Python

Python's Official Repository Included 10 'Malicious' Typo-Squatting Modules (bleepingcomputer.com) 69

An anonymous reader quotes BleepingComputer: The Slovak National Security Office (NBU) has identified ten malicious Python libraries uploaded on PyPI -- Python Package Index -- the official third-party software repository for the Python programming language. NBU experts say attackers used a technique known as typosquatting to upload Python libraries with names similar to legitimate packages -- e.g.: "urlib" instead of "urllib." The PyPI repository does not perform any types of security checks or audits when developers upload new libraries to its index, so attackers had no difficulty in uploading the modules online.

Developers who mistyped the package name loaded the malicious libraries in their software's setup scripts. "These packages contain the exact same code as their upstream package thus their functionality is the same, but the installation script, setup.py, is modified to include a malicious (but relatively benign) code," NBU explained. Experts say the malicious code only collected information on infected hosts, such as name and version of the fake package, the username of the user who installed the package, and the user's computer hostname. Collected data, which looked like "Y:urllib-1.21.1 admin testmachine", was uploaded to a Chinese IP address. NBU officials contacted PyPI administrators last week who removed the packages before officials published a security advisory on Saturday."

The advisory lays some of the blame on Python's 'pip' tool, which executes arbitrary code during installations without requiring a cryptographic signature.

Ars Technica also reports that another team of researchers "was able to seed PyPI with more than 20 libraries that are part of the Python standard library," and that group now reports they've already received more than 7,400 pingbacks.
Businesses

Is Online Advertising Worthless? (zerohedge.com) 289

turkeydance shares a story from ZeroHedge: Category 1 storm clouds are gathering over what has traditionally been one of the most lucrative, and perhaps only profitable, sectors to come out of Silicon Valley in decades: online advertising. Two months ago, it was P&G which fired the first shot across the "adtech" bow when not long after it announced it was slashing its digital ad spending because it thought it was not getting the kind of return on investment it desired, it made a striking discovery: "We didn't see a reduction in the growth rate." CFO Jon Moeller said "What that tells me is that that spending that we cut was largely ineffective"...

So fast forward to last week, when during Thursday's Global Retailing Conference organized by Goldman Sachs, Restoration Hardware delightfully colorful CEO, Gary Friedman, divulged the following striking anecdote about the company's online marketing strategy, and the state of online ad spending in general... What Friedman revealed - in brief - was the following: "we've found out that 98% of our business was coming from 22 words. So, wait, we're buying 3,200 words and 98% of the business is coming from 22 words. What are the 22 words? And they said, well, it's the word Restoration Hardware and the 21 ways to spell it wrong, okay?"

Stated simply, the vast, vast majority of online ad spending is wasted, chasing clicks that simply are not there....One wonders how long before all retailers - most of whom are notoriously strapped for revenues and profits courtesy of Amazon - and other "power users" of online advertising, do a similar back of the envelope analysis, and find that they, like RH, are getting a bang for only 2% of their buck?

Medicine

Sedentary Lifestyle Study Called 'A Raging Dumpster Fire' (arstechnica.com) 153

Ars Technica's health reporter argues that a new study suggesting sitting will kill you "is kind of a raging dumpster fire. It's funded by Big Soda and riddled with weaknesses -- including not measuring sitting." An anonymous reader quotes this report: Let's start with the money: It was funded in part by Coca-Cola... [I]t's hard to look past the fact that this is exactly the type of health and nutrition research Coke wants. In fact, Coca-Cola secretly spent $1.5 million to fund an entire network of academic researchers whose goal was to shift the national health conversation away from the harms of sugary beverages. Instead, their research focused on the benefits of exercise -- i.e., the health risks of sedentary and inactive lifestyles. The research network disbanded after The New York Times published an investigation on the network's funding in 2015...

It didn't actually measure sitting... In their words, "Our study has several limitations. First, the Actical accelerometer cannot distinguish between postures (such as sitting vs. standing); thus, we relied on an intensity-only definition of sedentary behavior." The "intensity-only" definition of sedentary behavior is based on metabolic equivalents, basically units defined by how much oxygen a person uses up doing various activities. But those definitions are also not cut and dried. There are no clear lines between lying down, sitting, standing in place, or light movement... Then there's the participant data: It's not representative -- like, at all... At the time of wearing the accelerometer, the most active group's mean age was 65. The mean age of the least active group: 75.

Groups were assigned based on just a week's worth of data -- or less. And the people placed in the least-active group were already more likely to be smokers, to have diabetes and hypertension, and to have a history of coronary heart disease and stroke.
Government

NSA Launches 'Codebreaker Challenge' For Students: Stopping an Infrastructure Attack (ltsnet.net) 53

Slashdot reader eatvegetables writes: The U.S. National Security Agency launched Codebreaker Challenge 2017 Friday night (Sept 15) at 9 p.m. EST. It started off as a reverse-engineering challenge a few years ago but has grown in scope to include network analysis, reverse-engineering, and vulnerability discovery/exploitation.

