Submission + - How I went dark in Australia's surveillance state for 2 years (

schwit1 writes: "In 2015, during the transition from paper to Opal [contactless public transit cards], Australia passed sweeping new data retention laws. These laws required all Australian internet service providers and telecommunications carriers to retain customers’ phone and internet metadata for two years — details like the phone number a person calls, the timestamps on text messages or the cell tower a phone pings when it makes a call.

Suddenly, Australians were fighting for the right to stay anonymous in a digital world.

On one side of the fence: safety-conscious civilians. They argued that this metadata was a powerful tool and that the ability to track a person’s movements through phone pings or call times was vital for law enforcement.

On the other side of the fence: digital civil libertarians. They argued that the data retention scheme was invasive and that this metadata could be used to build up an incredibly detailed picture of someone’s life.

And sitting in a barn two paddocks away from that fence: me, switching out burner phones and researching VPNs.

When it emerged that police had the power to search Opal card data, track people’s movements and match this to individual users, it was the last straw. August 2016 rolled around, paperless tickets were phased out and I hatched my plan."

Submission + - Kaspersky's 'Slingshot' report burned an ISIS-focused intelligence operation (

HowellONeill writes: When Kaspersky Lab reported on "one of the most technically sophisticated groups we’ve ever seen" earlier this month by the name of Slingshot, the Moscow-based cybersecurity firm actually exposed a U.S.-led counter-terrorism operation targeting al-Qaeda and ISIS, according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials. The report opened up a debate around the industry: What, if any, responsibilities do cybersecurity companies bear when faced with espionage that is targeting groups uniformly considered terrorists?

Submission + - AMD Says Patches Coming Soon for Chip Vulnerabilities (

wiredmikey writes: After investigating recent claims from a security firm that its processors are affected by more than a dozen serious vulnerabilities, chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) on Tuesday said patches are coming to address several security flaws in its chips. In its first public update after the surprise disclosure of the vulnerabilities by Israeli-based security firm CTS Labs, AMD said the issues are associated with the firmware managing the embedded security control processor in some of its products (AMD Secure Processor) and the chipset used in some socket AM4 and socket TR4 desktop platforms supporting AMD processors.

AMD said that patches will be released through BIOS updates to address the flaws, which have been dubbed MASTERKEY, RYZENFALL, FALLOUT and CHIMERA. The company said that no performance impact is expected for any of the forthcoming mitigations.

Submission + - Facebook strong-armed New York Times into rewording unflattering article (

mi writes: On Monday the New York Times broke a very big story regarding the pending departure of Alex Stamos from Facebook. Stamos is currently the company’s chief information security officer and the official largely responsible for tracking down the Russian troll farm influence and illicit campaign-related advertising facilitated through the Facebook platform. His duties have since been reassigned.

In particular, the story mentioned disapproval of Stamos' efforts by the Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. That reference to Sandberg, and her "consternation" with Stamos, has quietly disappeared from the online version of the article overnight...

Submission + - Non-antibiotic drugs promote antibiotic resistance (

Bruce66423 writes: By studying the effect of drugs on the bacteria of the gut, the research reveals that it's not just antibiotics that have the effect of causing resistance to antibiotics. "Of the drugs in the study, 156 were antibacterials (144 antibiotics and 12 antiseptics). But a further 835, such as painkillers and blood-pressure pills, were not intended to harm bacteria. Yet almost a quarter (203) did.... However, Dr Maier’s study also brings some good news for the fight against antimicrobial resistance. Some strains she looked at which were resistant to antibiotics nevertheless succumbed to one or more of the non-antibiotic drugs thrown at them. This could be a starting point for the development of new antimicrobial agents which would eliminate bacteria that have proved intractable to other means."

Submission + - Seriously, It's Time to Ditch Facebook and Give Google+ a Try ( 1

Lauren Weinstein writes: One might think that with the deluge of news about how Facebook has been manipulating you and violating your privacy — and neglecting to tell you about it — Google would be taking this opportunity to point out that their own Google+ social system is very much the UnFacebook.

But sometimes Google is reticent about tooting their own horn. So what the hell, when it comes to Google+, I’m going to toot it for them.

Submission + - Orbitz: Legacy Travel Booking Platform Likely Hacked (

hyperclocker writes: Orbitz says a legacy travel booking platform may have been hacked, possibly exposing the personal information of people that made certain purchases between January 1, 2016 and December 22, 2017.

Orbitz said data that was likely exposed includes name, payment card information, date of birth, phone number, email address, physical and/or billing address and gender. The company said evidence suggests an attacker may have accessed information stored on this consumer and business partner platform between Oct. 1, 2017 and Dec. 22, 2017.

Submission + - Fixing Facebook May Be Impossible (

Lauren Weinstein writes: In the realm of really long odds, let’s imagine that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg contacted me with this request: “Lauren, we’re in big trouble over here. I’ll do anything that you suggest to get Facebook back on the road of righteousness! Just name it and it’ll be done!”

