Businesses

US Law Allows Low H-1B Wages; Just Look At Apple (networkworld.com) 237

An anonymous reader writes: If you work at Apple's One Infinite Loop headquarters in Cupertino as a computer programmer on an H-1B visa, you can can be paid as little as $52,229. That's peanuts in Silicon Valley. Average wages for a programmer in Santa Clara County are more than $93,000 a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the U.S. government will approve visa applications for Silicon Valley programmers at $52,229 -- and, in fact, did so for hundreds of potential visa holders at Apple alone. To be clear, this doesn't mean there are hundreds of programmers at Apple working for that paltry sum. Apple submitted a form to the U.S. saying it was planning on hiring 150 computer programmers beginning June 14 at this wage. But it's not doing that. Instead, this is a paperwork exercise by immigration attorneys to give an employer -- in this case, Apple -- maximum latitude with the H-1B laws. The forms-submittal process doesn't always reflect actual hiring goals or wage levels. Apple didn't want to comment for the story, but it did confirm some things. It says it hires on the basis on qualifications and that all employees -- visa holders and U.S. workers alike -- are paid equitably and it conducts internal studies to back this up. There are bonuses on top of base pay. Apple may not be paying low wages to H-1B workers, but it can pay low wages to visa workers if it wanted. This fact is at the heart of the H-1B battle.
Government

FCC Should Prove DDoS Attacks Stopped Net Neutrality Comments (networkworld.com) 104

New submitter Michelle Davidson writes: After John Oliver urged viewers of HBO's Last Week Tonight to fight again for net neutrality and post comments in support of it, people hit a wall — the FCC's site essentially crashed. Originally, it was believed that the number of people trying to access the site caused the problem, but then the FCC released a statement saying "multiple" DDoS attacks -- occurring at the same time Oliver sent viewers to the site -- caused the site to crash: "These were deliberate attempts by external actors to bombard the FCC's comment system with a high amount of traffic to our commercial cloud host. These actors were not attempting to file comments themselves; rather they made it difficult for legitimate commenters to access and file with the FCC." The group Fight for the Future doesn't buy it, though, and wants proof. It says the FCC should release the logs: "The FCC should immediately release its logs to an independent security analyst or major news outlet to verify exactly what happened last night. The public deserves to know, and the FCC has a responsibility to maintain a functioning website and ensure that every member of the public who wants to submit a comment about net neutrality has the ability to do so. Anything less is a subversion of our democracy." No word yet from the FCC on whether it will release its logs, leading the interwebs to speculate about whether it was actually an attack to prevent commenting or if the FCC is ill-prepared to handle large amounts of traffic and blamed DDoS attacks to cover their inabilities. People are even questioning whether the FCC's tech team knows what a DDoS attack is.
Cellphones

Majority of US Households Now Cellphone-Only, Government Says (networkworld.com) 133

The National Center for Health Statistics has released a report that says, for the first time in history, U.S. households with landlines are now in the minority. Network World reports: The second 6 months of 2016 was the first time that a majority of American homes had only wireless telephones. Preliminary results from the July-December 2016 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) indicate that 50.8% of American homes did not have a landline telephone but did have at least one wireless telephone (also known as cellular telephones, cell phones, or mobile phones) -- an increase of 2.5 percentage points since the second 6 months of 2015. Young adults (25-34) and those who rent are most likely to live wireless-only, as 70 percent of that demographic lives with a landline.
America Online

Verizon.net 'Gets Out Of The Email Business' (networkworld.com) 73

"We have decided to close down our email business," Verizon has announced -- in a move which affects 4.5 million accounts. Slashdot reader tomservo84 writes: Strangely enough, I didn't find out about this from Verizon, itself, but SiriusXM, who sent me an email saying that since I have a Verizon.net email address on file, I'd have to update it because they were getting rid of their email service. I thought it was a bad phishing attempt at first...
Network World reports that customers are being notified "on a rolling basis... Once customers are notified, they are presented with a personal take-action date that is 30 days from the original notification." But even after that date, verizon.net email addresses can be revived using AOL Mail. "Over the years we've realized that there are more capable email platforms out there," Verizon concedes.