This year's challenge story centers around hackers attacking critical "supervisory control and data acquisition" (SCADA) infrastructure. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to figure out how the SCADA network is being attacked, find the attack vector(s), and stop the bad guy(s)/gal(s)/other(s).

Codebreaker-Challenge is unusual for capture-the-flag(ish) contests due to the scope/number of challenges and how long the contest runs (now until end of year). Also (this year, at least), the challenge is built around a less than well-known networking protocol, MQTT. It's open to anyone with a school.edu email address. A site leader-board shows which school/University has the most l33t students. Carnegie Mellon and Georgia Institute of Tech are at the top of the leader-board as of Saturday morning.

Last year, 3,300 students (from 481 schools) participated, with 15 completing all six tasks. One Carnegie Mellon student finished in less than 18 hours.

A resources page offers "information on reverse engineering," and the NSA says the first 50 students who complete all the tasks ths year will receive a "small token" of appreciation from the agency.
Facebook

WordPress Ditches ReactJS Over Facebook's Patent Clause (techcrunch.com) 72

An anonymous reader quote TechCrunch: Matt Mullenweg, the co-founder of the popular open source web publishing software WordPress, has said the community will be pulling away from using Facebook's React JavaScript library over concerns about a patent clause in Facebook's open source license. In a blog post explaining the decision yesterday, Mullenweg said he had hoped to officially adopt React for WordPress -- noting that Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com which he also founded, had already used React for the Calypso ground-up rewrite of WordPress.com a few years ago, while the WordPress community had started using it for its major Gutenberg core project.

But he said he has changed his mind after seeing Facebook dig in behind the patent clause -- which was recently added to the Apache Software Foundation's list of disallowed licenses... [H]e writes that he cannot, in good conscience, require users of the very widely used open source WordPress software to inherit the patent clause and associated legal risk. So he's made the decision to ditch React.

Facebook can revoke their license if a React user challenges Facebook's patents.
Social Networks

Facebook Shares Details Of Russia-Bought Ads With US Investigators (cnn.com) 232

An anonymous reader quotes CNN: Special counsel Robert Mueller and his team are now in possession of Russian-linked ads run on Facebook during the presidential election, after they obtained a search warrant for the information. Facebook gave Mueller and his team copies of ads and related information it discovered on its site linked to a Russian troll farm, as well as detailed information about the accounts that bought the ads and the way the ads were targeted at American Facebook users, a source with knowledge of the matter told CNN. The disclosure, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, may give Mueller's office a fuller picture of who was behind the ad buys and how the ads may have influenced voter sentiment during the 2016 election...

As CNN reported Thursday, Facebook is still not sure whether pro-Kremlin groups may have made other ad buys intended to influence American politics that it simply hasn't discovered yet. It is even possible that unidentified ad buys may still exist on the social media network today.

Education

2017 'Ig Nobel' Prizes Recognize Funny Research On Cats, Crocodiles, and Cheese (improbable.com) 20

An anonymous reader writes: "The 27th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony" happened Thursday at Harvard's Sanders theatre, recognizing real (but unusual) research papers from all over the world "that make people laugh, then think." This year's prize in the physics category went to Marc-Antoine Fardin, who used fluid dynamics to probe the question "Can a cat be both a solid and a liquid?"

Six prize-winning Swiss researchers also demonstrated that regular playing of a didgeridoo is an effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea and snoring, while two Australians tested how contact with a live crocodile affects a person's willingness to gamble. And five French researchers won the medicine prize for their use of advanced brain-scanning technology to investigate "the neural basis of disugst for cheese."

You can watch the ceremony online -- and Reuters got an interesting quote from the editor of the Annals of Improbable Research, who founded the awards ceremony 27 years ago. "We hope that this will get people back into the habits they probably had when they were kids of paying attention to odd things and holding out for a moment and deciding whether they are good or bad only after they have a chance to think."
Security

Security.txt Standard Proposed, Similar To Robots.txt (bleepingcomputer.com) 86

An anonymous reader writes: Ed Foudil, a web developer and security researcher, has submitted a draft to the IETF — Internet Engineering Task Force — seeking the standardization of security.txt, a file that webmasters can host on their domain root and describe the site's security policies. The file is akin to robots.txt, a standard used by websites to communicate and define policies for web and search engine crawlers...

For example, if a security researcher finds a security vulnerability on a website, he can access the site's security.txt file for information on how to contact the company and securely report the issue. According to the current security.txt IETF draft, website owners would be able to create security.txt files that look like this:

#This is a comment
Contact: security@example.com
Contact: +1-201-555-0123
Contact: https://example.com/security
Encryption: https://example.com/pgp-key.tx...
Acknowledgement: https://example.com/acknowledg...
Disclosure: Full

Piracy

Can The Pirate Bay Replace Ads With A Bitcoin Miner? (betanews.com) 123

Mark Wilson writes: When it comes to the Pirate Bay, it's usually movie studios, music producers and software creators that get annoyed with the site — you know, copyright and all that. But in an interesting twist it is now users who find themselves irked by and disappointed in the most famous torrent site in the world.