Beyond the fact that this scenario is even less likely than Donald Trump voluntarily releasing his tax returns (though perhaps not by much!), I’m unsure that I’d have any practical ideas to help out Zuck.

The foundational problem is that any solutions with any significant chance of success would mean fundamentally changing the Facebook ecosystem in ways that would probably make it almost unrecognizable compared with their existing status quo.

Submission + - The Hilarious (and Terrifying?) Ways Algorithms Have Outsmarted Their Creators ( 1

schwit1 writes: Flying saucers have yet to land—at least, not that we've confirmed—but alien intelligence is already here. As research into AI grows ever more ambitious and complex, these robot brains will challenge the fundamental assumptions of how we humans do things. And, as ever, the only true law of robotics is that computers will always do literally, exactly what you tell them to.

A paper recently published to ArXiv highlights just a handful of incredible and slightly terrifying ways that algorithms think. These AI were designed to reflect evolution by simulating generations while other competing algorithms conquered problems posed by their human masters with strange, uncanny, and brilliant solutions.

Submission + - Lead even more dangerous than previously thought ( 1

Bruce66423 writes: "Last week, a massive new study concluded that lead is 10 times more dangerous than thought, and that past exposure now hastens one in every five US deaths.... The study found that deaths, especially from cardiovascular disease, increased markedly with exposure, even at the lowest levels. It concluded that lead kills 412,000 people a year – accounting for 18% of all US mortality, not much less than the 483,000 who perish as a result of smoking."

NB — another instance where scientific experts were proved disastrously wrong...

Submission + - Democrat consultant's pro-Clinton Twitter sockpuppet army revealed ( 2

Rujiel writes: Despite much ado about Russian trolling during the last election cycle, it certainly wasn't the only common variety of it. Paul Blumenthal writes of one "Sally Albright, a pro-Clinton Democratic Party communications consultant" and her army of fake accounts that would share her anti-Sanders material during the election:

"Within this pro-Albright Twitter force, many of the accounts have taken on false personas with stolen photographs just like the Russian trolls that tried to interfere in the 2016 election.The account named for Iris Winter, which is temporarily suspended, uses a picture of Spanish ice dancer Sara Hurtado. Minnie Casera’s supposed picture comes from the Facebook account of Martina Painter, an Alaskan who died on Jan. 11, 2017. The picture used by Georgia Miles is actually Deja Farrior-Quinones, a New Jersey woman who was killed in September 2016 by a car involved in a high-speed police chase.."

It's also noted: "Journalists in the U.S. experienced a similar flood during the 2016 election from pro-Trump, neo-Nazi sock-puppet accounts posting anti-Semitic death threats". So now how do we tell exactly who the Russian trolls are?

Submission + - How can I prove my ISP is slowing certain traffic? 1

GerryGilmore writes: I live in North Georgia where we have a monopoly ISP provider — Windstream — whose service overall could charitably be described as iffy.
Sometimes, I have noticed that certain services like Netflix and/or HBONow will be ridiculously slow but — when I run an internet speed test from my Linux laptop — the basic throughput is what it's supposed to be for my DSL service. That is, about 3Mbps due to my distance from the nearest CO. Other basic web browsing seems to be fine.
I know that this is laughably slow to most /. readers, but it should still be consistent at least.
So, to my question: as a basically pretty knowledgeable Linux guy totally comfortable with the command line (I've written some pretty nice shell scripts and C fragments, plus a SCO UNIX device driver), but I don't know enough about network tracing to be able to identify where/why such severe slowdowns in certain circumstances are occurring.
PS — my goal in gathering this info is to try to pressure my local reps to put pressure (Hah!) on Windstream.
Any other suggestions, etc. are greatly appreciated. (Aside from moving! I live on a riverside lot that is to die for and I'd sacrifice the internet before I'd ever leave.)

Submission + - Chrome Extension Protects Against JavaScript-Based CPU Side-Channel Attacks (

An anonymous reader writes: A team of academics has created a Chrome extension that can block side-channel attacks that use JavaScript code to leak data from a computer's RAM or CPU. The extension's name is Chrome Zero and is currently only available on GitHub, and not through the official Chrome Web Store. Researchers created the extension to rewrite and protect JavaScript functions, properties, and objects that are often used by malicious JavaScript code aimed at leaking CPU or memory data.

Experts said that despite the extension's intrusive behavior, tests showed a minimum performance impact of only 1.54% on resource usage, and an indiscernible page loading latency ranging from 0.01064s and 0.08908s —depending on the number of protection policies active at runtime. Furthermore, as a side-effect of the extension's "protective measures," the research team says Chrome Zero would have been able to block 50% of the Chrome zero-days detected in the real world since the release of Chrome 49.

Submission + - 50 million Facebook profiles harvested (

umafuckit writes: A whistleblower has revealed how Cambridge Analytica stole personal information from Facebook in early 2014 to build a system that could profile individual US voters. The data analytics firm, that worked with Trump’s election team and the Brexit campaign, harvested millions of Facebook profiles in the tech giant’s biggest ever data breach. This has been confirmed by a Facebook statement, says The Guardian.

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