"Migration is going well," a Verizon spokesperson told Network World. "I don't have any stats to share, but customers seem to appreciate that they have several choices, including an option that keeps their Verizon.net email address intact."
IBM

IBM Technology Creates Smart Wingman For Self-Driving Cars (networkworld.com) 42

coondoggie quotes a report from Network World: IBM said that it has patented a machine learning technology that defines how to shift control of an autonomous vehicle between a human driver and a vehicle control processor in the event of a potential emergency. Basically the patented IBM system employs onboard sensors and artificial intelligence to determine potential safety concerns and control whether self-driving vehicles are operated autonomously or by surrendering control to a human driver. The idea is that if a self-driving vehicle experiences an operational glitch like a faulty braking system, a burned-out headlight, poor visibility, bad road conditions, it could decide whether the on-board self-driving vehicle control processor or a human driver is in a better position to handle that anomaly. If the comparison determines that the vehicle control processor is better able to handle the anomaly, the vehicle is placed in autonomous mode," IBM stated. "The technology would be a smart wingman for both the human and the self-driving vehicle," said James Kozloski, manager, Computational Neuroscience and Multiscale Brain Modeling, IBM Research and co-inventor on the patent.
Security

Anti-Virus Vendors Scramble To Patch Hijacking Exploit Involving Microsoft Tool (securityweek.com) 48

"A zero-day attack called Double Agent can take over antivirus software on Windows machines," Network World reported Wednesday. wiredmikey writes: The attack involves the Microsoft Application Verifier, a runtime verification tool for unmanaged code that helps developers find subtle programming errors in their applications... [The exploit] allows a piece of malware executed by a privileged user to register a malicious DLL for a process associated with an antivirus or other endpoint security product, and hijack its agent.
Patches were released by Malwarebytes, AVG, and Trend Micro, the security researchers told BleepingComputer earlier this week. Kaspersky Lab told ZDNet "that measures to detect and block the malicious scenario have now been added to all its products," while Norton downplayed the exploit, saying the attack "would require physical access to the machine and admin privileges to be successful," with their spokesperson "adding that it has deployed additional detection and blocking protections in the unlikely event users are targeted."

BetaNews reports that the researchers "say that it is very easy for antivirus producers to implement a method of protection against this zero-day, but it is simply not being done. 'Microsoft has provided a new design concept for antivirus vendors called Protected Processes...specially designed for antivirus services...the protected process infrastructure only allows trusted, signed code to load and has built-in defense against code injection attacks.'"
Chrome

Microsoft Browser Usage Drops 50% As Chrome Soars (networkworld.com) 205

An anonymous reader quotes Network World's report about new statistics from analytics vendor Net Applications: From March 2015 to February 2017, the use of Microsoft's IE and Edge on Windows personal computers plummeted. Two years ago, the browsers were run by 62% of Windows PC owners; last month, the figure had fallen by more than half, to just 27%. Simultaneous with the decline of IE has been the rise of Chrome. The user share of Google's browser -- its share of all browsers on all operating systems -- more than doubled in the last two years, jumping from 25% in March 2015 to 59.5% last month. Along the way, Chrome supplanted IE to become the world's most-used browser...

In the last 24 months, Mozilla's Firefox -- the other major browser alternative to Chrome for macOS users -- has barely budged, losing just two-tenths of a percentage point in user share. [And] in March 2015, an estimated 69% of all Mac owners used Safari to go online. But by last month, that number had dropped to 56%, a drop of 13 percentage points -- representing a decline of nearly a fifth of the share of two years prior.

The Courts

SAP License Fees Also Due For Indirect Users, Court Rules (networkworld.com) 123

SAP's licensing fees "apply even to related applications that only offer users indirect visibility of SAP data," according to a Thursday ruling by a U.K. judge. Slashdot reader ahbond quotes Network World: The consequences could be far-reaching for businesses that have integrated their customer-facing systems with an SAP database, potentially leaving them liable for license fees for every customer that accesses their online store. "If any SAP systems are being indirectly triggered, even if incidentally, and from anywhere in the world, then there are uncategorized and unpriced costs stacking up in the background," warned Robin Fry, a director at software licensing consultancy Cerno Professional Services, who has been following the case...

What's in dispute was whether the SAP PI license fee alone is sufficient to allow Diageo's sales staff and customers to access the SAP data store via the Salesforce apps, or whether, as SAP claims, those staff and customers had to be named as users and a corresponding license fee paid. On Thursday, the judge sided with SAP on that question.

Communications

RSA: Ban On Booth Babes Has Been No Big Deal (networkworld.com) 233

netbuzz quotes a report from Network World: In March 2015, RSA Conference organizers made news by contractually insisting that vendors pitch their security wares without the help of "booth babes," a first such ban for the technology industry. Next week's event will be third under the new rules. With the use of "booth babes" long a source of contention -- and some would say embarrassment -- implementation of the ban has gone smoothly, according to RSA. "Overall I would say this has been received well by our exhibitors," says Sandra Toms, vice president and curator of the conference. "Several have thanked us for having a policy." If you compare the policy's contract language in 2015 with the language now used by Toms, you'll notice how much it has evolved and how it has been accepted by various stake-holders. Here's an excerpt from the "short Q&A" between Paul McNamara, news editor for Network World, and Toms: Has there been any need to enforce the code or have all exhibitors complied? "Enforce" always makes it sound like armed guards have come into play and dragged someone off the show floor. We share these guidelines with our exhibitors and we're clear that this is a policy that is expected to be acknowledged and complied with. We take our attendee experience seriously and expect our exhibitors to do the same. If we receive a complaint about a particular exhibitor, we will send someone over to the booth and examine the situation. If the attire matches our dress code, then they can proceed and we can explain to the attendee why that form of dress is allowed. If they are clearly in violation, we will ask them to change. This policy is equally applied to both men and women -- from Sumo wrestlers to scantily clad models.
Crime

