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Privacy

Why You Shouldn't Trust Geek Squad (networkworld.com) 389

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Network World: The Orange County Weekly reports that Best Buy's "Geek Squad" repair technicians routinely search devices brought in for repair for files that could earn them $500 reward as FBI informants. This revelation came out in a court case, United States of America v. Mark A. Rettenmaier. Rettenmaier is a prominent Orange County physician and surgeon who took his laptop to the Mission Viejo Best Buy in November 2011 after he was unable to start it. According to court records, Geek Squad technician John "Trey" Westphal found an image of "a fully nude, white prepubescent female on her hands and knees on a bed, with a brown choker-type collar around her neck." Westphal notified his boss, who was also an FBI informant, who alerted another FBI informant -- as well as the FBI itself. The FBI has pretty much guaranteed the case will be thrown out by its behavior, this illegal search aside. According to Rettenmaier's defense attorney, agents conducted two additional searches of the computer without obtaining necessary warrants, lied to trick a federal magistrate judge into authorizing a search warrant for his home, then tried to cover up their misdeeds by initially hiding records. Plus, the file was found in the unallocated "trash" space, meaning it could only be retrieved by "carving" with sophisticated forensics tools. Carving (or file carving) is defined as searching for files or other kinds of objects based on content, rather than on metadata. It's used to recover old files that have been deleted or damaged. To prove child pornography, you have to prove the possessor knew what he had was indeed child porn. There has been a court case where files found on unallocated space did not constitute knowing possession because it's impossible to determine who put the file there and how, since it's not accessible to the user under normal circumstances.
Network

FTC Takes D-Link To Court Citing Lax Product Security, Privacy Perils (networkworld.com) 72

Reader coondoggie writes: The Federal Trade Commission has filed a complaint against network equipment vendor D-Link saying inadequate security in the company's wireless routers and Internet cameras left consumers open to hackers and privacy violations. The FTC, in a complaint filed in the Northern District of California charged that "D-Link failed to take reasonable steps to secure its routers and Internet Protocol (IP) cameras, potentially compromising sensitive consumer information, including live video and audio feeds from D-Link IP cameras." For its part, D-Link Systems said it "is aware of the complaint filed by the FTC." According to the FTC's complaint, D-Link promoted the security of its routers on the company's website, which included materials headlined "Easy to secure" and "Advance network security." But despite the claims made by D-Link, the FTC alleged, the company failed to take steps to address well-known and easily preventable security flaws such as "hard-coded" login credentials integrated into D-Link camera software -- such as the username âoeguestâ and the password âoeguestâ -- that could allow unauthorized access to the cameras' live feed, etc.
Government

Florida Senator: No Permit Needed For Driverless Cars In Florida (politifact.com) 131

In response to the California Department of Motor Vehicles ordering Uber's autonomous vehicles off the roads in San Francisco due to a lack of a permit, Florida state Sen. Jeff Brandes said he welcomes the company with open arms. Brandes tweeted: "Hey @Uber, unlike California we in Florida welcome driverless cars -- no permit required. #OpenForBusiness #FlaPol." PolitiFact reports: Several car companies are developing fully autonomous or self-driving cars operated by computers and testing them in some states. But it could be several years before they are broadly publicly available due to the cost, questions about liability and the technology and as state government officials grapple with oversight. While California's law requires a permit, that's not the case in Florida. "Florida has the least restrictive active state laws for the operation of autonomous vehicles," said John Terwilleger, an attorney at Gunster, Yoakley -- Stewart in West Palm Beach. Terwilleger represents a company that is involved in developing and using autonomous vehicles in Florida. In 2012, the Florida Legislature passed a law co-sponsored by Brandes that allowed a person with a valid driver's license to operate an autonomous vehicle. Before companies could test autonomous cars, they had to submit proof that they had $5 million in insurance. But in 2016, the Florida Legislature passed new rules that eliminated some of the previous requirements, including the $5 million in insurance. The new law also got rid of the requirement that a human operator be present in the vehicle, as long as an operator can be alerted in case of technology failure and stop the vehicle. Since there is no permit for autonomous vehicles, the state has no information regarding how many Floridians own one, said Beth Frady, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Florida law treats an autonomous vehicle in the same manner as any other motor vehicle operating on our roads, said Chris Spencer, a spokesman for Brandes. "There are no requirements for additional permitting, licensing, or approval from any state or local government body to operate an autonomous vehicle on our roads," he said. That's still the case, even though Florida was the location of the first fatality involving a self-driving car. In May, Joshua Brown, was killed when his Tesla while on autopilot crashed into a tractor-trailer in Williston.
Transportation

