are encrypted using these private keys,” Murdoch said by email.

He added that the design of Secure Chorus “is not an accident.”

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