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Submission + - US Government Dumps Kaspersky After Espionage Insinuations

Rick Zeman writes: The Washington Post writes the that the US General Services Administration has dumped Kaspersky products because of their alleged ties to the Russian Government saying, "... the agency’s statement suggested a vulnerability exists in Kaspersky that could give the Russian government backdoor access to the systems it protects, though they offered no explanation or evidence of it." Kaspersky, of course, denies this, offering their source code up for US Government review, but "Three current and former defense contractors told The Post that they knew of no specific warnings circulated about Kaspersky in recent years, but it has become an unwritten rule at the Pentagon not to include Kaspersky as a potential vendor on new projects."

Submission + - Skylake/Kaby Lake microcode finally fixed

KiloByte writes: After much feet-dragging and trying to sweep the thing under the carpet, Intel has finally released a microcode update that fixes that serious hyper-threading issue we had before.

If you have one of affected processor models (or any Sky/Kaby Lake, to be safe), you'd better install the update immediately. New microcode versions are shipped by Debian and all competent distributions; on Windows you need a BIOS/UEFI update. Sorry if your machine vendor ignores you, like most do.

All known hyper-threading issues are now fixed, after the update you can turn HT back on.

Submission + - Creating the largest neutrino detectors in the world (lbl.gov)

HanzoSpam writes: The Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) will house the international Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE), which will be built and operated by a group of roughly 1,000 scientists and engineers from 30 countries.

When complete, LBNF/DUNE will be the largest experiment ever built in the U.S. to study the properties of mysterious particles called neutrinos. Unlocking the mysteries of these particles could help explain more about how the universe works and why matter exists at all.

The DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), located outside Chicago, will generate a beam of neutrinos and send them 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) through the Earth to Sanford Lab, where a four-story-high, 70,000-ton detector will be built beneath the surface to catch those neutrinos.

Submission + - How Cyberwarfare Makes Everyone A Target (wsj.com)

cdreimer writes: According to a report by The Wall Street Journal (paywalled, alternative website), "the war taking place across the global internet, everyone is a combatant—and a target": "This is already a banner year for hacks, breaches and cyberwarfare, but the past week was exceptional. South Carolina reported hackers attempted to access the state’s voter registration system 150,000 times on Election Day last November—part of what former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson alleges is a 21-state attack perpetrated by Russia. And U.S. intelligence officials alleged that agents working for the United Arab Emirates planted false information in Qatari news outlets and social media, leading to sanctions and a rift with Qatar’s allies. Meanwhile, Lloyd’s of London declared that the takedown of a major cloud service could lead to monetary damages on par with those of Hurricane Katrina. Threats to the real world from the cyberworld are worse than ever, and the situation continues to deteriorate. A new kind of war is upon us, one characterized by coercion rather than the use of force, says former State Department official James Lewis, a cybersecurity specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Businesses and individuals now are directly affected in ways that were impossible in the first Cold War. In another age, the threat of nuclear annihilation loomed over everyone’s heads, but the cloak-and-dagger doings of global powers remained distinct from the day-to-day operations of businesses. Now, they are hopelessly entangled. The often-unfathomable priorities of terrorists, cybercriminals and state-affiliated hackers only makes things worse."

Submission + - What to do now that wireless routers have locked firmware/bootloaders? 1

thejynxed writes: Awhile ago the FCC in the USA implemented a rule that required manufacturers to restrict end-users from tampering with the radio outputs on wifi routers. It was predicted that manufacturers would take the lazy way out by locking down the firmware/bootloaders of the routers entirely instead of partitioning off access to the radio transmit power and channel ranges. This has apparently proven to be the case, as even now routers that were previously marketed as "Open Source Ready" or "DD-WRT Compatible" are coming with locked firmware. In my case, having noticed this trend, I purchased three routers from Belkin, Buffalo, and Netgear in Canada, the UK, and Germany respectively, instead of the USA, and the results: All three routers had locked firmware/bootloaders, with no downgrade rights and no way to install Tomato, DD-WRT, OpenWRT, etc. It seems the FCC rule is an example of the wide-reaching effect of US law on the products sold in other nations, etc. So, does anyone know a good source of unlocked routers or other technical information on how to bypass this ridiculous outcome of FCC over-reach and manufacturer laziness?

Submission + - Predatory Journals Hit By "Star Wars" Sting (discovermagazine.com)

intellitech writes: From the article:

Inspired by previous publishing “stings”, I wanted to test whether ‘predatory‘ journals would publish an obviously absurd paper. So I created a spoof manuscript about “midi-chlorians” – the fictional entities which live inside cells and give Jedi their powers in Star Wars. I filled it with other references to the galaxy far, far away, and submitted it to nine journals under the names of Dr Lucas McGeorge and Dr Annette Kin.