U.S. Proposes Car-To-Car Data Sharing Standards (networkworld.com) 134

Calling it "the next revolution in roadway safety," the U.S. Department of Transportation hopes to standardize "vehicle communications" technology. Slashdot reader coondoggie writes: The idea is to enable a multitude of new crash-avoidance applications that could save lives by preventing "hundreds of thousands of crashes every year by helping vehicles 'talk' to each other," the DOT stated... [D]evices would use the dedicated short range communications to transmit data, such as location, direction and speed, to nearby vehicles. That data would be updated and broadcast up to 10 times per second to nearby vehicles, and using that information, V2V-equipped vehicles can identify risks and provide warnings to drivers to avoid imminent crashes.
Self-driving cars (and human drivers) could be informed when it's safe to enter the passing lane (or when cars move into a vehicle's blind spot), for example, and "often in situations in which the driver and on-board sensors alone cannot detect the threat." Federal agencies estimate it will cost just $350 per vehicle by 2020 (and dropping over the decades to come), and they've also already issued guidelines about securing these systems from unauthorized access.
AT&T

AT&T To Cough Up $88 Million For 'Cramming' Mobile Customer Bills (networkworld.com) 37

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Network World: Some 2.7 million ATT customers will share $88 million in compensation for having had unauthorized third-party charges added to their mobile bills, the Federal Trade Commission announced this morning. The latest shot in the federal government's years-long battle against such abuses, these refunds will represent the most money ever recouped by victims of what is known as "mobile cramming," according to the FTC. From an FTC press release: "Through the FTC's refund program, nearly 2.5 million current ATT customers will receive a credit on their bill within the next 75 days, and more than 300,000 former customers will receive a check. The average refund amount is $31. [...] According to the FTC's complaint, ATT placed unauthorized third-party charges on its customers' phone bills, usually in amounts of $9.99 per month, for ringtones and text message subscriptions containing love tips, horoscopes, and 'fun facts.' The FTC alleged that ATT kept at least 35 percent of the charges it imposed on its customers." The matter with ATT was originally made public in 2014 and also involved two companies that actually applied the unauthorized charges, Tatto and Acquinity.
Networking

Ethernet Consortia Wants To Unlock a More Time-Sensitive Network (networkworld.com) 110

Does Ethernet need new features like "stream reservation" and time synchronization to make sure time-sensitive data isn't delayed on the network? coondoggie quotes Network World: The demand from Internet of Things, automotive networking and video applications are driving changes to Ethernet technology that will make it more time-sensitive. Key to those changes are a number of developing standards but also a push this week from the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory to set up three new industry specific Ethernet Time-Sensitive Networking consortiums -- Automotive Networking, Industrial Networking, and ProAV Networking aimed at developing deterministic performance within standard Ethernet for real-time, mission critical applications. "Standards-based precise time, guaranteed bandwidth, and guaranteed worst-case latency in a converged Ethernet network is a game-changer to many industries," said Bob Noseworthy, Chief Engineer, UNH-IOL.
The article also acknowledges the work of the Avnu Alliance, which is also trying to build an ecosystem of "low-latency, time-synchronized, highly reliable synchronized networked devices using open standards through certification."
AI

Is Microsoft Mainstreaming Machine Learning? (networkworld.com) 51

Tuesday Microsoft updated their open source Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit (CNTK), adding support for both C++ and Python. "This announcement is more than a point release..." argues Network World. "It's the recognition of AI and machine learning as the next big platform after mobile." This announcement represents a shift in Microsoft's customer focus from research to implementation... The toolkit is a supervised machine learning system in the same category of other open-source projects such as Tensorflow, Caffe and Torch. Microsoft is one of the leading investors in and contributors to the open machine learning software and research community. A glance at the Neural Information Processing Systems conference reveals that there are just four major technology companies committed to moving the field of neural networks forward: Microsoft, Google, Facebook and IBM.
A Microsoft engineer described CNTK as "democratizing AI," according to Microsoft's announcement, which also notes that their toolkit "has been optimized to best take advantage of the NVIDIA hardware and Azure networking capabilities that are part of the Azure offering."
IOS

