Government

Democrat Senators Introduce National Data Breach Notification Law (cyberscoop.com) 162

New submitter unarmed8 shares a report from CyberScoop: Three Democratic senators introduced legislation on Thursday requiring companies to notify customers of data breaches within thirty days of their discovery and imposing a five year prison sentence on organizations caught concealing data breaches. The new bill, called the Data Security and Breach Notification Act, was introduced in the wake of reports that Uber paid $100,000 to cover up a 2016 data breach that affected 57 million users. The scope of what kind of data breach falls under this is limited. For instance, if only a last name, address or phone number is breached, the law would not apply. If an organization "reasonably concludes that there is no reasonable risk of identity theft, fraud, or other unlawful conduct," the incident is considered exempt from the legislation.

"We need a strong federal law in place to hold companies truly accountable for failing to safeguard data or inform consumers when that information has been stolen by hackers," Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said in a statement. "Congress can either take action now to pass this long overdue bill or continue to kowtow to special interests who stand in the way of this commonsense proposal. When it comes to doing what's best for consumers, the choice is clear."

Earth

CNN Visualizes Climate Change-Driven Arctic Melt With 360-Degree VR Video (cnn.com) 163

dryriver writes: CNN has put up a slickly produced and somewhat alarming 360-degree browser video experience that allows the viewer to see firsthand what arctic melt looks like in Greenland. The video takes the viewer to the "Ground Zero" of climate change. Throughout the 7-minute long video, the viewer can interactively look around the locations visited. Voice narration and various scientists featured in the video explain what is happening in the Arctic, what causes the melting, and what the potential consequences are for the world.
Verizon

Verizon Will Launch 5G Home Internet Access In 2018 (engadget.com) 115

wyattstorch516 writes: Real competition may finally be on the way for the residential broadband market. Verizon will be the first company to introduce 5G wireless broadband in a select number of cities. This will give residential customers an alternative to cable/fiber offerings. 5G wireless can offer speeds in the range of hundreds of megabits per second. Full technical specifications as well as pricing plans have yet to be determined. The launch is scheduled for the second half of 2018.
Intel

System76 Will Disable Intel Management Engine On Its Linux Laptops (liliputing.com) 149

System76 is rolling out a firmware update for its recent laptops that will disable the Intel Management Engine altogether. The decision comes after a major security vulnerability was discovered that would allow an attacker with local access to execute arbitrary code. Liliputing reports: What's noteworthy in the System76 announcement is that the PC maker isn't just planning to disable Intel ME in computers that ship from now on. The company will send out an update that disables it on existing computers with 6th, 7th, or 8th-gen Intel Core processors. System76 also notes that Intel ME "provides no functionality for System76 laptop customers and is safe to disable." Right now the firmware update will only be available for computers running Ubuntu 16.04 or later or a related operating system with the System76 driver. But the company says it's working on developing a command line tool that should work on laptops running other GNU/Linux-based operating systems. System76 says it will also release an update for its desktop computers... but on those machines the update will patch the security vulnerability rather than disabling Intel ME altogether.
Communications

Australian Man Uses Snack Bags As Faraday Cage To Block Tracking By Employer (arstechnica.com) 193

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A 60-year-old electrician in Perth, Western Australia had his termination upheld by a labor grievance commission when it was determined he had been abusing his position and technical knowledge to squeeze in some recreation during working hours. Tom Colella used mylar snack bags to block GPS tracking via his employer-assigned personal digital assistant to go out to play a round of golf -- more than 140 times -- while he reported he was offsite performing repairs.

In his finding against Colella, Australia Fair Work Commissioner Bernie Riordan wrote: "I have taken into account that Mr Colella openly stored his PDA device in an empty foil 'Twisties' bag. As an experienced electrician, Mr Colella knew that this bag would work as a faraday cage, thereby preventing the PDA from working properly -- especially the provision of regular GPS co-ordinate updates Mr. Colella went out of his way to hide his whereabouts. He was concerned about Aroona tracking him when the Company introduced the PDA into the workplace. He protested about Aroona having this information at that time. Mr Colella then went out of his way to inhibit the functionality of the PDA by placing it in a foil bag to create a faraday cage."

