Encrypted Social Network Vies For Disgruntled Facebook Users 162

angry tapir writes "With the look of Google Plus and Facebook-like elements, a new social network named "Syme" feels as cozy as a well-worn shoe. But beneath the familiar veneer, it's quite different. Syme encrypts all content, such as status updates, photos and files, so that only people invited to a group can view it. Syme, which hosts the content on its Canada-based servers, says it can't read it. "The overarching goal of Syme is to make encryption accessible and easy to use for people who aren't geeks or aren't hackers or who aren't cryptography experts," co-founder Jonathan Hershon said in an interview about the service." See also Diaspora.

Sebastian Thrun Pivots Udacity Toward Vocational Education 86

lpress writes "Udacity CEO and MOOC super star Sebastian Thrun has decided to scale back his original ambition of providing a free college education for everyone and focus on (lifelong) vocational education. A pilot test of Udacity material in for-credit courses at San Jose State University was discouraging, so Udacity is developing an AT&T-sponsored masters degree at Georgia Tech and training material for developers. If employers like this emphasis, it might be a bigger threat to the academic status quo than offering traditional college courses."

A Mercenary Approach To Botnets 34

CowboyRobot writes "The incentives are high for many businesses and government agencies to not be too heavy handed in combating the global botnet pandemic. There's money to be had and, with each passing day, more interesting ways are being uncovered in how to package the data, and how to employ it. It used to be that the worlds of bug hunters and malware analysts were separate and far between. In the last couple of years the ability to analyze malware samples and identify exploitable vulnerabilities in them has become very important. Given that some botnets have a bigger pool of victims than many commercial software vendors have licensed customers, the value of an exploit that grants reliable remote control of a popular malware agent is rising in value. In many ways, botnets have become a golden goose to those charged with gathering intelligence on the populations of foreign entities. The bulk of the victim's data is useful for mapping populations, communication profiles, and as egress points for counter intelligence exercises. Then, given how many botnet victims there are, the probability that a few 'interesting' computers will have succumbed along the way is similarly high — providing direct insight in to a pool of high value targets."
The Internet

Woman Fined For Bad Review Striking Back In Court 249

An anonymous reader writes "Here's an update to the earlier Slashdot story about 'fining' a couple for a bad review left four years earlier on RipoffReport: Not only did KlearGear report this as a bad debt to credit reporting agencies, but KlearGear is hiding behind a DomainsByProxy domain name to making finding their real identities harder. Now Public Citizen is representing the couple and is going after KlearGear for $75,000. The TV station that broke this story, KUTV, now reports that RipoffReport will likely be on the couple's side. The BBB and TRUSTe say their logos were used by without permission, and credit reporting agency Experian is also investigating."

New Windows XP Zero-Day Under Attack 241

wiredmikey writes "A new Windows kernel zero-day vulnerability is being exploited in targeted attacks against Windows XP users. Microsoft confirmed the issue and published a security advisory to acknowledge the flaw after anti-malware vendor FireEye warned that the Windows bug is being used in conjunction with an Adobe Reader exploit to infect Windows machines with malware. Microsoft described the issue as an elevation of privilege vulnerability that allows an attacker to run arbitrary code in kernel mode. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full administrative rights."
Open Source

Open Source In the Datacenter: It Was Never About Innovation 100

An anonymous reader writes "The secret to open source innovation, and the reason for its triumphal success, has nothing to do with the desire to innovate. It's because of the four freedoms and the level playing field (and agility) that was the end result. It's like Douglas Adams' definition of flying: you don't try to fly, you throw yourself at the ground and miss. This article explains why it was never about innovation — it was always about freedom. Quoting: 'When the forces of economics put constant downward price pressure on software, developers look for other ways to derive income. Given the choice between simply submitting to economic forces and releasing no-cost software in proprietary form, developers found open source models to be a much better deal. Some of us didn't necessarily like the mechanics of those models, which included dual licensing and using copyleft as a means of collecting ransom, but it was a model in which developers could thrive.'"