Apple's New MacBook Pro Requires a $25 Dongle To Charge Your iOS Device (networkworld.com) 347

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Network World: As Phil Schiller explained during today's event, Apple's new MacBook Pros feature four Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C ports, and conveniently, each of these can be used to charge the machine. Now, USB-C is incredibly versatile, and Apple will use the advanced port for power charging, HDMI and much more. However, with USB-C the only game in town, you might reasonably be wondering: How in the world do I connect my iPhone to my sleek new MacBook Pro? The frustrating answer is that you won't be able to do so out of the box. Instead, you'll have to buy a dongle. This is especially frustrating because many people use their notebooks for a) charging purposes when an outlet isn't necessarily handy and b) for transferring photos and other data. Now, you might reasonably state that you can just rely upon the cloud for items like data transfer, but there's no getting around the fact that Apple's efforts in the cloud still leave much to be desired. How much will it cost to connect your iPhone to your brand new MacBook Pro? Well, Apple sells a USB-C to Lightning cable on its website for $25. While this is undoubtedly frustrating, we can't say that it's entirely unexpected given Apple gave us a preview of its preference for USB-C when it released its 12-in. MacBook last year. Still, it's a funky design choice for a decidedly Pro-oriented device where the last thing a prospective consumer would want to do is spend some extra cash for a dongle after spending upwards of $2,399. Lastly, while we're on the topic of ports, it's worth noting that the new MacBook Pros also do away with the beloved MagSafe connector.
Government

President Obama Orders Government To Plan For 'Space Weather' (nbcnews.com) 169

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Network World: President Barack Obama today issued an Executive Order that defines what the nation's response should be to a catastrophic space weather event that takes out large portions of the electrical power grid, resulting in cascading failures that would affect key services such as water supply, healthcare, and transportation. The Executive Order ideally will coordinate the responses across government agencies such as NASA, the Departments of Homeland Security, Energy and others to help minimize economic loss and save lives by enhancing national security, identifying successful mitigation technologies, and ordering the creation of nationwide response and recovery plans and procedures, the White House stated. Further, the Executive Order will enhance the scientific and technical capabilities of the United States, including improved prediction of space-weather events and their effects on infrastructure systems and services. By this action, the Federal Government will lead by example and help motivate State and local governments, and other nations, to create communities that are more resilient to the hazards of space weather. The Executive Order reinforces the formal National Space Weather Strategy and accompanying Action Plan which were announced last year. It also bolsters other work such as the replacement of aging satellites that monitor and help forecast space weather, proposing space-weather standards for both the national and international air space, development of regulations to ensure the continued operation of the electric grid during an extreme space weather event, proposing a new option for replacing crucial Extra High Voltage (EHV) transformers damaged by space weather, and developing domestic production sources for EHV transformers, the White House wrote.
Network

IEEE Sets New Ethernet Standard That Brings 5X the Speed Without Cable Ripping (networkworld.com) 157

Reader coondoggie writes: As expected the IEEE has ratified a new Ethernet specification -- IEEE P802.3bz -- that defines 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T, boosting the current top speed of traditional Ethernet five-times without requiring the tearing out of current cabling. The Ethernet Alliance wrote that the IEEE 802.3bz Standard for Ethernet Amendment sets Media Access Control Parameters, Physical Layers and Management Parameters for 2.5G and 5Gbps Operation lets access layer bandwidth evolve incrementally beyond 1Gbps, it will help address emerging needs in a variety of settings and applications, including enterprise, wireless networks. Indeed, the wireless component may be the most significant implication of the standard as 2.5G and 5G Ethernet will allow connectivity to 802.11ac Wave 2 Access Points, considered by many to be the real driving force behind bringing up the speed of traditional NBase-T products.
Space

Cisco Blamed A Router Bug On 'Cosmic Radiation' (networkworld.com) 145

Network World's news editor contacted Slashdot with this report: A Cisco bug report addressing "partial data traffic loss" on the company's ASR 9000 Series routers contended that a "possible trigger is cosmic radiation causing SEU [single-event upset] soft errors." Not everyone is buying: "It IS possible for bits to be flipped in memory by stray background radiation. However it's mostly impossible to detect the reason as to WHERE or WHEN this happens," writes a Redditor identifying himself as a former [technical assistance center] engineer...
"While we can't speak to this particular case," Cisco wrote in a follow-up, "Cisco has conducted extensive research, dating back to 2001, on the effects cosmic radiation can have on our service provider networking hardware, system architectures and software designs. Despite being rare, as electronics operate at faster speeds and the density of silicon chips increases, it becomes more likely that a stray bit of energy could cause problems that affect the performance of a router or switch."