Robotics

Russia Says It Will Ignore Any UN Ban of Killer Robots (ibtimes.com) 132

According a report from Defense One, a United Nations meeting in Geneva earlier this month on lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) was derailed when Russia said they would not adhere to any prohibitions on killer robots. "The U.N. meeting appeared to be undermined both by Russia's disinterest in it and the framework of the meeting itself," reports International Business Times. "Member nations attempted to come in and define what LAWS' systems would be, and what restrictions could be developed around autonomous war machines, but no progress was made." From the report: In a statement, Russia said that the lack of already developed war machines makes coming up with prohibitions on such machines difficult. "According to the Russian Federation, the lack of working samples of such weapons systems remains the main problem in the discussion on LAWS... this can hardly be considered as an argument for taking preventive prohibitive or restrictive measures against LAWS being a by far more complex and wide class of weapons of which the current understanding of humankind is rather approximate," read the statement.
Advertising

Google Bans Apps From Displaying Lock Screen Ads (androidpolice.com) 58

Google is banning lock screen ads from the Play Store. In the new section on Google's developer monetization page, Google says: "Unless the exclusive purpose of the app is that of a lock screen, apps may not introduce ads or features that monetize the locked display of a device." Android Police reports: So, an app that bills itself as a photo editor, VPN, or file explorer cannot also cram a new lock screen on your device that's infested with ads. However, an app that is actually a lock screen can still monetize with ads. Presumably, you know what you're getting when you install a lock screen app. This policy change is long overdue. It's been a few years since these ads started showing up, and it's getting pretty out of hand.
Transportation

Elon Musk's Boring Company Bids On Chicago Airport Transit Link (arstechnica.com) 155

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: On Wednesday, the city of Chicago opened a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for an express train that would take passengers from the city's O'Hare airport to downtown. The system would have to be completely privately funded -- Chicago says no taxpayer money would be used for it. Elon Musk's Boring Company -- a tunneling company that the SpaceX and Tesla CEO started last year -- will respond to the request. Musk hopes to get to the second round when bidding will take place. On Wednesday evening, he tweeted that his company "will compete to fund, build & operate a high-speed Loop connecting Chicago O'Hare Airport to downtown."

Musk's reference to a "Loop" is explained more clearly on The Boring Company's FAQ page: "Loop is a high-speed underground public transportation system in which passengers are transported on autonomous electric skates traveling at 125-150 miles per hour. Electric skates will carry between 8 and 16 passengers (mass transit), or a single passenger vehicle." Unlike Musk's idea for a Hyperloop, a Loop won't draw a vacuum. "For shorter routes, there is no technical need to eliminate air friction," The Boring Company states. The company also clarifies the concept of an "electric skate:" that is "a platform on wheels propelled by multiple electric motors." The platform would operate autonomously without a rail or rails to which the skate would connect. The skate would operate in the tunnel's main artery, and it would enter and exit from side tunnels. With this system, The Boring Company says, the skate's average speed would theoretically be able to operate close to maximum speed.

Facebook

Facebook Judge Frowns on Bid To Toss Biometric Face Print Suit (bloomberg.com) 39

Facebook faced a skeptical judge over its second request to get out of a lawsuit alleging its photo scanning technology flouts users' privacy rights. From a report: "The right to say no is a valuable commodity," U.S. District Judge James Donato said Thursday during a hearing in San Francisco. The case concerns the "most personal aspects of your life: your face, your fingers, who you are to the world." The owner of the world's largest social network faces claims that it violated the privacy of millions of users by gathering and storing biometric data without their consent. Alphabet's Google is fighting similar claims in federal court in Chicago.
Bitcoin

