Submission + - First bicycle tax in nation (washingtontimes.com)

turkeydance writes: In Oregon, a state known for its avid bicycling culture, the state legislature’s approval of the first bike tax in the nation has fallen flat with riders.
Democratic Gov. Kate Brown is expected to sign the sweeping $5.3 billion transportation package, which includes a $15 excise tax on the sale of bicycles costing more than $200 with a wheel diameter of at least 26 inches.Even though the funding has been earmarked for improvements that will benefit cyclists, the tax has managed to irk both anti-tax Republicans and environmentally conscious bikers alike.

Submission + - Exploit Derived From EternalSynergy Upgraded to Target Newer Windows Versions (bleepingcomputer.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Thai security researcher Worawit Wang has put together an exploit based on ETERNALSYNERGY that can also target newer versions of the Windows operating system. ETERNALSYNERGY is one of the NSA exploits leaked by the Shadow Brokers hacking group in April this year. According to a Microsoft technical analysis, the exploit can allow an attacker to execute code on Windows machines with SMB services exposed to external connections. The exploit works up to Windows 8. According to Microsoft, the techniques used in the original ETERNALSYNERGY exploit do not work on newer platforms due to several kernel security improvements.

Wang says his exploit targets the same vulnerability but uses a different exploitation technique. His method "should never crash a target," the expert says. "Chance should be nearly 0%," Wang adds. Combining his exploit with the original ETERNALSYNERGY exploit would allow a hacker to target all Windows versions except Windows 10. This is about 75% of all Windows PCs. The exploit code is available for download from Wang's GitHub or ExploitDB. Sheila A. Berta, a security researcher for Telefonica's Eleven Paths security unit, has published a step-by-step guide on how to use Wang's exploit.

Submission + - Private Student Loan Debts May Be Wiped Away By Missing Paperwork (nytimes.com)

cdreimer writes: According to The New York Times: "Tens of thousands of people who took out private loans to pay for college but have not been able to keep up payments may get their debts wiped away because critical paperwork is missing. The troubled loans, which total at least $5 billion, are at the center of a protracted legal dispute between the student borrowers and a group of creditors who have aggressively pursued them in court after they fell behind on payments. Judges have already dismissed dozens of lawsuits against former students, essentially wiping out their debt, because documents proving who owns the loans are missing. A review of court records by The New York Times shows that many other collection cases are deeply flawed, with incomplete ownership records and mass-produced documentation. Some of the problems playing out now in the $108 billion private student loan market are reminiscent of those that arose from the subprime mortgage crisis a decade ago, when billions of dollars in subprime mortgage loans were ruled uncollectable by courts because of missing or fake documentation. And like those troubled mortgages, private student loans — which come with higher interest rates and fewer consumer protections than federal loans — are often targeted at the most vulnerable borrowers, like those attending for-profit schools."

Submission + - Comcast Says Should Be Able To Create Internet Fast Lanes For Self-Driving Cars (theverge.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Comcast filed comments in support of the FCC’s plan to kill the 2015 net neutrality rules today. And while pretty much everything in them is expected — Comcast thinks the rules are burdensome and hurt investment, yet it says it generally supports the principles of net neutrality — there’s one telling new quirk that stands out in its phrasing: Comcast now says it’s in support of a ban on “anticompetitive paid prioritization,” which is really a way of saying paid prioritization should be allowed. “The commission also should bear in mind that a more flexible approach to prioritization may be warranted and may be beneficial to the public,” Comcast says in its filing. The key qualification is “anticompetitive,” which is a term that could be interpreted in a lot of different ways depending on who’s defining it.

Comcast doesn’t just see paid fast lanes being useful for medicine, however. It also thinks they might be fair to sell to automakers for use in autonomous vehicles. “Likewise, for autonomous vehicles that may require instantaneous data transmission, black letter prohibitions on paid prioritization may actually stifle innovation instead of encouraging it,” the filing says. This makes Comcast’s position pretty confusing. Comcast says it opposes prioritizing one website over another. It even suggests the commission adopt a “strong presumption against” agreements that benefit an ISP’s own content over competitors’ work, but it’s not clear how benefiting one car company or telemedicine company over another is any different.