Friday a commenter claiming to be Xander Thuijs, Cisco's principal engineer on the ASR 9000 router, posted below the article, "apologies for the detail provided and the 'concept' of cosmic radiation. This is not the type of explanation I would like to see presented to the respected users of our products. We have made some updates to the DDTS [defect-tracking report] in question with a more substantial data and explanation. The issue is something that we can likely address with an FPD update on the 2x100 or 1x100G Typhoon-based linecard."
Botnet

Spam Hits Its Highest Level Since 2010 (networkworld.com) 47

Long-time Slashdot reader coondoggie quotes Network World: Spam is back in a big way -- levels that have not been seen since 2010 in fact. That's according to a blog post from Cisco Talos that stated the main culprit of the increase is largely the handiwork of the Necurs botnet... "Many of the host IPs sending Necurs' spam have been infected for more than two years.

"To help keep the full scope of the botnet hidden, Necurs will only send spam from a subset of its minions... This greatly complicates the job of security personnel who respond to spam attacks, because while they may believe the offending host was subsequently found and cleaned up, the reality is that the miscreants behind Necurs are just biding their time, and suddenly the spam starts all over again."

Before this year, the SpamCop Block List was under 200,000 IP addresses, but surged to over 450,000 addresses by the end of August. Interestingly, Proofpoint reported that between June and July, Donald Trump's name appeared in 169 times more spam emails than Hillary Clinton's.
Books

Slashdot Asks: What Are Your Favorite Technology Books and Novels? 175

It can be a nonfiction book, or a fictional narrative where technology plays a key role. I recently started to read 'The Rise of the Robots' by Martin Ford. It talks about how robots are threatening mass unemployment more than they ever did before. I also found Andrew Blum's 'Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet' quite insightful. I would like to read 'The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-line Pioneers'.

What are some of your favorite tech-centric books? And which book are you currently reading, or recently finished?
Wireless Networking

Why Sys-Admins Are Disabling The Lights on WiFi Access Points (networkworld.com) 294

More than a dozen IT professionals said they've disabled the LEDs on wireless access points, according to a Network World article shared by Slashdot reader alphadogg: Some users don't want a beacon shining in their eyes as they try to get to sleep and others worry about the health effects of a blue light glowing all night. Some even resort to unplugging the gear when they're not using it.... "It seems when you are sick and laying in a hospital bed and have trouble sleeping, the single LED shining in your eyes is an issue," [says the wireless network staff specialist for Penn State College of Medicine]. "I get it and understand it..."

Network pros say they have begun asking vendors such as Cisco if they can provide an easier way to dim, rather than turn off the lights on the access points entirely, via wireless controllers. And some would like to see more granular control, such that the power light could be left on to comfort end users that the device is working, but blinking lights could be turned off or dimmed to avoid bothering them.

End users have tried "all sorts of makeshift fixes -- from Post-it notes to bandages to condom wrappers," but one network architect complains that when they disable the LEDs altogether, "I invariably get a ticket (or more) that the access point is offline and wireless is broken because there are no lights on..." On the plus side, when they then re-enable the LED lghts, "magically the wireless performance and coverage is perfect!"
Earth

World Map Shows Countries Requiring Open Source Software (networkworld.com) 32

"Europe and South America are the biggest hotspots for open-source use in government," reports Network World, while Bulgaria requires all software written for the government to be FOSS. Slashdot reader alphadogg quotes their report: It's become increasingly common over the past decade or so to see laws being passed to either mandate the use of open-source software or, at the very least, encourage people in government who make procurement decisions to do so. Here's a map of the status of open-source laws around the world.
Printer

3D-Printed Aircraft Tool Sets Guinness World Record (networkworld.com) 50

coondoggie quotes a report from Network World: A 17.5 foot long, 5.5 foot wide and 1.5 foot tall the 3D printed aircraft design tool has earned the title of largest solid 3D printed item by Guinness World Records. The 1,650 lb. apparatus known as a trim-and-drill tool is comparable in length to a large sport utility vehicle and will ultimately be tested for use in building the Boeing 777X passenger jet. Basically the tool will be used to secure the jet's composite wing skin for drilling and machining before assembly, according to researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ONRL) who developed the tool. "The existing, more expensive metallic tooling option we currently use comes from a supplier and typically takes three months to manufacture using conventional techniques," said Leo Christodoulou, Boeing's director of structures and materials in a statement. "Additively manufactured tools, such as the 777X wing trim tool, will save energy, time, labor and production cost and are part of our overall strategy to apply 3D printing technology in key production areas."
Crime