Cryptocurrencies Aren't 'Crypto' (vice.com) 169

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, writing for the Motherboard: Lately on the internet, people in the world of Bitcoin and other digital currencies are starting to use the word "crypto" as a catch-all term for the lightly regulated and burgeoning world of digital currencies in general, or for the word "cryptocurrency" -- which probably shouldn't even be called "currency," by the way. For example, in response to the recent rise of Bitcoin's price, the CEO of Shapeshift recently tweeted: "don't go into debt to buy crypto at these prices." "Crypto Stocks Rise," read a headline on Tuesday from the trade publication Investor Business Daily. But the financial blog Seeking Alpha outdid them all by publishing a post titled "Tales From The Crypto." Excuse me, "the crypto" what? As someone who has read and written about cryptography for a few years now, and who is a big fan of Crypto, the 2001 book by Steven Levy, this is a problem. "Crypto" does not mean cryptocurrency. The above are just three examples picked at random, but if you don't believe me, just search "crypto" on Google News or Twitter. On the internet, "crypto" has always been used to refer to cryptography. Think, for example, the term "Crypto Wars," which refer to government (originally the US government) efforts to undermine and slow down the adoption of unbreakable communications systems. By the way, the book Crypto isn't about Bitcoin. It's about cryptography, and more in particular, about the cryptographers who fought the government in the so-called Crypto Wars.
Businesses

Prepare for the New Paywall Era (theatlantic.com) 263

Alexis C. Madrigal, writing for The Atlantic: If the recent numbers are any indication, there is a bloodbath in digital media this year. Publishers big and small are coming up short on advertising revenue, even if they are long on traffic. [...] In a print newspaper or a broadcast television station, the content and the distribution of that content are integrated. The big tech platforms split this marriage, doing the distribution for most digital content through Google searches and the Facebook News Feed. And they've taken most of the money: They've "captured the value" of the content at the distribution level. Media companies have no real alternative, nor do they have competitive advertising products to the targeting and scale that Facebook and Google can offer. Facebook and Google need content, but it's all fungible. The recap of a huge investigative blockbuster is just as valuable to Google News as an investigative blockbuster itself. The former might have taken months and costs tens of thousands of dollars, the latter a few hours and the cost of a young journalist's time. That's led many people to the conclusion that supporting rigorous journalism requires some sort of direct financial relationship between publications and readers. Right now, the preferred method is the paywall. The New York Times has one. The Washington Post has one. The Financial Times has one. The Wall Street Journal has one. The New Yorker has one. Wired just announced they'd be building one. (Editor's note: CNN is building a paywall, too.) Many of these efforts have been successful. Publications have figured out how to create the right kinds of porosity for their sites, allowing enough people in to drive scale, but extracting more revenue per reader than advertising could provide.
Medicine

An Unconscious Patient With a 'DO NOT RESUSCITATE' Tattoo (nejm.org) 454

A real-life case study, published on New England Journal of Medicine, documents the ethical dilemma that a Florida hospital faced after a 70-year-old unresponsive patient arrived at the hospital. The medical staff, the journal notes, was taken aback when it discovered the words "DO NOT RESUSCITATE" tattooed onto the man's chest. Furthermore, the word "NOT" was underlined with his signature beneath it. The patient had a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes mellitus, and atrial fibrillation. Confused and alarmed, the medical staff chose to ignore the apparent DNR request -- but not without alerting the hospital's ethics team, which had a different take on the matter. From the report: We initially decided not to honor the tattoo, invoking the principle of not choosing an irreversible path when faced with uncertainty. This decision left us conflicted owing to the patient's extraordinary effort to make his presumed advance directive known; therefore, an ethics consultation was requested. He was placed on empirical antibiotics, received intravenous fluid resuscitation and vasopressors, and was treated with bilevel positive airway pressure. After reviewing the patient's case, the ethics consultants advised us to honor the patient's do not resuscitate (DNR) tattoo. They suggested that it was most reasonable to infer that the tattoo expressed an authentic preference, that what might be seen as caution could also be seen as standing on ceremony, and that the law is sometimes not nimble enough to support patient-centered care and respect for patients' best interests. A DNR order was written. Subsequently, the social work department obtained a copy of his Florida Department of Health "out-of-hospital" DNR order, which was consistent with the tattoo. The patient's clinical status deteriorated throughout the night, and he died without undergoing cardiopulmonary respiration or advanced airway management.
Desktops (Apple)

High Sierra Root Login Bug Was Mentioned on Apple's Support Forums Two Weeks Ago (daringfireball.net) 85