Submission + - US To Create the Independent US Cyber Command, Split Off From NSA (pbs.org)

An anonymous reader writes: After months of delay, the Trump administration is finalizing plans to revamp the nation’s military command for defensive and offensive cyber operations in hopes of intensifying America’s ability to wage cyberwar against the Islamic State group and other foes, according to U.S. officials. Under the plans, U.S. Cyber Command would eventually be split off from the intelligence-focused National Security Agency. The goal, they said, is to give U.S. Cyber Command more autonomy, freeing it from any constraints that stem from working alongside the NSA, which is responsible for monitoring and collecting telephone, internet and other intelligence data from around the world — a responsibility that can sometimes clash with military operations against enemy forces. Making cyber an independent military command will put the fight in digital space on the same footing as more traditional realms of battle on land, in the air, at sea and in space. The move reflects the escalating threat of cyberattacks and intrusions from other nation states, terrorist groups and hackers, and comes as the U.S. faces ever-widening fears about Russian hacking following Moscow’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 American election.

Submission + - Facial Recognition Coming to Police Body Cameras (defenseone.com)

schwit1 writes: Even if the cop who pulls you over doesn’t recognize you, the body camera on his chest eventually just might.

Device-maker Motorola will work with artificial intelligence software startup Neurala to build “real-time learning for a person of interest search” on products such as the Si500 body camera for police, the firm announced Monday.

Italian-born neuroscientist and Neurala founder Massimiliano Versace has created patent-pending image recognition and machine learning technology. It’s similar to other machine learning methods but far more scalable, so a device carried by that cop on his shoulder can learn to recognize shapes and — potentially faces — as quickly and reliably as a much larger and more powerful computer. It works by mimicking the mammalian brain, rather than the way computers have worked traditionally.

Versace’s research was funded, in part, by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA under a program called SyNAPSE. In a 2010 paper for IEEE Spectrum, he describes the breakthrough. Basically, a tiny constellation of processors do the work of different parts of the brain — which is sometimes called neuromorphic computation — or “computation that can be divided up between hardware that processes like the body of a neuron and hardware that processes the way dendrites and axons do.” Versace’s research shows that AIs can learn in that environment using a lot less code.

Submission + - GOP congress calls climate change a 'national security threat,' (newsweek.com)

Layzej writes: The majority-Republican House of Representatives declared Friday that climate change is a national security threat while passing a defense spending bill, according to reports. It's a stunning turn for a party that has for a long time distanced itself from climate science in favor of business interests.

The surprising section calls global warming “a direct threat to the national security” and instructs the Pentagon to create a report on how climate change could affect the military. It asks for a list of 10 bases that could be susceptible to phenomena such as increased flooding and rising oceans.

Submission + - UK age checks on porn sites:the UK government doesn't understand the web (betanews.com)

Mark Wilson writes: If there's anything that the UK government has demonstrated in recent years it is that it not only wants to try to take control of the web, but it also fails to understand the web. These two facts make for a terrible combination — something highlighted by the snooper's charter and the government's desire to break encryption on demand.

The latest idea — ushered in under the guise of protecting children in a bid to win points — is the introduction of age restriction on porn sites. The Digital Economy Act will require porn sites to use credit card verification to check that users are aged 18 or over. There are numerous holes here, illustrating that the government simply doesn’t know what it's talking about.

Submission + - Free Digital Certificates Come with a Cost (threatpost.com)

msm1267 writes: Let’s Encrypt is the largest certificate authority by volume doling out more than 100,000 free domain certificates a day. The non-profit fulfills a noble mission of securing website communications that is applauded across the internet; it has raised the bar on SSL and TLS security, issuing 100 million HTTPS certificates as of June 2017.

However, despite industry accolades by privacy activists and praise from those in the security community for its mission, some critics are sounding alarm bells and warning that Let’s Encrypt might be guilty of going too far, too fast, and delivering too much of a good thing without the right checks and balances in place.

Submission + - US and Australia finish a key round of hypersonic missile tests (engadget.com)

schwit1 writes: The US and its allies are determined to be first out of the gate with hypersonic weapons, and they've just taken a big stride forward in that regard... not that they're saying much about it. Both the US and Australia have confirmed that they recently completed a series of mysterious hypersonic missile tests. All the countries will say is that the flights were successful, and that they represented "significant milestones" in testing everything from the design assembly to the control mechanisms. They won't even say which vehicles were used or how quickly they traveled, although past tests have usually relied on Terrier Orion rockets (above) and have reached speeds as high as Mach 8.

The tests are part of the long-running HIFiRE (Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation) program, whose first launch took place way back in 2009. They should help bring hypersonic flight to a "range of applications," according to HIFiRE partner BAE. That could easily include ultra-fast aircraft, but it's widely believed the focus here is on missiles and similar unmanned weapons. A hypersonic missile would fulfill the US military's goal of building a conventional weapon that can strike anywhere within an hour, and it would be virtually impossible to stop using existing missile defenses. In theory, enemy nations wouldn't dare attack if they knew they'd face certain retaliation within minutes.