Ask Slashdot: Scientific Computing Workflow For the Cloud? 80

diab0lic writes "I have recently come into the situation where I need to run cloud computing on demand for my research. Amazon's EC2 Spot Instances are an ideal platform for this as I can requisition an appropriate instance for the given experiment {high cpu, high memory, GPU instance} depending on its needs. However I currently spin up the instance manually, set it up, run the experiment, and then terminate manually. This gets tedious monitoring experiments for completion, and I incur unnecessary costs if a job finishes while I'm sleeping, for example. The whole thing really should be automated. I'm looking for a workflow somewhat similar to this:
  1. Manually create Amazon machine image (AMI) for experiment.
  2. Issue command to start AMI on specified spot instance type.
  3. Automatically connect EBS to instance for result storage.
  4. Automatically run specified experiment, bonus if this can be parameterized.
  5. Have AMI automatically terminate itself upon experiment completion.

Something like docker that spun up on-demand spot instances of a specified type for each run and terminated said instance at run completion would be absolutely perfect. I also know HTCondor can back onto EC2 spot instances but I haven't really been able to find any concise information on how to set up a personal cloud — I also think this is slight overkill. Do any other Slashdot users have similar problems? How did you solve it? What is your workflow? Thanks!"

The Almighty Buck

Computer Model Reveals Escape Plan From Poverty's Vicious Circle 356

KentuckyFC writes "Infectious disease condemns poor countries to an endless cycle of ill health and poverty. Now a powerful new model of the link between disease and economic growth has revealed why some escape plans work while others just make matters worse. The problem is that when workers suffer from poor health, economic output goes down. And if economic output goes down, there is less to spend on healthcare. And if spending on healthcare drops, workers become less healthy. And so on. So an obvious solution is for a country to spend more on healthcare. But the new model says governments must take care since the cost to a poor country can send the economy spiraling into long term decline. By contrast, an injection of capital from outside the country allows spending on healthcare to increase without any drop in economic output. 'We find that a large influx of capital is successful in escaping the poverty trap, but increasing health spending alone is not,' say the authors. And the amount required is relatively little. The model suggests that long-term investment needs only to be more than 15 per cent of the cost of healthcare. But anything less than this cannot prevent the vicious circle of decline."

French Court Orders Search Engines, ISPs To Block Pirate Sites 75

rtoz sends word that a French court has ordered Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft to remove 16 unauthorized video streaming sites from their search results. Many ISPs were also ordered to block access to the sites. According to TorrentFreak, "The court ruled that the film industry had clearly demonstrated that the sites in question are 'dedicated or virtually dedicated to the distribution of audiovisual works without the consent of their creators,' thus violating their copyrights. As a result the search services of Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and local company Orange are now under orders to 'take all necessary measures to prevent the occurrence on their services of any results referring to any of the pages' on these sites. Several ISPs – Orange, Free, Bouygues Télécom, SFR, Numéricable and Darty Télécom were also ordered to 'implement all appropriate means including blocking' to prevent access to the infringing sites."

Study Linking GM Maize To Rat Tumors Is Retracted 341

ananyo writes "Bowing to scientists' near-universal scorn, the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology has fulfilled its threat to retract a controversial paper which claimed that a genetically modified (GM) maize causes serious disease in rats after the authors refused to withdraw it. The paper, from a research group led by Gilles-Eric Séralini, a molecular biologist at the University of Caen, France, and published in 2012, showed 'no evidence of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of the data,' said a statement from Elsevier, which publishes the journal. But the small number and type of animals used in the study means that 'no definitive conclusions can be reached.' The known high incidence of tumors in the Sprague-Dawley rat 'cannot be excluded as the cause of the higher mortality and incidence observed in the treated groups,' it added. Today's move came as no surprise. Earlier this month, the journal's editor-in-chief, Wallace Hayes, threatened retraction if Séralini refused to withdraw the paper, which is exactly what he announced at a press conference in Brussels this morning. Séralini and his team remained unrepentant, and allege that the retraction derives from the journal's editorial appointment of biologist Richard Goodman, who previously worked for biotechnology giant Monsanto for seven years."