John Gruber, reporting for DaringFireball: It's natural to speculate how a bug as egregious as the now-fixed High Sierra root login bug could escape notice for so long. It seems to have been there ever since High Sierra 10.3.0 shipped on September 25, and may have existed in the betas through the summer. One explanation is that logging in with the username "root" and a blank password is so bizarre that it's the sort of thing no one would think to try. More insidious though, is the notion that it might not have escaped notice prior to its widespread publicization yesterday -- but that the people who had heretofore discovered it kept it to themselves. This exploit was in fact posted to Apple's own support forums on November 13. It's a bizarre thread. The thread started back on June 8 when a user ran into a problem after installing the WWDC developer beta of High Sierra.
Security

'Bomb on Board' Wi-Fi Network Causes Turkish Airlines Flight To Be Diverted (reuters.com) 177

A Turkish Airlines flight from Nairobi to Istanbul was diverted after the detection of a wi-fi network called "bomb on board" that alarmed the passengers, the airline said on Thursday. From a report: In a statement, Turkish Airlines said the flight made an emergency landing at the Khartoum airport in Sudan, but the flight was safely resumed after security inspections on all passengers and the aircraft. Individuals can create personal wi-fi networks on devices such as mobile phones and name them what they want.
Chrome

Wondering Why Your Internal .dev Web App Has Stopped Working? (theregister.co.uk) 311

Kieren McCarthy, writing for The Register: Network admins, code wranglers and other techies have hit an unusual problem this week: their test and development environments have vanished. Rather than connecting to private stuff on an internal .dev domain to pick up where they left off, a number of engineers and sysadmins are facing an error message in their web browser complaining it is "unable to provide a secure connection." How come? It's thanks to a recent commit to Chromium that has been included in the latest version of Google Chrome. As developers update their browsers, they may find themselves booted out their own systems. Under the commit, Chrome forces connections to all domains ending in .dev (as well as .foo) to use HTTPS via a HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) header. This is part of Google's larger and welcome push for HTTPS to be used everywhere for greater security.
Microsoft

Microsoft's Edge Browser Now Generally Available For iOS, Android (zdnet.com) 140

An anonymous reader shares a report: Microsoft announced in October previews of new Edge browser apps for iOS and Android. On November 30, Microsoft officials are announcing that these apps are no longer in preview and are generally available for users in select markets. By making Edge apps available on non-Windows operating systems, Microsoft is hoping to do more than give Windows 10 users who use Edge a more convenient way to sync their bookmarks, tabs, etc., across devices. Microsoft also is doing this to improve its "Continue on PC" feature that it's been touting for Windows 10. With "Continue on PC," users will be able to share a web site, app, photo, and other information from their phones to their Windows 10 PCs in a faster and more seamless way. Microsoft is looking to Continue on PC to help keep Windows PCs relevant in a world where more and more computing is done on mobile devices.
Google

Google Launches App That Can Help You Track and Conserve Mobile Data (venturebeat.com) 46

Google has taken another small step forward in its mission to connect the "next billion" users with a new app designed to optimize your mobile data usage. From a report: Datally for Android has been in testing for several months in the Philippines, and now it's ready for prime time globally. To activate Datally, you will have to give the app access to many facets of your device, including giving it the ability to "make and manage calls," "send and view SMS messages," and view the device's location. But then again, any app that wants to monitor background processes on your smartphone will need fairly comprehensive access to the device.
Social Networks

New Study Finds That Most Redditors Don't Actually Read the Articles They Vote On (vice.com) 164

Michael Byrne, writing for Motherboard: According to a paper published in IEEE Transactions on Computational Social Systems by researchers at Notre Dame University, some 73 percent of posts on Reddit are voted on by users that haven't actually clicked through to view the content being rated. This is according to a newly released dataset consisting of all Reddit activity of 309 site users for a one year period. In the process, the researchers identified signs of "cognitive fatigue" in Reddit users most likely to vote on content. Online aggregation is then somewhat a function of mental exhaustion.
Bug

American Airlines Accidentally Let Too Many Pilots Take Off The Holidays (npr.org) 200