Any real-world uses of hypersonic weapons are likely years away, but they might come sooner than you think. US Navy Admiral Harry Harris recently worried about keeping up with (or ahead of) of hypersonic weapon development by the Chinese and Russians. These latest tests signal that the US isn't just treating hypersonic weapons as theoretical exercises. It wants practical uses in a reasonable time frame — if just to say that it's keeping up with its rivals.

Submission + - U.S. Has An Infrastructure Problem In Antarctica (nytimes.com)

cdreimer writes: According to The New York Times: "The American research station on the edge of this frozen continent may look like a mining camp in the wilderness, but it is actually one of the glories of American science. At McMurdo Station, black volcanic dust boils off unpaved roads, sticking to trucks and buildings. People eat canned vegetables, sleep in windowless rooms and routinely wear 20 pounds of clothes to survive temperatures far below freezing. From its origin as a collection of Navy huts six decades ago, the station here has grown into a small town with more than a thousand residents during peak months. It has long been the main hub for the most ambitious Antarctic research program run by any nation. Hundreds of scientists cycle through every year to study the perils of collapsing ice caps, the mating habits of penguins, the deep history of the Earth and the great mysteries of the cosmos. Now, in an era when the Trump administration is seeking to slash federal spending, the fate of Antarctic research is an open question."

Submission + - Please Prove You're Not a Robot (nytimes.com)

schwit1 writes: When science fiction writers first imagined robot invasions, the idea was that bots would become smart and powerful enough to take over the world by force, whether on their own or as directed by some evildoer. In reality, something only slightly less scary is happening. Robots are getting better, every day, at impersonating humans. When directed by opportunists, malefactors and sometimes even nation-states, they pose a particular threat to democratic societies, which are premised on being open to the people.

The problem is a public as well as private one, and impersonation robots should be considered what the law calls “hostis humani generis”: enemies of mankind, like pirates and other outlaws. That would allow for a better offensive strategy: bringing the power of the state to bear on the people deploying the robot armies to attack commerce or democracy.

The ideal anti-robot campaign would employ a mixed technological and legal approach. Improved robot detection might help us find the robot masters or potentially help national security unleash counterattacks, which can be necessary when attacks come from overseas. There may be room for deputizing private parties to hunt down bad robots. A simple legal remedy would be a “ Blade Runner” law that makes it illegal to deploy any program that hides its real identity to pose as a human. Automated processes should be required to state, “I am a robot.” When dealing with a fake human, it would be nice to know.

Submission + - Atari Back In The Hardware Business, Uveils Ataribox (hothardware.com)

MojoKid writes: Atari CEO Fred Chesnais confirmed the company was working on a brand new console back in June this year at E3, but today the company has officially unveiled the product. The new Ataribox console draws on some of the classic styling of the original Atari 2600 console but with a modernized flare, though still sporting that tasty wood grain front panel. Atari is also looking to make the Ataribox a bit more user-friendly and expandable than its Nintendo rivals through the addition of an SD card slot and four USB ports (in addition the requisite HDMI port). The new console will be based on PC component technologies but will be available with a number of classic games to let you bask in the early days of console gaming. However, Atari will also be bringing what is being billed as "current content" to the console as well. So, we can expect to see brand new licensed games for the Ataribox, although it's hard to say, given just its size to go on, what sort of horsepower is lurking under the Ataribox's hood. "We know you are hungry for more details; on specs, games, pricing, timing," said Atari in a statement sent via email. "We're not teasing you intentionally; we want to get this right, so we've opted to share things step by step as we bring this to life, and to listen closely to the Atari community feedback as we do so."

Submission + - UK plans age verification for porn websites from 2018 (bbc.co.uk)

Ralph Yarro writes: People in the UK will have to prove they are 18 before being allowed to access pornography websites from next year. Websites will be legally required to install age verification controls by April 2018 as part of a move to make the internet safer for children.

Submission + - What to do when someone else is using your email address? 7

periklisv writes: So, I was one of the early lucky people that registered a gmail address using my lastname@gmail.com. This has proven pretty convenient over the years, as it's simple and short, which makes it easy to communicate over the phone, write down on applications etc. However, over the past 6 months, some dude in Australia (I live in the EU) who happens to have the same last name as myself, is using it to sign up to all sorts of services. I daily receive emails from adult dating sites, loan services, government agencies, online retailers etc, all of them either asking me to verify my account, or, even worse, having signed me up to their service (especially dating sites), which makes me really uncomfortable, my being a married man with children.

I tried to locate the person on facebook, twitter etc and contacted a few that seemed to match, but I never got a response. So the question is, how do you cope with such a case, especially nowadays that sites seem to ignore the email verification for signups?

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