Want To Hunt Bank Robbers? There's an App For That, Says The FBI (networkworld.com) 68

Long-time Slashdot reader coondoggie quotes an article from Network World: The FBI today said it released a new application making it easier for the public -- as well as financial institutions, law enforcement agencies, and others -- to view photos and information about bank robberies in different geographic areas of the country.
The FBI's new "Bank Robbers" application runs on both Android and iOS, according to the article, "and lets users sort bank robberies by the date they occurred, the category they fall under (i.e., armed serial bank robber), the FBI field office working the case, or the state where the robbery occurred." The app ties into BankRobbers.fbi.gov, which overlays FBI information about bank robberies onto Google Maps.

The app's users "can also select push notifications to be informed when a bank robbery has taken place near their location," according to the FBI's site, which adds innocently that "If the location services on your device are enabled, you can view a map that shows the relevant bank robberies that took place in your geographic area..."
Electronic Frontier Foundation

'Mayhem' Wins $2M In DARPA's AI Hacking Contest, Draws EFF Scrutiny (eff.org) 11

Here's the highlight reel from the DARPA-sponsored "Cyber Grand Challenge" competition. Slashdot reader alphadogg writes: Cyber-reasoning platform Mayhem pulled down the $2 million first prize in a competition...that pitted entrants against each other in the classic hacking game Capture the Flag, never before played by programs running on supercomputers. A team from Carnegie Mellon University spin-out All Secure entered Mayhem in the competition against six other programs played in front of thousands in the ballroom of the Paris hotel in Las Vegas. Most of the spectators were in town for the DEF CON hacker conference starting Friday at the same site.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote "We think that this initiative by DARPA is very cool, very innovative, and could have been a little dangerous." Sharing their blog post about automated security research, the EFF's staff technologist Peter Eckersley writes: EFF is asking, does research like that need a safety protocol?
Moon

Moon Express Gets FAA Approval For Lunar Mission In 2017 (networkworld.com) 55

coondoggie quotes a report from Network World: The Federal Aviation Administration this week granted permission to a privately-held space firm to launch a robotic spacecraft to the moon. Moon Express expects to launch its MX-1 spacecraft on a two-week mission to the lunar surface in 2017. The MX-1, which is about as large as a suitcase will include instruments and a camera to explore the moon's surface. Moon Express has a contract with Rocket Lab USA for 3 lunar missions between 2017 and 2020. They are the first private company to receive permission to go to the moon. "Moon Express applauds efforts underway by the U.S. Congress and Executive Branch to establish a permanent regulatory framework to authorize commercial activities beyond Earth orbit," said Moon Express cofounder and CEO Bob Richards. "Our 'Mission Approval' process is an interim arrangement that can be implemented quickly enough for our 2017 launch requirements, allowing us to continue to execute on our business plans under U.S. law while ensuring our activities are consistent with U.S. obligations under the Outer Space Treaty."
Programming

C Isn't The Most Popular Programming Language, JavaScript Is (networkworld.com) 241

An anonymous reader quotes Network World: U.K.-based technology analyst firm RedMonk just released the latest version of its biannual rankings of programming languages, and once again JavaScript tops the list, followed by Java and PHP. Those are same three languages that topped RedMonk's list in January. In fact, the entire top 10 remains the same as it was it was six months ago...
Python ranked #4 on RedMonk's list, while the survey found a three-way tie for fifth place between Ruby, C#, and C++, with C coming in at #9 (ranking just below CSS). Network World argues that while change comes slowly, "if you go back deeper into RedMonk's rankings, you can see slow, ongoing ascents from languages such as Go, Swift and even TypeScript."

Interestingly, an earlier ranking by the IEEE declared C to be the top programming language of 2016, followed by Java, Python, C++, and R. But RedMonk's methodology involves studying the prevalence of each language on both Stack Overflow and GitHub, a correlation which "we believe to be predictive of future use, hence their value."

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