A glitch in American Airlines' pilot scheduling system means that thousands of flights during the holiday season currently do not have pilots assigned to fly them. From a report: The shortage was caused by an error in the system pilots use to bid for time off, the Allied Pilots Association told NPR. The union represents the airline's 15,000 pilots. "The airline is a 24/7 op," union spokesman Dennis Tajer told CNBC. "The system went from responsibly scheduling everybody to becoming Santa Claus to everyone." "The computer said, 'Hey ya'll. You want the days off? You got it.'"
Google

Google Faces Lawsuit For Gathering Personal Data From Millions of iPhone Users (betanews.com) 35

Mark Wilson writes: A group going by the name Google You Owe Us is taking Google to court in the UK, complaining that the company harvested personal data from 5.4 million iPhone users. The group is led by Richard Lloyd, director of consumer group Which?, and it alleges that Google bypassed privacy settings on iPhones between June 2011 and February 2012. The lawsuit seeks compensation for those affected by what is described as a "violation of trust." Google is accused of breaching UK data protection laws, and Lloyd says that this is "one of the biggest fights of my life." Even if the case is successful, the people represented by Google You Owe Us are not expected to receive more than a few hundred pounds each, and this is not an amount that would make much of an impact on Google's coffers.
Bitcoin

Nasdaq Plans To Offer Bitcoin Futures In Early 2018 (engadget.com) 100

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Engadget: Nasdaq is planning to launch contracts for bitcoin futures in the first half of 2018, according to The Wall Street Journal, which will enable investors to predict and put money on the future price of the currency. The Wall Street Journal also reports that broker Cantor Fitzgerald will be launching bitcoin derivatives on its own exchange in the first half of next year as well, making for yet another brokerage to help make bitcoin a more mainstream financial instrument. The relative youth and volatility of the currency still keeps many investors away, of course, but bitcoin is probably here to stay, even if this is just a bubble. New uses for regular folks to spend with the currency continue to rise, like the UK Visa card based on bitcoin and Square's testing of the currency in its payment app.
Science

Study Finds Dogs Are Brainier Than Cats (vanderbilt.edu) 330

Science_afficionado writes: Are you a cat lover? A dog lover? If so, you may be interested in the first scientific study to actually count the number of cortical neurons in the brains of a number of carnivores, including cats and dogs. Bottom line: Dogs have about twice as many of these "little grey cells" as cats. These "little gray cells" are associated with thinking, planning and complex behavior. The study found that dogs have about 530 million cortical neurons while cats have about 250 million. (For comparison, the human brain has 16 billion.) Another interesting discovery was that carnivores have about the same ratio of neurons to brain size as that of herbivores, "suggesting that there is just as much evolutionary pressure on the herbivores to develop the brain power to escape from predators as there is on carnivores to catch them," reports Vanderbilt University. "The study's findings also challenge the prevailing view that domesticated animals have smaller brains than their wild cousins. The ratios of brain size to body weight of the domestic species they analyzed -- ferret, cat and dog -- did not scale in a significantly different manner from those of their wild relatives -- mongoose, raccoon, hyena, lion and brown bear."

The results of the study are described in a paper titled "Dogs have the most neurons, though not the largest brain: Trade-off between body mass and number of neurons in the cerebral cortex of large carnivoran species" accepted for publication in the open access journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy.
ISS

Bacteria Found On ISS May Be Alien In Origin, Says Cosmonaut (independent.co.uk) 240

Kekke writes: Lots of buzz around this. Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov took routine samples from the outside of the International Space Station during a spacewalk. These samples were analyzed and found to contain bacteria that must have come from somewhere other than Earth or the ISS itself. "Bacteria that had not been there during the launch of the ISS module were found on the swabs," Mr. Shkaplerov told TASS Russian News Agency. "So they have flown from somewhere in space and settled on the outside hull." He made it clear that "it seems, there is no danger," and that scientists are doing more work to find out what they are. The Independent writes, "Finding bacteria that came from somewhere other than Earth would be one of the biggest breakthroughs in the history of science -- but much more must be done before such a claim is made."

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