Four journals fell for the sting. The American Journal of Medical and Biological Research (SciEP) accepted the paper, but asked for a $360 fee, which I didn’t pay. Amazingly, three other journals not only accepted but actually published the spoof. Here’s the paper from the International Journal of Molecular Biology: Open Access (MedCrave), Austin Journal of Pharmacology and Therapeutics (Austin) and American Research Journal of Biosciences (ARJ) I hadn’t expected this, as all those journals charge publication fees, but I never paid them a penny.


Submission + - Massive Pokemon Go event ends in disaster (techcrunch.com)

thegarbz writes: A Pokemon Go Fest hosted in Chicago and attended by between 15-20,000 people has ended in disaster. The event was plagued by logistical issues resulting in 3+ hour long delays getting into Chicago's Grant Park which had only a single entry point for all attendees. Those people who were lucky enough to get into the paid event were greeted with a completely overloaded cell network unable to cope with the number of people trying to get online at the same time. The occasional person who was able to connect experienced a never ending string of game breaking bugs when attempting to catch the rare Pokemon created specifically for this event.

Niantic have announced they will be refunding the tickets for all attendees as well as giving affected players $100 worth of in game currency.

Elsewhere in the world upcoming fests are already plagued with early logistics problems as each venue individually decides how many people may attend and if tickets will be required. Threads are starting to appear on Reddit with complaints by people who have planned and booked trips to the events only to find out later that the event will be limited.

Submission + - Tech-Bankrolled Code.org and Its Donors Declare AP CS Victory

theodp writes: Thanks to its College Board partnership, it seems that tech-bankrolled Code.org is now the gatekeeper of the nation's Advanced Placement Computer Science scores. In a blog post entitled Girls set AP Computer Science record...skyrocketing growth outpaces boys, the nonprofit reported that the goal ("engaging those who are traditionally underrepresented with essential computing tools and multidisciplinary opportunities") of the new AP CS Principles course (aka Coding Lite) had been achieved, thanks to the largest College Board AP exam launch in history. "The growth among female students has been incredible," Code.org explained, "increasing participation in AP CS exams by 135% since 2016. Not to be outdone, underrepresented minorities have increased participation by nearly 170% over last year!" Among those taking to Twitter to celebrate the good news were $3+ million Code.org donors Microsoft and Google. And Melinda Gates, a $1 million Code.org donor with husband Bill, called Code.org's charts of total female and underrepresented minorities "the best graph you see all week". While Code.org and its AP CS participation news were celebrated by the press, some individuals took to Twitter, Facebook, and blogs to question what exactly the limited data the nonprofit provided meant. "An interesting graph," replied @WendyRamosAbbo to @melindagates, "but for perspective, add Males and Non Minorities? Q:how do you define underrepresented race or resource availability?" And the Computing Education Blog interestingly struggles with the question of Why are underrepresented minorities and poor over-represented in Code.org courses? Citing Apple CEO Tim Cook's call for Donald Trump to make coding a requirement in every public school at a recent White House meeting of tech CEOs, Stanford Prof Larry Cuban said Coding is The New Vocationalism, so you better get ready for more of those Saturday AP CS exam study sessions at Microsoft (5 hours) and Facebook (12 hours), kids!

Submission + - Abuses Hide in the Silence of Nondisparagement Agreements (nytimes.com)

cdreimer writes: According to a report in The New York Times, "nondisparagement agreements are increasingly included in employment contracts and legal settlements" to hide abuses that would otherwise be made public: "Last October, AngelList, a company that helps tech start-ups raise money and hire employees, held an office retreat. In the Hollywood Hills, far from Silicon Valley, the firm’s mostly male staff mingled poolside with bikini-clad women who had been invited to the event. Before the afternoon was over, Babak Nivi, a founder and board member at AngelList, said things that made Julie Ruvolo, a contractor, uncomfortable about working at the company. His comments included a suggestion that the women, who were not employees, warm up the pool by jumping in and rubbing their bodies together. The incident was described by two entrepreneurs who were told about it in the weeks after it occurred but were not authorized to speak about it. Precisely what occurred at the Hollywood Hills event is not publicly known. Several weeks after the party, each side signed a nondisparagement clause as part of a settlement, the two people said, and its details are not public. And neither Ms. Ruvolo nor AngelList is permitted to talk about what happened that day. As more harassment allegations come to light, employment lawyers say nondisparagement agreements have helped enable a culture of secrecy. In particular, the tech start-up world has been roiled by accounts of workplace sexual harassment, and nondisparagement clauses have played a significant role in keeping those accusations secret. Harassers move on and harass again. Women have no way of knowing their history. Nor do future employers or business partners."

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