Comet ISON Survives Perihelion (Barely) 62

An anonymous reader sends this update from NightSkyInfo: "Yesterday, when Comet ISON plunged through the solar atmosphere and behind SOHO's coronagraph (the black disk designed to block out the direct light from the Sun), its nucleus dwindled away to nothing and most of the tail simply evaporated. Everyone assumed that the comet completely disintegrated and died a fiery death. However, several hours after perihelion, ISON began to brighten up again. It is now distinctly evident on live images from SOHO, looks like a comet, and continues to brighten as it moves farther away from the Sun." Experts are unwilling to say precisely how intact the comet is — we'll need more data to make a conclusion about that — but astrophysicist Karl Battams says this is their best guess: 'As comet ISON plunged towards to the Sun, it began to fall apart, losing not giant fragments but at least a lot of reasonably sized chunks. There's evidence of very large dust in the form of that long thin tail we saw in the LASCO C2 images. Then, as ISON plunged through the corona, it continued to fall apart and vaporize, and lost its coma and tail completely just like Lovejoy did in 2011. (We have our theories as to why it didn't show up in the SDO images but that's not our story to tell - the SDO team will do that.) Then, what emerged from the Sun was a small but perhaps somewhat coherent nucleus, that has resumed emitting dust and gas for at least the time being. In essence, the tail is growing back, as Lovejoy's did.' Here's a GIF of the comet rounding the Sun (put together by Emily Lakdawalla).

Unpublished J. D. Salinger Stories Leaked On Bittorrent Site 218

192_kbps writes "Catcher in the Rye author J. D. Salinger wrote the short story The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls and left depository copies with a few academic libraries with the understanding that the work would not see mass distribution until the mid-21st century. The only authorized place to read the story is in a special reading room at Princeton where electronics are not allowed and a librarian continuously babysits the reader. A PDF of the story, as well as two other unpublished stories, appeared on private bittorrent site where a huge bounty had been placed for the work. Incredibly, the uploader (or someone connected to the uploader) bought an unauthorized copy on eBay for a pittance. The file, Three Stories, is making the bittorrent rounds but can also be read on mediafire."
The Internet

Group Thinks Anonymity Should Be Baked Into the Internet Itself Using Tor 123

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "David Talbot writes at MIT Technology review that engineers on the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), an informal organization of engineers that changes Internet code and operates by rough consensus, have asked the architects of Tor to consider turning the technology into an Internet standard. If widely adopted, such a standard would make it easy to include the technology in consumer and business products ranging from routers to apps and would allow far more people to browse the Web without being identified by anyone who might be spying on Internet traffic. The IETF is already working to make encryption standard in all web traffic. Stephen Farrell believes that forging Tor into a standard that interoperates with other parts of the Internet could be better than leaving Tor as a separate tool that requires people to take special action to implement. 'I think there are benefits that might flow in both directions,' says Farrell. 'I think other IETF participants could learn useful things about protocol design from the Tor people, who've faced interesting challenges that aren't often seen in practice. And the Tor people might well get interest and involvement from IETF folks who've got a lot of experience with large-scale systems.' Andrew Lewman, executive director of Tor, says the group is considering it. 'We're basically at the stage of 'Do we even want to go on a date together?' It's not clear we are going to do it, but it's worth exploring to see what is involved. It adds legitimacy, it adds validation of all the research we've done.'"

European Parliament Culls Public Wi-Fi Access After Email Hack 68

hypnosec writes "A white hat hacker managed to break into multiple email accounts thereby forcing the European Parliament to cutoff its public Wi-Fi access. The French security researcher apparently performed man-in-the-middle attacks on multiple email accounts in a bid to expose the poor security at the Parliament. Through an internal mailer, members of the Parliament were informed that a 'hacker has captured the communication between private smartphones and the public Wi-Fi of the Parliament (EP-EXT Network).' The public Wi-Fi has been cut-off indefinitely and users at located at Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg have been advised to apply for certificates and switch to more secure networks."
United States

Disabled Woman Denied Entrance To US Due To Private Medical Records 784

Jah-Wren Ryel writes "In 2012, Canadian Ellen Richardson was hospitalized for clinical depression. This past Monday she tried to board a plane to New York for a $6,000 Caribbean cruise. DHS denied her entry, citing supposedly private medical records listing her hospitalization. From the story: '“I was turned away, I was told, because I had a hospitalization in the summer of 2012 for clinical depression,’’ said Richardson, who is a paraplegic and set up her cruise in collaboration with a March of Dimes group of about 12 others.'"

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