So what's happened? Out of the blue, the Pirate Bay has added a Javascript-powered Bitcoin miner to the site. Nestling in the code of the site is an embedded cryptocurrency miner from Coinhive. Users who have noticed an increase in resource usage on their computers as a result of this are not happy.

TorrentFreak reports the miner is being tested for about 24 hours -- as a possible way to earn enough revenue to remove advertising from the site.
Social Networks

More Millennials Would Give Up Voting Than Texting (nypost.com) 350

An anonymous reader quotes the New York Post: As the staggering national student loan debt tally sits at an all-time high of $1.33 trillion, according to the Department of Education, many millennials say they would go to extreme lengths to wipe their slate clean. According to a new survey from Credible, a personal finance website, 50 percent of all respondents (ages 18-34) said they would give up their right to vote during the next two presidential elections in order to never have to make another loan payment again.
Yet only 44% said they'd be willing to give up Uber and Lyft -- and only 13% said they'd be willing to give up texting.
Networking

Scientists Explore A Light Bulb-Based Based 10Gbps Li-Fi/5G Home Network (ispreview.co.uk) 12

Mark.JUK writes: Researchers at Brunel University in London have begun to develop a new 10 Gbps home wireless network using both Li-Fi (light fidelity) and 5G based mmWave technology, which will fit inside LED (light-emitting diode) light bulbs on your ceiling.

In simple terms, the Visible Light Communication (VLC) based Li-Fi technology works by flicking a LED light off and on thousands of times a second (by altering the length of the flickers you can introduce digital communications).

The article says it'd be more energy efficient (and faster) than a standard Wi-Fi network -- though both technologies have trouble penetrating walls, so "you'd have to buy lots of pricey new bulbs in order to cover your home..."

"It's probably not something that an ordinary home owner would want to install; unless you're happy with running lots of optical fibre cable around your various light fittings."
Bug

Equifax CSO 'Retires'. Known Bug Was Left Unpatched For Nearly Five Months (marketwatch.com) 196

phalse phace quotes MarketWatch: Following on the heels of a story that revealed that Equifax hired a music major with no education related to technology or security as its Chief Security Officer, Equifax announced on Friday afternoon that Chief Security Officer Susan Mauldin has quit the company along with Chief Information Officer David Webb.

Chief Information Officer David Webb and Chief Security Officer Susan Mauldin retired immediately, Equifax said in a news release that did not mention either of those executives by name. Mark Rohrwasser, who had been leading Equifax's international information-technology operations since 2016, will replace Webb and Russ Ayres, a member of Equifax's IT operation, will replace Mauldin.

The company revealed Thursday that the attackers exploited Apache Struts bug CVE-2017-5638 -- "identified and disclosed by U.S. CERT in early March 2017" -- and that they believed the unauthorized access happened from May 13 through July 30, 2017.

Thus, MarketWatch reports, Equifax "admitted that the security hole that attackers used was known in March, about two months before the company believes the breach began." And even then, Equifax didn't notice (and remove the affected web applications) until July 30.
Medicine

Poor Diet Is a Factor In One In Five Deaths, Global Disease Study Reveals (theguardian.com) 110

schwit1 shares a report from The Guardian: Millions of people are eating the wrong sorts of food for good health. Eating a diet that is low in whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds and fish oils and high in salt raises the risk of an early death, according to the huge and ongoing study Global Burden of Disease. The study, based at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, compiles data from every country in the world and makes informed estimates where there are gaps. Five papers on life expectancy and the causes and risk factors of death and ill health have been published by the Lancet medical journal. Diet is the second highest risk factor for early death after smoking. Other high risks are high blood glucose which can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, high body mass index (BMI) which is a measure of obesity, and high total cholesterol. All of these can be related to eating the wrong foods, although there are also other causes.
Television

There Will Be 22 Million Cord Cutters By 2018, Says Report (dslreports.com) 113

A new report by eMarketer predicts that 22.2 million U.S. adults will have cut the cord on cable, satellite or telco TV service by the end of 2017, which is up 33% over 2016. It also notes that ad investment will expand just 0.5% to $71.65 billion this year, down from the $72.72 billion predicted in the company's original first quarter forecast for 2017. From a report via DSLReports: This year, there will be 22.2 million cord-cutters ages 18 and older, a figure up 33.2% over 2016. That's notably higher than the 15.4 million eMarketer previously estimated. The total number of U.S. adult cord-nevers (users that have never signed up for a traditional cable TV connection) will grow 5.8% this year to 34.4 million. Note that eMarketer's numbers don't include streaming options from the likes of Dish (Sling TV) or AT&T (DirecTV Now), though so far gains in subscribers for these services haven't offset the decline in traditional cable TV subscribers anyway.
Earth

Elon Musk Releases Supercut of SpaceX Rocket Explosions (hardocp.com) 61

Eloking shares a report from HardOCP: Elon Musk is demonstrating how one should not land an orbital rocket booster: the video, currently trending on YouTube, is essentially a blooper reel of SpaceX rocket tests that went explosive. While the company has more or less perfected launching Falcon 9 rockets, it is still working hard on recovering as much of the multi-million-dollar system as possible.

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