Police Use Pacemaker Data To Charge Homeowner With Arson, Insurance Fraud (networkworld.com) 216

JustAnotherOldGuy writes from a report via Network World: If you're dependent upon an embedded medical device, the device that helps keep you alive may also be used to incriminate you in a crime. Ross Compton, a 59-year-old homeowner in Ohio called 911 in September 2016 to say that his house was on fire, however there were many irregularities to the blaze that investigators found suspicious, such as contradictory statements from Compton and the way that the fire had started. In the ensuing investigation, the police secured a warrant for the logs from his pacemaker, specifically, "Compton's heart rate, pacer demand and cardiac rhythms before, during and after the fire." They subsequently filed charges of felony aggravated arson and insurance fraud. Middletown Police said this was the first time it had used data from a heart device to make an arrest, but the pacemaker data proved to be an "excellent investigative tool"; the data from the pacemaker didn't correspond with Compton's version of what happened. The retrieved data was used to help indict Compton. Lt. Jimmy Cunningham stated, "It was one of the key pieces of evidence that allowed us to charge him."
Businesses

Avaya Explains Why They've Declared Bankruptcy (networkworld.com) 68

Friday Avaya's Corporate Treasurer explained why they're filing for a chapter 11 "restructuring." After examining their debt, "we decided it was a critical next step in our transformation from a hardware company to a software and services company and the best path forward for our customers, partners and employees." skidv writes: ZDNet breaks down the deal... "Avaya noted that its foreign affiliates aren't included in the filing and will operate as normal. Avaya said the $725 million in debtor-in-possession financing, via Citibank, is enough to minimize disruption and continue business operations." Not surprising, Avaya has canceled the planned IPO.
PC World reports that Avaya "emerged from Lucent Technologies in 2000 with a focus on phone switches, enterprise networking gear, and call-center systems. But with the shift toward mobile phones and cloud-based tools for communication, and a tight market for enterprise network equipment, the company has been changing its focus... Like much of the networking and collaboration industry, Avaya is looking toward software-defined networking, IoT, and cloud-based platforms that work on many different devices and the web."
Open Source

Free Software Foundation Shakes Up Its List of Priority Projects (networkworld.com) 103

alphadogg quotes Network World: The Free Software Foundation Tuesday announced a major rethinking of the software projects that it supports, putting top priority on a free mobile operating system, accessibility, and driver development, among other areas. The foundation has maintained the High Priority Projects list since 2005, when it contained just four free software projects. [That rose to 12 projects by 2008, though the changelog shows at least seven projects have since been removed.] Today's version mostly identifies priority areas, along with a few specific projects in key areas.
The new list shows the FSF will continue financially supporting Replicant, their free version of Android, and they're also still supporting projects to create a free software replacement for Skype with real-time voice and video capabilities. But they're now also prioritizing various projects to replace Siri, Google Now, Alexa, and Cortana with a free-software personal assistant, which they view as "crucial to preserving users' control over their technology and data while still giving them the benefits such software has for many."

And other priorities now include internationalization, accessibility, decentralization and self-hosting, and encouraging governments to adopt free software.
Windows

Microsoft Adds Intel's Clear Linux Open-Source OS To Azure Market (networkworld.com) 24

JG0LD quotes a report from Network World: Microsoft announced today that it has added support for the Intel-backed Clear Linux distribution in instances for its Azure public cloud platform. It's the latest in a lengthy string of Linux distributions to become available on the company's Azure cloud. BrianFagioli adds from BetaNews: In other words, users of the company's cloud platform can set up a virtual machine using this distribution in addition to existing Linux-based operating systems. "Today, we're excited to announce the availability of Clear Linux OS for Intel Architecture in Azure Marketplace. Clear Linux OS is a free, open-source Linux distribution built from the ground up for cloud and data center environments and tuned to maximize the performance and value of Intel architecture. Microsoft Azure is the first public cloud provider to offer Clear Linux, and we're really excited about what it means for Linux users in the cloud and the community at large," says Jose Miguel Parrella, Open Source Product Manager, Microsoft.
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."

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